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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
 

If Renee Zellweger wants to look different, who are we to question it?

Boyd Tonkin
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker