Roberta Chinsky Matuson
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Millennials Boomerang Back Home

It seems like having your own pad in the city is out and moving into your old room is in. According to yesterday's Boston Globe, "The days when college graduation automatically meant getting a job and an apartment are endangered. With the US economy in a nosedive, jobs scarce, and rents high, "boomerang kids" head for home, where the living is easy. There are no firm numbers yet on the impact of the current recession, but those who study the younger generation say that empty nests are starting to fill back in." Click here to read the full story Boomerang Kids are Returning Home.

It seems these kids are comfortable. Maybe a bit too comfortable. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a "boomerang young adult." After flying around the world for a year, I returned to the nest. But I had a plan. I was getting out of there as soon as I could. These kids look like they are staying indefinitely.

Here is my advice from the voice of experience:

Parents may be doing their children a favor (or vice-a-versa) but in the long run everyone needs to learn how to fly on their own. Don't get too comfortable or you may be living in this situation for the next 40 years.

Stop enabling one another. Living for free and expecting your folks to do your dirty laundry. Do you really want your mom folding your thongs? Or worse yet, your dad? Make a financial contribution as well as a contribution to the household chores that must be done.

Create an exit strategy. I'm not talking about the one mentioned in this article where the parents leave the house so they can have a private conversation (Gheez!) This is a plan to help move things along so eventually everyone can get back to living the way life was meant to be lived.

Lower your expectations Millennials. Yes, I know you may have had a million dollar view of the Charles River all through college but this is the real world. Those views can be had again for those willing to work hard to achieve success.

Learning how to stand on your own will help prepare you for the ups and downs life may offer you. And in the end, that's something that even your caring parents may not be able to give you.

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  1. Posted January 14, 2009 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    I have a friend of a friend, who did the “boomerang kid” concept. He’s 29, and has finally moved out of his parents house. He’s accomplished very little in his life.

    I’ve had challenges, yet I’m thankful that going home is not an option, as it forces me to think on my feet.

  2. Posted January 15, 2009 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Considering that many workplaces are rabidly anti-millennial (or… ageist as the case may be, I really hate labels) it is very hard for us to find and keep a job. I know of one fellow who has held 16 jobs at the age of 33.

    There’s no reason for us to not bide our time. If we’re being treated like burger flippers, we might as well go be burger flippers until you (erm…) old geezers figure out that we actually have value to add with our crazy Facebooking and Twittering all day long.

    You’re absolutely right that we’re heading back that way or slowing down to catch our breath, but it’s not a matter of our expectations so much as the hostility generated by fear and loathing of the inevitable change we’re bringing.

    The vertical corporation will be no more. Horizontal only. That means the boss isn’t just the boss, but a peer… someone who we’ll bounce ideas off of, pitch ideas to, and joke around with. Our ideas flow everywhere… but it works best when there’s no up and down to account for – at the moment, we’re seen as stepping on toes. There’s no chance for us to succeed while the rules of the game stay as they are.

    We have to wait until we can change the game. So… for those of us who are lucky enough to have those coddling, doting parents we seem to hear so much about, look out, Ma. Sonny’s coming home!

    Of course… then there’s people like me, who will suffer away in a job for a little while before I finally cross a line. And there’s no going back home for me.

    -Nick Armstrong

  3. Posted January 15, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I think the key thing here is to make sure the parents don’t make home too comfortable.

    They should charge rent, AND make the child contribute to the upkeep of the home (cooking, cleaning, shopping etc).

    Living at home after college is a must for some people because they have no other viable options. It should not, however, become club med.

    When I graduated high school six years ago, my parents immediately converted my room into a guest room with the closet reserved for my personal items. I was always welcome to come and visit, but it was clear that I should not be moving back in.

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