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|Bungee Families - Page 8|
The new bungee family offers emerging adults—and our fragmented social fabric—a healing alternative, one that's injecting the best social capital available into the human mix. It may represent today's best promise of real multigenerational relationships: attachment, connection, support, and a warm blanket on a cold night. Our loss of economic capital is troubling, but it's being made intolerable by the attendant drop in social capital. Rich or poor, our emerging adults may be unable to take hold without having people they can rely on; though there are many kinds of social capital, a loving family is surely the most essential of them all.
Someday, not far off, the tables may turn, and we boomers ourselves will be asking for help. As recent economic events have unfolded, we shouldn't be confident that our employers and our government will provide for us. I'm not suggesting this as a mercenary motive for parental kindness, but as a reason to consider that bungee families may have lasting relevance. If we're lucky, in the next bungee wave, we're going to be someone's old adults. Down the road, the bungee family, with its guarantee of secure love, may seem even more wonderful.
It seems fitting that this millennium is host to a new American family paradigm; as nations have become more interdependent, we've started looking more like much of the rest of the world. We're transforming our tough, restless mythology of rugged, independent adulthood into something more enduring and comforting. I suspect the bungee family isn't a temporary shift, like emergency dollars given to a failing car manufacturer, but a developing institution, which will continue to promote secure attachment, mental health, family intimacy, and strength. So I'll tell Lizzy that if that job prospect in the city doesn't work out, and if Vermont doesn't seem as dreary as it did four years ago, her old room is still ready for her.
Martha Straus, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire, and adjunct instructor in psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School. She's the author of No-Talk Therapy for Children and Adolescents and of Adolescent Girls in Crisis: Intervention and Hope. Contact: email@example.com website: www.marthastraus.com. Tell us what you think about this article by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at www.psychotherapynetworker.org. Log in and you'll find the comment section on every page of the online Magazine section.