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Friday Report: Adult Children At Home

January 24, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

This week, it’s emerged that there has been an increase in adults still living at home with their parents. Apparently now a quarter of adults in their 20s are living at home. I can believe this fact, since I’m one of these adults, and know plenty of others in the same boat.

However, the way this news came out suggests that this is a terrible situation that needs to be changed at the earliest possible opportunity because…????????

Yeah, there never seems to be much reasoning as to why this is such a horrendous situation, aside from “well, they’re adults, why are they still living with their parents?” which isn’t a reason, it’s an opening to a circular conversation where these two questions go back and forth repeatedly.

Let’s not bother discussing the whys and the what-caused-thises, because it’s pretty obvious, no matter how many hand-wringing articles are going to be written about the situation to question it. Young people are staying at home longer because it’s basically impossible to become a first-time buyer in your 20s these days. House prices are through the roof, and job opportunities are pretty slim without experience (or a nudge into an unsuitable position by a rich daddy, but let’s not go there, shall we?). Does this even need to be discussed? Everyone can see it.

The real question that should be asked is why this is such a terrible thing. Obviously, many twenty-somethings are going to want to move out and get their own place someday. I am also one of them. But if the opportunity isn’t there to move out, why pour scorn on those in this situation? Why act as if it’s the end of the world?

It appears that we live in a society where it’s frowned upon for an adult to have any kind of strong association with their parents. God forbid that someone in their twenties has a good relationship with the people who raised them. God forbid that families stick together and help each other out in some way. God forbid that people are actually nice to each other.

It’s not as if every adult living with their parents is a layabout leeching off the system, causing havoc and mayhem for their parents and bankrupting them out of house and home. Many adult children are contributing, whether it be financially, helping out around the house or a combination of both. There are a lot of parents who are happy to still have their adult kids around, since they have a good relationship. You know, like a good family is supposed to have.

“Oh, but living with parents means your social life is on hold!”

Does it? You can still go out and meet friends, can’t you? As adults, you can’t seriously expect to be embarrassed about your parents meeting your friends if you bring them home, can you? Because if this is the reasoning behind all of this, then there’s a good reason you’re still living at home, and that’s because you need to grow up.

“Oh, but if people in their 20s are still living with their parents, they’re less likely to get married and have children!”

Please. The typical age for marriage and childbirth is going up for a number of reasons. It’s due to a focus on careers and exploring life before settling down, due to women having more independence now than they did several decades ago and wanting to exercise that independence, due to people simply not wanting to get married or have kids because it isn’t in their interests to do either of those things.

These are all things that are happening regardless of who people are living with. It’s a widespread societal change that questions whether getting married and having children is really the pinnacle of achievement for an adult.

Plus there are married people who live with their parents, and have their own children living with them too, so the argument is flawed in that respect too. People get married and have kids irrespective of whether or not they’re still living with parents. Again, finances play a lot into this.

There is an argument that the parents are mentally unprepared for their adult children sticking around, but this is bizarre since they should have been mentally prepared for them leaving and therefore becoming adults. Parents should be aware that their kids will become adults one day, why does it matter where they’re living for this process to happen? If a parent is struggling to see their children as adults then this is a problem that lies with them and they need to learn to address, not just push their flesh-and-blood out the door just because they don’t know how to handle it.

The only real reason I can accept is potential financial strain on the parents in this arrangement, but if their children are willing to assist with bills, food or other expenses, why is it so bad? It’s much easier for many 20-somethings to stay at home and assist with a few bills than it is to buy a brand new home, so everyone benefits from this arrangement.

All this stress and bewilderment and fear shows is that there is a strange relationship that British parents have with their children. It shows an attitude that children are something to have, deal with for eighteen years and then ship off. It suggests that for a country so obsessed with traditional family values we have no idea what family values actually are.

Instead of hand-wringing over this particular side of things, perhaps the media could do well to raise concern over the real issues affecting our society for once?

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