Skip to comments."Boomerang" generation comes home to roost
Posted on 08/02/2005 8:54:52 AM PDT by MinorityRepublican
After at least five years of media hype warning that a tectonic societal shift was slowly taking place, it has hit home. Millions of parents who used to worry vaguely about what they'd do when their kids fled the nest are now fretting about the opposite: how to get them to leave.
An estimated 18 million fledgling adults are now out of college but not out on their own. Parental nests are packed with offspring whose costly college educations so far have not equipped them to assume the traditional markers of adulthood: moving out on their own, finding jobs good enough to support themselves and, down the line, establishing their own families.
Reasons for their return
Social scientists have blamed this "boomerang" syndrome on a variety of economic factors: a tight job market, low salaries for entry-level jobs and the high cost of rent and large student-loan debts, making it difficult for many to afford independent living soon after graduation. The trouble is, many parents would like independence from their kids. Many have retired or plan to retire, want to scale down, or want to use what funds they have for their own selfish pleasures after years of putting their children first.
The situation has grown so pervasive not just in the United States where 25 percent of Americans between 18 and 34 now live with parents, according to the 2000 U.S. census, the most recent available but also in England and Canada, that marketers have begun targeting families who live with these boomerang kids, and social-service groups have begun advising on how to handle the situation.
DaimlerChrysler autoworkers, for example, received advice on the subject in the April issue of their union magazine, Life, Work & Family. The advice: Meet in neutral territory to discuss the kids' return before they come back home. Set up house rules, including a contract that deals with schedules and expectations.
A Florida newspaper columnist has asked in print (perhaps in jest) that the IRS offer a tax credit to parents whose grown kids have come home to mooch, er, live.
Life stages realigned
Author Gail Sheehy nailed this trend a decade ago in her book "New Passages," in which she realigned the life stages, adding whole new bonus decades based on changing societal norms and increasing longevity. Adolescence and partial dependence on family now linger until the late 20s, she wrote. True adulthood doesn't begin until 30.
In her new alignment, 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the start of a whole new life because by then many children have fled the nest, and their parents can begin to explore new options.
But that last part hasn't exactly worked out the way Sheehy predicted for those whose grown kids have returned.
Harriet Pollon of Malibu, Calif., has witnessed the transition from her vantage point as a long-ago college grad, then mother and teacher. She graduated from Boston University in 1964 and, she says, nothing could have persuaded her to go home afterward. "It just wasn't done in those days."
"I was shocked"
Pollon has four children, three of whom came home to live with her after their college graduations. One stayed for a year. "I thought, 'How convenient.' He's an adult who drives, and I still had a daughter in elementary school, so he could help drive her. I also thought it was not unreasonable to ask him to occasionally baby-sit. He was shocked. It was out of the question, he said. It would interfere with his social life. He refused. And I was shocked."
She tried, but she simply couldn't tune them out, she says, because they are, after all, still her children. "You don't want to be a bad parent, so you get sort of trapped into it."
Serious class difference
Elina Furman, 32, who wrote a book on the subject titled "Boomerang Nation," now lives with a boyfriend in New York after living with her mother and sister for nine years after college. From her interviews with twentysomethings, she says she saw a "serious class difference" in how people reacted to moving home.
"A lot of kids moving into big houses had a sense that 'this is so much better than I could ever get anywhere else.' Some had hot tubs, cars, a lot of privacy." In a small house or apartment, she says, the grown children may share TV time and almost everything else with their parents a source of tension.
In either case, stigma is still the main problem that shows up in any review of twentysomething message boards. At the Web site www.quarterlifecrisis.com, which focuses on this age group, posted messages reveal angst but also sweetness, sincerity and poignancy. Someone named Melly writes that she is a Boston University graduate about to turn 25 who has moved back home after getting dumped by her live-in boyfriend. She writes that she felt like "a complete failure in front of the entire extended family."
Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a professor at the University of Maryland in College Park and author of "Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Through the Twenties," says his studies of the generation have shown that they are "not spoiled and self-indulgent. Typically, kids who return home are working very hard. They're not lying around waiting for their parents to order pizza. They're often looking for jobs or employed in jobs that don't pay very well, so they can't live on their own. Many are going to school as well. I definitely don't subscribe to the theory that they're coddled adults."
Ah, the Playstation generation is proving their worth.
I like your tag line.
Screwed by the "ME" generation.
I told my wife - the best thing to get an 18 year old for his birthday is suitcases.
Alternately, you can turn it around and say the boomer parents are being selfish by trying to punt the kids out the second they turn 18. Multi-generational families weren't out of the ordinary before recent decades.
I couldn't do it, though. I had to move back in with my parents for just one month when I was 23, in between jobs. I hated every single second of it, because we lived way out in the middle of nowhere, I had nothing to do except look for work, and they were still treating me like I was 16. I'm glad it didn't go much longer. I felt like a failure for having to do it.
Spoiled brats who have been told the world revovles around them then go out in real world and find out it doesnt so they go crawl back to the people who think it does
It cuts both ways. Many are allowing their parents to move in with them into their houses. Especially with rising house prices and exorbitant costs for nursing homes, and adult communities, it makes a lot of sense. Plus, they are a big help with raising the kids. Economic forces are bringing back the concept of "extended family."
But they're too wimpy to declare it. Cry me a river.
Why move out when you can enjoy everything that Mom and Dad have worked for 30 years to build? Since our culture has removed the notion of work = stuff, it is no wonder that we have 18 million whiners who feel entitled to Mom and Dad's continued support.
BTW, I am 31, a married mother of three with my own home. Moved out at 18. Have not looked back, save Sunday dinners. No, I do no dump my kids off with my mom -- something else that I see my generation doing....mom means babysitter.
I left at 18 so are mine.
I do agree that housing costs are BS and a unduly harsh wake-up call for young people. The price of houses in places like Denver, North Dallas, and Austin are a crock and I will LMAO when they implode in the near future.
I think one thing this article fails to mention is the selfish, superficial nature of the current generation, with their overly inflated sense of entitlement - especially the girls. Have you talked to any twentysomethings lately? Their brains are mush from too much television, too much computers and video games. What happened to being a kid? Playing sports, trying to form a band, having a paper route? Instead they sit in front of the telly hours on end.
Sounds like the Dr in last paragraph didnt read the rest of the article...lol
Still, how many 18 year olds buy a house? It's called an apartment...it's called a roommate...it's called doing what it takes to make it happen, i.e. working your hind end off so that you can afford a house.
And if you can't make it in Denver, North Dallas, or Austin, you MOVE to a place where you can make it.
Even when my kids get a job, it would still make sense if they work close by, to allow them to live with us (for a monthly rental, plus helping with shopping, etc). The stipulation is that any money they save out of the deal, goes into a retirement fund. People don't realize just how much difference it makes to start saving for retirement in their 20s, rather than starting in their 30s, even a little money goes a long way if you have that extra ten years of interest.
my degree in anthrpologicalwomensstudiespadagonianbasketweaving (for non-math majors) is worthless!
Unemployment has been below 6% for YEARS now.
What do you want to bet this happens more with liberal parents than conservative parents.
Marge: "Homer, remember what you promised the kids?"
Homer: "Oh, yea. Kids, when you're 18, you're outta here."
The job market is "tight" when these kids expect $50k + right out of college. Those $28k jobs are for losers, doncha know?
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