Carola Long: Don't flee the nest. Stay put and learn

I lived with my parents until I was 26 - and saw them in a whole new light

Share
Related Topics

Crisp-ironed sheets, a big TV and cut-price nightly rates; welcome to the hotel of mum and dad. It's an increasingly popular living arrangement among the "boomerang generation"; young adults who move back home.

Now, however, a generation of Italian offspring could have the deep pile living-room rug pulled from under them. Renato Brunetta, Italy's Minister for Public Administration, wants to introduce a law forcing young Italians to leave home at 18 so that they don't become too dependent on their parents. This after a court ordered a divorced father to pay 350 euros a month towards his daughter's maintenance. She is 32.

The stereotype of the Italian mamma's boy – and girl – reluctant to give up home-cooked risotto and a parking space for the Vespa is an accurate one, and here in Britain young adults aren't exactly falling over themselves to flee the parental portal either. According to the Office for National Statistics almost one in five graduates in their late twenties still lives en famille compared to one in eight 20 years ago.

Like Brunetta, our own government doesn't seem too thrilled with these figures. Peter Mandelson's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills recently published a guide to helping your progeny find work and booting them out, which urged that "if you are making life too comfortable at home, why would they get a job... cut back to help increase their motivation".

That's some heady Freudian psychology, but funnily enough I don't remember a direct link between my parents skimping on fabric conditioner and me finding a job. And neither did the job make me move out, because – shock horror – I rather liked living at home. So much so, that despite the continuing stigma, I stayed there until I was around 25 and 15 months – oh ok, 26.

Contrary to popular mythology, it wasn't the free landline, or the wine on tap that kept me there even after I could afford to move out, but my parents' company. After returning from university, at 21, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I had blossomed into a competent adult, but I was mature enough to appreciate my parents in a new light. It turned out that they weren't just two squares who would cramp my style, but interesting people with lots of useful life advice.

Perhaps living at home stalled my independence temporarily, but I also stored up practical advice about leaking boilers and putting money into a pension rather than Philip Green's coffers. Although somewhat sheepish about the Steptoe and Son connotations of living with the aged p's ( and about picking up such retro phrases as aged p's) I realised that I was priviledged to have parents who lived in an area where I could find a job, and that they had space.

The British might snigger at the Italian twentysomethings who won't leave home, but we are also in awe of the country's close-knit families. That closeness persists partly because there is less shame in living at home and less pressure to perpetuate the myth that older people can't possibly understand younger ones.

If you don't take your parents for granted, living at home in your twenties doesn't have to be shameful; you have nothing to lose but the generation gap.

c.long@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Financial Director / FD / Senior Finance Manager

Up to 70k DOE: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Financial Director ...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Luton - £24,000

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst vacancy with a we...

Recruitment Genius: Instructional Training Designer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic and interes...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse & Stores Supervisor

£16224 - £20280 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Warehouse & Stores Supervisor...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

No more big characters or Tory clowns like Boris Johnson. London desperately needs a boring mayor

Rachel Holdsworth
Cilla Black lived her life in front of the lens, whether on television or her earlier pop career  

Cilla Black death: A sad farewell to the singer who gave us a 'lorra, lorra laughs'

Gerard Gilbert
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen