Growing up is Underrated

I saw this comment (credit to commenter “Mas”) in a recent story on CNN, I Still Live with My Parents and Love It, November 14, 2014.  It was in relation to a story that a 27-year old woman wrote about how great it is to still live with her parents.  Although it’s none of anyone’s business, except her and her parents of course, this will not be the situation at my house.  I think kids living with their parents past the age of about 20 is just insane, regardless of being in college, having student loans, having a crappy job, or whatever.  The only exceptions, of course, would be for a child who is taking care of his or her parents because they are elderly or disabled, or in the case of a child who is disabled himself.  Otherwise, living at home and continuing to mooch off your parents is not growing up!

Although this was not the first story on this subject I’d seen on the internet, it was, I think, the most telling and absolutely terrifying to a parent of a teenager.  In the story, the girl talked about how she went to college, became a physician assistant, and had a lot of student debt to pay off ($150K for both undergrad and grad).  It doesn’t say whether she worked during college or not.  Her choices were to stay at home and pay it off earlier or move out on her own and take longer to pay it off.  She chose staying at home, and she does apparently pay a small amount of rent to her parents.  That’s all fine and good, but the part of the story that gets my goat, so to speak, is that she says she doesn’t really want to move out because she can get as many home-cooked meals as she wants and if she moved out she’d have to *gasp* clean her house, go grocery shopping, and cook.  In other words, she’d have to grow up and do what every other person in the history of man has done:  Take care of herself!

I am honestly amazed at this generation who feel like they can just continue to mooch off their parents, be it monetarily or service-wise.  There is no way in God’s green Earth that I would allow my grown, college-educated, somewhat lazy (when it comes to doing something and not getting paid for it) child to live at home and expect a home-cooked meal to be on the table when she mosied in from her job, from being out with friends, or whatever.  Nowhere in this story does this woman say anything about actually cooking for herself, cleaning for herself, or even doing her own laundry.  It also doesn’t say how her parents actually feel about her living at home.  She mentions that there is an “extra set of hands” available to do things, but she doesn’t actually say that those hands do anything at all.  She even has a boyfriend who is 33 and has his own place.  For the life of me, I cannot imagine any 33-year old that I knew when I was that age putting up with someone who still lives at her parents house at the age of 27!

I got where I am today because of (1) hard work, (2) tenacity, (3) being a grown up, and (4) faith in myself.  I didn’t ask my parents to fund my college, my law school, my first house, or my post-high school anything.  I thought that my parents had done a fantastic job and it was time for them to concentrate on my younger siblings and their eventual retirement.  I had $29,500 of student loan debt in 1994 when I gradauted from undergrad.  According to http://www.dollartimes.com, that equals about $47,153 in today’s dollars.  

Unlike the woman in this story, I had a child and was married by the time I was 20.  My husband, at the time, didn’t make much money, either.  In 1994 when I graduated college, we made about $15,000 a year, between the both of us, and we were not on any government or other subsistence programs.  We had pride, something that this generation is apparently lacking.  We didn’t eat out, we lived in a very small 2 bedroom house, we paid $52 per week for daycare each and every week, we spent about $35 every week on groceries, and we paid our own health insurance ($90/month) and healthcare expenses.  We didn’t drive new cars, we didn’t go on vacations at all, and we were honestly very poor.  Back then, also, there was no child tax credit, and our largest tax refund was around $1000 I believe.  It was tough.  But I also learned how to live that way.  I remember it vividly.  I remember having $7 in our account to last us the whole week.  And we paid every single bill we had on time.  We made it, without living with someone else.  This woman, and others like her, can most certainly make it, especially given that she has a very high-paying job.  I made $4.75 a hour at my part time job (the only one I was able to get) out of college.  

One can probably see why this issue incenses me so much.  Not only was my generation expected to fund our own college educations, we are expected to continue to fund the educations and livlihoods of our lazy children because they think it’s so great to stay at home until they are 27.  Added on top of that are aging parents, who also need our support.  We basically get squeezed in the middle.

I had to wait 15 years post undergrad to go back to school to get my law degree.  I simply could not afford it before that time.  I paid for it – cash and scholarships – and have no debt from that.  I have friends who have +$100K of debt and none of them, to my knowledge, live at home with their parents.  They are grown ups.  They pay their own rent, the have roommates, or they are married.  Amazingly, they can also do their own laundry, they know how to get to the grocery store and what things cost, and they can clean a bathtub without crying about it.  While some may have had financial help along the way, they also are not crying to mommy and daddy that their student loans won’t allow them to have a house in Chenal and a membership at the golf club.  They know it will come, with time.  It’s not something that you get just by getting a degree.

Like a story I heard a long time ago – a family who had a successful business after the patriarch went to college, worked fro 15 years, and then set it up was having dinner with another member of their extended family.  That other person didn’t understand why she and her husband were still living in a mobile home.  She wanted what the successful family member had – a nice house in the country and the ability to go shopping at a heart’s whim.  What she didn’t understand, and probably never did, is what happened in that 15 years between the time the successful patriarch went to college and set up his business.  Hard work.  Sacrifices.  Making it on his own.

To other parents out there who may be on the fence, take into account your own lives.  If you are considering letting your kids live at home like this woman’s parents did, will you ever be able to retire?  Will you have to continue to work at a job you may not like because your kids believe it’s your responsiblity to get them completely set up in life?  Any financial advisor worth his salt will tell you that you cannot sacrifice your retirement for your children’s education.  Kids can get loans, and they can get jobs.  They have 50 years to work.  You may only have 20 before retirement.

I think that this woman, and others like her, show a complete lack of respect for their parents when they move back home like she did.  I’ve been disrespected enough raising teenagers!  I’m certainly not going to put up with it now.

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