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Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest

by Sally Koslow

Pub Date: June 18th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-670-02362-2
Publisher: Viking

A witty, provocative study that examines why so many millenials can't seem to launch into adulthood and now find themselves “wandering—if not literally, then psychically.”

Former Lifetime and McCall’s editor-in-chief Koslow (The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, 2009, etc.) is the parent of young adult children for whom “postponing financial independence, jobs, marriage [and] a hovel of [their] own” has become the norm. This postponement has in turn given rise to a new developmental phase that Koslow calls “adultescence.” This period (ages 22 to 35), writes the author, is characterized by an “exploration [of self and the world] that seems to go on forever, not unlike the Rolling Stones.” A bad economy and severely limited career prospects for young people with no real work experience are only part of the reason for the rise of this new phenomenon. Many adultescents are also taking to heart what their boomer parents have told them since childhood: that they can be and do anything they want because they are special. Consequently, they are creating lives that appear to be breaking all the rules that have characterized the successful, well-ordered lives of their parents. Not only are they not settling for whatever jobs they can find and seeking careers to which they can dedicate their lives; they are also redefining relationships, such as marriage, that once signaled a definitive entry into adulthood. Koslow argues that these hyper-mobile 20- and 30-somethings move across borders and, when necessary, into their parents' homes with equal ease largely because well-intentioned boomers, who secretly “lust for their [children's] attention,” have implicitly agreed to the arrangement. However, as Koslow ultimately concludes, neither is able to evolve their roles. Instead, boomers and their offspring remain tied to each other, caught in a never-never land of loving codependency.

Observant and bracingly candid.