Boomerang Generation; How to cope when your kids move back home

Boomerang Generation | Kathy lette

Kids leaving home is traumatic, but not nearly as stressful as when they move back in again! Human beings are the only creatures on God’s earth who take their young back when they’re fully grown adults. I mean, it’s just not natural.

But, according to the latest survey by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, almost a third of people between the ages of 18 and 34 are either yet to leave their parents’ nest or have boomeranged back home again. 1 in 10 parents admitted stay-at-home kidults are a strain on the family budget with parents spending a combined $235 million each week on adult children living at home.

It’s the same story in Britain. A survey by the insurance company MetLife discovered that a quarter of British parents over 50 have adult children living with them. 43 percent of them make no contribution to household expenses with parents estimating that they fork out an average of £72 a week on food and other household bills directly related to their adult offspring.

The day after my kids flew the nest, I wandered around their bedrooms, touching old toys and story books, feeling totally bereft. The silence roared at me. But this ennui soon evaporated as I realised the redecoration potential. Would I turn their old bedrooms into a gym or a study or a walk-in-wardrobe?… But just when I was poring over colour charts, my son moved back in again. And not just with mounds of luggage, but his emotional baggage as well.

The trouble is, kids regress when they move home. Although 26, he immediately started behaving like a teenager again – hogging the TV remote, dropping wet towels on the bedroom floor, standing in front of a full fridge, moaning – “there’s nothing to eat in this house” ; leaving a flotsam and jetsam of tennis rackets, apple cores, bike helmets, flippers etc in his wake.

And it’s unrelenting. Most kids move home to save money, meaning they never go out. Well, who would, with all that free food and luxury on tap? When my kids were teens, I was constantly begging them to stay home and study and not go out clubbing and partying. Now, I’m like, “Go out! Have fun! Get laid! You’re only young once!”

But, while your kidults seen contentedly turning into couch potatoes, they’re very censorious of your social life. My son recently ticked me off because one of his friends saw me coming out of a nightclub at 2 am. “Your friend is mistaken,” I replied. “I wasn’t going out; I was going in!”

“Isn’t it time you started acting your age?” he reprimanded me. I just bit my lip and reminded myself that a child is for life and not for Christmas.

And the judgemental disapproval doesn’t stop there. My son is constantly interrogating me on every aspect of my environmental consciousness, reliance on “processed animal corpses” and attitudes to “non-heterosexist, non-patriarchal, non-hegemonic, gender free relationships”? (Ah, if only I were young enough to know everything!)

While it’s good to hone my debating skills, when getting the third degree over breakfast, I often find myself thinking how much easier it is to love your children unconditionally before they learn to speak.

Then there’s the emotional maintenance. Teenagers consider a Facebook update by a blogger right up there with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Addicted to his iPhone, I only saw the top of my son’s head for decades. But not now. No, now he wants to workshop every nuance of his relationships. Kids, let me make it clear, only in American sit coms do parents and progeny discuss the minutia of their lives with each other in funny, frank exchanges that always led to hugging at the end. In real life, when it comes to the details of your sex life, parents prefer the Trappist monk approach.

We parents wouldn’t just take a bullet for our kids. If it meant protecting them, we’d contract a slow, flesh-eating bacteria that resulted in all our limbs falling off. But, having coddled, caressed and kissed bumps better since birth, we Oldies need a break from nurturing. We shouldn’t have to give up our lives just to make theirs easier.

So, what’s the solution for trapped nesters? Rent out your house and buy a boat. Or simply downsize and go travelling on a SKI trip. (Spend Kids’ Inheritance). And as you put their suitcases out on the pavement, do remind your progeny that if they even think about locking you away in a maximum security nursing home in twenty years time, you’ll definitely come back and haunt them.

Twitter @kathylette 
Insta @kathy.lette
Facebook /kathyletteauthor/

p.s. Oh, and to all my Aussie mates, I’m doing a couple of gigs in November. Details here. Abandon your kidults and come along! 

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