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The parent trap

AFP – There’s a common assumption that young adults are keen on achieving independence. However, a significant number of them remain under their parents’ roof due to financial constraints. This trend is on the rise in the United States (US), as indicated by a recent survey.

Around 32 per cent of Americans continue to support their child(ren) financially beyond the age of 18, according to a survey by Qualtrics for Intuit Credit Karma, among 1,249 Americans over the age of 18. Responses were collected between November 20 and 26, 2023.

This support, the survey revealed that in most cases it concerns housing and daily living expenses. Thus, 64 per cent of parents continue to house their offspring. Around half of them pay some or all of their adult child’s monthly bills to prevent them from falling into financial hardship or even into debt.

Some 23 per cent give them pocket money so that they can manage their budget as they see fit.

Whether they come from modest or privileged backgrounds, the majority of parents surveyed feel it is their duty to support their children even when they have grown up.


Others do so because of the high cost of living (42 per cent), the difficulties young people face in entering the job market (33 per cent) or rising property prices (23 per cent).

Whatever the reason, Americans recognise that this helping hand is far from trivial. Most of them confide that it has an impact on their personal finances (76 per cent), and even forces them to cut back on current expenses (52 per cent).

Generally speaking, 38 per cent of parents who help their adult child financially think that it impacts their own lifestyle.

For some, however, the consequences are far more alarming. A third of those surveyed said it had driven them into debt. Some have stopped contributing to their retirement savings plans, or delayed their retirement to provide for their grown-up child.

The survey revealed that young adults’ dependence on their parents can also become a source of suffering. Nearly 60 per cent of parents surveyed said it caused them mental stress, and 62 per cent financial stress.

These figures show just how difficult it can be to prepare a child for financial independence in economic circumstances that make striking out on one’s own so difficult.

Some young people use this situation as an excuse not to grow up, while others experience it as a

real failure. Parents are sometimes just as ambivalent: they secretly dread their child’s departure from the family nest, even if their offspring’s lack of independence weighs heavily on them.

Still, it’s important to remember that providing for a child isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t keep them in a situation of dependence.