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One term you might want to become familiar with that we use a lot when we're talking about our “adult” kids is:  TWIXTER.  

TIME MAGAZINE devoted their January 24, 2005 cover story to expose this global threat:   The WORLDWIDE EPIDEMIC OF THE TWIXTER GENERATION.

Bottom line, TWIXTERS are basically "young adults" in their late teens and early 20's who are taking FIVE TO TEN YEARS longer to grow up and become financially independent.

We are part of a generation of parents who have, due to guilt, overindulgence and politically correct nonsense having to do with instilling "self-esteem" in our children, created these TWIXTER monsters and are now stuck with them because they have no idea how to take care of themselves.

Our kids laughed hysterically when we told them to get a part-time job at McDonalds after school.  After all, we had worked there when we were their ages.  With this suggestion, they were all rolling around on the floor grabbing their stomachs with huge guffaws and tears streaming down their faces, still maintaining control of the TV remotes glued to their hands.

Instead of well-earned SELF-ESTEEM, they, despite our good intentions, have turned out to be ENTITLED AND SPOILED ROTTEN.  So, between the two of us, we have SIX TWIXTERS who continue to, like giant sponges, drain our wallets, retirement funds and trigger strong urges for wine on a daily basis.

Anyone out there have Twixters, or another affectionate term, “Boomerang Baggage” out there?

Lorraine and Mary


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      VICKY CORYEA wrote Jul 12, 2008
    • Its so funny I just ran into this article. I have 2 sons and ages 20, 23. No one ever talks about moving out! If I mention it, the one stares at me as if I said a really bad word!

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Mary Kelly-Williams, M.A. wrote Jul 12, 2008
    • Hi vgirl.  There are many, myself included, who empathize with you.  The Time magazine article reported that it is taking the generation of “kids“in their early 20’s, five to ten years longer to become financially independent then when we were their age.  

      Jane Adams, a social psychologist who specializes in helping parents create healthy boundaries for their adult children has a good book out called “When Your Grown Children Disappoint You.”  

      Here’s a great article she wrote on the subject:


      "Isn't it time to stop feeling guilty—and let them fend for themselves?  We may even grow up in the process.

      By Jane Adams

      The dream began the moment the doctor placed them in our arms:  Our kids would grow into independent, generous, kind, happy, successful adults who made the most of all the advantages we worked so hard to give them.  After all, boomers are the most-privileged, most-educated, healthiest generation in history—if we weren't the best equipped to raise even better, more perfect children, who was?  But now that the results are in, some of us are wondering, "Where did we go wrong?" and, "Who knew it would take so long?"

      Our kids aren't kids anymore.  They're over 21, even over 30, and they're supposed to be adults—but even by our admittedly elastic standards, many are falling short:  back on our doorsteps, boomeranging home in unprecedented numbers, as every other newspaper feature and census statistic reminds us; living in our basements; in and out of rehab, 12-stepping through their twenties; depressed and dispirited, unable or unwilling to get or keep a job.  Whether he's frying burgers for minimum wage despite a $100,000 education, or her starter marriage was over before we finished paying for the wedding, our grown kids are taking five to ten years longer than we did to achieve independent adulthood.

      So here we are, scared, frustrated, resentful, embarrassed, disappointed and, most of all, guilty.  After all, it must be something we did, right?  We were too strict, or too libertarian.  We over programmed their childhoods, or we left them to their own devices.  We parented them by the book—Spock, Ginott, P.E.T.—and it was the wrong one.  We know that we did something wrong—we're just not sure what it was.

      Guilt is the constant companion of parenthood, so it's not surprising that a self-reflective generation like ours blames itself for our kids' failure to thrive.  But it's crucial that we stop.  The quicker we are to assume the blame, the more likely we are to take ownership of the problems that rightfully belong to our children.  And we may be choosing to grapple with children's problems rather than face the uncomfortable, unfamiliar issues that aging has a way of bringing up.  But delaying our second adulthood won't help our kids get on with their first.  It may even make it harder.

      While we're waiting for our children to grow into their responsibilities, we must remember that we have responsibilities to ourselves:  to mellow into the middle of middle age before we're at the end of it; do all the things we said we'd do when we were finished with parenting; enjoy what we think might be the best years of our lives, but know are the last ones before we have to face up to the inevitability of aging.

      It's time to secure our own future, sell or remodel the house, ease out of the rat race and into our prime.  After two decades or more of raising kids, we're ready to restart our livses—not just with our pensions and portfolios, our positions and power, but with our energy, our senses of humor and history and our ability to translate experience into wisdom and maturity.

      Researching my book, When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us, I found that many midlife parents are having a hard time letting go of a sense of responsibility for their children's problems.  One study may shed some light on why:  Wanting our kids to feel personally fulfilled has become an important goal to our generation.

      While our own parents tended to focus on what was needed to ensure our future (a good education, a strong work ethic), boomers have added their kids' inner psychology (self-acceptance, happiness, a sense of purpose in life) into the mix.  And how our kids turn out has, of course, a strong effect on our own life satisfaction.

      Well, here's how they're doing:  According to a 2001 issue of American Demographics, 18 million 20-34-year-olds, or 38% of all young adult singles, lived with their parents—and that doesn't count all those who boomeranged back more than once.

      Many are manifesting the kind of identity disorders that used to characterize adolescence:  Unable to make decisions or commitments, suffering a sense of inner emptiness and isolation, our "adultolescents" exhibit difficulties with intimacy and relationships and an acute inability to work.  And since they can't get their lives going, ours are stalled in second gear.

      Baby boomers and their older siblings born just before or during World War II, inheritors of the "greatest generation's" sacrifices, were so eager for our independence that our children's reluctance to follow our example stuns and confused us.  For even if we put off our own adulthood and rebelled against our parents' values during our college years, ultimately we adapted, or adopted them as our own.  We delayed many rewards long enough to earn them:  We rented until we could afford to buy and stayed in our jobs long enough to get a raise.

      While most of us knew we were privileged, few of us felt entitled—at least, not the way our grown kids do.  We didn't feel entitled to work that was spiritually fulfilling as well as lucrative.  We didn't feel entitled to achieve our goals without a long apprenticeship and a lot of hard work.  We didn't feel entitled to live off our parents and enjoy the same standard of living at 25 that they didn't attain until years later.

      Social pundits have encouraged the idea that somehow we flunked Parenting 101, that something we did, or failed to do—our permissive parenting styles? Our overreaction to the changing social cultures of the Sixties and Seventies? —flattened our children's tires on the road to maturity.

      Our kids had more responsibility at a younger age, both because they had to (we weren't home baking cookies, as one of us famously said when her husband was running for president) and because we thought it was good for them.  We trusted them to take care of themselves while we worked, whether it was at our jobs or on our "stuff," and then supposedly, we overcompensated for our absenteeism-physical or emotional—by overindulging them.  Even if we didn't, we encouraged our children to believe that they were special and unique, and that reinforced their expectations that the sun would always shine on them.

      In truth, our parenting styles were much more diverse than those of our parents.  One of the mothers I interviewed for my book put it this way:  "My best friend was one of those super-organized mothers who pushed her kids to excel, and one of her children is a drug addict.  And I let my kids make their own rules and do their own thing, and so is one of mine.  So what does that tell you?"

      What it tells us is not that the influence of parents isn't important, but that it isn't everything.  Other factors, such as heredity, inborn personality traits, the fit between parent and child and the influence of peers, as well as the culture and environment, matter as much, if not more, than the book, philosophy or seat-of-the-pants parenting techniques that got us through our children's growing years.

      The key to our survival, as well as theirs, is detachment—not from our children, but from their problems.  Detaching means acknowledging the limits of our parental responsibility and accepting that we have done as much as is humanly possible for them.

      The parents I interviewed for my book had taken the following steps:  cutting the purse strings to a 23 year old son who still hadn't settled on a dissertation topic despite the fact that they had been paying graduate-school tuition for several years; charging rent for a childhood room that seems permanently occupied since college; telling a divorced daughter to take her ex-husband to court for child support, and allowing her own support system to come to her aid, rather than volunteering to be the first-response team; demanding that a child find her own solutions after she walked away from yet another pricey rehab program.

      We can no longer be held hostage to the notion that if we say no—possibly for the first time in our lives—that we will be in danger of alienating our children for good.  They ma be angry at first, but you may find the place in which the relationship is still possible, by concentrating on what we have in common rather than obsessing about what we don't.  Detachment from our children's problems is the only possible hope for their independence, and the only route to ours.

      Boomers are very used to the lime-light, and there's no reason to think we'll accept being unseen now.  Second adulthood demands that we reclaim those aspects of ourselves we put aside in the interests of our children and use them to re-create ourselves.

      Laying down our burden of disappointment in our kids, we liberate them from it, too.  It's our last act as parents and their first act as adults—two generations writing a brand-new story in which all the protagonists are separate but equal, independent but connected and bound by ties of love that are stronger than any of us realize.

      Jane Adams, Ph.D., is a journalist and social psychologist.  Her latest book is "When Our Grown Kids Disappoint Us".

      Let’s all be supportive of one another to learn the delicate balance between loving our kid and letting them know they always have a place to call home, and giving them the loving boot to be independent in their lives.


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