Young Folks at Home

The "permaparent" phenomenon of grown children who return home.

By Kaja Perina, published on September 1, 2003 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

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.

My own stint at home lasted a year. My parents are still trying to
persuade me to move back.