Many families are celebrating their young adult’s graduation and launch into independence. This is a difficult transition for parents and adult children. Now is the time to avoid three transition traps with three practical solutions.
Trap 1: Humans Love Freebies
It’s unlikely graduates will voluntarily give up freebies they’ve relied on their entire life.
Solution: 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 paying for everything immediately. Nothing about this is automatic, for the parent or the graduate.
Trap 2: It's Scary!
This may be the first time your adult child is fully independent. It’s scary!
Solution: Acknowledge the Difficulty
Acknowledge the difficulty of this new stage. Talk about how you can help the graduate 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.
Trap 3: "I'm Poor"
Graduates may feel poor, as the college and home lifestyle goodies are no longer free.
Solution: Focus on Facts over Feelings
You can absolutely acknowledge the loss a new grad feels about a less luxurious lifestyle, without agreeing to a false belief of “I can’t afford to be independent”. Instead, offer guidance on budgeting.
It’s helpful for parents to decide what they will financially support. Then 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.