How do parents feel when their adult children return home to live?

New research has found that parents experience ‘temporary depression’ when an adult child returns home but recover their levels of wellbeing in the subsequent year.

Research carried out by Marco Tosi, from Collegio Carlo Alberto in Italy, looked at what happened to parents when adult children returned to live with them. The research used eight Waves of Understanding Society (2009–2017) to look at the effects of ‘boomerang kids’. Tosi was particularly interested in the longer-term effect of children returning to their parental home and whether this was impacted by the reasons for return.

Key findings

• The negative effect of returning home on parental wellbeing is amplified if the adult child is having financial difficulties.
• Unemployed and low-income children returning home are associated with larger increases in parents’ symptoms of depression.
• After a short-term decline in their wellbeing, parents are able to adapt to boomerang moves and accustom themselves to the new family dynamics.

The results also show that when a child’s return was accompanied by unemployment, the parents did not recover completely in the years after the event, suggesting that these moves may have more persistent and detrimental effects on parents’ lives.

The research also indicates that returning to the parental home is a period of adjustment for parents. Although boomerang moves can be stressful events, parents are able to adapt to changes in living arrangements and quickly recover to previous levels of wellbeing.

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