‘Don’t worry if your grown kids are still living at home’

Dr. Irit Yanir: Living in or out of the parental home is not so critical these days to feeling mature.If you’re 26 and still live at home with your parents, don’t despair. It doesn’t mean you’re a wuss. In fact, …

Dr. Irit Yanir: Living in or out of the parental home is not so critical these days to feeling mature.If you’re 26 and still live at home with your parents, don’t despair. It doesn’t mean you’re a wuss. In fact, according to a new study published by the University of Haifa in Israel, a close relationship with your mother and father through your early and middle 20s is likely to mean you exhibit greater independence in your career and personal life than peers who have a distant relationship with their parents.

The study, carried out as a PhD project by Dr. Irit Yanir, a family therapist, showed that emerging adults in their early 20s have more ability to fulfill society’s expectations in terms of settling down and establishing intimate relationships when they maintain a close relationship with their parents.

Yanir, who has two ‘emerging adult’ sons still living at home, conducted in-depth interviews with psychologists, parents and young adults between the ages of 23-27. An additional 100 families, which included mother, father and child, completed 300 surveys as part of the research.

“My assumption was that children who were moderately close to their parents would be more independent and better functioning than their peers,” Yanir told ISRAEL21c. “I was surprised to discover that it was the young adults with the closest relationships with their family who functioned the best.”

The term ‘emerging adult’ is a newly identified phase in western society and applies to youths who are passed adolescence, but have not yet moved into full adulthood. Little research has been done in this field, particularly, up to now, from the emotional point of view.

Yanir was drawn to this area after noting the huge differences between young adults of this age and their relationship with society and their families. “The decisions young people make at this stage of their life are decisions that shape the rest of their lives,” she says.

While traditionally it is thought that young adults who remain close to parents, particularly those who live at home, show signs of dependence, Yanir’s research shows that those with close relationships are more financially self-sufficient, more independent in their day-to-day lives, professionally stable, more mature, and more likely to be involved in a stable and intimate relationship. “Living in or out of the parental home is not so critical these days to feeling mature,” she explains.

Yanir defines a close relationship with parents as one in which children talk frequently with parents, regularly eat and spend time together, and share thoughts and experiences. “Being close to your parents gives security. You know they are there for you even if you don’t meet their expectations or if you make decisions they don’t agree with. You can make your way in life with emotional and intellectual autonomy,” says Yanir.

The study shows that those who maintain a distant relationship with parents or those who tend to make choices out of a need to rebel against parental expectations were less independent into their late 20s, could not settle down into a profession or a relationship, and did not meet societal expectations.

“Following adolescence, the familial connection is an important factor in forming one’s identity and living an independent life. It seems that not only can independence and closeness exist together, but they actually flourish together,” says Yanir.