I moved home after graduating from college. Actress Chloë Sevigny, ("Muse Me No More") returned home after making a few movies, which helps subvert the notion that twenty-somethings move back just because they can't afford to pay rent. These days there's so little stigma attached to "boomeranging" that it can feel like a rite of passage. And, as with any return to native soil, there are certain rules and privileges that accompany repatriation. (The most exercised option is perhaps the right not to come home on any given night.) But stay-at-home-kids also have new responsibilities: They may function as sounding board, friend or confidante to Mom or Dad. It is this largely unexamined relationship between parent and grown child that Pamela Paul spotlights in "The PermaParent Trap." Could today's parents, many of them Baby Boomers, actually set the stage for homecoming by cultivating a friendly, peer-like rapport with kids from the the dawn of their parental lives? This fraternal bond makes home a more attractive place for grown kids to land, and having kids around may serve as a psychic buffer for aging parents.
Nascent trends (not to mention neologisms) can be sticky. Are "PermaParents" only Baby Boomers? What about parents who provide financial support to please kids who want to live on their own? The phenomenon is murkier still because the very concept of adulthood is hard to define. A recent poll found that most Americans expect youths to be out of the house by age 21 but don't consider them grown-up until age 26. Adulthood, it seems, is a series of milestones that include completing an education and being financially independent. The survey found that leaving home is now considered the first marker on that journey. But given the rate at which twenty-somethings now delay living on their own, that may not hold true much longer.