Once upon a time, in a more secure and stable economic environment, children left the nest after high school, off to college, jobs or military pursuits. Parents dealt with the absence with either melancholy because of the silence invading their home, or pleasure at having newfound freedom to pursue their own interests. In today’s economic turmoil, more families are seeing adult children moving back home. According to an analysis by University of Michigan of the Census date, the number of intergenerational families living under one roof has increased by 50% since 1970.
More families are finding it difficult to make ends meet in today’s financial crisis, and sometimes children move back in to give mom and dad a helping hand, or vice versa. Finding out that the Social Security check does not stretch quite as far as it used to, what with rising costs of food, fuel and other basic needs, parents are stretched to the limit of their budgets. On the other side of the coin, children who were once able to live on their own can no longer afford this luxury. Whether from lost jobs, expensive college dorms or just day to day living, families are moving back in with each other. This can have both positive and negative affects for all parties.
M.L., a widow living in the Mohawk Valley region, has an adult son who moved back home almost a year ago. Another, married couple have three adult children living at home. The strain financially and emotionally has been very stressful. The lack of work, stretching an already overburdened budget, and lack of privacy have all put a toll on relationships.
Financial, it makes sense for adult children to move back in, or for parents to move in with adult children. Sharing the expenses lightens the load for everyone. For adults who may have seen their jobs terminated, and with so few jobs available, it has become necessary for them to move back in with parents if possible.Older Americans who are losing their homes often lack the financial resources to buy another property. At the same time, adult children who help pay for assisted living or other living arrangements for elderly parents are opting to bring their parents into their own homes because they can no longer afford the costs.
According to an article written by STEPHANIE ARMOUR of the Gannett News Service “With the financial crunch, many adult children caregivers are having to bring Mom and Dad into their own home instead of the many other options,” says Barbara McVicker, author of “Stuck in the Middle: Shared Stories and Tips for Caregiving Your Elderly Parents.” “Money is driving most of the decisions.”
Homeowners age 50 and older have been significantly affected by the mortgage crisis, according to a 2008 analysis by the AARP. More than 684,000 homeowners 50 and older were delinquent, were in foreclosure, or lost their homes during the six months ending December 2007. And some family members say they’re living with a senior parent because they can’t afford a home on their own
However, there is a down side to this situation. Adults may find it difficult to come back home and still maintain some independence. Children moving into their parents home after living on their own find it difficult to once again live by someone else’s rules. Parents tend to slide back into the parent-child mode and try to tell adult children how to live their lives. This can be trying for everyone.
Some other challenges include lifestyle differences, generational differences, depression, money squabbles and other issues when relatives huddle together for economic relief, says Nicholas Aretakis, a career coach and author of “No More Ramen: The 20-Something’s Real World Survival Guide.”
Moving in with relatives can be “demoralizing, humbling, dehumanizing, but a lot of people don’t have a lot of choice,” Aretakis says. “You lose that sense of independence, privacy and self-esteem,” he says. “You lose somewhat of your identity.”
It may be difficult to find a middle ground that makes everyone happy. Mothers want to mother their children, children want the independence they had before they moved back in. Parents have become accustomed to their freedom and new lifestyle, and might find it difficult to stay out of their children’s personal lives. Children may also expect mom and dad to take over the cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc, just as they did before the child moved out. This can put a strain on any parent-child relationship.
In addition to the emotional obstacles faced by the decision to join forces economically, there is also a financial piece that needs to be looked at, especially when a parent allows an adult child to move back in the home. Whether it is because of losing a job, a house, or some other reason, the parents really need to take a look at what they can reasonably afford to do for the child.
In an article found at AARP written by Anne Cassidy who is the author of Parents Who Think Too Much (Dell, 1998).ssometimes the most helpful solution is to say no to a request for money. “Most young adults really do want to earn their own money,” says Dungan. “For example, it’s not appropriate for parents to take a home-equity loan to pay off kids’ credit card debt.” Russ Phillips, now 34, is proud his mother was strict with him through rough times in his early 20s. Now a father himself, he says he’s glad she gave him only enough to get by. “Otherwise,” he says, “it doesn’t give you any reason to try.” Seniors need to be careful not to put their own financial security at risk in order to bail out a child.
The bottom line is that in our economy today, more and more families are joining forces to get by, and there can be advantages and obstacles for all parties involved. You need to make sure to weigh the good and bad for all when making the decision to allow your adult children to move back home. Reading the article by Anne Cassidy can give you some great tips on handling this decision. LIving together can be a very rewarding decision, as long as everyone involved understands and agrees with the limits.