As more twentysomethings refuse to move out of the house, pundits blame the economy. But what if they just don’t want to leave — or grow up?
- Last Updated: 4:27 AM, June 17, 2012
- Posted: 10:12 PM, June 16, 2012
It’s not just limited to America. In China, for example, where adult children have traditionally lived with their parents until marriage, this current crop of young adults has been dubbed “the strawberry generation” — a pejorative reference to how easily they’re bruised. In Japan, they’re called “parasite singles.” A 2012 study by Australia’s Melbourne Institute found that fewer than two-thirds of middle- and lower-class young adults rely on their parents in any way, while 75% of those from wealthy families are still living with their parents.
Author Koslow says she was happy, perplexed and concerned when her 25-year-old son, Jed, announced that he’d be leaving San Francisco and moving back home.
“And then it got interesting,” Koslow says, “because he didn’t seem particularly psyched to get a new job.”
Koslow found herself grappling with competing impulses: the desire to help her son, which she was financially and emotionally capable of doing, and the fear that she had somehow failed if her 25-year-old was happy to be living rent-free, partying at night and sleeping half the day, not helping with the laundry or the grocery shopping or willing to make the bed, declining job offers that he found unsatisfactory.
All of which happened.
“Let’s admit it,” Koslow writes. “Whether we could afford to or not, we’ve spoiled kids to an unprecedented degree in human history . . . Today’s students enter college on a cloud of narcissism.”
(She forced her son to take the unsatisfactory job and move out.)
Koslow spoke with numerous experts and parents for her book, and she’s still unsure as to whether cockpit parenting is helpful or harmful. Children and young adults raised this way tend to lack “soft skills,” which, not too long ago, were considered rudiments of functional behavior: how to do laundry, balance a checkbook, schedule a flight or call for roadside assistance. One anecdote in Koslow’s book involves a twentysomething young woman who called her father in tears after her car broke down; she did not know to call AAA because she did not know such a thing existed.
“I think our children are younger than we were at their age,” Koslow says. “Today, 25 seems extremely young. It creates a very tricky parent-child dance.”
A little over a week ago, Jason Siegel had an announcement: He’d just come from looking at an apartment on First Avenue and 39th Street with two possible new roommates, both of whom work in finance. It’s a new building with “good finishes,” he reports. Though they’re not sure this is the one, whether he winds up here or somewhere else, Siegel says he is definitely, finally ready to move out.
“I’d like to start engaging with people, have more intellectual conversations,” he says. “My interactions with my parents have been very basic. It’s a lot of small talk, because they’re always there. I think we’ll have a deeper, more meaningful relationship when I move out.”
Surely, a good knocking-about by the real world will also contribute to those deeper, more meaningful conversations.
“Parents have to accept that they can do about 60% of the preparation,” Pickhardt says. “As for the other 40% — they have to turn the kid over to reality and let the school of hard knocks do its job.”Follow @NYPostOpinion