“I have tried to let go, but my son hangs on.”
These are the words of a parent who attended one of my workshops. Kids are hanging around home longer or requiring financial subsidy more than past generations. According to the US Census Bureau, 47% of young adults between the ages of 18-34 in the State of New Jersey are living at home. For Minnesota, my home state, the 28% figure, is better but still challenging. This can’t be just because parents are hanging on longer. Most of the higher rates of young adults living at home are in North-Eastern states and can be explained by housing costs, student debt, and job opportunities. Some of the lowest states, like North and South Dakota, and Iowa, have some of the cheapest housing costs in the country. With the current pandemic, college campuses, closing, and more online classes, rates of young people living at home are likely to rise.
Financial Assistance from Parents
Whether living at home or not, 45% of young adults ages 18-34 receive a lot or some financial aid from their parents in the last twelve months, according to a PEW research survey published in 2019. Parents should not feel shame, guilt, or believe they are failing if their young adult lives at home or depends on the parents for financial assistance. Just because we left the nest as soon as we could fly when we were young adults doesn’t mean that this cohort of young adults has to do the same for you or them to be successful.
Failure to Launch?
Living at home or receiving some financial help should not be viewed as a failure to launch. Young adults are living with their parents in more of an adult roommate role where they have a job, pay rent, help with household costs and chores, do their laundry, clean their room, and have an amicable relationship with their parents. If both parents in two-parent families agree with their young adult living at home, and he or she is a responsible part of the family as described above, what’s the problem?
Over 60% of parents with young adults living at home like the arrangement. I can tell you it’s not a problem in many cultures where you may find three generations living together. The problem is often the perception of friends that you are extending your caretaking duties too far or are co-dependent and failing as a parent. I’m afraid I have to disagree with this sentiment. Another appropriate situation for a young adult to be living with parents is during a transition. Our daughter returned before she was married so she could finish her nursing program and prepare for her wedding. Sometimes, “boomerangs” need to have a transitional living arrangement when moving to a different job or school. A vital understanding to have between parents and young adults is that this transition is time-limited.
Reasons Your Young Adult is Stuck on the Launchpad
There are other reasons young adults extend their time at home or their dependency on parents that may indicate a problem with letting go. Here’s a list of reasons that may suggest the young adult is somewhat stuck on the launchpad. Check any of these that might apply to your situation or ask your young adult to rate the extent to which these are true.
- Not at all True
- Somewhat True
- Completely True
____1. It’s comfortable living at home with very little stress or pressure.
____2. There are no suitable jobs available.
____3. I can’t make up my mind about my future- college, grad school, job, girl/boyfriend.
____4. My parent or parents are my best friends and I would miss them.
____5. I have fears and anxiety as to whether I can make it on my own.
____6. I have mental health, substance abuse problem, or disability.
____7. My parent or parents need me at home for assistance or emotional support.
____8. My parents are not feeling a desire to have empty nest time for themselves.
____9. I need to call or text my parent multiple times a day for reassurance or approval.
___10. I believe my parents failures or mistakes are affecting my progress toward independence.
Continue the Discussion
Some of these reasons are mixed as to whether they may represent a young adult’s failure to launch. They could generate discussion between you and your young adult that may isolate the reasons they are home and/or dependent, whether these are helpful or not, and when they may want to move on. On the latter point, see earlier blogs on the Five-Year Plan and a Vision of the young adult.