Updated on 08.27.14

Helicopter Parenting, Baby Boomers, & Financial Dependence

Trent Hamm

A few days ago, the AFL-CIO released the results of a surprising survey of workers under 35. This report, entitled Young Workers: A Lost Decade, contains some frightening statistics about the current state of employment and financial independence of people 35 and under.

A Few Shocking Facts:

– One in three young workers (those under 35) are currently living at home with their parents.
– Only 31% say they make enough money to cover their bills and put some money aside — 22% fewer than in 1999 – while 24% can’t pay their monthly bills.
– 37% have put off education or professional development because they can’t afford it.

What I Think is Happening:

1. High-income baby boomers aren’t retiring – at least not yet.

Many of them – many of my own family members included – are earning more than they ever have in their lives and see no reason to step out of the workplace while their health is intact, while they have freedom to travel and enjoy some of the luxuries in life, and while their children are still somewhat reliant on them. Plus, they’re uncertain about the status of their retirement (after the two recent giant market hiccups) and are afraid to rely on their retirement savings yet.

Quite often – as I’ve witnessed myself in workplace turnover – many workplaces will happily remove two people near retirement in order to hire two or three young workers at a reasonable starting wage. However, many people approaching retirement age simply aren’t retiring. They’ve got their health, they’ve got a healthy income, and they’re not feeling good about the security of retiring. They’re staying in the workplace when previous generations would be leaving.

And they’ve got kids in that 35 and under group who are struggling to keep their head above water, which leads us to the second problem.

I’m thirty. Many people my age still receive money regularly from my parents – I know several people personally who do. Beyond that, I know a few that still live at home with their parents. I know one married couple who lives with the bride’s parents.

Yes, I know more people who are on their own and fully independent than the people who are in these situations, but the statistics bear out the painful truth:

2. Children are remaining reliant on their parents until an older and older age.

Sure, some of it can be blamed on the job market – if baby boomers aren’t leaving the job market, then fewer new, good jobs are opening up.

However, the growth of “helicopter parenting” also plays a role. It’s commonplace for parents to be heavily involved with their children’s lives in college and often this keeps going into the workplace, where parents are involved in the salary negotiations for their children and, obviously, provide a home for their children if the job hunt doesn’t go quite as expected.

As a parent, I understand the desire to want to provide safety for my children. I don’t want my daughter to scrape her knee and I don’t want my son to fall off his bike. But I realize that if I don’t let my daughter climb those monkey bars and I don’t let my son ride off on his bike, they’ll never build up the self-confidence they need to realize that they can do this. Instead, when they fall, they’ll simply expect me to help – and that reliance often breeds a secret resentment as well.

The Solution? Cut the Cord

Parents, let your children be independent.

Let them fail a few times. Let them struggle a little. Yes, it’s tempting to go in there and solve their problems and kiss their scratches, but that short term balm causes a bigger long term problem of a lack of self-reliance. Don’t send your child money. Don’t call them constantly with encouragement. Don’t try to do things for them, either. Let them grow and figure it out.

Children, cut the connection yourself.

Ask your parents not to send that money and not to be involved in the core of your life. If they keep interfering, stop telling them about what’s going on with you. It’s not a matter of rejecting them or hating them, it’s about a separation of your life from theirs. It’s about growing up and taking the reins of your own life.

Don’t be afraid to take lesser jobs.

You probably won’t get the perfect job right out of college. That doesn’t mean you just sit and wait for it to happen. Work somewhere, even if it’s just delivering pizzas. Make your own money. Put in your own hours to earn that money. And use that money to fly on your own. Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, you won’t get “ahead” as easy if your parents aren’t paying the bills. But you’ll learn how to rely on yourself and you’ll also learn how to make ends meet on a limited budget. The end result of that is that when things begin to turn around for you, you’ll have the self-reliance and maturity to grab things by the reins and take charge from day one.

It’s not about building the perfect, ideal path through life – there’s no such thing. Everyone will eventually fall at some point. Instead, it should be about learning that you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off on your own, and go on from there. This is an absolutely essential skill for the modern working world, and helicopter parenting makes this far more difficult.

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  1. Jane says:

    Interesting topic. My mother-in-law sometimes sends us money – not because we ask for it, but because my husband’s older brother does. And she likes to have everything be equal. We have often told her it’s not necessary and not to, but she does anyway. I personally think it’s shameful that my brother-in-law (who is over 40!) asks for money on occasion to cover bills. He makes tens of thousands more than we do but is just a spendthrift.

    All the money she gives us just goes right into savings.

    I think it’s important to recognize cultural differences in the issue of how long children stay at home. In certain places in Europe, it is standard for children to live at home until they marry. We shouldn’t see someone as a “loser” just because they live at home. But I agree that if it is because of financial immaturity that it needs to be addressed.

  2. Sheila says:

    Great post! Everyone wants to start out on second base without ever having to stand in the batter’s box and take a swing. And it’s hard to swing if your parents are in the box with you.

  3. Carey says:

    I didn’t believe the parents negotiating salaries for their children thing, so I had to click on that link. O. M. G.

    There shouldn’t be a stigma surrounding adult children who live with their parents. You can share a household with someone and still lead an independent life. Even monetary support from time to time is part of being in a family and taking care of one another. But salary negotiations? Seriously?

  4. butterandjelly213 says:

    Trent, I am so pleased with this article. I fall into the “young worker” category and I am continually astonished at what my peers are willing to accept for themselves.

    When I got my first job after college, I was seen as “odd” because I was living on my own with no input (rent, car insurance) from my parents. Same thing when I bought my first home at age 24 and when I chose a graduate school based on the education I would receive, not the easiest one to get through. Did I struggle to pay bills? Of course! But the experience was incredible and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    For many years now, I have found myself with friends who are much older (chronological age only!), simply because they subscribe to a level of independence and accountability I can’t find easily in my peers.

    Come to think of it, that’s a big reason why I enjoy your blog so much. It’s gratifying to know that not all of us in that age group are approaching our lives in that fashion.

  5. Johanna says:

    I only glanced at the report, but it looks very fishy to me. Note that it never gives statistics broken down by age (other than “under 35” and “over 35”), there’s no obvious definition of “young workers” (does it include teenagers? college students?), almost all of the quotes come from people 30 and older, and almost all of the people in the pictures look a lot more like 30-somethings than 20-somethings. They’re clearly trying to imply that these problems are widespread among 30-somethings without actually saying it. They want you to walk away with the image of huge numbers of 35-year-olds forced to live with their parents, but they haven’t given any evidence that this is actually happening.

  6. lauren says:

    just don’t broad stroke every kid who lives with their parent after they graduate from high school. we want our kids to live with us until they marry. however, be productive, save save save – be ready to financially launch your marriage and family. what’s wrong with that? (although you’ll never see me negotiating my child’s salary!)

  7. Christopher Hylarides says:

    The AFL-CIO is the same organization that pushes incessantly for higher minimum wages, making it much more expensive for businesses to hire inexperienced people.
    They’re the same organization that pushes seniority over hard work, thereby slowing people’s assent to higher positions.
    They’re the same organization that pushes for rent control, thereby limiting the amount of new dwellings that are constructed.

    These guys don’t protect the workers. They may think they do. They may even be sincere, but they’ve been a large part of the problem for awhile.

  8. JS Dixon says:

    Wow, I knew things like this were common, but I had no idea it had gotten this bad. I am so glad I moved out on my own. Freedom can only come from taking responsibility of your own life.

  9. Penny says:

    I agree with Joey; what is the baseline for “under 35” exactly? I also wonder what percentage of thos living at home or receving a bunch of assistance as pseudo-adults are also single parents to young children? I am sure that would play a substantial role?

    I personally chose to buy a house at age 22 and forgo finishing college. It’s lame in that if I needed to look for a job, I’d be “competing” with inexperienced college grads simply cuz they have that magical piece of paper, but what can you do other than trust that all your *needs* will be met one way or another? At least I have self respect :)

  10. I’ve been around long enough to see the umbilical cord finally cut by the death of the parents in a few cases, and it’s never pretty. It should never go that long, but sometimes it does.

    Just a thought on the helicopter parenting style…I think it’s possible that popular TV programs over the past generation or so–from Ozzie and Harriett to the Brady Bunch to Full House and the Cosby Show–redefined what “good parents” look like and how they should behave.

    They’ve eliminated the seemingly harsh, but totally necessary implementation of tough love, and replaced it with a system in which parents are beholden to their children, often without limit. That’s how the perfect parents raise the perfect children in what we like to believe is a perfect world. The flaw is that reality isn’t TV.

    What we’re seeing now is the clash of those faux expectations against the wall of reality. Excessive benevolence has created a large crop of adult kids who can’t function in the real world, and often have little motivation to do so.

    There are other factors as well, certainly economics play a part, but I think that the TV influence can’t be ignored. Parents don’t function the way they did a generation or two ago, because they no longer think the same way.

  11. rkt88edmo says:

    Are multigeneration households really a bad thing?

    I couldn’t imagine living with my parents voluntarily, and haven’t had to since I was 20, but is it relly such a bad thing for those that do?

  12. George says:

    Just because people live with their parents doesn’t mean they are reliant on their parents.

    Just because people are not be able to pay their bills & save money doesn’t mean they are underpaid or underemployed.

    In other words, don’t jump to conclusions.

  13. Katie says:

    My friends who are living at home after graduating from college are doing it to save cash. I live in the metro NYC area, and it’s beyond expensive, even with recent market corrections. Some of my other friends simply haven’t been able to find a job. The market is terrible and having a BA from a good college carries less weight. I’m living at home so I don’t put six months of rent on a credit card. My parents left me alone a great deal, hardly sent money during college and hardly visited. But my family realizes that with little income, I just can’t afford a place. Living in a car seems like a truly bad idea. Living at home and pitching in where I can doesn’t.

    Also, in other countries, living with your extended family is quite normal. The US is pretty unique in sending the kids to get their own place at age 22.

  14. Johanna says:

    Gosh. Nobody else has called me “Joey” for at least 20 years. :)

  15. Stacey says:

    Going to a far-away college for four years was the best thing I ever did… it forced me to become an adult quickly and take responsiblity for my financial actions. I really think my generation (I’m 24) has no clue what they’re doing, and that they’ll be in for a big shock when mommy and daddy retire and can no longer hand over an “allowance.” My husband and I may not have the best paying jobs, but we live within our means and even manage to save a bit each month. It’s a shame they can’t teach financial responsibility in high school.

  16. Jeremy says:

    Great post. In my experience, it is those post-college-aged friends who still live with their parents who give me the most grief about not spending money on things they do (going out to bars, travel, etc). When I tell them I can’t afford it, they are confused because they think it is perfectly normal for a 25-year old’s parents to pay rent, utilities, food, and even give them spending money.

    I have several 24-28 year old friends who don’t have jobs and are not looking for jobs because all of their expenses are paid by their parents. It makes the friendships difficult because we have less and less in common as I progress through life and they cruise down easy street.

    I try to keep my words from sounding jealous, but often times I do covet their situations. However, I know that I’m doing what’s right for me.

  17. Christine says:

    The thought of continuing to live with my parents (I’m 25 and have lived on my own since first year university) mortifies me!
    I have always been very independent, spending my summers at sleepover camp as a child and living in my school’s town over the summer during university. I LOVE my family and they would no doubt give me money every time I asked for it if I did, but I want to feel fully free to make decisions on my own without feeling the obligation to do what my parents want because they are providing me with the monetary means to get there.

    Trent- I have a question for you. I would like to implement the system you use where you and your wife give yourselves an “allowance” every week to spend on whatever you wish. May I ask approximately how much that allowance is? I’m struggling to decide what an appropriate amount is (my partner and I have good jobs but also lots of debt).

    I was also wondering if you have ever or might ever post some handy Evernote hacks- I just started using it and could use some tips.


  18. Rosa says:

    All of the people under 35 I know who live with their parents are supporting their parents, not the other way around.

    We have a friend who pays his parents mortgage. I have several friends whose parents live with them full or part-time because the parents jobs in rural areas disappeared and they had to get jobs in town, where all the young folks already moved. Several more of my friends bought houses with an extra bedroom because they knew the state of their parents “retirement savings”, and one of my coworkers had her mom and teenaged sister living with her after her parents house was foreclosed.

    I’m sure there are irresponsible sponging 25 year olds in that group, but I don’t think “helicopter parenting” is the real issue – more like, financial insecurity, lack of defined-benefit pension plans, and everyone at every age being in too much debt.

  19. IRG says:

    Trent writes:
    Sure, some of it can be blamed on the job market – if baby boomers aren’t leaving the job market, then fewer new, good jobs are opening up.

    Trent, perhaps you don’t keep up with the news. THe job losses in this country are not primarily because baby boomers are staying in their jobs–many have been canned, are being canned or will soon be canned. They are living in daily fear of how they will survive.

    You now sound like those of your age group, chomping at the bit to “move ahead” and frustrated because we baby boomers just don’t get out of the workforce and preferably just die (so we don’t drain your income with our social security!).

    Companies are going under, industries have died and there have been no real replacement jobs. Outsourcing to foreign companies is still going strong. There are lots of reasons that jobs aren’t out there: For all age groups. Try to be a bit more accurate and balanced in your comments.

    Everyone I know over 50 is struggling to keep a job or get a job and try to maintain some semblance of a life. The fact that people who have worked several decades and have much to offer doesn’t matter anymore. Younger is automatically assumed by many businesses to be smarter and better. Ageism is alive and well.

    You seem to think all baby boomers were high-earning, perhaps high living, folks. NOT the case. You need to really understand how strapped most baby boomers are. We help our our kids with college and now, as you note, beyond. we take care of our parents–and that’s expensive. There’s not a lot of money and we NEED to work. It isn’t always that we even would want to work.
    (Hey, I’d do volunteer work full-time if I could retire.)

    I’ve got a decade or more of work before I can even think of retiring. However, getting work is more and more difficult.

    For those of you who think the solution is to get all the baby boomers out of the workforce, think again. Not to mention that the young folks today, many, but not all, seem to think that their first jobs have to be the equivalent of jobs that most people get in mid-career. And are reluctant to do anything if it is not their “ideal” job. Two words: Grow up.

    A friend of mine in her mid-40s now has her son living with her again. Why? He can’t find a job in what he wants to do (photography) and refuses to take a job that is “beneath him” (his words). The fact that many creative people, of all ages, work all kinds of “menial, uncreative” jobs has escaped this kid and his entitled pals. (FYI: My friend is stuggling to make ends meet and her kid doesn’t even care. She’s now stuck with his loan because she, stupidly in my opinion, co-signed a loan that he has defaulted on…thus jeopardizing her financial well-being. He doesn’t even care that he isn’t repaying his school loans.)

    Most of us worked our asses off in whatever jobs we could get when we entered the workforce after college and for some years beyond, albeit in our fields of interest, and some of us literally worked our way up.

    If you want to know why some smart employers don’t just fire all their older employees and hire younger ones, it’s because of the work ethic that many younger folks don’t seem to have. Again, not all younger workers.

    I hate ageism and I don’t want to knock all 20 and 30 somethings, cause there are many hard workers among them. And many who also toil at jobs they don’t love to pay bills and be independent. Who know that you don’t go from college to your dream job, nor do you necessarily find it later on.

    One of the reason so many kids are back in the fold is because their parents quite frankly did not raise them to be independent.

    Sorry, but a kid should not be asking or taking money from their parents in their 30s or late 20s unless it’s a medical emergency or some other thing they could not have anticipated.

    People of my generation work their asses off and still do. Why? Because there never was and never will be someone to bail us out.

    When we went to college, we got scholarships and took loans and worked three jobs. And though we complained of being tired, we were grateful we had the jobs. But then, we did not confuse who we were with what we did and had more respect for all types of work.

    As I told my friend, now that you’ve taken your son in, and are NOT charging him rent, you’ve removed the last incentive he had to really get a job.

    This isn’t the first time it’s been difficult for young people to get jobs. It won’t be the last.

    IF your kids need help, think carefully about what/how you give. And be careful to not remove any incentive for them to haul their asses and job hunt.

    Cause frankly, unless you’re rich, if you don’t get the kids out, you’ll be in financial trouble yourself.

    And as one person said, we’re not assuming all kids living home are not contributing. I’m only talking about the leeches who come back, pay nothing, and have their parents basically take care of them (do laundry, buy and prepare food, etc.) as if they were kids again. I’m talking about the kids who think their parents OWE them a place to live.

  20. kirstie says:

    Hmm – I am a little sceptical about parents trying to negotiate salaries. However, perhaps involving yourself in your child’s career isn’t such a recent phenomenon – what about the Kennedy and Bush families or the old school tie network?

  21. kirstie says:

    I have looked, but I can’t find the bit of the post where Trent says “Baby Boomers, give up your jobs!”

  22. kristine says:

    I have one child who is dying to live on her own (the older), and one who loves my tlc so much I predict he would stay home as long as possible (the younger). Both teens. We are not prepared for retirement, and are still paying of our own school loans for Phd and masters.

    Our plan? Stay where we are through our son’s first Christmas home from college, then move. Hours away. We want to be in a rural area anyway, and may, by then, be able to buy a bit of property outright, slowly putting together some kind of a home, off the grid. No cable, only solar power, short showers and little room = visits, not homecoming.

    What can we do in the meantime? Make them do their own chores, earn their own spending money, buy their own cars, and not co-sign for loans. You have to prepare your kids for self-reliance- it does not magically happen with the eighteenth birthday cake. (My parents had to kick my brother out at 25.)

  23. Josh says:

    If I was a hiring manager, I would immediately eliminate any candidates who have a parent come in and try to negotiate the salary, and I would tell the parent to their face that they just cost their precious snowflake a job.

  24. lurker carl says:

    Please use common sense before accepting biased conclusions.

    AFL-CIO is a legion of labor unions – the data, statistics and conclusions in this report is suspect. Why would they publish anything except gloom and doom for those entering the workforce? A positive scenario would be counter productive for recruiting new union members, especially since union membership has been declining for years.

    This reminds me of another report with the suspicious claim that consuming diet soda causes weight gain. I suppose the fact that a sugar industry group sponsored the study has little to do with those findings.

  25. Joan says:

    I agree with the earlier commenter who said not to write off multi-generational families living together.

    I went from living with my mother until I was 18… to having my mother, who is 74 and still working, live with my husband and I. The only change was who paid the mortgage! I lead a very independent life, and so does she, but we all benefit.

    Not only does it make the best use of our house and our finances – we all have a better lifestyle than we could separately – it is a great way for my 9-year-old daughter to be close to her “Mommom.”

    FWIW, I’m sure that, at 26, I am counted as “living with parents” in this study. And, considering that I pay the mortgage but my mom covers other bills, I’m pretty sure that’s an unfair characterization. We all support ourselves.

  26. getagrip says:

    Wasn’t some of this covered in the “The Millionaire Next Door”? Called it something like Economic Outpatient Care or some such and gave some pretty clear examples of how parenting to help economically can really hurt your kids instead.

    I’d also take the report provided with a grain of salt. I can see a large number of young adults living with parents for a few years until they can get independent, or boomeranging back after a divorce, serious job loss, etc. particularly around large cities where the report may have drawn most of its findings from. Also as mentioned already, there is no indication that the young adults may be supporting older parents who are struggling.

    Finally, I resent the agism of the piece as well. Any company waiting for old age attrition before they hire younger workers is killing itself by not getting any new blood in and not using its old blood effectively. Just remember, whatever you promote for older folks now, will be heaped upon you in spades later.

  27. Jim says:

    I’d be curious to see the historical trends over the past 50 years. I bet this is just a longer term trend that has been developing in the US for decades. I don’t think its especially new with the current younger generation. Plus we’re in the middle of a major recession so the labor situation is especially bad right now.

    I don’t think the current actions of the baby boomers are causing problems for younger generations. We had 5% unemployment 18 months ago so nothing was especially broken then. And the quality of jobs in the US has not spontaneously gotten bad for young people. If its gone downhill then thas been happening over decades.

  28. Angela says:

    As a 28 year old single woman who lives with her parents I can’t say that I see a direct tie between that and financial irresponsibility. My parents are both retired and have a large house. I was going to move out once I graduated college and got a job but when that time came they specifically requested that I stay. Upon my insistance we negotiated the highest rent they would take from me a month ($200) and we’ve been this way for years. My parents respect my privacy. I respect theirs. To me getting an apartment which would cost me several hundred dollars more a month plus utilities just so I can say I live on my own would be an incredibly irresponsible thing to do. Currently I can easily meet all my bills, save, invest and travel as much as I like.

    Also I have another friend my age who is in the position another commenter made where she’s preparing to move in with her parents who are still working but unable to cover all of their bills to help them out.

  29. kristine says:

    Interesting point by getaqgrip. I’ll bet the number of adult children living with parents has a positive correlation to the divorce rate.

  30. Jim says:

    #24 Carl said: “AFL-CIO is a legion of labor unions – the data, statistics and conclusions in this report is suspect”

    The AFLCIO is a labor organization and its publications will be biased in support of labor.

    But that does should not call into question the accuracy of the data and statistics.

    I easily found data from the Census that shows rate of adults under 35 living at home is ~30% level. So that figure is accurate enough. So while the fact is correct, it may certainly be presented in a way to spin it how they want.

  31. Brittany says:

    Great post! It kills me how many of my friends have mommy and daddy’s credit cards! By virtue of her economic situation, I’ve received basically no financial support from my mother since I turned 18 (on her health insurance until I graduated college and occasional help with medical bills) and went to college, but I like to think even if my parents had been able to give me money, I wouldn’t have taken anything more expect tutition help. To go back and live with them once I graduated? Never!

    One friend of my mine’s parents did have a good system, though. They told their daughters that after the summer once they graduated college, they would have to pay rent ti live at home. However, the parents kept the rent money in a savings account and told the girls they would give them the money back for an apartment deposit/starter money once they were able to move out on their own. I thought this was a great way to encourage self-eficacy while still providing some support.

  32. psychsarah says:

    What I see in the comments is that many people wish to avoid drawing generalizations based on this research. There are always situations that, when examined individually, appear completely reasonable, but when lumped into “data”, demonstrate patterns that people get up in arms about. I think the more interesting research would be to test theories as to why more people under 35 are living with parents than in past generations-I’m not ready to assume this change in pattern is good or bad, until we know the whole picture.

    I think like many financial issues, your choices can be dictated by your values. I value my independence, and so do my parents, so at this point, I couldn’t imagine living with them again (I’m 31 and left home at 19 for school), but as others point out, many cultures have more collectivist values, and see it as the norm for generations of families to live together and support each other in many ways (money, child care, elder care, emotional support, etc.). In fact, thinking “out loud”, perhaps one hypothesis to explore would be to look at the influence of immigration from collectivist cultures has on this change in pattern.

    That said, I personally experienced “helicoptering parenting” when I taught a first year undergrad course. I was amazed at how dependent these kids (18-18 year olds) were. I had parents calling about grades, complaining that I hadn’t exempted Junior from an exam etc. I was embarrased for these kids-I would have died if my parents called my university profs!

  33. Meg says:

    Remember, you’re speaking from a very Western viewpoint. In my culture, it’s much more normal for children, both married and unmarried, to contribute to the household and continue to live with their parents. My husband and I live with my parents, pay rent, and we have no intention of leaving any time soon. God willing, we will raise our children hhere. A multigenerational home is wonderful.

  34. SteveJ says:

    I always considered myself more independent than my peers, especially in the realm of income, I did seasonal work from age 10 on, did part time work at 15 on, and started full time plus high school the day I turned 18. I went far off to college with a good idea of what I was capable of.

    But the real eye opener was much like Trent recommends. I called my dad towards the end of my first year because I was running out of board money (prepaid at the beginning of the year) and wasn’t going to make it until the end. I think I asked for a few hundred dollars. He didn’t have it. At that point it really opened up for me. The safety net is an illusion. I bought one cheeseburger a day for the next six weeks and found free food where I could.

    As a parent, it would kill me to turn down my kids, especially if they were a thousand miles away and I didn’t know the situation. But in my case, that was probably one of the best things to happen to me. I grew up in a minute and took charge of my own affairs. I’m so used to running the show that I now have to work to rein myself in and let my kids fall now and then.

  35. Meg says:

    Also, living multigenerationally can be very frugal. My rent money goes into my parents’ pocket, and it’s money that they wouldn’t have otherwise. It costs less, over a household of 5, to pay for heat and electricity than if we had separate residences. We waste less food. We can share chores. We can buy in quantity for greater savings. With this many hands, maintaining a garden is easy.

    I think that Westerners often overlook the benefits of such a situation. Americans often have an “individualism uber alles” mentality, while in other cultures, we view ourselves as part of families first.

  36. I think that it comes down to what you are willing to do to be independent. I suspect that the majority of college graduates have a sizable amount of student loan debt, but were told that the job they get will pay it off in no time. I suspect that they also have car debt, because they were told that it is what everyone else does (which is largely true).

    The bottom line here is that I think the long-term financial priorities of the young are upside down and the result is they don’t have a place to come home to. I currently rent but I do plan on buying a house someday. In the meantime, I will not go out and buy a nice television or a new video game system or a better car because I would rather save up and buy a home.

    I tend not to blame the baby boom generation for this problem. The blame can easily be spread around from the parents who don’t realize that their children are a reflection of them, to the schools who are more concerned with classes that involve putting a condom on a banana instead of balancing a checkbook, to the kids themselves who should know better because it’s all just plain common sense. The entertainment-driven culture we have has a lot to do with it as well, where people (not just children) are more concerned with the next entertainment high than doing what they need to get done.

    Overall, I think that most kids have their heads on straight, there are just the ones who don’t who stand out like a sore thumb.

    By the way, I have question the statistics given by the AFL-CIO since they have a serious bias in this. It would more so than usual because I believe they have a monetary stake in producing such a report.

  37. NMPatricia says:

    Interesting post and probably more interesting comments. I grew up expecting I needed to leave home and with the expectation that was what people did. So after my sophmore year in college, I “move out” with the exception of two more years four years later when I went back to nursing school. That turned out to be a blessing as my grandmother had just moved in with us, Dad was recovering from a life threatening cancer and my mother was more than a little stressed! We lived happily for two years as four adults in a household, but also three generations. But then out I went.

    I also want to point out that it is not generally supported by “peers” to encourage children to leave. I started in high school with my children. And it was tough as they went to school with lots of kids who had a lot of money and were given it seemed everything. (The stories I heard about cars!) The kids knew I would support them through college (with their working to help) and then they were on their own. My older one came home for a short time but sort of stalled in his life. With some encouragement from my husband, I gave him three months to get a job and/or move out. In one week he had a job across the country in his field and was gone. Little quick for me, but it seemed boundaries were what he needed. But my kids still look at their peers and then look at what I have done. And while they are glad that they are independent and capable, free stuff looks good.

  38. Jane says:

    “Sorry, but a kid should not be asking or taking money from their parents in their 30s or late 20s unless it’s a medical emergency or some other thing they could not have anticipated.”

    So, when my parents or in-laws send me a check in the mail that I neither asked for nor encouraged, I should tear it up? Sorry, not happening. I don’t need the money. We live debt free except for our mortgage, but we are also not rich and the money gets put to good use.

  39. JW says:

    I see both sides of this. First, I love the multi-generational households of Europe. I think they are incredibly practical and supportive. When I moved back to my hometown, I lived with my parents for a year while selling my first home and buying another. We both enjoyed the closeness. However, I didn’t squander that year. I offered to pay rent, which they refused, so I used that money to pay off my car and save for my first set of apartments, which I simply could not have done as quickly if I were paying $500+/mo for my own place.

    On the other hand, I teach high school, and I see parents who simply will not allow their kids to fight their own battles. Nothing is ever their kids’ fault, and exceptions to rules should be handed out freely according to them. I can absolutely tell a huge difference between the kids whose parents have let them make their own mistakes and face the consequences when necessary, and those kids whose parents have tried to protect them from every negative experience. It seems a very dangerous thing to me. Also, in The Millionaire Next Door, Dr. Danko actually points out that most people who receive financial help from their parents actually have a much lower chance of accumulating wealth than those who go it 100% on their own. He calls it “economic out-patient care”.

  40. Andi says:

    Don’t you think there is a difference between a mulitgenerational household where all members are contributing something and a household where a 25-year old child is living because he/she can’t find the perfect job or manage money?

  41. Cookie says:

    How do people handle “adult relationships” when living with parents in their 20’s and 30’s. If a man invited me over for a dinner date (a nice frugal alternative to a fancy restaurant) and his parents were in the home I would feel very uncomfortable.

  42. Alexandra says:

    #10 Kevin@OutOfYourRut – I agree, parenting styles have changed DRASTICALLY within the past few generations.

    I love watching the differences in parenting styles in Mad Men. There is a great scene where the mom catches sight of one of her kids in the other room out of the corner of her eye and yells at her to “get in here”. When the kid comes in the room, she has a plastic dry cleaners bag over her head, and it is going into her mouth and nose with each inhalation. The mom just scolds her for jumping on the couch and dismisses her – not a word about the plastic bag on her head.

    We all remember playing outside unsupervised until the lights came on (that was the signal we had to go home). Nowadays, parents are considered unfit if they leave their children alone for even a second.

    As for children and money, I have every intention of helping my child out as she matures into a self-reliant adult. I truly believe that education is the key to good financial parenting, and I don’t think that parents have to send their kids to “the school of hard knocks” to teach them fiscal responsibility. I have a list of things that I want to pay for my daughter: her education, her first car, her wedding and the downpayment on her first house. This is dependant on her being a good person and a contributing member of society. It seems nonsensical to me to make a whole bunch of money and NOT share it with your children.

    Why do I have to wait until I’m dead and she inherits it all? I’d rather give it to her while I am alive and I can see her reap the benefits of my labour.

  43. Matt says:

    “Sorry, but a kid should not be asking or taking money from their parents in their 30s or late 20s unless it’s a medical emergency or some other thing they could not have anticipated.”

    by corollary the article is really stipulating the parents should learn to say no, and not give the money and let their kids learn by falling. You can say ‘simpsons did it’ by experience is the name we give to our mistakes.

  44. Jen says:

    @Jane (#38): so true! My parents have done this a couple of times even though they know it makes me feel insulted and angry. Truth be told, the money has been helpful, but I knowingly got myself into the relevant situations and I wanted to get myself out of them. Yet I can’t shred the checks because doing so would be severely hurtful to my parents. (The check to help with my orthodontist bills must have been a wrench for my dad to write, for a variety of reasons.)

  45. Alexandra (42)–“We all remember playing outside unsupervised until the lights came on (that was the signal we had to go home). Nowadays, parents are considered unfit if they leave their children alone for even a second.”

    Well said!

    We live in an area with boatloads of kids all over; the schools are so overcrowded that trailers are common classrooms. But try to find any of them out playing after school, on weekends, or even on summer vacation! Weekend and summer days look like those scenes from the Twilight Zone with convincing looking communities, but not a living soul in sight.

    So many kids spend so much time playing with electronic games or engaging in SUPERVISED activities that there’s little time to to run, romp, fall and figure out how to deal with playground crises–all activities that prepare them for the real world.

    It’s no wonder so many young people are so fragile! The schools here have even banned baseball (bats are dangerous weapons) and kickball (too agressive). Parents are chosing their kids friends, activities, and college majors for them.

    Exactly how does junior learn to function independently in that sort of upbringing???

  46. Mneiae says:

    I guess I fall into this category. I’m in college and my parents are supporting me. However, their intent is to teach me financial responsibility at 18. This means that I handle the bursar bills and any other bills that I incur in college with my generous yearly allowance. The allowance has a finite end amount and I will be paying for my professional education when I get there.

    My older sister moved back in May from her job in Singapore and is living at home again. This was really a decision on my parents’ part, not hers. They want to see her save up and go back to college before it’s too late and she is married. My sister has a perfectly adequate amount of education; her bachelor’s is in genetics and she also has a degree in entrepreneurship. My parents still insist that she’s a child, though, and take care of her. They think that she’s less mature than me, despite having lived in Singapore by herself.

    I think that there is a huge cultural gap involved here. Receiving money from my parents for education will be repaid fivefold when I support them through retirement. I know that Americans don’t generally support their parents through retirements, but it’s expected culturally from mine. I don’t feel like I should not take the help when I need it, as it’s really an exchange within the family. The family’s resources are always shared.

  47. Chiara says:

    Multi-generational households can be wonderful – completely depends on the family, and is a totally separate issue from a grown children unable to support themselves. I don’t know how useful those kinds of stats are, given so many reasons for it. And how many people have to move in with family for some months or a year in a transitional period? Not the same thing as ongoing dependence. Ongoing dependence, as someone mentioned above, was shown by The Millionaire Next Door to be a good way to ensure that your children never succeed as much as you did. That said, my in-laws like to give occasional monetary gifts (thankfully no emotional strings attached), which we don’t depend on, but appreciate as something like a bonus.

    I don’t think Trent meant to imply that older workers should move out of the way, although it may have struck a nerve because there ARE people who do say that. It’s a completely ridiculous idea – first of all, kids, the world doesn’t owe you a living, right? Get out there and find your own way. Secondly, it’s not like there is one Workplace out there with exactly x-million Jobs and a queue where one youngster goes in when someone retires. People are living longer all the time – it is a GOOD and natural thing that the healthy and productive years are lasting longer as well. My MIL is happily working at almost 70 because it took a long time to work up to the position she has now and she is enjoying it (and enjoying having money to spend on her family). She certainly doesn’t owe anyone her job as long as she is good enough to keep it.

  48. Meg says:

    @Mneiae: my culture also expects the children to support their parents, which is why the parents believe that they can pick their child’s college major and career path for them. My options were engineering, medicine, or failure, and they told me which college I was allowed to attend. After all, I’m their insurance policy. I’m not sure that’s a good thing because I’m not happy.

  49. Meg says:

    How do people handle “adult relationships” when living with parents in their 20’s and 30’s.

    My husband and I got married straight out of college. He joined the family and moved in. My mother helped me redo my bedroom and the guest bedroom as living spaces for us. Dating around would have been frowned upon.

  50. Meg says:

    Shoot. I’m the Meg in comments 49, 35 and 32. I’m not the Meg at #38. My parents let me choose m own major, even though it was a BA in history.

  51. Sandy says:

    Don’t you think it has to start very young? Trent mentioned his little ones, and it starts there. As they get older, you give them responsibilities at their own levels. In our household (we’re 47 and have a sophmore in HS and a 6th grader), from about 3rd grade, they have been on their own as far as homework goes. They know that THEY are responsible for their work. I can count on one hand the number of times they have come to me or my husband for something they couldn’t get. Other than that, they’ve rarely missed an assignment, and get A’s. Same with packing school lunches…starting at 5th grade, THEY get up 15 minutes earlier to put it together. We give each of them a set amount for about 1/2 of the school year, and they decide how to space out the lunch money (usually enough to purchase 3-4 lunches per month. When they are out, they are out. We’ve already told them that they will be responsible for 20% of their college education. They can start saving now, and find odd jobs along the way. My sophmore babysits some neighbor children 3 days per week after school, and will have a little paycheck through out the year. Plus they both have regular chores, like dishwashing (each girl does every other night)and once per week family cleanup time. Yes, they both have school activities and friends, etc..But, hopefully, they will know what is required of them in life, and that life isn’t all about playing.
    I kinda realized that problems could arise with this issue in general when my oldest played soccer for a few seasons. Everyone got the same trophy just for playing. Nobody got Best Player…I thought then…if these kids are all learning that all you have to do in life is show up and someone will reward you for your “effort”, society will definately have a problem on their hands.

  52. Noadi says:

    Not every young person living at home with their parents do it for the same reasons. I’m going to be moving out on my own in a few months (we decided that before the holidays wasn’t a good idea even though I can afford it now) and the reason I’ll be getting out there with a solid foundation is because my parents have been so supportive. They let me live with them in return for cooking and caring for my disabled uncle (which saves them a lot more than I cost) so I could start my own business and get it up and running successfully. Despite living with them they’ve been very firm about not giving me money, I am responsible for all my bills so I have no expectation of them giving me money once I move out.

  53. Kelly says:

    You just described my sister. She’s 31 yrs old. After her husband left her 3 yrs ago, she and her 3 kids moved into my parents house and haven’t left! My parents are basically supporting all four of them. My sister does work, less than full time between two part-time jobs. Her salary goes to buying bras and panties at Victorias Secret, Juicy Couture handbags, the latest iPod and iPhone. I could go on. She gives my parents little to no money for room and board.

    I moved out when I got married over 10 yrs ago. While I was single, I lived with my parents but I paid them rent every month. Not my sister.

  54. Amber says:

    I agree to a certain extent that children don’t get enough romp around time, but bad things do happen to children and parents can be scared for good reasons…My youngest brother who is 10 was in a terrible car crash 3 months ago that 4 children died in. He lost a leg and is very brain damaged now because he was with his father for the weekend and he wasn’t being watched and got into a car with a neighbor who went 110 mph after a firetruck and hit a tree. Also, video games and TV are another reason children aren’t like they were when even I was growing up (in mid 20s).

    Also my Dad told me when I was 16 to get a job and I started paying for most of my daily living then and there. I have many many friends who have no clue what its like in the real world and have never held a real job. When I lost my first real job I moved in with my parents for a month to get back on track and promptly moved out…maybe it is the mid western lifestyle, but my parents would not tolerate sponging or leeching behaviors and I’m proud and of them for that…and grateful.

  55. Lee says:

    Christ, that’s frightening reading Trent.

  56. Jane says:

    @Alexandra #42
    I hope you wouldn’t take the parenting styles in Mad Men as something you should emulate, considering the show is largely a criticism of 1960s social and familial culture. The director seems to have a bone to pick with the way in which he was brought up in that time. He spends a lot of screen time showing just how different people were back then – and not different in a good way.

    There has to be a happy medium between the current helicopter parenting that we can all agree is a problem, and the semi-neglectful parenting of some previous decades. Children do need supervision, but it’s finding out how to give them freedom to live in the midst of this.

  57. Patty says:

    Trent – good job. In my profession, I see lots of grandparents affording their children a lifestyle that the child couldn’t afford on their own. I counsel them that it won’t work when the grandparents are gone. It will be a very rude awakening for the child – say some where in an age of 50-60s. Oh well…. and they say that’s a deep subject.

    Good Job on the post.

  58. Mneiae says:

    @Meg of 48
    They would have preferred to have me go to med school and they were briefly excited when I was told by a med school professor at the school that I would have attended that unequivocally I should be a doctor. They know that I don’t enjoy math enough to be an engineer. Right now I’m a business student at a top 20 school and plan on getting an MBA/JD. As I said before, I will be paying for it eventually. Business lawyer was never what they had in mind for me growing up, but my ability to read and retain 760+ page books in 2 hours and my exposure to the family businesses during my childhood are currently pointing me in that direction.

  59. Pat Brown says:

    Andie (#40) is spot on.

    This is a hot button for me.

    DH and I are in our early fifties with two sons in their mid-twenties, and moving back with us for anything short of Cancer or a Spinal Cord Injury has never even been on the table. Yes, DH and I were blessed to have parents who valued education and paid 80% of our college expenses but we studied hard ,which left us as Commissioned Military Officers and newlyweds at ages 21 (me) and 23. From our folks, we got hand-me-down starter furniture and a down-payment on a used car, but generally we were self-supporting adults. No cable, mismatched furniture, dinners at home and camping vacations, but we were happy.

    Our kids knew from age 8 or 9 that after high school they could go to college and live at home under our rules, or get a job and go live wherever they wanted on their own dime. One got the message, the other slept on friends’ couches and ate top ramen after flunking out of college (for behavior, not brains…IQ’s around 176)—and then he got a decent job with benefits. Like our parents, we gladly gift items such as cribs and tires once in awhile or just because, but these are NOT expected, by us then or our sons now.

    I am excluding young adults with healh problems (real ones, not “anxiety” and obesity) from the following, but my observation is that people who as kiddies got trophies just for showing up, lest they have any “self-esteem” problems, while concurrently playing the latest videogames and sporitng name brand clothes and high end cell phones experience total shell shock when the cost of being an adult hits them. They want NOW what Mommy and Daddy spent years earning, AND to be ever happy and loved at work AND to have time off whenever AND to live alone or with a romantic partner in a nice place. Never would think of the two bedroom walk-up apartment that Mom lived in with three other girls in 1972!

    Multigenerational families that work together for the family unit? Teriffic? Thirty year old children living with Mommy and Daddy because the world is too “hard” and rent cuts into clubbing money and BMW payments??? Digusting and pathetic.

    Two words—grow up.

  60. sbt says:

    I read an interesting article by Geoffrey Holtz, who suggests that, counterintuitively, some of the problem is actually the jobs these kids are working while in high school. There is some research to suggest this.

    Now, I’m talking about the majority of young people who work in high school, who are not in poverty and helping to support their family, but working for spending money. Many kids of this generation worked in high school and were allowed to spend their entire paycheck on toys, unnecessary clothes, cars, etc.

    Now, fresh out of college, they are finding that their first job may pay no more than the one they had in high school. (Not everybody makes that dream job right away.) But they find it impossible to maintain the same consumer lifestyle they’ve had since high school AND pay their own bills. So they go back home, and avoid the financial rigors of the real world.

  61. Mike says:

    Welcome to the age of the ‘Service Economy’ and ‘Jobless Recoveries’.

    Well said IRG!

  62. Jen says:

    My husband (36) recently left a job at a lab in a major hospital in Chicago, where they paid ~$60K for him to get his masters degree in health care administration, through a program for employees. Why did he leave? He had been there 10 years, and it was a dead end. The supervisor position is occupied by a baby boomer (who happens to be extremely incompetent) eligible for retirement, who will never leave. She has no family or children and the job is her life. Apparantly the hospital wasn’t interested in retaining their investment in my husband either. Stupid if you ask me, but it’s their loss.

    He is now employed in the private sector, where he is paid about 16K more to do the exact same job, with state of the art equipment that makes his life much less miserable, and much easier. Best of all, there is opportunity for advancement! He didn’t work his butt off full-time for 3 years, plus overtime, while getting the masters part-time to stagnate in an oppressive, miserable environment filled with people who need to retire or be fired for incompetence!

    I see these statistics played out in my family. I have two cousins in their early thirties who live at home with my aunt. One is employed in a minimum wage job, and always will be. The other has a decent job, but is horrible at managing her money. She talks about buying a house, but she is dreaming unless she gets a hold on her finances.

    My mother fully supports my 39 year old brother. He lives in a house she owns, and she pays ALL of his bills and living expenses. If she didn’t, he’d be on the street. She actually bought the house for him to live in to get him out of her house! I have a sister (36) who lives in another house my mom owns, rent free. She is a single mom of 4 kids, and does work hard at a minimum wage job. She is partially supported by my mother. I have a much younger brother and sister (21 and 22) who still live at home while trying to figure out their lives. They both work in low paying jobs, and sometimes take classes full-time, part-time, or not at all.

    There was never an expectation of anything for our future when I was growing up. The only reason I escaped dependency is because my best friend’s parents took an interest in my future when I was in high school. She was going to college, so I went to college. We applied to the same schools, and her parents took me with them when they went to visit different schools while we were deciding where to go.

    My husband and I support ourselves, pay a mortgage, and best of all are free of dependency! You can bet that my son will be expected to plan for his future, and taught to be independent… financially and otherwise!

    Great post, Trent!!

  63. Kathy says:

    I’m 39 years old and I would have died of embarrassment if my parents had helicoptered me and treated me like a “precious snowflake” when I was younger. I was on my own when I was 20, and yes, I fell on my face and did stupid things and had crappy jobs I didn’t like, but I learned from those experiences and it just encouraged me to better myself.

    I think that whole movement about “everyone’s a winner for just showing up to bolster their self esteem” back in the 1990s created the “monster” (and I am referring to the mindset and not the people) we see now. Self-esteem is reinforced after you fail, you pick yourself up, and keep trying until you succeed. You have to be allowed to fail in order to have confidence in yourself.

    I do believe that some of the overprotective parenting and the over scheduling of our kids that my generation is guilty of doing has its root cause in how we grew up. My generation was original “latch key kids” when our mothers had to go out and work outside the home and we came home from school to empty houses and were largely left to our own devices because our parents were always at work.

  64. Bonnie says:

    The stats in the AFL-CIO report seem rather suspect, mainly because they lump all “under 35” workers together. I scrolled through about half of the report and nowhere did I see a breakdown of ages or whether they’re counting teenagers and college-aged people (which I suspect they are). The main reason I say this is because of the table on page 15 titled “More than one third of young workers still live with parents”. Right in that table it states that 19% of college-grads live with parents and only 12% of young workers with incomes over $30K/yr live with parents (who are more likely to be college grads in their later 20s or early 30s). And, I would suspect that at least half of those live with parents not because they’re mooching off of parents, but because of non-western cultural norms that expect children to live with parents (i.e. in the “family home”) until marriage (considering the ethnic diversity of the U.S. today) or because they live on the coasts where the cost of living is so high that it’s fiscally more responsible to live temporarily at home while saving up for a down-payment on a home. After all, paying your parents a couple hundred dollars rent per month beats any deal you’ll get on your own.

    I can see the issues with the helicopter parents in kids growing up today, but that mainly applies to the under-25 set. I’m 31 and was part of the Gen X latchkey kid generation. So, our parents really weren’t hovering.

  65. Mneiae says:

    @Pat Brown
    “I am excluding young adults with healh problems (real ones, not “anxiety” and obesity) from the following, but my observation is that people who as kiddies got trophies just for showing up, lest they have any “self-esteem” problems, while concurrently playing the latest videogames and sporitng name brand clothes and high end cell phones experience total shell shock when the cost of being an adult hits them. They want NOW what Mommy and Daddy spent years earning, AND to be ever happy and loved at work AND to have time off whenever AND to live alone or with a romantic partner in a nice place.”

    Health: Anxiety and obesity ARE “real” health problems. My life expectancy is about 10 years shorter because I’m overweight and formerly obese. Don’t knock it. I have a friend who has anxiety. She has panic attacks before significant exams and papers, to the point that she cannot function without medication. She has an IQ over 140 but was pulling bad grades for a while. If your kids were unable to breathe every time they had a major assignment, you would not be saying that anxiety is not a real problem.

    Self-esteem: Getting a trophy for participation IS ridiculous and it does cheapen the experience of COMPETITION. However, for the majority of puberty, I had extremely low self-esteem. I think that adults should encourage children. One of my science teachers failed me on a science lab when I was 11. Until about a month ago, I thought that I was completely and utterly awful and hopeless at science. In my first college class, my medical school professor told me that my intuitive grasp of science made my writing graduate student level and allowed him to experience a rare, elusive thing: a student who teaches the teacher. He recommended that I become a doctor and promised me a glowing letter of recommendation. Can criticism at an early age be detrimental? Yes.

    Shell shock: I’m responsible for my own finances now and have yet to experience that. My parents gave me access to my substantial yearly allowance a few months ago. It’s not gone and I’ve barely dented it. This is, in part, due to the fact that I worked this past summer.

    Unjust desserts: There is nothing wrong with youthful ambition. Additionally, happiness is something that we all strive for, regardless of age. And personally, I have absolutely no expectation of being loved at work. If my coworkers value me, it is because I’ve done something to earn that respect. As for vacation time and living in a nice place, I have no expectations of either. It’s more important to me to advance my career and build up my net worth than it is to spend money.

  66. steve says:

    Food for though: It used to be normal in this country (say, 80 years ago or so), and in some ethnic groups, for two to three generations to live together in the same house.

    Some of this was cultural, and a lot of it was economic.

    It’s only fairly recently that we’ve all become rich enough (most of us) to maintain so many separate households.

  67. gerry says:

    I agree with your post, the only thing I would add to it is the need for parents to teach their children at a young age about principles. Too many children learn on their own, and learn from others who don’t understand. I have a friend who is very financially independent. He has two college age boys who treat him like an ATM machine. He claims that he just wants them to have a better life than he had. I said to him, “than why didn’t you teach them your values of working for and earning money, rather than getting a handout?” The point I am trying to make is be a teacher and leader for our youth, and not expect them to just learn on their own.

  68. Andrea W says:

    I lived in a multigenerational house, as well; I went to college in my own town (partially because I got the best deal there, and partially because I had no clue how to manage the whole college application process and got no help at all from my mother, herself going back to school). I stayed “at home” until I was 26, and while I definitely saved on dorm fees or apartment fees, I was fully expected to contribute to the household. My mother had only the income of a graduate student, after all, so I worked part time at the library and then in turn as a graduate assistant. We were also taking care of my grandparents AND my great-aunt and uncle, who despite needing increasing amounts of care always tried to help in any way they could, even if it was just by providing a sympathetic ear. (The usual story — care of the elderly parents fell on the sibling who felt responsibility, while my aunt blithely ignored any pleas for help.) Between my job, my mother’s gradate stipend, and my grandparents’ Social Security, we scraped by. It was far better for my grandparents than a home (as long as the level of care they needed was within our ability to provide), it gave me and my sister a sense of long-term perspective, and my mother had an adult home for my younger sister when she and I were at class.

    Mom eked out her living after that with a combination of adjunct jobs, while doing far more research and work than most full time assistant professors. It did not help that financial common sense was not among her virtues; it also did not help that by the time she finished school she was in her late sixties (cutting out any possibility of a full time tenure track job). Yes, for her, school was a poor financial choice; emotionally it was exactly what she needed, and I never grudged her choice–even though by 24 I was out and independent, and by the time I was through graduate school myself and had my first teaching job all my extra money — including savings–was going to help my mother out. Only after her death, when I was 36, did I start building retirement. (And I was still caring for my great-aunt at the time, as well.)

    So sometimes kids living “at home” can indeed go the other way! A multigenerational house where all contribute can be wonderful and used to be more of the norm. On the other hand, if I had a child who lived at home solely because he or she would not compromise on the jobs s/he would take, I would boot said kid’s ass out of the house whether I could afford support or not. And taking care of elderly parents who are suffering from cognitive impairment of any kind (which ultimately happened with both my grandmother and great-aunt) is draining financially and mentally, and can be a serious problem for the caregiver.

  69. DrFunZ says:

    The living with parents is fine with me – BUT pay rent, pay for food and act like you are living on your own. Do your landry and help with the yard. Living at home as if you were still 16 is ridiculous. I am from a culture that appreciates multigenerational living – but there is another side to it. It is also expected that those same children who live at home in their 30s will take care of their parents when they become old and feeble.

    Now, about Helicopter parents – Yes, they are ruining their kids. As a college prof who advises students for entry into medical school, I have had to design a letter especially for students whose parents INSIST they know more than I do about getting into graduate or professional school. Essentially it say, Dear __, you have been advised to do __ and ___. After our discussion it is clear that you would rather take the advice of your parent who has told you to do ___ instead. You are free to do what you would like. Be aware that the university will take no responsibility if you are not accepted because you have not followed the advice of the pre-health advisor.” Usually does the trick and makes a point.

  70. Shelly says:

    Not everyone who is living with their parents is doing it because they want to take advantage of their parents’ ability to continue paying the bills while they live frivolously.

    I graduated from college 4 years ago. I’m doing well (had a couple of crappy jobs right out of school until I found something good, but combined with my now husband’s income we were able to get out on our own), but many of my friends are still stuck living at home. And I definitely would have had to stay home for a while after college if I had been single.

    They don’t want to be home. They’d give anything to be able to move out, get their own place, and be independent. The problem is twofold:

    1. Many can’t find jobs at all, crappy or otherwise. They’re not being picky.

    2. Of those who have jobs, they’re still home because their job does not give them enough money to get out on their own. It hardly covers the cost of their student loan bills.

    That isn’t to say that I don’t have a few friends who really could get out on their own if they were a little more responsible with their money, but don’t group everyone into that category of helicopter parenting gone bad. Living at home is often a necessity, especially in this economy.

  71. I agree with everything except this:

    “Don’t call them constantly with encouragement.”

    I moved out right after college (and I’d been living in the dorms or with friends for most of it, anyway) and had some very lean years. Like having to choose between laundry quarters or using that change to buy no-name brand chips for dinner lean. One of the things that helped me get through those years while still following my dreams was my mom encouraging me every chance she got by telling me I had what it took and that the lean years wouldn’t last forever. Giving lots of encouragement isn’t like giving money. It’s better!

  72. Katie says:

    @ Andi –
    Some of us recent grads (and probably some others, many others, as well) simply cannot find a job at ALL. I have been busting my chops trying to find full time work. I have, thankfully, found part-time gigs, but these won’t cover the rent in the area I live and moving is not an option (I am going to graduate school next year, and I have to remain a state resident to be eligible for the lower in-state tuition). I’m grateful my mother puts up with me, because otherwise I’d be living at a camp ground!

    On the other hand, I do see your point. Some adult children really do abuse their parents’ kindness, and shoot themselves in the foot financially. Some of us are trying not to though :)

  73. Ellen says:

    I agree with you to some degree. I think that your point about taking a lesser job and providing for yourself on a limited budget is a very important part of growing up for young adults (plus it’s easier for parents not to have a mid-20’s partier in their house).
    Though, there are a few other things to consider about how the baby boomers have affected the economy. Of course there is the issue of this generation working into their old age, past normal retirement years, taking up all of the jobs. Think about the ramification of this: there are less jobs for younger people -> the money that these baby boomers have is being set aside for retirement -> there is less money for younger people -> less people are buying houses because the people who have the money already have houses. What are young adults to do when there are no jobs for them and no jobs opening up?

    Furthermore, I think that the recent generation of young parents today is much worse than before. We’re seeing schools outlaw competitive sports and disorders to provide excuses for just about any weakness. What will it be like 15 years from now when THAT generation of children grows up?

  74. Amber (54)–I see your point on safety and I agree. My kids are teens now, but when they were little I did more than my share of hovering. Often, either my wife or I would be the only parent on the block keeping at least a distant eye on the goings on.

    The pastor at a church we attended a few years ago gave what I thought was a reasonable assessment of the parenting situation. He used the metaphor of a box as the universe kids grow up in. He said that parents need to keep the kids in a small box when they’re little, but as they grow, the box needs to expand. That’s where I think a lot of parents drop the ball.

    I thought that was a good analogy, except that he probably should have included that as they get older, we need them to step out of the box with increasing frequency. That’s really how they learn to deal with the world, and it’s best that they do it while we’re not too far away, just in case. But I think too, that as they get older we have to avoid rushing to their aid anytime things go badly.

    When my son hit the 12-13 year old range he started saying to my wife, “Mom, it’s my problem, let me handle it”. That was a blessed cue that it’s time to step back, and we’ve seen that the more we let our kids handle on their own, including problems, the stronger they get.

    They’re not us being reincarnated, they’re their own selves finding their way and who they are in life, and often the best thing we can do is to get out of the way and let it happen. Bumps and bruises, figuratively speaking, are an inescapable part of that process.

    Maybe at a deeper level some of us struggle with a fear that our kids won’t grow up to be prototypical yuppie success stories; will we love them any less if they don’t?

  75. Golfing Girl says:

    For all those taking money from your parents in order to avoid “offending” them, here is my advice and what I did.

    My husband and I make a very good living and when my parents continued giving presents or money in the same fashion they did when we were first married and struggling, I tell them to hold onto their money so they won’t need our assistance in retirement (though we’d be willing to help them and are planning on doing so).

    That little reminder hit home and has gotten them back on track to making sure they support themselves first. Sort of a, “If you love me/us so much, then show us by saving your money so you don’t become a financial burden to us.”

  76. Amen. My husband and I worked for the same company as newlyweds, and were laid off the Monday after our housewarming party (which the owners attended).

    We would have rather died than ask our parents for money. His parents fed us dinner a couple of times, and I cleaned house and ran errands for my parents in exchange for groceries.

    And guess what…? We survived! Yes, we had rice for dinner a couple of times. And it’s amazing what you can do with eggs when they’re all you have. I wonder how many helicopter-kids could survive on their own today in the same situation.

    BTW, this was in 1996, so prices were pretty close to what they are now.

  77. Pattie, RN says:

    Katie, I hope you are getting your graduate degree in something more marketable than your current undergrad degree.

    And are you really saying that your entire STATE has the same HCOL and you have no choice at all as to where you could live for less? All of these are your choices, but decisions have consequences.

    IE….I have two neices in there late twenties. One has loans from a Master’s in a theatrical area and lives in NYC, with intermittent work. The other lives in the south and is a new pharmasist. Who do you think is going to have a more financially stable life??

  78. Esther Ziol says:

    Trent, this is true not only for individuals, but also for government and citizens.

  79. Allen says:

    I’m not sure if anybody has commented on this, but the book “Millionaire Next Door” calls this “Economic Outpatient Care”. The author says that the more that parents do for their kids, the less they will do for themselves.

    That being said, my oldest son has a moderate personality disorder which makes it very hard for him to hold down a job etc… I’m inclined to help him more then I should…

  80. Chris says:

    You paint with a somewhat broad brush. We are parents of adults in this age group. Currently we own the house that they grew up in but now it is too big for just the two of us and we would love to make the entire walkout basement into an 2+ bedroom apartment. We would sell but with the market what it is we would take a beating right now. We could use the rent income from this basement apt. but none of our kids are interested in cheap rent and the image of “living with their parents” at their age. This is unfortunate since they could maintain a seperate household, save on lower rent & utilities and it would be a positive for us as well. We asked once and now we plan to present this deal to others who could use a cheap place to live.

  81. wanzman says:

    This seems like very shoddy research at best, to me. I lot is said about yuong people not being able to afford to pay their bills, supposedly due to a lack of income.

    Nothing is said of the lifestyle young people today are trying to live. iPhones, fancy cars, etc. Perhaps the lifestyles of young people have been increasing far faster than incomes are growing.

    Young people today leave their parent’s household, and immediately want to live the lifestyle it took thier parents 20 to 30 years in the workforce to achieve.

    The US is in trouble alright – but it has nothing to do with the amount of money young people earn….it has everything to do with the amount of money young people spend.

    Full disclosure – my wife and I are both recent college grads. At times we commit many of the same mistakes as other yuong folks, but for the most part, are very thoughful and forward thinking with our money.

  82. Obsessive parenting and child worship are two of my pet peeves . . .

  83. lynne says:

    My son, a single custodial parent, & my 9 years old grandchild recently moved back with me. My son had been self employed in an industry which unfortunately is really flat right now. Since I am a widow, there are many things that need to be done to my home, and my son is actively taking care of them. It is a win-win situation for us. Beyond that, my adult children & I (and my deceased husband), have always shared a close relationship. We believe in taking care of each other. I would no more turn my back on my children & grandchildren than they would me in order to show “tough love”. Each family’s situation is different, and while you, Trent, may not need the help of your parents, you can’t predict the future. A full-scale stock market crash, a sudden death of a spouse, a catastrophic illness, the loss of your readership or contracts, or a combination of some of the above, can spell disaster that even with the greatest preparation or cushion, you would find that you cannot support your children on your own. While I can understand your view point on letting children take advantage, or keeping them dependent, to the extreme of negotiating salaries ( new one for for me), I think we all need to remember that unless we walk in another’s shoes, we can’t possibly know what their full circumstances are.

  84. beth says:

    family support for adult children should be more along lines of encouraging words, requested advice and proper guidance. Maybe the financial dependence is an influence from our nation’s habit of bailing out the economy, the unemployed and everybody that comes along that says they have a need.

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