The baby boomer and his “Boomerang” sons

If you’re a baby boomer with kids, you can relate to this: a story by Barry Lewis, writing in the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, New York, in which he Ponders His Boomerang Sons.

I’m so glad my three adult sons are still living at home.

Yea, I know. You don’t have to remind me. I know what I’ve said. I want them out on their own. Have wished it for years.

Not because I don’t love them. But because I love them. My motivation has been about their happiness. So they could experience the freedom of adulthood. So they could appreciate the accomplishment of living on their own. So they won’t have to put up with their parents.


File photo.

And so I could lower my electric bill, get out of my garage without moving one of their cars parked behind me and not have to buy milk every day so I can enjoy a cup of coffee.

You see, them moving out would be a win-win for us all.

I’ve thought that since they graduated high school. Then college. Then college again. And with each passing year, my desire for them to feel happy and be free grows.

And I have a strange feeling that other parents are wishing for their still-at-home sons and daughters to feel happy and free. I bet, a lot of parents.

After all, the U.S. Census noted that as of March 2012, there were a record 21.6 million millennials living with their parents. When I was my boys’ age, I didn’t know anyone still living with their parents.

Lucky for me is the fact that 40 percent of men — compared with 32 percent of females — are more likely to live with their parents.

And we all understand why.

Our kids were dealing with unprecedented financial hardships that included student debt and declining employment, as well as we well-meaning but overly possessive Helicopter Parents who didn’t want to let go.

So how ironic that when we hovering parents decided it was time for our kids to fly away, they decided to stay in the nest. And let me tell you, our kids do not eat like birds.

But I gotta admit — despite my years of whining about it being time they find their own nest to clutter with dishes and dirty clothes — I actually found over the past several weeks instances when I was relieved to still have the boys around.

They’ve come in handy these winter months with plowing and shoveling and helping clean and feed our pellet stove.

Most recently, our middle son, Daniel, came to our rescue when frozen water pipes burst in the middle of the night after the sudden thaw.

Unlike his dad, whose mechanical knowledge doesn’t extend far beyond knowing the difference between a flat head and a Phillips and never met a problem he thinks can’t be solved better without duct tape, Daniel actually knows what he’s doing. While cutting the copper pipe and making the necessary repairs, Daniel advised me to pay attention.

“You know, I’m not always going to be here to do this.”

Suddenly it hit me, hard. We had them on borrowed time. Within the year, they might all be out. Then what would I do? I thanked Daniel for all his help and went to make coffee. Had I been wrong to want them out? I need them. I reached for milk. What I got was an empty container.

I decided to get a gallon. And let them stay until spring.

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  1. Oh Barry, what a lovely story and what a lovely way to put it. I sure can relate to this, we also have our son home on “borrowed time”. I keep reminding myself of that because he is (of course!) only dreaming of getting out of the house. So I tiptoe around and try to make myself useful. And try to cook some nice meals – yes, grown sons do NOT eat like birds!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. So much can be said and accomplished through humor and you have done just that. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story about an issue confronting so many these days. And there are those parents who now find themselves living so far from their adult children and grandchildren, that they sometimes wish they were in a situation where they would discover that empty milk carton.

  3. Barry – great article. Loved the terms you used like helicopter parents and boomerang.

    But, please note, many cultures have a different idea of a “family unit.” America’s nuclear family concept is relatively new. In many cultures the “extended family” is the norm, where multiple generations live together.

    In America, the unfortunate “logical” outcome of the “nuclear family” concept has resulted in the elderly often being isolated and abandoned in nursing homes whereas in extended families, the elderly are cared for at home.

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