Show Me the Way to Go Home
Unexpected numbers of young adults are living with their parents. This fact is becoming abundantly familiar as American parents are forced to make room for their children. There is a na´ve notion that children grow up and leave home when they are 18, and the truth is far from that. Today, 59% of men and 47%of women between 18 and 24 depend on their parents for housing in this or that way and this is part of a major shift in the middle class.
Analysts cite a variety of reasons for this return to the nest. The marriage age is rising, a condition that makes home and its amenities particularly attractive to young people. A high divorce rate and declining remarriage rate are sending economically pressed and emotionally battered survivors back to parental shelters. For some, the expense of an away-from-home college has become so exorbitant that many students now attend local schools. Even after graduation young people find their wings clipped by skyrocketing housing costs.
Sharing the family home requires adjustments for all. There are the hassles overbathrooms, telephones and privacy. Some families, however, manage the delicate balancing act.
Still, most psychologists feel lengthy homecomings are a mistake. Offspring, struggling to establish separate identities, can wind up with a sense of inadequacy, defeat and failure. And aging parents, who should be enjoying some financial and personal freedom, find themselves bogged down with responsibilities. Living with children of any age involves compromise and obligation, factors that can be detrimental to some aspects of well-being. All children, even adult children, require accommodation and create stress.
Brief visits, however, can work beneficially. They may make parents and their children much closer to each other without being a burden for either part.