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Home Sweet Home, Again

Aug 15 2014
Like a growing number of adults, I find support, love, and lodging in an obvious place: my parents’ home.

If you’re an adult living with Mom and Dad, you may not be as unique as you think.

Boer Deng of Slate recently wrote about a new Pew Research Center report on how multigenerational households are becoming more common. "In 1980, some 12 percent of families had two or more adult generations living under the same roof. Now, 18 percent do, and the total number of Americans with this living arrangement has doubled, to 56.8 million."

Between the difficult economy and the increase in immigrants from cultures where multigenerational households are common, this seems to be turning into something of a trend.

I’m part of that trend myself, though it’s not something I talk about a lot. When the topic comes up in conversation, and there’s no way to get around it, it tends to come out like this: “Iliveathome.”

I’m not embarrassed by my parents—on the contrary, they’re amazing people—but it’s hard to avoid the social stigma of our living situation. There aren’t many stigmas left in our society, but living at home still conjures up overgrown adolescents sleeping until noon on a couch in mom’s basement. There’s even a movie about it: Failure to Launch. (In a little over a year, assuming no major changes in my life, I’ll be the embodiment of not one but two Hollywood punch lines: that one and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.)

But as usual, the stereotypes don’t tell the whole story. In fact—like so many other real-life adults living at home—I have a full-time job, I pay my parents rent every month, and I help out around the house. And I haven’t slept in until noon since the last time I had the flu.

The Slate piece refreshingly recognized the positives in such an arrangement, both financially and for the closeness of the family. Sometimes it makes sense for unmarried adults or newlyweds to live at home while saving up for a home of their own. Or for Mom and Dad to move in to help out with the grandkids.

In an area where the cost of living is outrageously high, I live with my parents to save as much as I can for the future. I could move somewhere more affordable, but that would mean leaving my family, most of my friends, my job, and my church—a daunting prospect.

And frankly, I’m scared of being lonely. Introvert though I am, I like the feeling of having other people in the house. As blogger Julie Rodgers recently wrote, most of us want, even need, our lives to be “witnessed” in some way. It’s a bonus when those other people are people I love, and who love (and put up with) me. I could try to go the roommate route, but roommates, as I learned in college, are a lot like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: You never know what you’re gonna get. Sometimes, as Forrest neglected to point out, you can get a pretty bad experience. I’m not ruling that option out completely, but it’s one that I would undertake only with great care and caution.

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