An interesting observation from Miss Manners (a.k.a. Judith Martin) in response to a question from a young adult who is living with her parents and wanting to know how best to respond to rude questions (“You’re how old and still living with your parents?”):
The people who say this are HOW old?
Miss Manners asks because the generation that considers relatives to be natural enemies is aging. They grew up denouncing their parents’ values, styles of living and psyches; they left home as soon as possible and resented the expectation of telephone calls and holiday visits; and they predicted antagonism from children — their own as well as others’ — at every stage: Babies would ruin your life, teenagers would hate you, young adults would go off and never be heard from again, or, worse, come home.
That other cultures value and seek to prolong family ties does not discourage such believers from declaring generational enmity to be normal human behavior.
But things are changing. You are far from the only young adult living with his parents. And while doing so is always explained in terms of economic hardship and maternal laundry service, those are not the only reasons.
It seems that another generation of parents has reared children who become fond of them. Miss Manners keeps hearing of, and even reading about, college students who keep in frequent touch with their parents, and graduates who are frankly happy to return home, in preference to living in solitude or with yet more roommates.
So you should be hearing fewer such remarks. That aging generation is beginning to realize that if a time comes when they are no longer able to live on their own, it is their children who will decide where to place them.
The issue I’d like us to contemplate is not whether adult children should live at home but the observation that the hostile “generation gap” was an artifact of the 1960s and not a universal condition, and that children are now growing up who are fond of their parents and enjoy spending time with them. This is progress, isn’t it?