There’s an epidemic right now and it’s unemployed grown children in their twenties who are still financially dependent on their parents for housing and bills. It’s not their fault. Well, it’s not all their fault. This epidemic is the result of a terrible job market and weak economic conditions that have made things rough on everyone.

Retirement ages have been pushed, stock portfolios emptied, and houses devalued. Even a solid insurance quote is hard to get these days. So, if the preceding bleak description applies to your family, you may be wondering how to handle it, how to care for your grown children without enabling them to take the decade off. Here are some tips:

Help them with their student loans, but not their cell phone bills. College degrees aren’t paying off like they used to, or at least not as quickly. This is not your kids’ fault. They had no way of knowing when they first shouldered their student loans that the economy was going to go south and stay there. No one did. Student loan payments are costly and this is a reasonable expense to help them with. However, recreational expenses (yes, a cell phone is recreational) are their responsibility. Don’t fork out cash for their cell phone bills, Netflix subscriptions, or sushi dinners.

Encourage them to ‘slum it.’ Your kids may have expected to fall directly into a Wall Street brokerage position directly out of college, but sometimes reality isn’t as rosy as we imagine it to be. They may have to ‘slum it’ and work at a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop for a couple years. There’s nothing wrong with this, and in fact, it can be a great way to save up money while living at home and planning their next moves. You should encourage them to work, no matter how menial the job, and teach them the value of a strong work ethic.

Buy a suit, but don’t write the resume. This goes back to helping with expenses while encouraging them to proactively pursue a career. Your kid should be self-motivated to put together a stellar resume (doing whatever research is necessary) and sit in on numerous job interviews. In the meantime, helping them out with the expenses of buying professional-looking clothes is good move.
With the economy going through a rough patch and unemployment rates still at record highs, this is a time when many families are finding themselves dealing with the ‘full-nest syndrome’, grown children returning from college to live at home sans a job. Do your part to nurture your kids into taking on adult responsibilities and dealing with tough times with mental toughness and a strong work ethic.