Today’s parents of emerging adults (ages 18-29) have it tough. Back in the day, parents simply complained to their grown-up kids, “You never call, you never write!” Today, in the ever-expanding universe of social networking, parents can say: “You never text, you never Skype, you don’t “Like” me on Facebook, and you never reply to my Tweets.” Forget talking on an actual “phone” every Sunday. According to When Will My Grown-Up Kids Grow Up co-authors Jeffrey Jensen Arnett and Elizabeth Fishel, today’s parents have to walk a fine line between closeness and distance, a “high-wire act” that requires finesse, restraint, tongue-biting, and—above all—patience. They describe in detail the difficult dance of staying close and letting go as the emerging adults in the family pass through the stages of “launching, exploring, and landing.”
Parents of young children can find rows of bookshelves devoted to the early stages of child-rearing: Spock, Brazelton, and many others. What parents of emerging adults need is the same sort of book, the kind they can turn to whenever their grown-up kid reaches the next stage on the journey to full independence. This book will fill that need. In an easy-to-read format, Arnett and Fishel hit all the hot button topics parents of 18-29-year olds will recognize: roommates, relationships, money (“The Bank of Mom and Dad”), the job search, sex, religion, marriage, communication, and what happens when—due to a variety of circumstances—the one who “launched” lands back home again (“The Boomerang Kid”). Boomeranging has become “the new normal” for large numbers of emerging adults, and it’s a topic the authors tackle head on, with a close look at the challenges involved for parents as their empty nest fills up again. And again.
Arnett and Fishel offer common sense advice in the Q. and A.’s that are sprinkled throughout the book. The voices of parents speaking about their emerging adults are represented here too, adding to the dialogue. For example, on the subject of communication from a college-age kid, one parent says, “If we don’t hear from him, we know he’s doing well"; while another says, “We always know he’s up to no good when we don’t hear from him.”
For parents who are caught up in the struggle to stay connected while pulling back during their kid’s journey to adulthood, this book provides a frank, factual, and fearless look at the road ahead.
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