May 19, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 23:00
Throughout human history, at least since Adam and Eve, the differences between parents and kids have been well documented in simple ways and profound. Parents turn off the lights when they leave a room. Kids leave the lights on in every room, just so their parents aren’t denied the pleasure of turning them off and complaining about the electric bill.
Parents shut the refrigerator door. Kids leave it open. Parents put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Kids put them under the bed. And of course, parents pay the bills while kids spend the money.I’ve often wondered about this phenomenon because sometimes it seems childhood never ends, or maybe parenthood never ends?
In a bad economy, parents typically find themselves supporting their adult children, which means Baby Boomers, worried about slogging through their senior years with depleted pensions and 401(k)s, are continuing to pay the freight for their offspring.
A recent survey concluded that about six in 10 parents are helping their children — up to age 39 — by providing housing, insurance, spending money, a car to drive and a refrigerator full of food.
These adult children either could never afford to leave home, or left and had to come back — they’re called “boomerang kids” — because it was too difficult to make it on their own, given the harsh economic realities of high unemployment, student loans and poor wages.
Somewhere in my distant past, I recall doing the same thing. In my mid-20s, I returned home, where I lived a blissful existence with my mother cooking, doing my laundry and making my bed — but then I developed a fondness for my father’s Budweiser, and he decided it was time for me to go.
The poll, commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education and Forbes.com, also showed that because of this trend, 25% of parents took on additional debt, while 7% had to delay retirement. A third complained about losing their privacy with their adult children prowling around the house like cat burglars.
I’ve discovered that when kids live at home, it’s common to be startled from a sound sleep (especially when you have to get up at 5 a.m. to head for your job in the salt mines so you can support the family) because the alleged “youngsters” are coming in and going out after midnight. They live like vampires, sleeping all day and partying all night.
The good news is more than 40% of adult children help with cooking and paying for utilities, groceries and the mortgage; the bad news is 60% don’t.
Many parents are sympathetic, but many more are losing their patience because the responsibilities seem unending. Another survey showed parents are reluctant to keep adult children on their health insurance plans. About 56% said they would refuse to maintain adult kids on their plans or would only do it for less than a year. Even parental love has its limits.
Adam and Eve, of course, never had these problems although I suspect Cain probably tried to move back when times got hard.
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