Why are more young adults less eager to leave the nest?

Why are more young adults less eager to leave the nest?

Adolescence is that great “in-between” period when someone is no longer a child but is also not fully accepted into adulthood. Hallmarks of this transition include leaving home, getting married and raising children.

So why are so many young adults delaying their crossover into the adult world? According to the Pew Research Center, as of July 2020 close to 52% of Americans aged 18-29 years old were still living with their parents.

“It is important to understand the differences in the mind of an adolescent compared to an adult,” said Mary Fox, nurse practitioner at Aurora BayCare Occupational Health & Wellness. “Contemporary research shows that the window from puberty to adulthood lasts approximately 15 years, two times longer than it did in 1950.”

This idea is reinforced by a child development study conducted from 1976 through 2016 that surveyed eight million adolescents, ages 13-19 years old, on how they spend their time in and out of school. Many that were surveyed were reluctant to have sex, drink alcohol, drive, date, or maintain an after-school job. Possible reasons for this are that many adolescents are given access to passive opportunities, such as smartphones, for self-exploration and human connection instead of actual in-person interactions. This in turn can make adolescents less eager to leave the nest.

Many child development and psychological professionals focus on the following recommendations for parents to ensure a successful transition from childhood to adulthood:

  • Encourage physical activity – this trains the brain to make quick decisions and motivates the adolescent.
  • Socializing with peers – developing skills to interact with others is essential to assimilate into the adult world.
  • Understand the impact of trauma to a developing adolescent – as their emotional system develops they are in a “fight or flight” state much of the time.
  • Create schedules – these are very helpful as it is quite common for adolescents to forget routine tasks.

Fox’s final advice for parents, “Today’s youth is navigating and relying on all of us to be their compass into the adult world,” Fox said. “Starting early with consistent guidance and capitalizing on teachable moments are key to a successful transition into adulthood.”

Related Posts



  1. Helicopter parenting doesn’t help either???

  2. Here are more reasons young adults aren’t leaving the nest. They’re scared to death to go out on their own because many parents haven’t taught them the skills they need to do so! A 22 year old girl I met told me she had never cracked open an egg in her life! Poor parenting. Even animals teach their young to survive without them. How to stay safe, get food, avoid predators. Parents should make sure their children can prepare at least one meal, shop for food, sew on a button, balance a checkbook, hang a picture,, etc. Teach them basic living skills instead of pampering them.

  3. Arlene Lencioni March 3, 2021 at 9:01 pm · Reply

    I realize this article is focused on cognitive development, but I’m still surprised the author didn’t mention the first thing that jumps into many minds: student debt. In many ways adolescents stay home because they can’t afford to go out into the adult world on their own. Then staying home in itself perpetuates the behavior of childhood, and the responsive habits of parenting from Mom and Dad. It’s a vicious circle.

  4. So no one is going to mention one of the huge reasons why people aren’t “leaving the nest?” Finances. Is everyone aware how awful Illinois’s economy is. I work full time for advocate and can barely afford to survive independently.

  5. Money, lack of life-skills, and laziness. Why should someone 18-25 leave their home when they can still be covered by their parent’s health insurance? That alone makes sense. Add in school costs and low-paying unskilled labor jobs, makes it very hard to establish a safety net for emergencies.

    Instead of having useless high-level math courses in high school requirements, change that to college or extra-curricular only, replace them with a “life skills” course that teaches basic cooking, automotive (driving) skills, repair work, insurance/finances/credit knowledge, first aid, etc. Instead of separate home-economics, health, wood working, and automotive electives, combine them to a single life-skills course. Some of these skills could be taught in late elementary school (basic cooking skills and first aid for instance).

    In the end though, it comes down to parenting. Don’t be afraid to let a child fail at something, let them learn from mistakes and try again. Being taught that you’re great at something all the time and deserving of constant praise, then getting smacked in the face by reality, is creating a generation of unwarranted disillusioned entitlement.

About the Author

Amy Werdin
Amy Werdin

Amy Werdin, health enews contributor, is a provider public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. She has been with the organization for 19 years, starting out in marketing for Advanced Healthcare, then Aurora Health Care and now in her current role. She enjoys reading, movies and watching her two daughters dance and her son swim.