Date of Conferral







Susana Verdinelli


In the United States, a growing number of young people are failing to launch into self-sufficiency, a characteristic of adulthood recognized by most cultural groups. These "boomerang children" return home and interrupt the life course development of their "empty nest" mothers who must suspend plans for self-development. How mothers from different socioeconomic backgrounds cope with this countertransitional phenomenon while preparing their children for successful relaunch is not well known. Elder's life course paradigm provided the theoretical framework for this phenomenological study. Perceptions were collected from an ethnically diverse group of 23 empty nest mothers with 30 boomerang children and seven boomerang grandchildren from five U.S. states, recruited using criterion-based convenience sample. Data were collected through recorded telephone interviews that were transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using Saldana's codes-categories-emergent themes model. The findings revealed that boomerang children caused emotional and financial distress, a reassessment of parenting skills, and that boomerang grandchildren reinvigorated the mother's prime identity as a caregiver. These findings were consistent regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status. This study contributes to the empirical literature by depicting the boomerang phenomenon as a shift in cultural expectations which represents a new phase in the life course development paradigm. Findings from this study can also guide the work of future researchers, assist mental health counselors who deal with these issues, and inform school guidance counselors who design career trajectories for students.