I’ve heard of folks moving back home because they were struck with misfortunes like terrible medical issues or losing a job. I get it. Times are tough, and at some point, everyone needs a lifeline thrown their way.
But 30-year-old Michael Rotondo from Camillus, New York has pushed far beyond “I need a place to crash” all the way through the major mooch stage, landing him squarely in a courtroom where a judge has ordered him to leave his parents’ house — where he has lived, rent-free, and apparently without helping out around the house, for the better part of eight years.
When I read this story, it was so hard for me to not to be incredibly judgy. But with startling statistics on how many adults are moving back home, we might be seeing more weird stories like this in the news. In 2016, the Pew Research Center noted that for the first time in 130 years, there are more adults living at home with their parents than they are on their own or with a partner. The study saw that 32.1% of Americans aged 18 – 34 live with one or more parent, 31.6% cohabitate with a spouse or partner or roommate, 14% lived alone, and 22% were described as “other.”
Still, when many of us were younger, there was a lot of pressure to “fly the nest.” I remember a few weeks before college graduation, I sat next to a girlfriend who was clearly stressing out about it. She explained to me that in her family, once college is over, “the free ride is done.” Her parents made it explicitly clear to her that she would not be moving back home. I wasn’t worried about her, though. This girl was financially savvy, incredibly bright, and had smartly lined up a series of job interviews. Fast forward a couple of years and she was already a high-powered executive.
If you ask me, her parents did it right. They gave her everything she needed to succeed in life and taught her how to be resourceful when she lands on her hide. This is exactly how I’m raising my kids — because as much as I love them, they won’t be moving home as adults unless they sign a contract.
Granted, when my husband and I were just starting out, we moved in with his parents in order to save up to pay for a down payment on our current house. We stayed for a year, and in that time, we hoarded our money and found ourselves closing on our first house before we were 30. I was elated. But don’t be fooled. We didn’t get a free ride. While living with his parents, we contributed to everything from cleaning and yard work to cooking, paying bills, and groceries. We threw in for rent too but we still saved a ton of money. Mainly though, we were in a huge hurry to move out because we were too prideful to want to stay living with Mom and Dad.
Our kids will get the same deal. At ages 8, 4, and 1, and we are already teaching them personal responsibility. By the time they each reach adulthood, we’ll expect them to have savings (since we’re the ones teaching them about money and handing out the allowances), financial literacy, and career goals with concrete steps.
But we’ll also give them an “out” if life totally knocks them off their feet. I would never turn away my child in a time of need — but that need better be due to something out of their control. Even then, if they do move back in, they’ll be signing a legal agreement that they will be moving the heck out within a reasonable amount of time.
It’s really easy to sit back and judge this Rotondo dude for mooching off his parents. I mean, c’mon, his story is rather extreme. It’s too bad, though, because I am sure that all the chatter online is making adults who do live at home with Mom and Dad feel maybe not so great. After all, not every adult who lands back home is a mooch.
Regardless, in my house, I’ll be working damn hard to make sure my kids never consider anything less than a tough work ethic, personal responsibility, and some pride.