Fledge Failure

In every family, there seems to being at least one member who never quite leaves home.

Many leave to find work, get their education, have relationships and maybe even start a family.

And return.

There are economic reasons. Some find it hard to survive financially. College graduates with student loans struggle to meet the challenge, often competing for low paying jobs outside their field.

Grandparents step in to help raise another generation; some with daycare, others offering full support, physical and emotional shelter.

There can be emotional and psychological issues, health concerns, co-dependency, etc.

Some were just never prepared to leave the nest.

Eagle Family

Photo. RayBentley.com

There is an interesting comparison to be made in nature.

The bald eagle prepares its offspring in a few different ways.

They gradually replace the soft, comfortable nesting materials with more prickly sticks, encouraging the eaglets to leave; a process called fledging.

They will model the skill of flight as eaglets begin to spread their own wings.

They deliberately drop them from the tree, catching them just before they hit the ground, returning them safely to try again.

The process is complete at a few months of age, the fledglings are full sized, out to explore the world on their own.

The question is…do they ever return ?

Are they welcomed back ?

It seems unlikely. Most are only tracked when they find a mate and set up a nest of their own.

The understanding in my birth family was that we were to be out at 18, no matter which path we chose. We all complied.

We made it clear to our adult children that they were always welcome in our home, no matter the life circumstance. The nesting material remained soft, there would be no nudge out of that tree.

One fledged early, the other came back a few times, at our invitation.

Parenting. It is always fascinating.


Eagle cam update: The eaglets are thriving, are expected to fledge sometime this summer.




This entry was posted in Education, Family, Inspiration, Nature and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

97 Responses to Fledge Failure

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    My door is always open… even if there is only a sofa free. So far, just one has availed himself.

  2. I always find this interesting. At times the most debilitating reason I can think of is that the parents really don’t want to be “empty nesters”….so they provide an extremely comfortable living arrangement in order to encourage the child to stick around a bit longer. In all reality…really creating a ‘failure to launch’ situation.

    I can’t say which is better, getting out into the “real world” earlier or remaining at home. My husband and I have lived on our own since we were 18. We’ve bought and sold 5 houses during this time. Now turning 27, we’ve been lucky enough to graduate from University & College and travel the world. We’ve been forced to work extremely hard to be able to do everything we have accomplished but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    When I compare our journey to some of the people who surround us, we’ve ben lucky enough to experience and accomplish quite a bit more than those who have remained at home.

    • Yours is an exceptional story, you should be so proud of your independence, and all you’ve achieved by age 27. It is sadly not the reality for so many. Thanks for sharing your story. ❤️

  3. Nurse Kelly says:

    Beautifully written, as always, Van. Parenting sure is fascinating! My parents had the same “rule,” but I don’t share that with my own kids and they know that. My husband and I figure they will probably raise families in our basement! LOL! (We’re just really close!) xoxo

    • Yep, we were definitely dropped out of that tree, Kelly. In some ways, I’m sure it made me so much softer in my approach as a parent. But, they didn’t take advantage. At least, not so far. ❤️

      • Nurse Kelly says:

        I think that’s worrisome to many parents – to be honest! Hopefully that won’t happen to me… guess I’ll find out!
        Great analogies, Van 🙂

      • I have more than one friend who has raised their grandbabies, Kelly. It might be a throwback to a time when generations shared a home; it was not only acceptable, it was preferred in certain ethnicities. ☺

      • Nurse Kelly says:

        That’s so interesting to think of those differences, isn’t it? You’re right, communal living is widely accepted all over the world. Like you said, as long as no one is being taken advantage of, to each their own!

  4. Ritu says:

    Our Indian culture does not promote independence in the same way. .. for parents of the older generations, it was like a failure in their eyes if a child was to leave home.
    Now the thinking is changing.
    Doors are open so chicks can fly, but the door is never closed on them.
    I know I can always go home if I need to, to both my own parents and my in law’s!

    • Thanks for sharing that, Ritu. There are definitely cultural differences at play. There must be a certain security in knowing you’d be welcome home, no matter what. 💕

      • Ritu says:

        I want my kids to grow up independent. I’d never clip their wings, but ultimately I want them to be happy and to know home will always be open to them no matter what, kinda how I feel!
        My parents were like this with my brother and I and I think this is why we are much more secure as adults 😊

  5. Very intriguing post Van! I was dropped out of the best at 18, and I did the same with my oldest two children (of course in both situations, the home environment was toxic). With these younger children, or in a healthy family, I can see where the nest could remain soft. Everyone would have to carry his or her own weight. I have seen friends continue to house adult alcoholic children, work multiple jobs in order to support them, and burn themselves out. This is a very good topic 🙂

    • It’s always a challenge, even more so if there is dysfunction. It must be exhausting to be the kind of enabler that finances their children’s issues. They have my sympathy. Thanks for weighing in, AoA. 💘

  6. Thumbup says:

    I like your way!

  7. Elyse says:

    The weekend I (the last of 5) moved out of the house, my parents put my childhood home on the market and moved to Florida. No going home for me. I will admit it was traumatic, and I never did quite get over losing the place that I loved so much when they moved to a place I hated, but I (begrudgingly) accepted the fact that it was their house, their lives. When I asked my dad years later why they had done it, he said “we went away for the weekend and I fell in love again with the girl I married.” That, I felt, was below the belt!

    My own 24 year old son is out of college and living in our basement. Jobs are harder to come by — at least jobs that have any security and a living wage. He works 3 jobs and really doesn’t make enough to live on. What’s a mother to do?

    • It’s a way of life today. My son came home twice after college; still struggles to get back to the professional work he was lucky to have for a few years, before being “downsized”. It’s tough out there, Elyse, maybe the worst we’ve seen in a long while. I’d do exactly the same as you. Thanks for sharing.💕

  8. kingmidget says:

    We weren’t kicked out at the age of 18, but we were expected to be doing something after high school. Two of us stayed home while going to the local state university. If not that, we would have had to work, and likely start paying some token amount for rent if we decided to stay home. In other words, once you turned 18, the free ride was over.

    My kids are now 21 and 18. And it has been a struggle with the older one. He was a really good student during most of his K-12 years, but that has completely evaporated now that he is in college and “on his own.” They both went out-of-town for college. The older one has not done well academically and has struggled to find a job to help cover his living expenses (which was part of the deal). He will run out of money this month and I have told him there is no more help from us. I’m really not sure what’s going to happen in the next few weeks. The only other real option he has is to move home, but he and I living together is like oil and water trying to mix. I asked him yesterday what his Plan B would be if he hasn’t got a job before he runs out of money. He said he didn’t have one. I suggested that he needed to have one before the day his bank account drops to zero.

    Thank you for the eagle update!!

    • I feel the pain in your words, King. Oh, that lack of Plan B is a problem, and much too common. We were lucky in that when my son moved back, he had amassed quite a savings account from his first job, and was self-supporting. We just provided the roof over his head. It made it a lot easier for all of us. As for the personality issues…that’s going to be a tough one for you. I wish your family all the best as you navigate forward. Keep the communication lines open…my only advice. ❤️

      • kingmidget says:

        The biggest problem with my older son is laziness. He’d rather stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, hanging out with friends, watching shows on Netflix, playing X-Box, or whatever, than do the things he’s supposed to be doing. It’s been a real challenge trying to figure out how to get him motivated. Our niece describes him as being the laziest person she’s ever met and compares his personality to that of somebody who smokes pot every day. As much as any parent can be sure of these things, I’m sure that he does not smoke pot. It’s just part of his make-up at the moment — utterly lacking in motivation and a recognition that there are things you have to do before you get to do the things you want to do. Very frustrating. And, yes, I’m trying to keep communicating, but how many times do you hit your head against the same wall before you give up. 😉

      • I guess we never really give up. The trick might be allowing them to fail just enough…knowing that if you swoop in too soon before they hit the ground, they won’t take you seriously. And yes…there could be many posts/books written about the draw of friends and electronic distractions. Ugh.

  9. themomfred says:

    Here in California having a place to roost whilst accumulating the enormous some of money necessary to purchase rather than rent your first home is a blessing I am glad to be able to offer my children. And besides, we really like each other so it is really not a burden to squeeze in and help each other ❤️

  10. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    This is something I have discussed with my wife and kids.

    I feel that; as long as they go to school full time and work, then they will have a place in our home. If they choose to work full time, pursue a career – then they need to leave home.

    If something were to happen and they needed to return home, of course they would be welcome but it wouldn’t be free. Nothing in life is free and they still need to financially contribute – a good lesson to understand I think.

  11. Parenting is fascinating, Van. We are all so different as individuals, so when a family of us gets together, there’s no other group like it in the world. Which, I think, is why there are no across-the-board answers, and it serves to be conscious and transparent about choices. Economics seems to be a giant factor in our kid’s abilities to completely find their wings. It’s so much harder than it was when I was a kid.

    • There really is no one perfect solution, Diana, you’re so right about the unique nature of family. I watched younger siblings leave and struggle, wanting to come home, but denied the opportunity. It turned out well for some, not so well for others. I was determined that my own kids would never face that kind of fear/insecurity. It is hard today, but I wonder if it hasn’t always been hard for some ? Thanks for weighing in. 💕

  12. Judy Martin says:

    I left home pretty early on but bounced back a few times due to various reasons. It was good to know that I could do that.
    I would also want my daughter to know that she will always bee welcome to come back home once she has left. (Luckily that is not for a few years yet)!!!

  13. All three of my girls are out and in their own houses – finally. If any of my girls feel a need to come home, I know it will be because something horrendous has happened and she needs her mother. Of course, I hope that never happens. Still, I keep that extra room available, just in case – just like my mother did. My girls all know all it would take is that one panicky phone call in the middle of the night- or just showing up at the door – and they would be welcomed back.

    • Happy for your daughters, CM.☺You bring up an interesting point… is it a bit easier to bring those girls back home than their brothers ? Not sure. Maybe we have different expectations regarding independence for each gender. Thanks for sharing. 💝

  14. wgr56 says:

    I do believe it’s more difficult to get started on your own than it was when I was young, so fledglings leaving the nest these days might need a bit more help and understanding. That being said, I hear about more and more kids these days who don’t even WANT to leave the nest, which I have a hard time understanding. Once I went off to college, I was still technically supported by my parents, but psychologically speaking, I was already gone, with no intention of moving back. A lot of kids these days seem to need more a nudge. It’s difficult out there, no question, but as parents, I don’t think we do our kids any favors by making them TOO comfortable!

    • Difficult out there, but not impossible. A little struggle might just be good for the character. And for those who don’t ever want to leave, it might be time to start putting those “prickly sticks” in the nest to encourage the exodus. Thanks, RG. ☺

  15. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Each of us has a different idea of what it means to be a parent. Fascinating you speak of the eagle. The same holds true for cats. The Queen will begin to actually get aggressive and mean to the kittens around 6 months of age (I think that is the age) in order to kick them out of the nest. I’ve only seen one cat defy this natural order of things and that is my Charlie who loved his mother so much he refused to leave the nest no matter how bad his mother treated him. He just wanted to be loved. He most certainly is loved today. I’ve seen too much enabling on both sides of my family so I am not too sure if I would welcome a grown child back into the nest. I honestly don’t know. IF under certain circumstances, such as illness or extreme hard times, yes. ❤

    • I had no idea of that cat behavior, Amy. And how sweet of one Charlie to hang on. You’re right about those certain circumstances…truly the exception to any fledging rules. Thanks. 💕

  16. cindy knoke says:

    I love this post and your attitude towards your nest. If more people were like you we would have less despondent, abandoned people. Less people left on the streets. I salute you!

    • That’s very kind of you, Cindy. I’m just doing the best I know. Thanks. ❤️ Mid-winter and thousands of miles from home, we once broke a lease over 2 puppies, had 30 days to find a new rental. There was a sense of being homeless; and even for a short time, it was devastating. I can’t imagine inflicting that kind of worry on anyone.

  17. I agree Van Parenting is fascinating for sure.. Now one of my own ‘fledglings left the nest in her early 20’s Now the otherone we call here in the UK .. Kippers.. 🙂 a nick name for many now who stay at home with their parents past their 30’s… Thankfully he found his own nest some 8 years ago and now we have our Granddaughter.. Who flies in very often 🙂 …
    Loved your post an analogies ..
    Hugs Sue

  18. Scout says:

    Love this post, Van. It’s interesting-my mother and her 3 sisters all returned home over and over during marriage breakups/divorces, sometimes with children in tow, sometimes staying a year or more. My grandparents always opened their home to them. My mother, however, made it clear to her own children than once we left home we would never be allowed to return again. I left at 16, and I didn’t return. I love your open-door policy. Seems to me if we remain there for our children when needed (not be be used or abused, of course) they will be there to help us when we most need it in old age.

    • Interesting to mention that turnabout in old age, Mandy. There were 3 teens at home when our mom died. They soon left and he married a much younger woman who saw him through to the end. We never had to decide who’d go back to help. It worked out for him, and maybe, for all of us. Thanks. 💕

  19. You write in such a heartwarming way Van. I think that today’s parents are a bit softer on their children and a lot more accommodating. I like the idea of keeping the nest soft and the door open 😊

  20. I think my mother would have been happy had we all stayed home forever or at least until we married. My parents were fine with us needing to be back home at times and all four of us ended up happily married and doing fine. I would never NOT allow my boys or even my stepkids a place to stay if they needed it. We’ve even had our boy’s friends live with us occasionally, one while student teaching and one over the summer on college break. Older son and his family just lived with us almost a year while building a house. I’ve always kind of enjoyed having the company!

    • Enjoying their company is such a huge component if it’s going to work. So good that you were able to support their needs at the time; some would not be able to bear the financial burden, especially in the retirement years. And extending housing to friends…you are exceptional, and will be rewarded for your generosity one day. I believe in that kind of good karma. 💘

      • Oh, thank you. I really did enjoy it and the kids who stayed with us were both very helpful and respectful and it was just a little bit more. We were a bit crowded, but in both cases, the parents were not around this area anymore and it would have been impossible for them to find somewhere they could afford to rent. And having my grown son back with his wife and little JP, it was not really hard, other than not being able to clean the house much with all their stuff, lol. But that’s what I learned. My parents had their faults, but they took in my brothers’ friends when necessary and never made us feel like we needed to move out immediately. So I’m guessing your kids will share your views, which is a good legacy to leave!

      • Your words are very comforting, Diane.💘 I came to understand why my father wanted us out of the home at 18, and our circumstances are very different. But those early messages stay deep in our psyche and hard to erase when we have our own family. I was sometimes conflicted, but now, quite proud of the new legacy we are creating. Thanks for your validating comments. ☺

  21. George says:

    One or two came home after college but once they were gone, they stayed gone, which was okay with us…:)

  22. BunKaryudo says:

    My parents were always ready to take me or my brother back at any time. I’ll be the same way with my children. It’s always useful to have another pair of hands to wash the dishes.

  23. TanGental says:

    So we have had the tiger mom the helicopter mom and now the eagle mom who puts sticks in their beds. Worth a try I’d say

  24. A great analogy. When I was growing up I had the impression that in some countries, families occupy a home for generations. Is that common anywhere today? I’m going to read the comments above and see if anyone mentions this.

  25. Val Boyko says:

    I love this post Van and your approach to parenting. Open doors keep relationships open, even when you have given them the tools for independent living. 😎

  26. C.E.Robinson says:

    Van, hard times for so many, then & now. Yep, my door would be open too with understanding & shared goals. Even though going through tough times, I didn’t have an open door to walk through. Valuable lessons learned. 💛 Elizabeth

    • I was fortunate. I never had to find out the status of that door in my family, Elizabeth. I’d like to think that there would be exceptions to the rule, just not sure. Thanks. 💕

  27. Beautiful! I hope that my husband and I can both provide a nest and encourage our shy son to soar. Got to get him out of his bedroom first…

    • Ha. That’s a problem shared by so many today. There are far too many distractions keeping them there. ☺ It used to be a form of punishment to be sent to one’s room. Thanks, Kitt. 💝

  28. I still have 6 at home haha and yes the door is always open.

  29. joey says:

    Our situation is not common, and so our nest is made of prickly twigs and returning is rather circumstantial.

  30. Laura says:

    Fascinating! I had no idea eagle parenting took this form…I guess they have to be brutal if they want the littles to survive outside the nest.

  31. nimi naren says:

    Beautiful post. Letting go….

  32. You have a good heart and a kind soul. Your writing reflects this. I look forward to reading future postings. Its nice to finish reading your articles and realizing a smile has been on my face the entire time. I never run out of needing to smile. Thank you for sharing this post.

  33. I have one who left and then came back…not by her own will, out of necessity. We’re getting ready to send her out again. It’s a fascinating process for sure and each child is distinctly different with a much different process. This was a great analogy and storyline. Thank you for sharing!

    • You’re so right, there is no right or wrong way to proceed today. We are living in a different time, different economic picture. Thanks so much for the visit and thoughtful comment. ☺

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s