The Strangers in our Homes: When Our Adult Children Move Home

Say what you will about our young adults.

Call them entitled, lazy, uninspired.

Call them the “participation ribbon” generation.

Just don’t say it in my house.

A majority of young adults now live with their parents. (Twenty20 @laurie_marks)

Before the pandemic, I may have agreed with you. I heard all the tales about college students who had their parents call their professors when a grade seemed unfair, and even stories about parents of 20-somethings who accompanied their kids to job interviews, then followed up with
the company when (for some strange reason) their child didn’t get the position.

While these tales may seem exaggerated, the sentiment there rang true. And inside, we knew it: we were at fault because of the culture in which we raised them.

A majority of young adults now live with their parents

Then came 2020, and young adults everywhere moved home. To their childhood bedrooms. The game changed.

In my house, the 20-somethings became helpful without cajoling. They emptied the dishwasher and did the recycling. I was thrilled to make the dinners and do the laundry. It felt like a gift to have everyone under my roof at once.

But it was very different this time.

Since they graduated college, each time they had come home had been a vacation. We watched Harry Potter marathons over holiday break. We slipped out for spontaneous junk-food fixes Thanksgiving weekend.

Now, they sit and stare at their laptops and are on the phone non-stop.

They are working.

All the time.

Let’s take the dog for a walk, it’s beautiful out.

No, I’m working.

Can you go with me to tennis clinic this evening?

I have a late call..

Let’s binge-watch This is Us.

Mom, stop.

Okay, I get it. I’m disappointed you can’t play…because having you here feels special and celebratory. It feels strange that you are home and we are not in adventure mode. So while I’m not enjoying daytime escapades with you at whim, there’s something I have enjoyed learning by observing you in action:

I am very proud of you.

I’m proud of the way you hunker down amid the distractions of a busy house.

I’m amazed that even with your boyfriend here for over a month you (and he) both stick to your makeshift home offices and barely communicate throughout the day.

I’m impressed that you go to bed at a reasonable hour so that you can be alert for your morning call.

I am completely blown away at the professional way you talk to your clients and interact with your superiors. You are valued by the people you work with. Your job is extremely demanding, and you never complain about it, you actually thrive on it.

I realize that I don’t personally know this side of you. This responsible young adult. The last time you worked at my kitchen table you were texting your friends about prom and explaining to me why you couldn’t finish your math homework.

Since you and your siblings had gone to college, I had gotten used to a lot of alone time, writing out of my home office with just the dog for company.

I love this new routine. That you are here to greet me when I come down in the morning. Having you here is temporary, I know that. It is the bright side of an awful time. A silver lining for so many parents who welcome a big chunk of unexpected quality time with their adult children. The dinners together, evening talks, weekend drives. This is what I will miss when the pandemic ends.

This grown-up professional young woman is a stranger to me.

I’m thrilled to meet her and see her in action. I want to know more about this side of her. I want to be her friend.

But I still wish she would take an ice cream break with me.

You Might Also Want to Read:

I’m Glad My Older Kids Come to Me First for Help

About Melanie Wilson

Melanie Wilson teaches women entrepreneurs how to write better through a series of Business Writing Bootcamps. She runs a local chapter of a women in business empowerment group, covers the education beat for a local online newspaper and does the marketing for a local professional theatre company. She lives in Summit, NJ and is watching her children slowly leave the nest.

Read more posts by Melanie

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.