Adulthood: What's the Rush?

The truth about 21st century 20-somethings.

Is Blaming Parents for "Failure to Launch" a Red Herring?

Have we raised a generation too willing to coast along on mom and dad's support? Have we spent too much time raising their self-esteem and not enough time making them face the music? Have we given them everything but made them lazy? I, for one, seriously doubt it. Read More

Kick them Out

My 46 year old brother still lives at home. He's never paid rent, mowed the yard or taken out the trash. He never married, why should he, he has a girlfriend sometimes, other times he resorts to women of the night. Mom still cooks, cleans and picks up after him. He is "self-employed", so he wakes up when he wants to, goes to work when he wants to, comes home when he wants to and goes to bed when he wants to. What a life! Mom is to blame, she has never told him the things he needs to hear. She is enabling him to be a lazy, ungrateful and selfish person. Not sure what he will do when my 73 year old mother passes away. I've mentioned to my other siblings that he needs to make a reservation at the nearest homeless shelter because I WON'T be taking him in. Never mind...mom is leaving him the house!!

kick them out

Wow, 46 huh? Clearly, there's always going to be exceptions, like your brother. My role is to look at the big picture only and the larger trends. In this case, it does sound like your brother has some issues of his own, and they might even be well beyond your mom's parenting skills. After all, your mother managed to get you out of the house just fine. I can see why you're frustrated, though. 46 is way too long to be at home.

There just seem to be so

There just seem to be so different reasons why people choose to stay at home for so long.

My sister is over 30, and she still lives at home. The problem she has is that she works alone, a job she loves but has this great disadvantage. So she thinks its just a horrible thought to work alone the whole day, then come home and eat alone and so on (she tried once to live on her own and felt really bad, even had problems with sleep). Of course she has friends she can meet, but they all have families, so they have less time during the evenings than she has. She pays her share of the bills, and does some of the houseworks that have to be done. Because of this, I haven't judged her. I just hope that someday she will find a nice man and start a family, because of course this is not a good situation for her, and I know that she is deeply ashamed of this.

It is more difficult for women

Women have to deal with the hazards of living alone, even in a house in a "good neighborhood".

To NOT kick them out is child abuse

over-reliance on parental relationships disrupts the healthy process of building adult relationships
over-reliance on parents' money disrupts the healthy process of learning to make a living
over-reliance on parents home/groceries/laundry prevents learning those skills
over-reliance on parents safety net prevents the hunger/drive that pushes people to better themselves

robbing a person of their ability to thrive (and there are NO good reasons to do this) is child abuse

blaming society is a way to avoid personal responsibility

a parent insisting on harming their child this way needs what internal pathology is causing this and fix it

Not anyone I know

Just about every single one of my friends (age range 26-29), myself included, that currently owns a house moved back home for a limited period of time to save money first. It wasn’t because they were somehow lacking in life skills or were irresponsible, quite the opposite in fact. They used the time to pay off debt and save a sufficient amount for a down payment, rather than taking on a loan they could not afford (which is partly how the economy got into the present mess). How else could one person afford to buy a house that is semi-decent, not a thousand miles away from civilization and not in a DMZ? I don’t know who these failure to launch people are but definitely not anyone from my generation I’ve ever met.

Funny you should say that

Funny you should say that Jon. I was just starting to write a post about how 20-somethings look at living at home--and the word I hear most often: resonsibility. They're trying to be financially responsible. So stay tuned. I'll finish that post up for later in the week.

While you're at it, write about the corporate economic conspiracy

I don't want to leave home until I can make enough money to pay my mother some the "rent" that she will lose if I move out. She will lose a paycheck if I leave, though I would love to have a place where I can invite my friends over.

While "failure to launch" and "boomerang" are good terms to identify the trends, we need to get to the source of these trends--the changing of the economic structure by the power that be. This comes from the outsourcing of the jobs that kept the grown children on their own: whitecollar and factory jobs that are now being sent to China and India, respectively.

Only the service jobs remain, and adults living at home provide companies with a convenient way of keeping wages low. Meanwhile the only living-wage jobs that remain require highly advanced math skills that mainstream education teaches in the "Blab school" fashion of the 18th century, or highly advanced survival skills that most people don't innately have, but the police, the military and firefighting professions daily require. The old cubicle that is celebrated in Dilbert is probably sourced by a temporary agency with a person who is twice as bilingual as you and half as paid.

During the 1990's, at least, you could lauch your own "business", which though nothing more than a glorified hot-dog stand, could still buy you a few years out of the house. You could also get the banks to give you a mortgage, which explains these cartoons with fast-food workers living in two-story houses. With the banks failing, those days are over. "Small-business" is dead, too, as big corporations team up with government to regulate their budding competition out of existance.

Gentle launch

I have been beating myself up as a mother of a son who is 20, having trouble staying in college full-time. He is working but I still help with his bills. And he is trying to figure out what he wants to do next -- says he wants to go to school but not sure what to study.

I have recently decided not to be so negative about this whole thing. He is working at it and I am providing some help (he has his own apartment and I help w/ the rent because I thought it was just too easy for him to live in the house). Now he has to arrange his own food and transportation and schedule, etc.

I do think he will complete the separation on his own time -- and not when he's 30 or 40.

Just like when our kids were little, I think we have to sense their individual needs and try to flex within reason. (My daughter nursed until she was three -- not my first choice but that's what she needed and I went along.)

I could be rationalizing but I hope not.

Don't Agonize, Organize

A lot of this could be solved if people would organize into labor unions and demand their fair share of the economic pie. But the Democratic Congress elected in 2008 failed to fulfill its promise to pass the "card check" legislation that would have made organizing a union easier. Now the Repugnant cans are back in power so we will get a lot of scolding about how we're bad parents if our kids have to actually work for a living instead of being gazillionaires who can take care of themselves with trust funds like real American Tea Partiers.

don't know where to turn

I was searching the web to try to find some help--now that I've read the post by Bill W. on Nov. 4, 2010, I feel even worse than I did before! Thanks, Bill! We just found out this afternoon that our almost 27 yr old, who hasn't lived with us since he graduated from high school, has had some serious business going on in his life for at least the last 9 months--not that we didn't know that there was some indication "something" was amiss, but now the cat in out of the bag so to speak and I feel it is time for some intervention. Which, dear Bill, I think involves him moving home and getting back on his feet again before he is unable to get out of the hole that is getting deeper. If I knew that Bill was a certified psychologist, I don't think I'd sign up for his counseling! I'd really like to get some help, because right now I really don't know what to do!

I'm a 21 year old male and I live with my parents. Life is sweet!

I work 35 hours/week as a computer systems specialist. The little time that I spent in school is all paid off and I got an unused car (hyundai - awesome warranty!). That's just about paid off now. In theory, I could afford to move out, but choose not to.

Yeah, moving out is expensive. I guess what I'm going through is sort of a pre-midlife crisis which wouldn't be possible if I were shackled by financial obligations. I'm the youngest person I know who has a USPA "A" License -which is a license to skydive without supervision. I own all my own gear and a parachute which I pack myself. I've gone skydiving a total of 42 times to date. I've also gone Hang Gliding 9 times!

In addition to aviation sports, I've also experimented with isolation/sensory deprivation tanks, tai chi, kung fu, and for the past year I've been actively training Mixed Martial Arts; particularly a style of Chinese kickboxing called Sanshou...I never thought I'd enjoy kickboxing, but I love it! I'm in the best shape of my life and participate in 5K race/obstacle courses such as "Warrior Dash" and "Run For Your Lives". Needless to say, life is great! The only problem I have is finding someone to do these things with.

I definitely am independent. Quite frankly, nobody I know under the age of 30 can afford to keep up with me. Often I'm doing these activities by myself. It seems to me that too many people my age are spending every dollar they have toward "nesting". They follow a trend where after school it's expected for them to get a home of their own. Once they get that home, they're a slave to it! Weather they can afford to keep the home or not, it's a mistake that they'll be paying off throughout their prime years!

I feel like I've accomplished so much in the 3 years since I've graduated and now I know exactly who I am and where I want to be. Even if I die tomorrow, I can look back on life and say that I don't regret a thing! As if that isn't awesome enough, my peers view me as an icon! Friends keep telling me that the people we graduated with won't stop talking about how badass I am. Every accomplishment builds on top of the others and I get nothing but positive feedback! If I had spent my money on an apartment or house, all I would have is an apartment or a house. Instead I went for memories and achievements, which in my opinion have more value.

I'm sure there are a lot of people who stay home and just bum around and spend their money on drugs... I'm no exception and my parents know it, I'm totally honest with them. I say "I don't give in to peer pressure. I do only drugs that I want to do, regardless of the law". Alcohol is terrible for health, especially when you're trying to become a better martial artist! Instead I researched the health effects of several drugs and found that Cannabis and Psilocybin mushrooms are my drugs of choice; in moderation, of course (Again, life is great!). But I don't drink alcohol, ever. I go to bars and drink water after water (and pee just as much as the drunk people). People are always telling me how much they admire my willpower... I just don't like the idea of a carcinogenic central nervous system inhibitor like alcohol.

My parents LOVE having me around, despite the drugs. They say I'm very "entertaining" and say they'd be bored without me. I know that a lot of people just want their kids to grow up, but really, who on earth wants to grow up?

Hey Anonymous poster from Feb, 12:
Your son won't be ruined if he moves back in with you. In fact, he's likely to just get more awesome!

Hey Bill W:
Fuck you.

blame it on bigbrother

Bigbrother intruded (should I say barged in like a school-bully) into the private lives of parents and kids in the early 90's. I remember chats at picnics in the park resounding with the theme "Parents have no rights, but all the responsibility". Kids were being taught "Its OK to say No' so my kid started to say "No, don't touch me" not even for a pat on the shoulder. Also taught "Stranger Danger" at school so the kid would not even walk to the shop to buy an icecream. Also, lots of false praise was heaped upon her- false praise is demoralising and engenders distrust of the praise giver and so on. Also, at school, was not rewarded for excellence- whole point being to homogenise and so on. Nevertheless, being a conscious parent, I have raised a tertiarily educated, ethical, independent adult who sometimes castigates me for being racist or cynical, but otherwise truly appreciates 'sharing space' with me as we lead our different daily lives. It's a wonder this 'kid's, whole generation in this country are not complete social cripples. Big brother, if you think there's too much reliance on welfare I can only say 'you reap what you sow'. Yeah- I hand out money which she begrudgingly accepts and often rejects. She works...I would love to read the findings of this social experiment, maybe in a paperback titled "How The Government Got It Wrong- A Look Inside the Mind of the Australian Adult of the Early 21st Century"

To: Anonymous on April 24, 2012

How could you possibly have found the time to come to this little corner of cyberspace and share with us your wondrous tale of self-realization? Barely conceivable is the level of development you will attain by the time you have reached 22 years of age.

The suggestions offered to your fellow posters, while concise, say about you a great deal more than what you have written.

Anonymous on April 24, 2012 - 6:45pm

Oh, please tell me this guy was just being facetious!

Adult Children

These un-launched people are adult children, as evidenced by the 21 year old male who lives with his parents and life is sweet. What is not awesome is that many adult children like him have no clue that life is sweet only because his parents give that "gift" to him. His sports accomplishments are not life skills and he is boasting about selfishness. His friends have it right.

None of us in generations before you got handed anything. We saved little by little for things all while paying rent, buying groceries and doing other adult things with our modest means. We re-built cars out of parts from the junk yard. We worked two jobs and struggled. We hopefully fell in love and built a life together with our partner. It took a long time to own the frills in life.

Most people of my generation I have known who are like that 21 year old male came from wealthy parents. Most parents are not wealthy today even though they buy things on credit cards to appear "wealthy." Life may be sweet for you now but the problem with today is that this will come back to bite you. Unlike those with wealthy parents, your parents are "giving you money" they will need for their retirement by providing so much latitude for you now. Being a retired adult will only get more and more difficult. Get this now from them and later you will need to provide for them or risk watching them struggle with nothing later. But then you are selfish enough to turn your back when they need your help and say to them, "Too bad, so sad."

In short, grow up. Launch yourself into adulthood and let your parents save for their retirement.

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Barbara Ray is the coauthor of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood and Why It's Good for All of Us (Delacorte, Jan. 2011).

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