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.

Several years ago, though, I did go house-hunting. I even came close to buying a house—until I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my job. If the timing had been just a little off, I might have ended up with a house and no job. That experience left its mark on me, I admit. I’m grateful for the way that God worked things out in that case, but I let it make me extra-cautious. So there’s a combination of prudence and outright fear at work ,which isn’t necessarily as bad as it sounds.

My adult years at home have been good years, years in which I’ve learned a lot and had the kind of support that single people don’t always get. There’s always someone around to remember my birthday, or just to listen to me vent after a hard day at work. And I in turn was on the spot to support my mom when she had breast cancer a few years ago. As Slate suggests, living at home can “make good sense.”

Still, naturally, there are times of tension. I’d like to be able to be out late at night sometimes without knowing that Mom is worried about me, for instance. I feel guilty when I let my parents do too much for me—when I let meal after meal go by without pitching in, for instance.

And there are decisions that I would make on my own if I lived independently, that I can’t make here. The family argument about whether to get a dog has been going on for years now, with no end in sight. (I’d settle for a cat, myself, but Dad threatens to move out onto the front lawn if that should ever happen.) These are tough issues that have to be worked through.

But though the decision to live at home wouldn’t work for everyone, it’s not a wrong or bad decision, and I hope that the media coverage of the Pew study is a signal that a welcome and much-needed de-stigmatization is on the way. For at a time when rising rates of singleness are driving more and more people to seek nonmarital forms of support, there’s no reason—if there ever was—to shame those adults who still find that support from their parents, the people who care for them more than anyone else.

As Julie Rodgers put it:

Whether it’s an intentional community, best friends who make a covenant, families that open their homes to friends for a lifetime, or even a close-knit neighborhood where folks commit to one another and have open door policies: we need an avenue for intimacy in shared households. We need to be family.

And sometimes, the best people to act as your family are your family.