'Boomerang Kids' Should Pay Rent

In this terrible economy, it's becoming more and more common for older children -- sometimes even 25 and older -- to still live at home with their parents. While this phenomenon was once called "failure to launch," it's now the new normal.

According to the New York Post, 13 percent of parents say their adult children have moved back home with them in the past year, and while that may be normal in other countries (when I lived in Italy, it was the norm to live with your parents until you were 30 and/or married), that is odd in the US and it could be a bit disturbing.

It's true that beyond the economy, other things are changing in our country as well. It's no longer enough to have a high school diploma. Most jobs that pay well do require a college degree and often even higher. Plus jobs have changed.


No longer do 22-year-olds graduate from college, take a job, and move up the company ladder until retirement. Now, they change and switch dozens of times, whether because they get laid off or just want to leave. But living at home past 22 is just a bummer. For everyone involved. For the children it's humiliating and depressing, especially if they lived out of the home before, and for the parents, it can often cause them to wonder what they did wrong that their child is unable to make his or her own way.

That said, with my own children, I would never make a hard and fast rule. They are welcome to come in and out of our home if they need to as they go to graduate school or travel the world or get in between jobs, but I would like to believe there is an end point. If my children tried to marry and live in my house, I would feel I had done something wrong in raising them. At a certain point, they would be expected to contribute to expenses in the house, too.

Of course, "Boomerang Kids" have their upside, too. According to the Post:

In many respects, this is a return to the pre-WWII way of living, when young people remained at home longer. Between 1920 and 1940, between 70% and 80% of white males were living at home at age 20, and about 50%-60% of white women were at home. A little more than a third of men were still there at age 25. The post-war fast-track has left such an indelible mark on us that we soon forget that a quick route to adulthood is largely a product of the late 20th century -- when jobs were plentiful and the economy was booming. So perhaps this is a return to the norm.

It would be nice to have more hands on deck to help with the kids and intergenerational living has its benefits, too. When it becomes a problem is when a 26-year-old is still living at home, not traveling or exploring the world, not working and not contributing. At a certain point, living on one's own is a necessary part of the growing up process. If you never have to pay a bill or budget or hold down a job, then you never really become your own person.

My children will be welcome to come in and out of my house as long as there are other pursuits and goals involved. If they are at home saving money for graduate school or to travel the world for a year or pursuing a writing or art career, then fine. But if they are just playing video games, working odd jobs, and channel surfing, then it's rent time, baby.

Would you let your adult children move back in?


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