My next door neighbor has three grown children, all of them in their 20s: a recent college grad, a part-time grad student/part time legal aide and one who is starting his own business. They all live at home with their parents.
These neighbors are from Uruguay, and they see nothing unusual in having their grown children live with them. The parents even re-did their children's bedrooms to make them more inviting for an adult to live in--new furnishings, fresh paint job, upgraded bathroom.
Not many of us feel this way when our grown children come back for re-nesting. Their appearance raises questions about their ability to be independent, to launch themselves into successful careers and relationships. Their return smacks somehow of failure--and a failure that reflects on us. (And they are returning in greater numbers during the Great Recession and Great Contraction. According to the most recent Census figures, adults between the ages of 25 and 34 are living in multigenerational households at a rate not seen since 1950.)
Economic pressures aside, I'm reminded that there is a cultural divide--of welcoming grown children back home as the norm versus readmitting them with a sigh of concern--by a recent piece in the New York Times.Why Rent When You Can Nest?
The author talks about a 28-year-old friend with a good job who is living at home with his parents to save money to buy into a business. He's Russian and it feels like the smart and culturally comfortable thing to do. The author, on the other hand, says he celebrated getting his first job by "promptly signing away half my take-home pay" on rent for an apartment. He grew up, he says, "with an unspoken assumption, just as my parents had, that I would live on my own after college."
"I suspect," the writer goes on to say, "that many young American adults who have to move in with their parents feel crummy about it. Most Russian immigrants I know do not. They don’t see it as a sign of failure but as a means to achieve their financial goals more quickly."
As to the parents, The Russian parents see their son's homecoming as the natural, expected one. American parents, on the other hand, "struggle to hide their disappointment when they tell their friends that their adult children have — oh dreaded words — 'moved back in.'”