People of a certain age may be wondering what happened to their empty nest. The Pew Research Center reports that for the first time in modern history, young adults ages 18 to 34 – millennials, as they’re often called – are more likely to live with a parent than with a romantic partner. But while it may seem like the stuff of clichés, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.
Karen Fingerman, professor at the University of Texas at Austin, says that these arrangements aren’t uncommon in other parts of the world, or even in our own history.
“The United States is just becoming more like southern Europe, and more like we were in the past,” Fingerman says. “It’s more common in our history, except for in the middle of the 20th century. If you look back to the 1880s and 1940s, we had even more young adults living at home.”
Part of the reason is economic. For young adults, long-term, stable jobs are harder to find, as are affordable housing options. So millennials see living with parents as a preferable option to being broke – or worse, homeless. Whether these living arrangements are good or bad, Fingerman says, is a matter of perception.
“I think that for parents, they’ve already invested two decades in these kids, and they had some expectations about where and how that was going to end,” she says. “(Another part) is whether you evaluate this as some kind of a failure on the part of the grown child, and perhaps on yourself as a parent.”
So for the arrangement to work, Fingerman says, try looking at it in a positive light and consider the advantages of the situation.
“For young adults who can live with their parents and can get ahead financially by doing so, it can be very beneficial,” Fingerman says. “If the two can have a more pair-like relationship, it can very rewarding for both parties. … People in other cultures will say, ‘Well, this is normal in my culture, and we really like it.'”
Prepared for web by Alexandra Hart.