What happens when the baby birds refuse to leave the nest they have called home? They are given a firm parental push until they have no choice but to try those wings and take off. I don’t believe this process has changed in eons of recorded observation.
I thought of them as I read a recent article about the fact that for the first time since record-keeping began, more young adults are likely to be clinging to the parental nest than taking off on their own. We should not be surprised, although this fact must have sociologists scrambling to analyze its repercussions.
So many factors go into family patterns e.g. the economics of farm life which once was a dominant concept, the lure of urban living from the 1920s, the draw of old neighborhoods which dominated parts of the 20th century, the attraction of the suburbs from later in that century... We could go on and on about how patterns of living have changed. But this new “ rooting in” upends so much that we have come to take for granted.
What has happened to the desire to do it for oneself, to set up family life as one has dreamed it could be and to be independent of parental anxieties on one’s behalf? Is this rooted in the total child-centeredness that has become a dominant pattern in raising a family? If the millennials want to start out where their parents have ended up, of course they have to stay where that comfort is. And the byproducts are delaying or avoiding marriage and never entering a world where concern for the other becomes dominant, above all when one has helped to create that other.
At what point do parents say, “It’s our time now. We’re downsizing.” And Junior’s bedroom will no longer exist.
I love the couple who watched, with some dismay, as one by one their 3 children returned and mother was back with laundry and food shopping just as before they were sent off to college. So, one evening, they called a family meeting and announced: “We are delighted that you love your home so much that you have come back. Here are the mortgage and instructions for payment. We just bought a one-bedroom condo across town and we move on Monday.”
I see so many ramifications for schools and churches and other social institutions from this drift in society. What it will all mean is still in the future and it is mystery to me. With great truth I say, “God knows where this is leading and what challenges await us all.”