The “Boomerang Generation” can boomerang somewhere else

This morning I read a newspaper article called Boomers With Their Boomerangs and my mouth filled with the taste of my own salty blood.

Children are taking longer to leave home, they are staying in school longer if they don’t have immediate employment prospects or opportunities, taking longer to find stable jobs, longer to get married, longer to have kids,” said Daryl Diamond, financial planner and author of Your Retirement Income Blueprint 2011.

Mr. Diamond said a gritty job market and costly rental housing sends those who have recently finished post-secondary school back to their childhood bedrooms.

On top of the added grocery and utility costs of having another person in the dwelling, parents are chipping in with the children’s cellphone bills, car expenses and debt, according to Barbara Mitchell, a professor of sociology and gerontology at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

I am sorry folks, but there is no friggin way. They might be cute and cuddly now but they lose that when they are 20 and there is not a chance in hell that I am kicking in to pay a 20 year old’s cell phone bill. Not a Chance In Hell.

It is amazing to me how much of a curmudgeon I have become as my hair turns grey and these wrinkles appear. I read this article and spent the morning thinking about what I want to see from my children by the time they reach that state of semi-adulthood. I have done much thinking on the benefits of a University degree and I find myself hoping that my kids go to trade school. I look at my adult life and see mortgage payments, RRSP’s, RESP’s, savings, investments, monthly bills, food costs, and think to myself, “Hey kids, life isn’t a carnival so forget about finding yourself and find a job instead”.

There are serious responsibilities in life that I was not introduced to until I married this man who knew all about them. We have four kids and a single income. It is imperative to us that we have a sound retirement plan. I would drop their RESP’s in a second if I had to choose between the two, and not because of the burdening aspect, but because I do not subscribe to a Kids First philosophy. I will try to help our kids as much as I can but when it starts to interfere with my life with Dr. J you can bet they are on their own. The bank of mom and dad will not exist. The bank of mom and dad gives money to mom and dad and kids can start their own bank and make deposits and withdrawals.

I know that everything I am saying here is based on perception versus experience. My kids are young. I don’t know what actually exists out there. I am not sure of the financial realities faced by young adults these days. We are saving for our kids future, which comes at a major cost (namely our future), but I am not prepared to provide them with everything.

The family philosophy has shifted over the decades and the view has become more child centric than parent centric. I am not an advocate of ‘kids should be seen and not heard’ but I am also not an advocate that children are the center of the family unit. I find this idea to be incredibly dangerous and lends itself specifically to the sense of entitlement that we see in kids today. Try and imagine what our great grandfathers would say about the work ethic we see in kid’s today. DID I JUST SAY KID’S TODAY? Curmudgeon. But it is true. Dr. J came home from a trip to Canadian Tire the other day and said that he loves it when he meets a helpful and hard-working teenager and then described a young employee that was helpful and courteous. We live in a society where we are now struck by this hard-working, willing teenager. This helpful young man who stands apart from the sea of distracted, bored, unknowledgeable, indifferent, sometimes rude teenagers out there working. This is what is becoming of our children, and I shudder to consider what type of adult emerges from these shitty cocoons.

We give medals for participation, we no longer fail them in school, we cater to the lowest common denominator and try to make everybody feel good about themselves. We don’t push too hard in fear of affecting self-esteem negatively. We reward for every little accomplishment. We will have a society of self-indulgent, self-important adults with little value for work or work ethic and an expectation of reward.

I want kids who know how to work, who lose respect for themselves when they fail, who recognize what failure is, and who push themselves. I can only assume that children such as these will not opt to have their parents pay for their cars, their phones, their food, and their rent.

Living in the Saskatchewan Immigration boom and loving a man of science (perhaps the most multi-cultural professional community) I have had some exposure to the immigrant work ethic and can see easily the difference in the parents and the children; put very simply there is a higher expectation and demand on the kids, which initially seemed harsh to me as a I am a product of the Canadian work ethic, but will ensure success in the end. No participation medals there…

I refuse to subscribe to this notion that adult children are so hard done by that they must stay at home until they are in their late 20’s. I don’t care if a name has been created for this social phenomenon, I don’t care how many Reuters articles or CBC docs there are out there describing and warning. It is not happening here. I met and married the love of my life late in life and never had the chance to know him before children. My honeymoon years will exist in the retirement years and I don’t think my adult children are going to want to be living down the hall from that….


12 responses to “The “Boomerang Generation” can boomerang somewhere else

  1. What a way to get rid of the kids!!!

  2. Heheee – that last sentence was awesome!

    ps. I’m making Dean Miller read this tonight……. he’ll love this. And, I’m sure he’ll be high-fiving you on the “work ethic” front all the way to the Hospital to push that 4th baby out!! 🙂

    • an earlier draft directly referenced the farmer work ethic. As I bitched to Jeff about this I said, this is why we need to move to a farm and have kids that actually have to work. His response was that we can create this in our family. So I guess we aren’t becoming farmers…but perhaps my kids could come and live with you during harvest?

  3. A laudible goal that I share (just not the part about Dr. J!!!). It’s tough, though. The more connections out kids have the harder it is to diverge from this new normal. It’s really important that the kids (not just us curmudgeons) understand the value of the work ethic. It makes the job a whole lot easier.

    • I have seen your children’s work ethic and have considered signing up for the parent class you and W should be hosting in the fall (after harvest :))

  4. Seems like there’s a good bit of “entitlement” going around. The author seems to think that she, having raised the kids (or being in the throes of it) will have paid her dues with respect to family. Good luck with that! The greatest pleasure I have now, as parent and grandparent, is to contribute to the ongoing health, wealth, and quality of life for the family as a whole. Spoil them — hell, yes, especially the grandkids. It seems to be coming back in love and in spades. You can give a lot and still expect responsibility; it is not a zero-sum game!

    • A voice from the future 🙂 I agree with you that there is great pleasure in contributing to the health, wealth, and quality of life for the family as a whole. And in terms of paying parental dues — you never pay your dues. But I am not going to pay dues to my adult children monetarily. They can get all the advice and guidance and love and encouragement and support they will ever need from me, but they will not get a single cent to pay a phone bill. I will not support over extension. I will not create dependency. That’s really my message. Thank you for writing, it was great to hear from someone I don’t know, AND who doesn’t agree with me. You made my day.

  5. We can claim that the increase in housing or limited rentals is a burden on these poor young souls, but this always brings me swinging back around to how I dealt with this very issue when I was 20. I MOVED. I moved to a place where housing was affordable and there were jobs aplenty. I did not show up on my parent’s doorstep (shudder at the thought… I’d spent 18 years planning my escape only to return with hat in hand 18 months later? Nay I say!)… instead I paid rent for a spare room in a house and found a job that paid $800/mth. I got a student loan, I got a second job and I went to school. On.. my.. own. My father once came to visit and all I had was a jar of peanut butter in my fridge. He made himself a sandwich.

    ‘Nuff said.

  6. Oh, and if these kids are returning to their childhood bedrooms after they have received their post secondary education then might I suggest that they should have looked into getting a degree in something other than English Lit? History? Sociology? University degrees are a dime a dozen nowadays. If you get one, you should expect that it’s only the first step… you need a professional degree (medicine, law, nursing…) or you need to get a trade. Go big or go home… pardon the pun.

    • I knew you would be good for a bit of supportive rage rant. I am grinning and nodding and agreeing that sometimes the “bird” needs to be pushed from the nest otherwise it will never learn to fly. Some jump out willingly and others need the boot. And while I appreciate the beauty of an arts degree, and all the challenges it presented to me, if I knew then what I know now I would have never entered into that college. It costs too much money to float around in an arts college loving learning. Those days are gone.

  7. It is always my pleasure to provide some supportive rage rant. I was thinking about this all day and I could not shake the same thought that came to me over and over again… “she has RESPs for her kids???”. Oops. My bad… I spent the money on my education with the idea that when or if they needed assistance with their education, I would be in a place financially to help… not PAY… help. Let me put it this way, if I show up to visit my child and all he has in his fridge is a jar of peanut butter (but he won’t because he is allergic, so let’s say “jam”), I will buy him some groceries.

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