Millennials, meet your new roommates: mom and dad. The Pew Research Center recently released a study that found that a record-breaking 36% of the nation’s young adults ages 18 to 31 were living in their parents’ home in 2012.
Among them is Rachel Horn, a 23-year-old living in Los Angeles who moved back to her parents’ house after graduating from the University of Southern California. “I graduated and my lease was up at my apartment at USC, and housing in LA is so expensive,” she says. “I wanted to try to move back home to save money so I could afford a place on my own.”
According to Pew, Horn isn’t alone. Statistics from the study show that a major reason young adults are moving home is economic challenges. According to Pew, “three-in-ten parents of adult children report that a child of theirs has moved back in with them in the past few years because of the economy.”
Despite the money saved, however, when young adults move back in family relationships can become strained. “Being around my parents so much was hard at first,” says Horn. “Your parents are completely different from your friends at school or roommates your age. I started to feel like I was in high school again at certain points.”
Privacy, house rules, and family roles all come into question when young adults cohabitate with parents. “The biggest obstacle for young people when moving back home is understanding their role as the adult child,” says life coach and author Tanya White. “Life is different when moving back home as an adult. Your roles and responsibilities change.”
Dr. Susan Newman, author of “Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily,” agrees with White. “For the majority of young adults returning to live at home, the major stumbling block is falling back into the mommy-daddy-child roles,” says Newman. “Many young adults who return home do not assume responsibility in ways that assist parents and make the living arrangement more equitable. As a result, tensions build where there doesn’t have to be any.”
Luckily, tension can be prevented.
Talk It Out
The first step is communication. “Communication and conflict resolution are key to having a successful home life when adult children move back home,” says White.
Start with an open dialogue about house rules and personal boundaries to avert future conflicts before they become overwhelming and congregate. “Boundaries separating you from parents occurred automatically when you were independent, formed either by the physical distance or the amount of contact you orchestrated,” explains Newman. “When you live together again, boundaries can blur quickly. You will want to install ground rules that reshuffle the boundaries to ensure your parents’ and your freedom, comfort, and happiness.”
Living with anyone, whether it is your parents, a spouse, or a roommate, requires compromise. Discuss what your parents’ expectations are compared to your own, and meet in the middle. “Work around the things you believe [your parents] can’t or won’t change,” says Newman. Be creative and present options for solutions to conflicts that you don’t see eye-to eye on. “If you want changes, you will have to ask for them calmly, not in an authoritative way,” says Newman. “Let’s say that you don’t want your parents in your room or cleaning up after you, tell them that you will tend to those things. Or explain that you will do your own laundry.”
Lend a Hand
Both Newman and White suggest assisting with household responsibilities to create a pleasant living situation. “Young people who move back home must help support their parents financially and with the household responsibilities, i.e. chores [and] unexpected expenses,” says White.
Newman says that in addition, going beyond everyday chores is vital to create a supportive environment. “Call on the way home to see if you should stop at the store to pick up something for dinner, or at the cleaners to retrieve the clothes that are ready,” says Newman. “In this way, a whole scheme of cooperating evolves.”
* Image courtesy of Getty Images.