August 13th, 2012 // 12:24 pm @ Oliver DeMille
With more and more college graduates returning home to live with their parents, many adults are becoming frustrated with the rising generation.
In the book Slouching Toward Adulthood, Sally Koslow shows how this trend is the natural result of the last two generations of parenting.
The problem is not so much the slumped economy and high unemployment, although these are realities, but the fact that using student loans to get through college is now the norm, so when students graduate they are loaded with debt and many can’t afford rent.
Even more difficult, the Boomer generation tended to bring up their children with an attitude that left little room for the lessons learned from failure.
This was mixed with a strangely controlling approach to scheduling and achievement.
As reviewer Judith Newman wrote in People (July 9, 2012):
“Recognize that channel-surfing, chips-snacking lump on the couch? It might well be your adult child. Koslow writes wittily about the infantilization of American youth as increasing numbers treat getting a job and moving out as just an option. The solution? Stop trying to inculcate our kids against failure, for starters.”
Over six million adult children now live with their parents, pay no rent, eat without limits from their parents’ fridge, and use the house, yard, cable and computers without paying for them.
Many consider their parents an ATM.
Moreover, very few of them are out actively seeking employment.
The irony, Koslow notes, is that most of these adults were raised in a culture where they were constantly told they were special.
The result is that they value having fun with friends, want to travel extensively, and look down on working for the money to pay for their lives, hobbies and interests.
Many of the generation see themselves as free spirits, but unlike the sixties generation they want the expensive yuppie lifestyles of freeloaders.
As Diedre Donahue put it in USA Today,
“The adults aren’t helping. Koslow believes parents often infantilize their adult children because it makes parents feel needed. The result: entitled but incompetent children and exploited but enabling adults.”
As if that’s not enough, the new generation of adultescents “…crave attention and often cash from parents, whom they frequently ask to help them move from place to place; create a mess; rack up debt…”
Then, all too often, they blame their parents for their plight, anxiety, and lack of opportunity.
Of course, this doesn’t describe the entire generation, or even a majority of them, but it does accurately depict far too many.
This new adultescent trend, as Koslow calls it, doesn’t show any likelihood of slowing in the years ahead.
If anything, it will likely increase.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.