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Will Junior ever move out?

A new survey finds that a quarter of teens expect to depend on their parents until their mid- to late 20s. Is the economy that bad? Or is home just too comfortable?

By Donna_Freedman Apr 9, 2013 12:10PM

Logo: People with paperwork (Thinkstock Images/Comstock Images/Getty Images)Do you get all misty-eyed at the thought of your kids leaving home after graduation? Take heart: They might not go.

According to the "Teens and Personal Finance 2013" survey (.pdf file), 25% of kids ages 14 to 18 expect to depend on their parents until their mid- to late 20s.

When Junior Achievement and The Allstate Foundation asked that question back in 2011, only 12% of teens expected to need help that long. Why did the number double in just two years?

It's the economy, stupid.

"There's been a lot of (economic) uncertainty over the past few years, and recovery has been kind of slow. They're thinking about whether or not they're going to be able to manage," says Junior Achievement spokesman Ed Grocholski.

The 1,025 teens surveyed do expect a rosier financial picture in the long term, saying they expect to do as well as or better than Mom and Dad. But their current lack of confidence "reinforces the need for parents to get their kids up to speed on how money works," Grocholski says.

Back when the Earth was still cooling, I and my high-school classmates couldn't wait to be independent. But living with the folks no longer carries much stigma, according to "The Boomerang Generation," a 2012 report from the Pew Research Center.

That survey of 2,048 young adults showed that 78% were "satisfied with their living arrangements," and that 77% were optimistic about future finances -- just as the kids in the JA/Allstate survey were.

"One reason young adults (are) relatively upbeat about their situation is that this has become such a widespread phenomenon," the Pew survey notes. "Among adults ages 25 to 34, 61% say they have friends or family members who have moved back in with their parents over the past few years because of economic conditions."

Mutually beneficial?

Have we made it too comfortable for this generation? Is their failure to launch our own fault? Maybe not. Poor job prospects really have kept some young people in place whether they want to be or not, according to MSN Money columnist Liz Weston's "Boomerang kids moving out again."


As you can surmise from the headline, the trend is reversing itself. What the U.S. Census calls the "household formation rate" had dropped as low as 650,000 per year from 2008 to 2011. But last year, nearly 950,000 new households were formed.

It's worth noting that some cultures fully expect grown kids to remain at home until they've married. Even in the U.S., multigenerational households can be mutually beneficial: Adult children get a chance to look for a job/recover from job loss, and their aging parents get a little help with chores and, maybe, with finances.

"Adult children living at home set new standards for normalcy," a post on the DailyPerk blog, points out that help is being offered, and accepted: 52% of adult children chip in for food, 34% help pay utilities and "a surprising 29% help pay the rent or mortgage," notes blogger Kyle Psaty.

This makes it seem more like the multigenerational households of the past, he says, rather than "a rise in the number of parasitic offspring mooching off their parents until they're old themselves."

Pooling finances can keep everyone afloat, Psaty writes, and it can result in "stronger family ties, better financial literacy due to more familial conversations about money, or improved financial stability for generations to come thanks to increased family efforts to avoid debt."

A little too comfortable

On the other hand, failure to launch or a return to the nest can also lead to major family stress. It can rankle if you're working all day while your son or daughter sleeps until noon and then sits around watching TV.

Keep in mind that job loss -- or a job never found after graduation -- can be emotionally devastating, leading to depression and/or a need for nurturing. No wonder that "sometimes older kids do get comfortable back home," says mental health counselor Debbie Pincus.

"It takes a lot of pressure off their shoulders because Mom and Dad are there to cook and clean and pay the bills," Pincus writes in an article on the Empowering Parents website.


Try to head this off by hammering out an agreement before your kid comes back. But what if he's already there, or if he never left? Come up with some talking points about your expectations (job hunting, doing chores, paying rent, a time frame for moving back out) and also about what is and is not acceptable in your house.

This may not sit well, according to Phil McGraw, aka "Dr. Phil." In an article on his website, McGraw notes that children may very well play the victim card: I have to live here -- I can't support myself!

"Parents buy into this thinking, and then feel guilty because they want to help their kids," he says. However, "when they feed that guilt, they ignore the fact that they are crippling their children's advancement in life."

So don't play along if Junior or his sister wails, "I can't believe my own parents want me to pay rent!" The ultimate goal is self-sufficiency and financial fitness. A free ride won't get them any closer to that destination.

Encourage, rather than enable

Judging from a couple of the "boomerang kids' rules for parents" in this Huffington Post piece, some young adults evince a staggering sense of entitlement.

"My room is not a storage facility! If I move back home, I hope you move your stuff OUT of that 'extra space' you were used to. Didn't you always complain that I had too much stuff?!" sniped one.

Another told parents that by "imposing too many rules and creating unnecessary fights, you are only pushing them to move out faster."

Well, what's wrong with that? And whose house is this, anyway? (Parents, repeat after me: When you have your own house, you can make your own rules.)

Loving parents will want to help, but that help is still optional. Don't infantilize your adult offspring by treating them like helpless toddlers. Encourage, rather than enable. It's essential that they get back on their own two feet.

That's for their own good -- and for yours, too. It's OK to want more out of this stage of your life than doing extra loads of laundry and remembering to buy your now-grown kid's favorite cereal.

If all else fails, try a tactic told to me by a therapist. One of her clients, a middle-aged divorcée whose two adult children had moved back in, felt she had no space to be herself. "What would you do with that space if you had it?" the therapist asked. "You know, stuff like being able to walk around in my underwear," the woman replied.

The therapist suggested that she try doing so, right away. She did. Within a month, both her kids had moved out.

Have your adult kids ever moved back? How did you handle it?

More from MSN Money:

Apr 9, 2013 2:40PM
I stayed with my parents through college and a few years after until I saved enough to move out without having to struggle.  In turn I took care of my parents, paid all their bills, took care of everything they needed and took each one in for the last months of their lives and was at their bedside when they passed. 
If they're  working hard to better themselves why kick them out if they're trying to save a couple of bucks for their future? I'm doing the same for my kids.  
However if they're just languishing in the house playing video games, it's time for some tough love.
Apr 9, 2013 2:56PM
If your 20 something 'child' is lazy and unmotivated, its your job to annoy the s*** out of them until they want to move out.
Apr 9, 2013 2:23PM

I'd rather live in a tent in the woods, use pine cones for T.P. and survive eating sticks and bugs than move back in with my parents.



Apr 9, 2013 5:40PM
When I was 17 years old I left my parents house and moved in with my Uncle Sam, he ran a place called the US Marine Corps.
Apr 9, 2013 3:23PM

being a "good parent"  to adult kids only cripples them,

 the real world  it is very unforgiving,

 you must  enjoy them  when  they are babies,

 teach them when they are young

and kick them out when the grow up

Apr 9, 2013 2:13PM
I know I was annoyed when the president decided not to move out after 4 years. 
Apr 9, 2013 4:16PM
My younger brother and I were both out of the house by 18.  He moved in with me after high school & I charged him some rent ($200 a month).  We both were home owners before turning 25.  We're both happily married with children of our own.

Our baby sister, on the other hand, is 27 and still living at home, rent free.  She's never really moved out (failure to launch?) other than a few months when she moved in with a boyfriend.  That ended quickly when he wanted her to pay and do here share.  She blew off college, only recently started working full time, and generally acts like a spoiled teenager.  Any time I say anything about the disparity between the boys and the baby girl, it's either sour grapes or I'm being a bully.

I say, nobody really wants to grow up.  People grow up because they have too.
Never had one of my four kids come home. My youngest daughter got married and immediately asked if she and her new husband could rent her room and stay in our house. I said no. Not because I wanted to be mean but as I told her, to me she would always be my baby and it would be hard for me to treat her like a married woman. Also, no two women can run the same household. She was now a woman and would want certain things her way and it might not match my way. So rather than start something that might end up in our battling each other I just said no. I did however tell them if they needed help for the first few months on their rent and utilities that we would pitch in and help as long as they both continued to work. So far it worked out well and that was over 30 years ago. Right now one of my children is close to being a millionaire. The other three own their own homes and some have been employed at the same company for more than 25 years. None of them ever came home and none ever needed financial assistance.
Apr 9, 2013 3:29PM
Beware.  My brother in law lived with his mommy his whole life.  Mommy died this year at age 94.  Brother in law is age 59 and still living at mommy's house.
Apr 9, 2013 2:21PM
I paid rent to live at home and purchased all my own clothing from the age of 16 years old.  This was in addition to living by my parents' rules.  It was a big inducement to move.  All parents should try this.  Sign a contract with your child when they graduate from high school and get a job or graduate from college charging them $300 a month and outline the duties around the house they have to perform.  The contract should state that you will put the $300 away for them for 24 months for them to use to get an apartment to use for first, last, damage deposit, and furniture.  If they stay in your household longer than 24 months, every year their rent goes up $100 a month as long as they are employed.  However, after the 24 months are up, you get to keep the rent.  When they do finally move, they still get the original $7200, but no more than that.  They need to save their own down payment if they want to buy a house.
May 15, 2013 5:49PM
This is why the American education system is so F-ed up...instead of providing children with the curriculum and the social skills they need to compete in the global marketplace, they coddle children and teach them that they're special and every single thing they say and do is just splendid.  The result is that we now have an entire generation of young Americans who are overconfident but lack the "goods to back it up" - the basic learning, the work ethic and the ability to cooperate with other people.  No wonder it's so hard for new graduates to find one wants to hire them!!  1-2 generations ago American schools turned out the best doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists and businesspeople, now the schools are turning out lazy, self-important narcissists. 
Apr 9, 2013 4:16PM

I think its fine to help your kids but like the article says there is a big difference between helping and enabling. If you are just allowing them to mooch off of you then you aren't doing yourself or them a favor. They have to learn to grow up and be adults at some point.

I have to say I also agree with the article in that some of this is the economy while some of it is the fact that many parents aren't being parents but "friends" instead.

IMO, as your kids are growing up they should already be learning about personal responsibility and finances in that they have chores to do and when they want certain extras they have to pay for it in some fashion (more chores, allowance for chores, ect.). They need to learn to work for what they want.

In this case if your kid has graduated high school or college, depending on situation, and their next move would be enter the workforce full time, then absolutely they need to be chipping in one way or another. If no job then more chores and housework, if they have a job, still some basic chores but they should be paying some rent, as well as their share of utilities and other bills. Maynot have to be as much as they would if they were totally on their own but making them understand that the "free ride" is over and that they are legally adults and therefore will be treated like one is a must. They may not like it and you may feel a bad but that will wear off and both will be better for it. It should also help them learn how well they have it and appreciate it more. You just have to stick to your guns and not give in or let them walk all over you.

I think its time 

Apr 9, 2013 2:45PM
my boys got a check for their first and last mo rent when they turned 18 unless they stayed in school! now they have good jobs and can provide for themselves! i would help them out no matter what but fear is a great motivater.
Apr 9, 2013 5:10PM
I know somebody who is married for 13 years both he and his wife live with his parents what was suppose to be 2 years has grown he pays no rent dosen't help with the bills he drives his dads car and has the nerve to say nobody likes him
Apr 9, 2013 5:52PM
I just don't understand.  I graduated high school and the following September got married to a young lady who still had a year to go before graduating herself.  I got a job with gross pay of $271.00 a month four days before our wedding day and had no savings at all.  But I paid out rent, utilities, insurance, food, transportation expenses for the car, my part-time college expenses and everything else without a bit of help from anyone.  I was also driving 45 miles one way to work at the time and going to college two nights a week.  I never needed or requested any help from anyone until eight years later when I was getting divorced and needed $300.00 to get the attorney to file the papers.  At that time I requested a loan from my father and he said, " Son, I could easily loan or give you the money but I'm not going to do so because you got yourself into this mess and you'll be a better man if you get yourself out of it.".  His words hurt at a time that I was already an emotional wreck but I ma now so glad that he didn't loan the money to me.  I picked myself up, got some extra jobs and took care of business (my responsibilities).  I am a better man for the tough lessons I learned back then.  Why does everyone think they deserve such a padded, easy ride these days.  Get out there and get dirty grubbing out an existence never did anyone any harm to learn how to stand on their own.
May 15, 2013 6:39PM
My brother is in his mid 20s and does this.  He's a shut in.  He doesn't work, has no friends, and doesn't help out around the house.  He has the mental and emotional maturity of a 5th grader.  The people who do this aren't right in the head.
May 15, 2013 6:45PM
I wonder why this is a bigger problem among young men than young women. 

My guess is because boys are raised with a sense of entitlement and when life doesn't hand them that good job they were expecting just for existing they shut down and give up.

The one bright point in all this is that most of these young men will never attract a mate and therefore won't pass on their failure genes.

May 15, 2013 7:53PM
Upon graduation the clock starts ticking in regards to your employment preparation resume. If you can't find the entry level job your looking for, keep employed and build a resume for the day when you will compete  for that opportunity. Each year more young adults enter the job market . The ones who graduate and have lived off mom and dad with no productive work history after college become less employable as time passes. Living at home is far less important than what you do each day to prepare yourself to compete in an opening job market . I'm sure most adult kids living at home would prefer a life of their own.
Apr 9, 2013 7:22PM
This article leaves out an important statistic: the number of men living at home vs. the number of women.  Between the ages of 25-35, the number of men living at home is a staggering 20%.  For women, it's half that number at 8-10%.  Women are also far more likely to help with tasks in the home.  
Apr 10, 2013 2:18PM

I lived at home until 25 only because I started a business at 23 and it helped to not have to pay rent while building up my business.


Then at 37 I moved back in.  My parents retired and needed help with me as a renter while they make their transition to their retirement home in another state.  So there has been an overlap that got extended with them staying longer, my dad is fine to live with but my mother wants everyone to wait on her.  Now I remind my mother everyday she needs to get out.

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