Thursday, June 16, 2011

HT Mockingbird: In which I wonder if "adultescence" is as simple as people not wanting to grow up

I found this link by way of Mockingbird and it's an intriguing article.

Last October, in an article for the New York Times Magazine, RenĂ©e Bacher, a mother in Louisiana, described the emptiness she felt as she sent her daughter off to college in the Northeast. Bacher tried getting support from other mother friends, who, it turned out, were too busy picking up a refrigerator for a child’s college dorm room or rushing home to turn off a high-schooler’s laptop. And while Bacher initially justified her mother-hen actions as being in her daughter’s best interest—coming up with excuses to vet her daughter’s roommate or staying too long in her daughter’s dorm room under the guise of helping her move in—eventually she concluded: “As with all Helicopter Parenting, this was about me.”

Bacher isn’t unusual. Wendy Mogel says that colleges have had so much trouble getting parents off campus after freshman orientation that school administrators have had to come up with strategies to boot them. At the University of Chicago, she said, they’ve now added a second bagpipe processional at the end of opening ceremonies—the first is to lead the students to another event, the second to usher the parents away from their kids. The University of Vermont has hired “parent bouncers,” whose job is to keep hovering parents at bay. She said that many schools are appointing an unofficial “dean of parents” just to wrangle the grown-ups. Despite the spate of articles in recent years exploring why so many people in their 20s seem reluctant to grow up, the problem may be less that kids are refusing to separate and individuate than that their parents are resisting doing so. (emphasis added)

There have, indeed, been plenty of articles bemoaning the failure of 20-somethings to just grow up already. I have been skeptical about this outrage for multiple reasons. The job market and economy have nose-dived in the last three to five years, by stages. There are not necessarily jobs out there for those people, particularly guys, who are told to "man up" and go get a real job. College has been getting more expensive for less professional return on investment.
But that is not the only reason I have been skeptical about people in their 40s and 50s wanting to know why people won't just grow up. As the above excerpt mentions, there are kids who are subject to a helicopter parenting style where their parents ultimately don't want them to have their own lives. I don't have the impression, honestly, that this is necessarily a problem with my parents' generation so much as it seems like a problem in the generation after that, or as likely as it seems it will be the problem of my generation.

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