Thanks to the latest Pew research, we know what we already knew: More adult children than ever before in the past 40 years are living with their parents. They can't find jobs, continue to take college courses ad infinitum, and are delaying marriage in record numbers -- all from the sanctuary of their childhood bedrooms.
Pew pins the inability of 36 percent of Millennials (ages 18 to 31) to launch into adulthood on the lingering jobless recovery and the fact that living at home while going to college has become a more affordable way of getting a higher education.
We attribute it to something else too: Some of us, as parents, kind of like having them around and to help keep them there, we provide certain amenities they wouldn't receive if out living on their own. Are you guilty of providing:
* Free laundry services.
Seriously, have you ever spent time in a public laundromat? The machines are dirty, take two hours to dry a towel and you can't leave for fear that someone will steal your undies. Plus not every laundromat even has free WiFi, if you can imagine such primitive conditions. I know one mom who not only does the washing, she folds and puts items away neatly as well.
* Food cooked to order.
Sure we tell our friends how annoyed we are with the adult son who won't lift a finger and still leaves his dirty dinner plate on the countertop for the ants instead of actually washing it. But how many of us are just secretly thrilled that he still came home for dinner? Admit it, you make his favorite foods, don't you?
* Ascribing to 'don't ask, don't tell.'
He may be sleeping under his Little League Championship Banner from 1988, but that boy is a man. When he doesn't come home at night, we may worry that he is dead in a ditch somewhere, but we know better than to start calling his girlfriend. Yes, a text saying "staying at Britty's" is too much to ask -- so we don't.
* Let his room be his castle.
How many of us gave up cleaning under their beds for fear of what might bite us? Not even Google Glass will get us to look through those closed doors.
* Using this excuse: We like having a live-in dog sitter when we go away.
This assumes, of course, that our college daughters can break away from the books (remove headphones, stop checking texts) long enough to walk the dog.
Bottom line: Boomerang kids -- or those who don't actually ever leave -- are there for many reasons. And those reasons, in many cases, have less to do with the economy than with us.
Earlier on HuffPost50:
1. Discuss Household Expectations
"Discuss the expectation of parents and kids in terms of how you behave at home and what responsibilities they have," said Katherine Newman, dean of the school of arts and sciences at Johns Hopkins University and author of <em>The Accordian Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents and the Private Toll of Global Competition</em>. "It's better to talk these things over rather than be silent and grinding your teeth behind closed doors." Groceries, cooking, laundry and tidiness can all be areas of conflict, so lay down some ground rules. <em>Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/syobosyobo/" target="_hplink">jim212jim</a></em>
2. Require Goals With Specific Time Frames
"Instead of saying, 'I don't see you applying for jobs and this can't go on forever,' talk about what you expect," Newman said. Discuss goals for hours per day that will be spent networking and searching for jobs or choosing and applying to graduate schools.
3. Knock Before Entering
While you're talking about autonomy, also lay down some ground rules for privacy. The most obvious: Knock before entering. <em>Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickymontalvo/" target="_hplink">ricky.montalvo</a></em>
4. Set Rules For Autonomy
Boomerang kids are young adults who have typically become accustomed to keeping their own schedules without answering to anyone. That can rattle parents who want more accountability, or just a little courtesy. It's fair to ask an adult child to text you if they are going out rather than coming home for dinner. While it may be fine for them to keep their own hours, it's not fair to come home late and disturb the sleeping occupants of the house who have to work in the morning. <em>Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/simonwaters/" target="_hplink">srwsrwuk</a></em>
5. Be Patient
If young adults are doing everything they can to move toward autonomy, parents should be patient and recognize there are larger economic forces at work. Rather than having them pay rent, focus on steps toward independence -- such as eliminating any revolving debt and paying student loans on time.