Why do so many 20 and 30-somethings think it’s ok to still live at home?

Alison Baverstock, left and Gill Hines, authors of a new parenting guide.
Alison Baverstock, left and Gill Hines, authors of a new parenting guide.
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More and more young adults are refusing to fly the nest and according to one expert it’s because parents don’t want them to leave. Grace Hammond reports.

It’s Well-known that more 20 to 30 somethings are still living in the family home than ever before.

In fact, a record 3.3m young adults are still reliant on their parents, a trend which has presented a whole new raft of challenges for mums and dads from how much to charge for rent to when they should stop doing their child’s washing and ironing.

However, according Gill Hines, one of the reasons for the dramatic increase in the numbers refusing to move out or returning unexpectedly to claim their old rooms is that parents are not just reluctant to push them out, but actually like having their grown up children around.

“An awful lot of parents moan about their kids, but at the same time they don’t want them to leave and they create a co-dependency,” explains Hines, who along with Alison Baverstock, an associate professor of publishing and mother of four adult children, has written Later!: A Guide To Parenting A Young Adult. “The parents think they have to treat them like children while they’re living there, and the kids think they can’t leave until they can afford a home as good as the one they’ve come from.”

She says parents perpetuate this co-dependency by giving their children things like lifts and money, and warns: “It’s ridiculous, and it’s not good for either of them. They’re not allowing themselves to get on with their lives - the parent needs to move on as well as the child.”

A recent survey of young adults who still live at home, and their parents, found 84 per cent of the parents still did their children’s laundry for them, and a quarter even tidied their bedrooms. When it came to the children almost half admitted they did no food shopping,a and the same proportion paid no rent.

“Young people say ‘Why would I move?’ They’ve got everything on a plate, which is great for them, but it isn’t actually how life’s supposed to be,” says Hines. “In your early twenties, it’s time to start living your life independently. It really worries me how few young people know how to cope in the real world.

“Getting kids to think about what they want in life and how to get it is part of growing up, but we’re not doing that because we’re looking after everything for them.”

Many adult children only pay a peppercorn rent or nothing at all, leaving their parents to meet the true cost of bills and food.

“It needs to be made absolutely clear to them how much it costs to run the house,” she says. “They’re not stupid - they know they’re getting a good deal by living there. By the time they’re 18, they should have an understanding that nothing comes for free. Tell them your responsibility for them ended the day they reached 18, and while you can’t tell them what to do, you can lay down rules in the house.

“Every parent’s aim should be to get their child out and on their own. You should treat them in some respects the same way you would treat a lodger, and say if they don’t meet the rules, they’ll have to find another place to live.”

While the book covers all aspects of a young adult’s life, from jobs to social life and sex, it’s not all about the children.

“All the parents I’ve met embrace the notion of freedom from the kids, but felt an enormous loss,” she says. “Being a parent is a hat we wear in life, and it’s a very big one, particularly for women. They hate losing the sense of themselves as a parent.

“Things can become very quiet and a little staid when children leave home, and parents sometimes feel truly middle-aged, and miss the energy. A lot of parents want to be needed, but they need to see it’s better for kids to move on with their lives.”

Later!: A Guide To Parenting A Young Adult by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock is in paperback published by Piatkus, priced £14.99.