Everyone I know is downsizing. We still come home from our travels with souvenirs for the grandchildren, but nothing more to adorn, decorate or set off the too many things we already own. “Not one more thing for the Box,” declares Henry, which is where he puts the chotchkes his wife can’t keep herself from [...]
Robin Williams’ suicide caused many people to worry about their grown kids’ mental health: In the last two weeks, I’ve had more inquiries than usual from parents who wonder whether the shocking death of someone who seemed to have triumphed over his demons – at least, those we knew about – might, as one [...]
The news that China has had to officially remind its citizens to look after their elderly parents rippled across the tranquil watering holes of summer afternoons like pebbles tossed into a pond. While trying (or not) to let go of our grown kids and enjoy the responsibiity-free years between now and that distant country [...]
It’s not just the economy that’s bringing grown kids back home, or keeping them from leaving in the first place. It’s also the shift in parents’ roles and responsibilities in their adult children’s lives in the 21st century. Guiding them through the critical third decade of their lives is a much more hands-on process for baby boomers than it was when we did our final stretch of growing up out of sight, if not mind, of our own parents.
Our ambition for independence was less complicated than it is today for 20-somethings, a whopping 63% of whom live at home for varying reasons and intervals. But whether or not parents and grown kids live under the same roof, they’re much more intimately involved with each other than they used to be. Current research as well as contemporary practice indicates that even kids who don’t live at home want, need, welcome and expect parental support – a child’s third decade will cost parents a third of the total amount they spent on the first two!
Today it’s tough to know when the parenting years are over, because the meaning of both parenthood and adulthood has changed. Even parents who don’t have the resources or inclination to subsidize a child’s meandering path to self-hood as well as self-sufficiency are wondering how to renegotiate their relationship as their kids navigate the complicated passage to maturity in a competitive, high stakes world.
This is just as true of hands-off parents who let their kids make their own mistakes (and presumably learn from them) as it is of helicopter parents and tiger mothers who parented (or overparented) for success from the start. As the cost of mistakes and the competition for the best of everything continues to rise, there’s less laissez-faire parenting going on than there used to be for fear that by the time the kids find their place in the world, it will already be taken.