As a parent, it's not an easy time for you, either. The kid you tearfully packed off to college a few thousand dollars ago is now back on your couch, in your fridge, and keeping you up at night.
So parents, what's your post-college role? If you're ready for the nest to be empty again—and not sure how to go about it—here are some thoughts:
Raise expectations. This isn't high school anymore. Your live-in graduate should be taking on some adult-level responsibilities around the house: lawn-mowing, cleaning, laundry, running errands. Another adult around the house should mean less work for all, not more.
Set some timelines. There's no need to be harsh, but if your grad doesn't seem to have a sense of urgency about finding a full-time job and getting out on their own, you can help create one. It's not like you have to put them on the street in six months, but you can start setting deadlines for financial dependence. For example, they have to take on her own cell phone payments in three months, car insurance payments in six months. Try to keep the conversation positive—you're not cutting them off, just gradually steering them toward independence that they'll enjoy.
Remind them you're not a roommate. Let's face it: The hours a 20-something keeps can be hard on parents. They're used to coming and going at any time of night. You're used to worrying about them. If you can't sleep for worrying when they don't come home, have them call or text. That's simple courtesy among fellow adults (and one little annoyance that will disappear for both of you when they're out on their own).
Understand their emotions. If your grad seems moody or down, remember the limbo they're in can be disconcerting. Eighteen years after my graduation, I can acutely remember how hard that first year out of college was. I wanted independence but was struggling to get there. All the confidence I had in college was diminished in the face of the real world. Remember to lend your grad emotional support, even as you guide them toward independence.
Parents, if your college grad has moved back home, let us know how it's going! Got any insights to share?