Confronted with a still sluggish economy, an increasing number of recent college graduates have had to postpone plans for independent living and move in with their parents. The adjustment can be as challenging for parents as it is for the adult children. Navigating this renewed togetherness is the subject of “The Not So Empty Nest: Living in Harmony With Your Young Adult,” a program being held Monday, June 11 at Volition Wellness Solutions in Skillman.
“The kids are coming back, so you hear all the complaints,” says Jane Martin, a psychotherapist who works with young adults and teenagers. Ms. Martin and fellow therapist Jean Robinson will be presiding over the free event. “I work with these kids and I talk to their parents, so I see and hear from either end,” Ms. Martin adds. “When you’re young and the kids are young, you want to be the authority. When they’re older, you have to move from being the authority to guidance, and that’s something very difficult to negotiate.”
Many of today’s parents grew up in an era when the salary of an entry level job was enough to cover a portion of the rent on a shared, reasonably-sized apartment. But jobs are scarce today, and those lucky enough to find employment have trouble filling the gap between the cost of living and contemporary, entry-level salaries.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center reports that more than three-quarters of young adults ages 25-34 have moved back home with their parents at some point since the recession began. It is a phenomenon that brings up a whole new set of emotions, issues, and guidelines. Parenting skills can be tested in a new way, requiring a certain level of patience, tact, and maintaining boundaries.
The Volition session is designed to help parents move into a respectful relationship with their adult and late-teen children. The workshop is the first in a Monday night Open House series focusing on mind and body wellness. Volition offers counseling, acupuncture and herbal medicine, breathwork and hypnotherapy, integral medicine and nutrition, and body therapy in an “integral approach” to health care “which starts with the individual and addresses the entire system: family career, and community,” according to the website www.volition
The workshop will be be a step-by-step, conflict resolution process. “You’ll express your individual needs,” Ms. Martin says. “So a parent is not coming from a place of authority, but of being a human being. The child is expected to rise to the level of being an adult, taking responsibility for his or her own needs. They work together to brainstorm and come to a solution.”
Ms. Martin often holds retreats for teenagers and spends a lot of time talking to their parents. She has been struck by the difference between our culture and others in the passage to adulthood. “In our society, kids don’t learn how to grow up the way they do in other societies,” she says. “There are rites of passage from childhood to adulthood that we don’t have.”
Parents can attend the workshop on their own, or together with their teen or young adult offspring. “We’re teaching tools to use, and those tools can come in at either end,” Ms. Martin says. “We’ll do a little bit of theory, but the main thing we want them to have is the tool.”
“The Not So Empty Nest” is Monday, June 11 from 7-9 p.m. Call (609) 688-8300 or email email@example.com to register.