But Gordon suggests that young adults have been putting their lives on hold before the recession began. "If you look at the age that girls and boys are getting married, it's substantially up compared to their parents," Gordon says. "It is taking longer to launch. It really does take more money to be able to put a roof over your head, an apartment and sustain yourself, and more people are waiting so they can be more economically solvent."
Another factor is that more young women are working and pursuing their own careers. "It's not just boys out there looking to make their way in the world—you've got girls pursuing their lives beyond wanting to become mothers and homemakers," she says.
It's also important to note that it's more difficult to stay at one job for an extended period of time. "Before, there were many job shifts that 20-year-olds had," Gordon says. "You can't expect to retire in 50 years with a gold watch anymore. There's way more mobility."
Not only has the career landscape changed, but when your adult child moves back home, her personal life changes as well, Gordon says. Certain issues, like going out at night and having relationships, can be difficult for a young adult she's under your roof, but the most important thing is for you and your child to maintain respect for one another. "While your 20-something might have much more of a night life than you have, you expect that kid to come home and not make noise when you have to get up in the morning," Gordon says. "It's the same kind of respect that you would give a roommate. So there are all kinds of mutuality and interdependence that have to be spelled out and clear when your child moves back home."
But when you disagree with your adult child's lifestyle, it's important to deal with these issues as they happen and not to bottle them up. "You can sustain a certain amount an acceptance of something if you only see it three times a year," Shaffer says. "It's very different when you're dealing with something on a daily basis. Then you can't be disingenuous. Rage, aggravation, disappointment—all of those emotions are going to come out."
Ways to help your adult child grow