Millennials—can’t live with them, can’t live without them. But especially the second part, if you’re the parent of a twentysomething who’s moved back home after college, or after a few years on their own. The trend of recent college grads heading home after the economy crashed, saving money while working or while looking for work, has become so widespread that there’s even a catchy term for it: boomerang kids.
And according to the New York Times, the trend—and your child—isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
These boomerang kids are not a temporary phenomenon. They appear to be part of a new and permanent life stage. More than that, they represent a much larger anxiety-provoking but also potentially thrilling economic evolution that is affecting all of us. It’s so new, in fact, that most boomerang kids and their parents are still struggling to make sense of it. Is living with your parents a sign, as it once was, of failure? Or is it a practical, long-term financial move?
The answer, it seems, is a little bit of both. Living at home gives young people the chance to regroup and explore options that might not be possible if they were pouring the bulk of their savings into rent in a big city. You can research your options and get a better idea of what you want to be doing professionally and how to get there. Still, some of the twentysomethings profiled expressed uncertainty about whether living with mom and dad had become a crutch that prevented them from striking out on their own again.
But experts like Clark University psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett—who coined the gentle term ’emerging adulthood’—are more optimistic.
“Stop dumping on them because they need parental support,” Arnett cautioned. “It doesn’t mean they’re lazy. It’s just harder to make your way now than it was in an older and simpler economy.”
My mother, for one, seems excited. “Please!!” read her email this morning. “Even the NYT thinks it’s a good idea!”