The children who won’t grow up

Peter Pan-demonium, kidults, boomerang kids.... A sociologist examines the phenomenon of lost boys and girls hanging out on the edge of adulthood.

Frank Furedi

Frank Furedi

Topics Books

The alarm bells started ringing a few years ago. I was showing a friend around my campus when we encountered a group of undergraduates absorbed in watching Teletubbies in the bar.

Normally, the sight of a group of 18- to 21-year-olds indulging their taste for a programme aimed at toddlers would not have made much of an impact on my imagination. But my then two-year-old son’s attachment to these sickly-sweet characters meant that I had become all too familiar with them; and the previous evening I had made a futile effort to wean my son off the Teletubbies by offering him some more challenging visual alternatives. It didn’t work – and I was struck by the thought that it wouldn’t work with these 21-year-olds either.

Not every twentysomething is into the Teletubbies – indeed, many of today’s students seem to prefer the older pre-schoolers’ favourite, The Tweenies. Yet when I complain about young adults’ fascination with early years television, 28-year-old John Russell looks at me as though I am a lost cause. John, a well-paid lawyer, says he isn’t interested in doing ‘adult stuff’. He loves his PlayStation and spends a considerable portion of his disposable income on hi-tech toys.

Fred Simons and Oliver Bailer, both estate agents in their late twenties, play with their Nintendo and boast that they haven’t changed much since their school years. Helen Timerman, a 27-year-old designer, proudly shows me her collection of soft toys. She loves cuddling them and believes that her little animals, neatly arranged in her bedroom, give her a zone of security.

Finally I meet a young woman who is happy to do adult stuff. Kate Stevens, a 27-year-old American teacher, tells me about men in San Francisco who, ‘when they are not playing with themselves, are off playing with their gadgets’. She talks of ‘grown up men racing home to play computer games before hitting the streets with their micro-scooters’. ‘What’s it like in London?’ she asks, with a hint of desperation.

London has become a magnet for young men and women determined to relive their childhoods. Every weekend thousands of twentysomethings dress up in school uniforms, to go clubbing at School Disco. People from all walks of life – doctors, computer programmers, hairdressers, lawyers – enthusiastically embrace this retro nostalgia. The young men in white shirts and blazers and the young women in short ‘school’ shirts take great delight in pretending that they are naughty teenagers having a snog on the dance floor. The School Disco scene has spread northwards, to Newcastle and Leeds; in February 2002, the School Disco Spring Term album went to number one in the charts.

In New York, twenty- and thirtysomethings buy products that remind them of their childhoods. On the corner of Bleecker and West 11th, they stand patiently in line outside the Magnolia Bakery for their fix of yellow cupcake with chocolate icing and sprinkles. In Dylan’s Candy Bar, twentysomethings loiter around Pez dispensers and a giant lollipop tree. Two US advertisers, Becky Ebenkamp and Jeff Odiorne, have coined the term Peterpandemonium to describe this trend. ‘People in their twenties and thirties are clamouring for comfort in purchases and products, and sensory experiences that remind them of a happier, more innocent time – childhood’, they observe (1).

There was a time when nostalgia was the prerogative of elderly grandparents, evoking memories of the Second World War or the 1950s. Today, nostalgia is promoted as a cool pursuit for people barely out of their teens. The ‘good old days’ are increasingly associated with the 1980s – if not the 90s. The success of the BBC TV series I Love the 1970s/1980s/1990s (culminating with I Love 1999, shown in summer 2001) indicates that young people have become nostalgic at a historically unprecedented early age. This preoccupation with reliving one’s schooldays is what turned the UK website Friends Reunited into a runaway success. Today, nearly nine million old school pupils and teachers have registered for a trip down memory lane on Friends Reunited.

Catering for the posse of Peter Pans has become big business. Artist Minx Kelly’s website has a Second Childhood Page, ‘where grown-ups can be childlike without being childish’. ‘Whoever said we couldn’t play with toys when we grow up?’ the page exclaims. Its range of ‘one-of a kind Barbie dolls’ and ‘nostalgic paper dolls’ are targeted at ‘kidults’ who have made a ‘conscious decision’ to let their ‘inner child have her way’ (2).

And witness the ongoing success of the Purple Ronnie brand, with its cards, glasses, keyrings and poetry books. Purple Ronnie has turned cutesy cartoons and phrases like ‘bottom burp’ into an artform. Inspired by the romance of this toilet-humour poetry, the trappings of Valentine’s Day have transformed from the slushy to the infantile. On 14 February, card shops teem with suited professionals gazing fondly at slogans like ‘super-duper girlfriend’, ‘fat kisses fella’, and ‘hunny bunny wife’. According to UK market research group Mintel, in 2002 43 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds listed a cuddly toy as one of their most popular Valentine’s gift choices.

Who needs the Teletubbies when you can play with your old toys? Back in 1999, a Liverpool toy company was overwhelmed with demand as nostalgic fans flocked to purchase cuddly toys of the 1970s children’s TV character Bagpuss. The UK toy market has crossed over to the world of adults. You can buy Bagpuss t-shirts, backpacks, purses, mugs, glasses, figurines, pencil cases, mouse mats, organisers and stationery. Presumably, sending someone a Bagpuss card shows that you understand that your friend, like you, still gets a buzz out of childish joys.

The American toy industry has discovered that young adults constitute a huge market. Nostalgic purchases of old toys like the Six Million Dollar Man and the vintage Star Trek and Star Wars figurines are booming. There are also new toy lines aimed at the adult market. Playmate Toys now aim their promotion at adults, having realised that potential customers for its Simpsons figures are not only children, but 18-35 year olds too.

Retro nostalgia is not just an Anglo-American phenomenon. ‘Hello Kitty’, a white kitten whose trademark is a flower or red bow, is hugely popular among Japanese adults. Female professionals and office workers bring Kitty stationery into the office; when they hit the bars they chat on their Kitty mobiles and offer cigarettes from their Kitty cigarette cases to businessmen wearing Snoopy neckties.

There is a new crossover market that caters for children who aspire to grow up, and for adults who want to behave like children. According to observers, the computer toy industry ‘successfully spans the child-adult market’. Items like Microsoft’s X-Box, Sony’s Playstation2 and GameBoy Advance are targeted at children and adults alike (3). Booklist magazine has a section titled ‘Crossovers: Children’s Books for Adults’. ‘We think adults…will enjoy reading and browsing many of the high-quality children’s books being published these days’, says the magazine (4).

Following the incredible success of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories among adults, Rowling’s publisher Bloomsbury brought out an edition of the books sporting ‘grown-up’ covers (not that this stopped City professionals from openly reading the cheaper children’s editions on the Tube). The subsequent revival of JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings was largely due to its rediscovery by adult readers.

Probably the most significant development of this crossover culture is to be found in the media. Viewing figures attest to the popularity of the Cartoon Network among 18- to 34-year-olds. Two of the biggest commercial Hollywood hits in 2001 were Shrek and Monsters Inc. Like Chicken Run and Toy Story before them, these animated productions resonated with an embarrassingly old audience.

The celebration of immaturity is continually affirmed by the media. Role models such as Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher, now more famous for getting drunk than making albums, and fervently girlish girl bands are icons of arrested development. Middle-aged actors are continually on the lookout for roles that allow them to exhibit their youthful side. John Travolta nearly bust a gut being a darling in Look Who’s Talking, while Robin Williams demonstrated that he was adorable as Peter Pan in Hook. Tom Hanks is always cute – a child trapped in a man’s body in Big and then as ‘Forest Gump’, the child-man that personifies the new virtue of infantilism.

Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, would probably have little incentive to run away if he was living in London or New York or Tokyo today. At a time when captains of industry are enjoying outdoor adventures and zapping each other with paint balls, little boys can look forward to a life of playing. You no longer have to shut your eyes and pretend you are in Neverland – it is all around you.

In the original version of Peter Pan, all the lost boys return home to their mothers; the call of adulthood cannot be postponed indefinitely. Creator Sir James M Barrie may have been obsessed with the world of children, but he couldn’t have imagined that one day popular culture would celebrate those who refuse to grow up. ‘Hope I die before I get old’, sang The Who in the 1960s. Today, growing old has become a lifestyle option that can be avoided, so there is little point in dying before you get there.

Our society is full of lost boys and girls hanging out at the edge of adulthood. Yet we find it difficult even to give them a name. The absence of a readily recognised word to describe these infantilised adults demonstrates the unease with which this phenomenon is greeted. Advertisers and toy manufacturers have invented the term ‘kidult’ to describe this segment of the market. Another word sometimes used to describe these 20- to 35-year-olds is ‘adultescent’, generally defined as someone who refuses to settle down and make commitments, and who would rather go on partying into middle age.

It is important not to confuse adultescents with those referred to as ‘middle youth’. Middle youths are a generation ahead of adultescents. They are 35- to 45-year-olds who regard themselves as being at the cutting edge of youth culture; they are going through a phase known as ‘middlescence’ – a state of mind that fiercely resists the usual trappings of encroaching middle age.

One reason why words like kidult and adultescent have not entered everyday language is because society does not know how to deal with the gradual erosion of the line between childhood and adulthood. Anglo-American culture is ambiguous in its response to this development. The occasional outcry against some absurd manifestation of this trend is drowned out by the powerful message that growing up is a troublesome and unpleasant activity. And since the refusal to grow up is often interpreted as an attractive option, words that suggest that there might be something wrong in living in a state of extended adolescence are unlikely to gain common currency.

Indeed, promoters of extended adolescence tend to give the rejection of adulthood positive connotations. KidultGame magazine celebrates people who like to ‘have fun’ and who are ‘not ashamed of their ‘passion’ for playing games (5). Experts lend intellectual credence to the virtues of living the life of Peter Pan. Therapists urge adults to get in touch with their inner child. Regression, rebirthing and primal screaming are some of the alternative techniques offered for those embarking on the quest for permanent youth. Lenore Terr, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, argues that far being from a worrisome sign of immaturity, the urge to play is a healthy one (6).

Society has come to accept the idea that people do not become adults until they are in their late thirties. As a result, adolescence has been extended well into the twenties. It is interesting to note that the Society for Adolescent Medicine, an American doctors’ organisation, now states on its website that it cares for persons ‘10 to 26 years of age’. Recently the MacArthur Foundation has funded a major research project called ‘Transitions to Adulthood’, which situates the end of that transition at 34. Some social scientists claim that delayed maturity has become an accomplished fact. Stephen Richardson, a California-based social psychologist, argues that in our time we do not reach maturity until the age of 35.

But does it matter that we are gradually losing sight of what distinguishes adults from children? After all, there have always been sad men and women who took great delight in childish things. Nor is the desire to remain young a peculiarly recent development. Throughout history people have relentlessly sought the secret of youth, and tried to slow down the inexorable process of aging.

The infantilisation of contemporary society is driven by passions that are quite specific to our times. The understandable desire not to look old has been replaced by the self-conscious cultivation of immaturity. People in the past wanted to appear young and attractive, but not necessarily to behave like children. The present-day obsession with childish things may seem like a trivial detail – but the all-pervasive nostalgia for childhood among young adults is symptomatic of a profound insecurity towards the future. Hesitations about embracing adulthood reflect a diminished aspiration for independence, commitment and experimentation.

Growing up slowly

More than a few parents must be puzzled by the reluctance of their twentysomething children to leave home. Look at poor Giuseppe Andreoli, an anatomy professor at Naples University and a former member of the Italian parliament. In 2002, the Italian courts ruled that he must continue to pay his 30-year-old son Marco £500 per month until he found satisfactory employment. Marco lived with his mother and was in no hurry to fly the nest. The judge felt that Andreoli continued to have responsibility for his son’s maintenance until Marco found a job worthy of his own ‘aspirations’ (7).

The term ‘mummy’s boy’ has acquired new meaning. A couple of years ago, a British Gas TV commercial captured the dilemma faced by some mothers and fathers who have discovered that parenting can become a life sentence. It shows an elderly couple asking a middle-aged couple: ‘Don’t you think it’s time you set up on your own?’ It appears that the son and his wife moved in after finishing university, and decades later still found the warmth and comfort far too attractive to abandon.

Back in 1997, when I reported in my book Culture of Fear that it has become common for parents to accompany their children for university interviews and campus open days, a puzzled sub-editor accused me of fabricating this development. As someone educated at a university in the 1970s, she thought it inconceivable that students would allow their parents to accompany them on an occasion that so powerfully symbolised their independence.

Her reaction served as a striking reminder of just how recent is the entry of the parent on to the campus. In the past five to 10 years, the busybody parent has become a fixture of campus life. At open days and other promotional events, parents are often more vocal than their children. Some universities in Britain and the USA publish literature expressly oriented towards parents, in a manner that suggests that life at university is an extension of the school experience.

Not so long ago, many British students would have been embarrassed to be seen in the company of their parents. University provided an opportunity to break free of parental control. It was common for students to set up house on their own or with friends, and some rarely visited their parental home even during Easter and summer breaks. Today, this aspiration for independence has taken a distinctly pragmatic turn. Many students are happy to revert to the relationship of dependence that characterised their school years. Far from resenting parental involvement in campus life, undergraduates accept it as natural.

A growing proportion of students are also opting to live at home with their parents. In Britain in 1994, the percentage of first-year full-time undergraduates known to be living in the parental or guardian home was 14.5 percent. By 1999, this figure had risen to 20.1 percent. The UK university admissions service UCAS reports that the number of university and college applicants who want to live at home while studying is on the rise.

This trend is often explained as the outcome of the students’ economic hardships. Yet while many students opt to live at home for this reason, economics is not the whole explanation. According to UCAS chief executive Tony Higgins, many students ‘often like the security of their home, their family and friends around them when they start at university’. This desire for security is expressed in other ways, too. For example, the fact that many students continue to pay rent on their student accommodation during the Easter and summer breaks does not discourage them from spending their holidays at home. Economic problems do not seem to act as a barrier to young people spending large amounts of money on entertainment and travel. A survey published in 2001 indicated that 20 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds spend an average of £3000 per year on travel.

The stay-at-home trend operates even during the post-university years. The most striking confirmation of the process of infantilisation is the growing trend for young women and especially young men to continue to live at home into their thirties. The 2002 Social Trends survey found that nearly a third of men aged between 20 and 35 live with their parents, compared with only one in four in 1977/8. Other surveys indicate that the number of men aged 30 to 34 who still live with their parents has increased by 20 percent over the past five years.

Hillary and Roger Smythe were looking forward to a quiet life, without the children. As far as they were concerned they had ‘done children’ and were keen to explore new possibilities on their own. But a few years ago they were taken aback when their son Matthew decided to return home after his girlfriend walked out on him. ‘We tried every trick in the book, but Matt will not shift’, says Hillary, with a hint of resentment.

James and Ruth Alcock face a slightly different dilemma. Their 28-year-old son Tom has never left home. Both the Smythes and the Alcocks fear that parenting may turn into a life sentence. Their concerns are widely echoed by thousands of other adults who have unexpectedly found their grown-up children living with them. In her book The Nesting Syndrome, Valerie Wiener characterises these grown-up children as ‘nesters’. In Japan they call them ‘parasitic singles’ and in the USA they are referred to by a variety of names – boomerang kids, co-resident adults or returnees.

Britain has only recently become aware of the phenomenon of the boomerang kid. In 2001, Jane Falkingham of the London School of Economics expressed her surprise at the discovery that many elderly people live with their children, not because they are in need of their care but because they are still supporting their offspring. In July 2001, a study commissioned by Abbey National confirmed this claim, and pointed out that the proportion of young adults who return home after initially fleeing the nest has nearly doubled from 25 percent in 1950 to 46 percent today. A survey commissioned by BTopenworld in 2002 claimed that 27 percent of first-time home leavers return home at least once, and that ‘one in 10 newly independent kids move out and are back again up to four times before they leave for good’ (8).

The growing number of stay-at-home adults is part of a wider international phenomenon. In Japan, 70 percent of single working women aged 30 to 35 live with their parents. The number of adult children residing with their parents in the USA has risen steadily since the 1970s: 18million 20- to 34-year-olds currently live with their parents, which is 38 percent of all young adult singles. Middle-aged parents are much less likely to find themselves with empty nests today.

There is now a veritable body of self-help literature for the disoriented parents of returnees. Parents who feel uncomfortable about getting rid of their thirtysomething daughter can turn to Richard Melheim’s 101 Ways To Get Your Adult Children To Move Out (And Make Them Think It Was Their Idea). Those who just want to make the best of their predicament can read All Grown Up: Living Happily With Your Adult Children. And if you really want to know that parenting is for life, leaf through Bigger Kids, Bigger Problems: So You Survived Adolescence and Thought There Would Be Calmer Waters Ahead. Ha!

According to many accounts, the boomerang binge has just begun. Some claim that the rising rate of divorce and breakdown in cohabitation is responsible for the growth of this trend. Other observers argue that parents today are far more protective than in the past, and therefore inadvertently encourage their adult children’s dependency. Alexandra Robbins, co-author of Quarterlife Crisis: How To Get Your Head Round Life in Your Twenties, believes that after losing the structure of university life, young adults feel ‘sheltered and anchored’ when they return home.

However, the most common explanation for the rise of the boomerang generation is an economic one. It is often suggested that many young adults simply cannot afford to live on their own, or that they find it difficult to pursue the good life.

But is economic insecurity responsible for the emergence of this remarkable international phenomenon? In Japan, where this trend is most developed, the affluence of single stay-at-home 20- to 34-year-olds is frequently commented upon. It is widely recognised that the recent boom in the sales of luxury goods has been fuelled by the conspicuous consumption of the parasite singles, many of whom live at home. In 2000, the Washington Post reported on 26-year-old Miki Takasu, who drives a BMW and carries a $2,800 Chanel handbag, which she alternates with her Gucci. And of course she lives at home with her parents (9).

In the USA, business people actively target the boomerang market, since these consumers are deemed to have a very high discretionary income. ‘The new generation of post-collegiate nesters unencumbered by room-and-board payments, is financially savvy, ready to spend, and a growing consumer force’, notes one observer (10). Despite the high price of property, British young adults are financially better off than previous generations. Economic insecurity may help explain why some grown- up children live at home, but it does little to illuminate the process as a whole.

Traditionally, young men and women left home not because life is likely to be cheaper, but because they were determined to strike out on their own. For many such people the relative discomfort of short-term poverty was a price worth paying in exchange for the promise of freedom offered by an independent lifestyle. As Jennie Bristow has argued on spiked: ‘The decisive factor is not whether you can afford to live alone, but whether you want to.’ (11) It is not so much economic exigency, but the difficulty that young adults have in conducting their relationships, that helps to explain why some of them are opting to live with mum and dad.

In recent decades, intimate relationships between people appear to have become more complicated. The expectation of failure and instability surrounds the institution of marriage and even cohabitation. It is now common for people to approach their private relationships with a heightened sense of emotional risk. One strategy for dealing with the risks to one’s emotions is to distance the self from the potential source of disappointment.

The reinterpretation of personal commitment as a risk represents a health warning to anyone foolish enough to desire passionate engagement. The equation of love with risk is fuelled by a tendency to accommodate to the problems experienced by adults in their relationships. One pragmatic response to this state of affairs is to declare that the expectations that we have of intimate relationships is unrealistic. ‘Be careful, you may get hurt’ is a message that reflects the temper of our times. The anxieties that surround relationships have encouraged many adults to avoid or at least to postpone thinking about making a commitment to others.

In contrast to the insecurities attached to adult relationships, the security of the parental home can appear attractive. In these circumstances, the aspiration of young adults for autonomy can be diminished. Some young adults embrace a delayed phase of dependency, as independence becomes associated with unpredictable risks.

Stay-at-home adults are not the only section of society disoriented by problems associated with the conduct of adult relationships. Many young adults who manage to move out of the family home end up constituting a rapidly growing group of singletons. Being single has become a way of life for millions of men and women in their twenties and thirties.

The rise of the singleton appears to be a global phenomenon, impacting on industrial societies throughout the world. Back in 1950, about three per cent of the population of Europe and North America lived alone. Since that time, virtually every industrial country has seen a massive rise in the number of single-person households. In Britain, seven million adults live alone – three times as many as 40 years ago. The 2002 edition of Social Trends estimated that by 2020, one-person households will constitute 40 percent of the total number of households.

In the USA singletons are fastest growing demographic group. The proportion of households containing one person increased by nine percent between 1970 and 2000. In France, the number of people living on their own has more than doubled since 1968. Something like 40 percent of Swedes live alone. The shift towards solo living is particularly pronounced in the big urban centres of the West. Over 50 percent of all households in Munich, Frankfurt and Paris contain just one person. In London, nearly four in 10 people live alone.

The best days of your life

‘Some people say that school days are the best days of your life. This is exactly what is all about….’ Of course, very few school children would agree with this sentiment. But somehow nostalgia for childish pranks appears to take a very swift grip over the Peter Pan imagination. In British universities, even first- and second-year undergraduates look wistfully back to the best days of their lives as they join their mates in their very own campus school disco. No wonder they are in no hurry to grow up: if the best days of your life are behind you, the future can seem less desirable a venue than the school disco.

The retrospective idealisation of adolescence says less about what life was like in real school discos then about how we view a confusing stage of adulthood. At the time, very few teenagers took the view that they were in the midst of the most wonderful moment of their lives. Nostalgia for adolescent highs is driven by apprehensions about the grim reality of adulthood. That is why popular culture tends to discover its role models among the youth.

Adolescence is continually idealised by the media. Ally McBeal manages to synthesise the high-school fantasy with a heavy hint of adult disappointment. Ever since the 1980s comedy-drama The Wonder Years, the nostalgic representation of teenage life has become institutionalised. In contrast to the superficial character of adult experience, the status of adolescence is frequently endowed with meaning and gravitas.

Cultivating nostalgia for the best days of your life is a strategy relentlessly pursued in TV and film. ‘For those older viewers who still cling to their high-school misfit designation like a badge of honour, the bright, perceptive, out-crowd teens of shows like Felicity, My So-Called Life and Buffy the Vampire Slayer represent one of the fondest wishes of middle age: that, armed with all the self-knowledge you now possess, you could go back to your youth and avenge every hurt, erase every choice’, observed journalist Joyce Millman astutely (12).

The celebration of adolescence stands in sharp contrast to the way that adults are represented. In recent years, TV has introduced a new breed of dysfunctional and immature adults who require counselling from teenagers. In the cult US drama Dawson’s Creek, it is the serious and wise teenagers who give direction to immature grown-ups. The UK comedy Absolutely Fabulous offers a humorous contrast between the dissolute and juvenile mother and her serious, old-before-her-time daughter. Channel 4’s Teachers continually slip between adult and juvenile personas and more than match their pupils in the immaturity stakes.

The American Drew Carey Show presents the everyday life of four immature adult friends who have no idea how to grow up. Buffy the Vampire Slayer casts adults as repressive figures, airheads or grown-up adolescents. Many of the leading comedy series – Frasier, Friends, Ellen – present grown-up men and women living a life of extended adolescence. In the UK, the comedy Men Behaving Badly became popular for its relentless portrayal of immature adult men.

The pathology of adulthood was strikingly depicted through the lives of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer in Seinfeld. Disorientation, meaninglessness and stagnation were some of the defining features of adulthood on this programme. The characters revelled in their childish behaviour and continually strived to avoid any of the obligations conventionally associated with adulthood. With Seinfeld, the rejection of adulthood is absolute – it simply has no redeeming features.

The sense of despair that surrounds adult identity helps explain why contemporary culture finds it difficult to draw a line between adulthood and childhood. Childishness is idealised for the simple reason that we despair at the thought of living the alternative. The depreciation of adulthood is a result of the difficulty that our culture has in asserting the ideals usually associated with this stage in people’s lives.

Maturity, responsibility and commitment are only feebly affirmed by contemporary culture. Such ideals contradict the sense of impermanence that prevails over daily life. It is the gradual emptying out of adult identity that discourages young men and women from embracing the next stage of their lives.

Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent. His books include:

  • Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting Twenty-First Century Philistinism (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004)
    Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

  • Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age (Routledge, 2003)
    Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

  • Paranoid Parenting: Why Ignoring the Experts May Be Best for Your Child (Chicago Review Press, 2002)
    Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

  • Culture of Fear: Risk Taking and the Morality of Low Expectation

    Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

Visit Frank Furedi’s website

(1) See ‘Panic regression’, B Ebenkamp and J Odiorne, Brandweek, 28 January, 2002

(2) See Minx’s Second Childhood Page

(3) See Harry Potter toys hot for holidays, Sonia Sequeira, 21 December 2001

(4) ‘Crossovers: Children’s Books for Adults’, Booklist Magazine, April 2000

(5) See the Kidult website

(6) See Beyond Love and Work: Why Adults Need To Play, Lenore Terr, Touchstone, 2000. Buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)

(7) See Italian court tells father to support stay-at-home son, 30, Philip Willan, Guardian, 6 April 2002

(8) Boomerang kids keep bouncing back to the family nest, Btopenworld, 21 March 2002

(9) See Japan’s new material girls, Kathryn Tolbert, Washington Post, 10 February 2000

(10) See ‘Echo Boomerang’, Pamela Paul, American Demographics, June 2001

(11) An anti-independence culture, by Jennie Bristow

(12) See Here come the SaRaHs, Syrie Johnson, Evening Standard, 12 April 2002

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