An article titled “Some Millennials – And Their Parents – Are Slow To Cut The Cord” appeared on my Facebook feed today. And there was much rejoicing, at least in this mom’s world. In this piece, the point is made that there can be great advantages when young people move back to the family home early in their adulthood.
I have long argued that if a parent/child relationship is positive and healthy (as in – NOT governed by helicopter parenting), it can be a really good thing for young adults – or “emerging adults” as they’re called in the article – to maintain closeness and even move back home during that emerging adult phase.
The overwhelming narrative in our society has been griping about “boomerang kids” who return home after college and mooch off their parents. Certainly that situation could be miserable if relationships are negative or if the kid returning home is a burden/not contributing at all to the household.
But I think there’s a perfectly healthy and quite happy alternative, and I’m finding that this alternative is probably what’s happening in my own household. We have one daughter who chose to live at home while going to college, for a number of reasons. She and I just had a very open and productive conversation just a few days ago that went something like this:
Daughter: I feel like I should be looking into how and when to start paying off my student loans.
Me: You know you don’t have to worry about that until after you graduate.
Daughter: Yes, but if I don’t get a full time job right away, what if I can’t manage to start paying it off?
Me: You know, you don’t have to be all on your own after you graduate. Any time you’re ready to move into your own place we’ll support you 100%, but you should know you are under no pressure to leave home. You are an integral part of our lives and we’ll be happy with whatever you decide. Best case scenario in my book is that you get a full-time job with health insurance right out of college. You stay here until you’re ready to go, pay a little rent, and everyone’s happy. I love having you around, and I’m in no hurry to get rid of you. On the other hand, we don’t want you to feel like you have to stay at home to “take care of us” or whatever.
Daughter (with a deep sigh of relief): I’m glad. Because so far I don’t have any interest in moving away from home.
Our family is a mutual support system. We all genuinely like each other and have a pretty high tolerance for each others’ odd personality quirks. I don’t think there’s anything unnatural about that, and I’m thankful to have the situation we have. I know other parents are sorely tested, and I know we’re very lucky. Honestly, I think there’s a pretty good chance our son will end up back home too a few years down the line while he’s working on his master’s degree. We’ve lived in a full house before and there’s no reason we can’t do it again…with a few ground rules from the outset.
And so, once again, National Public Radio has blown the conversation wide open and given me food for thought.