"Home Sweet Home"

More and more younger people are choosing to live at home with their parents. The reasons for this are numerous; shortage of money, sheer convenience, extended studies and a more liberal upbringing. Academically it has been described as the ‘Cosy nest phenomenon’. In our film we visit two families whose children still live at home.

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At the present moment about two thirds of the young people between 21 and 27 still live at home with their parents. This trend of staying longer at home has increased in recent years. In west Germany particularly sons live under the same roof as their parents until they are on average 26 years old.

Daughters show a stronger inclination towards independence. But even they are staying at home longer than they used to and the average age for leaving is now 22.

Researches show that many young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 still get regular financial support from their parents.

In the 60’s and 70’s it was normal for young people to leave home as early as possible. In the time of the economic breakthrough and the student revolt of 1968 the fixed roles of authoritarian parents and obedient children was openly questioned. Many young people left home to set up on their own or join a communal group.

In the van of the so-called generation conflict a more liberal style of upbringing held sway in German households. The idea of relation superseded the notion of upbringing and parents and children became partners. The conflict between parents and children which had earlier hastened the departure from home diminished. Emotional closeness and the concept of partnership today characterises the parent-child relationship. Parents are challenged to justify and explain orders and prohibitions. Dialogue and discussion have become and everyday part of family life.

Academically this is seen as the founding of the ‚cosy nest syndrome’.

The children have less and less cause to flee from harsh discipline and can live as well at home as anywhere else. A long term study has clearly shown the disadvantage of this close parent and child relationship. ‘Cosy nest builders’ find it hard to stand on their own two feet. Anyone cushioned in a comfortable and protected environment doesn’t have to face up to the real world, earn money to feed oneself, to run their own household and or economise.

According to sociologists ‚cosy nest builders’ predominate among educated people. Well to do parents can house their children in a self contained flat or furnish an attic for them. Training and studies last longer today than they did. In the present day job market there is nothing to be had without an education. After job training there is sometimes yet another course of study, poor job prospects enforce retraining. Added to that the rent for place of one’s own is often too high.

The demands of young people have grown as well. A car of your own, a mobile telephone, travel abroad and designer clothing all help to set the tone. Whoever lives cheaply or even free at home can afford these luxuries.
Goethe-Institut e. V. 2003
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