Why I Wrote
Slouching Toward Adulthood:
Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest
Iwrote Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest to illustrate --as one psychologist quipped—why “Twenty-eight is the new nineteen.” I’m not a sociologist, a psychologist, or God help me, a self-help book Barbie who with a wagging finger tells others how to live. I am not a formal social critic of any sort, but merely a Boomer-vintage mother and journalist, contaminated by curiosity. I believe that if you see something, you say something—or in my case, spend a year researching and writing a book. What I saw, all around me, was a great deal of wandering.
I am the proud mother of two fine sons. One is now in his 30’s and his brother, five years younger, is in his 20’s. Both are graduates of a small liberal arts university. Since each son received his bachelor’s degree, I have been fascinated by how different their paths—and the paths of most of their friends and other young people their age that I hear about—have been than my own, my husband’s and many people close to our age. Yes, some Boomers got a Summer of Love. Nonetheless, after college, most of us seemed awfully eager to impersonate what we thought of as adults. We started jobs and soon enough, fully supported ourselves, married and had children rather young, assumed mortgages and made five-year plans. Like our Greatest Generation parents, we “settled down.”
With adultescents—the name my son Jed has coined for people in their 20’s and 30’s with one foot in adolescence and the other, adulthood—it’s a different game of life. The decade or more that follows college seems to be a meandering digression, with pit-stops to live (again) in what used to be called “the empty nest”—if not Vietnam or New Zealand--and to continue to be supported by parents while dabbling in this or that. Adultescents may move to a faraway village with no plumbing but stellar cell phone service, crowd-source their next move on Facebook, get a law degree, start to write a screenplay, jet to Equatorial Guinea, regroup in Kalamazoo, study an Eastern spiritual practice whose name their parents can’t pronounce or remember, sell their car and fill a storage unit, then burn the half-finished screenplay and fly two stars to the right, straight on till morning.
Slouching Toward Adulthood is a book for both parents and adult children. If you are a wandering adultescent, you will read this book and be reminded that you are not alone. If you are a parent you’ll learn how much company you have. As I spent a year researching the book, I began to question many of my assumptions about both Boomers and adultescents. I invite you to read my book and after you’ve finished, to let me know if your ideas change as well. Let’s kickstart a national conversation.