For all the hand-wringing about boomerang kids – those young adult children moving back home with their boomer parents – there seems to be an upside to the phenomenon.
A story in today’s Wall Street Journal, entitled “Benefits of the Boomerang,” reported that, for 20- and 30-somethings, moving back into their childhood home “proved less painful and more rewarding” than a lot of young adults expected. “I got to see a more human version of my parents,” said Kate Werrett, 26, who moved back home after she graduated from Brigham Young University in 2009. Her boomeranging also allowed her to save $12,000, which put her on strong financial footing to set out on her own, as she recently did.
Earlier this year, an op-ed piece in The New York Times underscored the same point. “Our research shows that the closer bonds between young adults and their parents should be celebrated, and do not necessarily compromise the independence of the next generation,” the social scientists wrote.
There’s no doubt about it: The boomerang phenomenon has been on the rise. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center last December, three in 10 parents of adult children (29 percent) report that the economy forced their grown child to move back in with them in the past few years. Adults age 25 to 34 are among the most likely to be living in multigenerational households.
And there’s been no shortage of advice to boomer parents on how to deal with the difficulties of their returning kids. But personally, I’m happy to see a little appreciation for the fact that generations can benefit by sharing a household. In cultures around the world, young people routinely live their their parents until they have families and homes of their own. And in some parts of the world, generations always share the same household as a matter of course.
Even here, the notion of kids going off to college never to return home was fairly unique to the boomer generation.
Just because we were fully independent early on doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way it should be. Or that we should lament the fact that kids sometimes return to the nest.