Spring is college graduation time and a launch into financial independence. Unfortunately, while parents may be eager to be free of financial burdens, graduates may not be equally eager to assume them.
Launching a graduate into independent adulthood can be a difficult transition filled with conflicting expectations and mutual disappointments. Now is the opportune time for parents to avoid 3 parent problems and take 3 steps to get grown children launched!
Problem 1: Humans Love Easy & FREE
It’s unlikely graduates will immediately and voluntarily give up freebies they’ve relied on their entire life.
Step 1: Clarify Expectations
Talk openly about each other’s expectations in this new stage. Honest and respectful communication is critical to a productive transition. Remember, it is the unusual graduate who will voluntarily embrace the burden of paying for everything on their own immediately. Nothing about this is automatic, for the parent or the graduate.
Problem 2: It's Scary!
This may be the first time graduates take on full adult responsibilities. It’s Scary!
Step 2: Acknowledge the Difficulty
Acknowledge the difficulty of this new stage. Talk about how you can help the student move forward with productive support and clear accountability. A supportive safety net will minimize paralyzing fear. Equally important, concrete accountability will protect against comfortable complacency.
Problem 3: Feeling "Poor"
They may feel poor as the college and home lifestyle goodies are no longer free
Step 3: Focus on Facts over Feelings
You can absolutely acknowledge the disappointment a new grad feels about a less luxurious lifestyle, without agreeing to a false belief that they “can’t pay their bills”. Instead, offer guidance on budgeting.
It’s helpful for parents to decide what they will financially support and communicate clearly what a new grad can expect over time. It’s equally important to discuss how you will aid the new grad in the event of a true financial emergency.
Giving a young adult a “hand up” is not the same as funding continual “hand outs”. Defining the parameters of the “hand-up” will alleviate anxiety for everyone.
Setting clear expectations of both accountability and support will help the graduate move into a productive independent adult life.