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Debating when to move out of Mami and Papi’s house

Do you think there is an “appropriate” age to move out of the house?  Should there be? Should the age be different if you’re female or male? These are the things we ponder in our bicultural home.

When my French husband found out that the standard practice in many Latin American countries is for kids to stay home until they get married, he couldn’t believe that meant some people lived at home until they were in their early to mid 30s (or later.)

I, of course, don’t really find this shocking. I lived at home while I was in college and I probably would have lived at home until I got married had I not moved to Europe.

This has led to some interesting discussions in our home about when is the right time to move out.

Living at home well into adulthood is not only a Hispanic phenomenon. Recently, I saw a Humans of New York photo where a father appeared with his son,  joking ” You Americans cut ’em off when they’re 18 […] They’re ours until they’re married.”

The Dad was Greek. Indeed, living at home until you’re married, or into adulthood, is the norm for many cultures.

Today, statistics show that more and more adult children are moving back into the nest with their parents, especially Millennials. According to Pew Center data, 26.1 million Millennials live with their parents.

These individuals are not living at home entirely by choice; the economy is partly to blame. Fewer jobs and higher unemployment mean that young people are having a hard time finding work that will allow them to be financial independent, especially in a city like New York, where rents are ridiculous.

But I also think there has been a cultural shift. In 1993, the Pew Center asked “When does adulthood begin?” 80 percent of parents said at 22 or younger. When asked the same question in 2011, only 67 percent of parents believed that.  People are living longer; maybe leaving the nest at a later age is just a normal evolution.

Decades ago, many people married out of college and started families young. Nowadays, the median marriage age is 27 for women and 29 for men. Today, more and more people are staying in school longer and getting more graduate degrees. So “adulthood” (marriage, children, mortgages) starts later.

I wonder, though, is it really that bad if kids don’t move out when they’re 18 or as soon as they finish college? What if they can save on rent to buy an apartment or contribute to a Roth IRA account? (God only knows if Social Security will be around!)

So when will Enzo be kicked out of the nest? We talk about this from time to time. Hubby believes that if he’s self-sufficient, then it’s time to move out: “If I have given him an education, if he is healthy and has a career, then he should be independent.”

What do I say? Well, I definitely want Enzo to be a responsible adult, and I don’t plan to do his laundry when he’s a grown man. But, I do believe that if I can help him a bit longer into adulthood, that is ok.

I don’t think helping adult children is a problem – until it is abusive. By abusive I mean kids that take advantage of their parents’ kindness, and just assume that parents have to provide for them—because, really, they don’t, not legally anyway. Parents who help their children out do so out of love, and their kindness should be acknowledged.  Young adults that live at home should not be giving their parents more work; they should be contributing in some way (chore, food, etc.).

Most importantly, children  – no matter what age -should be grateful. It’s important to remember that our parents have done their job, and the rest is just icing on the cake.

NBC Latino contributor Diana Limongi

Diana Limongi-Gabriele works hard juggling a full-time job, motherhood, family, grad school and her blog, LadydeeLG, where she writes about issues she is passionate about including teaching her son Spanish, motherhood, parenting, Latino issues, good quality food and women’s issues. Diana is a regular contributor for Mamiverse. She has a MA in Migration Studies, and is pursuing an MPA in Nonprofit Management. Her most important job however, is being mommy to Enzo, a French/Hispanic/American (one day trilingual) 2-year-old boy. You can connect with her via Twitter, @dianalimongi or on Facebook.

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