Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Boomerang Children

Apparently, the problem is not unique to the United States. A survey of families in Europe—minus Great Britain—finds that more and more adult children are moving back home to live with Mom and Dad. The problem has a name: boomerang children. The study has discovered that the situation negatively effects the emotional well being of parents. See also today's post about Pajama boy Michael Rotondo.

It’s called intergenerational co-residence. The paper was reported by the BBC, via Maggie’s Farm:

The research paper, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, says: "Over the past half century, intergenerational co-residence has declined dramatically in Western countries.

"However, this pattern has recently altered, and in some countries multigenerational co-residence has increased; a shift interpreted as a family response to high unemployment rates, poor job prospects and financial hardship among young adults."

The paper explores the effects of different reasons for returning home, such as unemployment and partnership breakdown, saying these are, in themselves, distressing to parents.

But after controlling for this, the researchers found the return of a child still caused a significant decline in parents' wellbeing.

One understands that parents are distressed when their children’s relationships break down and when their children are not gainfully employed. Surely, these events cause parents to feel that they have failed to bring up children who will become responsible adults.

Researchers believe that boomerang children disrupt the rhythm of an empty nest, by undermining the new routines that couples create after their children leave.

Study author Dr Marco Tosi said: "Our work shows that in contexts where family orientations and welfare institutions foster individuals' independence, returns home by adult children have negative implications for parents' well-being….

"When children leave the parental home, marital relationships improve and parents find a new equilibrium.

"They enjoy this stage in life, finding new hobbies and activities. When adult children move back, it is a violation of that equilibrium."

1 comment:

Ares Olympus said...

I'm sure the main issue isn't just the stress of sharing space, but anxiety that your adult kids won't be able to make it on their own. So sometimes "tough love" is needed, like this recent case of parents evicting a 30-year old. A "safety net" can become a prison when you don't have to face your fears or bad habits head on.

Maybe the simplest solution I've seen by empty-nesters is to downsize after all the kids are out of college, although many parents actually want to keep space for holidays for kids and family to visit and gather.

OTOH for the nonaffluent, given there are a large number of baby boomers retiring with mortgage debt and minimal savings, live-at-home adult kids with jobs can help stretch retirement dollars. It really does seem terrifying to try to retire at 65, and hope you can live on SS for 30 years, even if you have some retirement savings and no debt.