TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Your child leaving the home for college can be a big transition. Their return home, and sometimes unexpectedly, can be a bigger transition.
In this week's "Teen Talk", our viewer asks: "My teenage daughter had to leave college for medical reasons and has returned home. What I'm finding is that we have great days and awkward days. What advice to you give to parents who find themselves in situations where teens return home because of medical reasons or are coming home from summer college experiences. I am finding indeed that it is a very delicate balance."
WTXL ABC27 contributor, and family therapist, Jane Marks weighs in:
Teens and older children sometimes leave colleges for lots of reasons. Statistics show 85% of new college grads are moving back home and roughly 13% of adult children, ages 18 to 29, return home after attempting to live out on their own. The boomer generation has been left to deal with a new set of parenting pressures, and suddenly an "unempty" nest. As a parent you want to resolve their problem for them, however it is important that they resolve these issues for themselves. Your child will always be an interesting combination of an adult and your child and it is important that you distinguish this.
Have the conversation. Set new ground rules. Define their role in the house. What chores will they be responsible for? Will they be grocery shopping or cooking?
What are they doing to pursue their desires? What are their career goals? A lot of times these students have completed college. They will need structure. It is a good time to set a limit on their stay, 3 months, 6 months, a year. This can be renegotiated.
Focus on financial independence and set clear financial boundaries. How will they earn money during the short term? Are they planning to get a job or just to use this time to heal from a health crisis?
If the adolescent coming home is a college graduate and still has no clue as to what direction they are going to take, good advice would be to go to the nearest career center. Most urban cities have colleges with career centers that offer advice to participating residents in that city, whether you are a student at that institution or not.
Respect your youngster's choices and independence. Although you may not agree with whom he or she chooses to spend time with, if you are going to co-exist in a nice and peaceful way then your best interest is to let them make decisions.
Try and create new roles or embrace new roles and avoid slipping into old patterns. Sometimes you find yourself falling back into the pattern of being mom and pop with the same dynamics that were there when they were in high school.
Avoid placing blame on yourself or your kids when your teens return home, whether for medical reasons or because they graduated. These economic times have hit our youngsters hard. This generation faces greater challenges in launching their careers. One thing my son said to me is that when my husband and I were young, we were guaranteed jobs when we finished college, this generation is not.
If your child is coming home and doesn't seem to have any framework to his future, try and help him develop a game plan. Operate like a coach. Frame up job searches, contacts; sometime indeed there is what we call a "college meltdown". Sometimes these are young people who have graduated with no sense of where they want to go next.
If an adolescent is coming home only for the summer, you don't have to be as tight with the structure, you can negotiate conflicts early, the things you know will be sources of tension. Clean them up, be flexible. Encourage adult to adult relationships. Invite them to discuss how they feel about various issues. This evolution of a relationship between you and your teens will be very gratifying.
Accept the differences of how they've grown through the college experience.
Use this time as a launch time. Make sure you relish this as bonus time. Relationships with adult children often do not happen in some families. It can and should be mutually rewarding.
Don't become part of your teens' drama and don't let them drum up your drama.
13. Finally and most importantly, show them that you want them home. Let them know how happy you are to be with them. It's easy to get off the path on the wrong foot and you don't want to do that. We always say take action; have lots of wonderful foods and opportunities to show that indeed you understand their situation.