A New Look at Young Adults Living Back Home

Explanations and solutions beyond “Stop being lazy!”

Posted Sep 25, 2020

Ismail Abdurrasyid, iconscout digital license
Source: Ismail Abdurrasyid, iconscout digital license

People in their 20s who are back living with parents aren't necessarily lazy. 

The COVID-damaged economy atop structural changes make many, even college graduates, rationally choose to wait until the job market improves, perhaps taking courses in the meantime. It may be rational to expect an elongated timeline for entering into fully independent adulthood.

That said, some good jobs are out there and a case can be made for taking even low-level work so you can get some structure, momentum, and at least some money.

Might one or more of the following help you or someone you care about to take steps forward?

Physical health. Occasionally, a physical problem—natural or because of substance abuse—demotivates. Is that operative in your situation? For example, to help get a full night's sleep, do you have a regular bedtime, a pre-bedtime ritual, the bedroom cool, and to turn off your mind, count sheep or whatever?

If you suspect an unexplained physical problem, perhaps it’s time for an exam by your physician or nurse practitioner.  

Mental health. Are any of these operative?

  • Is your self-esteem irrationally low? That is, would a wise, objective person say you are potentially employable?  
  • Might your inertia stem from clinical depression and/or anxiety?
  • Some would-be job seekers are paralyzed by having too many choices and failing to realize that, instead of additional rumination, it may be wiser to choose something and then adjust or change if needed.
  • There’s the issue of responsibility vs. freedom. It may be easier to crave freedom than to be responsible. A silver lining in young adults living at home is that it's an opportunity to renegotiate their role with their parent(s.): What responsibilities and freedoms are appropriate? Executed well, the extended live-at-home stint can be a useful step toward becoming independent. And who knows, maybe you could use some more time under your parent's watchful eye.

In such situations, you may be helped by journaling, talking with a friend, or by a brief course of cognitive-behavioral therapy, perhaps even augmented with medication.

Relationships. Are your friends contributing to your inertia? Should you spend more time with diligent people. and if you don’t know enough, perhaps that’s another reason to take a course. Even if it's online, it provides a chance to meet responsible and even career-door-opening people.

Practical options. So, in your situation would it be wiser to:

  • Take a break. Many new graduates spend a few months to, for example, travel or pursue a recreational pursuit.
  • Get more education or training
  • Take an easy part-time job to build confidence and skills, for example, in customer relations, even if the job isn't much of a career launcher.
  • Aim for something big, whether entrepreneurial or cause-driven, for example, join the Peace Corps?

The takeaway

A number of my clients are concerned that they or a young adult they care about aren't doing anything to launch their career. Perhaps one or more of this post's ideas can help you move forward or even accept that for now, a break is indeed appropriate.

I extemporize on this topic on YouTube.