Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Helicopter Parents. Will your kids live with you after college? The current Newsweek has an interesting article on how baby boomers cope when they send their kids off to college. Here are just a few of the stats:
  • 76% of boomer parents say they are closer with their kids than they were with their parents at that age.
  • 57% of 18-20-year-olds get help from parents with chores (averaging 527 hours per week).
  • 48% of students graduating in 2006 say they will move back into their parents' home after graduation.
The article notes:
Letting go. Are there two more painful words in the boomer-parent lexicon? One minute, there's an adorable, helpless bundle in your arms. Then, 18 years go by in a flash, filled with Mommy and Me classes, Gymboree, Little League, ballet, drama club, summer camp, traveling soccer teams, piano lessons, science competitions, SAT prep classes and college visits. The next thing you know, it's graduation. Most boomers don't want to be "helicopter parents," hovering so long that their offspring never get a chance to grow up. Well versed in the psychological literature, they know that letting go is a gradual process that should begin when toddlers take their first steps without a parental hand to steady them.
While the percentage of young adults living with their parents is probably higher than in past years, the concept is not really new. Humans all over the world live in extended families. I lived with my mother for a year after getting my BA and I lived with an aunt and uncle when I was attending graduate school. My older brother lived with my parents when he was finishing graduate school in the late 1950s. My mother lived with her parents at several points in her life. Anthropologists report that most ancient human societies were patrilocal: a young married couple went to live with the husband's family. The importance of patrilocality vs. matrilocality (living with the wife's parents) has greatly diminished in the 21st century with the rise of low-cost air travel.


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