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"You can't think your way out of a paper bag. You've got to act your way out."
July 6, 2011 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Will young men ever grow up? 'They're often called lost boys, the many young men' in Canada, 'who keep postponing adulthood.' 'Social scientists are trying to figure out why their numbers keep growing.' 'In the past, marriage and family were markers of adulthood, writes Michael Kimmel in his book Guyland, but in a world where young women put off children for careers, where job security is a thing of the past and their parents' values hold little allure, young men can postpone adulthood almost indefinitely.'

'They're even looking for work less. Labour market statistics from 2009 indicate that the employment rate for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 dropped by five percentage points from 59.5 per cent to 54.6 per cent.

They're also living at home in record numbers - and more of those are male than female. Between 1981 and 2006, the proportion of young adults age 20 to 29 who resided in their parental home rose 16 percentage points to 43.5, from 27.5 per cent.'

'Schools are not boy-friendly places. Problem is, reading drills are really boring for a boy, who is hardwired, some psychologists believe, for rough-and-tumble play at that age. He's distracted, underperforms, gets scolded, hates school.

'While more young people are educated than ever before, the sex balance in higher education continues to tilt. In their 2007 Business and Labour Market Analysis for Statistics Canada asking why most university students are women, researchers Marc Frenette and Klarka Zeman examined the ramifications of the startling slide in the number of males in higher education.

According to the 1971 census, they report, 68 per cent of 25-to 29-year-old univer-sity graduates were male. Ten years later, 54 per cent were male and by 1991, the number was down to 51 per cent. By 2001, only 42 per cent of university graduates were male.

According to the Youth in Transition survey, 38.8 per cent of 19-year-old women had attended university by 2003, compared with only 25.7 per cent of 19-year-old men.'

'Parents often see troubling signs of what's to come when their sons are still in high school.

"We very often have seen parents coming in talking about teens who are languishing, spending much of their time on the Internet, not fulfilling academic responsibilities, not fulfilling their potential,"'

'It's an epidemic, says American family doctor and psychologist Leonard Sax, author of the books Why Gender Matters and, most recently, Boys Adrift.'
posted by VikingSword (289 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Didn't we do this a few months ago with a similarly GRAR-y (albeit less gender-specific) piece in the NYT?
posted by schmod at 11:20 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


You can not convince me these articles are not written by an AI script every 10 months or so.
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 AM on July 6, 2011 [137 favorites]


There's really no reason to lay this at Seth Rogan's feet. Dude's just trying to make funny movies.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:21 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seth Rogen was making movies in 1981?
posted by nathancaswell at 11:22 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's the living with parents thing that drives me to distraction. Never mind marriage and kids: those things are optional. You don't need either to be considered an adult. What you do need is to become a fully independent being. Until you do, you're not an adult and I won't treat you as one. And no, I don't want to hear your pitiful excuses. I left home at 18 because it was the right thing to do, not because I could afford it. And no, I didn't have any money. I lived in Grimsby, in the seventies. With busted parents in a busted town. As soon as I had a job I took my few paltry possessions and rented a one-room shithole and became an adult. Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?
posted by Decani at 11:23 AM on July 6, 2011 [36 favorites]


I thought adulthood blew. That's why I'm avoiding it.
posted by josher71 at 11:23 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


What does it mean to not treat someone as an adult in your mind, Decani? I'm not trying to shit stir, I'm just curious.
posted by josher71 at 11:24 AM on July 6, 2011


What does it mean to not treat someone as an adult in your mind, Decani?

I just picture them in my mind's eye, wearing full-body jammies with the no-skid footsies.
posted by reverend cuttle at 11:25 AM on July 6, 2011 [23 favorites]


Okay, so rather than deploring all these trends, what if we say "this is probably how it's going to continue, only more so into the foreseeable future"? What then? What do people think are going to be the positive or negative consequences for a.) the boys in questions, b.) society? Is this a bad thing, a good thing, or just something we have to get used to?
posted by Faze at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay, so, I recently got described as being in a perpetual state of young-person/pseudo-studentness. When pressed, he said that to be out of that, one had to basically be married, raising kids, and/or owning property. Which I thought was bullshit.

What's there too this whole "extended adolescence" that people keep talking about? People making and marketing video games toward young men? A crappy economy that results in people bouncing around, looking for decent work and when they can't find it, piecing other things together instead?

Am I a failure, or a child, because I've earned some crucial dollars doing manual labor despite my expensive education?

Do I have to be married to count as an adult? Do my partner and I need to have children, or own property?

Lots of bullshit afoot.
posted by entropone at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2011 [52 favorites]


I blame Reddit and the hunt for upvotes ... oh, and bitcoins.
posted by foggy out there now at 11:27 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Living with your parents while letting them take care of you, and not looking for work - this is a problem. But if it's a transitional period in your life, your parents don't mind and you get along, and you're looking earnestly for work, why not, really? It's a prudent financial move. I feel sorry for those of you who feel like you have to pack up and never let your parents help you ever after a certain arbitrary age.
posted by naju at 11:28 AM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


The social contract is broken. The kids are smart to avoid risk, and nothing is riskier than getting thousands of dollars in debt for education just to appease your parents.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:29 AM on July 6, 2011 [53 favorites]




It's the living with parents thing that drives me to distraction. Never mind marriage and kids: those things are optional. You don't need either to be considered an adult. What you do need is to become a fully independent being. Until you do, you're not an adult and I won't treat you as one. And no, I don't want to hear your pitiful excuses. I left home at 18 because it was the right thing to do, not because I could afford it. And no, I didn't have any money. I lived in Grimsby, in the seventies. With busted parents in a busted town. As soon as I had a job I took my few paltry possessions and rented a one-room shithole and became an adult. Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?

It's not the seventies any more, grandpa.
posted by codacorolla at 11:29 AM on July 6, 2011 [96 favorites]


Young men like Jeff (a composite character based on case studies)...

Whoa -- the lead quotes, the backing quotes, they come from a "composite character"? This is journalism I should take seriously?

If you can't find some boy-man to even quote for your article about the rise of the boy-man, maybe your premise needs rethinking. FFS.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2011 [52 favorites]


Seth Rogen was making movies in 1981?

No, he was still in William McKinley high school.

Freaks and Geeks was a documentary, right?
posted by dismas at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't understand the judging of people who choose to live with their parents (into adulthood).

There are many reasons to leave home and get a place of your own -- *and* many good reasons to stay living at home. If you (and your parents) can stand it - it can often the best use of resources until your life circumstances require a place of your own.
posted by akash at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


What does it mean to not treat someone as an adult in your mind, Decani? I'm not trying to shit stir, I'm just curious.
posted by josher71 at 7:24 PM on July 6


Oh, it just means I have less respect for them than I do people who manifest the normal signs of adulthood and personal responsibility. I'm going to still treat them as a bit of a child.

I'll be quite honest: If I see a 25-year-old still living with his or her parents I'm going to feel some contempt, unless s/he has a genuinely good reason to be doing so. And I really feel there are very, very few genuinely good reasons for a 25-year-old in a developed nation to still be living with their parents.
posted by Decani at 11:30 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not the seventies any more, grandpa.
posted by codacorolla at 7:29 PM on July 6


Evidently. Hence my point.
posted by Decani at 11:32 AM on July 6, 2011


Like Saving for a downpayment instead of giving the money to someone else in rent?
posted by captaincrouton at 11:32 AM on July 6, 2011


Decani, for the next 10-15 minutes you are my hero.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:32 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dear Decani,

That was 30-40 years ago. Things have changed. Costs/debt are up. Wages and employment are not. Pretty easy to get stuck at home. I am one of the few who have not returned home since leaving at 17, but 12 years, and a masters degree later, at the age of (almost) 29, I'm working full time, but having to live four people to a three bedroom, be on medicaid, and still be in deferment on my student loans. It's really hard out there these days. So it's not always irresponsible to live with your family if it prevents you from incurring more debt. Doesn't necessarily make you less of an adult. What makes you less of an adult, is not trying. If you are trying and failing, then why not seek relief where you can?
posted by greta simone at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2011 [61 favorites]


There are countries and cultures,e.g. Italy, where it is assumed that the men will live with their parents until they get married. Sometimes, when they get married, they bring their wives home to live and have children and take care of their parents when they get old so they don't have to go to some old folks farm. It's called "extended family" and is a very nice, practical and pleasant way to go if you ask me. This idea that we all have to live in our own little cell cut off from our families is a recent, western capitalist, idea.
posted by charlesminus at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2011 [135 favorites]


It's the living with parents thing that drives me to distraction. Never mind marriage and kids: those things are optional. You don't need either to be considered an adult. What you do need is to become a fully independent being. Until you do, you're not an adult and I won't treat you as one.

So... like 99% of unmarried adults in the world are actually children? (a composite statistic based on case studies)

It strikes me as a particularly short-sighted and narrow-focused view of adulthood. There is a huge environmental impact to the West's preoccupation with personal space and with separation from the rest of our familial unit.

unless s/he has a genuinely good reason to be doing so

In my experience, very few people have a bad reason to keep living with their parents.
posted by muddgirl at 11:33 AM on July 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


Okay, so, I recently got described as being in a perpetual state of young-person/pseudo-studentness. When pressed, he said that to be out of that, one had to basically be married, raising kids, and/or owning property. Which I thought was bullshit.

I think this is a common attitude and harmful to our society. I know several people who want to get married or own property because that is what is next on their script for adulthood, rather than because it would rationally provide a benefit for their lives.

I really feel there are very, very few genuinely good reasons for a 25-year-old in a developed nation to still be living with their parents.

You are using a bit of a broad brush here—I think living with one's parents is incredibly common in some "developed nations" such as Italy, where it might be quite a bit harder to find a place of one's own, or roommates (since so many of your cohort are doing the same).

I don't judge people in the U.S. for living with their parents either, but I'm probably not going to date them.
posted by grouse at 11:34 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hm, maybe this is what happens when you expose kids to a 24 news cycle describing in exquisite detail how the world is totally going to hell and that we are mostly powerless to do anything about it, and then surround them with a bunch of cheap comforts, as well as the opportunity to socialize, play, explore, work, or learn from the comfort of one's own room.
posted by hermitosis at 11:34 AM on July 6, 2011 [43 favorites]


It's the living with parents thing that drives me to distraction. Never mind marriage and kids: those things are optional. You don't need either to be considered an adult. What you do need is to become a fully independent being

Youth unemployment in Canada averages about 15%-20%.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:35 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


One of my best friends is 24 and still lives at home. He's not "afraid of growing up;" he's poor. I'm 30 and he's probably more socially and professionally mature than I am. Dude has a goddamn Master's in Education and can't get a job. This isn't Seth Rogen's fault; it's the fucking Georgia Department of Education's.

Meanwhile, I moved out at 23, seven years ago. I lost my last good job two years ago and have been temping ever since. So I'm 30 and single, underemployed and have no equity or health care. But hey, I moved out so I guess I'm duh! winning or something.

Anyone who makes a self-righteous declaration of what metrics I'm supposed to have fulfilled at this point in my life aren't being inspirational, supportive or constructive. They just make me feel depressed about aspects of the situation I'm in, many of which are at no fault of my own. Your free advice is worth what I paid for it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2011 [81 favorites]


Or in other words: "Living with your folks" has become a dangerous short-hand for "lazy and immature." But in higher economic classes there are lots and lots of lazy and immature people who live in "their own place," yet still supported by their parents, while in lower classes there are many people who live with their parents while supporting themselves and their family.

So on examination, "living with your folks" is an incredibly class-stratified definition of adulthood.
posted by muddgirl at 11:36 AM on July 6, 2011 [140 favorites]


It's the living with parents thing that drives me to distraction.

The housing bubble may well have something to do with that. Huose prices and rents have both been advancing at faster than the general rate of inflation for decades, though the housing bubble has made this even worse.

Real wages have not kept up.

This isn't an issue of boys who don't grow up, so much as how hard it is to make rent, let alone save for a house on current average starting wages.
posted by bonehead at 11:38 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


That was 30-40 years ago. Things have changed. Costs/debt are up. Wages and employment are not.
posted by greta simone at 7:33 PM on July 6


Do you have any idea what costs, debts, wages and unemployment were like in seventies Britain? If not, may I suggest a little research might be in order? I was there then, and I have seen conditions in modern America and modern Europe. Believe me: things were *far* worse in seventies England.

So... like 99% of unmarried adults in the world are actually children?
posted by muddgirl at 7:33 PM on July 6


You appear to have misread my post. Unless you're saying that 99% of unmarried adults are over 25 and still living with their parents...?
posted by Decani at 11:39 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


So on examination, "living with your folks" is an incredibly class-stratified definition of adulthood.

Just your average round of Hate The Poor.
posted by The Whelk at 11:39 AM on July 6, 2011 [29 favorites]


I've got a friend who works harder at finding work than anyone else I know. She had to move back in with her mom, and believe me it chafes and shames her. But is living with the parents really any worse than sharing a room? This is the new shrinking middle class economy. Get used to it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:40 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unless you're saying that 99% of unmarried adults are over 25 and still living with their parents...?

In the whole world? It's probably something like that. Again, I pulled the percentage out of my ass but moving out of your parent's house before marriage is a very recent Western ambition.
posted by muddgirl at 11:40 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Believe me: things were *far* worse in seventies England.

In the snow! Uphill! Both ways!
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on July 6, 2011 [33 favorites]


Again with this! Oh, our parents' and grandparents' generations set up an unsustainable economic situation and now that the world is fucked and we're begging for jobs at Starbucks, we are 'irresponsible' because we can't support ourselves.

I'm living in the home of a family friend while I look for a job that isn't 20 hours a week at a coffee shop. If I fail to find one in a few months, I will have to move back home, and it will not be because I'm lazy. It will be because I did what people told me to do, incurred $30,000 in debt for my degree, and have applied for a ton of entry-level jobs to no avail.

But please go on and tell me how terribly lazy I am. I should have thought of all this before I, and other 18-to-25-year-olds, torpedoed the economy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:42 AM on July 6, 2011 [72 favorites]


Wasn't living with your folks as long as you were unmarried the NORM for the vast majority of history? Especially for women.

People lived in GROUPS, as extended families, as staff or hired help, or lived just up or downstairs from Mama and Papa. Owning your own home wasn't really a goal for a lot of people.
posted by jfwlucy at 11:43 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I left home at 18 because it was the right thing to do, not because I could afford it. And no, I didn't have any money. I lived in Grimsby, in the seventies. With busted parents in a busted town. As soon as I had a job I took my few paltry possessions and rented a one-room shithole and became an adult. Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?

Hard Times, was it, dear Gradgrind!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:43 AM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


In the snow! Uphill! Both ways!
posted by griphus at 7:41 PM on July 6


Not only that, but we had black and white rainbows, too.
posted by Decani at 11:43 AM on July 6, 2011 [17 favorites]


Those are called skunks.
posted by fleetmouse at 11:44 AM on July 6, 2011 [48 favorites]


I don't think it's unreasonable to have a little more respect for people who find a way to avoid living with their parents.
posted by diogenes at 11:45 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus fucking christ, will this meme ever die? I fucking swear, 3 times a year some hack journalist writes this exact same article, and every fucking time someone posts it to Metafilter.

NO, WE NO LONGER HAVE KIDS AT 23.
YES, THIS IS A GOOD THING.
GET OVER IT.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2011 [31 favorites]


The injection of male identity into this problem is kind of a red herring, although it's perhaps worth noting that the traditional characteristics and underpinnings of masculine identity are really out of sync with how people live now and thus provide very bad guidance for young men. Men don't have anything like the feminist movement to look to for validation of non-hegemonic gender identity.
posted by clockzero at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Do you have any idea what costs, debts, wages and unemployment were like in seventies Britain?

The Brittan of Scargill & Thatcher was in much worse shape than Canada in the seventies and eighties, which is the implict baseline for this article. We had a bad patch of hyper-inflation in 1979-1980, but for the most part, housing and educations prices were much lower than today. Unemployment was a bit higher.
posted by bonehead at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Call off the fight! Call of the fight!
posted by nathancaswell at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2011


Let's see, you were 18 in the 70s. That makes you between 48 and 58. Congratulations, you lived through one of the most prosperous times in history - possibly even something of a golden age for the middle class, before the inexorable march of off-shoring and automation took away most starter jobs that a person could reliably use to become independent. My father is a bit older than you are, and he was able to get a series of jobs with nothing more than a high school diploma and white skin that today a) don't exist in great numbers, and b) require PHD degrees in the hard sciences.

After being told my entire life "get any degree at all, and with hard work you can get a good job," I graduated college right as the global economy was taking a messy shit in its pants, and (reluctantly) moved back in with my parents two or three times over the course of six years. I worked odd jobs, strived as hard as possible to avoid debt, drove beater cars, and finally managed to get a decent full time job where it was clear that I would never advance without further education (which brings me to where I am now). So don't tell me, you golden child of history, that I was somehow lazy for not wanting to take on murderous credit card debt to say that I was able to live by myself. My brother did that very thing, and it wrecked his credit history, and just now (after 10 years) he's finally in a decent position, able to buy important and large things on credit, and is getting on his feet.

I haven't read the article in the FPP and don't intend to. I did read the excerpted parts, and it's basically a double (triple, quadruple) post in spirit if not in content. The only thing it seems to do is to wind the crank of old men, who use it as a cane to shake at a younger generation who's youth they envy, and to offend the sensibilities of the Reddit crowd, who give it cache by responding (justly so) angrily to the boring, worn ideas that they trot out (even right down, without fail, to blaming Seth Rogan). It serves to drive more money to the financial sector, selling people a lifestyle that they think they need to be adult on credit, and to justify the barbaric labor policies of conservative politicians who can claim this generation is lazy instead of being forcibly screwed over by their globalized world.
posted by codacorolla at 11:46 AM on July 6, 2011 [112 favorites]


"They're often called lost boys, the many young men' in Canada, 'who keep postponing adulthood.'"

And they're always on my damn lawn!
posted by schmod at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Don't fixate solely on the living-with-the-parents thing, or the not-married-with-kids-by-25 thing, which I can appreciate cuts too close to home for a lot of people here.

What's really interesting (and alarming) is the difference in education rates. Only 42 percent of university graduates are men? Also, I live in Quebec, where the male high school dropout rate is 11.7 percent -- and I assure you it's higher in my neck of the woods. That has nothing to do with being unable to afford rent and student loan repayments at the same time. These kids aren't graduating from anything.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:47 AM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hard Times, was it, dear Gradgrind!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:43 PM on July 6


I understand your need to joke, surely I do, but yes, actually, it was. It was very hard times. My father was unemployed for the last fifteen years of his working life, my mother was in nervous breakdown for that entire period and we lived pretty much from hand to mouth. When my father died in 2007, here is how much he had managed to accrue in financial terms in his entire life: nothing. Not a solitary brass farthing. He left precisely zero to my mother, me or my sister. The only astonishing thing was that he left no debt, but that's probably because he never drank and bever, ever went out, at all.

So yes, it was pretty hard. No, go on, taunt a further time. Something about how easy we had it compared to Biafra at the time might go over well.
posted by Decani at 11:48 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the change in "career structure" (for lack of a better term) is what's responsible for this appearance of immaturity. I think *actual* immaturity may or may not be occurring, but the indicators they're using (marriage, mortgage, 2.5 kids+dog in the suburbs, blabla) are biased by the fact that you need the proverbial and now pretty much non-existent steady job to do it. Now people are supposed to be flexible, agile, change jobs/careers pretty much all the time, move all over the country, do all this footloose stuff in order to put money in the bank account. It's not easy to 'settle' down if this is what you're expected to do, so it's no surprise to me that people aren't choosing to do it. Yeah?
posted by zomg at 11:48 AM on July 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yeah... I left home, ended up dropping out of college to support my ailing soon to be mother-in-law, got divorced, lost my home, rented, have a decent but not spectacular white collar job, and just recently moved back in to my parents place because they just retired and are traveling and it is cheaper for everyone involved if I take care of their home. But I'm some sort of 32 year old lazy child solely based on that? I'm going to go with 'I got mine way back when and if you don't do it the exact same way you're a child! And I'm going to pretend that nothing has changed at all in the last 40 years!"

Give my regards to the old man with the onion on his belt yelling at a cloud and enjoy your little world, Decani.
posted by skrymir at 11:49 AM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


So yes, it was pretty hard. No, go on, taunt a further time. Something about how easy we had it compared to Biafra at the time might go over well.

Well, you kinda set the tone with your comment...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:50 AM on July 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


Recently, because of my profession, I've been going back and studying Japan in the 90's and early 00's extensively. I think the Japanese have experienced/are experiencing something similar but I'm not sure I can draw an accurate comparison, beyond the economic conditions.

Can anyone speak to this?

My own thoughts on the matter, speaking to peers, is none of them want to make the "wrong choice". All our lives we've been directed to accumulate as much information as possible and make the super-awesome decision; the "right" choice. Unfortunately along the way no one ever required us to make an actual life altering choice that could not be retracted immediately, or couldn't be fixed by our parents. We never learned that the world was, in fact, a massive pallet of gray.

There was an article published recently, I think in the New Yorker, that highlighted this from the perspective of a psycho-therapist dealing with the "millenials". I'll search for it.
posted by teabag at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, you kinda set the tone with your comment...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:50 PM on July 6


I may have set the tone, but I didn't set the content.
posted by Decani at 11:51 AM on July 6, 2011


And no, I don't want to hear your pitiful excuses... Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?

Dunno WTF you were expecting to be honest.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


How will we use up all that excess real estate inventory if young people are adapting to economic conditions? You're screwing with our demand models, dammit!
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book."

— Marcus Tullius Cicero ~40 BC
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:52 AM on July 6, 2011 [64 favorites]


That has nothing to do with being unable to afford rent and student loan repayments at the same time. These kids aren't graduating from anything.

Are you hearing yourself at all? Why do you think people are not graduating? Do you really think it has nothing to do with the declining marketability and increasing cost of education, as attested to by a slew of people in this very thread? (Even a high school education has time costs, and more and more poor teenagers are having to work for subsistence rather than pin money.)
posted by enn at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live with my parents. I have a full time job that pays decent (which I should be doing right now) but I still cannot afford to live on my own in the SF bay area. Part of the problem is that my parents are not actually financially independent (by which I mean I have to give them money every month in order for them to be able to pay their bills) and I cannot afford to both pay them, pay rent and pay my student loan payments. I know that's not the problem for most people, but I still think the largest factor here is that it's freaking expensive to live these days. Couple that with the under- or unemployed status of a large portion of young people. There may be a lack of maturity in our generation but I'd say it's due to being denied the ability to set out on your own safely, due to the financial realities such as they are.
posted by arboles at 11:56 AM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Decani - this seems like an understandably sensitive topic for you, but surely you have to understand that it's a sensitive topic for a lot of people, and that your blanket judgement of all people who happen to be living in a way you disagree with doesn't play well to a (relatively) diverse audience such as Mefi?
posted by muddgirl at 11:57 AM on July 6, 2011 [18 favorites]


I feel like a lot of people will suddenly be able to "grow up" the instant that a lot of people give up their social security and medicare.
posted by wayofthedodo at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2011


One of my ex-colleagues lives 2 hours walk away from where she works. She knows it's two hours walk away because despite owning a car, she can't afford to run it and has to walk to work 5 days a week. She also has to skip meals and avoid putting the heating on. She's living in a one bedroom flat in a not-bad-but-not-great part of town. She had to get out of her parents house for unrelated reasons, but now she can literally barely afford to live.

I chatted to her once about what she was going to have for her evening meal that night, and it turns out that she was going to have a cheese sandwich. All she was going to eat that day was a bowl of cereal for her breakfast, and the cheese sandwich. That was all she could afford. And that was the norm for her, not an exceptional day. A bunch of us decided to go out for a meal one evening and made sure we ordered too much food so that we could say "I can't eat all of these chips, you have some!", just to enable her to gracefully accept some help.

Her car was taxed and insured, but she couldn't afford to put petrol in it. Or as she put it, "I can, but then I can't afford food".

If I had to choose between that and living at home with much cheaper rent, I know which I'd choose.
posted by Solomon at 12:00 PM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


will this meme ever die? I fucking swear, 3 times a year some hack journalist writes this exact same article

Not just any hacks, hacks from the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia. That's big league hackery, right there.
posted by Hoopo at 12:01 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Are you hearing yourself at all? Why do you think people are not graduating? Do you really think it has nothing to do with the declining marketability and increasing cost of education ...

Since I know not a few of them personally, I have some idea that this might not necessarily be a calculated assessment of job market conditions and cost-benefit ratios. I live in a province where you quite literally cannot dig ditches without a high school education, and there are kids who nevertheless are making a deliberate choice to drop out of high school when they turn 16 and go on social assistance.

Hard as it may be to understand, this article isn't necessarily talking about your or your friends' lives.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:01 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find it reasonable to consider that an adult within society should show personal responsibility and contribute to their neighborhood (or sphere, world, however you want to say it). However, this is certainly something people can do regardless of what their living situation is. As long as the parents are okay with children moving back in, who cares? Those children can contribute by helping their parents in a multitude of ways, many of those having little to do with actual financial contributions.

There's this stereotype of the slacker adult child living at home, hanging out on the couch all day and playing video games. I think it's become the new "welfare queen", and is probably about as accurate.
posted by bizzyb at 12:04 PM on July 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


Hard as it may be to understand, this article isn't necessarily talking about your or your friends' lives.

It is certainly purporting to do exactly that.
posted by enn at 12:04 PM on July 6, 2011


Hard as it may be to understand, this article isn't necessarily talking about your or your friends' lives.

Actually, if the main character is "a composite character" it is kind of claiming to be.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:04 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hm this is interesting, similar, albeit not as well publicized research concerning a "Lost Generation" after the LatAm Debt Crisis:

Can't read the text though.
posted by teabag at 12:05 PM on July 6, 2011


Muddgirl has it right, Decani. The metric you want is supporting oneself, not not living with parents.

One of my oldest friends lives with her parents. She s 31 now and has never moved out, because that's not part of her culture. Even so, she works hard to support them. Her mother is a housewife and her dad is too sick to work. She does all of this on an incomplete education

Meanwhile, I have a doctorate and live quite comfortably on my own. I don't have nearly the responsibilities that she does. She's easily more of an adult than I am. Possibly more of an adult than I will ever be.

I defy you to tell me that she's less of an adult than I am, just because she's 31 and lives with her parents and I don't.

(sorry for typos, phone post)
posted by yeolcoatl at 12:07 PM on July 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


I think the problem is with the ones that DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING!!! They don't want to graduate, don't want to do any kind of vocational training, don't want to get a job, dont' want to help around the house,don't want to contribute AT ALL. They want Mommy and Daddy to take care of them forever.
There's nothing wrong with living with your parents if you are CONTRIBUTING!!
posted by PJMoore at 12:09 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Recently, because of my profession, I've been going back and studying Japan in the 90's and early 00's extensively. I think the Japanese have experienced/are experiencing something similar but I'm not sure I can draw an accurate comparison, beyond the economic conditions.

Can anyone speak to this?


While the real estate bubble burst in the early 90s, it took about a decade to affect the labour market in most of Japan outside of Hokkaido and some other ruralities where regional banks collapsed, and with them access to capital needed by local businesses to keep on hiring.

Anyway, the last 10 years or so have been pretty dire for Japan. There's been a shift from life-time employment to poorly paid contract work for students graduating from the second-tier universities (or worse).

For many workers (say, people working at automobile factories or in other manufacturing), there is no job security and significantly lower wages. Wages for "freshmen" graduates have always been relatively lower than in the West - many new hires might make $24k a year, but this would be balanced out by bi-annual "bonuses", living and travel allowances, and other benefits.

Over the past decade the restructuring of the Japanese workforce has been pretty striking, and around 2007 or 2008 there was talk of the "kachi-gumi" (the winners) and "make-gumi" (the losers).

One of the things about Japan that is very different than, say, Canada, is that it is generally acceptable for adult children to live at home. It helps the kids save money while the daughter waits to get married (and move out) or the eldest son waits to take over the household (the parents, especially in rural Japan, will help the eldest son build a new house).

In our family, two of our cousins are in their 40s and live with their parents. It's a little unusual, but not so unusual as to be socially unacceptable. No doubt this has helped out the "lost generation" a lot. It also makes financial sense.

The down side is that until recently women were expected to look after ageing parents (the in-laws).

It's also worth noting that not all regions of Japan have the same levels of unemployment. Tokyo is effectively its own city-state, and would have much lower unemployment than the rural north. Nagoya, home to Toyota and an aerospace industry, has also done well over the past 20 years.

Fukui, where I lived for 10 years, has the lowest unemployment in the country, thanks to a) nuclear power and b) a higher per capita number of entrepreneurs. In Fukui, it's still very common to see multi-generational households.

The tragedy of Japan is that there is very little chance for upward social mobility. If you fail the test, get passed over during the spring hiring season, or lose your job, you are FUCKED. There are no second chances. As well, women earn about 50% of what men make - it's pretty common for female college graduates to earn about $1200 a month.

Sadly, there is always porn.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:09 PM on July 6, 2011 [21 favorites]


So yes, it was pretty hard. No, go on, taunt a further time.

Decani,
If I'd wanted to "taunt" you, I would not have written:

"Hard Times, was it, dear Gradgrind!"

Even while I was ribbing you for what I assumed was a piece of hyperbole designed to justify your scorchingly abrupt advice to young folk today ("Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?"), I called you "dear" Gradgrind - to soften my reference to Dickens' famous blowhard.

I even wondered whether your reference to living "With busted parents in a busted town" was some sort of literary nod too.

Sorry if I offended you.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 12:09 PM on July 6, 2011


What does it mean to not treat someone as an adult in your mind, Decani?

I just picture them in my mind's eye, wearing full-body jammies with the no-skid footsies.


I moved out so that I could wear my jammies any damn time I pleased! That IS adulthood, by gum!

Altho, Decani, I am sorry to hear that your childhood kicked the shit out of you. However, I'm sure you can understand if some people seem to think that 'getting the shit ceaselessly kicked out of oneself' shouldn't be a qualifier for actualization.
posted by FatherDagon at 12:11 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I moved out of my parent's house at 18, I was only able to do so thanks to generous subsidized loans and government grants which payed a housing stipend. My parents certainly could not have afford to pay for me to go to a college far away from home, and I couldn't have worked enough hours for enough money to pay for it (20 hours a week just barely covered the family obligation). My brother didn't have these opportunities (he was not interested in academics at all), and lived variously at home and with collections of other working-class and lower-middle-class friends until he was 25 or 26.

As the US state and federal government "tightens their belts" (really, OUR belts), this option will increasingly vanish for poor young adults with the desire and ability to move away from home but without the finances.

They want Mommy and Daddy to take care of them forever.

So you're saying that we only have a problem when Upper Middle Class/Rich kids stay home with their folks? Because in my class, this is simply impossible. Even my "deadbeat brother" worked. My "deadbeat" aunts and uncles who live with my grandparent's work or support the family in other ways (taking care of my ailing grandfather).
posted by muddgirl at 12:12 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of my oldest friends lives with her parents. She s 31 now and has never moved out, because that's not part of her culture. Even so, she works hard to support them. Her mother is a housewife and her dad is too sick to work. She does all of this on an incomplete education

Generally, I'm with decani on this, there are very few good reasons for an adult to not be living independently.

Supporting your parents financially, however, would qualify as one of those good reasons.
posted by madajb at 12:13 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'll be quite honest: If I see a 25-year-old still living with his or her parents I'm going to feel some contempt, unless s/he has a genuinely good reason to be doing so. And I really feel there are very, very few genuinely good reasons for a 25-year-old in a developed nation to still be living with their parents.

And yet, culturally, there are many groups for whom moving out before getting married is considered strange. I myself moved out at 19, and would think it odd for someone of my particular culture to be living at home at 25, but I have friends who lived at home longer than that (until they got married) and it doesn't strike me as odd at all, as that's what is culturally appropriate for them.

Ultimately, what's odd and what isn't is up to the people doing the living, not people watching them. And hey, cultural norms aside, it makes financial sense for someone to live with their parents as long as they can. Heck, I know someone whose family lives in a four-unit building, the mother in one unit, and three kids (two with their wives and children) in the other three units. Financially it's a really good idea.
posted by davejay at 12:14 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ahh, if I understand correctly bonehead, greta simone, etc., you're all saying that The Rent Is Too Damn High. ;)

I agree with zomg that our modern agile career style has prevented settling down among the employed set. Yes, the housing bubble has weakened many incentives for settling down. Yes, the high unemployment causes further problems too. Yet, the "winners" aren't growing up either.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:16 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The author (and author's of similar articles) are just getting stressed out and pissy from all the people following The Dude instead of The Man. The Dude abides, Man, and we're not going to jump through hoops when comfortable, fun living is achievable without $70K a year.

I mean, c'mon dude, The Man's hobby is golfing for $100 a day. Bowling is like $15. And the drinks are cheaper man.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:18 PM on July 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


It was very hard times. My father was unemployed for the last fifteen years of his working life, my mother was in nervous breakdown for that entire period and we lived pretty much from hand to mouth.

And maybe if your parents had gotten room and board payments from you instead of you moving out and paying that money to a landlord, you and your parents would both have been better off in the long run.
posted by orange swan at 12:18 PM on July 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


The idea that someone's worth as a person is inversely correlated with how late in life they live with their parents is laughable in its stupidity.
posted by Sternmeyer at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's unreasonable to have a little more respect for people who find a way to avoid living with their parents.

Why? I would expect that very few people would actually choose to live with their parents if they could live somewhere else for free. For most people who live with their parents, the decision not to rent their own apartment is similar to the decision not to pay for an iPhone or any other luxury. I don't respect people more just because they are spending money on something that everyone wants.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the problem is with the ones that DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING!!! They don't want to graduate, don't want to do any kind of vocational training, don't want to get a job, dont' want to help around the house,don't want to contribute AT ALL. They want Mommy and Daddy to take care of them forever.

I don't actually know anyone like this, though, do you? It seems rare at best, certainly not something that afflicts an entire generation of men.
posted by naju at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


There's this stereotype of the slacker adult child living at home, hanging out on the couch all day and playing video games.

To be honest some of us do exist. So what?

Got a janitor job lately.

Happy now?

No, you aren't and probably never will be.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


And maybe if your parents had gotten room and board payments from you instead of you moving out and paying that money to a landlord, you and your parents would both have been better off in the long run.

This.
posted by davejay at 12:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eponysterical
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:20 PM on July 6, 2011


I think the problem is with the ones that DON'T WANT TO DO ANYTHING!!! They don't want to graduate, don't want to do any kind of vocational training, don't want to get a job, dont' want to help around the house,don't want to contribute AT ALL. They want Mommy and Daddy to take care of them forever.
There's nothing wrong with living with your parents if you are CONTRIBUTING!!


Are there actual people you're talking about, with this, or are you just making up some lazy kids to yell at?
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:22 PM on July 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


The idea that someone's worth as a person is inversely correlated with how late in life they live with their parents is laughable

Yet surprisingly common. Having learned my lesson about posting on threads that make me angry from the Great 4th of July MetaMeltdown, I will refrain from calling certain people in this thread names and making judgments on their lifestyles.
posted by MattMangels at 12:22 PM on July 6, 2011


Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?

They're not the only ones that have some growing up left to do. Get over yourself.
posted by milarepa at 12:22 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


The purposes of these articles: to blame social problems on "childish" young men; to subtly complain about how women are just achieving too much (they're putting off having kids, so men don't have to man up!); to elide class differences that make living at home, delaying marriage, etc more sensible for low-income folks; and to scold everyone for not buying into the stupid, fragmented, immiserating nuclear-family-with-house-and-two-cars-and-lots-of-debt dream.
posted by Frowner at 12:24 PM on July 6, 2011 [41 favorites]


And I really feel there are very, very few genuinely good reasons for a 25-year-old in a developed nation to still be living with their parents.

I think poverty would be is a "genuinely good reason," but yeah, moving out and making your own home/life is pretty much the standard for "adulthood," as nebulous as the concept is.

Growing Up Absurd (1960): This "phenomena" has been going on for a while ...

Men don't have anything like the feminist movement to look to for validation of non-hegemonic gender identity.

Astute.

What makes you less of an adult, is not trying.

That is definitely also like your opinion, man. I'll get a job and get married and have kids and even own a house if you make me, but I'll be DAMNED if you make me try.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Living at home was never an option for me. I came from an abusive home, and pretty much my whole reason for going back to school was so I could cut off my family and never talk to them again. I wanted to study something fun like Anthropology, but I knew that nobody would pay for my schooling, and nobody would support me after school, so I studied Computer Science, which I had an aptitude for anyway. Since graduation, my financial and career decisions have been very conservative, since I don't have any familial backup. Also, my parents were very irresponsible with money, so there's also the thing where I don't want to make the same mistakes as them.

I really have no idea what it's like to be an adult with living-at-home being a viable option. I guess I'm kinda jealous -- I probably would take more risks if I had more of a backup plan. Then again, I'm super-independent, and don't even like having roommates. I can't imagine what it would be like to live someplace where my parents could hear me having sex -- or worse, I could hear them! Really, I can't even imagine anything about a living-at-home scenario. It's an alternate history timeline of my life that never had a chance to be. Maybe that's a good thing. I guess i'll never know.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:26 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


The article makes a good point: education is more important than ever before in securing a meaningful and somewhat lucrative career, and relatively fewer young men are enrolling in post-secondary education.

I'm not sure if you can make the leap from this to the assumption that young men are living in their parents' basement.

Commodities and construction have done really well in Canada over the past few years. Young men may be taking advantage of these jobs
posted by KokuRyu at 12:27 PM on July 6, 2011


; to subtly complain about how women are just achieving too much

THROW MORE SCOLDING OP-ED PIECES ON THE FIRE THE S.S GENDER NORMS IS TAKING ON WATER!
posted by The Whelk at 12:27 PM on July 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


One of the things about Japan that is very different than, say, Canada, is that it is generally acceptable for adult children to live at home. It helps the kids save money while the daughter waits to get married (and move out) or the eldest son waits to take over the household (the parents, especially in rural Japan, will help the eldest son build a new house).
- Yes this is echoed in my own research as well. Generally households in Japan have been net-savers vs the US which have been net-borrowers (similar to their parent economies)

The tragedy of Japan is that there is very little chance for upward social mobility. If you fail the test, get passed over during the spring hiring season, or lose your job, you are FUCKED.
- Is this a result of supply/demand problems? Too many employable youths, not enough jobs? Or is this some other cultural phenomena made more sever by the terrible economy?

How about the public sector, blue collar work? Is there is a stigma associated with public work or is that non-existent? One of Dick Koo's tenets is a call for fiscal spending coupled with monetary easing. I'm wondering if, say, Japan decided to build a bridge to China, how quickly the roster of jobs would fill.

I know in the US among peers I've asked, none would take a job as, say, a plumber or a cop or a mailman. Most look at me weird when I suggest the military (for good reason, I know). A good friend of mine spent several years in and out of various white collar jobs before returning to her father's electrical company. She's much happier for it.

Sorry if I'm quizzing. I've spent a long time looking at these three situations: The LatAm debt crisis, the Japanese debt crisis, and now the US debt crisis. I look at numbers which, sadly, don't capture the human side.
posted by teabag at 12:28 PM on July 6, 2011


You are an adult when you begin to pay taxes on a yearly basis (not sales tax)...you live home? ok. Italian sons traditionally live at home till they marry..momma makes good pasta etc and why bother doing all that cooking, cleaning, shopping etc on your own. Marry, and now, shift the burden to the Little Woman. I don't read about Italian sons or their mothers bitching about this arrangement.
posted by Postroad at 12:29 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be honest some of us do exist. So what?

Got a janitor job lately.

Happy now?

No, you aren't and probably never will be.


So I guess you just kind of missed the rest of the point of my comment that it shouldn't matter, as long as the parents are okay with it? Or that I hadn't commented earlier on this topic at all, and perhaps you're replying to a general sense of people disagreeing with your choices?

The portion you quoted referred to my observation of a stereotype, in which something that might happen sometimes or have some small truth to it is applied to a much larger set of people, without warrant. I don't care what you do. I do think that it's in everyone's best interest, though, to not assume things about people based on stereotypes.
posted by bizzyb at 12:30 PM on July 6, 2011


I'll be quite honest: If I see a 25-year-old still living with his or her parents I'm going to feel some contempt, unless s/he has a genuinely good reason to be doing so. And I really feel there are very, very few genuinely good reasons for a 25-year-old in a developed nation to still be living with their parents.

This is silly. Every person I know who lived with their parents past the age of 25 (or even past the age of 18, if we want to talk about "adults") did so to save money. Is fiscal responsibility not a "genuinely good reason?"

Lots of other friends moved out in their late teens/early 20's, and went into massive debt which they have still not scraped their way out of (now in their early 30's). Many/most of them moved out because "I can't stand living with my parents, man, they are just so UNCOOL!" Are these people somehow more responsible adults? That's just silly-goose.
posted by antifuse at 12:33 PM on July 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Right on, bizzyb. Also, like I mentioned, there's this idea that you can be as lazy and shiftless as you want, if you aren't actually living with your folks. Which doesn't make any sense at all. Being supported by your parents under their roof: Childish. Being supported by your parents under a different roof: OK?
posted by muddgirl at 12:35 PM on July 6, 2011


Or heck, as antifuse mentions: Driving up huge debts because it's culturally uncool to live with your family: OK?
posted by muddgirl at 12:35 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Decani, I get that a lot of Britain (and the US, and Canada for that matter) was "lousy" in the '70s, in terms of pimps and pushers and urban decay and what have you, but would you mind answering a couple questions?

1. What was the job that enabled you to leave for your shithole flat? What did it pay?

2. What was the rent you paid for your shithole flat?
posted by mellow seas at 12:37 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hah, suckers. My wife and I tricked* her parents to move back in with us, wherein they toil like indentured servants, cleaning the house and making our meals, even buying our food! And they like it!** So all my wife and I have to do is work enough to pay rent and utilities. The 2 hours of commuting is totally worth this lifestyle. ***

From my experiences thusfar, extended family is awesome. Naysayers either have less appealing parents, or are hung up on some "societal norms" that can rot for all I care.

* No trickery was actually required. They are trying to buy a house, but the bank is oddly against taking their money in exchange for property that is not making any money.
** They really want to move out, but are biding their time by cooking and cleaning, which they actually appear to enjoy.
*** I would really prefer to stay at home and clean, because waking up early to work isn't all it's cracked up to be. But until the roles reverse, it's not all that bad.

posted by filthy light thief at 12:38 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whenever these stories get trotted out (which is at least once every 3 months) I can't help thinking that part of the issue here is that it's relatively recently that most people (even in the West) could count on living about 40-50 years past puberty and having both parents alive until fairly late in their lives. In the not too long ago past it was unthinkable that people would move out of home before marriage (and sometimes after marriage); but, in the same vein, you'd be unlikely to be 25 with both parents living.

In a culture where people can look forward to living to 70 or so, it doesn't surprise me that the earlier part of life gets stretched out longer and longer. There are also economic and other issues that lead to this as well, and I don't mean to ignore those, but I suspect some of it has to do with society shifting to deal with longer life-spans.

Or maybe I've been reading too many Medieval history books lately.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:38 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing I always notice in these threads - the way it's so easy to identify yourself with your suffering, or to identify with your abuser/the system that abused you. This is something I have struggled with a lot myself in terms of bad-stuff-from-childhood.

What I mean is that there's always a sub-theme of "I suffered a lot, so everyone else should suffer too; a system without the suffering I endured is impossible; if other people get through life without suffering as I did, I will be so envious/regretful/in pain that I can't even contemplate it; if other people did not suffer as I did, then I must believe that they are less good than me, because I have to believe that my suffering was meaningful".

You know, if someone had a terrible childhood and their parents were poor or abusive, that's awful. Human suffering doesn't operate on the "feel the burn" model; if you were abused or immiserated or denied opportunities, that doesn't in itself make you a better person than someone who grew up loved, supported and financially secure. In fact, if you were - to use myself as an example - aggressively bullied as a child, it is likely to have messed up your character quite a bit.

It's really hard for me personally (and I think for others) to say "what happened to me really was bad, it really was lost opportunities and pain, and I would have been better off if my life had gone otherwise". There's this perpetual temptation to point to our own pain and say that it made us better than other people, because meaningless suffering is too horrible. And because it's scary and painful to try to imagine what we missed, how our lives could have been if we hadn't experienced what we did.

Suffering is not cardio. We don't want to expand human misery because human misery makes people better; we want to stop human misery because human misery makes people worse. This goes for poverty and lost opportunities and walking two hours to get to work because you can't afford to live anywhere else.
posted by Frowner at 12:39 PM on July 6, 2011 [95 favorites]


Yeah, it was more of a general reply bizzyb.

The portion you quoted referred to my observation of a stereotype, in which something that might happen sometimes or have some small truth to it is applied to a much larger set of people, without warrant.

Totally with you there. That's really annoying.
posted by ZeroAmbition at 12:40 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


And VikingSword, there is a search function you can use to check you,re not posting the same shit over and over again.

Could you please show me how I can use the "search function" this way? I looked for duplicates, and found none. This is your chance to show me how to insert - which precise terms - to show exactly how the same shit has been posted over and over again. Thanks.

Or you know, with over a 100 posts, and a good discussion, you might conclude that people on metafilter have an interest in the subject, even if you cannot imagine having anything of interest to say yourself.

Any time you read an article like this, you have a choice. You can complain about the article particulars, or you can take this as an opportunity to explore the subject at a deeper level, perhaps a level far exceeding whatever it was that prompted the article itself - as many people here have done so. Society is changing; while many - sociologists and psychologists included - may see the phenomena mentioned as problematic, others see it as a symptom of a society that needs to change in very fundamental ways, and rather than blame the young men in question, we should look at what this says about the world we live in.

Thank you for your thoughts.
posted by VikingSword at 12:40 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm with Frowner all the way. Whatever the maturity levels of the various people compared actually are, whatever the actual facts on the ground, the purpose (conscious or not) of these articles is norm-policing: maintaining and shoring up a certain cultural logic (standalone housing! debt! cars! suburbanization!) by blaming unlovable strawmen.
posted by a small part of the world at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


The tragedy of Japan is that there is very little chance for upward social mobility. If you fail the test, get passed over during the spring hiring season, or lose your job, you are FUCKED.
- Is this a result of supply/demand problems? Too many employable youths, not enough jobs? Or is this some other cultural phenomena made more sever by the terrible economy?


It's cultural. Hiring happens at specific points in one's life (after graduation from middle school, or high school, or college) and at specific times of the year (spring).

How about the public sector, blue collar work? Is there is a stigma associated with public work or is that non-existent? One of Dick Koo's tenets is a call for fiscal spending coupled with monetary easing. I'm wondering if, say, Japan decided to build a bridge to China, how quickly the roster of jobs would fill.

Government employees are generally considered to be the elite. This includes teachers and municipal employees. The "bridge to China" concept is being realized in the Tohoku building efforts, but most of the government spending ($500B?) will be awarded to "primes" that will subcontract out work to a chain of subcontractors.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:42 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


But hey, guys, why point out legitimate social and economic reasons why this might be happening when we can just explain it by saying that the kids today are also lazy manchildren?
posted by mellow seas at 12:42 PM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know what? I'm 41 with two kids, a mortgage, and a career job that makes decent money, and the fact that I like to play video games, and boardgames, and role-playing games with my free time STILL gets me occasional weird looks along with subtle and not-so-subtle admonishments that I need to put away childish things and act more like an adult.
posted by papercake at 12:43 PM on July 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


When American society has more of a use for me-as-an-adult, I will jump at the chance. Right now what it seems to want is for me to make money doing pointless, rote activites so that I can buy things.

No thanks.
posted by curious nu at 12:45 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, this point has been made well by others, so I'll just add to the chorus by stating that it BLOWS MY MIND that crippling housing debt has become a highly-esteemed token of maturity and seriousness of adult purpose (and consequently a cudgel to shake at the unwashed masses).
posted by a small part of the world at 12:46 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I teach at a medium sized Canadian university. Since my time there, the faculty in my department has gone from 9 men and 3 women to being 12 women and 4 men. In a recent cohort of graduate students, we admitted 15 women and no men. Our undergraduate sex ratio is almost exactly 75 women to 25 men, at a university where as a whole the sex ratio is 60:40 in favour of women.

A couple of times I have tried to raise the issue at department and faculty meetings of, "where are the male students"? I do this out of a strong sense of equality of the sexes. I am not at all "Men's Righty", at least I hope I'm not. If nothing else, the department could benefit from more male students just by virtue of the "bums in seats" metric which partially controls our funding.

Anyway, it's safe to say that no one has an answer to the question, and no one has been able to say, even, "we've looked into it and that's a tough question to answer". It appears that it is not even a question we are asking or a problem we are studying. The closest thing to an answer is along the lines of, "well in good times men are drawn to high paying resource jobs right out of high school". This is not very convincing since (a) these days women might be drawn to many of those jobs and (b) there has been no real change in the last few years of "hard times".

So, my point is, it is an awkward topic that invites snark, and one that, coming on the heels of the legitimate and successful struggle to increase female opportunities, can dance along a line of appearing to be anti-feminist. It appears to be a topic no one in the university administration is really interested in even discussing, which is tremendously sad. I get that "making the university more male friendly" invites a strong reaction in some quarters, and indeed in some departments the opposite is still needed. So a nuanced and delicate approach is called for.

Nonetheless, it is an important problem that really should be demanding very serious, action-oriented, problem-solving studies and solutions from this institution. That is, not a paper in an Education Studies journal, but changes to the culture of the university.
posted by Rumple at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


The Whelk: "You can not convince me these articles are not written by an AI script every 10 months or so."

VikingSword: "Could you please show me how I can use the "search function" this way? I looked for duplicates, and found none. This is your chance to show me how to insert - which precise terms - to show exactly how the same shit has been posted over and over again. Thanks."

Endlessly Previously On MetaFilter:

February 2011: Where Have All The Good Men Gone?
"Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. This "pre-adulthood" has much to recommend it, especially for the college-educated. But it's time to state what has become obvious to legions of frustrated young women: It doesn't bring out the best in men."
August 2010: C'mon Mom, Go Away Already!
When Parents Won't Cut the Cord. As a reaction to helicopter parents (who read books about the stages of grief so they can cope with their kid's growing up), colleges are literally shutting the gates on parents who can't let go.
August 2010: What Is It About 20-Somethings?
Twenty-somethings today don't quite fit the definition of adolescence or adulthood. This has thrown the human development gurus for a loop. With the past couple of generations taking longer to become "adults", social scientists are trying to decide whether or not this period in a person's life needs to have a separate classification.
July 2010: Twilight means never having to grow up and be an adult
Why does Team Jacob always have to lose? Because Eclipse is a movie about rejecting adulthood, not just as a person but also as a culture. It's about rejecting adult relationships between men and women, but also between people of different races and between people from the city (like Victoria's army) and people from Forks. It's about never crossing boundaries, never leaving home.
June 2010: INTERNET!
This is Why I'll Never be an Adult.
November 2008: Love in the Time of Darwinism
Kay S. Hymowitz strikes again. Previously, she wrote an article positing that "that too many single young males (SYMs) were lingering in a hormonal limbo between adolescence and adulthood, shunning marriage and children, and whiling away their leisure hours with South Park reruns, marathon sessions of World of Warcraft, and Maxim lists of the ten best movie fart scenes." Now she has a new thesis: That angry, disenfranchised single young men use "Darwinist" philosophy to justify "resistance to settling down" and "unsentimental promiscuity".
July 2008: a beautiful life
"A friend confessed to me that she didn't need to build credit. If the need for a loan ever arises, she told me, she can go to her parents or—as she secretly hopes—a husband who will take care of it." A generation of twenty-somethings ponder when, or if, they will begin their financial independence from their parents.
June 2008: Oh look, we have created enchantment.
The male rejection of adulthood is now the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy. The center of attention is usually a guy, his buddies and his toys. He will, most of the time, be nudged toward responsibility, forgiven for his quirks and nurtured in his needs and neuroses by a woman who represents an ideal amalgam of supermodel and mom.
January 2008: Child-Men?
Female educator & writer comments on male culture - describing video gaming males in their 20s as 'child-men', delaying traditional responsibility by decades compared to previous generations (NPR interview). Inevitable response by gaming community and others in their 20s. Further example on the change in societal isolation that leads to bowling alone, or a new social community structure being born?
March 2006: I won't grow up and you can't MAKE me!
He's a Gruppie, she's a Gruppie... Wouldn't you like to be a Gruppie too?
January 2004: Sowing One's Wild Oats
Regarding the sowing of wild oats, is the West really the most lenient and generous, in terms of age-limits? What part does religion play? In other words, what's the maximum you can get away with nowadays? At a pinch, I'd say Southern European Catholic countries will extend a woman's visa till she's 35 and a man's till he's 40 but certain *cough* other cultures seem to be even more favourable towards eternal adolescence.
January 2002: I Don't Wanna Grow Up...
I Don't Wanna Grow Up... When did you first consider yourself to be a full-fledged adult? How many more years later was it when you realized what a child you were when you first thought that? :-) The Washington Post had this conversation-starting story this morning about stretching the boundaries of what we consider adolescence. Some social scientists now argue that our (e.g. American) society has allowed the maturing process to take longer and longer, and that many people are still adolescent in their emotional and intellectual development into their mid-30s. Needless to say, there's a lot of disagreement.
August 2001: Please help me, I'm falling
Please help me, I'm falling I nearly cried into my breakfast when I read this article - because I thought it was about me. The usual path after university is into a well paid job and a fulfilling future. But a growing number are leaving university, even with high marks, with little idea of how life works and what to do next. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
April 2000: projectcool sighting
projectcool sighting < a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation > so, I'm not an adult until I've got that degree AND kids? What else will be required by they time I graduate? A house, a second wife who wants kids, a graduate degree, and a brand new BMW? Social symbols/rites associated with maturity are so bizarre in our material world.
And that's just with a Google/tag search for "adulthood," "maturity," and "growing up." There are probably at least a few more along these lines with brief mystery meat links or poor tags.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2011 [83 favorites]


most of the government spending ($500B?) will be awarded to "primes" that will subcontract out work to a chain of subcontractors.
This is a fear of mine, concerning US fiscal stimulus. *sigh*

Thanks very much KokoRyu; I appreciate you sticking with me.
posted by teabag at 12:51 PM on July 6, 2011


I'm going to ignore the living at home thing since it's already been hashed out.

Going back to the article, I had a lot of male students (ages 14-18, urban, not privileged) who felt the same way as the "composite character": "I see some of them moving on and I feel like a loser. I want to do something with my life but I don't know what. I try to do stuff, but I lose the energy - I can't get things started." They said very similar things, word for word.

And I've heard the "school isn't friendly for boys" trope before, as well. It gets brought up in education circles fairly regularly (every couple or years or so). It's true that boys generally develop more slowly than girls in some respects. Is delaying school the answer? Possibly. Although I think shifting pedagogical methods would work, too. Let's move away from the cheaper and simpler-for-teacher spray-and-pray-and-test lecture styles/drill-and-kill and move to project-based learning that requires kids to become critically engaged actors in their own education. Boys whom I could not get to take notes, regardless of how I parsed it (go ahead and draw pictures that relate to the subject/paraphrase/outline/chart it/ or just copy it dammit) are much happier when they feel like they're making and doing something important. And you know what? This approach works well for girls, too, provided you give them the support and skills to be equal players in the group work.

It's also true that with unemployment so high, and no clear path for those interested in trades to get there from our current system because of the prevailing college-for-everyone! attitude. And the boys who echoed the character's words in my classroom? They were definitely far more interested in jobs where they were working with their hands than at a desk. We need to stop thinking that kids going into trades is somehow wrong, second best, or giving up on them. Kids should certainly not be FORCED into a trade path, but those options need to be there, and kids need to know how to access them.

There will always be slackers, of both genders. I want to see some data showing growth in the number of living-at-home/unemployed stereotype dudes. Because these dudes (and dudettes) have always existed. Prove that this is getting worse, because the numbers they cite aren't conclusive on this issue.
posted by smirkette at 12:51 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I look forward to a hypothetical future where the saturation of handwringing social trends worrypiece journalism has peaked, and such things aren't so common anymore.

To be fair, I recognize that when this happens, there will then be an increasing number of frequently-rewritten handwringing worrypiece journalism about how troubling it is that handwringing social trends worrypieces aren't being written as often anymore. You used to be able to count on opening any lifestyle-section of any news-site and finding worrypieces about the alleged social trend of your choice, from overpermissive parenting to overstrict parenting to women marrying too late to women marrying too much to people living with their parents longer than in the past to families getting too scattered, and now they're not written as often anymore, and isn't that just worrying?!

People are weird.
posted by Drastic at 12:52 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is this about "boys" and not adults? I don't get it. If I'd known me and my ladybits were under less scrutiny, I'd have moved in with my folks and become "accomplished" or something.
posted by Lisitasan at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The closest thing to an answer is along the lines of, "well in good times men are drawn to high paying resource jobs right out of high school". This is not very convincing since (a) these days women might be drawn to many of those jobs

I don't know about (b), but (a) certainly isn't true, at least in the US. High-paying jobs that don't require a degree often preferentially recruit, attract, and maintain men. For men, working a trade job is certainly looked-down-open in preference to getting a college degree, but for women it isn't even presented as an option.

The only well-paying trade job I can think of that preferentially recruits and attracts women is something like home care or nursing, and the latter requires a degree.
posted by muddgirl at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rhaomi, many of the examples you cited, don't actually address the same issues at all (helicopter parents causing colleges to shut them out, etc.), so that's pretty sloppy. But more importantly, every subject is going to be connected, however marginally to every other, so there's always going to be some overlap. The metric, from my point of view, is whether the article explores a different angle, or explores it better. In this case, I thought the gender split in education was of great interest, and I was quite interested in the posts here that explored that, especially coming from those who teach at Canadian universities. The idea is to bring interesting links. The great number of posts here and the interesting discussion seem to bear that out - ergo, mission accomplished. You are also welcome to contribute.
posted by VikingSword at 12:58 PM on July 6, 2011


Postroad: I don't read about Italian sons or their mothers bitching about this arrangement.

You could, however, read about all the Italian women who'd rather not live marriage as indentured servitude to a spoiled little shithead of a husband. But I digress.
posted by lydhre at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's not the seventies any more, grandpa.
posted by codacorolla at 7:29 PM on July 6

Evidently. Hence my point.


actually, it's seeming more and more like the 70s to me every day - no jobs, closing businesses, uncertain future, a mass culture of escapism, a feeling that everything is broken and yes, lots of adult children living with their parents because they don't have much in the way of realistic options

and although i'll admit that the boymen described in this article seem rather dysfunctional and immature, i'm not sure that "growing up" to take one's place in a dysfunctional and immature society is that much better - i think of all the "independent" grown ups who dress two social strata below their station, drive SUVs like maniacs who own the road, spend more money than they make, act like utter slaves for their employers, and whine "dittoisms" to rush in defense of their delusional privileges, and i wonder just what the hell it means to be grown up and functional in a society like this
posted by pyramid termite at 12:59 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am marking this thread "GRAR: not participating".
posted by benito.strauss at 1:01 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lisitasan, I'm guessing it's focusing on men because women are now getting more college degrees and high school diplomas. Also, I suspect, because it challenges our traditional cultural view of man-as-breadwinner.
posted by smirkette at 1:02 PM on July 6, 2011


Please let the record show that when I noted Italian home boys I was not claiming it was a good way to live but was merely showing that what takes place now in Canada is something that has been going on elsewhere for some time.

As for me: I left my house two weeks after high school graduation and went in the Army.
posted by Postroad at 1:02 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are an adult when you begin to pay taxes on a yearly basis (not sales tax)...you live home? ok. Italian sons traditionally live at home till they marry..momma makes good pasta etc and why bother doing all that cooking, cleaning, shopping etc on your own. Marry, and now, shift the burden to the Little Woman. I don't read about Italian sons or their mothers bitching about this arrangement.

Oh FFS...

...yes Italy has more of an extended family culture than other Anglo-Saxon cultures. And yes, there are the stereotypical mammoni to be found. But the nut at the core of the problem (for both sexes) lies more in the fact that real estate & rents are outrageously high, loans are difficult to get, and like KokuRyu mentions about Japan, short term poorly paid "contract" work is replacing lifetime employment for the younger generations.

And derision towards housewives can be toned down as well; housewives do contribute to society in general and at least here in Italy they get a bit of a pension.
posted by romakimmy at 1:02 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


> What does it mean to not treat someone as an adult in your mind, Decani? I'm not trying to shit
> stir, I'm just curious.
> posted by josher71 at 2:24 PM on July 6 [+] [!]

tl;dr version is being under no obligation to respect their autonomy. If you're living with your folks and your folks tell you you can't drink, smoke, fuck, or make noise after 9PM in their house then you either don't drink, don't smoke, don't fuck, go to sleep at 9... or you move out, and do as you like.


Note, I don't see being married as critical, or having children, or even living in your own place. Self-supporting is the marker. Supporting yourself? You're a man/you're a woman. Living in mom's basement and sponging off her? You're a boy/girl as surely as you were at 8. (N.b when I say not even living in your own place is critical, that comes with a proviso: if you are in fact still living in mom's basement you better be kicking enough in to her budget to make up what she's losing by not being able to rent that room out to some other basement dweller. Lie on her couch, watch her TV, talk on her phone, graze in her kitchen, leave your dirty clothes and dishes for her to wash? Same thing applies--pay for it, so she doesn't end up an 83-year-old bag lady on the street. You are doing all that? You're good, you're a big person. (Don't kid yourself about how much you're paying vs. how much it costs to have you around.)


> Wasn't living with your folks as long as you were unmarried the NORM for the vast majority of history?

Certainly, but that's only half of the norm. The other half was getting up before dawn with all the others and treking out with them to labor in the fields until past dark. "Workin' cain't see to cain't see." That's neither unemployed nor sponging. But while the first half is still common, maybe increasingly common, the agricultural-serf part is not. (Yet.)


> I live with my parents. I have a full time job that pays decent (which I should be doing right now) but I still cannot afford to live on my own in the SF bay area. Part of the problem is that my parents are not actually financially independent (by which I mean I have to give them money every month in order for them to be able to pay their bills) and I cannot afford to both pay them, pay rent and pay my student loan payments.

If you're paying for your own keep and also forking up to help out your parents, that's plenty self-supporting enough for me. Welcome to the grown-ups' paddock, citizen.
posted by jfuller at 1:04 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about this trend, it's not just about criticizing how people choose to live their life. A society with a large group who are alienated from it tends to have destabilizing effects. I hope that this group becomes radicalized in an egalitarian social justice direction, but this outcome is by no means guaranteed. Given the way the West is going, it's far more likely to turn into a right-wing authoritarian movement.

Economic life in the developed world is becoming more and more dependent on emotional labor in various ways: service industries, the provision of health care, the importance of collaboration and interpersonal relationships in knowledge work. There are studies that show that the presence of men on a team drags down it's performance. And in the developing world, microfinance investors don't lend to men because they are perceived as high risk.

The world is changing in ways where men experience more economic insecurity than they have in the past, and the risk is that they will turn to reactionary anti-feminist, anti-immigrant political movements. Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with living with your parents to save money, but North American culture still prizes independence and self-determination. It's not like we've suddenly realized the benefits of extended family living and having lots of free time and this is the new cultural ideal. Yes, the Apatow comedies embrace it, but in a very back-handed way.

There are economic conditions that are involved here, and debating it as a purely cultural issue misses the point. It's symptomatic of the defeat of the left that some of the opinion here - presumably coming from progressive minded people - wants to embrace the new non-adulthood (including the economic insecurity) as a type of freedom, perfectly echoing the neoliberal ideology that celebrates a contract worker with no pension, vacation or sick time or health care as a liberated, self-employed entrepreneur.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:05 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Problem is, reading drills are really boring for a boy

Reading drills are really boring for everyone.

Let's move away from the cheaper and simpler-for-teacher spray-and-pray-and-test lecture styles/drill-and-kill and move to project-based learning that requires kids to become critically engaged actors in their own education.

Let's not, since it doesn't work. Instead, let's do what we traditionally did: have electives like "shop" and art classes where people can blow off steam and satisfy their need to build stuff without interfering with the fact that they need to do math drills to understand algebra and geometry. Unfortunately, we've cut those programs. But I swear, every time I attended a class on a topic and the teacher says, "now everyone break into groups of 3 or 4 and..." I knew that learning has pretty much ended for the day.

But look, the labor market has imploded. If you're under 25, then job situation is hideous. So much of this is intimately tied up into the economy.

But I suspect that even if these guys had jobs, the fact that they spent their off time hanging out with their friends and playing video games would still cause this sort of anxiety about "adultolescence."
posted by deanc at 1:06 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Financially it's a really good idea.

Financially it would be a really good idea to live with your parents forever (and your grandparents).

the decision not to rent their own apartment is similar to the decision not to pay for an iPhone or any other luxury.

No it isn't.
posted by diogenes at 1:06 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


You could, however, read about all the Italian women who'd rather not live marriage as indentured servitude to a spoiled little shithead of a husband. But I digress.

What we North Americans, with our dominant culture sometimes seem to forget is that different cultures have different ways of living in, and looking at the world. My sister-in-law in Japan lives with her mother-in-law (her husband is the eldest son). Her mother-in-law is a petty, bird-brained selfish dragon lady, but she also runs the household; she does the shopping, cooks the meals, and looks after the grandchildren. In return, my sister-in-law is able to pursue a career as a government executive, one of the only female ones in the prefecture.

They have their differences, but there is a social and cultural code that allows them to coexist.

Personally, I don't envy my brother-in-law, as he likely has to deal with competing demands from his mother and his wife. However, they seem to be a happy family, and the mother-in-law has always been very, very kind to my wife and me.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:07 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


A couple of years ago, I remember reading praise of multi-generational families, including the point that when three generations lived together, the grandparents did more chaildcare and the family was stronger (and the kids less prone to crime/dropping out/whatever) as a result.

Northern Rhode Island, where I live now, still has towns with the triple-deckers once occupied by the Francophone immigrants who worked in the area's mills before all that work went south (and then abroad). Those houses could hold several families, or one family spread across multiple floors.

Can anyone help me reconcile these two notions?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:07 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


iving in mom's basement and sponging off her?

This comment didn't address the several points raised in this thread:
(1) this is a bit of "welfare queen" aka a strawboy that is less common than the handwringing "composites" make it appear to be
(2) Why is it worse to be sponging off your parents in their basement than sponging off your parents in a separate apartment? Or not sponging off your parents and drowning in debt?

Financially it would be a really good idea to live with your parents forever (and your grandparents).

...which is what families did for a long, long, long time, and still do in many parts of the world.
posted by muddgirl at 1:08 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frowner: It's really hard for me personally (and I think for others) to say "what happened to me really was bad, it really was lost opportunities and pain, and I would have been better off if my life had gone otherwise". There's this perpetual temptation to point to our own pain and say that it made us better than other people, because meaningless suffering is too horrible. And because it's scary and painful to try to imagine what we missed, how our lives could have been if we hadn't experienced what we did.

It's not hard for me. I'm fully aware that what happened to me was not only generically bad, but has essentially reduced my probable lifespan by 20-odd years right out of the gate compared to the control group -- before aging, disease, hard living, and other lifespan-reducing factors are even accounted for.

I never have thoughts that my life was/is better than the life of someone who will automatically have good odds of living 20 years longer than I will. And my personal belief, without reservation, is that there needs to be a net reduction in the suffering that leads to this outcome.

VikingSword: The metric, from my point of view, is whether the article explores a different angle, or explores it better.

I agree. Dragging out a dozen-odd past posts to make a point that we somehow shouldn't be discussing a topic because it's supposedly been discussed to death already doesn't seem productive to me. If nothing else the different angles that comments to posts here take is a constant source of new knowledge for me.
posted by blucevalo at 1:08 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whoa -- the lead quotes, the backing quotes, they come from a "composite character"? This is journalism I should take seriously?

No. No, you shouldn't. Just to be clear, the byline there is Postmedia News, the wire service for the Postmedia group of newspapers (formerly Canwest, formerly Conrad Black's chain).

"Quoting" from a composite character in order to produce a catchy lede and a controversial headline is entirely consistent with Postmedia's idea of journalistic rigour. So is failing to even begin to consider some of the legitimate questions of socioeconomic context that some infinitely more thoughtful Mefites are bringing up.

All that stuff about global economic crisis, soaring housing costs and student debts, the general atrophy of civilization and moral and financial bankruptcy of society that will be the Baby Boom's final gift to humanity after using up more resources per capita in their lifetimes than any generation in human history ever has or will - all that stuff would just cloud the issue. No, what Postmedia's dwindling Baby Boom-aged core readership wants is snarky, oversimplifying "lifestyle" features that reinforce their own sense of self-satifaction, congratulate them on their own infinite wisdom, justify their epochal sense of entitlement and contempt for the nonsense of youth (from Seth Rogin to climate change, it's all so much hokum), and encourage their spectacularly self-absorbed selves to flip ahead to the travel section and start booking trips to strike another couple items off their "bucket lists."
posted by gompa at 1:08 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


muddgirl - that's probably true. But Classic trades (plumbing, electrician) these days also take years of trade school, it seems, and I know there is affirmative action at those to attract women, though with what success I don't know. But a resource boom will bring high paying jobs not just for miners or loggers or raw strength jobs, but for truck drivers, tree planters, and other jobs that are not trades per se. But yeah, my point (a) was not really the main one. So the question remains, regardless of year to year economic conditions, over the last 20 years or so, where have all those male university students gone? That's the question I think we need to work on seriously and not wave away.
posted by Rumple at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2011


if you are in fact still living in mom's basement you better be kicking enough in to her budget to make up what she's losing by not being able to rent that room out to some other basement dweller. Lie on her couch, watch her TV, talk on her phone, graze in her kitchen, leave your dirty clothes and dishes for her to wash?

basement dweller
lie on the couch
watch tv
talk on phone
graze
dirty clothes
dirty dishes

You are doing all that? You're good, you're a big person.

It's weird, it's like you're agreeing with them while condescending the shit out of them at the same time.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:09 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


On women and degrees:

(Background comment - all of this "school isn't friendly for boys because boys are inherently THING" is pretty silly - girls were "inherently" unfit for education for quite a while because their wombs interfered with the function of their brains and/or overdeveloping the brain would sap the womb, etc etc.)

One Dimensional Woman has an interesting section on the "feminization" of labor through the nineties and 2000s - IIRC, the author talks about how call centers and the service-industry-ization of many jobs place a premium on people who have been socialized to be docile, anxious, accepting of precarity and to feel that it's ethically important to be nice and to manage others' emotions - to wit, women! That is, patriarchy has socialized women such that they are [taken as a category] better wage slaves under neo-liberalism than men are. This is not a good thing; nor does it have anything to do with "inherent" qualities of men or women. It has to do with the fact that working conditions have gotten worse, and that people who have been socialized not to rock the boat are a lot more attractive to employers.

Also, consider the "feminization" of labor - when a job starts attracting more women, the pay and the prestige go down. What about a kind of inverse feminization of labor - when the pay and prestige are getting shittier, women have more opportunities?
posted by Frowner at 1:10 PM on July 6, 2011 [23 favorites]


HOUSING TRENDS AND AFFORDABILITY(PDF) shows that canada-wide, housing costs (as a percentage of income) has remained relatively flat since 1987 (the beginning for that article)

I'm thinking it's no slam dunk that housing prices have gone up. Does anyone have good evidence of this (as related to income, most other measures don't make a lot of sense, not even inflation adjusted as housing costs are such a large chunk of inflation)
posted by Bovine Love at 1:11 PM on July 6, 2011


I respectfully disagree with you about project-based learning not working or being effective, deanc. It is (PDF). My students' performance bears this out, as does the research (provided what is being done is TRUE PBL and not just "projects").
posted by smirkette at 1:13 PM on July 6, 2011


Deanc, "everyone get into groups" has always been, and probably always will be words I absolutely dread to hear from a teacher. But I wouldn't say that all the learning stops for the day at the utterance of these words: these are a great way for people to learn how to pass off responsibility to others.
posted by MattMangels at 1:16 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Smirkette, you make very valid points but the emphasis seems to be on the living-with-ones parents, delayed marriage symptoms of this alleged generational blight, and as far as I know the statistics seem to show that more young adults are living at home period. Not that menove back home while women somehow manage to strike out on their own. While women are the majority of college graduates (and high school) this seems endemic throughout and not a male specific trend. Totally open to being corrected, of course, but this makes me inclined to believe your second point about reevaluating masculinity is more pertinent. Perhaps these alarm bells aren't so different from the so called crisis of male identity so widely sounded when trends in later marrying age were first identified.
posted by Lisitasan at 1:16 PM on July 6, 2011


the decision not to rent their own apartment is similar to the decision not to pay for an iPhone or any other luxury.

No it isn't.


In all seriousness, why do you think that paying for housing costs because you want the benefits of personal housing is significantly different than paying for anything else?
posted by burnmp3s at 1:17 PM on July 6, 2011


> I'm thinking it's no slam dunk that housing prices have gone up. Does anyone have good
> evidence of this (as related to income, most other measures don't make a lot of sense, not
> even inflation adjusted as housing costs are such a large chunk of inflation)
> posted by Bovine Love at 4:11 PM on July 6 [+] [!]

N. America only: since 2008 housing purchase prices have dropped in most areas; like a stone in many. No links, just google "housing crash." That's good for those who might be in position to buy. OTOH, there are fewer of those right now and more who can only hope to rent, which means pressure on the rental market is greater and rents have widely increased.
posted by jfuller at 1:18 PM on July 6, 2011


but for truck drivers, tree planters, and other jobs that are not trades per se

And again, at least in the US, these are not jobs that are marketed to high school women at all. American teens generally take something called the ASVAB (which is really a recruiting tool). The joke is that all girls who take the ASVAB are told that they would make excellent nurses - not a single one of my friends was told that they would make a good truck driver.

where have all those male university students gone

Did male university students disappear, or is it that the percentage of male university students did not increase as fast as the percentage of female university students? In other words, the percentage of men who seek higher education has remained roughly the same while the number of women who seek it has increased dramatically? - All the statistics given in this thread compare the number of male students to the number of female students, and don't speak to the percentage of men and women of college age who go to college over time.

I'm not trying to argue that it's not problematic that more women go to college than men, but I think that it's possible that college degrees might be over marketed to women.
posted by muddgirl at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


(finishing my thought) ...because there really aren't any other options besides marriage or the military.
posted by muddgirl at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2011


Lisitasan, my responses have indeed been colored by the title of the article: "Will Young Men Never Grow Up?" and is specifically focusing on men. FWIW, I agree with you that there are undoubtedly some very strong generational issues at play here for both genders due to socioeconomic & cultural factors.

(The very real data that men are not completing school at similar rate to women in general--those numbers are not insignificant, especially for African American young men, and trouble me).
posted by smirkette at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2011


Did no one else come to the point of murdering their parents by the time they were 18?

Here's what life would have been like: Curfew. No entertaining dates at the house. Questioning every purchase. Attempts to dictate jobs/cars/whatever. Constant questions about whether work was going OK and whether I was doing a good job. Constant appearance criticism. Etc., etc.

I suspect those of us who look at living independently as a marker of "adulthood" come from micromanaged upbringings where the choice wasn't whether to move out, it was a decision made to avoid bloodshed.

(My parents and I get along fine and have for the 26 years since I moved out.)
posted by maxwelton at 1:34 PM on July 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


Seth Rogen was making movies in 1981?

Actually, I believe he was in the original, unreleased version of Knocked Up in the role of the fetus.
posted by HeroZero at 1:36 PM on July 6, 2011


> Wasn't living with your folks as long as you were unmarried the NORM for the vast majority of history?

Certainly, but that's only half of the norm. The other half was getting up before dawn with all the others and treking out with them to labor in the fields until past dark. "Workin' cain't see to cain't see." That's neither unemployed nor sponging. But while the first half is still common, maybe increasingly common, the agricultural-serf part is not. (Yet.)

Pa Ingalls types excepted, and GI bill types excepted, I am really having trouble seeing the "moving out of the folks' house" as a pan-historical, pan-cultural norm.

Didn't life for most sons in agriculture inherit part of the family farm (a la Jacob and Esau), or take apprenticeships in their fathers' businesses (in which case they would be unlikely to be able to purchase a NEW printing press or kiln or whatever very soon?) Fishermen inherit fathers' boats, millers the windmills, etc.

The part no one has mentioned yet is that moving AWAY from your parents or in-laws is a very big problem when it comes to raising children. It is close to impossible to raise kids all by yourself when both parents have to do manual labor all day.

Before the advent of paid childcare and long-distance telephone calls, I see VERY LITTLE incentive to move away from your family for any married adults.

So this whole model of 'MOVING OUT ON YOUR OWN' is an extremely new model for human living.
posted by jfwlucy at 1:37 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have good evidence of this (as related to income, most other measures don't make a lot of sense, not even inflation adjusted as housing costs are such a large chunk of inflation)

I'm wondering if there's some survivorship bias here. Those that make money keep their housing costs at a fixed percentage of their income, whether they make more or less money. Furthermore, how are people that default treated in this report? I'll read some more of this but I think that the chart you're pointing to merely points out that those that can afford homes continue to be able to afford homes. Bumps this can probably be linked to household savings, but I don't know enough about the history of Canada to explain away distortions.

This doesn't refute your point, by the way.
posted by teabag at 1:43 PM on July 6, 2011


Hermitoisis: Hm, maybe this is what happens when you expose kids to a 24 news cycle describing in exquisite detail how the world is totally going to hell and that we are mostly powerless to do anything about it, and then surround them with a bunch of cheap comforts, as well as the opportunity to socialize, play, explore, work, or learn from the comfort of one's own room.

Exactamundo.

Well, add to that the worst job market for college grads in 20 years (and it was hell in 1991, so I shudder to think what it's like now), and what I see as the nation entering a cycle of economic and cultural transition that's going to make the 60s look like a piece of cake and it's really the perfect storm of shit for young people, young men specifically, trying to find a place for themselves.

Also, I feel like parents have changed, and become better at what they do, with decades of knowledge and psychology gaining a mass understanding, and that's not a bad thing I suppose, not sure yet. Is it better to have a parent/parents with such demons that you can't wait to turn 17 and move out to go to college, and never look back because the idea of living with that person again is so untenable as to fill YOU with demons and crazy passions or is it better to have parents who accept you, as a friend and love you and cherish that you're spending some of your young adulthood with them?

I imagine at some point that that parent will (and should) do the right thing and begin to nudge that offspring out the door and encourage them to begin their lives and find their independence.
posted by Skygazer at 1:48 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking it's no slam dunk that housing prices have gone up.

Official Stats Can data on CPI and housing.

Here's some of the relevent data:
       CPI    Own   Rent
2006   2.0    4.1   1.0    
2007   2.2    4.9   1.5
2008   2.0    4.4   1.7
2009   0.3    1.0   1.6
2010   1.8    0.7   1.2
Homeownership costs have risen at about double that if the inflation rate except for last year, rental has been below inflation for the past five years. Previous years data for housing is pay-only I think, but I vividly remember prices spiking for rentals in Ottawa in the mid 1990s-2000s period (I had people come to my apartment door and offer to pay me to move out).

Wage increases are here.
posted by bonehead at 1:55 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some comments in the is thread made me angry. Not gonna lie about that.

That being said, I know of one individual who lived at home until his mid thirties. He never went to college - just worked his way up in the restaurant company where he got his first job.

He finally moved out when he got married and he now makes in the mid 6 figures as an executive at the restaurant company he started working at in high school.

Obviously, his experience is highly atypical.

Much more prevalent are the people who, due to the skyrocketing costs of higher education and a weak job market, must choose between making what is ultimately a financially irresponsible decision to live on their own before they are truly able to afford their own place, and living with their parents and assuming the risk of societal disapproval as expressed by some of the (I won't refer to them with the word that I really believe is appropriate for fear of causing offense to other readers) posters in this thread.

What really is the mature decision in our current economic situation? Rack up tremendous amounts of credit card debt, student loan debt, and then take on a mortgage that at best eats up the rest of an individual's income to the point where, at best, they cannot save for retirement or any other contingencies and, at worst, risk default on one of their loans?

Or is the mature decision to minimize expenses as much as possible so as to enable the repayment of debts that are increasing necessary if one wants to obtain any job at all?

Disclaimer:

I live in the United States, where official unemployment is at a historically high 9.1 percent and other measures of the health of the labor market are much worse.

During the past two decades the costs of both housing and higher education skyrocketed while wages remained largely flat. Right now, although the bursting of the housing bubble caused housing prices to drop somewhat, in many areas housing is still too expensive for most to afford, especially with the weak conditions in the labor market.

Higher education costs, meanwhile, continue to rise, especially as governments at all levels continue to cut back on the aid they used to give to colleges and universities that helped to cover part of students' tuition.
posted by eagles123 at 1:56 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?

I got the fuck out of the nest at 19. When I was 25, my father was going through his second costly divorce and was in danger of losing his house; I elected to move in with him and pay him rent so he could pay his mortgage. A year or two later he was fiscally sound again; around this time my grandfather died suddenly and my newly-widowed and somewhat invalid grandmother did not want to go to a nursing home, so I moved in with her and looked after her the remainder of her life, another year or two.

For the majority of my late twenties, then, I was a spoilt, stunted bugger by the definitions Decani seems to be advancing. I suppose I will have to learn to deal with his disapproval.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


jfwlucy: what happened in the past depends entirely on what region/ethnicity you are taking about.

For North-west Europe (and their settler colonies) the norm has been or centuries that couples form a new household on marriage (since the middle ages or earlier). This is a contrast with Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Asia, Africa ... well, most other places in the world.

Within western European culture, whether children moved out before marriage would depend on the local economy, and individual factors (like birth order - youngest daughter might end up taking care of her parents). So, on labour-starved 18th century New England farms, fathers tried to keep their sons working for them as long as possible (great book - Farmers and Fishermen on men's work and adulthood in colonial New England). But in labour-rich England, many boys and girls from both farming and labouring families would hire out as agricultural servants, moving away from their birth family to live with another. Of course, they were still treated like non-adults because they did not head their own households -- childhood/adolescence lasted longer in the past.
posted by jb at 2:02 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


If they could walk down the street to the steel mill, put their name in like their father and their brother and their cousins had before them, knowing that work there would eventually be enough to support a small house and a family, wouldn't most of these men do that? Instead of being offered stable necessary jobs they are told that they need to decide on a career path, invest in an education, and learn to market and sell themselves to achieve success. The increasing complexity of the labour market is probably a net plus for society, making a wider range of opportunities available to more people, like women and minorities, but it also probably introduces greater variance between those who are adept at navigating the system and those who aren't. At 49 and economically and career challenged, I've been way in front of the curve on this trend (there have always been lean times - I remember graduating in '83 to frightening unemployment and recession). In my older age I am learning to accept my place as someone who never achieved the career and the house and the family. This may be a weak rationale, but I now tell myself that it is simply diversity, that different people are better suited to different systems, and that for many to succeed in an open individualist society there will be some who lose. Could have made better choices, could have tried harder, I suppose, could try harder now, but the gatekeepers who choose who will join organizations can have narrow expectations for who is a good fit, and dropping off, or failing to find, the right path will impede all opportunities going forward. I also value some of the freedom I have now, as someone who has learned to live with little and only has himself to worry about.
posted by TimTypeZed at 2:03 PM on July 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


ricochet buiscuit - obviously you and every other person in this thread have a "reasonably good reason" to live with your parents. It's all those strawmen slackers that Decani judges.
posted by muddgirl at 2:05 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


muddgirl - yeah that is a good possibility, the "over-marketed" to women idea - there are certainly more students both overall and as a proportion of the population. Obviously more of that change comes from new female enrollments - but the degree of gender swing that implies would be enormous to swamp a pre-existing male bias. In other words, all the cliche reasons why university is more necessary than ever in the new economy would be only applicable to women. Which makes me wonder.

Anyway, I presented the economic-resource-boom rationale as the one the Admin comes up with, and some of your reasons to support it make sense - I think though that the pattern would have to be incredibly robust to account for all the change we see, especially as resource industries become more mechanized, layoffs in other sectors produce labour surpluses, etc. In other words, it might be true but I doubt it accounts for more than a few percentage of the % gender swing.

But you know, this is why I think we need to really get to grips with the problem. Is there really any good data on this? No one here at this university seems to have much of an answer other than handwavery ones, and as I noted, it seems to be a question that for historical awkwardness reasons isn't even asked much. Or maybe if the reasons were along the lines of, men are more likely to say the ridiculous cost of higher education isn't worth it to them, then universities might not be as inclined to share that data with us.
posted by Rumple at 2:05 PM on July 6, 2011


Every culture has its norms for entry to adulthood. I'm not talking about the nominal adulthood of the rite of passage, but the point at which you come to be recognized as someone who's to be taken seriously. (Some anthropologists refer to this state as "personhood", and in most traditional cultures, it happens when you have at least one kid. In some cultures, you're not really truly a full "person" until your kids have kids.)

Someone up-thread posed the question 'what if we just treat this as a new norm? what would that mean?' That's an excellent way to approach it: Think not about whether this is right or wrong or mature or immature, because those just aren't consistent from one person's viewpoint to anothers. Think instead about what the consequences are for this kind of behavior around the markers of maturity.
posted by lodurr at 2:07 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


as resource industries become more mechanized

It occurred to me that the other job which has become more mechanized and all-but-disappeared in the modern economy is secretarial work.

But yes, these are fascinating questions, and when I tried to find hard data, the publicly-available surveys didn't seem to break numbers down by gender in a useful way.
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2011


As for young males languishing in extended adolescence in Canada, pffft, a no brainer, if I ever saw one...

Threaten to cancel the hockey season and limit purchase of beer to those no longer living with parents.

After the rioting stops. and the totaled upended cars are cleared, and the burned buildings are demolished or renovated, and the bodies buried etc...

Canada will be the best educated fastest growing economy in the world.
posted by Skygazer at 2:08 PM on July 6, 2011


Canada will be the best educated fastest growing economy in the world.

I think in comparison to most of Europe and certainly the US, we're more than good enough with our hockey and beer.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:11 PM on July 6, 2011


This post is almost has the effect of trolling. But I blame the journalist, as it should be.
posted by uni verse at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2011


Skygazer: and what I see as the nation entering a cycle of economic and cultural transition that's going to make the 60s look like a piece of cake and it's really the perfect storm of shit for young people, young men specifically, trying to find a place for themselves.


The Master ruled with an iron glove.
Your greatest trick was the Summer of Love...
But you've grown fat, secure, sedate,
and we don't think that our anger is about to abate
and if you think you're safe
then you're a little too late
cause we've come to kill you in the Summer of Hate!

posted by Godwin Interjection at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apologies for my grammar (argh.)
posted by uni verse at 2:15 PM on July 6, 2011


It's not the seventies any more, grandpa.
posted by codacorolla at 7:29 PM on July 6


It's a tough job market out there today but don't think you're the only generation who's ever been dropped into a lousy economy. The mid-70s meant oil shock, stagnating wages and scary inflation on consumer goods.

You know the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore show? There's a shot where she's standing in the meat aisle, trying to figure out if she can afford a couple of pork chops. See how she agonizes before dropping it into her cart? Most people could relate to that sort of worry.

The 80s and 90s had their crashes and each time, it felt like the whole machine might just be flying apart. No one seemed to be hiring.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:27 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Previously. (Not actually a dupe.) And as I said there, this isn't about gender; this is happening to plenty of women as well.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:38 PM on July 6, 2011


Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?

Because the period that we recently went through, where people were able to move out at 18, was historically anomalous?
posted by madcaptenor at 2:40 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


TimTypeZed:

For North-west Europe (and their settler colonies) the norm has been or centuries that couples form a new household on marriage (since the middle ages or earlier). This is a contrast with Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Asia, Africa ... well, most other places in the world.

Yes, most other places in the world and most other points in history was the point I was making. Also, "forming a new household" has not always entailed and does not necessarily entail disentangling finances, food, living, and even sleeping arrangements, which makes the definition of what it means much more fluid. The concept of "inheriting one's station" or rank or property was widespread even in the times and place you mention.

I still say that the ideal of a son (of course!) moving out, purchasing his own property, acquiring a wife and children, is a relatively recent development in cultural history and that claiming that that is the "normal" way for people to behave is mistaken.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:40 PM on July 6, 2011



Because the period that we recently went through, where people were able to move out at 18, was historically anomalous?


Exactly.
posted by jfwlucy at 2:41 PM on July 6, 2011


You know the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore show? There's a shot where she's standing in the meat aisle, trying to figure out if she can afford a couple of pork chops. See how she agonizes before dropping it into her cart? Most people could relate to that sort of worry.

I'm 40 years old, have two kids, am the sole wage-earner, and lost my government job (after transitioning out of another declining sector, teaching). I can totally relate to this.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:44 PM on July 6, 2011


Also, "forming a new household" has not always entailed and does not necessarily entail disentangling finances, food, living, and even sleeping arrangements, which makes the definition of what it means much more fluid.

No, that's exactly what I meant by forming a new household -- new house, different place, disentangling finances, etc. They formed nuclear households (albeit with servants too, in middling sort houses).

It's a weird ideal, this nuclear as opposed to multi-generational household ideal, but it's not a new ideal. (I say ideal, because while the ideal in pre-modern China was for multi-generational households, the reality often was nuclear households - can't remember exactly why, probably due to deaths and/or economics).
posted by jb at 2:57 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still say that the ideal of a son (of course!) moving out, purchasing his own property, acquiring a wife and children, is a relatively recent development in cultural history and that claiming that that is the "normal" way for people to behave is mistaken.
posted by jfwlucy at 5:40 PM on July 6 [+] [!]


To clarify - I agree that it's not necessarily "normal" - but it's not a recent development in western European culture. It's been the cultural norm for some 500+ years (in places not having a labour crunch) that both sons and daughters moved out, worked elsewhere to make money to aquire property or maybe just some rental accomodation, then married and had kids separate from their parents.

Why was it different there? I don't know - but it did have some interesting knock-on effects for the status of women and working outside of the home. (You can't have women segregated in their own quarters if there is only one adult woman in the house; also, women worked outside of the house for wages prior to marriage).
posted by jb at 3:03 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


So is this one of those "First World Problems" I hear about, where I'm supposed to cry over the relative "poverty" of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world? Because this "problem" would seem pretty alien to my Mexican and Vietnamese neighbors, who are living two families in two-bedroom apartments, and where everyone who can is working.

I dunno, maybe the Canadians and USAians have a higher quality, more expensive version of being poor?
posted by happyroach at 3:09 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


How often does this get posted? Flagged as double.

I'm 26 and I wish I knew how to be an adult. Playing XBox, reading TV Tropes and going to gigs is getting old. Last time this came up I said I'd 'go to so many gigs I go deaf', and I have got tinnitus now, which is pretty fun.
I have a decent job, but with no degree I'm not sure how to get a better one. I have an okay apartment, but though I don't live with my parents they help me out. I blame them for my arrested development but I have friends who still live at home. How exactly do I grow up? And who are our adult role models? The most 'adult' person I can imagine is Frank Sinatra, and he's dead.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:15 PM on July 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


My life is measure out in coffee spoons, and let me tell you, it is bomb.

Not so much mermaid singing, though.
posted by everichon at 3:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I was poor/lived in a shitty one bedroom/moved out of my parents and incurred debt when I was in my 20's and it sucked; therefore, people who did not share my experience are spoiled and lazy."
posted by windbox at 3:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, that's exactly what I meant by forming a new household -- new house, different place, disentangling finances, etc. They formed nuclear households (albeit with servants too, in middling sort houses).

Can you cite that claim, please? Because I have some serious doubts about that.
posted by jfwlucy at 3:20 PM on July 6, 2011


windbox, you forgot to add "and part of the problem".
posted by MattMangels at 3:21 PM on July 6, 2011


OK, I am a grandfather and remember the 60's >present quite well--unfortunately sometimes the past more than the present. You youngsters have a much much harder time than I, and most of my age/economic/social cohort, had. I do not envy you the struggles you face. We have left a political and economic mess as well as in the middle of an extremely complex social and cultural transition.And some wonderful technology, advances in human rights and hope. Live at home or where ever you can be at home. I do notice what I would call a prolonged adolescence for some young men--and I am sure there are some good social/economic reasons. Observationally, no data, I see it less with women than men. I think there are biological/social/cultural reasons for this--not a topic here. I simply find it irritating when anybody--23, 45,70, man, woman or whatever--creates a cocoon of victimization to explain away the helplessness of their life. I am confident that over 90+% of what we experience is sheer luck, good fortune, ill fortune, fate or whim. But it is the other 5-10% that moves us on. BTW, I also find it irritating when parents dress in the costumes of their teen age children. It trivializes the uniqueness of the teens and infantilizes he parents. For me, an unwelcome combo.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:25 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


This has been going on in Europe for quite some time. 40% of single Italian men are living at home. It's very hard to know what dynamics are at play - whether in Italy, Europe (in general), or here in America.

One thing for sure: the easy availability of jobs - sometimes even menial jobs - has been seriously diminished. Forty years ago a high school graduate could pick up a newspaper and find a minimum wage job with ease; that's not the case any more.

Also, keep in mind that the whole idea of leaving home at 18 is an artifact of our most recent experience with massive economic hegemony. It used to be (n the past 40 years or so) that young men "went where the money was". That scenario is changing, as opportunity diminishes.

Somehow, I think we're going to be hauling in expectations, and having to change what we think of as success. I don't really see a problem with housing one's offspring, as long as they're somehow contributing to the household - financially, or otherwise. Didn't we evolve in loosely bound tribal economies? This is somewhat a return to that.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:27 PM on July 6, 2011


Your favorite generation sucks.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:39 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hichard H. Stekel (professor of Economics, Ohio State University), The Age at Leaving Home in the United States, 1850 - 1860. Social Science History 20:4 1996. (warning, pdf link)

...Based on a waiting-time model, the average age at departure was 26.5 years for men and 22.0 years foe women. Men and women had later ages of departure in the Northeast (28.3 and 23.1 years) than in the south (26.1 and 22.1 years or, especially, on the frontier (25.0 and 20.1 years). Thus a downward trend in age at leaving home may have prevailed in the nineteenth centure, at least for males. Stevens (1990) reports that the average age at departure in 1900 was 23.0 years for males and 21.4 years for females. Stevens notes the importance of the father's occupation: Given that the male children of nonfarmers left earlier than those of farmers in this study, changing occupational structures away from farming may have been important for the long-term decline in the age of departure.

...The persistence of northeastern children in the household, given their importance to the manufacturing labor force, suggests that many children who were employed in factories continued to live at home (Goldin and Sokoloff 1982).

...Later-born children tended to remain with the family longer, in part to provide care and assistance for the parents in their old age.


P.S. Abraham Lincoln left home at 22.
posted by jfuller at 3:41 PM on July 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Were young men (and women) "not growing up" in the 30s during the depression? After all, many were out of work, and postponed marriage and children for many years. Some traveled aimlessly around the country and most lived with their parents or other relatives if they knew someone lucky enough to have a home that could squeeze in one more person. My parents dated but did not marry for years until the war started and jobs became more plentiful. They did not lack love, they lacked money and the means to make it.

It was only the brief bubble of my generation, the baby boomers, who had the opportunity to get good jobs right out of school, cheap rent to get a place when you graduated, and enough job security, reasonable mortgages, and improving standard of living to marry and start a family young. No, my kids do not have it so easy. But they are responsible people leading productive and happy lives.

Times change. If you go back far enough, the good old days were not all so good. Each generation has its own challenges.
posted by mermayd at 3:42 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This idea that we all have to live in our own little cell cut off from our families is a recent, western capitalist, idea.

Indeed. It's also interesting that nuclear families, on the whole, engender increased consumption, decreased political cohesiveness, and a greater reliance on authorities for support and knowledge (rather than one's own kin). I'm sure it was a wholly accidental development, but the nuclear family has been a gold mine to big business and intrusive government.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:43 PM on July 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sorry, only skimmed this thread, after that whopper on LSD, the whole world is starting to look blue.

Just have this to say. I'm in that demographic. I work in internet/tech. Pretty much most of my American friends are struggling. Except me. And those other friends that work in tech.

I live in Berlin. My German friends - they're all going to be students till 30, so I don't know that many non-students. But those that I do know seem to be struggling less than in America, though many are still struggling here.

My conclusion: There's only one part of America's economy that can provide a dignified living, which is tech, and potentially - a bubble. I thank the heavens that I was a little nerd since I saw my first computer, and feel a lot of survivor's guilt toward my non-geek friends.
posted by tempythethird at 3:43 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book."

— Marcus Tullius Cicero ~40 BC


Uh, you do realize that times really were bad when that was written, no? That Rome at that time period was a seemingly unending clusterfuck of civil wars that ultimately brought about the fall of the republic?
posted by Ndwright at 3:44 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Suffering is not cardio. We don't want to expand human misery because human misery makes people better; we want to stop human misery because human misery makes people worse. This goes for poverty and lost opportunities and walking two hours to get to work because you can't afford to live anywhere else.

I wish I could favourite this a hundred times.
posted by jokeefe at 3:48 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought the point was that even when times were super bad people were still complaining about the same shit. Twas ever thus, etc...
posted by josher71 at 3:48 PM on July 6, 2011


Economist, Average age when leaving parental home, selected European countries, 2007

Slovakia, Slovenia, and Italy head the list, females 29, males 30-plus.
posted by jfuller at 3:49 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


derail/

Ndwright: My favourite Cicero quote is the one where he blames modern music for ruining a generation and making people wiggle in unseemly ways. (Though as he was murdered in 43 BCE, I don't think he wrote your quote in 40. :))

/end derail.

So, man-boys these days, eh?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:50 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


What you do need is to become a fully independent being. Until you do, you're not an adult and I won't treat you as one. And no, I don't want to hear your pitiful excuses.

You clearly haven't taken a look, even for five minutes, at the housing market in Vancouver in the past 20 years, in Toronto in the past 10, or in any sizable city anywhere in Canada in the past three.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:56 PM on July 6, 2011


Uh, you do realize that times really were bad when that was written, no?

I think that's the point, actually. Times being bad has been a constant pattern, not a recent development.

I'll just add that I think a huge part of it was that two generations ago (the grandparents of most people aged 20-35) were people who'd lived through the Great Depression and acted accordingly. The generation after that -- that baby boomers -- were children through one of the fastest growing and most prosperous periods in U.S. history. I think that the behavior of my parent's generation has, on the whole, been irresponsible, fairly short-sighted, and caused our current situation. When Jimmy Carter started wearing sweaters and talking about shared sacrifices, did anybody listen? No, he got booted the heck out and we had 12 years of Reagan and Bush, followed by Clinton who was, on the political spectrum, only slightly to the left of Nixon. After Carter, I can't recall any instance where the president asked the people to make sacrifices, to alter their behavior for the good of the nation.

The problem is that rather than encouraging frugality, the nation is forced to convince its populace to purchase goods it does not need, because our economy is based almost exclusively on consumption. So although in some ways the recession we're in is actually potentially more severe than the Great Depression, much of that is cloaked by consumption paired with debt. A 20-something with a laptop, mobile phone, and access to cable appears to have an advantage over 20-somethings 80 years ago, but that 20-something may never see any improvement to his condition and when his debt becomes to large to handle will be forever at its mercy.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:59 PM on July 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


Is there any evidence that Cicero actually wrote that? I have never seen so much as an alleged source for that quote, and it was removed from Wikiquote for that reason. I suspect it is a hoax.
posted by grouse at 4:04 PM on July 6, 2011


derail/

Ndwright: My favourite Cicero quote is the one where he blames modern music for ruining a generation and making people wiggle in unseemly ways. (Though as he was murdered in 43 BCE, I don't think he wrote your quote in 40. :))

/end derail.


Yeah, it's probably a misquote, too lazy to verify at the moment though.
posted by Ndwright at 4:05 PM on July 6, 2011


This idea that we all have to live in our own little cell cut off from our families is a recent, western capitalist, idea.

Indeed. It's also interesting that nuclear families, on the whole, engender increased consumption, decreased political cohesiveness, and a greater reliance on authorities for support and knowledge (rather than one's own kin). I'm sure it was a wholly accidental development, but the nuclear family has been a gold mine to big business and intrusive government.


I'd rather deal with Walmart and Julia Gillard than my family sometimes.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:18 PM on July 6, 2011


What really is the mature decision in our current economic situation? Rack up tremendous amounts of credit card debt, student loan debt, and then take on a mortgage that at best eats up the rest of an individual's income to the point where, at best, they cannot save for retirement or any other contingencies and, at worst, risk default on one of their loans?

Or you could take option 3: move out of your parents house but don't rack up credit card debt or take on a mortgage.
posted by diogenes at 4:20 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


You clearly haven't taken a look, even for five minutes, at the housing market in Vancouver in the past 20 years, in Toronto in the past 10, or in any sizable city anywhere in Canada in the past three.

So rent a modest apartment in the freaking suburbs!
posted by diogenes at 4:22 PM on July 6, 2011


Self-supporting is the marker. Supporting yourself? You're a man/you're a woman.

You want to know what the difference here really is? The difference between generations is that older ones have some amazing cognitive dissonance going on, and mine doesn't.

You* are not self-supporting. You think of yourself as a "home owner" but in reality, the bank owns most of the equity of your home ("most", assuming you're not underwater on your mortgage). Every time there's an unexpected major expense in your life, you refinance and the amount of mortgage debt you have creeps up. Not to mention your ever-increasing credit card debt. You are one major illness or car crash away from bankruptcy. Your parents retired when they were your age, but there's no way you can afford to; you've got to keep working 10 or 20 more years and/or hope your kids get rich.

But you believe you are "self-supporting". So therefore you can drive a gas-guzzling monster of an SUV, you can buy a huge flat-screen TV; I mean why not, you're a self-supporting, hard-working, 'successful' adult, you deserve a few nice rewards for being such a success! Besides, the Joneses got one!

Most of you haven't been "self-supporting" in years or decades. Your credit rating is supporting you, and if it cut you off tomorrow, you'd be homeless within a month. Shall we start treating you like children then?


*it's a 'composite' You
posted by mstokes650 at 4:32 PM on July 6, 2011 [15 favorites]


If my parents were still alive, I'd be delighted to be able to live with them. Why would I not want to live with the people I love?
posted by sarahw at 4:33 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


If my parents were still alive, I'd be delighted to be able to live with them. Why would I not want to live with the people I love?

Because grown-ups are only supposed to love the people they're sleeping with.
posted by madcaptenor at 4:34 PM on July 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


So rent a modest apartment in the freaking suburbs!

Modest apartment in which suburbs? Surrey? Richmond? Richmond Hill? Mississauga?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


bonehead: ...I vividly remember prices spiking for rentals in Ottawa in the mid 1990s-2000s period (I had people come to my apartment door and offer to pay me to move out).

Sure, that was a boom period for Ottawa. I have no doubt prices have increased (my house is now worth 50% then when I bought it early in that period in Ottawa), but that boom was accompanied by wage increases. People, in canada at least, tend to abide by the 30% rule (the afore mentioned survivor bias mentioned by teabag). One of the crimes of things like sub-prime is that it undermines that. Also, of course, those wage increases were for a portion of the population; those who did not participate in the boom (civil servants, for example, whose wage is somewhat disconnected from their locality) suffer, giving rise to new areas in, for example, Orleans in an effort to retain access to affordable housing. Anecdotally I'll note that houses have significantly increased in size in the last few decades, though I'm not sure what effect that has on housing costs; I suspect the cost/sqft decreased quite a bit, but peoples expectations have changed.

2006-2010 is a bit of a rough period, I think a larger net needs to be cast.

I don't think it is supportable that a steep rise in housing costs is keeping younger adults at home, on the average anyway. Clearly individual cases have individual results.
posted by Bovine Love at 5:02 PM on July 6, 2011


To add a little to what KokuRyu mentioned, and what teabag asked, blue collar work in Japan is there, but as mentioned, there's a ton of subcontracting. Toyota doesn't have large parts manufacturing lined up like GM did in Michigan. By and large, Japanese companies subcontract out parts manufacture to small (some as small as ten or fewer employees) companies, perhaps hundreds of them, all manufacturing the needed part. However, when the order is full, that's it, and the company won't get another order until Toyota (or whoever) needs more parts. When the economy hits a bump (think of the last two decades as a twenty-year long rumble strip), the large companies order less, and those small shops have to lay off people. The workers at these small factories are totally at the whim of the economy. The construction industry is largely the same, with subcontractors hiring on an as needed basis. Office jobs, which had long been ideals of protected, secure employment, are often filled by contract workers with no security and no benefits. Young people in Japan are trapped in a country that has just discovered how much money you can save in the race to the bottom, as long as you don't care who you crush on the way down. Of course, the primary concern among the people in power (the old) is making sure their piece of the pie (pensions and benefits) aren't hurt, and screw anyone who hasn't already gotten theirs.

As for the living at home thing, my wife, until I met her, was living at home. She was over thirty, and had pretty much decided that she wasn't likely to get married, so she was staying put. The first couple years or so after she moved in with me were very bumpy, as, having lived at home, having had her parents still acting like she was their little girl, she had a lot to learn about being on her own. I really believe there is something to living on your own as a helper towards maturity. When there's no one there to catch you, or stop you from making stupid choices, you make a lot of mistakes, and you learn from them. It's like moving into your first apartment; you have no idea about what will make a good living space, but all of the things that suck about the apartment will stick with you, and help you make better choices the next time.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:03 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, this point has been made well by others, so I'll just add to the chorus by stating that it BLOWS MY MIND that crippling housing debt has become a highly-esteemed token of maturity and seriousness of adult purpose (and consequently a cudgel to shake at the unwashed masses).

Because adults are supposed to plan for the future. You suffer 10 years of crippling debt, you comfortably pay the mortgage for the next 10 or 20, and then you have a free house.

I'm with the grumps here. Youth are supposed to leave the nest. If there's no reason not to leave, then get out and live.

(But I really am only talking about the perpetual 21 year olds, the losers. Doing nothing but existing, drinking and borrowing money. And I think that's the class of people this article is talking about. The people who just leach off of others.)

(And I might have a chip on my shoulder, because I have family members like this. Some of whom lived their entire, shortened, lives like this. "Wah, wah, wah, the world isn't handing me what I think I deserve. I'll show them by spiraling down into an abyss of crapulence!"

Of the many, many people like this I know, only one of them is truly happy. He lucked into an Uncle Zonker role for some friends of his.

Had a conversation with one of them, whilst they were feeling sorry for themselves. "Well, hotshot, what would YOU do if you lost your job?" they asked. I answered, completely seriously, "I'd go back to flipping burgers, and bide my time until another job came along. I was a heartbeat away from running a McDonald's when I was 22, I can do it again." They were dumbfounded- clearly, some jobs are beneath some people.)

Life can kick you in the balls (or ovaries, as the case may be). That sucks, and I have mad empathy for people who are stuck in bad situations. The answer is NOT to blame the Boomers and hold out for tenure/management.
posted by gjc at 5:05 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


You* are not self-supporting. You think of yourself as a "home owner" but in reality, the bank owns most of the equity of your home ("most", assuming you're not underwater on your mortgage). Every time there's an unexpected major expense in your life, you refinance and the amount of mortgage debt you have creeps up. Not to mention your ever-increasing credit card debt. You are one major illness or car crash away from bankruptcy. Your parents retired when they were your age, but there's no way you can afford to; you've got to keep working 10 or 20 more years and/or hope your kids get rich.

But you believe you are "self-supporting". So therefore you can drive a gas-guzzling monster of an SUV, you can buy a huge flat-screen TV; I mean why not, you're a self-supporting, hard-working, 'successful' adult, you deserve a few nice rewards for being such a success! Besides, the Joneses got one!

Most of you haven't been "self-supporting" in years or decades. Your credit rating is supporting you, and if it cut you off tomorrow, you'd be homeless within a month. Shall we start treating you like children then?


That's how it worked for everyone. The people who retired early did so by being lucky and by saving half of what they earned. Everyone is a major illness away from bankruptcy.

You are mixing up valid uses of credit and people living beyond their means. Yes, the bank owns much of my house. For now. But in time, for the low low price of the mortgage interest rate, I will own a property that I could never be able to save up for. The point of a mortgage is to pay it off.
posted by gjc at 5:10 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I dunno, maybe the Canadians and USAians have a higher quality, more expensive version of being poor?

Well, sure, isn't that a given? Also this is an overwhelmingly white website. The experiences may be different among the American minority poor.

In my life, at one point we had 5 family adults living in a 3br 1 bath apartment. One had a full-time secretarial job, two were on disability, one was making minimum wage, and one was living on scholarships and loans meant specifically for poor students plus a part-time job also paying minimum wage. So no, I don't think it's fair to say that the American poor can suffer the kind of slacker leech that some people seem to imply exist en masse among today's twenty-somethings (and yesterday's... and the day before's).
posted by muddgirl at 5:19 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kids today bla bla bla. As long as they stay the hell of my lawn.
posted by jonmc at 5:20 PM on July 6, 2011


I dunno, maybe the Canadians and USAians have a higher quality, more expensive version of being poor?

Absolutely. It is a perverse luxury, and a curse.

(This USAian hates that "word", by the way.)
posted by gjc at 5:26 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This USAian hates that "word", by the way.

I don't think anyone on MetaFilter pays attention to comments that include the dumb, dumb word "USAian".
posted by KokuRyu at 5:35 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of the central characters of the excellent movie, "Little Children," was one of these man/boys who didn't want to grow up and accept his responsibilities. Apparently, there are dads who still want to be kids, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiJLJd7cH1c
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 5:35 PM on July 6, 2011


I answered, completely seriously, "I'd go back to flipping burgers, and bide my time until another job came along. I was a heartbeat away from running a McDonald's when I was 22, I can do it again." They were dumbfounded- clearly, some jobs are beneath some people.

I dunno, I'd be dumbfounded by your crazy assumption that you can walk into a McDonald's and expect to be handed a job. Would the 22-year-old You have hired the older You? There's a ton of applicants for burger-flipper. As an older individual, you are more likely to have health issues, you are more likely to need time off, and you are more likely to have issues with your supervisor, who is younger than you are. You haven't had a food-service job in years, and will likely abandon this food service job when a better opportunity presents itself. You are an extraordinarily bad candidate for a food service job.

This notion of "just go get a job at [Starbucks/Wendy's/etc.]" has got to end. It's great that this job is not beneath you, but you're deluding yourself and insulting others when you assume that it's a gimme.
posted by Nomyte at 5:37 PM on July 6, 2011 [20 favorites]


No, that's exactly what I meant by forming a new household -- new house, different place, disentangling finances, etc. They formed nuclear households (albeit with servants too, in middling sort houses). - jb

Can you cite that claim, please? Because I have some serious doubts about that.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:20 PM on July 6 [+] [!]


I was explicitly talking about north-western Europe and their cultural descendents -- though I noted that in situations like colonial America where there was a dearth of labour, people stayed/were kept at home (citation above).

Regarding the formation of nuclear households - Mary Hartman, The Household and the Making of History, (Cambridge University Press, 2004) - writing about north-west Europe.

Regarding adolescents leaving their homes to work in other people's homes - Ann Kussmaul, Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England (review - behind jstor wall, but you may be able to see the first page.) From the review: "farm servants [were] Agricultural laborers hired by the year who shared their employer's homes...Kussmaul estimates that from 1600 to 1800, around 60 per cent o fthe population between the ages of 16 and 24 were farm servants...service allowed these youngsters to accumulate the financial stake on which they could marry, become independent proprietors (or at least independent laborers), and take their place in the community as adults." That is, they lived and worked outside the family home, to get enough money to establish an independent household upon marriage. Think like Tess of the D'Urbervilles - she goes off to be a dairy maid.
posted by jb at 5:38 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe this link for "Little Children" might work better. Sorry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDcdLd3TVuA
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 5:40 PM on July 6, 2011


Deathalicious: "It's also interesting that nuclear families, on the whole, engender increased consumption, decreased political cohesiveness, and a greater reliance on authorities for support and knowledge (rather than one's own kin)"

Totally true. Keep in mind, though, that the independence of children from their parents has brought lots of benefits in the post-nuclear family era: gay kids who can have lives away from their bigoted parents, long-term relationships both straight and gay that are freed from the kind of horse-trading that marked marriage for most of world history (and still does in lots of places), and the opportunity for those (of means) to live, work and study all over the world.

So, how do find the right middle ground? I think we start by not demonizing or valorizing any particular lifestyle, whether it's living with your parents, traveling abroad, buying a house or going to college out of state. Income still has a ton to do with what your scope of opportunity is and, even after taking that into consideration, different strokes for different folks.

I relish the relative independence I have from my parents at 22. I also get how much privilege I'm exercising by taking advantage of it.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:59 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Get the fuck out of the nest, you spoilt, stunted buggers. Where's your goddamned pride?

Labour market statistics from 2009 indicate that the employment rate for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 dropped by five percentage points from 59.5 per cent to 54.6 per cent

you're talking to what looks to be almost 50% of people, here
fuck you too, buddy
posted by tehloki at 5:59 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


hay everybody we're all arguing with a guy who hasn't been in the thread in 7 hours... just sayin
posted by nathancaswell at 6:27 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are an extraordinarily bad candidate for a food service job.

You don't know what you are talking about.
posted by gjc at 6:44 PM on July 6, 2011


Self-sufficiency is bullshit. The whole point of civilization is that people are better off when they pool their resources and don't have to do everything for themselves.

Just think of all the duplication involved with moving out of the house. You've got to buy furniture, cutlery, maybe a new car, you're shoveling twice as many driveways and cutting twice as many lawns. All of this is taking up money and time that you could have used for other things or not used at all. If you live at home you can spend less time working and more time doing the things you want to do (and if you're one of those people who are doing the thing they want to do, thanks to shared household tasks you have more time to do that too).

Not only would you be better off at home, but your Canadian city would be as well. Canadian cities suffer from sprawl. Why do we have sprawl? Because everyone wants their own damn house. Less need for houses means we don't have to build subdivisions as far as the eye can see from the top of the CN Tower. Our cities have terrible traffic. Toronto loses billions of dollars each year because of people stuck in traffic. If people lived together they wouldn't be able to each have a car (wouldn't fit in the driveway/garage) and they'd have to share a car or two. Less cars means less traffic. Affordable daycare is extremely hard to come by in Canada. If there's a grandparent at home (or some other adult with time, say an underemployed man-child brother) then they can look after kids at least some of the time. Taking care of seniors is a huge drain on the system that will only increase as our population ages. If we can keep these people at home that is a huge savings and a better outcome for the elderly as well.

I'm not saying living at home is a perfect solution or works for all families but it shouldn't be dismissed out of hand either, and the people who are living at home aren't all just mooching off their parents (although for the record I just might be).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


> Your credit rating is supporting you, and if it cut you off tomorrow, you'd be homeless within
> a month. Shall we start treating you like children then?

You not only can, I have no doubt you will.
posted by jfuller at 6:48 PM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


In regards to the original article, the first thing I have to say is: nothing more than WAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGARRRRRRRRRBLLLLLLLLLE fearmongering. The second: It's a half-assed attempt to explain why we're not all living it up 50s style with an emphasis on the uber-importance of the male gender. There's so much wrong with this article and this way of thinking that I don't have the time to list it all. Gender essentialism, cisscentrism, heterocentrism, white entitlement and classism to name a few. I didn't even have to look up the pictures of everyone involved in this article to know they were white, but I did it anyway just for a lark. It all boils down to random shit straight white people fuss about that the rest of the world doesn't have time to care about.
posted by i feel possessed at 7:01 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, what's the problem with being a slacker? Unless you are Bill Gates, Roger Federer, or Bill Murray, you never will be, try as you might. Work as much as you have to, but if someone is busting their ass to become some mid-level manager at their company, well isn't that a waste too? At least the slacker is happy.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:01 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


You are mixing up valid uses of credit and people living beyond their means. Yes, the bank owns much of my house. For now. But in time, for the low low price of the mortgage interest rate, I will own a property that I could never be able to save up for. The point of a mortgage is to pay it off.

You're confusing theoretically sound financial advice with the way your peers actually behave.

In 1992, 18% of Americans age 65 to 74 had housing debt, according to government data compiled by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. By 2004, that percentage had risen to 32%. And in 2007 -- the most recent year available -- 43% of 65- to 74-year-olds had a mortgage.
posted by mstokes650 at 7:17 PM on July 6, 2011


Because adults are supposed to plan for the future. You suffer 10 years of crippling debt, you comfortably pay the mortgage for the next 10 or 20, and then you have a free house.

I agree that a sign of adulthood is planning for the future, but I disagree that taking on debt or purchasing a home is the only or even primary way to show this. There's lots of things that correlate with home purchase.

Pre-house: Deciding to stay put, having a good enough credit to get a loan, knowing that your job will provide for you for the next 20+ years, and having decent insurance and benefits at said job.

Post-house: attending church, joining in local clubs/groups, voting/being politically active, having children, volunteering/doing charity work.

But, correlation is not always causation, as we painfully know now.
posted by FJT at 7:45 PM on July 6, 2011


The social contract is broken. The kids are smart to avoid risk, and nothing is riskier than getting thousands of dollars in debt for education just to appease your parents.

Yeah, getting a degree so you can get a well paid job and become a useful productive contributing member of society just to appease your parents. we're not going to take it any more. I'm gonna burn my degree of the gave of my dead appeased parents.
posted by the noob at 7:56 PM on July 6, 2011


Seth Rogen is Canadian?

Also, living with your parents until you get married is the global norm. Personally, I was happy to move out at 21 but hey -- let's not let hard facts get in the way of our bi-annual Adam Sandler has ruined all men forever discussion.
posted by bardic at 8:35 PM on July 6, 2011


Won't someone think of the (man)children!!?
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 9:21 PM on July 6, 2011


I went to a mostly black high school in a poor neighborhood (although I was neither black nor poor). Teachers would post a list of the top 10 students in each class several times a semester; for a long time I was the only male student who ever made those lists. At the end of high school all my female friends went to college, while maybe half the guys did (and many never graduated). So I've thought a lot about the reasons women seem to do much better than men in our modern economy with the following, mostly speculative, list:

1) Blue-collar jobs (eg carpenter, auto mechanic) are more accessible for men than for women, which prompts many guys to drop out of school or not pursue college. (Everyone has commented on this already.)

2) A woman can't have children past menopause, and most would like to have children by 30 or so. This time limit forces women to start making hard decisions about careers in their early 20s. A man can continue to put off adulthood pretty much indefinitely without risking his ability to procreate.

3) Many women who would not be making a lot of money choose to marry and be homemakers. I've known more than a few women who had ambitious career plans that went awry at some point, so they decided to marry their boyfriends and be stay at home moms. If a man ended up in the same circumstances, he'd probably have to move in with mom and dad (because being a stay-at-home dad is not acceptable in our society).

4) Career risk tolerance. Men are judged primarily by their career success. That means there is a strong incentive for men to pursue highly risky but highly lucrative careers (basketball player, musician, entrepreneur). Of course these career paths do not pay off most of the time, which counterintuitively means that people who choose them do worse on average. Women are not judged as much by their career success, so they don't have as strong an incentive to pursue these risky careers.

This last one has been used as a way to explain why men in developing countries often make much less than women. Women are willing to take that boring low-paying job sewing or working on an assembly line, while men will hold out much longer for a better job that can support a family...that usually never comes. I think it can easily apply to men in our developed economy as well.

I'm kind of an armchair economist, so I like to explain everything in terms of specific, quantifiable factors. But I don't think the factors above can really explain the rapidly growing gap between male and female career success. Something cultural is going on, and I suspect it's happening in a culture that I (and probably most MeFites) do not belong to. I haven't found any coherent work on this change yet, but my eyes are always open.
posted by miyabo at 9:29 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


People aren't going to look for jobs when there are none. In japan the malaise created NEETs and the economy here is creating the same thing.
posted by delmoi at 9:31 PM on July 6, 2011


My little brother lives with his parents. He's made a successful website, has a double degree and a steady girlfriend, and has been on the cover of Readers Digest.
I live in my own apartment. I work in an office and accomplish little. Who's more mature?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:36 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since Readers Digest seems to be popular among old people, I'm gonna have to go with your little brother.

Unless the office you work in is involved with the production of pornography
posted by MattMangels at 10:54 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's my point.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:59 PM on July 6, 2011


Frowner : "What I mean is that there's always a sub-theme of "I suffered a lot, so everyone else should suffer too; a system without the suffering I endured is impossible; if other people get through life without suffering as I did, I will be so envious/regretful/in pain that I can't even contemplate it; if other people did not suffer as I did, then I must believe that they are less good than me, because I have to believe that my suffering was meaningful".

I don't know if you were addressing me with this comment or not, but that's not what I was trying to do. I wasn't trying to do anything, really, except relate my own experiences. Reading threads like this (and articles like the OP), I feel kinda alienated, because this lifestyle they're decrying was never an option for me. I can't make value judgments or even form an opinion about it. I, quite literally, cannot relate.

I wasn't trying to enter the Misery Olympiad, which I agree is sorta the reductio ad absurdum of online liberal debate.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:02 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Futurists like to hypothesize about an upcoming post-scarcity era, but realistically the next step is instead a post-labor world in which automation has driven the value of human labor down to practically nothing. What will society and its conventions for adulthood look like when most people won't be able to work, because there are no jobs for which they are cost-effective?
posted by Pyry at 11:03 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


In all seriousness (since there was zero of that in my previous comment) you are living on a completely different part of the planet than where you grew up, right Lovecraft? That's got to count for something. You are not accomplishing little, you are (hopefully) gaining valuable experience about a different country and culture.
posted by MattMangels at 11:09 PM on July 6, 2011


Today, you can send in an order to Chipotle from your iPhone, and that order will be made on an assembly line by a human being following a fairly rigid script. Most of this process could be automated today. Fifty years from now it will only take a single person to run a Chipotle, and all she'll do is make sure the robots are still running.
posted by Pyry at 11:16 PM on July 6, 2011




In all seriousness (since there was zero of that in my previous comment) you are living on a completely different part of the planet than where you grew up, right Lovecraft? That's got to count for something. You are not accomplishing little, you are (hopefully) gaining valuable experience about a different country and culture.


My brother made the same move. I'm just saying that he lives at home but has accomplished more. I should also note that the same sorts of articles get written in Australia, due to the messed up housing market. Apparently before I was born spending your time surfing and living on the dole was more common though.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:17 PM on July 6, 2011


This isn't meant to be judgmental or whatever: What happens when the parents run out of money? I assume not everyone has wealthy parents.
posted by maxwelton at 11:41 PM on July 6, 2011


There are countries and cultures,e.g. Italy, where it is assumed that the men will live with their parents until they get married. Sometimes, when they get married, they bring their wives home to live and have children and take care of their parents when they get old so they don't have to go to some old folks farm. It's called "extended family" and is a very nice, practical and pleasant way to go if you ask me. This idea that we all have to live in our own little cell cut off from our families is a recent, western capitalist, idea.

That also happened during the Great Depression in the US. Well, it was more like everyone moved in together to see each other through a difficult time economically. After the teenage-oriented '50s this didn't happen as much, and by now it's archaic but making a comeback. Who knows? A few more years of 9%+ unemployment and we may see this type of living arrangement become common again. Although, from what I understand Canada is actually doing pretty well economically, so this seems more like a cultural issue (which also is happening in the US).
posted by krinklyfig at 11:43 PM on July 6, 2011


Today, you can send in an order to Chipotle from your iPhone, and that order will be made on an assembly line by a human being following a fairly rigid script.

Yeah, but then I have to go on a road trip to pick it up:

We're Sorry!
No Chipotle locations found within 30 miles of Taos, NM 87571, USA.
Search again with another city, state or zip code. Or move.

posted by krinklyfig at 11:47 PM on July 6, 2011


I think the issue is the lack of adult role models. I was sorta complaining to a friend of my Dad's - a bar owner and an older adult - about my life and he said "what's wrong with playing videogames and seeing bands?"

I'm waiting for the password into more wealth and nice suits.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:52 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't meant to be judgmental or whatever: What happens when the parents run out of money? I assume not everyone has wealthy parents.

I think you've got it backwards: the ones who come from wealthy parents are the ones who moved out at 18, into a sweet pad (that they have all to themselves) that mommy and daddy help pay for. The folks living at home are the ones whose parents don't have any money already, and probably everyone living under the roof is pitching in to cover expenses as necessary. Overcrowded pseudo-communal living: not just something you do with a bunch of complete strangers as a broke college student anymore!

Yeah, but then I have to go on a road trip to pick it up

Only until someone perfects quadrotor delivery-bots, to put all the food-delivery guys and couriers out of work.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:56 PM on July 6, 2011


all this reminds me of an ACDC song.

The Acid Reign cover's notable as well.
posted by philip-random at 1:07 AM on July 7, 2011


Futurists like to hypothesize about an upcoming post-scarcity era, but realistically the next step is instead a post-labor world in which automation has driven the value of human labor down to practically nothing.

Both of these scenarios assume post-scarcity. The reality is that we're not going to make it to post-scarcity, at least, not outside a few privileged enclaves. There are well over 5 billion people in the world, and most of them don't even have flush toilets.
posted by lodurr at 2:29 AM on July 7, 2011


I think you've got it backwards: the ones who come from wealthy parents are the ones who moved out at 18, into a sweet pad (that they have all to themselves) that mommy and daddy help pay for.

That scenario's just as much of a fantasy as anything else. I know of one case where well-to-do parents are doing this, and that's in a severely disfunctional family. I know of plenty of cases where kids from better-off families are staying at home.

There can be and usually are multiple causes for a phenomenon, and what appears to be a single phenomenon is often more than one. There are significant economic pressures right now that make it difficult for kids coming into their majority and maturity to have their own places.

But there's also a pronounced tendency to put off growing up that's been growing for a long time. (Bumper sticker I first saw in the '80s: "Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional." Think of how many people you know, of any age, who resent the VERY IDEA that someone, somewhere, expects them to "grow up.")

This is not a new thing, either. Think back over generations on our relationship with scarcity and marketing and you'll see that the concept of eternal youth has been with us in America, at least (and promulgated like a virus to the rest of the world) since at least the 19th century. But the last generation that had to deal with scarcity was the one that was raising kids in the 1960s. Those kids are the grandparents of the "slacker" kids of today -- in fact, we're almost 3 full generations out from the last generation that had to deal in any really meaningful way with scarcity as a pressure to grow up.

Right now, our entire economy is predicated on the idea of avoiding maturity. It's driven by toys and diversions and complaints that can be resolved by spending some money. We just don't have anywhere near the kind of scarcity that the boomer's parents had. Right now, even given the difficulty in finding work, on the average we have much greater prosperity than in previous times. From a monetary perspective, kids are probably in at least as good a situation for moving as they've ever been in the history of western civ, but they're doing it less.

I submit that has a lot more to do with marketing and the nature of our economy than anything else. If people have less disposable income, on the average it's because people are disposing of it before they spend it on lodging.

Of course, every generation mocks the grandvolk for their devotion to the lawn, and in turn each generation is mocked by those that follow. Being young or old does not give any generation special license to mock or be mocked.
posted by lodurr at 2:49 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


any portmanteau in a storm: Self-sufficiency is bullshit. The whole point of civilization is that people are better off when they pool their resources and don't have to do everything for themselves.

This is a nice sentiment, and it's even objectively true, but it's got very little to do with children leaving home at a later age in the modern west. Here and now, it's much more a function of supporting a consumption lifestyle.

In earlier eras, when kids lived at home, they continued to support the main household with monetary or labor contributions. In the modern era, aside from the kids buying luxury items that they'd like to use/consume, this so rarely happens that it's cause for surprise when you hear of it.
posted by lodurr at 3:23 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In earlier eras, when kids lived at home, they continued to support the main household with monetary or labor contributions. In the modern era, aside from the kids buying luxury items that they'd like to use/consume, this so rarely happens that it's cause for surprise when you hear of it.

Umm... Really? Everybody you know who is living at home is just sponging off their parents, not paying rent or contributing in any manner? That's funny, because everybody that *I* know who is living with their parents still is at the VERY least paying rent, but they also do manual labour around the house (mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, etc), buy their own groceries, often cook their own meals, etc. These same people, sure, are paying less rent than they would if they got their own apartment, but the whole point of them living at home is to save up money for a down payment on their own place. So while you may think that the majority of people living at home are doing so in order to be able to buy a new iPhone every year and Armani sunglasses and the latest-gen video game system, and that may even be your experience in the circle of people you know, it's certainly not the majority of people who live at home past, say, college age.
posted by antifuse at 6:37 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everybody you know who is living at home is just sponging off their parents, not paying rent or contributing in any manner?

Um...really? You're going to expect me to respond to you as though you've accurately characterized what I wrote, instead of reframing it for maximum snark?
posted by lodurr at 6:46 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think you've got it backwards: the ones who come from wealthy parents are the ones who moved out at 18, into a sweet pad (that they have all to themselves) that mommy and daddy help pay for. The folks living at home are the ones whose parents don't have any money already, and probably everyone living under the roof is pitching in to cover expenses as necessary. Overcrowded pseudo-communal living: not just something you do with a bunch of complete strangers as a broke college student anymore!

My experience is the exact opposite. The poor kids had to leave because their parents couldn't afford to keep them around. The rich kids get to stay at home, if they choose, because their parents CAN afford to keep them around. Plus the occasional "don't let the door hit you in the ass, because we are selling the house the second you leave and moving to Florida."
posted by gjc at 6:59 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


In my experience it's a fair mix among the more well-to-do between "don't even try it" and "never let Jr. go". My wife is firmly in the "don't even try it" camp -- unfortunately, both the kids have excellent reasons to stay home for the time being. I'd rather see them stay home for a while than end up back home for inauspicious reasons at a later time.
posted by lodurr at 7:08 AM on July 7, 2011


... as for the less well-to-do, it's mostly that the kids (mostly boys) either don't have jobs at all or don't have jobs / prospects where they could support an apartment, a car payment, cable and a smartphone data plan.

(And most of my son's friends seem to regard buying their own beer & cigarettes or putting the X-Box in the living room as 'chipping in.')
posted by lodurr at 7:13 AM on July 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Um...really? You're going to expect me to respond to you as though you've accurately characterized what I wrote, instead of reframing it for maximum snark?

I'm sorry, I guess I misunderstood then. I genuinely read this:

In earlier eras, when kids lived at home, they continued to support the main household with monetary or labor contributions. In the modern era, aside from the kids buying luxury items that they'd like to use/consume, this so rarely happens that it's cause for surprise when you hear of it.

As you saying that kids staying at home so rarely pitch in with monetary or labor contributions (other than for luxury items that they'd like to use/consume) that it is cause for surprise. Is that not what you're saying? I am happy to read your interpretation of what you meant by that.
posted by antifuse at 7:59 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And upon failing to preview, I would guess that you (lodurr) are basing your experience of kids staying at home on this statement:

And most of my son's friends seem to regard buying their own beer & cigarettes or putting the X-Box in the living room as 'chipping in.'

This is definitely not the norm in my experience. Maybe for a 20 year old, but not for a 25 year old.
posted by antifuse at 8:06 AM on July 7, 2011


In the modern era, aside from the kids buying luxury items that they'd like to use/consume, this so rarely happens that it's cause for surprise when you hear of it.

I have to say this matches what I have seen (though n<10 among friends' and relatives' kids who've moved back home). With cell plans, the necessity of cable TV and an active bar/club/eating out life, gaming platforms, and brand name sneakers and clothing, the "base costs" for young people, just in terms of luxury items and not rent and worse employment, seem (from what I observe from a slight distance, as I have no kids of my own) much higher than what I faced when I was a recent college grad in the 80s.
posted by aught at 9:00 AM on July 7, 2011


I moved out because it was one of those things you're supposed to do, but looking back, it was not the best economic decision. Plus it would've been nice to spend a few extra years with my dad while he was still mentally and physically healthy.

These days I try to base my life decisions on what benefits me personally rather than what a bunch of strangers expect me to do. I suggest everyone do the same, even if it means living with your parents for an extra five years. Even if it means becoming a life-long slacker who plays video games on his mom's couch at 42. Even if it means listening to folks like Decani make make sweeping, ill-informed generalisations about your character. As long as you're not hurting anybody, it's your life to live, and every moment living by somebody else's standard is wasted.
posted by arithosa at 9:15 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is silly. Every person I know who lived with their parents past the age of 25 (or even past the age of 18, if we want to talk about "adults") did so to save money. Is fiscal responsibility not a "genuinely good reason?"

It's very difficult for young people to buy their own place in the UK right now. Average deposit in London is £59k for a flat - if you want to live outside London and commute in, that makes the costs almost equivalent. The advice given to those in this situation is a) borrow money off parents b) wait for someone to die c) move back in with parents and save money. Only the last of these is a viable option for me, and not even then - my mother lives in an area of high unemployment, where the industry in which I work has almost no presence; not only this, but I would know nobody, loathe the town, am in a steady relationship 300 miles away, and living with a pensioner isn't ideal for someone in their twenties.

However, for those who didn't move away for study/work at 18 (although with rising tuition fees more nad more are commuting from the parental home) and settle down young (very common in this area) people will live with their parents until they move in with their fiance/e. There's no culture of living on one's own or house-sharing there. And to them, someone still renting and unmarried at 29 - and particularly with no interest in having children - is very much being a selfish delayed adolescent. Heck, I wear trainers to work, and being a lodger means I can't invite people round for all night boardgame sessions or paint the living room pink. I have a dirty dish on my floor right now, and I'm certainly not 'sponging' off my parents. Adulthood is relative.

I'd rather pay rent for the rest of my life than have to live with my mother, even if I do love the old girl. I'd rather be doing this than in the position a friend of mine was in, where she had a choice between getting a job and contributing to the household or going on to post-16 study but needing to leave home as her single mother couldn't keep her (as it happened this worked out nicely for her, but still.) There were several reasons that expedited my leaving home at 18, but living in a very shit, depressed cultural wasteland was a big motivating factor. And if we want to pay Northern Misery Bingo, my dad died not just not leaving the family money, but with a loan outstanding that led to my mother having to pull some very firm financial strings for the first time in her life so that we would not then be responsible for the debt once she passed on.
posted by mippy at 9:46 AM on July 7, 2011


When the decision-makers in this society -- the people over 50 who still vote, and the politicians, young or old, who pander to them -- realise:

- that they must invest in the education of young people so that getting an education does not mean taking on crippling and life-destroying levels of debt
- they must allow space for those young people to enter the workforce and take on real responsibility (especially if they want to retire someday and not be living in a decaying society)
- that developing young people is the most important task that older people have
- that work should earn a living wage
- that prosperity tomorrow requires investment in human beings today
- there is more to life than money or work (I hate this one, because it is cliche, but it remains true)

... that's when "boys" will finish school, find jobs, and move out.
posted by rhombus at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


antifuse: I'm discinclined to fuck around with you on this one. I'll just say that I genuinely read "Everybody you know who is living at home..." as meaning "Everybody you know who is living at home."

"Everyone" is neiher what I said, meant, or implied. The only way to read "Everyone" in what I wrote is to read either selectively or carelessly.
posted by lodurr at 10:32 AM on July 7, 2011


What we've learned here: living at home vs living on your own and supporting yourself vs living off your parents are two separate questions, and there's people who fall into all four possible combinations therein.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:20 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm missing something here but if you are able to live at home, then isn't renting a place of your own consumption? Paying $1,000+ on rent for a 1-bedroom in Toronto when you could be living at home is unnecessary spending just as much as buying X-box games or going on vacations every month.

(I will grant that buying your own place may be different due to the forced savings aspect of mortgages and the potential for housing to be an investment)

And it isn't as if kids staying at home will be a burden on their parents.

If you're a property owner in Canada then for as long as you're earning you're going to be making mortgage payments - if you're close to paying off your mortgage then you'll sell your current property and buy a more expensive one or put money into substantial renovations. You're only going to downsize into a less expensive property once you retire and your income gets seriously reduced.

What this means is that parents are paying for the property already. Property that could easily accommodate their kids. There will be added utility and food expenses, but that extra couple of hundred is all this is costing the parents. Even if that is all the kids pay for then the parents are even and the kids are much ahead. Are there many adult kids living at home buying iPads and not paying for utilities or groceries?

Again, this is not for everyone. Some families would kill each other, or be miserable. But there are parents out there that would love to have their kids at home, and grown kids who could live a much better life if they just moved back.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:54 AM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


But there are parents out there that would love to have their kids at home

My parents live in a small town (pop. 5000) north of Kitchener, Ontario. I could not get a job in my field in that area. I moved to Toronto at 19 to go to school, and have been here ever since. My dad's dream was that I would someday get a job I could do via the internet and phone so I could move back in with them. This was emphatically not *my* dream, and I don't think that dream of his really died until I bought my first place in Toronto at 27. He and my mother still have my younger sister at home, though she's 35. She has a full-time job and her own car and is active in the community. I don't think she pays rent but she does do her share of the housekeeping and yard work and buys some stuff for the house. They really like having her there and don't mind helping her financially, since she really isn't well-paid. They can easily afford the relatively small amount she's costing them. I don't think they'd take rent from her in any case — it would hurt their pride and their sense of themselves as parents. They're in their seventies and have never yet had to deal with being empty nesters, which they would find quite lonely. So I think it's working out just fine. Every case is different. My sister has certainly always lived better than I have. I had to live in one room in a horrible rooming house with a bunch of crazy people for five years to save money for the down payment for that first place. I sure wouldn't do that again, or wish it on anyone.

It was funny though one Christmas when my mother thanked me for her Christmas present. I had given her two novels. My sister had given her a couple of books also, plus an outfit, a boxed CD set, jewelry, a dozen roses, and some other stuff. I said, "My gift looks pretty chintzy compared to [my sister]'s!." Mum said, sotto voce, "You don't live here rent-free." Ah.
posted by orange swan at 12:36 PM on July 7, 2011


Maybe I'm missing something here but if you are able to live at home, then isn't renting a place of your own consumption?

Sure, but what kind of consumption, and who benefits, and how does it relate to larger patterns of consumption?

Put another way: if younger adults reduced discretionary consumption enough as a category that a significant percentage of them could afford to rent their own places, the negative economic impact might exceed that of the same group not renting their own places.

But the larger point is that we've built an economy that's dependent on defining stuff as more or less essential that we would have thought of as clearly discretionary 20 years ago. E.g., cable, broadband internet, and mobile phone service (usually with a data plan). That stuff feeds back into the economy in ways that rent doesn't in much the same way that tax breaks to the poor create much more economic stimulus than tax breaks to the well-off.
posted by lodurr at 12:41 PM on July 7, 2011


Right now, even given the difficulty in finding work, on the average we have much greater prosperity than in previous times. From a monetary perspective, kids are probably in at least as good a situation for moving as they've ever been in the history of western civ, but they're doing it less.

The funny thing about averages is, a few really extreme outliers can throw things off. The middle class is shrinking. That "greater prosperity" almost all went straight to the few folks at the top. Real wages for the vast majority of people have been noticeably stagnant for years. These are not really even controversial facts at this point.

Even leaving all that aside, however, the idea that kids are in as good a situation for moving out as they've ever been in the history of western civ is pretty ridiculous. The whole idea of moving out before marriage, stereotypically American as so many people have mentioned, has its roots in America's long history as a country with a frontier (I imagine it's a factor in Canada as well, though possibly to a somewhat lesser extent). There is no frontier anymore. "Go west, young man" is predicated on there being a "west" to go to.

But I guess it depends on how you define the "best situation" for moving out. If moving out is about enjoying the same creature comforts you enjoyed when you hadn't moved out, in other words, being assured that things won't get materially worse for you when you move out, then sure, maybe the loss of a frontier (and all that brings with it in the way of increased stratification etc.) is no big deal - although the middle class is still shrinking. If, on the other hand, the "best situation" for moving out has to do with the opportunity to better your station in life and really make a mark on the world, the chance to overcome class stratification, in other words, the chance to make things materially better for yourself, then this is pretty clearly nowhere near the best time.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:54 PM on July 7, 2011




That "greater prosperity" almost all went straight to the few folks at the top. Real wages for the vast majority of people have been noticeably stagnant for years. These are not really even controversial facts at this point.

These are interesting points, and I hear them a lot. I seldom challenge them.

However, it's also pretty noncontroversial that by some pretty standard measures of prosperity, we're more prosperous than we've been throughout the vast run of history: Lower mortality, more things, more leisure time, etc.

We are spending a shitload of money. We regard a lot of things as essentially nondiscretionary that are clearly discretionary. I've listed a few of them.

As for the ideal of moving out before marriage, I don't have a position on it as an ideal -- I don't regard it as an unqualified good or a sure sign of maturity, as a good thing overall or a bad thing. How you get to be mature is your own business (and your parents', I'd say, since they've invested in you). As I noted up-thread, people mark and accomplish that in different ways at different times and places.

But I do have a position on the ideal of reaching maturity. There's a lot of confusion around what the markers for maturity really are -- this thread is ample evidence of that. If a kid is living at home, but spending money instead of saving it, not feeling as though they ought to make a contribution to the household (which can take many forms, including 'pitching in' in some manner that the householders regard as meaningful), focusing on the moment rather than the future -- I'd say that qualifies as 'putting off maturity,' and I'd say it poses a social problem.
posted by lodurr at 2:37 PM on July 7, 2011


Lack of recent conscription for world wars, no decent influenza or plague epidemics in which to perish, no mill or mine or factory in which to toil, and no frontier lands to go off pioneering: I'd stay home with my parents, too, I suppose.
posted by eegphalanges at 4:46 PM on July 7, 2011


Growing up and having kids and getting married before you're 30 is less of a priority when you don't have to worry about cranking out a kid or two before you die of polio.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 8:27 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lodurr, my last comment on this derail and then I'll get to your other comments:

"Everyone" is neiher what I said, meant, or implied. The only way to read "Everyone" in what I wrote is to read either selectively or carelessly.

You said that it "so rarely happens that it's cause for surprise when you hear of it" - that is as close to "everyone" as makes no real difference, IMO. You are implying that the vast, vast majority of kids living at home are not pitching in in any meaningful way, as you do in this comment as well:

If a kid is living at home, but spending money instead of saving it, not feeling as though they ought to make a contribution to the household (which can take many forms, including 'pitching in' in some manner that the householders regard as meaningful), focusing on the moment rather than the future -- I'd say that qualifies as 'putting off maturity,' and I'd say it poses a social problem.

I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, since you seem to think that it is the norm for kids living at home to be doing this (spending instead of saving, not pitching in at all), and in my experience I am just not seeing this. Anybody I know who lived at home more than a year or two after finishing their higher education was, at the very least, paying rent, and more often than not pitching in in some other meaningful fashion while trying to add to their savings. So maybe we are both right - maybe most of your son's friends are lazy douchebags whose parents let them walk all over them, and maybe all of my friends are responsible people who respect their parents and appreciate being allowed to live at home. Or maybe the societal norm falls somewhere in the middle. However, I certainly don't see it as an epidemic that is destroying society, as these articles always seem to represent.
posted by antifuse at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you have a better term for inhabitants of the United States? "American" won't cut it, because believe it or not, there's two other major nations on the North American continent.

Actually, "American" is pretty widely recognized as referring to inhabitants of the United States. I don't know of any Canadians )or Mexicans, though I admit to having more knowledge of Canadians) who would identify as "American" meaning "North American".
posted by antifuse at 4:58 PM on July 8, 2011


happyroach: "Do you have a better term for inhabitants of the United States? "American" won't cut it, because believe it or not, there's two other major nations on the North American continent."

This has been discussed to death here before. There are lots of national demonyms derived from landmasses shared by other countries -- South Africa isn't the only country at the bottom edge of Africa, Italy isn't the only country on the Italian peninsula, Malaysia isn't the only country in the Malay Archipelago. But nobody has a problem calling people from those countries "South Africans," "Italians," and "Malaysians" -- not even Basotho, Sammarinese, or Indonesians, despite the fact that they technically have claim to those terms, as well. Similarly, there's enormous cultural and historical weight behind "American" as a demonym for the United States, and other countries on North and South America don't care because they've already got their own demonyms.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:22 PM on July 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


In my experience, some Canadians in some contexts use "North America" as a shorthand for "Canada and the United States". I wonder how Mexicans feel about this.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:28 PM on July 8, 2011


Do you have a better term for inhabitants of the United States? "American" won't cut it, because believe it or not, there's two other major nations on the North American continent.

You are so completely, totally, incontrovertibly right. In fact, I would argue that even "The United States" is a name that implies bigotry and colonial imperialism. Lots of countries have states that are united! Surely there is a better way to refer to citizens of Amerikkka!

(who no doubt use the Micro$oft Windows operating system)
posted by Afroblanco at 6:04 PM on July 8, 2011


Rhaomi: South Africa, Italy, Malaysia and the rest are already proper names of countries, so that's not an applicable argument. Nor is it, really justifiable in the rapidly changing language environment of the internet, to argue that a debatable term should be retained simply out of tradition. Shall I give you a list of traditional national and cultural terms that have fallen out of common use?

Fortunately, if you are truly set on using the term, there's an obvious solution, one that directly ties into the topic. As was pointed out earlier in the thread, traditionally children stayed at home in extended families, which is all very well. However, it wasn't a communal situation; the eldest son inherited the farm or business, and the younger children had to either work for him, or make their own way. Traditionally the two major paths for younger, non-inheriting sons was the clergy- which is now a somewhat disreputable profession, or the military, going off to conquer distant lands full of people who didn't speak the language.

So there's our solution! Put the elder males in the extended families, and send the younger siblings off to conquer Mexico and Canada. This will both solve the problem of the dissolute youth, AND our nomenclature problem at the same time! Honestly, sometimes my genius frightens me.
posted by happyroach at 9:55 PM on July 8, 2011


remember the alamo
posted by philip-random at 11:03 PM on July 8, 2011


happyroach: "South Africa, Italy, Malaysia and the rest are already proper names of countries, so that's not an applicable argument."

Well, not exactly -- those are just the informal versions of the official names:

Republic of South Africa --> South Africans
Italian Republic --> Italians
Federation of Malaysia --> Malaysians

so:
United States of America --> Americans

Granted, those first three countries aren't usually called by their long-form names, but then again "United States of America" is also seldom used, and "America" is used as shorthand for the country at least as much as "United States," "USA," "U.S.," etc. Plus it's the only element in the name that can easily serve as a demonym.

If you want to be consistent, you might as well start calling people from the above "RSAins," "IRas," and "FoMites" to respectfully distinguish them from others sharing their lands. But that's jarring, weird, and unnecessary. (Kind of like "USians"!)
posted by Rhaomi at 11:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


You said that it "so rarely happens that it's cause for surprise when you hear of it" - that is as close to "everyone" as makes no real difference...

Just: Bullshit. Bullshit.
posted by lodurr at 9:45 AM on July 9, 2011


... or in less prosaic terms: that's basically like saying there's "no real difference" between "rare" and "unknown."
posted by lodurr at 11:05 AM on July 9, 2011


Far be it from me to wade into other people's arguments, but you do know that other countries have other words for countries? For example the closest approximation to "Canada" in Chinese is "Jinada" (in Mandarin, at least). English speakers casually talk about Japan, even though the locals think in terms of "Nihon"

We tend to call it the US up here. We also talk about the nice Germans who live in Deustchland, the Poles of Polska, etc... So lots of people have different words for the same place, and the issue is as much that Canadians and Americans/Usians both speak English so we're actually actively aware of each other's slightly different naming preferences.
posted by Phalene at 7:38 PM on July 10, 2011


Why is this so tightly bound up in being male? Where are the women in this picture?
posted by tehloki at 11:11 PM on July 10, 2011


There's a lot of psychic energy tied up with gender issues.

Unfortunately, the fact that people think it matters, makes it matter.

FWIW, though, in cultural terms it's not unusual to see a trend affect men/boys and not women/girls. Whether that's the case here, I don't know -- I would tend to think the universals outweigh the particulars.
posted by lodurr at 7:38 AM on July 14, 2011


CNN takes a crack at the millennials. They don't restrict it to boys.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:40 AM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


CNN takes a crack at the millennials.

Wow. Blood pressure... rising...
posted by naju at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2011


Wonder how it would shake out if we plotted the age of thread respondents versus their opinions.
posted by lodurr at 1:21 PM on August 5, 2011


CNN takes a crack at the millennials.

Like we're the first generation whose elders thought they weren't willing to suck it up. I think the problem is just as much with the boomers who were raised in households that could have been featured in patriarchal family dysfunction quarterly. I'll admit that I can be a responsibility dodging overgrown man child at times, but I look around at the kids these days and see people who are willing to bring a lot of passion and energy to their work if they see even the slightest shred of loyalty back, or even some sign that the work they do is being valued or not compromised by horrifically bad management decisions.

This analysis also totally ignored the shift from employment being an almost feudal lifetime career contract with pensions and defined benefits to a you're-only-as-good-as-your-last-project we'll layoff at the first sign of trouble morale killing jungle. I was fortunate enough to work for good mid-level ex-IBM trained managers early on, and the contrast between a successful clued in management style and the directionless CYA-first style I see so many other places is stark and uncomfortable to contemplate.

Also, a generation that does more volunteer work is not a lazy challenge-dodging generation. It's one that hasn't been presented with much in the way of opportunity because a giant population bulge in the prior generation has locked up most of the avenues of advancement.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:16 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aren't we supposed to generation Boy Scout anyway?
posted by The Whelk at 6:19 PM on August 5, 2011


I hate to say it, but Americans might just need to "reboot" the millennial generation.

i think the millennial generation needs to reboot america, right in the ass

someone needs to
posted by pyramid termite at 4:33 AM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, seems like everyone trotting an attitude about this who is over 50 or something completely ignores the fact that even though there were plenty of financial crises during their lifetime, they still basically had jobs handed to them on a silver platter. Never has the government or private sector done so little or cared so little about providing jobs to the populace.

Also, this "millennial" expert they have? She was born in 1971. She's forty years old. Sorry, but I think once you're 40 you no longer get to be one of the people who gets to say, "I know what's wrong with these kids today because I'm one of them." If you were born in 1971 you started working in 1989 or earlier. That's a very different experience than target of most of these articles -- people whose first job was maybe 2004 or 2005.

Seems like people are very fluid about what does and doesn't count as a millennial when it suits their purposes.

I love how everyone writing these articles (assuming they are baby boomers) grew up in literally the most prosperous time in America's history, are assured that their retirement benefits, social security, and Medicare will be paid until they die, and oh, by the way, were raised largely by people who survived a frikkin depression and, as a result, had pretty damn frugal tendencies which for some reason they failed to pickup.

They also conveniently seem to forget that 20-30 years or so ago, when they were the millennial's ages, they suffered all kinds of crises and couldn't seem to deal with setbacks either.

Oh, and:
Everyone got a trophy just for showing up; even red marker pens were banned from some schools because the color was considered too harsh and judgmental.
Although it's true everyone in my little league got a trophy (which, I have to say, makes a lot more sense to young kids than having one team smarmingly lord over everyone else) my papers got marked to hell and back with a red pen every school year. And wow, I was born in 1977 so compared to someone born in '71 I'm like a whippersnapper or something.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:12 AM on August 6, 2011


Man, seems like everyone trotting an attitude about this who is over 50 or something completely ignores the fact that even though there were plenty of financial crises during their lifetime, they still basically had jobs handed to them on a silver platter.

in a midwestern factory town in the late 70s? - nope

all i can say about the rest of it is that it seems to be an eternal pastime for someone to say that the younger generation doesn't handle things as well as they did

aside from a decent world, they would also need decent leadership from their elders - something that my generation, the boomers, has so far failed to provide - and the x'ers haven't done much better

each generation takes time to find its strength and wisdom - and it's my belief that when the millennials finally do, they're going to insist that many things change rather than indulge in futile rebellion and escapism like the boomers did, or ironic compliance the way the x'ers did - IF the right elders appear to lead them

i'm not so sure we'll get the right elders, though
posted by pyramid termite at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2011


As someone born on the older edge of whatever the he'll were calling this generation, the overwhelming things I see are a lack of fear about groups or collectives and an air of do-gooderism ( Generation Boy Scout ) combined with the feeling tof being completely and totally surpurflous.
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on August 6, 2011


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