They’re back! The boomer generation are increasingly coping with boomerang kids! Most parents assume their children will fly the nest, but what if they leave home and later come back? Parenting expert Sue Atkins explores and gives her tips for coping with Boomerang Kids.
There’s a new word out on the street called the “boomerang kids” – children who return to their parents’ home in adulthood and remain there into their 20s or even 30s !!!
According to a leading charity Parentline Plus they are putting enormous strain on family relations.
Student debt, the housing shortage and a general lengthening of adolescence (itself a result of growing life expectancy), are all contributing to the well-documented phenomenon of boomerang kids.
Young adults still living with their parents are frequently said to be suffering from the “failure to launch” syndrome but now with the credit crunch really taking hold of family life throughout the world, young adults are returning home as they can’t afford to buy or rent their own home.
The problem isn’t just that they treat the family home like a free hotel, like they did as teenagers, but it is also that many of them refuse to accept that their lifestyles really clash, grate and jar horribly with their parents.
Parents who felt the hard work of bringing up their kids was behind them are now facing extra money worries and stress and, at worst, physical and verbal aggression from their adult children, often fuelled by alcohol and drug abuse.
The charity Parentline Plus is now so concerned about the number of calls it is receiving on this issue that it is drawing up a self-help guide for parents in this position.
One caller told the charity’s free, 24-hour helpline: “I’m not sure what my role is with my son now. As a mother I feel very insecure at this point. This is a transition and difficult for me as a parent to adjust to this new relationship.”
Another said: “Our home became a war ground of constant arguments about alcohol misuse, bad language and lack of respect for us and our home by our son.”
In a report entitled Will They Ever Fly The Nest?, the charity calls for more support for parents of young adults to assert what authority they have, especially where adult children are violent or misuse drugs.
The problem is a very real one as there is an assumption built into government policy and social norms that young people magically became trouble-free and responsible as soon as they reach adulthood but the reality could not be more different.
I think it’s helpful for you as parents to have more information about issues such as housing benefits, grants and training and for you to gently start coaching your kids into looking at ways to get round, over or through this hurdle facing them.
Here are some practical ideas to help cope with Boomerang Kids!
• Remember It’s your house – and your rules
• Insist that your kids make a financial contribution – as this teaches them to respect you, as well as themselves and puts the relationship on a much better footing so resentment doesn’t build up.
• Draw up an agreement on chores around the house and the basic house rules, then stick to them
• Don’t wait upon them hand and foot! Just ask yourself what are they learning if you do?
• Don’t treat them like teenagers and don’t try to control them
• Accept that you have to go through a transition in behaviour with adult children
• Ensure that both of you as parents are on the same side. If your partner expects a woman to do all the chores, the adult child will too as you are still being a role model to your kids no matter how old they are.
• If their behaviour upsets you, speak to them – work out compromises, solutions and ways forward. Don’t let resentment, anger and arguments build up
• Insist that they tell you if they are not coming home at night and explain why you need to know. (Peace of mind, security so you can lock the door etc)
• Be prepared to say: “I love you, but not your behaviour” just as you did when they were younger kids
• Remind them that this is your house. If they don’t like your rules, they must leave.
• Set boundaries – be firm, fair, consistent and respectful and of course, helpful and look at ways to move this situation forward long term