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Under one roof: More families living together after kids grown

Steve and Dee Dee Smith, front row, share their home with their adult daughters, (back row, from left) Courtney, Katrina, and Cassandra, along with Katrina's daughter, Rhowan. submitted photo

PERHAM - In a household filled with six people, life can be a little hectic for the Smith family. Steve and DeeDee share their home with daughters Cassandra, Courtney, Katrina and Katrina's 2-year-old daughter, Rhowan.

Katrina, 22, said it makes more sense for them to live at home.

If she didn't live with her parents and two siblings, she said she wouldn't be able to work full-time or give her daughter everything she needs.

"Saving money is key for me," Katrina said. "And it's more beneficial for (Rhowan) to have her grandparents watch her than some random person."

The trend of adult children living with their parents has been on the rise across the nation, as rent prices seem to go up while employment remains difficult.

Author and Fargo-native Sally Koslow researched this trend in her new book "Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest."

The book is a hybrid, part memoir and part reporting on the lives of Americans between the age of 22 and 35, Koslow said.

One reason more adult children are living at home now has to do with how Baby Boomers raised their children, she said.

Many Boomers have tried to give their children every opportunity and encouraged their children to believe they are special, she said. But a tough job market, poor wages and high student loan debt compound quickly.

Koslow pointed out that some, but not all, adult children live at home for lifestyle rather than necessity.

"Mom and Dad's cars, cable television, Wi-Fi, air conditioning and a freezer full of premium ice cream was irresistible compared to sharing a drab apartment with three roommates," she said.

In her research Koslow estimated 85 percent of students from the class of 2011 returned to their parents' home.

"To live at home again no longer suggests that a young adult is a loser," she said. "But the picture starts to change if the arrangement seems to become permanent."

Strengthening family bonds

Courtney Smith, 25, moved away from home for about four years, some of which was spent living with a boyfriend.

After that relationship dissolved, she moved back home, and she said it has been better than she first thought.

Even though some people don't seem very understanding about adult children living at home, Courtney said she feels that circumstances sometimes warrant the move.

"I think people look at it as, if you're an adult living with (your parents), you're mooching off them," Courtney said, "but not really in our case. It's not that way."

She and Katrina both work full time in Detroit Lakes, Minn. They have the same schedules, so they carpool to save more money.

"I think they're comfortable at home, and it's easy for them to be there," DeeDee said. "I know how hard it is for them, and I know how expensive it is."

The house can get hectic at times, but Steve said he couldn't be happier.

"I'd rather have them here so they can put money away and get on their feet," he said.

Sometimes the house gets messy quickly, or groceries get more expensive than usual, but the family always finds a way to make it work.

Steve was quick to clarify his daughters weren't "free-wheeling;" they keep the house neat, and they help out with bills, shopping, various expenses, etc.

The Smiths have always been family oriented, and living together has strengthened that bond.

"If you don't have family, there's not a whole lot to lean back on," he said. "I feel sad for those who don't have it."

The girls are free to move out whenever they want, but an invitation will always be there to come back home.

"That door will never be closed on them," Steve said.