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How Parents Can Encourage Leaving the Nest

If you’re an adult with older children who are ready to start their careers, you might be anxiously awaiting the day your child decides to finally move out. But what if they don’t seem to be in a hurry? Or what if you are letting them live at home after a pandemic layoff, but they are spending more time binging Netflix than updating their resume. A failure to leave the nest is a problem for many. 

There are a variety of reasons why a failure to launch happens with adult children. Many young adults have anxiety about leaving their childhood behind and working their way towards independence. Anxiety about getting out into the world and finding their way through their own personal lives and careers can be daunting. 

Some parents may not be helping their children either if they are not keen on seeing their babies finally leave the coop. This can be especially difficult if the relationship is generally positive and loving. However, young adults typically fail to launch due to a variety of factors. It may be a result of low motivation or a lack of discipline. Often young adults struggle after leaving school if they do not quickly move into a career due to a lack of structure in their daily life. For some, it may be a purely tactical problem, such as not applying to enough jobs or landing enough interviews. 

While these factors may contribute to the issue, they frequently do not paint the entire picture. For many young adults, their circumstances are dependent on their past experience with success and failure, their knowledge of career development, or their ability to navigate basic life skills. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that bigger factors could also be at play, such as the economy, politics, or global health. So what is a parent to do? 

We’ve put together five strategies that can help your child begin the process of becoming an independent adult and finally leaving the nest. 

Acknowledge Their Drive for Independence

Quite simply, some children may not yet be developmentally ready to leave home. Some children are hardwired to seek independence while others feel little motivation to do so, often due to an emotional attachment to family and home. 

Look in the Mirror

Could you be the problem? Studies have shown that young adults who still lived at home were stuck in a ‘dependency trap’, reliant on their parents for financial support all the way down to basic needs. And their parents always accommodate them. However, pulling away support only worked when the parents in the study did so gradually and without nagging, threatening, or lecturing. Instead, the parents acknowledged the difficulty and stress of the situation for their child. Children in the study eventually made great strides in finding employment, improving their social skills, and eventually moving out. 

Be a Resource

Searching for a job is often not as simple as we might think. In today’s competitive environment, it sometimes just boils down to being in the right place at the right time. Be supportive and patient if your child is doing everything they can to try and find a job and simply striking out. 

Focus on Progress

Encourage your child to explore different career options through networking, job-shadowing, volunteering, part-time jobs, and research. It is not often that we know what our passions will be, so giving the advice to ‘follow your passions’ may not always be helpful for young adults on the job hunt. By putting in the work to explore the options, young adults are able to find ways to market themselves and work towards finding stable, full-time work instead of a job they won’t stay at for long. 

Know When to Bring in the Experts

If your child is still struggling, you may consider having them work with a career counselor or career coach who specializes in working with young adults. Many colleges have resources for alumni, or the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop can be a place to start. If your child is still struggling, you may need to consider that there could be larger problems occurring. A mental health professional who specializes in working with families and family dynamics could be helpful. 

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