I’ve read that we boomers are the last holdouts in the 20th century lifestyle, one that emphasized leaving the nest, making our way, getting married, and supporting ourselves through retirement. It’s what we were supposed to do, and we figured that our fruit wouldn’t fall far from the tree.
But a curious change has happened within our progeny. Stealthily, an evolutionary shift crept into their DNA, erasing their drive to do what we’ve done. They’ve thrown us a left hook: they’re back home, sleeping in their old beds at 23, 30, or beyond.
Why they would want to be back home again baffles us. Why aren’t they out working, creating lives separate from us, like WE did? WE started working at 15 or 16, flipping burgers, pumping gas, or running a manual cash register at the quick mart, and never stopped. Working signified our freedom.
Many of us parents are boomers, and our starting pay was $1.00 per hour, yet it fueled our dreams for independence and adventure. It bought our first cars, hand-me-down 1965 Tempests or Cutlasses from our parents; or better yet, a well-worn Continental with “suicide” doors. We accepted almost-scrapped “beaters,” but they were our ticket to better things.
After high school, we packed up our motley cars to hit the road and never looked back. There was college, working, marrying in our 20s, buying homes, having our 1.2 children, and accumulating microwaves, slimline phones, and answering machines. It was good.
Then, one day, something happened to our boomer brains while admiring our babies. Let’s come clean. We decided to spoil them rotten. And so, “Millennials,” “Gen Xs” and “Gen Ys” were raised. These young adults who now inhabit our sofas, smart phones in one hand, a tablet in the other, and if they’re lucky, a third hand on the remote, are our children grown up. Ask them why they want to live with us, and they’ll respond incredulously, like one Millennial who told me, “Why should we pay rent when we can live back home?”
To 32% of them, “living at home” is just another way of living. They aspire not to buy homes or cars, but to ownership of wearable tech. “Home” is at mom and dad’s. Cars they can now rent by the hour.
Taking care of adult kids again is so huge that AARP now runs continual articles about it. Ameriprise now publishes “how-to” manuals for supporting children who move back in.
Many of these young adults are college grads who are vying for jobs. We boomers used to jump back into our used cars and go where the jobs were. Now we’re writing resumes for adult kids at home. “You want to give them everything,” says a girlfriend of mine who has two 20-somethings under her roof. “It’s difficult to watch them do without.” Seriously? Somehow, even jobless, they’ve managed to amass every electronic gadget invented, but have yet to write anything on a piece of paper.
Tiffany Adair, a Millennial who teaches Power Connection’s Generational Career Coaching, is focused on walking young adults through job hunting techniques and etiquette. “This is something many of us have never learned,” she says. “Most of us have never even sent a paper letter to anyone. Technology is our way of communicating, but job hunting requires human connection. Human connection wins job search.”
If we don’t want our young adult children to be on the sofa for good, we MUST help them acquire job search skills and the ability to connect with adult job providers in a communicative, person-to-person way. They need to know how to groom themselves and dress for job search. They need to know how to create a helpful network of working adults. They need to know how to “pound the turf.”
You want them off the sofa and on their own? Teach them these critical skills.