In the recent past, things have changed tremendously from what we once knew them to be. Jobs have become less secure or nonexistent. With the exception of Washington, D.C. and a select few other cities, home values have declined drastically while the cost of living has inclined drastically. College graduates here in the District of Columbia and throught the country have found themselves back at home without a clue as to where to go next. Granted there is a small culture of “Boomerang Kids” who have decided to stay home rather than face the world. However, this article isn’t about them. This article is about the once optimistic group who was graduated from high school with plans to change the world or went on to college with that same idea in mind and now find themselves unemployed, living in their parents’ house, in the same bedroom they personally vowed to never return to. They feel hopeless. The shining beacon of optimism they once were has dwindled to a flicker. These bad economic times have caused generation X’ers and generation Y’ers to delay certain aspects of the American Dream synonymous with adulthood. These aspects include independence, home ownership, upgrading their college car to a professional adult car or simply buying their first car. Having been graduated at the very beginning of this current financial mess, I do understand the perils of a slow economic market. Fortunately, I was able to find employment. However, there were times when I was drastically under paid, and periods where I was simply out of work. In fact, I moved to Washington, D.C. for economic opportunity. With that said, this is an entirely new day than it was nearly a decade ago. With entire corporations closing their doors and some simply moving their offices overseas, entire towns are left without work. In situations like this, individuals who were just a few years away from retirement are left out in the cold with a meager unemployment check. Sad to say, those are the fortunate ones. If one wasn’t fired, or not at their job long enough, someone with a significant work history isn’t eligible for unemployment compensation under the strict unemployment laws. This individual finds themselves in a tough situation. Their bills haven’t stopped and cutting back the few luxuries they did enjoy still isn’t enough to make ends meet again. These disenfranchised employees are left to start from the bottom in a new position, a few years away from retirement age and decades away from an actual retirement. Bad economies place recent college grads just beginning in the work force and seasoned professionals in a head to head battle for the same low paying jobs. The end result is too many applicants and not enough jobs. Now, factor in the positions posted and interviewed for where the company decided to shuffle around existing employees and hire within. Imagine the devastating blow one must face when they’ve interviewed for a position to later find that the job was not taken away by someone else, but just taken away. The point of this is to remember to be empathetic to your children. I understand it must be difficult to have your adult children back in your home when you thought they were out of the nest and on their way, yet imagine how they feel might believing they were out and on their way as well to suddenly find themselves grown-up, educated, with no job and no prospects, lying on your sofa, because their old bedroom is now your yoga studio/sewing room. It only adds to their depression to know the one place they thought they were always welcome is no longer welcoming. It’s not that they don’t want to work or miss your cooking so much that they’ve given up, but because their outlook has become so dim that they’ve given up. So the magic question is how do you encourage the discouraged? First things first, this is definitely not a time for tough love. This person already feels beaten up by the world telling them they’re a looser, they don’t need you to do the same. Second, try and talk with them about their plans to see what you can do to help, but without pushing. Perhaps you know someone in their perspective field who is looking for an employee. It may not be at the level they expect, but they have to start somewhere. Third, assure them you’ll be there for them as long as they’re making a valid effort, a valid effort being applying for jobs and following thru with any interviews no matter how small the job. If they need a financial hand out, within your budget, to help them up and out, offer it. Finally, understand this is a different time from when you were starting out in the work force and there were fewer applicants and plenty of opportunity in local industry. It’s hard out there, much harder than it was for you in the same place in your life. This doesn’t mean coddle them and be a pushover, it simply means understand the American Dream you had access to has changed.