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Many baby boomer moms support grown kids: poll


Virginia Tech students make their way to the university commencement ceremony at Lane Stadium on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia May 11, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Keane
Virginia Tech students make their way to the university commencement ceremony at Lane Stadium on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia May 11, 2007. REUTERS/Chris Keane

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - More than half of baby boomer mothers in the United States support adult children financially and 60 percent are the person their offspring go to when they encounter problems, according to a new survey.

That trend contrasted with the 86 percent of those 46- to 65-year-old women surveyed who said they were fully independent 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 national online survey of 441 women.

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 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 Two, 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."

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Bohan)

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