According to a Department of Labor poll, some 85% of college students will be moving back home at some point in their lives. I’m stunned.
And frankly disappointed.
Yes, I did not have a home to return to after I moved out at the age of eighteen, and yes, I was homeless for a short time, so perhaps my view of the situation is slightly (or highly) jaded, but moving back home with my parents seems like the absolute last thing that I would’ve done regardless of the circumstances.
But if you’re finished with college and ready to make it on your own, make it on your own, damn it. Keeping a roof over your head and food on the table should be within the grasp of almost any college graduate who is willing to work as much as possible, in whatever job or jobs are necessary in order to survive.
In order to deal with a situation like this, Time Magazine offers:
It’s a stupid list of a bunch of commonsense and uninspiring ideas that are frankly a waste of digital ink.
The advice includes things like don’t let your kid make a mess of the place, help your kid get a job (but don’t help too much), and make your kid pay his or her share of the bills.
Real revelatory stuff here.
But how about this instead:
Don’t let your kid move back home.
Advise him to find a roommate (or three) and rent a rundown apartment in a less-than-desirable section of town.
Tell him to negotiate with the landlord for a reduction in rent if he pays in cash.
Remind him that furniture is not immediately necessary. If he has a bed, a refrigerator and a stove, he is good to go.
Tell him about my friend, George, who put his programming skills to work at a low-paying, entry-level position on the night shift at a large insurance company, and who then worked at McDonald’s in the mornings and on the weekends in order to make ends meet. This, plus two roommates and a tight budget that included no cable television and the most basic of cellphones, allowed George to survive and continue to interview for better paying jobs. He worked like this for two full years before finally finding a well paying job with regular hours and excellent benefits at a different insurance company.
Tell your kid that I’ve known about fifty Georges in my life, myself included, and none of us have starved.
And as far as I know, only I ended up (albeit briefly) homeless,
Then remind your kid that life isn’t supposed to be simple or easy, and that it is only through struggle that we gain the confidence and strength in order to succeed.
Tell him that there will come a day when he looks back upon his struggles with a smile. Tell him that my former roommate and I look fondly upon the years we spent eating elbow macaroni and day-old bread while sitting beneath the same pile blankets, leaning against one another in order to stay warm because we could not afford to turn on the heat in the middle of winter.
The pipes had burst, girls refused to come to our apartment because of the lack of heat, and we were often hungry, but we laugh today and say in all sincerity that those were some of the best times of our lives, struggling to survive.
Most important, those were the times that taught me to appreciate what I have now and to work hard to protect it.
There is nothing wrong with providing your struggling kid with home cooked meals and the occasional bailout when he is in trouble, but do it under his roof and not your own.
Don’t deny him the glorious and life-changing opportunity to struggle.