Written by Elyse Warner1
Families continue to play an important role in the lives of young adults, who often balance challenging transitions in life, relationships and work. The parental home in particular appears to act as a supportive base, not only through co-residence and material assistance but also through the availability of parents for advice and guidance.
With young adults living in the parental home for longer periods, including returning home after an absence, it becomes important to uncover how families experience this transition. However, most of the research into home returning has relied on data from the 1980s and 1990s to identify common reasons for the move home. Previous research has also focused on predicting the factors associated with a young adult’s likelihood of returning and the possibility parents will be satisfied with the arrangement.
A current study at Deakin University aims to explore in more detail how Australian families experience the return of a young adult to the parental home after they have previously moved out. Interviews are being undertaken with parents and young adults aged 18 to 35 who share the family home after a return.
To date, 10 families have taken part in the study. This includes 10 young adults, aged 22 to 29, and at least one of their parents. Preliminary findings suggest that young adults return home in response to challenging circumstances. For example, the young adults interviewed returned due to job loss, relationship breakdown, emotional burnouts and ending of other long-term commitments.
The parents interviewed were aware that their children were experiencing changes in their circumstances and therefore recognised that moving home was going to be the “most sensible” option. Parents were quite accepting of their children’s return home and were willing to make adjustments, particularly because they understood it to be a relatively short-term arrangement.
The parents and young adults all admitted that they got along well with each other, which meant they were quite capable of living together as they had done before the young adults had left home. The families also identified a range of strategies that enabled the living arrangement to work for them. These included maintaining open channels of communication, being considerate and willing to negotiate, giving each other space and maintaining interests that meant they had time outside the home.
Exploring families’ experiences of home returning in this way has offered greater insight into this transition. However, because we are looking to obtain a range of perspectives, we are still interested in hearing from families where parent(s) and young adults currently share a household as a result of the young adult’s return home.
For more information or to register your interest in taking part in this study, please contact Elyse Warner on (03) 92517215 or email@example.com.
1. Elyse Warner is a PhD Candidate at Deakin University, and presented this research at the Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference in July 2012.