Baby Boomer moms keep supporting grown kids: survey

ORLANDO, Fla Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:27pm EDT

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ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - More than half of Baby Boom-generation mothers support adult children financially and 60 percent are the go-to person when their grown kids encounter problems, according to a survey issued on Thursday.

That trend contrasted with the 86 percent of those 46- to 65-year-old women surveyed who said they were fully independent of their own parents by age 25.

"We wanted to get the hell out as soon as possible," said Liz Kitchens, a partner in The Kitchens Group, a public opinion research firm in Orlando, Florida, that conducted the survey.

The company conducted the national online survey of 441 women between February 14 and March 14.

Eighty percent of the women said it was "very accurate" to describe themselves as reliable and dependable, a much stronger response than other self-described characteristics -- including "spontaneous and flexible," or "playful and fun" -- received.

Of women with children over age 18, nine percent said they had adult children living back home for indefinite periods. Twelve percent were primarily responsible for their adult child or children's financial well-being and 31 percent said they had children who returned home, relied on them but expected to become independent.

Kitchens, who is writing a book about "Lady Boomers," said in an interview that her survey and research suggest a shift in attitude not solely due to the current state of the economy.

Boomer moms, the first generation of women born amid the "baby boom" after the end of World War II, came of age amid the 1960's culture revolutions in the United States when protests over civil rights, feminism and the Vietnam War flourished.

Kitchens said many boomer moms enjoyed stimulating careers and had wrestled with guilt over leaving their children for work. She said mothers had perhaps indulged their kids in ways that made them happy to move back.

"I wasn't completely unhappy when both of my kids bounced back for periods of time," Kitchens said. "I think we've created good dinner companions."

Helen Bernstein, a 54-year-old former office worker from Casselberry, Florida, said her grown daughter moved back home with a new husband for a short time in 2008 while the young couple saved for a home of their own.

Bernstein now happily babysits full-time for her new grandchild but said returning home was something she herself never would have done.

"I left home at 17 and never looked back," she said. "I felt like once I left my parents' house, I would have been a failure to go back."

Denise Beumer, a 58-year-old manager of a bank branch near Orlando, has helped support two of her six adult children.

Although she moved back to her mother's home as a young divorcee, Beumer said her attitude was different.

"I didn't expect my mother to treat me like a child," Beumer said. "My son, he can't put the dishes in the dishwasher. It's like they feel it's an entitlement. I'm wondering if I made things too easy for them."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Bohan)

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