Leaving the nest - when?
I was speaking with a good friend of mine on the weekend about his 34 year-old son who was yet to leave home. As you can probably imagine, the conversation was not ‘when’ he would leave the nest (as this question had been hanging in the air for approximately a decade), but ‘how’ my friend could make this happen!
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median age for first leaving home for people aged between 18-34 years of age is 20.9 for men, and a slightly younger 19.8 for women. However to me, it seems that young people are leaving home much later that they did in my day – particularly in city areas. There also appears to be a growing tendency for children who have left home to return at a later date – according to the ABS, there is a 46% (nearly 1 in 2!) chance of your children moving out yet returning to live with you at least once before they turn 35. Just when you thought you could sell up and spend your retirement sailing the tropics….!
There are probably a myriad of common, as well as individual reasons why young people are leaving the nest later. Rising house prices, as well as the later median age for marriage (and more relaxed attitudes towards marriage and living together) are some that come to mind, as well as the increasing number of people undertaking tertiary education. Some cultures place more importance on extended family, and tend to live together as a larger family unit. However I am sure that for some parents (such as my friend) there comes a point when they are just about ready to leave a very succinct eviction notice on their 30-something child’s bedroom door!
So how exactly does one encourage ones spawn to stretch their wings and leave the nest? And how does one prepare them for this – so that they don’t come back defeated after a few short months?
Preparation and communication are key factors to consider. Talking about independence and responsibility, and giving your children household responsibilities at an early age are important here. Make sure that (regardless of their gender) they know how to do everyday household tasks and chores. Doing everything for someone certainly doesn’t teach them anything!
Talking about money and budgeting strategies regularly with your children will assist them greatly when it comes to them managing their own. Prepare them for the responsibility of juggling their own finances by not always bailing them out. Sometimes they will have to miss out on that concert, or not buy that pair of shoes so they can pay bills and eat! However with responsibility comes great reward…i.e. they can play that death-metal as loud as they damn like in their own digs!Another friend of mine successfully enforced the ‘old enough to vote, old enough to pay rent’ policy, and despite home-cooked meals and a lovely home environment, paying market price rent to live way out in suburbia was not exactly an appealing prospect for his 18 year old son! Although this scenario is not for everyone, he did grow up to be an extremely independent young man (who sometimes, only sometimes returns home to raid the kitchen cupboards!)