Lots of young adults don’t make it through college or will take a break before they decide to go back and finish obtaining their degrees. It can become frustrating when they come back home after quitting school and expect to be taken care of instead of taking on adult goals and responsibilities. A college dropout living with parents can offset many potential problems.
This can be saddening to many parents that want to see their child succeed in furthering their education and have a better-paying career one day as a result. Offering your child a temporary cushion is okay but they should be motivated to break away from your home and be self-reliant.
You Are Their Soft Place to Land
The support and comfort of coming home for a short break can sometimes be enough to encourage students to go back the following semester. Some reflection and growth might be necessary for your son/daughter to handle the pressures of their coursework and the new independence they were facing.
Handling all of their own tasks can be overwhelming alone in a dorm especially if they were taken care of at home. A little preparation can go a long way when you know what to expect. You can only hope this will be looked back upon as a temporary regrouping period that helped your child go back to college more prepared and stronger than ever.
Encourage your child to think outside the box. If classroom learning just isn’t their thing, they will have to find what works for them. Academic learning may put too much pressure on your child if they would rather just learn and work with hands-on experience.
There are many apprenticeship programs out there that can teach your child valuable skills as they train on the job. Community-based work programs offer young people jobs helping with environmental and infrastructure work. College dropouts have to find productive ways to shape these years, preparing themselves for their future career or return to college.
A college degree isn’t always required to learn what you need to know about your chosen career and to be successful in life.
Your son/daughter may have a vision for a business they want to open or a product to develop. He/she may be dedicated to a certain cause that they are passionate about supporting or a sport that they are committed to pursuing full-time. If your child has goals and motivation, at least there is some creativity and drive behind their decision.
Learning to write and take care of their own books and tech departments, communicating with clients and customers, marketing their ideas, learning to deal with disappointment, and improving their methods until they succeed is an education in its own right.
Be Encouraging and Help Your Child Grow
While your child is back in the family home, you want to be able to enjoy them. Even though you wish he/she was still in school, it is nice to spend some extra time together. Don’t bring up their situation incessantly but instead, visit some family that would enjoy the company or grab some lunch together.
Check out this video of Dave Ramsy discussing adult children living at home.
Whether you like it or not, your college-age student is back in the nest for a while, so you might as well try to have a good time. Your child is a young adult now so your perspective can change a little bit. Give him/her a chance to explore and mature into independent adulthood.
A college dropout living with their parents should not be welcomed with punishment. Your adult child has to be helping around the house. If he/she is working, there are bills to be paid. Don’t make the mistake of enabling their dependence on you by taking care of everything. Adults make their phone calls and appointments, they do their laundry and dishes, they clean their own messes.
Don’t treat your college dropout like a needy child that has to be taken care of. They need to learn to take care of themselves and become a responsible adult. While your son/daughter is living with you, they should have expectations to meet in the household and chores to complete regularly.
Try to help your child deal with anxiety so they can get focused on their future. Your child may be socially limited and is depending on you for support. They may have felt isolated being in college.
Now they might be feelings of weakness and failure as they had to give up on school and come home. Try not to be so critical and put yourself in their shoes for a moment. This is an emotional, confusing time for your child so try to be patient as they work through it.
Offer help through therapy or counseling to help sort through issues. Academic counselors can be very helpful as well and they can help students evaluate the problems and set reasonable goals that match their abilities. They can still obtain their degree, even if it takes a little extra time to complete.
Your college dropout may need a little time and space to get their head together. Resist disappointment as they reframe their future plans. Everyone faces twists and turns on their path through life.
Try not to add pressure as your child struggles to construct a future for themselves. They have to learn new skills, try out jobs they’re interested in, and learn how to maintain healthy relationships with others.
Wait patiently to discuss college issues and plans, and encourage your child that things will improve. If they want your advice, they will probably ask for it.
Stop Enabling, Start Motivating
When you are at the end of your rope and your college dropout doesn’t seem to be affected, start questioning them gently. Find out if making a plan to finish college is what your child wants.
If not, ask about their drive to find stable employment and housing. Stop accommodating and make them start contributing. When anyone can live comfortably, be taken care of, and eat what they want for free, there is less motivation to find a way to support themselves.
A college dropout living with their parents needs a little push to make some decisions and get them motivated to start making some moves.
Take small steps to help your indecisive dropout find some direction. Help them find ways to treat their anxiety and talk about the issues they face and work through ways to cope.
Set realistic goals to help your son/daughter launch into healthy adulthood. They will have to change their problem-solving system and patterns of anxiety. They will eventually have the skills and confidence to establish themselves and pursue their goals independently.
Set realistic expectations and stick to the consequences. If you think it’s time for your college dropout to take financial responsibility, stop footing the bill. Make an ultimatum and don’t back down. Allow your son/daughter 60 days to find a job so they can pay their phone bill or you will stop helping them pay for it.
If they want to have a phone, they will probably make a real effort to find employment. The same goes for helping with car payments or auto insurance. Being an adult means taking care of your own bills.
If your son/daughter dropped out of college because of anxiety or a mental health issue, be supportive and find resources to get the help they need. Students need to be confident and focused. When bad feelings creep in on top of a heap of college work, it can be overwhelming.
Don’t be judgmental, but don’t be a pushover if your child is starting to take advantage of the cushion you’re willing to provide. Support, encourage, and positively motivate your son/daughter as they find their way as a young adult.
Final Thoughts – College Dropout Living with Parents
A college dropout living with their parents can be frustrating to the family. They expected them to finish school and start their careers as soon as possible but it did not pan out that way.
There are always going o be struggles along the way of life and finishing college can be one of them. The best thing we can do is ensure that the dropout at least has plans to finish or to start becoming independent.
The last thing you want as a parent is for your child to not be pursuing anything at all and to become dependent on you. This will slow his progress down from becoming an adult and they can get used to being comfortable without taking action.
What you need to do as a parent is to accept what has happened, talk to them about their next step, and help them decide when and how they will become independent.
For more on the topic of college dropout, click here to read another article discussing what a 20-year-old dropout should be doing.