Millenials In The Nest
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on August 2, 2013
A Pew Research Center analysis released Thursday found that 36% of millennials, those ages 18 to 31, are living with their parents, the highest share in at least 40 years. Above, UCLA graduates celebrate in June. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / June 14, 2013)
As a psychiatrist, I am thinking about this new sociological trend where millennial bounce back to their nest, perhaps with a lack of the necessary psychological separation required to spring into a healthy adulthood. On the other hand, maybe this return is an opportunity for young adults to work out their issues with their parents so that they can emerge, a second time, with a more secure attachment, and hence a stronger independence. Emily, twenty-five, went to college and graduate school and now lives in her childhood bedroom. She has a good job, working at a public relations firm, but she feels it is a waste of money to spend her earnings on an apartment. She is happy at home. Her parents are happy, as well. Emily can take comfortable vacations, eat out with her friends, because she has no rent to pay. Emily has a boyfriend who also lives with his parents. When they want to spend time together, they go away for the weekend. Emily is both happy and unhappy at the same time. She likes her job. She likes her family and she likes her boyfriend. On the other hand, she feels younger than her age, and she has very little motivation to move out, and that worries her. She is concerned that she will never want to grow up, because, truth be told, she likes being taken care of. She likes that her laundry is done by her housekeeper, which she has known since she was two. She likes having family dinners. She likes having coffee with her mom every morning. She knows she should be thinking about her future, but as she says, “I kinda like being treated like a kid.” “You are in quite the dilemma,” I say, highlighting both sides of the issue. “On the one hand being cared for is nice, but on the other hand it is stifling.” I expand on this notion that there is good news and there is bad news. “You do not have to worry about many adult responsibilities, but you are also not taking control of your life, as you are living the way your parents are living and you are not making your own choices about where and how you want to live your life.” I say, again, emphasizing that she is following her parents’ lifestyle choices and not making her own. “Yes, but I am so comfortable at home,” Emily says. “And yet, other times, you wonder if you are avoiding tough decisions,” I remind her of previous discussions. “Oh yea, I often forget that,” Emily says with refreshing candor. I am optimistic that Emily will find her own path, yet it is interesting that it will be much later in life than previous generations.