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The life of 30-year-olds still living with their parents

Those born between 1981 and 1996 have either experienced or witnessed events that no other generation has. Recessions, pandemics, wars, natural disasters, runaway inflation.

They have also been through debt especially associated with higher education and home ownership, cancellation culture, offline and online bullying that is on steroids compared to your childhood, and so much more.

But in the midst of all this, millennials are expected to thrive in their 30s and seamlessly balance professional success, personal fulfilment and social influence.

They must juggle professional accomplishments, maintain a vibrant social life and pursue personal passions with unwavering zeal – all while living independently.

This is what society expects of them, and any dissent is met with finger-pointing, gossip, marginalisation and ridicule, among other consequences. In the end, some millennials begin to develop mental health and social problems. They looking for coping mechanisms whether positive or negative as no one wants to take the time to understand why their lives are not ‘together’ as society expects.

Worse still is if this millennial doesn’t have a life together and is still living at home with their parents.

“The psychological reasons why people still live at home with their parents in their 30s can vary widely. Financial difficulties are often a major factor, with the rising cost of living and stagnant wages making it difficult for some to afford their own home. Career setbacks or instability can also play a role, as job insecurity or difficulties in finding stable employment can delay the ability to establish independence. In addition, fear of failure or anxiety about taking on the responsibilities of adulthood can lead some people to stay in the familiar and supportive environment of their childhood homes,” said Ms Audrey Oluyole, a Nairobi-based counselling psychologist, when discussing some of the reasons why millennials still live with their parents.

She added that a strong desire for familiarity and closeness with parents or extended family is another reason why millennials remain at home.

In addition, she suggested that continuing to live at home can have a positive or negative impact on an adult’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

“On the one hand, living at home can provide a sense of security and support – especially during times of financial or emotional hardship. However, prolonged dependence on parents or feeling stuck in a state of arrested development can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even depression. In addition, conflicts over boundaries, expectations and autonomy within the household can cause stress and strain in family relationships,” Ms Oluyole added.

Such arrangements of millennials still living at home with their parents can affect family dynamics in a number of ways, including blurring the lines between parent-child roles as millennials lose their independence while living under their parents’ roof, conflicts over household responsibilities, financial contributions and personal freedoms as the power dynamics in the home are constantly shifting, which can lead to tensions and disputes.

So at what point does the age factor come into play and parents are ‘naturally’ expected to step back and allow their children to establish themselves – especially if they are still living under their roof?

“The ideal age for someone to consider themselves mature and stable enough to move out of the home and become an independent individual can vary depending on cultural norms, economic factors and personal circumstances. In general, societal expectations often dictate that individuals should aim for independence in their mid to late 20s. However, the timeline is not set in stone as it can be influenced by financial stability, career development and personal relationships. Ultimately, maturity and stability are subjective concepts that vary from person to person, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when a person should leave their parents’ home,” said Ms Oluyole.

She said society may be more lenient and understanding of women still living at home with their parents than men due to “integrated gender roles and societal expectations”.

“Historically, women have been associated with caring and nurturing roles within the family; as such, their continued presence in the parental home may be perceived as more socially acceptable. On the other hand, societal norms often place greater pressure on men to be providers and independent individuals – leading to harsher judgements or stigmatisation of male adults who still live at home. This double standard reflects broader cultural attitudes towards gender and autonomy, which can contribute to inequalities and societal attitudes towards people of different genders living with their parents,” said Ms Oluyole.

She said millennials who still live at home find it difficult to navigate what society expects of them and how they are perceived by their peers.

“They find that millennials who still live at home have little to no social life because they are afraid of being embarrassed by their peers or what society expects of them,” Ms Oluyole concluded.

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