lifestyle

Gen Ys never really leave home.

Us, dependent? No. 

Last week, my 31-year-old friend Matilda* declared she and her boyfriend were moving in with her parents to save money.

“But, do you think it’s too loser-y?” she asked me.

My response: “No, do it. Maybe just don’t tell anyone you live with your folks…”

Hey roomies!

She and her partner both work full-time and make decent money, but are finding it hard to save up enough for a deposit on a first home (without, you know, giving up the overseas holidays and regular wining and dining).

Her younger sister and her respective boyfriend also recently moved back to family headquarters for the same reason.

“It’s not where I thought I’d be at 31,” my friend says.

“Neither of us are psyched about moving home – but you can’t argue with the numbers. The practicality is that we will save a lot in a year, which will allow us to get ahead.”

“I feel like I’m very lucky that my parents are pretty chilled out and we have a really good relationship, so it’s something we are all comfortable with.”

Matilda’s parents – who are retired and spent the last few years as empty nesters – will soon find their nest brimming with six adults, but they don’t mind.

“We’re more than happy to help,” Matilda’s mum says.

“We feel like we’re in a privileged position and if we can help our kids get ahead financially, we want to. We don’t see it as a burden, we enjoy having our kids under the same roof again. Now they’re older, we have a different relationship with them – it’s more like we are friends.”

It seems the days of parents chucking their kid’s belongings out of the house as soon as they hit 18 to ‘help them on their journey to adulthood’ are long gone.

This was on my Facebook news feed this week from a Gen Y friend. Go, Papa.

Another friend of mine is 31 and lives rent-free with her parents, having NEVER moved out of home. Other friends have spent years living it up overseas and, upon returning as 30-somethings, have moved in with their parents after blowing all their cash at pubs across Europe and North America.

And it’s not just free accommodation they’re lapping up.

A pregnant friend’s mum is planning on relocating interstate for six months (and renting her own apartment) when the baby is born so she can help her out with cooking, cleaning and caring for the kid.

And I’m not exempt from this. I willingly accepted hand-outs offered by my parents and in-laws to pay for our wedding (after all, those things are bloody expensive – who can afford that alone?)

According to US studies, most young adults are receiving help from their folks – with parents forking out an average of $38,000 on each child aged between 18 and 34 (about $2,200 a year for education, housing, food or cash), and more in well-off families. They are also giving an average of 367 hours of help to their grown children each year.

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Australian census statistics show the average Australian household size of 2.6 people actually increased slightly in recent years, bucking the trend of decreasing over the past century, due to adult kids staying at home longer, or returning home for a period.

With rising house prices (Sydney’s median is now $850,000), our tendency to travel the world, and the increasing amount of time young adults spend at university, it’s hardly surprising we’re sponging off the olds.

But are we too dependent on our parents for accommodation, money, help with practical tasks, company and life advice? Or is all that help just parents doing their job – no matter how old their offspring are?

And with all these handouts and handholding, will we ever be able to stand on our own two feet?

Psychologist Dr Marie Yap, from Monash University, told Mamamia the relationship that has been established over time between the parents and child is the most important factor.

“It’s a challenge for parents to know how much to let go, and when, as their kids are going through the teenage years,” Dr Yap said.

She said teens often get frustrated with parents who don’t give them independence and act out, but eventually the two sides reach a happy medium.

“But for some families, it doesn’t quite end that way, and kids might say, ‘Well, if you really want to do everything for me, then that’s not actually too bad’. If that’s the kind of dynamic that develops over the teenage years, then it can just continue on to early adulthood.”

Dr Yap said Gen Y’s reliance on their parents’ help wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it depends on the underlying reasons for it.

“If parents are being overly protective and not allowing appropriate autonomy at any incremental level, instead of growing and encouraging independence and the development of life skills in the child as they grow older, those are the same factors that contribute to a young person’s risk of developing mental health problems, like depression and anxiety,” she said.

But, unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all manual to perfect parenting, she points out.

“It is a very real challenge for parents to know the right time and how much – and to add to that challenge is that every child is different,” Dr Yap said.

“Parents of two or three kids will go through a very different experience with every one of them. It’s just the challenge of parenting per se.”

Sounds like a nightmare. Now, mum, where are my freshly cleaned clothes?

*Names changed to avoid Gen Y judgement

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