When children were raised, reared, or simply brought up, they emancipated “on time.” Upon high school graduation, children went to college, into the military, or became employed. Some, like my wife and myself, got married before they could vote. Those were the days when young people still wanted to leave home and strike out on their own, something their parents celebrated. Empty-nest syndrome was a rarity.
Since “parenting” has replaced child-rearing, the average age of emancipation, especially for males, has soared. Older parents all over the country are asking me what to do about children who won’t leave home or leave home only to come back again, and again, and again. The breakdowns involve drugs, alcohol, video games, employment issues, criminality and emotional collapses of one sort or another.
“When are you going to write a book on adult children who won’t leave the nest?” they ask.
I answer that the “book” will consist of one page on which will be printed two words: Stop enabling! It’s glib, I know, and I really need to stop making light of what is a serious problem for these folks. Nonetheless, it’s almost always the case that the parents in question are, in fact, enabling. They throw money at problems that aren’t caused by a lack of money and that money isn’t going to solve.