This weekend, Globe and Mail columnist Elizabeth Renzetti wrote a piece about how both parents and adult children can benefit when adult kids live at home. She said:
“It’s seen as a terrible failure that 36 per cent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 31 still live at home, the highest figure in 40 years. But when Pew Research asked them how they felt about living in the basement, 78 per cent said they were happy chez mom and dad. Interestingly, their parents were happy too: The ones who had adult kids at home were just as satisfied as those who didn’t… And look what parents get in return: companionship, affection and an antidote to loneliness, which is the true killer these days.”
It’s true that when families plan ahead, have open communication, and all get on the same page about the expectations for the adult child’s stay at home, there can be benefits for both generations. The benefits for the adult children are obvious: parents provide ongoing support, both financial and emotional.
And parents do get the companionship and affection Renzetti refers to. Even more important, they get a chance to really get to know their children as adults. The fact is that in most modern Western societies, we don’t make a lot of time for our parents once we are no longer under their roofs. Spending some time living together as adults changes the nature of the relationship between parents and their adult children, often with lasting results. Both generations get a chance to see each other as adults with real goals, dreams, and insights. Having the time to make those discoveries can be precious.
Of course, it’s not always so wonderful. If parents and kids have different expectations about anything from who does the laundry to how much the adult child should contribute financially, there’s the potential for lasting effects on the relationship that lean toward disastrous rather than delightful. Real, open, honest communication is the most important factor in just about any relationship, and that’s especially true for parents and adult children who live together.