In most cultures in the world, grown children are expected to feed, clothe, and house their elders and in many cases it’s the mother-in-law who runs the family. What an excellent idea! In our society, however, parenting seems to have become a lifetime job.
After you’ve raised the kid and survived the childhood injuries, the teenage psychoses, and the near-bankruptcy of tuition costs, you get all teary at a college graduation ceremony and congratulate yourself on a job well done. The offspring is launched, your life is your own again, and you think about turning the kid’s room into a ceramics studio. Think again.
Young adults face a brutal reality shock when they leave the warm cocoon of home and school. Finding a job and a place to live are tough challenges, especially in our difficult economy. Nowadays, a lot of college grads are boomeranging right back to mama’s house.
If – God forbid – I had a twenty or thirty-something living with me, I would at least expect some help with the chores. My friend Nancy is a college professor whose son and daughter-in-law live with her. The daughter-in-law loves to cook, bake, and garden: that sounds like a pretty fair exchange to me. On the other hand, I know a woman who prepares her slacker son’s lunch before she leaves for work, and does his laundry on weekends. This mother is a psychologist. I think she could use some therapy.