Hanna Rosin: Crowded House

Imagine that you're a young woman on a first date with a cute 25-year-old you met at work. He invites you home one night, and you're surprised to find that he lives in a swanky apartment building with a doorman. The living room has leather furniture, not flimsy chairs from Ikea, and there are real paintings hanging in the hallway. You're impressed -- until a middle-aged woman emerges from the kitchen and asks if you'd like some cookies.

This cringe-inducing scenario is becoming all too common, as Hanna Rosin explains. The recession is driving young professionals back to their parents' homes, where they find themselves sleeping beneath their high school posters and waking up to Pop Tarts in their childhood kitchens. To make matters worse, their aging grandparents are moving in, too.

The Ideas Report

In this clip, Rosin insists that some good could come from the new crowded house. As she writes in the current issue of The Atlantic:

The American family may finally get a long-overdue redefinition. With all the changes..., it seems exclusionary and even cruel to keep defining the American family as a mom and a dad and two biological children. That's not what our households look like anymore, so we might as well recognize that Grandpa, and some kids too old for ducky barrettes, belong in the holiday photos too.

More video from the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival

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Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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