I remember my dad asking me after university why I wasn’t moving back to the family home in a cosy Ottawa suburb. An obnoxious 20-something, I chirped, “Can I have guys stay over?”
“Of course not.”
My parents took my departure well.
All my friends fled their homes back then and their parents were equally ecstatic. So why, 30 years later, do parents want their adult children home so badly? And why do their kids remain?
Many kids can’t escape because their parents, formerly “helicopter parents,” hovering at school and soccer, have now graduated to “hostage-taking parents.” Slinging weapons like home-cooked breakfasts, free laundry service and open invitations to sleepover guests, they immobilize their prey.
Even when kids flee, they don’t necessarily escape. Billy may head off for university, but mom has got Windex and sponges and she’s not afraid to use them.
An employer I know sometimes has to deal with irate mothers when he fires an employee. One professor had to meet with an entire family when he doled out a B to a student.
Not “cutting the cord” enables parents to hide from reality. Stay-at-home parents don’t have to head back into the workforce, (understandably daunting if you’ve been out 20 years), if they have to cook Shawna dinner.
I remember moving to a new job in my 20s and sobbing into a pay phone, “Mom, the job’s too difficult — I hate it here.” Instead of telling me to come home, she replied, “I know you can do it, Georgie.”
I could and did. And so could she. Not only did she return to work, but my parents have been having a hoot ever since, without using their kids as crutches.