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THE UPS AND DOWNS OF BOOMERANG KIDS

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.

Dorothy Sander

8 Responses to THE UPS AND DOWNS OF BOOMERANG KIDS

  1. Kay Newton on November 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Its expected here in Spain that kids don’t leave home until they are in their 30′s. Often attending University means going to the nearest one from home.
    My own personal feeling is that we have to help our younger generation learn firstly about their unique abilities and create an inner confidence which allows then to decide whether further education is really for them – most successful businessmen have learned in the University of life – why be tied down with debt because it’s socially expected?
    I could write many lines on our victorian education system – perhaps another time.
    I haven’t hit the boomerang stage yet – to date I’ve found the best way to talk to my two teenagers is to tie a message to the dogs collar or use facebook – I wonder if this will still apply if they become boomerangs?

    • Dorothy Sander on November 10, 2010 at 1:46 am

      My boomerang boys still have “selective hearing” but I like to blame that on electronics ~ seems to have made most young people ADD and may be a few “old” people too! I agree with you about offering opportunities for your children to find their inner confidence and that takes longer for some than others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Eliza on November 10, 2010 at 12:33 am

    My daughter and her boyfriend moved in while apartment hunting. They were with us for 6 weeks and my husband and I were disappointed when they found a place of their own so quickly. It was awesome getting to know her boyfriend better, and they were both extremely helpful around the house. We got used to the recycling always being taken out to the box and dinner prep underway :-)

    We didn’t really think of them as my daughter and her boyfriend so much, as a young couple we really enjoyed spending time with.

    I am sure at some point the novelty would have worn off for all of us, but I was extremely grateful for the time they were here.

    • Dorothy Sander on November 10, 2010 at 1:43 am

      Sounds wonderful! Perhaps six weeks was just the right length of time! I bet you miss them!

      • Eliza on November 10, 2010 at 1:51 am

        Fortunately, they only live a 10 minute drive away. Plus, we try to have Family Dinners at least once per month, if not more.

  3. Petra Maxwell on November 10, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I agree that having a boomerang child can be a rich and rewarding experience. The key, I believe, to a successful re-connection is a willingness to communicate expectations, an ability to remain open-minded, and a good sense of humor! As a mediator who helps families negotiate their way around numerous types of family conflicts, I have seen many parents wrangle with their boomerang kids over money issues, girlfriends/boyfriends, expectations around chores – you name it. But, as you said, Dorothy, once I manage to get the parents and the kids to see and respect each other as adults – the whole dynamic begins to shift! It’s wonderful. Then, they begin to look at their relationship as more of a partnership, and true collaboration begins to happen.

    • Dorothy Sander on November 10, 2010 at 11:25 pm

      Well put Petra! Communication is key and it’s not always easy. We have found humor to be the best tool available to us. We laugh at ourselves and encourage our children to laugh at themselves, not as ridicule but as a way of relieving tension, especially in a disagreement ~ when we “lighten up” and avoid taking things too seriously it can diffuse an argument in a heartbeat. We still have a way to go but it gets better all the time.

  4. Living the Balanced Life on November 16, 2010 at 1:17 am

    I have had a boomerang, but she has moved on now. My 3rd child is almost 20, attending technical school to get his automotive license, and the father of a 2 month old. We are trying to figure out how to parent this boy/man/child. Trying to treat him as an adult, be he is currently not employed. Well, he has seasonal employment, fall festivals, and that job has run its course and he has not beenvery diligent about pushing to find another.
    You definitely have to treat them differently but they still have to follow rules. It is nice though as they grow up to start treating them as peers.
    Great post!
    Bernice

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