My friends in Latin America actually think it’s weird that American kids move out of their parents’ house before they get married. Their idea of family is that multiple generation can live together for the benefit of all. From the looks of things, it appears that America is swinging towards the Latin way of doing family, which might not be all bad- just different than what we’re used to.
It was just a few years ago that my sister, who works at a university, first used the term “helicopter parents” in a conversation with me. I had never heard that before so she explained to me that it is the term used to describe parents who hover over their kids and get too involved in the details of their adult kids’ lives. This generation of kids (Gen-Y) think nothing of having mom talk to their college academic advisor, or their boss at work, or their room mates. These kids are so dependent on their parents that often times they return to the nest after they’ve vacated it. When this happens, the adult kids are called “Boomerang Kids.”
We’re way beyond soccer moms and the loud mouth Dad at the Little League game. This has become a national trend- a cultural shift. According to this article, 3 out of 10 adults between the ages of 24 and 35 now live with their parents. Which translates into about one third of all American men in this age bracket still living with their parents. That’s a lot of Mama’s Boys.
When I was growing up we didn’t have the same terminology for this phenomenon. We used words like “spoiled,” “babied,” or if we were feeling generous “pampered” when speaking of kids who failed to cut the apron strings. So when I met my future husband and he still lived at home I didn’t realize that he was just ahead of his time. I decided that we’d have to practice stretching those wings before we tried to fly together. I insisted that he move into the dorms for at least a year before we got married. It was a wonderful and worthwhile experience for him. Along with moving out, I made him get a checking account, learn to iron his own shirts (which he now refuses to do), learn to make some basic meals and generally clean up after himself. It was a year of training well spent, in my opinion.
With these kinds of independence issues in mind, our son is turning 16 soon. We plan to send him back to Minnesota this summer to get his driver’s license and his first job. This plan sounds crazy to our Latino friends, but I want to do everything I can do- outside of being a helicopter parent- to ensure that when my kid goes off to college in a few years that he has already flexed those wings and he’s ready to fly. We are all a bundle of excitement and nervousness at this prospective adventure for Taylor. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the flying lessons go well for the boy.