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    The rise and fall of adulthood: How the pandemic, economy and society have created a new generation of ‘boomerang kids’

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    They are the new generation of ‘boomerang kids’ – young adults who have failed to launch into independent lives and instead return to the nest of their parents.

    But what are the causes and effects of this phenomenon, and how are families coping with the challenges and opportunities of living under one roof again?

    boy hugging woman during daytime

    According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, more than half of young adults in the US (52%) were living with one or both of their parents in July 2020, the highest share since the Great Depression.

    The report found that the main driver of this trend was the coronavirus pandemic, which disrupted education, employment and income for millions of young people.

    But even before the pandemic, there were other factors that contributed to the rise of delayed adulthood, such as rising costs of housing, education and health care, as well as changing social norms and expectations.

    Some experts argue that delayed adulthood is not a crisis, but a new and complex stage of development that allows young people to explore their identities, interests and careers before settling down.

    They point out that some benefits of living with parents include saving money, receiving emotional support and having more time to pursue education or hobbies.

    However, others warn that delayed adulthood can have negative consequences for both young adults and their parents, such as reduced independence, lower self-esteem, increased stress and conflict, and delayed marriage and parenthood.

    grayscale photo of woman in black dress holding child in black shirt

    They also note that some parents may struggle to balance their own needs and goals with those of their adult children, especially if they have to provide financial or practical assistance.

    One study by Merrill Lynch found that 79% of parents in the US continue to provide financial support to their adult children, spending an average of $500 billion per year – twice as much as they save for retirement.

    Another study by SunLife found that 28% of parents in the UK who have adult children living at home have had to postpone their retirement plans, while 18% have had to dip into their savings.

    Some parents also report feeling frustrated, resentful or guilty about their situation, while others enjoy having a closer relationship with their adult children.

    The key to coping with delayed adulthood, according to experts, is to establish clear boundaries, expectations and communication between parents and adult children.

    They suggest that parents should encourage their adult children to contribute to household chores and expenses, respect their privacy and autonomy, and support their goals and aspirations.

    They also advise that adult children should respect their parents’ rules and preferences, express gratitude and appreciation, and seek professional help if they face mental health or career issues.

    Delayed adulthood may be a modern phenomenon, but it is not necessarily a misnomer for something darker. It can be a positive or negative experience depending on how families handle it.

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