Friday, February 24, 2017

So Your Adult Children are Living At Home and Raj Finally Has to Live on His Own Income

Here in NY State the statistics say that 65% of all adults between the ages of 20 and 29 live at home with their parents. I was discussing this revelation with a friend the other day and she actually said she thought that the numbers were fudged. She thinks its actually higher.

If the only job you can get while in school and right after you graduate is an internship, that  if you are lucky pays minimum wage, how will you afford rent, even if you have 4 living in a one-bedroom apartment? How will you buy food, pay utilities, student loans, and even afford to buy that bus or train ticket to get back and forth to work? The truth of the matter is that unless your parents are subsidizing you, you live at home.

It has become so expected of young adults that once they finish college that they go out into the world and never set foot back in their parents home until Thanksgiving or Christmas. You can then return to your parent's home with all you laundry for mom to wash (much like during college), and sleep in your old room without a care in the world. Apparently, if a child doesn't live up to this particular expectation, your child, and by association you as their parent, have failed to launch properly into the adult world.

Now the question that comes to mind is whether this is a  millennial issue, or is it an economic one. Is this part of the our new American reality?

Many people talk about millennials. They are a topic of constant conversation. In fact, just yesterday I had a chat with my pharmacist about them. He's also the parent of several of this generation and he can't figure it out either. These kids are brilliant. I mean off the charts brilliant. They know more information, and are more adept at figuring out major academic based questions than any group of people before them. But they can't figure out how to go from point A to point B in real life without your help.

Truthfully, some of this is our fault. Parents of our generation did do a lot for our kids. I'm not even talking about parents of special needs kids, like mine. What has become a hallmark of our generation is a type of helicopter parenting without teaching our children basic survival skills.

It is one thing to help them buy new clothes they need for work, or to help them pay for trips for interviews that they can't afford. It is quite another thing to pay for their apartments, their cleaning lady, and anything else that is not an essential. And no its not a big deal if they are struggling financially to let them stay on your wireless, or Netflix account. Moreover, if their jobs don't provide healthcare, and most do not, they will need help with that. But of course, healthcare is an essential, but you don't have to pay for vacations (unless they are going on a family trip which includes you and their siblings), going clubbing, or dating.

Heck, I remember the day I got rid of the maid. Yes, I admit it, I had a maid for awhile. Between two autistic boys, running them everywhere, volunteering at schools, organizing everyone's life, I needed help. So I had a maid come help with the major clean up every two weeks. Then I realized that the maids were doing a really lousy job, and fired them.

Mr. GS2 was very mad. He didn't want to start cleaning the house. My little man was very entitled.

"It's your mess," I told him.

I got a glaring eyeroll.

"Besides, you said you want to live on your own someday. What makes you think when you start out in life, you will be able to afford a maid. I'm certainly not going to pay for one for you, so learn how to clean up after yourself."

Funniest thing was it had never dawned on him that he wasn't going to be able to afford a maid on his own, or that one would not be provided for him. Needlesstosay,  he learned what he needed to learn to help keep the house clean. Also as the boys grew, we decided that they should earn video games, playing cards, or whatever other fun stuff they wanted. So monetary amounts were added to chores. Allowance for just living became a thing of the past. By high school, if they wanted something that was not an essential they had to save up chore money to buy it.

Interestingly, last week, we were watching The Big Bang Theory and Raj had just been cut off financially by his father. His father told him he was spoiled. We all agreed. But now Raj who has been living an extremely extravagant lifestyle needs to cut back. He asks Sheldon for help, and is not really liking the reality of being on the lower rung of the economic ladder.

The upshot was that Raj can't afford to go to their beloved Comic-Con. However, his friends are being supportive. The entire group just gave up going to Comi-Con, well all except Sheldon, he's still thinking about it.

Interestingly enough, Raj decided to finally cut his father loose, because he came to realize that girls really do only want a man who can stand on his own two feet. Women, not girls, want someone who is capable and competent to spend their lives with.

In that vein, Mr. GS2 told me his goal is to be independent and to live on his own one day. Which would make us happy. The boys being self sufficient is definitely one major goal. So maybe seeing a TV character with whom they identify, will put it in the back of their mind, simply what that means.

Honestly, we did have this incident with MrGS2 that he thought being independent meant he did what he wanted without our input, but that we simply paid for  everything for him because he is still in school. We had to disabuse him of that notion quickly. I don't mind him wanting to be independent one day. I don't mind him consistently reminding me that he is an adult now. But while I am happy to help him with his education and what goes with it, he needs to do what is expected of him, not simply what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. And he needs to know that being independent means, financially independent as well. (Yes if there are emergencies you help. That is what family does. That is what we have done in the past for others, and others have done for us. But the day to day, under normal circumstances, is all up to that independent self-sufficient adult.)

By the way, I think this new Raj arc is a great lesson for my guys. Listen, we have no problem paying for what they need. The oldest one only gets minimum wage at his internship, and the younger one didn't even get paid, it was for school credit. They help around the house in other ways, which they should. And honestly, as I told them once they get a real job, they should live at home and save money for a downpayment on an apartment.

Why pay rent, if you can buy and start building something for yourself? Yes, I think parents, as long as you can afford it yourself, should help give your kids a leg up. Why make it as hard for them as it was for you? What's the point if you do that? Now from what I read, millennials don't want to buy. They rent. So we shall see what happens with that issue when the time comes, too.

Truth of the matter is, I don't know if the boys will be independent one day. That is our goal. Our goal is for a full life for them. I know many aspies have it all, so why not my boys. We still work at it. To that extent we even found a local social program for aspies that they are going to try. Maybe make some friends, and realize that they can do more than work, school and home. It would be nice.

Meanwhile,  the issue though that we are facing, and that many families are facing, is how to create a harmonious environment in the house when everyone is an adult? Your children are no longer children, but it is still your house so its your rules.

Now the boys have had chores since middle school, and they continue to do them. They do laundry, clean, and help outside when weather permits. Their job is to do well in school, and at work. They go to bed when they want. They talk to whom they want. They interact on social media with whom they want.

But we do have a rule that dinnertime you must eat at the table. Except, if there is something special streaming. We give MrGS2 that, since he can't interact with others if he simply watches it in video rerun. And interacting of course is half the fun. That does lead to MrGS1/MrYM wanting to watch his show on TV during that time too. Hubby said to let him, even though they are not really the same thing, but you know you have to give a little too.

We don't have the issue of them coming and going at all hours of the night. I wish we did, and maybe one day we will. But the way to handle that is for everyone to remember that there are people who will worry about you. Staying out all night is not fair unless they tell you they are sleeping at a friends. They have to answer when you text them. They do need to let you know where they are going and withwhom. It's not a spying thing. It's a safety thing for young men, as well as young women.

I think the answer is simply curtesy. Be courteous of those you live with. Get them to understand that yes you see them as adults, but that you will still worry about them when they go out. They need to simply let you know where they are going. Get them to understand that by coming home at 3am, you will still be up worrying about them. That's not being a helicopter parent. It's simply that they are still part of a family.


See also:

Parenting and Practice

Practicality: Chores and Preparing for the Future