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FIRST-PERSON: Homebound millennials

DALLAS (BP) — Three in 10 millennials, young adults ages 18-34, are still living with their parents, according to a new study of U.S. Census data.

The report is called “Young Adults: Then and Now.” It pulls together census numbers showing that, since 1980, the slice of the population in this age group who still lived with their parents hovered around 22 to 24 percent. But between 2009 and 2013 the percentage of millennials living at home climbed to 30.3 percent.

This is widely seen as a negative trend and is blamed on the slow recovery from the recession that began in 2008. I shared this information with the students in an ESL conversation class I help teach. The students are from India and Turkey. They understood the economic hit this demographic group is taking. But this particular effect of it would not be of such concern in their countries. In Turkey, girls don’t leave their parents’ home until they marry. In India, young people live with parents even after marriage at which point the young couple lives with the husband’s family.

This recovery has been rough on American millennials. Many finished college and headed into unemployment or underemployment. Compounding the problem, older workers and others who, in a better economy, might have left their jobs for new opportunities, making room for millennials, have been staying put, opting for the security of the jobs they have.

Millennials & their parents

In our society, where independence is valued, this situation is challenging for both young people and for parents.

Could there be a silver lining? Perhaps, family togetherness?

There’s another new study out. It comes from the Family Research Council’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) which recently released its annual “Index of Family Belonging and Rejection.” Combing through U.S. Census data, MARRI found that, overall, 46 percent of 15- to 17-year-olds, the youngest millennials, grew up in intact married families. MARRI made note of the positive impact of the intact family — especially those who attend worship regularly — on so many outcomes for kids. And certainly good outcomes for teens are possible in single-parent homes, especially where faith is taught and lived out.

So, if you’re millennial, whether in your 20s, 30s or late teens, if your job situation keeps you at home longer, take advantage of the family togetherness that some other cultures take for granted. Contribute with tangible work around the house. And parents, you can practice your role as friend, counselor and example from close proximity. There are blessings here.

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  • Penna Dexter