We're living in a world where it's often practical for grown children to move back in with their parents in order to weather this economic storm. Do you think this phenomenon will have any short- or long-term impact either on them or on society?
I can see the social and emotional advantages to a layered support system particularly in supporting the upbringing of children. As said earlier, the combined household is not a new phenomenon. The demise of the family network seems to coincide with the decline in relationships between parents and children - how many Supernanny type shows do we have now? Perhaps a move back to a closer family unit may not be a bad idea for our next generation?
In your question, you refer to grown children living with their parents as a phenomenon. It's not. Grown children living away from their parents is a relatively new phenomenon. For most of history, families stayed together generation after generation. Only daughters or second or third sons moved away from the family home. The oldest son would inherit the home and property when the father died. It worked well in the past, and maybe it will work well again.
The previous posts have all been very well put. I cannot help but feel that the recent trend of having kids live with their parents is somewhat of an economic reality. The current college students who are finishing with their studies are entering a job market with realities that are far from guarantees. When finding a position is such a challenge, it makes more sense to stay at home and use that as a base before stability is established. Interestingly enough, this is another form of economic reality that is impacting parents, who might have to become very used to the fact that their kids are going to come back and providing for them might become part of their long term plans. I think that this is where we see economics play a role in the decision making of both kids and parents.
Grown children moving back home will certainly have an impact on those involved, but I fail to see how it would impact society, short term or in the long run. If grown children and their parents living together became widespread and enduring (which at this point it will not), then the social norm indeed would have changed--society clearly would have been affected. But the days of several generations living under one roof are over in our country, for better or worse.
Recently published articles have examined some families that have melded as the result of economics or other family needs. One article I read in Parade, I think, featured several families who illustrated some very strong arguments in favor of their new living arrangements. Loving people, who also happen to be reasonable, patient, creative, and cooperative, it seems, can make life better for each other.
I agree with many of the points made in previous posts. If this economic crisis continues, I do think families will continue to live together and it will make an impact on society. Whether the impact will be positive or negative has largely to do with how the situation is handled by each individual family. If terms and conditions are outlined from the onset, I think it could be a fabulous thing. A wonderful support system can develop and bring families closer. Children can benefit from learning from other generations and watching them interact with one another.
If things are not worked out from the beginning, however, I do agree that resentment and hostility can build and cause the family bond to weaken.
Overall, it comes down to communication and respect. If handled properly, I think it will impact our society in a very positive way.
I would like to suggest that the negativity comes from a lack of good, honest communication. Sharing a home does not have to be stressful, but it will be if expectations are not discussed by both sides and if either side feels it does not have the right or ability to speak up when situations need addressed.
Grown children living with their parents can be very stressful for everyone. I know of one couple who moved in with his parents and the situation became unbearable to an extent. It caused many feelings to be damaged and now his parents do not his like his wife very much because of it. Unfortunately, this situation happens all of the time and is sometimes unavoidable. If grown children must move back in with parents I think it is very important to establish a set firm rules in order to avoid conflict if possible.
I agree with the previous post in the sense that grown children living with their parents or--in some of the cases with which I am familiar--with their siblings often leads to conflict within marriages and parent-child relationships, especially if one of the grown children is not working.
However, this idea of grown children moving back home is not so new or specific to the current economy; so I don't think that it will have long-lasting effects on our society. It's just another version of a blended family.
I hate to be Debby Downer in this thread of positivity and hope - but I want to be honest.
I know several married people (some with children) who have had to resort to this measure in the past year or so - and I think it is having incredibly negative effects on their marriages. It causes a blur in the defined roles of husband/wife/father/mother/provider/caretaker/etc. It throws two more authority figures into the mix for children. It seems for many, it is the admittance of defeat. I've seen it literally kill the passion between two people.
I don't know how you guys feel personally, but I shudder at the thought of moving back in with my own parents - the idea of moving in with my in-laws however... it's worse.
On a positive finish - if an American marriage can and does survive a short stint of bunking with the parents - I'd say it can survive anything.
Unless this turns into a long term, Depression-style economic crisis (which is still possible) then I think it won't have any long term impact on societal beliefs or practices. When times improve, the social pressure and individual preference will still be to move out of the house and on their own. That being said, it may be harder for the elderly to recover economically on a timeline that allows them their continued independence, and we may see a phenomenon of more parents moving in with their children, as it was in the first half of the 20th century.
With the number of homes being foreclosed upon, these adult children should be grateful to have a home to go to although there may be just as many living in shelters and on the streets. I don't see why there should be long term effects one these people other than to learn to live within their means and to save, save, save for the things they want.
When my husband was in the military, we lived in base housing. Many of our friends chose to live off-base in nicer housing, but what they failed to see was that we were able to save a much larger down payment by living in housing that may not have been as nice for a set amount of time in order to be able to afford what we really wanted.
Going back to live with mom and dad is an opportunity to do just that. Yes, stress will be greater with more people under one roof, but the opportunities far outweigh the negatives...kids get to know their grandparents better, more people to help out with the chores around the house (which can be fun when we work together), and quality family time. Plus, if everyone chips in with the food and utility costs, the economic burden isn't as great as it would be on a single-family income.
Of course, I'm working under the assumption that the adults all are working...sometimes that means working at jobs you think you are too qualified for or are beneath your social status just to make ends meet. You do what you have to do to feed your kids, to pay your bills, and to help out your family. If you are able to work, do it. Don't depend on the government to support you. This is why the system is broke and broken...too many able-bodied people are taking advantage of the programs which they don't really need.
I agree that it's mostly the economic hard times that is causing this large migration back to the nest. Sometimes it works the other way around: My 87 year old stepmother has moved back in to her son's house--not really for economic reasons, but primarily for health purposes. In many countries, as mentioned in one of the posts above, several generations often live together, especially in larger homes which have been owned by the family for many generations. Hopefully, it will create a better atmosphere of adult understanding for the parents and children. Of course, as mentioned in the 3rd post, children who never leave because they are too lazy to get a job is a whole different matter.
In the past in this country, before there was any kind of social safety net, people relied on family as the social safety net. It was not too unusual to see three generations of family under the same roof. (Think The Waltons--you know, the T.V. show). It may be that we are getting back to that which may not be a bad thing. But if children are moving back into the home because they are too lazy to find work and just want to "mooch" off the parents, then yes, it is a bad thing.
This is a really interesting question. In many other countries, it is normal for unmarried adults to remain at home with their parents and/or extended families; it can improve the economic situation of the entire group, encourage closeness, and all cement the relationship between children and parents, thus encouraging a connection as the children move on and the parents age. It helps parents and children develop an adult relationship(s) in a way that a few-times-times-a-year visitation schedule cannot. In my mind, this might dismantle the very American construction of the nuclear family and encourage more of a "takes a village" approach to life . . . probably not a bad thing.
It depends on whether or not these adult children were living with their parents before the economy collapsed. If they were self-sufficient beforehand, they will more than likely return to their traditional societal role when the economy improves.
However, there are a number of grown children who move back in with their parents, bringing along the wife/husband and kids, simply because they were not prepared to support themselves. So many young couples lack the professional training, education, fiscal responsibility, social maturity, or even motivation to be independent.
This trend is redefining the concept of retirement. Many parents are using their retirement funds to support their children and grandchildren. As a result, they delay their retirement; this prevents new graduates from entering the work force. The dominoes will continue to fall as more graduates are forced to move in with mom and dad because they are unable to find jobs in a burdened economy and weakened job market.
I know a West Point graduate who retired from the military and delivered phone books until he was able to find a job. I know a 25-year-old who lives at home with his parents, his wife, and his two children; he refuses to work full time because it's "too hard". What can we learn from this father and his son? It is important to know when adult children need help and when they can be better served by learning on their own.