Each generation has its own distinct personality and challenges, and the millennials are no exception. Millennials were the last set of babies born during the 20th century, and they are a much larger and more diverse group than baby boomers. As this generation settles into the new economic realities of adulthood, many are returning home after college to live with their parents while they pursue their careers and transition into independent adulthood.
In part, this trend is influenced by the challenging job market and stingy economy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of young adults living at home, or “boomerang kids,” is at an all-time record high. Many experts agree the economy, including rising debt from student loans and the high cost of living, is the driving force motivating these kids to live at home. But another interesting explanation is the generational mindset shift happening as well, as there is now less of a stigma for young adults to live at home with their parents.
As a psychotherapist, I’m fascinated by cultural shifts in what we consider acceptable and how those beliefs influence our behavior and mental health. The boomerang kid phenomenon is particularly interesting because it is changing how we as a society view homeownership. In the past, recent college graduates accepting their first job has been a lifestyle trigger for a home purchase. Looking at it from a parent’s perspective, having children transition into independent adulthood, in the past, has triggered many empty-nester parents to consider downsizing to a home that fits their needs.
To better understand what this trend means, I partnered with Coldwell Banker Real Estate to find out how Americans feel about college graduates living at home with their parents. We surveyed more than 2,000 adults and found that Americans disagree over how long is too long for college graduates to live with their parents. Millennials age 18-34 think it’s acceptable to live at home with their parents for as long as five years after college. Older Americans (defined as age 55 and older for the purpose of the survey) disagree, believing these young adults, if they do move back home after school, should move out within three years of graduating.
Two Extremes of Boomerang Kids
Just as the millennials are a diverse group, so are the types of boomerang kids who return home to live with mom and dad. There are the kids who boomerang home to live with a purpose and those who return home to become “perma-children.”
“Perma-children” tend to feel like they are living in a state of limbo. Although there is an increasing acceptance to return home to live with parents, these young adults use this time to regress to an earlier stage of development. They fall into old patterns, using the money they earn as disposable income, spending on expensive clothes, cars, dinners and vacations. They have their parents make them dinner and do their laundry, permanently securing their ambivalent status as not-quite-adult yet.
The other group of boomerangers finds …read more