Should an Adult Live with Their Parents

With the changing economy, more and more adults are sharing a household with their parents. But is this the right move? Should an adult still live with their parents or is there a time when an adult should be on their own?

An adult child should and can live with their parents. Currently, 52 percent of millennials live with their parents. This phenomenon is due to economics, the need for emotional support and possibly childcare. There are also times the adult child is supporting the parent.

Adult children returning to the nest are becoming a common occurrence. But is this good for everyone involved. First, we’ll discuss why adults are moving in with their parents. Let’s also look at what age is appropriate to continue sharing a parent’s abode.

Should Adult Children Live with Parents

Generally speaking, there are several reasons for an adult to live with their parents. Although we will go over a few, your reason may be unique. The bottom line is, depending on the age, there may be nothing wrong with living with a parent.

Economics Moves Young Adults to Their Parents’ Home

Both the 2009 recession and the COVID 19 pandemic wreaked havoc on young adults. Many were in entry-level jobs that were eliminated during the shutdown. Others worked in industries like:

  • Hospitality
  • Retail
  • Advertising

These jobs disappeared. Since most young adults rented, it was easy for them to pick up and find economic refuge in their parent’s home. Moving to their parents’ house provided needed financial stability.

Parents Provide Emotional Support

Many young adults aren’t ready to be on their own. This is a tumultuous time with numerous challenges as a young adult finds a place in society. Careers are being established, and many relationships are somewhat temporary. Mom and Dad act like an emotional anchor. With the help of parents, this is a time to grow strong emotionally.

Single Parents Need Help Raising Children

Unfortunately, in the U.S., 40-50 percent of marriages end in divorce. This has a lot of single parents trying to make it on their own. And with childcare generally costing $500 a month, this leaves many parents struggling to meet their children’s needs. Living with parents not only helps with the financial aspect, but with the emotional. Paid childcare may not be necessary. There is always someone around to love and support the child. In addition, the guilt factor that many parents have experienced is alleviated.

Age Influences the Decision to Live with Parents

Many factors determine the decision to live with your parents. You may be moving back in because of circumstances, or you might not have ever left. And even if it’s ok to live with your parents now, there is a time limit; or at least there should be. When is the proper age to move out?

Should You Live with Your Parents When You’re 18

An 18-year-old should live with their parents. Although physically mature and of legal age, their brains have not finished developing. This can lead to troublesome decisions and inappropriate behavior. Although they are adults, they still need some guidance and possible supervision.

Cognitive and Emotional Maturity  

According to Dr. Sandra Aamodt, a neuroscientist, a teenager’s brain continues to develop beyond 18. An 18-year-old’s brain is only halfway to full development. This is because the prefrontal cortex, which helps inhibit impulses, is still developing. This results in an adult/child not quite ready to be out in the world.

Most of the time, 18-year-olds lack the maturity and knowledge to take care of themselves. Keep in mind, they probably just graduated from high school. There is an emotional whiplash that comes with going from child to adult. One moment they’re at the prom, and the next moment they’re making life decisions. This is a time when a parent’s guidance is needed.

Independent Lifestyle Required

Usually, an 18-year-old is not independent. They are not yet ready to take full responsibility for their lives. There are several aspects of independence. They include:

  • Earning and managing money
  • Running a household
  • Coping with day-to-day joys and tribulations

Most 18-year-olds don’t yet have the strategies in place to accomplish this. They often are in college or technical school and still economically dependent on their parents.

Career and Financial Stability

Most 18-year-olds do not have an established career. An 18-year-old is just starting. Often, they don’t know what type of career they want. Those who are entering the workforce are in entry-level positions. Even more likely, the 18-year-old is working in a part time job.

Because they don’t have careers yet, an 18-year-old doesn’t have financial stability. They have not been in the workforce long enough. They may be in school and not yet even in the workforce. So they are still economically dependent on their parents.

Necessary Relationship Stability

Friends are important to 18-year-olds. Childhood friends are usually still a factor, but the 18-year-old is in a transition process. Some are going to school and some into the workforce. The one stable relationship is the parent. Although possibly dating, most are not committed to a romantic relationship. An 18-year-old’s commitment is still connected to the family unit.

Impact of Living with Parents

There is a positive impact for an 18-year-old living with a parent. This is a time of development and growth. By the parents providing emotional and economic support, the 18-year-old has time to reach full adulthood cognitively, financially, and emotionally.

Should You Live with Your Parents When You’re 21

Twenty-one-year-olds should live with their parents. A 21-year-old has not had enough time as an adult to establish themselves and may still be in school or just entering the workforce. There is also a lack of emotional and intellectual maturity because their brains are still developing.

The legal age to drink alcohol is 21. This often kicks off a period of excess and inappropriate behavior. The need for a parent to provide stability is important. A 21-year-old relies on their parent for guidance.

Cognitive and Emotional Maturity

A 21-year-old cannot yet fully plan or organize their behavior. This is because their prefrontal cortex has not reached full development. They also will have a difficult time inhibiting impulses. This is sometimes aggravated but the newly introduced alcohol consumption.

Most 21-year-olds have come into their own, maturity-wise. They have completely entered adulthood from a legal perspective and are going to school or in the workforce. Unfortunately, some are still not mature from an emotional, cognitive aspect. Their brains are still developing. As a result, they are learning their way and, in many ways, have teenager tendencies. Most 21-year-olds are somewhat emotionally dependent on their parents.

Independent Lifestyle Required

Many 21-year-olds are not capable of running a household or planning their life goals. Moreover, because most 21-year-olds are still in school, they are not yet working toward independence.  But they are emerging adults. Twenty-one-year-olds are participating in activities, finishing up school, and looking outside the parental circle.

Career and Financial Stability

For the majority of 21-year-olds, a career has not yet been established. Many are finishing school or working in low-paying entry-level jobs. They just haven’t had time to begin a career path or establish a steady income. Twenty-one-year-olds are still financially dependent on their parents. But they are members of generation Z. This is a more educated generation than the millennials. Gen Zers have the potential for better economic security. They just need a little time.

Necessary Relationship Stability

Friends are important, but they don’t usurp the family unit. Most 21-year-olds are not in a committed romantic relationship. Twenty-one-year-olds are concentrating on finishing school and transitioning into the next phase. So the one stable relationship that exists is with the parents.

Impact of Living with Parents 

The impact of a 21-year-old living with their parents is positive. This is the true time of transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Parents lend the stability and emotional support needed to usher in this emergence. For the 21-year-old, there isn’t the stress of trying to financially support themselves. They are free to finish school or plan what their first job goal will be. This results in a happy and emotionally stable adult.

Should You Live with Your Parents When You’re 25

A 25-year-old should live with their parents. A 25-year-old is just starting to establish a career. Having the homelife security parents can provide helps a young adult develop life goals and financial goals. It becomes a jumping-off point into true adulthood.

Often student loans are pouring in, and this puts a financial strain on the 25-year-old. And although a young adult has probably been in the workforce for a couple of years, they may be in an entry-level position. Living at home allows time to save money so that when the move is made, it will be a successful one.

Cognitive and Emotional Maturity

A 25-year-old’s brain has just become fully developed. The growth of the prefrontal cortex, which controls impulse control and organizes and plans behavior, is complete. It is technically at full maturity. But, the 25-year-old may have some emotional growing yet to do. After all, the brain has just recently finished developing in theory, although not all humans grow at the same rate.

The twenties are a tumultuous time for many adults. It’s a time of change and learning. Finding a place in society as an adult is a challenge for many.

Independent Lifestyle Required

Twenty-five is the age when a plan for an independent lifestyle should be developed and implemented. Most 25-year-olds are finished with school and ready to enter the workforce. Others have been in the workforce for a few years. It is time to start pulling away from the parent and build an independent life.

Career and Financial Stability

Most 25-year-olds are either sending their resumes out or starting their first full-time job. They’re planning careers, but they don’t have one yet. Those who did have careers were the victims of the pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil.  This interrupted many 25-year-olds’ career growth.

Necessary Relationship Stability

Stable relationships are developing that are outside the family. Dating, either casually or seriously, is becoming the norm. Many 25-year-olds are either contemplating or planning marriage.

Impact of Living with Parents

There is a positive impact when it comes to living with parents. With those 25-year-olds who are burdened with student loans or new careers, the stress of day-to-day living is diminished. A parent’s home offers a safety net both economically and emotionally while the young adult grasps what living as an adult means.  

Should You Live with Your Parents When You’re 30

Thirty-year-olds should not be living with their parents. At this stage, a career should be established, and self-reliance obtained. In 2020 almost 80 percent of 30-year-olds did not live with their parents. Most 30-year-olds are in stable relationships and don’t rely on their parents for emotional stability.

Although most 30-year-olds are not living at home, there’s no shame to those who do. Almost 20 percent live in their parent’s house. Some of these adult children have children. This has created the need to move back with their parents.

Those 30-year-olds that do live at home should contribute to their parents’ household. This can be done either financially or through services.

Cognitive and Emotional Maturity

A 30-year-old is both cognitively and emotionally at the age where living independently from parents is achievable.

Independent Lifestyle Required

At this stage, a 30-year-old has emerged as an adult and no longer needs or should be fostered by a parent. They are capable of running a household and performing day-to-day tasks that contribute to an independent lifestyle.

Career and Financial Stability

Millennials tend to change jobs frequently. They are the job-hopping generation. This is often due to the lack of engagement they have with their jobs. Fifty-five percent of millennials are not engaged with their jobs and 60 percent are open to new opportunities. Climbing up the ladder isn’t done through promotion; it’s accomplished through changing employment.

This promotes a lack of long-term stability within the workforce. It also contributes to a vulnerability when there is an economic downturn. The 30-year-old hasn’t established seniority.

Necessary Relationship Stability  

With some exceptions, relationships outside the parental home are more stable at this point. Although many millennials haven’t married yet, it is often in the plans. But for those that were married in their early 20s, this is the age where divorce is likely to happen. The average age for a first-time divorce is 30. This often motivates or necessitates the move back home, especially if there are young children.

Impact of Living with Parents

There’s a mix of a positive or negative impact on living with parents at age 30. If the 30-year-old has just gone through a divorce, the parents’ home may be a much-needed refuge. This is especially the case if there are children involved; help with childcare may be necessary. In this case, it’s a positive impact.

But if there aren’t extenuating circumstances, the parents are probably enabling dependency on the part of the 30-year-old, and there could be a negative consequence. 

Should You Live with Your Parents When You’re 35

A 35-year-old should not live with their parents. There’s an expectation of self-sufficiency. A career should be going strong with an average salary of $59,000. Student loans are almost paid off. The financial need is no longer applicable. By 35, over 50 percent have been first-time home buyers.

Although the financial need may not exist, a desire for emotional support may still be required. Many 35-year-olds are going through divorce or separation. A parent’s home may start as a temporary refuge but later become permanent.

Cognitive and Emotional Maturity

From a cognitive perspective, there is no reason that a 35-year-old should be living with their parents. At this stage, they are mature enough to handle themselves properly in society.

Independent Lifestyle Required

A 35-year-old is capable of a lifestyle separate from their parents. They are fully functioning and should be living on their own. Most are first-time home buyers.

Career and Financial Stability

The job hopping is still somewhat of a factor. At this stage, the average 35-year-old has had 11 different jobs in their career. They, however, are earning a steady income that has allowed them to purchase their first home. On the flip side, this group of adults is most likely to have high debt. They are paying:

  • Student loans
  • Mortgages
  • Credit card charges

But they no longer need to rely on parents for financial support.

Necessary Relationship Stability

The majority of 35-year-olds are married. They also have at least one child. And although friends are important, family is the priority. They usually have an adult or friend-like relationship with their parents.

Impact of Living with Parents

If the 35-year-old has moved in with a parent to save money for a home, there is a positive impact from living with their parents. This is also true if a catastrophic event has happened in the 35-year-old’s life and they are forced to move back to their parents.

But someone who has never left and is still dependent on their parents can be psychologically harmed. The 35-year-old has not pictured themselves as an independent adult. This can lead to depressive symptoms since they have failed to completely emerge from adolescence.  

Should You Live with Your Parents When You’re 40

Forty-year-olds should only live with their parents if they are taking care of an aging parent. For example, a 40-year-old may have a baby boomer parent who needs attention. If this situation doesn’t exist, a 40-year-old should not live with their parents.

The population is aging, and many adult children find themselves in the caregiver position with their parents. This is the only exception to living with your parents at 40.

A 40-year-old should be well established. At this point, there should be a financial retirement plan. Most 40-year-olds have a $60,000 salary and own a home. Someone living with their parents may need emotional support.

Cognitive and Emotional Security

At this stage, the brain has fully developed and has been fully developed for the last 15 years. Therefore, from an emotional perspective, the 40-year-old is mature and capable of processing emotions correctly.

Independent Lifestyle Required

A 40-year-old is completely capable of running a home. They are also capable of organizing a day. This includes the workday and social activities. Most have purchased homes.

Career and Financial Stability

Job hopping has ceased, and the majority of 40-year-olds have established a career. Most have paid off their student loans and are saving for retirement.

Necessary Relationship Stability

Although some have divorced at this stage, marriage and children are part of many 40-year-olds’ lives. The family is the priority. Relationships with older parents have developed into friendships. And friends outside the family are important but not the priority. The 40-year-old is stable.

Impact of Living with Parents

A 40-year-old who has never moved out of the house and is financially or emotionally dependent on their parent, has harmed both themself and the parent. Neither has grown into an adult relationship. The parent child dichotomy is still in effect. This leads to the adult child exhibiting depressive symptoms and therefore is a negative impact.

However, if the 40-year-old is moving back because of a catastrophic event or hardship, there might be a justification if it’s temporary. A permanent circumstance is if the 40-year-old moves into the parental home to care for an infirmed parent. This would result in a positive impact for all involved.

Living with Your Parent as an Adult

There are many reasons when living with a parent might be necessary. But at various stages, the need to live with parents changes. The 18-25-year-old adult range still has a need both economically and emotionally. But after age 25, adults should be able to maintain an independent life away from mom and dad.

Anne Johnson

Anne is both a writer and a Nana. She attended University of Akron and went on to have a career in television sales. She now writes and promotes the multigenerational lifestyle. Currently she resides in South Carolina with her husband, two cats, a horse and fabulous grands.

Recent Posts