Two adult generations can certainly live healthily in the same household. Consider the well-functioning middle aged adults living with frail older parents in order to help the parents, or young adults still living with their middle aged parents until they marry or establish their first career.
In the boomerang situation I encounter in my practice, however, well-functioning older parents have an apparently healthy middle aged child living in their home. The move-in, which generally followed a career, marital, or financial failure, was initially envisioned as temporary, but became chronic and open ended.
The parents are unhappy because this middle aged boomerang child is minimally productive, typically unemployed and not effectively seeking advancement. He or she is often poorly behaved, described as disrespectful, difficult, unreliable, dishonest, sneaky, self-indulgent, lazy, or manipulative. They make little financial contribution to the household. Even helpful behaviors that were once promised, such as housekeeping, rarely happen.
The parent frequently requests or demands more responsible behavior from the child, to which the child responds with angry and disrespectful words, accusations, and stonewalling. Significant arguments may ensue. Although frustrated, angry, and hurt, the parents ultimately drop their demands, and no one’s behavior changes.
These parents lack key skills, which luckily are quite learnable.
Stay tuned for Part 2, “Boomerang Children: The Solution,” in a future blog.
“My passion is ensuring that every adult is mentally ready to succeed in all transitions that comprise the adult years. The meaning in my life comes from helping my patients see themselves, their situation, their future, and the entire world with new eyes and a newly courageous attitude.