The newspapers report these days with some alarm on how there are quite a few adult children moving back in with parents today and how they aren't moving out. They blame it all on a terrible job market that makes it hard for these young people to find jobs that pay well enough that they can live on their own.
But this might be oversimplifying matters.
Moving back in with parents isn't just something young people do because they don't have a better choice. Often these days, they do this voluntarily.
The American way of having children be so independent that they are absolutely required to move out when they turn 18 is just that – it's the American way.
It isn't even the way they do things in Europe, a place that is culturally quite similar to America.
Perhaps, experts feel, the reason Americans have for long seen moving out as a sign of the arrival of adulthood is that traditionally, Americans haven't been close to their children.
These days, all the decades that we've been constantly told that closeness is good thing, may finally be paying off.
Parents and children are finally close enough that they aren't constantly looking forward to the day that they'll be free of one another. These days, children voluntarily live on with their parents even when they have achieved independence.
Research these days tells us that empty-nesters actually report being far happier with their children gone than they were with their children. But that's the thing with research – what you prove depends on what you want to prove.
For instance, there are 80 million Americans now who personally take care of a parent or another family member who is too old or infirm to be alone. Don't these parents enjoy having their children live with them?
Similarly, it's easy to find parents who are happy living on with their married children too.
It gives them access to their grandchildren, and in a time when one's retirement funds are inadequate for retirement, living together with one's children offers a good way of saving a bit on one's limited resources.
Nine of ten graduates these days move right back in with their parents as soon as they've finished college.
Only a part of that can be attributed to how it's hard for them to find well-paying jobs. For the most part, they go back because their parents have made such wonderful homes for them that they find themselves actually liking their parents enough to want to be close to them. Gasp!
The organization Network on Transitions to Adulthood has plenty of insight on this kind of thing to offer us.
As wonderful as all the closeness is, there is a lot to be said for independence too. Parents and adult children deciding to live together need to draw a few boundaries.
Parents need to make sure that they aren't offering more help than they can afford with safety, and young people need to make sure that they aren't leeching on their parents and losing their ability to survive on their own.
What are your thoughts on young adults moving back in with parents? Leave us a comment below and tell us what you think.