During the 70's as I came of age, and as soon as I hit the ripe old age of adulthood at 18, I couldn't wait to leave home and finally make it on my own. The drive to be free from parental influence and dependence was paramount to getting a job and having a place to call my own.
Western society is built on the expectation of an orderly progression in which kids finish school, grow up, go on to Cegep or University, start careers, make a family and eventually retire to live on pensions supported by the next crop of kids who finish school, grow up, start careers, make a family and on and on.
My, my, how things have changed.
Now with two grown adult children of my own (25 and 20 respectively) and showing no signs of leaving home anytime soon, I began to wonder about other parents of my generation with 20-something kids in no hurry to leave the nest; and to wonder whether my household was an anomaly. Imagine my surprise to discover other parents facing this dilemma. In fact, It’s happening all over, in all sorts of families, not just young people moving back home but also young people taking longer to reach adulthood overall. The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain untethered to romantic partners or to apartments - traveling for lack of better options, or going back to school, forestalling the transition beginning of adult life – with marriage occurring later than ever.
Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” A Canadian study reported that a typical 30yr old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s. In other words, it’s taking longer and longer for our adult children to leave home, achieve financial independence, and marry. Even if some traditional milestones are never reached, one thing is clear: Getting to what we would generally call adulthood is happening later than ever.
The 20s are when most people accumulate almost all of their formal education; when most people meet their future spouses and the friends they will keep; when most people start on the careers that they will stay with for many years. This is when adventures, experiments, travels, relationships are embarked on with an abandon that probably will not happen again.
Does that mean it’s a good thing to let our 20-somethings meander — or even to encourage them to meander — before they settle down?
This is the question that so many parents of adult children are faced with on a day-to-day basis.
Empty nest syndrome? The prevailing zeitgeist is more like, WHEN?
Source for this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagew...