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Jilly Gagnon Headshot

Please, PLEASE Empty My Nest Syndrome

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Thank god for CNN; without its desperate need to fill a 24-hour news cycle, the world might never learn the thrilling details of that exclusive Heidi Montag interview, or get to see the same footage of...whatever counts as news today...enough times to be able to recreate it in their backyard with extras from the neighborhood and a few firecrackers, or know that one out of every eight 25-34-year-olds has now, due mostly to the economy, but sometimes thanks to a need to devote all available resources to following Phish, moved back in with mom and dad.

That's right, if you're hitting up Chez 'Rents these days, or if you're trying to pretend you're excited to have your favorite little guy home for weeks, maybe months, god, there's no end in sight...well, misery loves company, right? Never fear, it doesn't have to be so bad. CNN has already devoted literally minutes to giving tips to forcibly-close-again families, and with a few more (cut due to time constraints - how else would they fit in the fourth replay that hour of that dog being saved from a toilet pipe?) it'll be just as much fun as it was those last few years before they finally went away to college!

Under My Roof...: Everyone knows children crave rules; maybe not having enough of them is what lost your little baby his or her job in the first place! Make sure that what you expect from him or her is never unclear by printing up lists and pasting them in each room of the house. Get specific; paste up a "no cookies before dinner" reminder in the 'treat' cupboard, or tape a friendly "no porn! Especially if it involves animals!" sign on your home computer. After all, how else will they learn?

Sit-down dinner:
Nothing keeps a family together like time spent over a lovingly-prepared meal. Use yours as an opportunity to make sure sweetie-kins knows the cost of every single item on your table, down to the salt and pepper, so that s/he has an idea of how much of your retirement s/he's literally eating away.

Allowance:
Learning about money starts at home; teach your baby about the value of a dollar by giving him or her a reasonable weekly allowance...and then "taxing" it heavily, for your "social security." Slip the remaining $2-$5/week, which your baby can spend however s/he wants, under the bedroom door every Saturday, along with a bill for rent, utilities, and any little extras that come to mind, and watch the learning begin!

Passive-Aggressiveness: Mention frequently how other friends' kids have found work, or never lost it in the first place. Ex: "Did you hear that John Kingston is working for Target now? Great company to work for, and Mary says he's already just rising through the ranks." If your son or daughter refuses to take the hint, start pointedly asking "what you're doing - I feel like I'm totally in the dark about this job search stuff" to make sure s/he knows that you're judging failures, even of the tacit, no-interviews in sight variety, harshly. If none of this works, simply take to sighing, loudly, whenever s/he's around, and, if asked why, explaining with a simple "I just worry if I did everything I could as a parent, sometimes."

Babysitting: Now that Double-junior's college fund has run out, you need to make sure s/he has a babysitter so that you and the hubby/wifey can keep your Saturday-night Sizzler dates. Enlist Junior, reminding him/her that "this is a family, and in a family, we all chip in!" If s/he protests that his/her sibling is a legal adult, and can take care of him/herself, offer to order some Pizza Hut - no kid doesn't like Pizza Hut!

Family Game Night: Life isn't all work, it's play, too! And after a few weeks of playing Scattergories, learning what words come to mind for dad when "P" shows up on the die and the clue is "something stiff," you'd better believe junior's going to prefer work, any work, Jesus Christ, I'll flip f**king burgers if I have to!, that can get him/her a play-ce of his/her own!