I wanted to boomerang; Dad said no
January 28, 2005
Grant McGee: CNJ columnist
A couple of weeks ago I ran across an article about “Boomerang Kids.” These are young adults who leave the family nest — they’ve gone to college or trade school, they’ve probably had their first job — then something drives them home.
The forces that drive them back can include being saddled with significant student loans to repay, not being able to find a good-paying job or finding it tough to live with the previous two conditions and make the rent.
The U. S. Census Bureau estimates 16 million American households have a child or two over the age of 18 still living at home.
This thing about coming back to the nest isn’t anything new. I guess I grew up thinking that’s what “home” is for. If all else fails, come on back.
I suppose I first got the idea home was a safe landing place when I got my first job about 150 miles from where I grew up.
“What if I don’t make it?” I asked my dad. “What if I get out there and get fired?”
“Well then, come on home son,” he said.
As it turned out, nothing bad happened and I started down the merry path of my own life.
Flash forward six years.
I had made some poor life choices and the “coup de grace” was losing my car in a one-vehicle wreck. With no car, I lost my job. I had obligations to meet. I figured I could go home until I pulled things back together.
Boy, was I wrong.
I called my folks. My mom answered the phone.
“Hi mom,” I was smiling. “Can I come home? I’m in a bit of a mess.”
“Well,” she said, “you’ll need to talk to your father.”
She put my dad on the line.
“Hi Dad. Can I come live with y’all till I get on my feet?”
Wow, I was amazed at how fast he answered me (I think they knew I’d be calling).
I was dumbfounded. It took a few seconds to gather my thoughts.
I gave a nervous laugh.
“I ... I thought that’s what home is for, Dad: A place to come back to when it all goes down the tubes.”
“Well, son, we believe if you stay out there and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps you’ll be a lot stronger.”
Now that I look back on it, I don’t think I would have let me come back home to live either.
Things started looking better, though. I found a job that didn’t require a car, walked or biked to work and got back on my feet. My dad was right.
What would I do if one of my kids wanted to come live at my house? I’d say, “Bring your stuff.”
I don’t think that’s going to happen, though. All of them are pretty self-sufficient these days. However, if one of them had a change in fortune, the door would be open. I’d lay down some simple rules about good conduct, having to have a job and such.
One of them is on a rocky road right now. She didn’t want to come to New Mexico so I’ve been frequently sending her a “little something” to help.
But the welcome mat is out at the house.
That’s what home is for, isn’t it?
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: