2015-09-26-12-29-33 Research suggests more young adults are returning to their parents after university – but what if their parents are re-partnered? Are you prepared for flat share?

Research says that more than ever young people return ‘home’ after university before finding jobs and launching themselves on life. Research is also saying that young people in the 18 – 25 year old age group benefit from adult support to start them off.

A young adult painstakingly wrote out his CV and after huge family consultation finalised it. It took a while to proof read, and then it was printed. Great long discussions took place about how to apply for jobs and what to do. Without too much difficulty the young man found himself a job in retail. All was well for a week and a half. Then the boss texted the young man and said that he hadn’t shown himself to be enthusiastic enough and wouldn’t be needing his services anymore. If the young man had not been living with supportive parental types then this experience could have been devastating. In the event after much thought, the lessons could be learned and a new job sought. But this kind of experience can be traumatising and lead to inactivity, depression even. Resourcefulness at times like these are essential. If the young person has been modelled resourcefulness before they are likely to cope better, however it is exactly the kind of child that has experienced the divorce of parents that means they are less resourceful, and need help more.

This is exactly the kind of situation where a step-parent can be close enough to what is happening to be of help, and be able to offer something alongside and complimentary to anything parents can offer. It’s this kind of experience that can bond step-child and step-parent forever. The young adult can be very vulnerable when struggling to find jobs, be accepted, make career choices and doesn’t feel as though they belong. With some undivided attention and time, you can really help with your wisdom and experience of life and this is exactly what this young person needs.

There is also material gain to be had. If you support your step-child into the world of work, and feeling of belonging, they will blossom into responsible adults, be earning money and have their independence from you sooner.

However, there is a large amount that needs to be tolerated in-between. It is hard for parents to accept home, grown post-university students, where they often relapse into old ways quick as a flash, but even worse for step-parents. They can hang around, don’t clean up after-themselves, put their hands out for money, lose the house keys several times, but this time round it can be worse. Without a school routine that needs to be kept they can be up all hours, inviting friends round who stay all night, and treat it like the proverbial hotel.

A friend of mine in such a situation couldn’t cope. She began making excuses not to come home, accepting invitations away, and working late. She met her husband for meals out, and were almost resigned to consigning the house to student chaos and demise.

Yet another friend took charge and set up family meetings, and proper communication, set routines and boundaries, got the young person in shopping, cooking and cleaning, with consequence for non-conformance. The young person couldn’t see the point, and commented how he thought his step-mother over-worked and how they should calm down. Home this way was a constant battleground.

A neighbour had a kindly attitude, one of consideration and friendliness. They made a big effort and got to know the young person, offering her money to tide her over and fun. They entertained her friends and made the most of her time at home. She wasn’t that tidy, and not that considerate, but they over-looked that for the sake of the long term relationship. Eventually with the confidence she gained at a difficult time she found a job and have remained firm friends with her step-mother ever since.

The truth is probably there is no right way to deal with a young person at home from university. It is hard enough for parents in this situation but even harder for step-parents. Young people need an impossible balance of love and support yet also tough love, boundaries and consequences, and your job as a parent in situ is to provide this balance.

It’s the way things are, and I’d wager the majority of families with young people, post university are in this situation.


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