It used to be that most children expected to support themselves, and move out of their parents' houses, once they finished school. But these days many are finding themselves stuck in their old bedrooms, or even hitting up the 'rents for grocery and gas money.
According to U.S. News & World Report, recent research by the Pew Research Center shows that almost 4 in 10 adults age 60 or older give money to their adult children, while only about 12 percent get financial help from their kids. Is anyone else worried that this isn't the way things are supposed to be? It reminds me a little of Homer Simpson's axiom, "Yes, it is every parent's dream to outlive their children."
To be sure, part of the blame for young adult's recent struggles should lie with themselves. Many are soft after growing up in relative luxury, more than what their parents had, and many observers have pointed out that anti-establishment and me-first thinking has eroded their patience, work ethic and willingness to actually put in the long hours to climb the economic ladder.
Others are Twixsters who choose to drop their income on plasma TVs, gaming systems and car accessories, while still eating and sleeping at home, not saving up money for rent or a down payment. Not excited by the prospect of a conventional 9 to 5, many Twixsters hold out for what they think will be a cushy job.
They do have a point: there aren't as many good jobs available as there were when many Twixsters were starting college. The housing and credit markets are in turmoil, the dollar has fallen hard, and energy and education costs (not to mention healthcare) keep outpacing inflation.
The result? "As a historian, I can tell you no older generation in history has ever spent so many resources on grown kids," Stephanie Coontz, director of research for the Council on Contemporary Families, told U.S. News & World Report. This may be a stopgap for now, but it could signal a disturbing trend if too many adults float along as consumers who gobble up largely disposable goods (those electronics, trendy clothes and so on), while not building real wealth. Our spendthrift, instant gratification culture is what's largely to blame for our ravenous appetite for natural resources, and our carbon emissions and pollution.
Greens do like the idea of more people living together, however, which decreases their ecological footprint. But that model has to be sustainable. Who will take care of our society when so many boomers become truly elderly? Are we learning the lessons of thrift and stewardship, or here today, gone tomorrow consumerism?
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