More are moving back to Mum's

Meet the 'boomerang' generation

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 02/06/2014
Kieren and Janine Gera
ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ
RETURNING HOME: Kieren Gera, 21, her mum Janine Gera, 45.

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More adults are continuing to live with their parents into their 20s or "boomeranging" back after moving out.

The number of offspring aged 21 to 24 years living with their parents has grown by 44 per cent since 2001. They are called the "boomerang generation".

Tough economic times, as well as changed attitudes towards independence, have driven the increase.

Victoria University final-year student Kieren Gera is a "boomeranger".

After two years flatting in town, she has moved back to Tawa with mother Janine. Kieren plans to work for a few months after graduation and then to head overseas. And while moving back in took some getting used to, it has not gone too badly. There is less flatmate drama and being back in a stable domestic environment is much cushier.

"You come in and it's warm and clean, and there are cats . . . it's definitely home. Flatting isn't home."

It has played havoc with her social life, though, and she feels obliged to tell mum what she is up to each day.

Janine had just got used to living alone, so it has been a readjustment for her as well.

"She's a lot more independent now, she left with some growing up to do . . . she understands food just doesn't magically appear on the table," Janine said.

Some of the old habits creep back, though. Janine still cooks and does the washing.

"A couple of times I've had to say: You're not 12, I'm not doing this for you," Janine said. "It can be easy to fall back into those patterns."

Many of Janine's friends now have adult children back with them.

It is starkly different to her generation. "It's freaky from our perspective.

"I left school at 16, got my first job and moved out within two months.

"It's rare now to finish high school and walk into a job. I think we were independent sooner," Janine said.

According to the 2013 census, the number of people over 21 still living at home has grown from 110,000 in 2001 to more than 150,000 last year, a long way ahead of natural population increase.

Of those, 67,000 are aged 21-24, and another 32,000 are aged 25-29.

Magdalena Kielpikowski, of Victoria University's school of psychology, said young people were staying home longer, getting married later and having children later than their parents' generation. Parenting had also changed.

"Relationships in families have become less hierarchical and more equal."

However, children were also moving back home for economic reasons.

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"The cost of student loans and of the entry into the housing market play a role, and combining households may help save money for a deposit on their first home."

Kielpikowski said it was not a damaging trend but it could lead to self-esteem problems for children and parents alike.

"The greatest issues for the young people may be the loss of autonomy and a feeling of failure.

"[Parents] fear their children are unable to become independent and they blame themselves for failing."

- The Dominion Post

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