You Can Go Home Again: The Extended Family | Collection Development

Boomerang kids is a term used to describe young adults who cohabitate with their parents after having lived on their own for a period of time. While the trend of young adults moving home is nothing new, the recent economic collapse has caused such an increase in the number of these individuals, who now have the dubious distinction of being dubbed the Boomerang Generation. According to 2010 census data, 21.6 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 34 live in a multi-generational household, up significantly from 11 percent in 1980. According to a Pew study published in March 2012, 29 percent of young adults (ages 25-34) who live with their parents are doing so as the result of economics. Many of them are recent college graduates who are underemployed or unemployed.

At the same time, an increasing number of the elderly are moving in with their children and grandchildren. According to a recent Pew report, 20 percent of adults age 65 and older live in multigenerational homes, up from 17 percent in 1990. In 1994, only three percent of men and nine percent of women helped provide basic care for a parent. U.S. News reports that in 2008, 17 percent of men and 28 percent of women provided such care. While the primary reasons for older adults moving in with their children (death of a spouse, health concerns) may be different from those of young adults moving back home, the potential problems are similar: privacy, boundaries, household expenses, etc.

When developing a collection relevant to the rise of the Boomerang Generation, it is incumbent upon a library to cover the financial realities of young adults. The collection should feature titles that make this abstruse topic easily digestible for someone who may have, at most, taken perhaps one economics course. In recent years, a number of outstanding books have been published that make financial planning not only comprehensible without dumbing it down too much but also fun.

A variety of perspectives

Returning home is a situation that is likely to cause anxiety for parent and child alike. For the child, there can be a certain stigma attached to moving home‚ a sense of failure. For their parents, going from an empty nest to a crowded one can lead to despair. Elderly parents moving in with their children may feel that they are a burden. A collection that fairly addresses these complexities thus needs to include the disparate perspectives of all involved, both the child and the parent.

Getting beyond theory to practice is another consideration for collection development. There are a number of books that examine the boomerang phenomenon from a highly academic vantage point. Likewise, there are many titles that view the issue of aging through a sociological or public policy lens. Most public libraries can include one or two appropriate for writing term papers but can skip the majority in favor of titles that are more practical and draw from firsthand experience. These generally provide sensible advice in a lighter, often humorous tone.

Google it

Using online sources will help you keep your collection relevant and current and will also be something to which you can refer parents and/or young adults. For example, a recent article on the Huffington Post entitled Boomerang Kids: Why Multigenerational Households Are Surging Worldwide, not only outlines the growing trend of kids moving back home, interweaving statistics with anecdotes, but also enumerates several tips for maintaining harmony in the multigenerational household. As well, an article entitled Life as a Boomerang Kid, recently published on, includes useful resources for boomerang kids and their parents, e.g., a budget worksheet, a debt calculator, tips on being money-smart, instructions for writing a contract with the adult child who has moved home, and pointers on moving out. There are also numerous web-based resources that share crucial information regarding caring for aging parents. For example, offers a recent article entitled 10 Tips for Caring for Aging Parents.

Still, there is no substitute for practical handbooks on dealing with multigenerational issues. The resources listed below (with more on the website) will provide a good start on a collection like this. Titles designated with a star [OrangeReviewStar Musical Renaissance: DIY Music | Collection Development] are core purchases for most libraries.


Mitchell, Barbara A. The Boomerang Age: Transitions to Adulthood in Families. Aldine Transaction. 2005. 230p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780202308388. $34.95; pap. ISBN 9780202309781. $24.95.

While the focus of this highly academic book is primarily on Canadian families, it is relevant to most of the Western world. Mitchell (sociology, Simon Fraser Univ.) explores the boomerang kids phenomenon through various lenses, deftly highlighting issues both inside the home (family dynamics) as well as outside (globalization, economic downturn). After presenting empirical and theoretical evidence, Mitchell proffers numerous social policy recommendations that address racial and gender equality, housing, education, and economics.

starred review starNewman, Katherine S. The Accordion Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition. Beacon. 2012. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807007433. $25.95.

Newman (dean, Krieger Sch. of Arts & Sciences, Johns Hopkins) explores global, economic, and cultural trends related to the steady rise in the number of boomerang kids and demonstrates that this phenomenon is not unique to the United States. Through interviews conducted with families from Italy, Denmark, Spain, the United States, and Japan, Newman reveals that while the causes of children moving back home are somewhat universal (high rents, few job opportunities, and student loan debt), different cultures have very disparate ways of redressing the issue.

Newman, Susan. Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning To Live Together Happily. Lyons: Globe Pequot. 2010. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780762758593. pap. $16.95.

Psychologist Newman offers sound advice in this veritable how-to manual for parents and adult children who are navigating a new family dynamic, whether it be an adult child moving in with his or her parents or a parent moving in with his or her child. She covers the intricacies of intergenerational cohabitation, focusing on emotions, boundaries, money, food preferences, and dating. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 6/18/10)

Pickhardt, Carl. Boomerang Kids: A Revealing Look at Why So Many of Our Children Are Failing on Their Own, and How Parents Can Help. Sourcebooks. 2011. ISBN 9781402248580. pap. $14.99.

According to practicing psychologist Pickhardt (The Connected Father), 85 percent of college grads move back home with Mom and Dad after graduation, and his latest book is meant to help reverse that trend. He advocates for parents to stop managing their older children and start mentoring them, by forgoing corrective discipline and emphasizing instead a coaching role. This trial independence will help postgrad kids handle the 11 most common challenges young people face, like managing increased freedom, unemployment, and broken romantic relationships. Pickhardt’s style is a bit dry, but his advice is sound. Ideally, parents will read this before their adolescent boomerangs back into the house. (BookSmack,

starred review starSettersten, Richard A. & Barbara E. Ray. Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It’s Good for Everyone. Bantam. 2011. 272p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780553807400. pap. $15.

Settersten and Ray recognize that the smooth path from high school to college to marriage to parenthood is no longer a reality for many young adults. Using empirical evidence, they seek to address a complex issue that is often dealt with too superficially‚ especially in the media. Throughout, the authors offer useful tips to parents and children on topics such as job-hopping, college, dating, and parenthood. The book’s companion website is an indispensable tool for parents and their adult children living together again. (LJ 1/11)


Blake, Jenny. Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want. Running Pr. 2011. 304p. ISBN 9780762441273. pap. $17.

Blake’s book is full of practical advice to encourage young adults who are on the precipice of a new life, a life that can be tenuous and daunting. It covers money, relationships (both romantic and familial), friends, health, fun and relaxation, life planning, and personal and professional growth. Required reading for any college senior apprehensive about what happens after graduation.

starred review starFurman, Elina. Boomerang Nation: How To Survive Living with Your Parents the Second Time Around. S. & S. 2005. 224p. ISBN 9780743269919. pap. $16.95.

This is an essential read for young adults considering moving back home. Its greatest strength is the author’s firsthand experiences as a boomerang kid. With considerable wit and honesty, Furman normalizes moving back home, offering throughout practical advice about the emotional and psychological realities. She addresses issues such as dealing with the stigma of moving home, dating, maintaining privacy, and financial planning. The overarching message is that moving back home is not really that bad; in fact, there are numerous benefits.

starred review starHassler, Christine. 20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-Life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction. New World Lib., dist. by PGW. 2005. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781577314769. pap. $14.95.

Drawing on her own experience when she was twentysomething and not happy with her life’s direction, Hassler, who is a life coach, seeks to encourage other females who struggle with what she refers to as the twenties triangle: Who am I? What do I want? How do I get it? Sincere and full of great advice for women wanting to achieve their greatest dreams.

Hassler, Christine. 20 Something Manifesto: Quarter-Lifers Speak Out About Who They Are, What They Want, and How To Get It. New World Lib., dist. by PGW. 2008. 352p. index. ISBN 9781577315957. pap. $15.95.

In this must-read for anyone in their twenties, Hassler explores the nebulous terrain of young adulthood, especially as one graduates from college and begins to navigate the real world. Offering insight into love, relationships, friendships, and careers, Hassler hopes to empower her readers to make the life they really want. (LJ 2/15/08)

Kobliner, Beth. Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties. 3d ed. S. & S. 2009. 352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780743264365. pap. $16.

Kobliner presents straightforward advice for money management, written in language aimed at twenty- and thirtysomethings. She covers topics such as credit card debt, retirement plans, insurance, home buying, and budgeting. Her goal for boomerang kids is obviously to gain financial freedom and be able to move out of their parents’ basement, but this is also an important book for young adults who want to avoid moving back home in the first place. (LJ 6/15/96)

Robbins, Alexandra. Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis: Advice from Twentysomethings Who Have Been There and Survived. Perigee: Putnam. 2004. 256p. ISBN 9780399530388. pap. $14.95.

This is Robbins’s follow-up to Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties, wherein she was one of the first to document the harsh realities facing young adults in this generation. Here, she offers valuable input on love, friendships, money, and unfulfilled expectations to those experiencing the uncertainty of young adulthood.

starred review starWilner, Abby & Cathy Stocker. The Quarterlifer’s Companion: How To Get On the Right Career Path, Control Your Finances, and Find the Support Network You Need To Thrive. McGraw-Hill. 2005. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780071450157. pap. $16.95.

This practical instruction manual covers finding a job, filing taxes, starting a retirement plan, avoiding debt, building a support group, and balancing work and play. There are even recipes for healthy meals and snacks. Essential for twentysomethings.


starred review starGordon, Linda P. & Susan M. Shaffer. Mom, Can I Move Back in with You? A Survival Guide for Parents of Twentysomethings. Tarcher: Penguin. 2004. 288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781585422906. pap. $13.95.

Gordon and Shaffer intertwine real-life stories (culled from interviews and focus groups with young adults, as well as from their own personal experiences) with wit and practical guidance, resulting in an outstanding resource for parents. (LJ 6/15/04)

starred review starParent, Gail & Susan Ende. How To Raise Your Adult Children: Because Big Kids Have Even Bigger Problems. Penguin. 2010. 304p. ISBN 9781594630699. $25.95; pap. ISBN 9780452297203. $16.

The idea of bringing together a comedy writer (Parent) and a psychotherapist (Ende) to write a book on such a serious and complex topic is sheer brilliance. The authors respond to letters written by concerned parents of boomerang kids. With liberal amounts of humor, they dispense practical suggestions.

starred review starShaputis, Kathleen. The Crowded Nest Syndrome: Surviving the Return of Adult Children. Clutter Fairy. 2004. 144p. ISBN 9780972672702. pap. $13.95.

This cleverly titled book is another essential read for parents whose children have moved back home. Like Parent and Ende’s book (above), the tone is lighter than most how-to books on the subject. Writing with abundant humor, the author applies her own experience as a parent of boomerang kids.


starred review starHorgan, David & Shira Block. When Your Parent Moves In: Every Adult Child’s Guide to Living with an Aging Parent. Adams Media. 2009. 256p. index. ISBN 9781605500126. pap. $12.95.

This well-written, easy-to-understand manual for those faced with an elderly parent moving in employs personal stories and case studies to produce excellent advice for a smooth transition to a new family dynamic. The authors explore day-to-day issues, such as emotional and financial problems, that are likely to arise. Particularly helpful are the glossary of elder care terms, elder care checklist, and financial planning worksheets.

Loverde, Joy. The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where To Start, Which Questions To Ask, and How To Find Help. rev. & updated ed. Three Rivers: Crown Pub. Group. 2009. 400p. index. ISBN 9780307409621. pap. $19.95.

Regarded as an expert on elder care, Loverde in this practical workbook covers legal, financial, communication, emotional, health, and end of life issues, with concrete objectives and action plans for a variety of situations, including how to decide if it’s best for your elder parent to move in. (LJ 6/1/97)

starred review starMarcell, Jacqueline. Elder Rage; or, Take My Father…Please! How To Survive Caring for Aging Parents. 2d ed. Impressive Pr. 2001. 346p. ISBN 9780967970318. $24.95.

Here, Marcell shares incredibly useful information interspersed with many moments of humor. Her resource is down-to-earth and hopeful, with insight into the panoply of challenges involved with elder care: medical, social, financial, and emotional. In the How Do I Handle My Elder Loved One Who section, the author dispenses wisdom on about two dozen potential situations one may encounter when caring for an elderly parent. Essential for those with aging parents.


The Boomerang Generation: Feeling OK Living with Mom and Dad

Pew’s Social and Demographic Trends project is the best place to find the most current research about multigenerational households. Exploring economic, demographic, and social indicators, this report, released in March 2012, finds that not only are the number of multigenerational households in America continuing to rise but that there is less stigma attached to moving back home than in the past. This report is an excellent addition to previous studies, such as Young, Underemployed and Optimistic: Coming of Age, Slowly, in a Tough Economic Time (, which Pew published earlier this year.

Family Matters: Multigenerational Families in a Volatile Economy

While this report from Generations United (GU) makes specific recommendations to lawmakers, it also provides a nice overview of multigenerational households, highlighting the reasons for their recent rise, anticipating the challenges, and providing solutions to these challenges. The focus of this report is not limited to boomerang kids but brings attention as well to older adults who move in with their children and grandchildren. In addition to a website ( with other insightful publications and many excellent resources, GU maintains a blog and a Twitter feed, all of which will be of interest to those wishing to stay current with the topic.

Parenting Grown Children

Parenting does not end when children reach adulthood; in fact, the parent-child dynamic can get more complex at this juncture. While this blog is not specific to multigenerational households, it does provide some useful tips for parents of boomerang kids. Topics covered include college debt, lending money, and setting boundaries.

Quarter Life Crisis

With a tagline like a one-stop info-shop for grads and beyond, this is surely a fantastic online resource that Abby Wilner and Cathy Stocker (coauthors, The Quarterlifer’s Companion) have put together. Here, young adults will find plenty of excellent advice on topics such as financial planning, job-seeking, dating, and social life. Without a doubt,’s greatest asset is its message board, a place where users can connect with peers who are going through similar life challenges.

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