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Bowie's Aging Children Just Don't Want to Leave Home

Kids are living at home longer with the troubled economy and job market, but isn't it a tad excessive?

Pssst, Bowie parents, have you noticed that the kid upstairs has been shaving for a very, very long time and may even have some gray in his thinning hair? Have you perhaps wondered if he, or she, has given any serious thought to marriage and children before you're too old to enjoy being grandparents? Have you developed doubts that you'll ever be able to turn that messy bedroom into a sewing room or a spare bedroom for visitors?

If you've suffered such thoughts, don't feel alone. A magazine article claims that we oldies may have our little dears at home until until they're in their 30s. Oh, what joy! It seems, according to the article, that, in addition to a scarcity of jobs in this terrible economy, we've spoiled the little darlings to the point where where they are no longer interested in leaving the family nest and struggling away on their own to to recreate the comfortable lifestyles they've enjoyed under our roofs and with our credit cards.

Cheeky devils!

One of those self-righteous windbag columnists (hey, not me!) once said we are given children to test us and make us more spiritual. Really? Well, I wouldn't mind being tested for, say, 20 or so years, but the testing becomes a bit excessive and the spirituality dissipates as the kiddies verge on the onset of middle age.

"Get out and find a wife and a good job, you bum!" is a more likely response than a softly murmured prayer that the aged child departs the household. And let's face it, parents of Bowie, it's tough being spiritual when a 20-something offspring is on the spring upstairs zzzzing away in the afternoon after having spend an exhausting night on the town with the guys. Doing what? One never knows the answer to that. This isn't Generation X, it's Generation Zzzzzz. It all tries one's spirituality as well as patience, doesn't it?

Those little dears (and they aren't even tax deductions anymore) residing in spruced-up Buckingham colonials and Kenilworth ranchers have gotten used to being spoiled rotten—they rather enjoy it, to say nothing of taking it for granted. Why don't  they venture forth and slave away at a mundane job to feed themselves and pay for an apartment shared only with cockroaches, or these days stinkbugs. Forget it, they'll say, we'll just stay with good old mom and dad and spend our menial salaries on things that matter—iPhones, jazzy computers, funny clothes, styled hair and nice vacations.

Let's face it, Bowie parents, you blew it. In the primordial days of our youth, children were given chores to perform around the house before they received their paltry allowance. Today they get their own gold Master Card, sans the chore requirements.

If one of the young adults of 2011 is even asked to sweep the floor, water the plants or even clean his or her own room, he, or she, quickly develops a headaches, backache or even the pox. How can we possibly expect these aging dudes or girls to get blisters on their hands by raking leaves? Hey, they proclaim, "The old man needs the exercise. He's, like, really old, you know," they bellow.

To paraphrase Professor Higgins, washing their hair—which they do every day for an hour—is all they seem to expend effort on. Why they don't make a stab at speeding it up. That way they wouldn't use all the hot water in the house. But dad or mom don't really need showers before heading off to work.  What's deodorant for, after all?

Parents for generations have geared themselves up mentally to expect the very worst of teenagers. We were, after all, such creatures ourselves at one time, and know of the painful experiences of those tender years. But we also expected our own teens to grow out of it all, like pimples and surliness, by their 20th or 21st birthdays. 

Maybe Samuel Butler knew more than we do when he said, all those years ago, that "some people seem compelled by unkind fate to parental servitude for life. There is no for of penal servitude worse than this."  Hmmm, sort of like feeding the mouths that bite you, eh?

We suffered through the kids' years at Bowie High and then college assuming that the strange behavior, odd attire, weird musical tastes and prodigious intake of junk food would be chuckled over as the children reached maturity and we found we had more in common with them—like work, a sense of responsibility and the stirrings of the mating instinct. Perhaps by their 20s.

But now comes a gaggle of psychologists telling us that to forget our assumptions and prepare to have Junior behaving like an otiose high school senior until he's nearly 30, or even older.

Author Peter DeVries must have had a copy of this report in hand when he said, "When I can no longer bear to the think of the victims of broken homes, I begin to think of the victims of intact ones."

 It's time for Bowie officialdom to step in. We have regulation covering such diverse matters as the height of shrubs, the placement of house numbers and the parking of unregistered vehicles in driveways. Let's go a step further and put forth a regulation that calls for anyone occupying a bedroom anywhere in the city to be either a pre-school or a full-time student, be gainfully employed or possess a parental certificate asserting that the occupant of the bedroom is meeting all the demands of the parents for said occupancy. Better yet, how about a city ruling that no single adult over the age of 22 is allowed within the city limits after 9 p.m. Well, that's a tad excessive, I know; but only a bit.

These kids don't know what they're missing by jumping forth into the world with a penny in their pockets. I was a married father by 21, struggling away in the military and earning enough to rent a house and buy cheap cuts of meat. We didn't have a car, though I got use of a base pick-up every now and then.

We watched our little black and white TV while the baby was fussing. Going out to dinner was an occasional treat, but limited to a local cheap eatery that served fish suppers and good Scottish ale (we walked).

The fish was good, and the chips (French fries) even better. Now those were good times. Well, we thought so.

Maybe today's kids (kids?) have a better of idea of starting adulthood, but I doubt it.  If I had stayed single and at home until past 30, I might still be raising high-school-age kids instead of, thanks to a nice buyout from the newspaper I worked for, sitting here retired. Perish the thought! Now go wake up Junior and tell him off!

Ray Rheault March 05, 2011 at 10:33 PM
Another manifesto! Guilty as charged! Can you take one?
Hellmut Lotz March 06, 2011 at 02:48 AM
When we graduated from college, we didn't have tens of thousands of dollars in college debt. How are the kids ever going to save for retirement and a house when they are starting out with that load on their backs?
gail schneider March 06, 2011 at 04:43 AM
Heck we Moms don't want them to leave - WHO WOULD TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE?
Mimi Rauck March 06, 2011 at 08:37 AM
Helmut makes a good point. My dad had his (private) college tuition all but paid after a summer job. I'd like to see a kid do that today. The cost of a college education has gone sky-high, turning many kids into so-called "debt slaves." I wouldn't mind my kids living with us after college and saving a little money while they start out. I actually think it is a responsible thing to do rather than rushing into a marriage or partying away in some seedy apartment. Plus, I like my kids. I hope they want to stick around. For a while anyway. :)
Ray Rheault March 06, 2011 at 07:26 PM
The way I look at it, the recent college grads (at least in our case) have been away for four years & having him/her home for a while is no big deal. My kids need(ed) to buy themselves a car, save some money, and start paying down their school loans. My dad charged me rent when I lived on & off at home (between finding a house to rent) after graduation but they'll move out if for no other reason than they'll get tired of us always wondering where they are, what time they'll be home, etc.
Sam Fatzinger March 07, 2011 at 01:08 AM
I agree with John...Yes, I said it...I think the magic word is spoiled!!! My kids pay for everything around here...their own phone, iPod, car, insurance, and clothes. Not to mention they have jobs around the house and have to babysit for me...for free!!! Just part of the "living in our home" package. So when it is time (about a year after they graduate from college) they are ready and excited about getting out on their own. I also think people need to reevaluate all the dept they go into for college...but that is another column!!!
Joe Neighbor March 07, 2011 at 01:53 AM
I'm not sure if I'm reading your remarks correctly, but I don't think it's fair to label all kids who live with their parents after college as spoiled. I'm sure I misunderstood. Your kids sound awesome. The cost of college is outrageous, and if people weren't willing to go into debt, we sure would have a shortage of doctors around here. Looking forward to your column on that subject!
Sam Fatzinger March 07, 2011 at 02:07 AM
By no means am I labeling all kids who live with their parents spoiled...I am agreeing that many are so used to living rent/responsible free and taking advantage of parents. My point about my kids is that they don't have everything handed to them on a silver platter so there isn't a desire to just keep hanging around at home to get what they want...so there is a natural tendency to move on... For my column on debt and college...I believe this country needs to do something about the prices of college and aided more students...so your doctors would be given aide by their state or local hospital then return the funds by working for them. I was told many years ago by a friend/pediatrician who went to med school at Notre Dame...tell your kids if they want to be doctors go to state schools!!!
Sam Fatzinger March 07, 2011 at 02:12 AM
Hellmut, I agree we didn't...but I went to a community college and then to Bowie State and lived at home. I worked all through college and got scholorships to help with much of my tution. Yeah sure I would of liked to go away to a big fancy out of state college like many of my friends...but the idea of being in dept was out of the question. My parents generation didn't save for retirement and buy a house right away? They made things work day by day. This generation needs to lower their standards. No one said they need to buy a house right away and have a fancy car...and go in more dept.
Sam Fatzinger March 07, 2011 at 01:23 PM
Thanks to my friend Jo, mother of 13, from North Carolina who sent me this link when she saw this article...this is what they sing to their older children: http://www.youtube.com/embed/i5ohXU7MahM

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