Nov 12, 2011, 11:38 AM
Post #1 of 1
Funny how societal trends tend to come to the forefront all at once, with everyone who’s anyone talking about them. So it is with the extension of adolescence, or “emerging adulthood,” which is now fast becoming the societally proper way to refer to adults remaining in the nest well into their 30s. It’s a trend that has been building for years and sociologists are debating its significance on society.
The Boomerang generation: right back at ya!
Here are some stunning facts: In Canada 51% of all those between the age of 20 and 30 live in their parents’ home. The “children” are collectively known as The Boomerang Generation. But this trend isn’t exclusive to Canada. It’s fairly common across the industrialized world with Italy (currently in the news over its dire financial straits) in the forefront with a stunning 70% of all adults between 18 and 30 living in their parents’ home. Among Italian men of that age it’s over 80%! In Italy they call them Bamboccioni, (big babies). Britain sees a similar phenomenon, where 1 in 3 parents are now re-mortgaging their home in order to support their adult children. The Brits call them YUCKIES (young, unwitting, costly kids).
Living in an age and a culture where pretty much everything is okay there are a number of psychologists who legitimize adult children staying at home. Dr. Jeffrey Arnette is one such psychologist who reminds us of the fact that adult children staying home isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. At the turn of the 20th Century it was a fairly common practice, as families tended to be larger and work at home was much more labor intensive, as small farms were the mainstay of many families. Dr. Arnette even suggests that adult children staying home today is a good thing in that it fosters stronger relationships between parents and children. He also points out the pitfalls of “premature maturity,” meaning that young people who leave home too soon often fail to fully develop their adult personality. He’s the one who coined the phrase “emerging adults” to describe this cohort.
There is a divergence of opinion about just how healthy this phenomenon is for those who live it. In our own experience marketing adult lifestyle communities and retirement properties most individuals we’ve polled are adamant that they do not want adult children living in their home. In a series of focus groups that we recently conducted about the attitudes of seniors toward retirement-oriented communities, the message was loud and clear. In fact group participants were incredibly explicit in their preferences for a home whose size precluded any possibility of adult kids coming to live with them.
Dr. Tomas Paus, a specialist in cognitive neuroscience at McGill University is adamant that children living at home too long presents serious pitfalls. In a recent documentary aired on Canada’s CBC he explained that these children tend to suffer from a sense of arrested development because they are not exposed to the challenges that most adults face. If things such as food, shelter, clothing and entertainment come too easily, then the young person is not sufficiently challenged, which delays development.
Many baby boomers feel put upon by their children, but are reluctant to do anything about their plight for fear of alienating their offspring. As such, many are seeking counseling to help them cope with the problems of uneducated, lazy and unmotivated adult children living at home. But then, the very parenting techniques employed by most baby boomers lie at the core of having children that turn out this way. Baby boomers as a group have traditionally shown a tendency to overindulge their children out of a sense of misplaced guilt. Many have shown a preference for being their children’s friends, rather than parent. This overindulgence has created a generation of children that rely on parental assistance for far too long and in fact will adversely affect retirement plans for their parents, as the parents struggle to help support their offspring’s lifestyles.
This is a deep psychological well that developers of adult lifestyle communities should pay close attention to when contemplating the design of homes for mature adults. The consensus among this group is that they would prefer not to have adult children living at home, and having a home that’s too small to accommodate this type of arrangement presents a convenient way of never having to deal with it.
Klaus Rohrich is President and Creative Director of Taylor/Rohrich Associates Inc., a marketing and advertising firm that specializes in niche marketing retirement real estate developments