65% of parents are still supporting their adult children, recent survey reveals

The lines between adolescence and adulthood continue to blur. Picture: Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko

The lines between adolescence and adulthood continue to blur. Picture: Pexels/Tima Miroshnichenko

Published Jan 16, 2024


You’ve probably come across the colloquial phrases “adulting is not adulting” or “adulting is the pits”, which have gained popularity in recent years.

They are a reflection of the emotional struggles of the millennial generation in bridging the gap between adolescence and adulthood.

We’ve all heard the statistics. More millennials live with their parents than with roommates. We are delaying partner-marrying and house-buying and kid-having for longer than any previous generation.

Millennials have a desire to be a part of the adult world but feel stuck in a realm between adolescence and adulthood. This limbo creates unique financial challenges and emotional pressures.

A recent survey conducted by USA Today, revealed that 65% of parents provide some form of financial support to their adult children aged between 22 and 40.

The study, which focused on states with populations of 2 million or more, shed light on the various types of financial assistance that parents provide to their millennial and Gen Z children.

The survey found that food and housing assistance were the top types of support parents offer their adult children, with 27% providing help with groceries and 23% assisting with housing expenses, including rent or living with parents rent-free.

Additionally, 21% offer support with phone contracts, while 19% support basic needs such as clothing, household items, and personal supplies. Other forms of support include utilities (19%), transportation and car payments (17%), and dining out or takeout (18%).

Moreover, the survey highlighted the strain that financial support places on some parents, with 1 in 3 acknowledging that it puts them under financial pressure.

Despite this, 43% of parents providing support stated that it is offered with no contingencies, reflecting the complex dynamics of parent-child financial relationships.

Now, perhaps more than ever, the journey to financial independence and adulthood appears to be a longer and more winding road.

The Pew Research Centre revealed that young adults are taking longer to achieve traditional milestones such as establishing a full-time job and living independently.

In 2021, only 68% of 25 year olds were living outside their parents' homes, compared to 84% in 1980.

A report by Rocket titled Millennials Are Changing the Face Of Adulthood highlighted an interesting argument on these delayed milestones.

Dr Jeffrey Arnett, a research professor of psychology at Clark University, introduced the concept of "emerging adulthood" to articulate this prolonged transition period.

"The economy has affected the timing of when young people enter adulthood, mainly because the transition to a 'knowledge economy' has demanded more education and training from more people than ever before," explains Arnett.

"That means a later entry to work, which means a later entry to marriage and parenthood. Voila, emerging adulthood!"

The findings of the survey challenge conventional notions of independence and adulthood, prompting a re-evaluation of societal expectations and the evolving landscape of financial support for young adults.

Interestingly, the support provided by parents encompasses a range of essential needs, with groceries, housing, and phone contracts topping the list.

This assistance reflects not only the financial pressures faced by young adults but also the changing dynamics of the modern family structure.

As the lines between adolescence and adulthood continue to blur, both parents and young adults need to navigate this evolving landscape with understanding and adaptability.

The shift towards financial independence may be gradual but, with open communication and thoughtful planning, the path to adulthood can be a fulfilling and empowering journey for all involved.