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Parental Support Doesn't Turn Grown Kids Into Slackers

Study: Providing a safety net facilitates independence

Contrary to concerns about slacker young adults and overly indulgent moms and dads, financial support from parents in early adulthood seems to help young people become more autonomous and self-reliant, according to a new study in the Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy.

See also: Grown Kids Not Acting Their Age?

Researchers looked at more than 700 young adults ages 24 to 32. They found that although almost 50 percent received either money for living expenses and/or lived with their parents in their mid-20s, only 10 percent to 15 percent received financial or housing help in their early 30s. The likelihood of getting financial help decreased by 15 percent each year, and the likelihood of living with parents went down by 18 percent each year.

"These results indicate that young people do eventually become independent of parents as they grow older," said Teresa Toguchi Swartz, a sociologist at the University of Minnesota and one of the study's authors.

The study found that young people were more likely to receive help from their parents if they were students or had recently lost a job, suffered a serious illness or gotten divorced.

"Parental aid serves as 'scaffolding' to help young people who are working towards financial self-sufficiency and as 'safety nets' for those who have experienced serious difficulties," Swartz said. "In an economy that requires advanced education for good jobs, parents are more likely to aid their children when they are students. As the labor market offers fewer opportunities for stable, full-time, well-paid work for the young, parents often fill in when needed."

The study found that parents stop helping their kids, regardless of their age, as they take on "adult roles," such a finding well-paying jobs or getting married and having families of their own.