‘Boomerang kids’ trend comes full circle

Researchers see benefits in the return to the nest

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Mr. Sachs, the psychologist, said the transition to responsible adulthood is a lot harder for young people in today’s world.

“The social pundits are often equipped to point the finger at boomerang young adults and also at their parents,” he said. “The reality is that the amount and the extent of training and education that’s necessary for young adults to achieve financial self-reliance is a lot more demanding.”

Linda Perlman Gordon, a private psychotherapist in Maryland, said she had a son and daughter living at home at different times before they left for graduate school.

“It was delightful to live with my children as emerging adults,” said Ms. Gordon, co-author of “Mom, Can I Move Back in With You?” a book that offers practical advice and support for parents of boomerang kids.

She said these situations are viewed too often as unexpected and unwanted for families and can create wonderful experiences.

“I think that the fact that it’s surprising so many people tell you that we’re so used to this individual spirit, that we thought that after your kid left for college, they’re gone,” she said. “That feels uniquely American, whereas in other cultures, they expect you to be more interdependent on your child. Americans are so careful about their independence that they think it’s the only way to go.”

Not everyone is ready to celebrate the boomerangs.

William Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota, warned of delayed maturity that might arise from returning home to live with parents after college.

“The biggest thing is that they are postponing adulthood,” he said. “They are postponing adult responsibilities. It’s normal for their generation; they look around at their friends, and that’s what their friends are doing too.”

Mr. Doherty said it is important for parents and returning children to negotiate upfront and set a good time frame to discuss how the arrangement is working and whether it should continue.

“Let them know what you’re expecting of them as an adult member of the family,” he said.

Elina Furman Landauer, author of “Boomerang Nation,” added that it was important to set specific regulations for good communication between parents and children. She said it is essential to draft a household contract or agreement before moving in, so that neither party has unrealistic expectations of the other.

“Set a move-out deadline,” said Ms. Landauer, who moved in with her mother after college. “If you don’t have a sense of how long you’ll live at home, it can go on indefinitely.”

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