Mental Health Blog

Millennials Become Adults... or Do They?

Posted by Nancy Hennings on

The economic times weighs in heavily in the delayed launching of young adults from the family home. The Millennial generation (born between 1982 and 2004) came of age and is coming of age in a time of economic uncertainty. According to Neil Howe, in, this generation is likely to be affected by the Great Recession for many years and many have not yet plugged into secure careers as a result. In fact, those under 30 are delaying marriage, births, car purchases, and home purchases. With the shaky job market, young adults are often in pursuit of higher degrees. The Millennial generation is the most educated generation in history. However, with this education often comes a large educational debt, which further decreases usable income and may not translate into commensurate earning power. Hence, this generation is living at home longer and/or returning to their family home to delay taking on the expense of independent living and/or to save for the future.  The delayed launch of the Millennial generation is complex and the following are just some ideas that may lend to this phenomenon.


Parents of Millennials:
  • Often wanted fewer children (the birth rate is currently less than 2 children per couple) to provide “more” for them.
  • Produced adult children used to “more”: expensive necessities such as cell phone data plans, big screen TVs, online gaming plans, household WiFi, entertainment streaming services, fully paid college education, car/medical insurance, etc. It is hard for one just starting out to replicate this lifestyle on entry-level wages.
  • With fewer children, have more time to micromanage with a greater focus and investment in their child’s success. This can leave young adults with less independent decision making skills and more pressure to be stellar achievers.
  • Have an expectation that children will get a Bachelor Degree or more.
  • Have developed deeper bonds with children and both parents and adult children enjoy continued closeness to each other which makes delayed launching less of a relational stressor.
  • Can often afford with time and money to continue to pay for adult children’s expenses and do supportive chores for their adult children.


As for Millennials:
  • There is less push to move from home to make way for younger siblings needing space and resources when families are small.
  • Home provides relative privacy—not sharing a room with multiple siblings decreases the incentive to move into one’s own space for privacy and less family intrusion.
  • Moving away from home is more costly—paying for cell phone data plans, internet, WiFi, etc. are expenses that emerging young adults in the past did not have and yet feel like necessities.
  • College graduation is often taking a 5th year or more since the reduction of available classes at state universities/colleges, delaying entry into work/careers.
  • They are often saddled with large education debt when parents do not

pay for college and living at home can provide more resources available for paying down debt.

  • There has been much pressure on Millennials from parents/educators/themselves to perform at peak levels on many fronts, leading to early burnout before even entering the competitive professional/career environments.


This is just a sampling of influencers on the delayed launching of young adults. This begs the question, how does one manage this societal trend? One idea I will put forth is when adult children stay in their nuclear family home, that they have an “interdependent” relationship with the family household, not a “dependent” one. Interdependence would mean that all adult members of the household are contributing with financial support, relational respect and daily chores of living, so that the standard of living is increased for all the members. The litmus test that this is happening is when the adult child moves to their independent abode (or is anticipating a move), the nuclear household feels (or projects) a loss financially, relationally and in the chores of daily living.


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