Boomerang Kids or The Curious Case of The Dog That Didn’t Bark

figure4.4Much has been said about adult kids still living with their parents. The Boomerang generation, as they are often nicknamed, stays home at staggering numbers.

While causes for this rise had been linked to difficulties in finding a job due to the economy, to a rise in college enrollment, to a decline in the role of the marriage institute, and even to a generation of parents that is not so keen on letting their offspring leave the nest, I would like to offer a completely different perspective.

tshirt1Before we discuss this phenomena, let’s explore for a moment Alzheimer’s Disease. No, it’s not because the current generation of parents are forgetting to kick their kids out of the house; it’s because just over a hundred years ago Alzheimer’s Disease hardly existed. Why? Because back in 1900 an average person was expected to live to a respectable age of 47, and at 47, very few people developed this degenerative disease which is most often diagnosed in people over 65 years of age. Stay with me – we are getting to the Boomerang generation and the dog that didn’t bark shortly.

You see, from the 1500s to around the year 1800, life expectancy throughout Europe hovered between the ages of 30 and 40. Now imagine this – you are expected to live a mere 35 years. In that stretch of time you may wish to marry, bring up kids of your own and make a life for yourself. Would you stay at home with your parents until you are 25? Not likely. You would be out of the house as soon as you can reproduce, marry and get at it, it being your life’s ambitions. Life back then was simply too short.

young2Nowadays, when people in the developed world are expected to live to their 80’s, there is no rush. Modern life loads us with requirements. We need to study longer just to catch up. And when it comes to family life, modern medicine allows us to reproduce much later. Thus there is no rush to leave the comfy nest, no rush to find a spouse, no rush to build a family.

Where is the silent dog in all this? It is present in us ignoring what is too obvious to notice. We tend to compare selective statistical facts such as at what age kids venture on their own, job availability, divorce rate. Yet our longevity and the pace of life were all but forgotten. It is not the single critical element in this equation but it is sure up there on the list. It leaves me pondering at what age will kids leave home when science finally extends life expectancy to a 120.

Reasons-To-Live-With-Parents

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You never listen to me anyhow…

Danger

I recently overheard a mother yell at her kids, “it doesn’t matter what I say; you never listen to me anyhow!”

This brought to mind other such statements including, “you don’t love me anymore,” “I am not being appreciated,” and “I told you once, I told you a thousand times…”

Have you ever said any of the above? Have you heard it being said to you, or to others? If not, you may be an alien. But for most of us, residents of this planet Earth, these statements, and many other variations on the above theme, are quite common.

It is worth taking a closer look at what these statements really express.

When a person says any of the above, what he or she are really expressing is that they would like to be of importance – as a parent, as a love object, as someone of significance. Yet, as a listener, what the other person, be it a kid, a spouse, or a boss is hearing, is exactly the opposite – that the person speaking does not really believe someone will ever listen to him or her, that they will never be loved again, that no one will show them the appreciation they deserve. Furthermore, these expressions become a prophecy that quickly fulfills itself. Someone that tells you they are not being appreciated probably shouldn’t be appreciated. Someone who thinks no one listens to her, is likely not worth listening to. The speaker ends up achieving the exact opposite reaction to what they wished.

Let us reflect on this for a moment. Did saying “you never listen to me anyhow,” or “I told you once, I told you a thousand times,” really helped change anything? Did whomever you said it to, magically started to listen to you and do as you wished?

And, being in the other seat, how did you feel towards the person saying these statements? More appreciation or maybe quite the opposite – more rejection and despise?

It is the power of words. It is better to express a positive desired outcome than a negative feeling. Tell your kids, “I would be so glad to see you cleaning up your room,” instead of, “you never listen to me.” And, instead of “you don’t love me anymore,” say “When you show your love to me, my heart overflows.”

Maybe I am a horrible father…

kids2Here is a partial list of my shortcomings.

At ages 11 to 14, my children still do not have their own mobile phones.

They do not have Facebook accounts.

Their total “screen” time is limited to 2 hours daily at most, and most days they don’t even have that due to other activities and priorities.

My kids have daily chores to do for the house, including taking out the garbage, helping with laundry etc., for which they are not getting paid.

I do not encourage them to explore their sexuality, though they did get from me and my wife age-appropriate sexual education.

I do not encourage them to explore smoking weed or drinking alcohol, even if we have past presidents that inhaled. I simply believe all that is appropriate will come at the right time or not at all.

I do not allow them to watch movies with PG-13 rating and up, and even films with PG-13 I sometimes deem, like a total tyrant, to be inappropriate.

My kids do not use the “F” word, at least not that I am aware of. They have good grades in school and love reading so much that they go to the local public library at least 3-4 times a week.

In short, I am completely at fault for bringing up a bunch of nerds, and one day they may rebel or hate me for it.

This is why I must be a horrible father.

Don’t wait

david_n_guy
Don’t wait for Valentine’s to tell someone you love that you love them.

Don’t wait for Mother’s or Father’s Day to show your parents how thankful you are.

Don’t wait for a friend’s birthday to acknowledge you are happy they were born.

Don’t wait.

The bittersweet news…

One of my favorite TV commercials shows a pair of concerned parents.
They look at each other worried. “What shall we do? Our son isn’t getting enough fiber.”
The answer comes in the form of a cereal that has – shhh – don’t tell their son: fiber.
It is also low in saturated fat. The parents are delighted.
But wait – now comes the real test – will their son notice?
He doesn’t! Aren’t they in luck!

What these commercials fail to disclose to us is how much sugar each serving packs.
In order to disguise the taste – our spoiled kids forgot what real food tastes like and so it needs to be covered with more familiar flavor; cereal and other such “healthy” foods are packed with sweeteners.
Sugar in its various forms, let me enlighten those not yet familiar with the concept, is a killer, much like cigarette smoking. It’s addictive and it has far worst effects on the body than most of us realize.

Yet, I need to applaud the food manufacturers and their armies of advertising agencies and PR consultants.
What they achieved is making us, the parents, a secret allied in the war against our kids.
We, as parents, want our kids to eat well. If we can only hide from our kids the fact that they are eating a healthy component, we win. And what is a little (or not so little) amount of sugar to sweeten the bitter news?
Next time you buy anything marketed as “healthy”, especially when it’s for your kids, first look at the sugar content.
20, 15 and even 10 grams of sugar per serving is a LOT! (not to mention that most of us consume much more than the recommended serving size per meal).

Watch out. You are being tricked into an alliance you don’t really want to be part of.
Educate your kids as to what sugar does to them and then get them used to eat healthy without sugarcoating it.
It’s good for them and much better for you. They will thank you in the long run.

How many cups of coffee can you buy for $10mm?

How many cups of coffee can you buy for $10mm?Here is an intriguing exercise I thought up for my kids, to teach them to think bigger.
It’s a very good exercise for anyone.
I thought of sharing it with you – my blog friends and followers.

Take a sheet of paper (or open a blank document on your computer) and write this list:

  • $10
  • $100
  • $1,000
  • $10,000
  • $100,000
  • $1mm
  • $10mm

(you can do more, but don’t do less numbers and don’t skip from $10 directly to $10mm as going through the range has importance.)

By each line item write down what you would do if you came by this amount of money by chance i.e. winning a lottery ticket, coming by it via an inheritance, etc.
This does not apply to money you saved or gained over time and labor. Its money you would have been given without any strings attached.
Think what would you do with it.
Be precise e.g. not just “give charity” or “buy a new car,” but, receptively, (if charity) how much and whom to, and (car) what brand of car and what will be the cost.
Make sure to have your numbers realistic in terms of value.
One more rule: no speculations allowed e.g. “invest $1mm in the stock market and make $10mm” is not an option in this exercise.

Why bother?
This may take about 10 to 60 minutes of your time (some people will do this very quickly, others may take a while, which, by itself will teach you something about yourself and your relationship with money), but I can assure you that it will be time very well spent. Very enlightening to a point of starting a paradigm shift.

If anyone reading this care to share what they found, I, as well as other readers, will be grateful.
I will share my findings as well but I rather give others time to try it out first.

You can also try this exercise in a reverse manner i.e. starting with $10mm and coming down to $10.
It investigates two different sets of mind – one is expansion (Yang) and the other contraction (Yin).
This second exercise is no less important as it allows you to investigate a different form of happiness, the one best expressed by the saying –
Having more does not make one as happy as learning to do with less.

In-family Feedback

In recent months, as my kids are going through puberty and other minefields, tensions can run high. I initiated the following exercise as an outlet for their anger and frustration, but it seems to be more than I initially intended. I thought that sharing it here with others may come handy for parents in similar situations.

Before you continue reading, please see the image enclosed below which shows a small version of a chart composed for the purpose of this exercise.
It lists the family members and then two columns titled Supportive and Non-supportive.
At any time, any family member can go to the chart, which hangs in a central area of the house, and add their initials by another family member in one of the two columns (Supportive / Non-supportive). If someone did something nice for you and you feel it deserve being acknowledge, you add your initials in the supportive column. If someone was being unsupportive including plain rude, you add it in the non-supportive column. There are no actual materials rewards of punishments but at the end of the week we gather as a family and review the chart.
Though, as mentioned, initially intended as a way to rid of fury and irritation – when you write it down its no longer something you need to carry, the chart turned out to do more than this; it started to tell us about trends and relationships within the family unit worth noticing. The experiment is still going on so I will not add much analysis here but I do recommend it to others.