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What’s Wrong with Living with Mom and Dad?

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Happy family: parents with their teen daughter.

A recent Pew study on living arrangements of young people between the ages of 18 and 35 produced an alarming headline from CBS that proclaimed, “Living with Parents is Now the Norm.” Meanwhile, a sociology professor told the Washington Post that this new development proved the “decline in the nuclear family.”

But such reactions are misleading: the study showed just 32% dwelling at home, so it’s hardly “the norm”; the other 68% shared space with spouses, romantic partners, roommates, or lived alone. The trend doesn’t show an abandonment of marriage, but merely reflects young people pursuing added years of education and delaying the process of beginning families of their own. Living with parents actually reflects the old ideal of extended family – with several generations sharing lives under the same roof.

Most Americans recognize that there’s nothing about living in a dorm or with roommates that makes such experiences inherently superior to living with parents who love you.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Joseph  •  Jun 17, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    OK…as long as they're pulling their weight and contributing to the family while they're living at home. "Freeloading" because they don't want to support themselves hardly seems like the fast track to maturation.

  2. Tom  •  Jun 17, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Eventually most of us need to leave the next. When you are on your own, you have to accept responibility. It is not that Mom and Dad are bad people, it is that they need to let go so the child can develop self reliane.

  3. Aaron  •  Jun 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Like everything, the details are what determines the viability. Homeschooling can be the best option or the worst depending on how it is implemented. Adults living with parents can be very functional, very dysfunctional and anything in between. The practice of families remaining together is ancient. The idea that once you reach an arbitrary age its time to move out has it's historic examples as well, but many cultures valued the extended family remaining a cohesive structure. If I'm not mistaken, the Jewish people encouraged the son and his wife to move into an addition to his fathers house after marriage. Michael probably can do a better job of recapping this than any attempt I might make. My point is that neither living with parents or breaking out on ones own are inherently bad or good. Either approach can be succeed or fail depending on how it's implemented. Both have strategic advantages and disadvantages. That's the beauty of a free society, we get to choose how we approach life.

  4. Raffael G Marco  •  Jun 18, 2016 at 12:19 am

    Good, Bad, or Indifferent; if you have raised your child/ children, and you are satisfied, then there good from the continued family circle. If your parenting skills have been wanting and there is BAD joinder. If there has been no parenting skills ; one parent only then items a crap shoot. 92 yrs and counting.

  5. Joel  •  Jun 18, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Well said, Michael. In the U.S., due to our wealth, we tend to think that we are the example for the world in everything. While a great country, I think we have a lot to learn from other more family-centric countries. In Mexico, children stay at home until they get married; this could be a long time. And even then, they live with or very near to parents. I think this is a good idea.

    Also, the trend in the U.S. has more to do with finances than sociology. Here in California, it is nearly impossible for young people to afford housing. It all boils down to money, which I think ties together my two points.

    • Tim  •  Jun 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      I second your California observation, Joel. My wife and I and our kids left California simply because we were renting and, even with a halfway decent paycheck, saw no chance of being able to afford a home there. We moved to another state to have a chance to eventually buy. But we needed to save first, and to facilitate that, moved in with parents. I feel embarrassed at times when I compare myself to friends who have their own place–but then I remember that there is no warrant for embrassment, and that everyone's situations are different.

      I'm also happy to see that this view appears to be echoed by this post and the commenters. There is nothing inherently superior about living in a separate dwelling from your extended family. It has advantages and disadvantages, and those depend largely on the individual situation. But in general, I think it's a good thing. In China, for instance, it's common for two parents, a child, and 2-4 grandparents to live in the same apartment. This has always seemed to me to have big advantages, not least of which is the rubbing off of values, and a way of driving home the priority of the family unit as the fundamental building block of society. Thanks, Michael for this post.

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