A quarter of young British adults now live with their parents, more than at any time since records began in 1966.
According to a new study by the London School of Economics, adult children who return to the family home after a period away – often at university – cause a significant decline in their parents’ well-being. While the study acknowledged that these “boomerang” children can be a source of emotional and practical support for parents, it found that the quality of life of the parents studied fell by an average of 0.8 points on the researchers’ scale when their kids moved back in – an effect similar to developing an age-related disability.
It’s natural that people have mixed feelings about boomerang children, but it’s not just about parents wanting a spare bedroom again, or more time for new pastimes. Putting up a grown child also “feels at some deep level like a failure for all concerned”, even if the reasons for it – mainly insecure employment and the cost of housing – are beyond their control. Meanwhile, the children may feel they have worked hard through school and university only to find themselves back where they started. The sense of injustice among the young is powerful, and that’s not a healthy situation. (adapted from an article in The Week and The Times, March 2018)
We bring them up to make friends, to be independent, to stand on their own feet, to have the confidence to apply for, get and successfully keep a job. We hope we have instilled into them a sense of honesty and integrity, a sense of humour, a caring attitude towards the more vulnerable in society, social ease, and enough mathematics to manage their own financial affairs. We have applied some of the principles of Epicurus, although mostly we are unaware of the fact. We have really tried. And we have failed.
There is something desperately wrong with this scenario, this system. Maybe socialism, the nanny State, doesn’t work and can’t be afforded, but nor can this. We can no longer afford the grave gap between rich and poor, the stagnant wages, the lack of housing, the gig economy, the insecurity and the activities of a now-corrupt capitalism that buys politicians. We may not personally see it collapse, but collapse it will, because it is not acting for the greater good, but for a tiny minority. Collapse is what happens to deeply unfair cultures. Read your history.