Much has been written about empty nest syndrome the feeling of loss that strikes the heart and soul of many a parent when the first child leaves home for University, work or to travel the world.
Moving on and moving out are probably the most important steps teenagers take into the world having been reasonably cosseted at home for the first eighteen years.
It’s a big step for them as it moves them toward adulthood and independence and although the move is a physical one for the children, for the parents it is emotional as they are left with feelings of loss and emptiness not too dissimilar to grief.
Celia Cochrane, 64 and a mother of 3 sons says “although its a long time ago I do remember the feeling of emptiness. It was hard for the other 2 boys especially Adam, my youngest who was left behind after my two eldest went off to University”.
Deborah Burgoine, 49 is recently coming to terms with her 18 year old daughter going to University “it’s really hard, even now I miss her despite the rows but our relationship seems closer since she’s been away. But from age 13-17 our household was like a teenage war zone”.
With spiralling tuition fees many students leave further education in debt and with the long dispelled myth that a degree doesn’t lead to a highly paid job and with many graduates competing for very few jobs, attaining the first step on the property ladder almost impossible, parents are faced with the sobering thought that the children they said good bye to three to four years ago are returning to the family home.
In fact approximately 1.7 million people between the age of 20 and 40 are living with their parents as a result of further education debt and the crippling cost of property.
23 year olds returning to the family home after higher education are unlikely to leave before they are 26 years.
A situation that places strain on both parents and children. No parent expects to see the return of their offspring even for a short hiatus but the facts are that one in four of 2011 graduates had part-time jobs six months after having graduated and one in ten were unemployed.
But have the new modern parents made it too easy for their offspring to return to the nest? The “helicopter parent” that hovers over their children throughout primary and secondary schooling has resulted in a new generation of children unable or incapable of becoming self sufficient.
Parents are guilty of not pushing their children into independence. Washing, ironing, cleaning and providing the parent taxi service to take them everywhere means they’ve become dependent on parents making them ill-equipped to handle the reality that is real life.
Leaving aside the stark economic facts, this new generation of “boomerang kids” have an inflated sense of self worth which is not compatible with the realities of the current world we live.
Many of these students believe they are so talented and that employers would be foolish to overlook them, in short, they feel they can walk into any high paying job at the expense of years of experience.
Unfortunately when reality bites they seek someone to blame, the University for ‘misleading them’ into believing a job at the end of the study period is a for gone conclusion or parents and teachers for some how hoodwinking them.
This generation of ‘entitlement’ means that when life doesn’t quite pan out how they hoped they look to the family home for support often into their thirties.
The Office for National Statistics estimates three million young people are presently living with their parents, this inter-generational living is influenced by money.
The perception that children are independent from the age of eighteen is a fallacy because the evidence supports that many are relying on parents both practically and financially well into their 20s.
The harsh reality is that at some point your children will leave the nest; it is the next step for children emotionally and physically.
But for the parents it is quite different.
You want them to seek their own independence, career, family and happiness and when they need advice or help you hope they look to you.
As much as we love our children and we want to do the best we can for them, you hope this doesn’t result in permanent residency in the parental home.
What do you think? Are you a parent that has children residing at home? Do you like the fact they are there with you or are you helping them out because that’s what good parents do? Let us know what you think.