Baby Bird Syndrome

Ah, the wonders of nature. A little baby bird emerges from an egg, it is fed and nurtured by its parents, and then one day, it grows its feathers all over and becomes too big for the nest. So, what happens? Does it watch its parents closely so it can learn how to fly? Does it hop along on a branch before finally taking wing? No! Mom and Dad shove their little son or daughter right over the side. How’s that for encouragement?

And most of the time, the little baby bird either flutters a little and finds the wind under its wings, or it plummets to the ground and chirps for days, until it finally figures out how to get itself out of this mess.

Now, you might think, Wow, rude, Mom and Dad! You wouldn’t even allow it to pack its stuff? Or you might think, It was time. Everybody has to grow up, and nothing helps you to grow up like the fear of falling out of the nest.

But what happens when that scenario hits a little closer to home and that little baby bird is actually a full-grown adult college graduate?

This is a situation that we are seeing more and more with our tanking economy. Students return to their home base before making their way out into the world because it’s all they can do to stay afloat with collegiate debt. And in nationwide polls, most parents have said that they don’t mind that their child has come home to roost. I mean, if your parents are anything like mine, they usually don’t mind the company. They like the extra help and someone to schlepp around with.

But the weight of it all for that little baby bird or human well…it weighs on you. You feel like a loafer. You feel like a mooch. And worst of all, you feel like a fat baby bird who refuses to fly and would rather sit in the nest watching Jerry Springer! at all hours of the day. There’s this awful guilt that you aren’t living up to your full potential because you’re grounded, in a way.

Which is why bird parents and human parents sometimes push their children out of the nest at some point. It absolutely forces them to make a decision, and the baby is able to start his or her life on his or her terms.

But there are also parents who would rather see their baby’s feathers fully grown in before they’re  encouraged to fly. Which is okay, too.

The point is that it’s fine to do either. It’s okay to strike out on your own and it’s okay to just strike out. As long as everyone is happy with the situation, then you need to feel like it is acceptable too, guilt or not.

Just remember that if you’re feeling a bit like you’re taking up too much space in the nest, think about what it will feel like to you and your parents when it’s empty. Enjoy the time you have together.

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