Boomerangs can be harmful, especially if what comes back is an adult child, previously seen off with sighs of relief. A study of people over 50 in 17 European countries finds that the return of adult children to the nest—“multigenerational co-residence” in the jargon of the social scientist’s trade—causes a major decline in parents’ well-being.
The study, by scholars at the London School of Economics, found that “boomerang” children reduce the quality of life of their parents by an amount similar to developing an age-related disability, such as difficulties walking or getting dressed.
It seems that the return of the prodigal, or even the offspring simply down on his luck, “may be regarded as a violation” of parents’ new-found independence, which encouraged new hobbies and greater marital harmony, the latter perhaps, but only perhaps, a result of increased privacy. All gone when the door opens to “Hi mom and dad, I’m back.”
Sweden has decided to attack gender differences early on. Noticing that 1- and 2-year old boys “shout and hit” while girls “whimpered to be picked up,” teachers cleared the room of dolls and cars. According to the New York Times, boys were sent to the play kitchen, and girls practiced shouting “no.” Teachers call the children “friends” rather than “boys and girls.”
It is not clear that these experiments are successful. Four- and 5-year old girls tend to draw girls “with lots of makeup and long eyelashes” one school’s “house gender expert”—yes, there are such jobs—discovered. When asked, “Don’t boys have eyelashes?”, one, er, girl, responded: “We know it is not like that in real life.” Which prompted the in-house gender expert to muse, “They are trying to understand what it is to be a girl.” The Times says she found this “frustrating.” Teachers find that they have to learn to control themselves when tempted to compliment a child’s appearance, “You have to hold back.” Life is hard in the forward trenches of the PC war.