Skip to content

Living with the 'rents as adults: B.C. researcher studies changed family dynamics

"If they think that they are not on the same page with their parents, how do they react to their parents and how their parents react to them?" asks Umay Kader.
According to the 2021 Statistics Canada census, 35.1 per cent of young adults between 20 and 34 are living with at least one of their parents.

For her research project, Umay Kader, a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) wanted to explore how millennials — between 25 and 34 years old — live with their parents. 

Kader is setting out to interview 50 millennials who live with at least one parent in Metro Vancouver. As of Dec. 6, the UBC researcher says she has conducted five interviews, with many more scheduled throughout the month.

"The 'why' question has been explored in the literature before. We know a lot of push and pull factors from the previous literature, which is so valuable. Like finances, cultural values, parental expectations, personal decisions around finances and other emotional and social support mechanisms," says Kader.

"We know some of the factors that leads to this phenomenon, but we don't necessarily know how millennials from 25 to 34 navigate this process."

According to the 2021 Statistics Canada census, 35.1 per cent of young adults between 20 and 34 are living with at least one of their parents. Research from PEW, conducted during the pandemic in the United States, found that half of people between 18 and 34 live with their parents.

Cultural factors in young adults living with parents was one motivation for Kader to pursue this area of research. In North America, she points out, there are preconceived ideas around when a child should leave the parental home that differ to other cultures. 

"We know that some cultures expect their children to be home until they get married. Or even after they get married. Yes, there are expectations, but what are my peers' expectations? How do they initiate their own agencies and decision-making and choices?" explains Kader.

"What I'm trying to understand is that we know that there are lots of different cultural expectations, whether we have been socialized into those expectations," she tells Glacier Media.

The UBC researcher also says that adult children and parents have a different dynamic than when they were young kids. Some of Kader's questions include boundary setting, like the way adult children negotiate the shared space when they want to invite friends, romantic, or sexual partners over; or following house rules and ensuring chores are completed.

"How do we communicate with our parents? How do we actually share the same living space with other adults... when one of them, you know, invite their friends over? Or romantic or sexual partners over?"

Whatever the research findings show, Kader hopes her work will encourage North American society to have a wider understanding of family dynamics that aren't limited to one cultural perspective.

"I'm really hoping that whatever living situation or arrangement people have in their lives, that we (as a society) can be more accepting of different family formations, of different life choices," she says. "Hopefully, [we will] be able to have more open communication and dialogue on how things should be or ought to be because things like family relationships, interpersonal relationships, and life transitions do not work like that."

Kader encourages anyone between 25 and 34 years old, who's living with at least one parent in Metro Vancouver and is interested in participating in the study, to reach out to her.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks