How to Coach Your Adult Child Into a Career

If you don't want to support your children into their retirement years, you'd better coach them into a career.
If you don't want to support your children into their retirement years, you'd better coach them into a career.

You pored over baby name books to find a moniker that would sound strong and capable on a future resume. You dutifully videotaped first steps, preschool graduations and high school plays. You scrimped and saved and refinanced your house to pay for four years (and then a fifth year -- and then, seriously, just one more semester, I swear) of college. And then finally, graduation day arrived, giving your grown son or daughter the chance to embark on a new adventure and forge a new path -- a path that led right back to your house.

If you find yourself sharing a roof with your children well past their 18th (or 21st or 26th) birthdays (and not in a "Hey, Mom, whaddya say you move in and let us take care of you for a change" kind of way), maybe it helps to know that you are by no means alone. Philadelphia-based consulting firm Twentysomething, Inc. predicts that 85 percent of new college graduates will return to their parents' homes in 2011. And like any trend worth its weight in salt, this one even has its own nickname: the "boomerang effect."

National unemployment rates continued to hover in the 9 to 10 percent range in early summer 2011, and despite having youthful optimism and pricey educations on their sides, college graduates are feeling the effects just like everyone else. According to an April 2011 study by Rutgers University's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, only 53 percent of students who graduated from a four-year college between 2006 and 2010 have found full-time employment. And nearly half of all recent graduates surveyed were underemployed, meaning working in jobs that didn't require a bachelor's degree.

So assuming that it's not your life's ambition to support your children into their retirement years (or their life's ambition to perfect their delivery of the question, "Would you like fries with that?"), how can you help coach your adult children into a career?

Ideally you're reading this well before your child's college graduation, like maybe sometime during your third trimester of pregnancy with your future overachiever. But if you're instead finding -- like many parents of 20-somethings -- that you weren't prepared for this particular parenting challenge, take heart: All is not lost.

Now read on, quickly -- before they bump you off the computer so they can check Facebook -- er, that is, search the job boards again.