As Aussie terms go, one of my favourites is bludger. It’s an evocative word to describe the lazy, as it is layered with imagery. For my parents, the Norm type would spring to mind, a man with a big gut lying on a lounge watching cricket with a tinny in hand instead of mowing the lawn, or workmen sitting on the job at the side of the road with ciggies dangling from lips on yet another smoko.
We’re talking young adults who are still living at home. They are twentysomethings who bring their mates home for dinner they expect their parents to supply and cook. They are the kids who still expect mum to do their washing despite having mastered the art of button pushing years prior. They are the monosyllabic couch covers who grunt hello and only rise of the smell of food, if it’s not brought directly to them, as they would prefer. They are the kids who feel there is nothing wrong expecting their parents to drop them off at the pub and pick them up again when done.
Academics have dubbed these young adults as “Boomerang,” kids — young adults who return home after leaving and “failure to launchers” i.e. kids who never leave in the first place. I reckon its just best to call them what they are – failures to get a life. Oh, and a great big slab of today’s population.
Associate Professor and lead researcher Katherine Burn Cassandra Szoeke of the University of Melbourne reviewed 15 years’ worth of academic studies of Boomerang and Failure to Launch children and their parents, a sample size was more than 2 million people.
Talking to the ABC this week, she revealed these stay at home adults are the “normal” in Australia and other Western societies, with young adult children living with their parents much later than they were 20years ago, a trend that shows no sigh of abating.
Of course there are many reasons cited for this phenomenon, such as the emphasis on further education, meaning more study and no income, an inability to get a foothold in the job market, and the unrelenting rise in home prices and rent.
Watch the trailer for the movie Failure to Launch – starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey here. Post continues below.
And while these are all valid, to a larger extent I am not buying these excuses completely because they have a lingering sniff of bull about them. Because what I am seeing is kids staying at home because they can. It is an easier option and why not? With parents still metaphorically wiping their bums for them, kids are taking full advantage of the free ride. Because today’s “I’m my kids best mate” parents are creating and enabling this bludger culture and their kids are merely riding the gravy train.
Yes, while I know most parents will justify their kids’ decision to stay at home for the above reasons and others, let’s face it, many are unwilling to snip apron strings and let their kids find their own life paths.
I have girlfriends I believe are terrified of losing their role of “mother” because it will make them ask what’s next? Empty nest syndrome is a reality. Should their kids no longer need them, they feel they have no value.
There’s my friend who still returns home every evening to cook her son dinner or be available as a chauffeur should he decide to evacuate the lounge. Her kid is 24.
I know a divorced father who will not commit to his long-suffering girlfriend because he doesn’t want to stress out his kids. Those children are 19, 23 and 27. I know another single mother whose 27-year-old daughter still can’t close the fridge, take a plate to the sink or pick up a wet towel off the bathroom floor. This girl clears $70K a year yet pays for nothing – no rent, no food, nada. Her mother, recently made redundant from her $40k, a year job just bought her a car with her severance package.
I say to parents, you may think you are doing the right thing by giving your kids a financial head start in life but what you are doing is stopping them from maturing and learning important life lessons.
Rent and study has always been hard to manage but it teaches the value of a dollar and independence. Kids used to leave home so they could have freedom and sex. By allowing them to bring their dates home (two friends of mine have their kid’s partners living with them rent free too), you are making your home their hotel.
Young people need to make their own homes, lives and mistakes. By treating your kids like they are still incapable of looking after themselves it only makes adults who are incapable of looking after themselves.
It is no wonder today’s young generation feel so entitled. And it’s no wonder so many of us see them for what they are, bludgers, taking advantage of parents who don’t want their kids to grow up.
Perhaps the latter are the ones whose maturity is really in question?