When a young neighbor recently spoke of her college-age older sister, I suggested that she must miss her terribly. “Yes, but she’ll be back home in a few years,” the girl said. I asked if she was certain her sister would return to the nest. “Oh, yes,” she replied. “She’s going to have trouble getting a job in her field.”
I was amazed that this was a foregone conclusion, when big sister was still a freshman. However, this seems to be the normal course these days: attend college, then move back home and figure things out.
I became aware of this phenomenon a few years back, when reconnecting with a high school friend on the east coast. She mentioned that her 20-something daughter planned to live at home until she could buy her first house, and that her sons would probably follow suit.
It’s definitely a different scenario from when I was growing up. The general path then was: go to college, graduate, get a job and move into a cheap apartment, go through a few roommates and then cohabitate with your beloved and think about marriage.
Today, college can be unaffordable, youth have few societal pressures to marry and with our depressed economy, entry-level jobs are scarce. As a result, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly 6 million people between the ages of 25 to 35 – about 40 percent in that age range — return home to live with their parents.
Sally Koslow – a former New York-based magazine editor – recently delved deep into the subject of “boomerang kids.” Her just-published book, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest, “gives voice to the millions of parents who are bewildered, and exhausted by this growing trend among their young adult offspring: an unwillingness, or perhaps inability, to take flight,” according to Amazon.com.
So, I when my friends and I commiserate about our challenging teenagers, we should stop reminding each other, “Well, you only have three more years…” as if our parental duties will cease when these youngsters head off to college. Like my young neighbor, we should prepare for more time together after these children earn college degrees.
To read about my first poverty-level salary and roach-infested NYC apartment, click here for the rest of this PermissionSlips blog post. My friend and colleague and I take turns updating our blog weekly.