Tuesday, July 1, 2014

NYT on Boomerang Kids - I, or How Do We Move Out of Our Parents' Homes?

Courtesy of Paleontour

Technically, I am not a boomerang kid. A more accurate descriptor would be failure to launch, since my alma maters were local and enabled me to live at home through my early-twenties.

The New York Times article "It’s Official: The Boomerang Kids Won’t Leave" is an in-depth look at the rising trend of living with your parents well into adulthood. The stats on how many adults still rely on their parents for financial support shocked me. I had no idea.

When I was living at home and trying to get out, it seemed that there were a lot of other young adults who had made it -- who were employed and financially independent. Many of them even had fun, artsy-type jobs that you wouldn't expect would pay very well. As time went on, however, I learned that some of these young adults were not actually financially independent: their parents still paid for rent, car payments, or other bills. On one hand, I envied their ability to live their own lives apart from their families, even if it wasn't totally on their own steam. On the other hand, I certainly didn't want to depend on my parents for regular financial help in my mid-twenties.

According to Davidson at NYT:
"One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents. And 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from them. That’s a significant increase from a generation ago, when only one in 10 young adults moved back home and few received financial support. . .

But over the past 30 years, the onset of sustainable economic independence has been steadily receding. By 2007, before the recession even began, fewer than one in four young adults were married, and 34 percent relied on their parents for rent."

Turns out, I was in the same boat with everyone else, after all. The question is, how do we get out of that boat?

Davidson reminds us of history, saying, "For most of recorded history, a vast majority of people began working by age 4, typically on a farm, and were full time by 10."

He notes that childhood and mandatory education are post-industrial ideas, and that "[a]s the country grew wealthier. . . childhood expanded along with it. Eventually teenagers were no longer considered younger, less-competent adults but rather older children who should be nurtured and encouraged to explore."

The U.S., however, is not getting wealthier. "[I]t was natural for each generation to become richer than the previous one," Davidson says. "Now that’s no longer true."

As current twentysomethings and possibly future parents, what do we do about it? How should we respond? There are so many factors involved -- the recession, school debt, etcetera.

Nevertheless, I have to believe that we can find a way out: both for our generation and for the next one.