“Delayed-Launch Period?” Really?

Boomerang Kid!

Uh. I can’t let this one go by. The Wall Street Journal has published an article entitled “Benefits of a Late Launch,” discussing a new book, “Not Quite Adults.

I haven’t read the book and it’s going to take some time before I gather the fortitude to do so, as the subtitle is enough to make me cringe: “WHY 20-SOMETHINGS ARE CHOOSING A SLOWER PATH TO ADULTHOOD, AND WHY IT’S GOOD FOR EVERYONE.” I want to be clear that I am responding to the Journal article, not the book.

To be fair, before I go off on my own rant, I will cite the benefits as the Journal lays them out:

“A recent book suggests the trend may actually be a good thing. Few young adults who live at home are slackers mooching off their parents, say the authors of “Not Quite Adults,” a book based on more than 20 large, long-term data sets supported by the MacArthur Foundation, and interviews with 500 young people ages 18 to 35.

More often, they are using the parental subsidies to get through college or professional training, and to save money, say the authors, Richard Settersten, a professor of human development at Oregon State University, and writer Barbara Ray.

In fact, many young adults who finish college and delay marriage get a much stronger start in life, according to the authors.

Settersten and Ray also contend that the closeness between today’s parents and young-adult children can ‘open new kinds of conversation’ that can deepen family bonds. They see ‘some great things about how this period of life is being shaken up,’ including a wider range of lifestyle and education choices for young people. That assumes, of course, that the young adults are actually making progress during the delayed-launch period toward getting an education, saving money and building their credentials, the authors add.

Of course, another factor is that young adults have higher expectations as consumers, to own items once considered luxuries such as cell phones, dishwashers and digital cable TV…”

I find the term “parental subsidies” comically offensive. What are we – the Department of Agriculture? David and I were very clear with our Spawn, it’s known in our family as THE Talk. Any help we would offer monetarily once The Spawn reached eighteen would be a gift.

We do not “owe” them anything. We were blessed enough to be able to help them with their higher education, and we’ve put a cap on that, limiting it to an undergraduate degree.
We feel further “subsidizing” could easily become a counterproductive disincentive to starting their own lives.

Are we now expected to give our 20-somethings “a wider range of lifestyle and education choices” on our dime? Are we to give this oh-so-special generation more advantages?
Let ’em go out and see the world while we sit at home eating 25-cents-a-bag ramen noodles, paying the credit card bills and watching our retirement savings dwindle?

I worked my hind end off and saved my hard-earned dollars so I could enjoy this part of my life. I was an over-involved, over-the-top helicopter mom, just like I was supposed to be. David and I gave our offspring every opportunity our situation allowed. Now I’m supposed cough up MORE so the Spawn can live the dream? I think not.

Even more comical is “that young adults have higher expectations as consumers.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Dishwashers and digital cable TV? I don’t have those luxuries and I’m certainly not going to pay for my adult kids to have them. And if they ever live in my basement, THEY will be the dishwashers – and I will be hosting many lavish dinner parties. Heck, I might even start a catering business.

Delaying marriage is often attributed to “kids” boomeranging back home after college. The Journal cites the authors of “Not Quite Adults” as feeling that this gives a young adult a “much stronger start in life.” Possibly so.

My three un-boomeranged Spawn would be considered an Old Maid, Confirmed Bachelor and the dreaded Spinster Cat Lady if they lived in a different time.

Staying single longer is a choice many of today’s 20-somethings make. But trading marriage (or a solid relationship) for twelve more years of childhood – while Mommy does your laundry and Daddy sets up your job interviews – is not a “delayed-launch period.” It’s extended adolescence.

The kicker is that the article dubs “young people ages 18 to 35.”
Isn’t thirty-five the beginning of middle age? Are we to have our offspring skip over the part where they learn the joy of earning the benefits of a life for themselves? If the saying is true, and “fifty is the new thirty” then, possibly thirty is the new infant.

Break out the diapers Honey, Junior’s moving home to enjoy our parental

I have grave doubts as to whether anyone living with Mommy and Daddy at thirty-five receives any long-term benefit from the situation. Unless, of course, they have moved back home to take care of their parents in their old age.

Now, there’s a trend that I could get behind.

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

So you’ve heard my side of this. What’s your take?

Did you enjoy what you just read? Then you'll LOVE our book!
Going Gypsy: One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All Going Gypsy One Couple's Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All 

- See how it all began!
ORDER NOW - Wherever Books Are Sold!
Amazon - Barnes & Noble - IndieBound - Books-a-Million
Also available as an audiobook from Audible.com

38 thoughts on ““Delayed-Launch Period?” Really?”

  1. Love what you and your commenters have to say here. You’ve made my day. Brilliant idea about starting a catering service when the boomerang-ers return to the basement. So practical. Why not?

  2. We are paying for state U college and a car but making it clear that after that it is time to make it on your own in the world. Our teens – the oldest now in college – have shown little interest in moving home. Of course we don’t allow friends with benefits to stay overnight and expect them to pay their own expenses so maybe the delayed launch isn’t as attractive as it might be. As soon as the youngest is in college can you spell “downsizing”.

  3. This won’t be a popular answer, but here goes. I admit to being over 60 first of all. I’ve seen parenting go from “children should be seen and not heard” to what it is today, and that is everything in a family revolves around the children. Parents entertain children 24/7, never discipline, but “cajole.” Children grow up believing they are the center of the universe. Then when they grow up and are faced with the cold reality that it doesn’t, they prefer the environment in which they are treated like the royalty they have been taught to believe they are. Somehow, parenting styles needs to find a happy medium!

    1. Yes! There has been a huge shift and we agree that there has to be a happy medium. Being a recovering helicopter mom myself, I had to do some serious soul searching as my kids were leaving the nest. Once I weighed my need to hang on to them against their needs to grow as adults, I understood that I could potentially rob them of becoming self-sufficient. -Veronica

  4. I can understand that there are some situations where it makes sense for over-21ers to be living at home, BUT it should not be because they are incapable of living independently. We paid for college for both our boys, but they both had full time summer jobs and part-time during school jobs. They see how some of their friends are struggling with college debt and they are appropriately grateful to be able to start out without that around their necks. I do believe that males don’t quite have all their brain neurons connected until age 25 at which point there seems to be a definite up spike in maturity. Our sons will be welcome here if they have a life emergency, but the last thing they want to have to do is to move back in with us and they are both self-reliant in their 20’s. My parents were there for me when I was divorced at age 23 and I have been there for them in their very senior years. Every family situation is different and life can throw some curve balls. It is a blessing when family can help, but I think our children are ill-served if they don’t know how to live independently responsibly.

  5. I needed this “rant” about 12 years ago! I am in the midst of pushing a 30 year old who is content working a part time job to pursue his passion until his dream job magically comes along. Oh yes he is good company and oh yes he does clean up after himself as well as after us and his 19 year old sister but I wasn’t raising him to be the butler/maid. My 26 year old son decided he wasn’t going to stay at home and left at 18. He is doing just fine. My fear is my 19 year old daughter has learned to play both sides. Home when she wants and living her own gypsy life when she wants. I can assure you this arrangement is causing heartache at our house as well as problems between my husband and I and the finances were a mess because no lines were drawn across the board. I finally told my husband that if we did not do something to stop this current living arrangement he could live with these two and I would go off on my own. I am done parenting! By the way do these writers have adult childen living at home? HHHHMMMMMM! Tell me it is not too late to reverse this horrendous situation. I’ve got a dream and it does not include the “kids”!

  6. Thanks for posting a synopsis. I had seen the headline before and heard about the book but didn’t want to read either to protect my blood pressure. There are some unique experiences I might think it the right choice to have a post-teenager at home, but most of the reasons they offer are bunk. Great hi-speed wireless for job searches is not one of them. How many boomerang kids really build their bank account while at home? We help with education costs because we can, and we will help pay basic insurance if they cannot afford it (e.g., right now my son works a job with no benefits) because as parents his health is of utmost concern. But cars? A roof? Food? Figure it out. That’s what we did.

  7. 19 to 35?? OUCH, ridiculous! I’ll say it again, nothing wrong with kids living at home if they live like adults. But paying them luxuries that they don’t even NEED (while, yes, many ARE working their butts off to keep things they DO need to stay alive) and let them have the “dream” of traveling around while the parents stay at home, is asinine. And very draining financially, and very unhealthy, like a physically fit person not moving. Ach, ugh, wasting away.

    In fact, even the homeschooling parents I mentioned elsewhere who can over-hover with their adult children don’t let their kids vegetate. Their kids are wonderfully creative, helping with family businesses from childhood.

    1. Sadly it seems like it is probably too late for these “kids” to learn the lesson of self reliance. Parents need to think about this long before their children reach adulthood.

  8. This topic is so rich and fascinating I’ve written a book about it, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest, which Viking is publishing June, 2012. There’s a lot of blame to go around. Some young people are moochers and slackers and others have been mugged by reality, just as some parents have only themselves to blame for kids who can’t or won’t launch.

  9. I find it insane what people are willing to allow their adult children to do…willing to help them do! My 11 year old has already been told "when you go to college you move out…even if college is within walking distance of our home"! They have to learn to stand on their own…and it's our job to prepare them for that and then allow them or even force them to do it!

  10. Allowing your 20 something child to establish themselves reduces the likelihood of them becoming a boomerang kid. Parent's aren't obligated to their children beyond 18, however, if the parent can afford to assist with college, grant them that opportunity. Don't bankrupt yourself, but help. Cost of living: house, car, education today is astronomical and they could use the help. If allowing them to live at home rent free while they attend college is all you can do, do it. But, set demands. You go to college full time, or you get a full time job and help pay the rent / bills. That's the option my mother gave me. College suited me fine.

    Provide your 20-something with a roof over their heads and meals. Let them pay all their bills, cable, entertainment, car, phone, etc.

    Oftentimes, kids rush to leave home, or are kicked out, and haven't established themselves. When tough times hit, they have no reserve and end up as boomerang kids.

    A high school dropout is less likely to succeed in life. And I bet a young person moving out on their own before they're truly capable of taking care of themselves is more likely to depend on their aging parents. Been living on my own since 25 and caution every young person not to rush to leave home. Save the money you'd spend paying rent and buying groceries. So when you do leave home, you're able to take care of yourself and never have to return home.

    I'm Jamaican, why are American parents so quick to throw their kids out the house at 18-21? Let them establish themselves so they never have to depend on you when they do leave the nest. And when they do leave, it'll be for good.

    Twitter: @amusingapparel

    Great article.

  11. This article doesn't surprise me and I think you are spot-on with your response to it. John and I aren't parents yet but we worry about having more than one with the economy the way it is. It seems to be almost expected now that kids will move back home at some point in their twenties or thirties.

  12. Good grief. Methinks the authors of the book quoted in the article that GypsyNester writes about have been sold a bill of goods by THEIR "delayed-launch" offspring. When I lived at home (briefly) after quitting school and getting my first apartment, my folks demanded and got me to pay RENT, my portion of the phone bill, money towards the groceries and utilities. Best thing they could have done. Got me used to budgeting.

    Oh, any while I lived at home, it was by THEIR rules – i.e., no partying in THEIR home, no over-nighters with boyfriends, etc. More incentives to live my own life in my own space.

  13. The statement that listed age 35 made my mouth drop open. That's crazy. I'll help my kids if they need it (like others have helped us), but they are pretty much on their own. (I think they realize it since one bedroom became an office and the other a gym…)

  14. I have a 21 year old going to a private college in our city, he lives at home because he is a non-partier and doesn't like the whole "college" experience. I have an 18 year old that will graduate high school in May, he wants nothing to do with living at home. Seeing it from both sides, I just want them to be happy and do what they want as long as they are in college and have jobs. I am ok either way….for now;)

  15. Terrific!

    While I am going to disagree that the beginning of middle age *must* be after 43, everything else I agree with!

    My parents had a similar talk with me – we knew what was expected, and we wanted to achieve for ourselves. I had a comfortable young life…the BASE for what I should strive to continue on my own.

    My daughter is now 17, and we're going to be going through these motions with her soon. Though even now, there are things we pay for, and there are things she pays for.

    I hear time and time again the parents that complain that their kids are killing them. Won't take responsibility, etc. But it is really that parent enabling them to do it.

    Well written!!


  16. i agree with dorothy completely! i would also add, it wasn't until after ww1 that the shift to the nuclear family began. prior to that people living away from their family of origin were considered, more or less, to be unfortunates and they were often absorbed into other families because that was the norm then.

  17. Right on Sandy! I actually tried to get my daughter to stay home to finish college, but noooooo, she wanted to be an adult and has held up her responsibilities, guess I did a good job. 😀

  18. At the risk of stirring up a little controversy here, I'd like to add a different perspective. I am all for independence, learning to stand on our own two feet and figuring things out ourselves, but the world is a wee bit more complicated now than when we were kids. It's much harder to make ends meet, harder to find jobs and add a layer of "a whole lot scarier", and my belief is that a few more years in the protected nest may just be a considerable benefit. I'm not suggesting providing any more support than necessary, but emotional support is a gift we can give our kids that many of us did not receive at their age. My sons are comfortable discussing life with their father and I and we both feel that the added years has allowed us to impart some things to them that might otherwise have been neglected in the midst of the chaos of earlier years. Everyone is more settled and communication steadily improves. Not to mention that kids develop their frontal lobe somewhere around 23 (depending on kid and gender) and this allows for more meaningful conversation and relationships to develop between parent and child. We co-exist in a cooperative, balanced family life. We have taught our children not to take advantage of others, including us. As long as they are in the process of living and creating a self-supporting life for themselves, I'm comfortable with an extended adolescence. It's no skin off my nose, they are great human beings and we enjoy spending time together.

  19. I guess they are trying to put a positive spin on it but as the parent of a 19 year old i have to say this makes me cringe.Until he moves on we cant move on either.I was married at 21 after meeting my husband at 19.We grew together by going through the struggles we did.Now kids want to move out straight into a big house of their own…and do you think they will be taking care of their parents ??

  20. Sounds like the book/article is going to be popular with the 20-somethings but not any of us parents! Certainly don't think 'Everyone' is going to agree with the authors about it being a good thing!

  21. I think some folks might get the wrong impression with the adults saying "we had to do it why shouldnt the kids" talk. We are not being punitive or having a 'hazing' mentality toward the young adults :0) A different way to put it is that… our struggles and our learning curve challenges are what made us what we are – fully functioning and capable adults. If my mom and dad had carried me the whole way how would I have ever found my lifeskills set? They aren't something that can be given to you – you have to hunt and scratch to find them.

  22. I'm with Cynthia and Linda. You wont appriciate what you have if you didnt earn it yourself. There is nothing wrong with getting out there and making a living on your own with out having everything handed to you. We had to do it why shouldnt our kids

  23. The author of that article must not have 20 somethings living at home with them…this is bull****. Independence is a beautiful thing, dependence is not

  24. I think it's crap! If my adult children live with me, than they contribute to the pot and should make do with what they have. Isn't sacrifice what drives our desires to do more and work harder? A kid having expensive electronics, nicer car etc should come by them the old school way. Save up and get them on their own dime while supporting themselves! I've watched friends supplement their kids lifestyles so they could the finer better things and the kids are sucky snotty always needing to get bailed out whiners!

  25. Wow! I am a firm believer in independence. What is the point of prolonging the real world? Empty nesting is God's gift for getting the kids raised! I just told our 21 year old that we are declaring our independence and took our house key back. Sure, he can bring his laundry over, as long as he doesn't expect me to do it!!

  26. Wow. Still trying to digest the full implications of that idea! First reaction – HA! Not on my dime anymore junior. Second reaction…Nope – spread your wings and fly little birdie. Seems to me that if you did a good job parenting then your kids would want to be on their own living their lives. A young adult will make plenty of mistakes but that is part of the learning process. I think that longing for a type of 'perfection' in life and lifestyle just sets everyone up for failure. The kids have to inhabit the low end of the totem pole for a time – it's up to them how long they stay there – not up to the parents to artificially boost them up a few notches.

  27. My 23 year old was on her own at 19, not the best of situations, but she was happy with her life and has made great progress. SHe is actually interning(paid) with a company doing something she loves and is currently in Mexico City and then on to Alberta, CA to which is helping her fulfill another dream of traveling and she is doing it on someone else's dime! She drives an old Honda, she may have cable & a dishwasher, but she def doen't live high on the hog. She *very rarely* asks us for any help monetarily.
    20 year old son, has a 7 month old baby. Still lives at home, going to school full time to get certified as a auto mechanic. Looking to graduate & get a *real* job by end of year. he and finace want to get their own place. We do minimally *supplement* his income while he is school, but he also keeps up our yard, does other maintenance around the house and keeps up our cars.
    Our rules all along have been you are either going to school fulltime or working fulltime as long as you live here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.