Thursday, August 6, 2009

Big Kids Come Home

I loved the New York Times piece today entitiled "Our Children, the Rude Houseguests" by Michelle Slatalla in which the author humorously tells about her (almost) grown children, ages 18 and 20, sharing the house with mom and dad during this Summer Recession of 2009.

The expectations for young adults have changed in many families, especially those who can afford the luxury of contemplation. Is it because they have been coddled and supported in ways we boomers could never have expected as kids (and if you think we had it harder, go ask a child of the Great Depression about how tough it can be)? Many of us have grown up alongside our own children to such an extent that we actually enjoy the company, companionship, conversation and creativity of our grown kids almost as much as we enjoy the company of our contemporaries.

My kids make me feel youthful and they challenge me constantly whether it's on my parenting skills viz-a-viz the youngest siblings in the family or on my perennial memory loss with respect to technology ("I showed you that last week, Mom"). I don't actually mind helping them (helping is the operative word) do their laundry. And the rewards of cooking the old standards and the favorites are still powerful and meaningful.

Nonetheless, I have said for a long time that I expect my children to move out, on and up from the family homes because I believe that is really what they are supposed to do. To a certain extent it is selfish on my part-I am ready for space and time, privacy and freedom. And I think there is great value in sharing a New York apartment with four or five others for a few years while everyone gets his or her bearings, relationships and salary established.

On the other hand, I hope they won't choose to live too far away for too long. As I contemplate leaving a big house, getting an apartment with a kind and competent super and simplifying my life, I am mindful of the need to keep a semblance of a nest for them to return to, even if it means blowing it up before they lie down in it.

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