Some of our grown kids have come home to ride out the Covid-19 crisis. We may be happy to have them under our roofs again and to provide safe shelter in the corona storm. But the impact on us is not negligible: Keeping the refrigerator stocked. Cooking bigger meals. Sharing bathrooms. Overhearing conversations. Feeling frustrated by online habits. Dealing with their hygiene and laundry. Plus, the diminished privacy of having another adult in the house all the time. We love our adult kids but we don't necessarily want them living with us again.
This is an issue addressed recently in the New York Times, with a headline that acknowledged the reality: "Young Adults Take Refuge in Parents’ Empty Nests." The article also notes that some parents are moving in with their adult children. For some single parents, it means avoiding the loneliness of sheltering alone. It can also be helpful to children who are raising young children and can use an extra pair of hands, especially if they are telecommuting to their jobs.
There are all kinds of situations and reasons for re-habitating with our grown up children or them with us. Here's a link to the full NYTimes story, but if you don't want to read the whole thing. here are three highlights:
One mother summed up the reality of her refilled nest this way:
We have to rethink everything. What we've worked really hard to get to--our independence, their independence--is just gone."
An economist's observation on the impact on careers, particularly of children who have moved back home and left their jobs behind.
There are lasting consequences, a qualitative impact on workers who are forced to take a step backward, and that can really perpetuate a downward career spiral.
An historical perspective on multi-generational co-habitation:
Multigenerational households have been on the rise since 1980, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center report. In 2016, a record 64 million people, or 20 percent of the U.S. population, lived with two or more adult generations.
FOR ANOTHER TAKE on what it's like when a college student moves back home, here's an essay from The Atlantic. Stuck at Home With My 20-Year-Old Daughter
The author, Todd Purdum, writes about his own reactions (The family of four together again for family dinners.) and talks to his daughter about what the adjustment has been like for her. Here's some of what she told her dad:
“One of the hardest things has been going—and for better or worse—going from being independent to suddenly living in my childhood bedroom again. I would go to the dining hall or I would cook for myself, but I would be on my own to secure three meals a day. And I would do my own laundry—and wouldn’t have to do other people’s laundry!”
“I just miss being a college student and making, you know, a fine but maybe mediocre dinner in someone’s communal kitchen. And having a sense of purpose.”