When my kids first left home, one of the things I enjoyed most was that I didn’t have to make any more school lunches. But today, in my home just as in millions of others, my 21- and 24-year-old kids are back, and I’m making lunches again. This is a big change from what I had expected my life to look like when my kids became young adults. Like many women of my generation, I invested a lot of time in parenting my children, with the unspoken assumption that they would enjoy the same independence and economic prosperity that I did as an adult. I expected that when they were in their 20s, I would be dining out, dropping off laundry at the dry cleaners and spending quiet weekends with my husband.
A record number of young adult children are living at home with their parents. In the U.S., 21.6 million young adults were living at home in 2012, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. census data. That’s 36 percent of all 18- to 31-year-olds, representing the highest rate since 1969, the first year that comparable data was available. This recently increasing trend began at the onset of the most recent recession in 2007. So I wondered: Is this affecting how parents are spending their time, the way it has affected me? And are women affected differently than men?
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