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The Takeaway: ‘Boomerang’ Kids Aren’t Slackers, They Just Face New Route to Adulthood

For young adults, could moving back in with mom and dad be a good career move? That’s the argument from Washington Post writer Steven Mintz, who calls for an end to the idea that 20-somethings living with parents (the so-called “boomerang” kids, who fly from the next only to come crashing back in again) are only doing it for the free laundry.

The parents aren’t saps, and their children aren’t freeloaders,” writes Mintz. Rather, “both parents and children understand that in a world where the young are saddled with debt and find it difficult to quickly enter a career, parental support-where possible-is indispensable.”

Mintz, who graduate from college in 1973, acknowledges that for his generation, moving back home after being on your own was regarded “as the ultimate symbol of failure.” But times (and attitudes) have changed. Many of today’s college graduates find that living at home allows them to take the unpaid or low-paying internships that could be key to future employment opportunities.

With very few exceptions, the students whom I and other faculty members around the country work with are not a generation that has gone soft from being coddled,” he notes. “They are a generation facing a historic transformation in the route to a successful job and family life.”

In other words: Go easy on the kids these days, will ya? The lack of a conventional script for reaching adulthood has both the young folks of today and their parents adjusting on the fly. Once upon the 20th century, men going to work immediately after high-school or college and women marrying as soon as possible made the most economic sense. But as Mintz notes, “the old model of plunging directly into independent adult living doesn’t work anymore. In fact, the young people who try to follow the 1950s model today often have the toughest time establishing stable and productive lives.”

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