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The Boomerang Generation: When an Empty Nest Turns Into a Full House

Family & Caregiving

There's a growing trend in American households where parents may actually find themselves longing for an empty nest. U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the number of young men—age 25 to 34—living at home with their parents has increased by 5 percent over the past six years, and the rate for women in that age group has risen by 2 percent.

The media has dubbed these 20- and 30-somethings the Boomerang Generation for their inclination to bounce back to mom and dad's house after college graduation. In some cases, the offspring never even left. Experts point to a slow job market as the main reason for the trend. Statistics reveal that there are about 2 million college-educated people older than 25 without jobs in the United States.

What's a mom to do when she finds her chicks back at home, perhaps depressed about their prospects or apathetic about getting out on their own?

First, keep in mind that you can't just pick up your parenting duties where you left off. Regardless of whether they're under your roof, your son or daughter is an adult who will want to go out until the wee hours of the morning or maybe even bring a partner back home to stay the night. Set some ground rules to prevent heated disagreements or embarrassing situations.

Additionally, treating your grown son or daughter like the adult they are may prevent them from believing that you are there to give them a free ride. Avoid covering all of their living expenses, because this may foster dependence, which you don't want. Let it be known that they will need to chip in for bills, buy their own groceries and cover their cell phone or car payments. This gives them less incentive to stick around too long.

Set a timeline for your son or daughter. Let them know that you will help them through their struggles and provide the support they need, but that you are not there to eternally take care of them. Identify milestones, like getting a full-time job and saving a certain amount of money for moving costs, and help them achieve those small goals until they are able to stand on their own two feet.

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