My husband and I are the parents of boomerang kids. We have two twenty something college graduate sons living under our roof as they search for a reason and the means to move out. Our family is far from unique as poll by Twentysomething Inc. revealed. According to their results, 85% of all college graduates plan to move home. This is a 67% increase over the results of a similar survey conducted in 2006.
I’ve heard many parents express concern that they must be doing something “wrong”. I confess I have wondered the same thing from time to time. The fact of the matter is, the job landscape for college graduates is pitiful. Unemployment for the 20 to 24 age bracket is 15%. Add to that the cost of living in many areas of the country, huge college loans, the need for advanced degrees for good paying jobs and you have a financially impossible situation in which to begin a life of independence. When our generation graduated from college, a college degree had job value and a master’s degree was gold. Not so now. And so, we are stuck with one another, but this doesn’t have to be a burden.
The Benefits of Boomerang Children
1. Different Parenting Style – We have been a different sort of parent to our children than our parents were to us. Throughout our children’s life we have focused on treating them as individuals and with a respect that we were not often afforded. We have been less likely to force them into a preconceived mold and more likely to encourage them to follow their natural inclinations. More of us know what it’s like to “talk” with our children. As a result, they are more comfortable living at home than we were. It is also a more acceptable practice among their peers.
2. Mutual Support – The parents of boomerang kids are feeling the pain of being a member of the “sandwich generation”. We are not only worrying about how our children are faring but we are often the ones responsible for overseeing the care of our aging parents. Rather than seeing our boomerang kids as a burden, we’d do well to call upon them for assistance. They are now adults themselves and they can be a tremendous help. In the process they learn the importance of family interdependence, responsibility, and may broaden their value system. It’s not only an opportunity to help each other financially, but emotionally and practically as well.
3. Re-establish a Connection – Throughout the teen years, children often pull away from their parents. In their effort to establish their own identity, they reject their parent’s values and beliefs. It can be a painful time for parents, even if it is the natural order of things. The children who once idolized them now roll their eyes and snicker behind their backs. But, when these rebellious, angry teens return home after a period of independence there is a wonderful opportunity to heal the rift and shift the parent/child relationship to one of friendship. Each can begin to see the other as an adult to be enjoyed and appreciated. It is an opportunity to laugh together, discuss world events, share concerns, and re-connect in a deeper, richer more-adult way.
Accepting life as a parent of a boomerang child (or two!) is not always easy, especially if you suffered through the empty nest phased and learned to enjoy your new-found freedom. Having it taken away again can be a jolt. It is also very likely not what you expected would happen. I know I didn’t. Accepting change is not easy, nor is accepting the unexpected. However, if we can, having our children under the same roof again can be an enriching and positive experience for both.