My friend C is struggling. She loves her sons; she's not sorry she became a stay-at-home mom to take care of them. But now that one is three years past his college graduation and the other three months, she's ready for them to move on and out. One or both of them have been living at home for various stretches of time since the dawn of the college years. Not in the basement or on the den couch, as some headlines would have it, but in their childhood bedrooms.
For C, if they're living at home, they owe her: They should do the chores she asks them to do (but they 'forget' to empty the dishwasher, mow the lawn, clean the car she lets them use); they should make themselves pleasant around the house (but sometimes they're downright adolescent in their behaviour toward her); and they should show more initiative on the job-hunt front (but whatever they're doing, they don't share it with her). It's an exercise in frustration. She would like to have her house back.
Pew Research Center Notes: “Living at home” refers to an adult who is the child or stepchild of the head of the household, regardless of the adult’s marital status. Source: Pew Research Center tabulations of March Current Population Survey Integrated Public Use Micro Sample.
Does it help C to know she is not alone in dealing with young adults as dependents, that her sons are part of a trend that starting picking up steam in 2007 when the recession began? That year, 32 percent of people 18 to 31 years old (the generation nicknamed the millennials) were living in their parents' homes [children in college are considered 'living at home']; last year, 36 percent did, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.
C says she knows lots of kids her son's ages are living at home. That brings no comfort. The issue is the strain on their relationship. When her youngest son moved back after graduating from college this past May, he heaped all his junk in his old bedroom, did nothing to sort through the piles and informed her, "I don't want to live at home." But independence awaits success on the job front. It can't come soon enough for either one of them--or for those heaps on the floor.