College graduation season brings families together and provides many opportunities for parents and their children to discuss their goals and life stories.

A goal of nearly all families is to help our children become self-reliant and independent.  Completing a higher education and earning a college degree has become a right of passage for many towards this goal.  As a result, we were surprised by the most recent data analysis conducted by the real estate publisher Trulia.

According to their 2016 analysis reported in the Wall Street Journal “almost 40% of young Americans were living with their parents, siblings or other relatives in 2015, the largest percentage since 1940.

The share of young Americans living with parents hit a high of 40.9% in 1940, just a year after the official end of the Great Depression, and fell to a low of 24.1% in 1960. It hovered between about 31% and 33% from 1980 to the mid-2000s, when the rate started climbing steadily. Census data also show younger Americans are getting married and having children later in life than previous generations.”

For college parents, we encourage all families to speak with their children about their mutual goals.  Remember, it is useful to provide security for your children and to demonstrate your life-long concern for their well-being.  Here are three tips to help frame the discussion.

  1. How do you imagine your ideal life when you complete college and 5 and 10 years beyond?  Can they articulate what they prefer – living close to home, living in a rural or urban environment?
  2. Share your path to living independently from your parents.
  3. Discuss how you can commit to helping them achieve their ideal life.  Helping them to understand apartment leases and how to prepare for homeownership.  No one is born knowing how to do these things and the last time we checked, there is no specific college class on the topic.

Please let us know your suggestions and other tips you might want to share with college parents.