Escaping the Boomerang Life

If tough times have forced you to fly back to your parents' nest, take heart. B.W. shows you how you can fly back out�for good.

card balance, she admits she spent as she went. While staying with her parents, Roussell shopped and lived paycheck to paycheck.

Since leaving her position at Dillard last July and heading to graduate school the following month, Roussell has cooled her shopping habit and focuses instead on completing her master’s degree next May. She also landed a graduate work-study post, at which she earns $3,438 annually plus a graduate assistantship that pays $1,300 annually. In addition, she has a $3,875 grant that goes toward her $15,500 annual tuition; other grants and student loans cover the balance.

Roussell’s parents, who are in their early 60s, extend financial help when their daughter needs it. Her mother, Althea W. Roussell, took out a personal loan to help pay off a $2,000 balance Roussell owed Roosevelt at the end of her first semester. “Yes, I will be more than happy when she can take over her car note and car insurance and those types of things,” says Althea, who admits she loved having her daughter home. Althea expects that some adjustments will have to be made in the future, since her husband, Donald is retiring in July.

While Thakor echoes the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and points out that many people of color embrace multigenerational family living, Anderson notes that African Americans often feel that they don’t have a choice. “Multigenerational living in the African American community typically indicates an inability to leave the nest. Looking at Americans in general, if we can leave, we do. When we don’t, it’s not because we want that connection with parents—it’s because we can’t leave. In other cultures, multigenerational living is more the norm.”

Thakor says that in her experience, most boomerangers stay with family for roughly six to 18 months. If the stay lasts longer than three years, there’s a problem, Thakor believes. Either the person isn’t trying hard enough to find a job, or he or she may be financially irresponsible. “If in three years as an adult you’re still holding on to the life preserver of extended family, there are some other issues at play,” she suggests. She adds, however, that some circumstances, such as the need for childcare, give boomerangers good reasons to remain home longer.

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  • There are some really great tips here. I think the most important one for adult children is “Don’t expect to live like your parents right out of school,” and the most important for parents is “Don’t dip into your retirement account.” Nice piece!

  • Lyle

    This story is the truth. This was me last year. My parents had my back and helped me get my stuff back on track. Thanks Black Enterprise.


    We are ‘Boomerangers’ as well, but I was a stay at home mother of two when my husband was laid off in Feb. 2009.    Two months ago we had our 3rd child and we are still at my in-laws.  It is a very challenging situation, esp. since our health insurance ends on June 15th and our unemployment ends in two weeks.  I am not exactly sure what we will do, but know that everything will work itself out.  Both of us are currently looking for work, but we also realize that it’s not that easy.  We are hopeful that one of our entrepreneurial ventures will start bearing some fruit.  As I mentioned before, it’s challenging, but I’ve always loved challenges…….this has to be THE MOST challenging of all!  I can’t to see what ‘greatness’ comes out of this boomeranger chapter of our lives.  I started a blog on my boomeranger experience.   Please check it out @ and join us on facebook and twitter.