They’re called “boomerang kids” or “nesters” — adult children, unable to support themselves in this tough economy, who move back in with their parents.
With the unemployment rate at 8.2 percent and the price of gas and other necessities on the rise, many find it harder to make ends meet and are forced to ask mom and dad for a place to live. While the situation is often expected to be temporary, it may last longer than expected if the economy doesn’t improve.
Approximately one-in-three parents or 29 percent have had an adult child move back home in the past few years because of economic conditions, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.
The probability of having a nester at home is not related to economic status, according to the Pew study. It found that parents with an annual household income of $100,000 or more are just as likely as those with incomes under $30,000 to have an adult child move back home.
But there are differences when it comes to the age of the nesters.
More than half of those ages 18 to 24 — 53 percent — have moved back in with their parents for a period of time in the last few years, the study said. While the same is only true of 41 percent of those ages 25 to 29 and 17 percent of those ages 30 to 34.
Mark Frey, the executive director of the Howard Beach Senior Center, said he asked his clients if they had a nester at home that they wanted to talk about, but there were no volunteers. He said there are multiple reasons why someone may move back home and the resulting living situation may be complicated and therefore something some people would want to keep private.
“For some parents it may be a joy to have company, companionship and someone to talk to,” Frey said. “For others, the relationship may not be healthy, with the children not paying attention to the needs of the elders and that’s something that they have to work through.”
Eleanor Kelly, the director of the Robert Couche Senior Center in Jamaica, said several of its clients have nesters. In fact, one of her friends who is between 65 and 75 years old just had her adult son, who is an electrician, move back home because he was having a hard time making ends meet.
“With the economy the way it is, many of them are moving back because it is easier to live with the parents, and I know that for a fact,” Kelly said. “A lot of the seniors are homeowners, so the children know if they have to move back, they will have a nice place to stay.”
Parents who have adult children living at home are just as content as those who do not, according to the Pew study. It is the children, who see living at home as a sign of failure, according to Dr. Donna Chirico, a psychology professor at York College in Jamaica and the chairperson of the Department of Behavioral Sciences.
“They don’t see it as OK or acceptable,” Chirico said. “But it is unlikely that they will do better than the previous generation.”
The stagnant economy has brought about a new type of extended family, one that was common 30 years ago. Chirico said back then it wasn’t unusual especially among certain ethnic groups — Irish, Italian, Asian — to have multiple generations living in the same household.
Now, with people being unemployed or underemployed, the idea of returning to one’s family has become more practical. Grandparents can take care of their grandchildren, while their adult children seek employment, further education or job training.
Chirico said she doesn’t think things will improve any time soon. In fact, they may get worse. “It’s a very daunting task to be training students for jobs that may not exist 10 years from now,” Chirico said, citing how careers in social media and other fields weren’t even on the radar screen a decade ago.
As a result of the boomerang phenomena, parents who have grown accustomed to living alone find themselves having to adjust their lifestyles to accommodate others under the same roof. For those parents who find the situation hard to handle, there are some tips that may prove helpful.
Set ground rules and give each other space and privacy. Have the nester contribute to the household in some fashion, either financially, by helping out with the housework or assisting the parents in some other way.
If the new living arrangement is financially straining for the parents, they may want to stress that the situation is temporary and that the children should find their own place as soon as possible.