What Do the Experts Say About Boomerang Kids? It’s NOT what you think

Boomerang Kids

Without a doubt the boomerang kid phenomenon is common these days, and the economy is generally cited as the reason.

But recently we came upon an article in the Times Herald-Record, entited Tips From Experts on ‘Boomerang Kids’ by Brenda Gilhooly, that offered advice on several other situations involving adult offspring returning to the nest.

Let’s take a look at what the experts had to say.

“For many of those families, adult children are returning to the roost, whether because of the economy, immaturity, health issues or they just prefer the comforts of home.

There’s nothing wrong with that, says Denyse Variano…”

We very much understand health issues — any parent would do whatever was in their power to help their offspring in that situation. And the economy could be considered a viable reason for helping a young adult get on their feet. But let’s take a look at the other half of the experts’ scenarios.

Full-grown, twenty-something college graduates are returning home to have their parents continue supporting them due to “immaturity” or because “they just prefer the comforts of home?” And the expert’s take is that there is nothing wrong with that picture?

Jaw, meet floor. Maybe there was some mistake. Maybe Ms. Variano, wasn’t clear on her meaning. We should give her the benefit of the doubt and look at the answers she and her fellow expert, Stefanie Hubert, gave to some other pertinent questions.

After all, they are on the staff at the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, and created a series called “They’re Back …. Or Never Left.” They must know more than we do on the subject.

“Q. My 24-year-old son has a part-time job but doesn’t make enough money to live on his own. Other family members are saying he’s mooching off of us, but we want to help.

A. That’s what families do for each other, and the role that a parent needs to take is to be the main support person for their child at any stage of life. But if parents have the sense that they are being taken advantage of financially, then there are important conversations that need to be had.”

Hold on, did they say “the role that a parent needs to take is to be the main support person for their child at any stage of life?” They did.

No matter if we are aging, facing our own financial difficulties, or in less than perfect health; no matter what, we are always the go to solution for any of our children’s problems? Even after they are married?

Oh. MY. Are we glad neither of these experts are our mothers-in-law!

Of course if the adult offspring are taking advantage, then a conversation is called for. Does the chat involve any discussion of actually growing up, moving out, or becoming a self-sufficient adult? Nope, those ideas are never mentioned in any of the responses given by these experts.

Instead, when a harried parent asked what to do about a full grown man who has returned to his childhood home and is “too old to punish,” they offered this little gem of wisdom: “Are you sure your child knows the rules?”

When asked if boomerang kids should pay some rent, Variano and Hubert suggest they should, but only “if the young adult has the financial capability to contribute.”

Is this the way to guide our adult children in the ways of the real world? No worries, you don’t have to pay any bills unless you happen to have extra money laying around after doing whatever you want?

Just in case the experts weren’t completely clear on their stand that no adult child should ever be expected to grow up and live on their own, the article closes with this question:

“Q. My 20-year-old daughter seems very comfortable living with us. I guess it’s just easier. She doesn’t have to work hard or do housework. Should we force her to grow up and move out on her own?”

Perhaps a resounding “YES!” would have been a good response. But it wasn’t:

“A. It’s important to recognize that there are many different reasons why adult children are staying or returning home. There is a huge difference between mentoring (giving guidance and support) and managing (doing for them or dictating what they must do). We need to be careful regarding the latter; it’s a recipe for burnout for the parents and it infantalizes adult children.”

Face, meet palm. After an entire article that never once asked any responsibility from grown children who continue to live at home with their parents, these experts have decided that those very same parents must be careful not to cause any infantile behavior.

We’re speechless… are you?

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

YOUR TURN: Think we overreacted? Do you agree with the experts? Is there a middle ground? Speak your mind!

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16 thoughts on “What Do the Experts Say About Boomerang Kids? It’s NOT what you think”

  1. When a person becomes an adult and is perfectly physically able to work, they are capable and responsible to take care of themselves. The parent’s obligations to support that person should be ended! You’re not doing them any favors by taking care of them. All you are doing is encouraging them to be lazy.

  2. Like so many things in life, it’s not black or white. Some grown kids may need to move home for a variety of reasons. And parents’ attitudes matter. When families work together toward the same goals and our adult kids’ independence is the end product, it’s better for all of us.

  3. Having now sent off to either marriage or college our three oldest children, and with only two left at home, our family is nearing the time when Julie and I will be empty nesters. One thing we have learned over the last five years as the size of our at-home family has shrunken is that that all the relationships have to be redefined with each change.

  4. Symptoms of empty nest syndrome can include depression , a sense of loss of purpose, feelings of rejection, or worry, stress, and anxiety over the child’s welfare. Parents who experience empty nest syndrome often question whether or not they have adequately prepared their child to live independently.

  5. I don’t think that any of us is prepared for the eventuality of our children becoming dependent on us again. I suppose it is that, for most, it is such a surprise and they are not ready with a back up plan.

    Repurposing bedrooms works in many cases. An empty bedroom with all the high school things still hanging on the walls is just an invitation for a child to move back home. It may even be that parents will need to downsize.

    We have faced this and it worked out fine but I would not encourage other’s to do this if they have any other choice. In our case I think we did the right thing.


  6. Well, our kids aren’t tempted to move back with us since we’ve relocated to Panama. . . but before that, we downsized. With 4 kids out in the world and 1 left at home, we went from the big house where we raised them to a 1200 sf home that couldn’t accommodate any additional residents. We made it very clear that, barring life catastrophes of epic proportions, they were on their own. And guess what? They’re all productive and responsible. Go figure.

  7. In absolute agreement with you! My 25 year old stepson is now 2 years out of college, has a very good job and still lives with us rent free (his father’s doing, not mine). He needs a new car and is seriously looking to buy a new luxury mid-size car that costs more than $40K! Of course he’s been able to save $$ and can afford to buy that type of car by living with us rent-free for 2 years. I suggested that if he’s financially able to buy a luxury car he’s certainly able to move out into a place of his own. I also said that’s not a “first car” and that it would be smarter to buy something more economical that would also allow him the freedom to spend his money on other things–like his own apartment. His response was, “well that car really makes me feel good about myself”. Seriously? Are we supporting a 25 year old so that he can buy toys for his self-esteem? Well, I’m done going along with the enabling…if he buys that car he’s either moving out or paying rent!

  8. You are not overreacting at all … I wonder if some parents can’t be happy that their children are successful without their help? This may be why they keep them dependent and at home because that’s what it is when you don’t demand that a kid do housework and contribute – it’s keeping them dependent on you. The economy be damned. Everyone I know with guts and a clear head on their shoulders has made the necessary adjustments to survive in this economic mess.

    1. Couldn’t agree more! All three of ours have been on their own since graduation and they have all at one time or another had to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. It’s what adults do.

  9. I’m speechless and disappointed. In a way it is an indication of what our society is coming to. The whole, ‘take care of me and my wants’. I guess commonsense isn’t as common as it use to be. This country was founded on hard work, why are our children suddenly exempt from values that ensure the continuation of a healthy society? Our youngest graduates this year and if he chooses to stay home while continuing his education we’ve already told him that he will be paying rent, not ‘if’ he’s working but as long as he’s living here that’s what life costs. We don’t need the money but he needs the experience. Our lifestyle isn’t free and it would be irresponsible of us to let him think that his is free. My question to these strange minded people is “when did it become my responsibility to finance my adult children’s lives?” But I guess I know their answer.*sigh* So sad.

    1. Sad to say that the only place these “kids” get the notion that everything should be handed to them is from their parents. Just don’t understand how their ultimate goal in raising children wasn’t to make self reliant adults.

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