The Boomerang Generation – The Overcrowded Nest

According to a Pew Research analysis of Census Bureau data conducted Dec. 6-19, 2011, the percentage of multigenerational family households is continuing to rise. Much of this has to do with the economic recession of 2007-2009, with many young adults not being able to recuperate from the lack of jobs available then, and with a still lackluster recovery five years later, today. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, 45% of adult children under the age of 30 have loans averaging $30,000, quite a financial burden.

I consider myself fortunate – my older son Chris graduated in 2013 with a degree in Fire Protection Engineering and was successful in securing a job with a great engineering firm here in Connecticut.  My husband and I were diligent in saving for his, and my younger son Jonathan’s, college educations so they would both graduate debt-free.  This dream will be realized as Jonathan will be graduating this year from UCONN with a mechanical engineering degree, and hopefully will secure a job in his field as well.

But there’s another phenomenon occurring – the dramatic rise in apartment rental rates. This is due to the drop in first-time home buyers that qualify for a mortgage, as well as people having to now rent as their homes were foreclosed upon.  It’s the law of supply and demand –   the decreased availability in rental units has caused rental rates to continue to increase. So even though Chris is lucky that he secured a great job in his field with a good starting salary, the cost of apartment rentals makes it more logical to stay at home and save money. When Jonathan graduates in May, he will hopefully secure a job quickly and may make a similar decision.

Many parents argue that we are enabling this dependency – and allowing our children to wait for lucrative jobs in their chosen field rather than accepting, even temporarily, lesser paying jobs and sharing apartments with friends.  I see both sides of this argument with the recognition that many millennials are not as willing to accept compromises to their career and material goals. Yet I, as most parents out there, love my children and want to provide them with the best opportunities to achieve their life goals and ambitions, and staying at home a while longer may facilitate that.

Late this summer we were fortunate to have baby wrens hatch in the birdhouse outside our kitchen window.  To our chagrin, once they had feathers they jumped out of the birdhouse and ran into our garage.  As it was obvious they were not yet able to fly, my son Jonathan was frantically trying to scoop them up and put them back in the birdhouse away from predators, only to have them jump back out.

In researching this oddity, Jonathan relayed that he read that once the chicks jump out, you should not put them back in the nest – they are ready to be on their own. Maybe nature knows best?

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