Launch Delayed

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Independence – freedom from outside control or support : the state of being independent. (

Young adults nowadays are having difficulty “leaving the nest” and getting on with their adult lives. Perhaps they have finished college/university and are having a difficult time finding a job in their field. Maybe they are unsure of what direction their lives will take them and need more time to “discover themselves”. Some may have dropped out of post-secondary, finding the timetable of classes, being judged by marks and adult responsibility much too overwhelming.

The rate of adult children living at home in Canada is rising.The 2011 Census of Population showed that 42.3% of the 4,318,400 young adults aged 20 to 29 lived in the parental home,Footnote1 either because they never left it or because they returned home after living elsewhere. This is a marked increase from the 26.9%  of young adults who lived in the parental home in 1981.

What has changed? Is the lure of free room and board, family cell phone plan, laundry done on-site and dinner presented promply at six, too difficult to resist? Is the desire to set your own stage, pay your own way, eat whenever you want, just not that “carrot on the end of the stick” anymore? As parents, are we coddling and abetting their adolescent lifestyle and giving in to their non-growth? What do we need to do to create that crave for independence and delivery from parent’s protection (and house)?

We might be creating adults who’s self-esteem is wrapped up in “everybody wins and gets a ribbon” mentality. When faced with constructive criticism, such as the markings of a college paper, they fall apart. The interview for a job where they are not chosen, sends them into an emotional tailspin. They expect to not only succeed but to excel with minimal effort because they’ve been praised and told how great they are their entire lives.

Sorry, life’s not like that.

There are ups and downs. You are judged by your effort and unlike being passed onto the next grade, employers can fire you. We can learn much (even more) from making mistakes, picking ourselves up and moving on. Teach them to “Be Adele- esque”. Screw up on the world stage at the Grammys, apologize, start over and own it. Don’t blame others’. Don’t wallow in self-pity or deflect on any other reason why you think you didn’t get hired. Accept help – with your resume, your interviewing skills, and especially how to accept criticism gracefully. Take that criticism and move forward – learn from it and aspire to do better. That’s a start.

While he or she is under your roof, ask you adult-ish child to volunteer, network and be responsible. They can be out in the world helping others, contributing in a social way whilst making new connections and  practicing adult social skills. Having current volunteer hours on their resume can assist with job-hunting and showcasing transferable skills. It also demonstrates that they are not sitting on their keister waiting for a job to drop into their lap. While living at home, have them regularly cooking meals, doing laundry, pitching in with house maintenance  as practice for when they (finally) get out on their own. Of course, it is also part of “earning your keep”. If nothing else, perhaps they will get tired of being “bossed around”, will get a job and move out.

Next week: Building Resiliency in Our Children.