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Many Empty Nesters Living in Full Houses

moving . / Credit: Moving Home Image via Shutterstock

Parents dreaming about having an empty nest may have their dreams delayed. New research revealed that young adults are having a harder time starting their lives as a result of changing social, economic and cultural forces.

Parents, however, have mixed feelings about having their children move back home. Their feelings range from being happy to help their children to being frustrated at their situation.   

"We mostly found very positive feelings about adults helping their children in the emerging adulthood stage of life, from around ages 18 to 30," said Karen Hooker, director of the Oregon State University Center for Healthy Aging Research.

Parents are more accepting of helping their children to start their lives because they understand that it is harder today to get started out in life. Additionally, many parents say they do not expect their children to be independent in their early 20s anymore. In particular, parents are more accepting of their children moving home because of the challenges created by the recession of 2008, which include increased unemployment, a greater demand for higher education and stock market losses.

Children, however, do not share the same predominately positive feelings about caring for their parents going forward, researchers found. They feel that taking care of aging parents is not something that most middle-age adults anticipate. However, as life expectancies continue to grow, that prospect is becoming more of a reality. As a result, young adults say they are having a hard time making firm plans about their lives with prospects of caring for their parents looming overhead. 

"Feelings about helping parents weren't so much negative as just filled with more angst and uncertainty," Hooker said. "As a society we still don’t socialize people to expect to be taking on a parent-caring role, even though most of us will at some point in our lives. The average middle-aged couple has more parents than children."

The research was based on the responses of six focus groups and was published in the Journal of Aging Studies. 

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