THE BLOG

What Do the Experts Say About Boomerang Kids?

04/26/2013 05:20 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2013
Getty Images

Without a doubt, the boomerang kid phenomenon is common these days, and the economy is generally cited as the reason. But, we recently came upon an article in the Times Herald-Record entitled "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?"

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?