thanks Mom and Dad for the cash
March 4, 2019 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Behind the jokes about “adulting”; the new fashion for referring to male children as “buddy” instead of “son” (as if still a kid oneself); the performative generational cluelessness about basics like how many towels to own, is a more serious and divisive question: Have you or haven’t you cut the financial cord with your family? How they answer portends very different economic outcomes, career paths and life choices. That’s if they answer. Despite how common it is for a certain set of affluent millennials to be getting help from their parents at an age when many of them are themselves parents, it’s still the last taboo of finance that people don’t want to admit... “It’s easier to talk about saving more or being frugal” (NYT)

More than half (53 percent) of Americans ages 21 to 37 have received some form of financial assistance from a parent, guardian or family member since turning 21, according to a 2018 report by Country Financial, a financial services firm in Bloomington, Ill. This may include paying bills for a cellphone (41 percent), groceries and gas (32 percent), rent (40 percent) or health insurance (32 percent).

...On average, each millennial parent receives $11,011 per year in combined financial support and unpaid labor, the 2017 TD Ameritrade Millennial Parents Survey found, for an annual total of $253 billion in America.

That assistance is crucial for many, according to the study. A quarter of millennial parents receive hourly support from their parents, in the form of child care or household help, and 18 percent of those receiving financial support say they couldn’t afford their current lifestyle without it. Over half of these millennial parents... say they have a generalized anxiety about not earning enough to support themselves and their families.
posted by devrim (84 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
On average, each millennial parent receives $11,011 per year in combined financial support and unpaid labor

I mean, sure, if you're going to count unpaid labor, most everyone fails to cut the cord completely in their 30's. Conversely, though: do you want to be the one who tells Grandma that she doesn't get grandkid time every couple of weeks? Or should I be paying her by the hour? (And commensurately, does that mean I get to charge by the hour for technical support? Because then I might break even)
posted by Mayor West at 1:20 PM on March 4 [24 favorites]


We've got an increasingly hostile economic environment, where improvements in productivity do not translate to increases in income. It is only going to get worse until the political climate changes sufficiently to create legislation to fix it.

If this continues, we'll go the way of Spain, where folks live with their parents well into their 30s because it's simply too expensive to do otherwise.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:24 PM on March 4 [24 favorites]


Also, in the past 30 years, housing prices have tripled while real wages haven't moved at all. The social safety net has been torn down around Gen X'ers and Millenials when our Boomer parents decided they were done being the beneficiaries of social policy and now didn't want to pay for it for later generations. Income inequality is as bad as it was in the Gilded Age. Health insurance is ruinously expensive, in large part because the risk pool contains a whole bunch of aging Boomers who haven't hit Medicare eligibility yet. Owning a house and having a family is no longer a realistic goal for a huge swath of the Millenial cohort. I haven't taken a handout from my parents since college, but I don't blame anybody who's accepting help from their parents when $9/hour won't pay for 1 bedroom in a crappy walkup with 4 roommates.
posted by Mayor West at 1:26 PM on March 4 [79 favorites]


the new fashion for referring to male children as “buddy” instead of “son” (as if still a kid oneself);

This is the NYT citing its own essentially fact-less trend piece, and this article is a set of factoids in search of a thesis.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:30 PM on March 4 [62 favorites]


That assistance is crucial for many, according to the study. A quarter of millennial parents receive hourly support from their parents, in the form of child care or household help, and 18 percent of those receiving financial support say they couldn’t afford their current lifestyle without it. Over half of these millennial parents (remember that more than a million are becoming mothers every year) say they have a generalized anxiety about not earning enough to support themselves and their families.

I would like to have kids. I don't receive any current financial help from my parents, and haven't for seven years, because the money comes with strings and I can't deal with them. My sister, on the other hand, is able to tolerate those controlling desires and the guilt lectures--I think she's just... by nature easier at being what my parents want--so has gotten considerable financial support that I know about (including a place to live for a few years with her husband rent free, for example).

I don't have any idea how I'd afford AI costs or make a case that I could support a kid, but I want to make concrete plans--but the money and time away from work just straight up are not there. I can't let my parents control me, and when they give me money they think they can tell me how to run my life (including: is my spouse good for me; including: do I have mental health problems?, including: is the way I dress okay?). I have a fragile relationship with my dad (and none with my mom), but I can't ever ask for money or even acknowledge that it exists, because it's a trap waiting to be sprung. And... the uncertainty weighs on me, but there just isn't any way to ask for help or support without inviting a desire to crush me as an independent human alongside it.

My sister told me she was pregnant, all aglow and excited, a week or two ago. I'm happy for her, but I confess, my first result was a quiet pang of jealousy. I don't like that. I feel a little guilty about it. It's not her fault she made different decisions from me, but... I want to be a parent. I want to make life transitions, I just want to be allowed to be an adult human while I do it.

I'm envious of millennials whose parents are good parents whether or not money is involved, but I am acutely sensitive to the many ways that a system that relies on parental financial support trickles down and makes people who break with their families vulnerable to falling through the cracks. It adds an extra strain on relationships that might or might not already been fragile, and it amplifies stresses down the line. We can't do this. We shouldn't do this.
posted by sciatrix at 1:33 PM on March 4 [67 favorites]


This vacuous piece tiptoes around the real problems in our economy and seems to conclude that the way out is simply "get past [a] narrative" where they are independent and accept massive wealth transfers from their wealthy boomer parents graciously and without guilt. I guess this is an acceptable option if you are on good terms with your still-living wealthy boomer parents, but there are a lot of Americans (calling them "millenials" is dismissive, even infantilizing) who aren't.
posted by LiteOpera at 1:35 PM on March 4 [24 favorites]


~*~also not all millennials are the children of boomers~*~

~*~not everyone's family fits neatly into the generational cutoffs of boomers and millennials and, idk, grandparents who fought in the War~*~

~*~wealth is not actually a generational characteristic~*~

~*~class exists in all age categories and informs the context of each individual person navigating different life stages~*~
posted by sciatrix at 1:40 PM on March 4 [48 favorites]


This is the NYT citing its own essentially fact-less trend piece, and this article is a set of factoids in search of a thesis.

Begging the thesis?
posted by GuyZero at 1:41 PM on March 4 [3 favorites]


~*~class exists in all age categories and informs the context of each individual person navigating different life stages~*~

Hello and welcome on your first visit to New York Times Trend Piece. I hope you enjoy it here.
posted by GuyZero at 1:42 PM on March 4 [21 favorites]


As my grandmother did for my mother, and my mother did for me, I helped my kid own a house. It's how we pass on privilege in my family, by real estate, and it's how my mother, my kid and I were all able to afford Ph.Ds even though none of us ever actually had any money. It's how my mother could afford to pay for a life care community when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's, because the property her mother bought cheap after World War II was worth a boatload of money by then. It's sheer privilege and knowing how the system works. And the property we had, my family could buy cheap by virtue of being white. So yeah, I raised my millennial kid to be so tight with money it squeaked and ate ramen throughout college after going off the meal plan and yeah, the kid was on financial aid and our clothes came from the thrift shop, but boy did we have privilege. I still pay for my kid's phone and gym membership even though their spouse has money, because that's the kind of thing women in my family have always done.

On the plus side, when you buy your kid a house, they don't move away when you need help. My mom took care of her mother when she was dying, and I was there for my mother for more than a decade after she was diagnosed with Parkinson's. A lot of people can't assume they have an extended family any more.
posted by Peach at 1:42 PM on March 4 [37 favorites]


This was an issue for me and I guess I count as a ‘boomer’ . I lived as cheap as I could, and worked when I got the chance. I still needed help because of you can’t see well enough to drive, you aren’t getting jobs, and I really could not get on SSI until I was over 50 and the arthritis got bad. Incidentally jobs which offer unaffordable or no insurance screw you there because you won’t have enough medical records to back up a claim. Some people really fall through the cracks. Parents wind up taking up the slack. Goes the other way too.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:43 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


If you have the means and a family member needs help, you're probably going to help them. I've helped my son out by co-signing a car loan and a few other things but he helps us move big stuff and comes over and gets the mail and feeds the cats when we're on vacation. My parents and my sisters helped me out when I was a struggling young parent and later we helped my mother out when she was ill. Families have always done that.
posted by octothorpe at 1:44 PM on March 4 [9 favorites]


On average, each millennial parent receives $11,011 per year in combined financial support and unpaid labor

So at $25 an hour this is 44 weeks of 10 hours per week of childcare. Or 88 weeks of 5 hours per week, which is like one sunday afternoon for a year and a half.

Like, have we actually gotten to the point where it's considered odd for grandparents to look after grandkids? The economic calculus here is weird. Yes, younger people are a lot more financially precarious than previous generations. The inclusion of unpaid childminding labour does not really help make that clearer.
posted by GuyZero at 1:45 PM on March 4 [28 favorites]


These hit pieces seem to rely on the assumption that the economic family structures that developed during and immediately after WWII characterized by two-parent households, mobility, and distance from extended family are the idealized norm rather than a demographic blip.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:49 PM on March 4 [29 favorites]


Like, have we actually gotten to the point where it's considered odd for grandparents to look after grandkids?

Right? There doesn't sound like anything new here, just the sames kinds of things that my grandparents did for their kids and their parents did for them. How does that $11,011/year compare to the same number for previous generations (when corrected for inflation). I'd guess that it's larger but that's a shot in the dark, I don't have any data.
posted by VTX at 1:53 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


distance from extended family are the idealized norm rather than a demographic blip.

Using geographic mobility as a lever to greater economic mobility is actually a big deal in the US and has been a significant factor in its higher levels of both class mobility and economic growth vs comparable Euro nations. So I would say this is more of an observed norm rather than an idealized norm. But yes, they're not really questioning the underlying factors at all here.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]


The debt you owe to your parents, you pay to your children. Film at 11.
posted by elizilla at 1:55 PM on March 4 [20 favorites]




the assumption that the economic family structures that developed during and immediately after WWII characterized by two-parent households, mobility, and distance from extended family are the idealized norm rather than a demographic blip.

Well, they're a demographic blip, because we mismanaged what could have been a multi-generational windfall into, like, three decades of incredible largesse followed by two more decades of credit-fueled denial.

We probably could have kept at least the most important parts of that postwar environment—the mobility thing was nice, and not having to depend on your possibly-really-shitty family for child- and elder-care was also pretty neat—going, if we hadn't decided to spend it on elevating a new aristocracy.

Pity, that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:05 PM on March 4 [30 favorites]


For generations, wealthy families have had a pattern of ongoing gifts to children and grandchildren as a means of inter-generational wealth transfer, driven by the gift and estate tax regime of the times. (For example, see the current President.) Nothing new here.

While not wealthy, we have supported the kids by paying for their education, paying off the educational debts of their spouses, paying for ongoing education of one spouse (in professional school), and the education of the kids. Education of the next 1-2 generations is, to my mind, the best investment one can make. The lack of any educational debt in these families is a tremendous benefit. Also, helping with (aka gifting) the down payment for their first home is a way for them to participate in another tax-advantaged means of wealth building. Day-to-day expenses are their problem.

I rather think that most parents would, on proper consideration and perhaps with the benefit of counsel by their CFP, agree that spending the money this way instead of a fancy car or Florida condo makes more sense.
posted by sudogeek at 2:20 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


Or, and also also, this `be gracious about accepting help from your parents' is the next step in getting used to an inherited class system again. We're finishing up with the published surprise that unpaid internships and subsidized early careers are necessary to professional advancement; the clever pivot is to praise people who accept the help for doing it gracefully; eventually `we' get back to `believing' that no-one who doesn't have that kind of family help has the character to deserve a good profession.

I mean, it seems like a series of nutty counterfactuals, but we're only a century or so away from that as a normative belief even in the hypermobile US.
posted by clew at 2:22 PM on March 4 [28 favorites]


Speaking as an assumed grandchild-babysitter, I'd like to point out that an awful lot of us grandparent-aged people work full time these days and will have to continue for the foreseeable future because the assumption of the kindly old available grandmom depends on a whole lot of financial assumptions that only held true for a little while.

Not to mention there's a whole other thread about estrangement. Oh, yeah, and I just read a book called The Way We Never Were which points out that the idealized family was a temporary (and possibly media-fueled, imaginary) phenomenon.
posted by Peach at 2:23 PM on March 4 [16 favorites]


My mother moved in with my brother after he had kids, not because he and his wife were unable to care for them financially, but because she wanted to be near her grandkids and she sure as shit couldn't afford real estate near them (Vancouver) on her own. When does her trend piece come out?
posted by jacquilynne at 2:29 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


These NYTimes articles are so weird. My 8 year old daughter comes from two cultures (Mexican and Lithuanian) whose ancestors would haunt the shit out of her mom and dad if we hadn't enlisted various aunts/grandmothers/great-grandmothers/etc. to take care of her at no cost.
posted by sideshow at 2:46 PM on March 4 [20 favorites]


The unpaid child care work of grandparents shouldn’t be valued by the going per-hour rate. With several-year-long waitlists for infant care and myriad other obstacles to finding reliable trusted child care, it should be valued more.

Grandparent care is the best, but its benefits accrue no more equally than those of parents who buy their children houses. When my parents happen to be in town for a long school break and we don’t sign up for the in-school child care, I always worry our nonparticipation will contribute to it being canceled for lack of demand.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 2:52 PM on March 4 [4 favorites]


Civilization has failed life once we start seriously calculating or thinking about the financial compensation owed to ancestors for their part in caring for the newest iteration of their genetic and/or familial line.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:04 PM on March 4 [10 favorites]


and for some people grandparents are less reliable caregivers than the sketchy daycare behind the oil change shop

relational status confers no inherent virtues
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:04 PM on March 4 [42 favorites]


Actually, given that my partner's mother has actively been investigated by child protective services for threatening to literally steal my brother-in-law's children and raise them as her own, a task she didn't do all that well the first three times she tried it...

yeah, how's-about-no there.

Not everyone has the luxury of leaning on a good, loving family. This is particularly true for certain groups of people, like queer people--we make our own, sure, but they're largely broke too. When we consider how this set of events came to pass, and what we as a society want independence to look like, looking at this pattern and saying "ah, yes, this is the natural order of things" creates a safety net that is more holes than cloth.

This is why we need a robust safety net that catches everyone equally. Because families won't do it.
posted by sciatrix at 3:12 PM on March 4 [55 favorites]


I haven't seen it mentioned yet, but I'm skimming through on a beer: The houses mentioned in the article are ruinously expensive without factoring in property taxes. Or maintenance! Maintenance is what, usually around 1% of the property value each year? So for the ~$450k near beach front home that's somewhere around $4.5k each year. Nearly $400 a month in expected maintenance!

I've yet to see one of these articles that goes down the thought process of, "Man, I really want to live in Georgetown but goooooooooooood damn. Hey! There's like a dozen 1980's-1990's 2 bedrooms on the MARC line in Germantown for a third or less the price. How about that."
posted by Slackermagee at 3:21 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


Let's get back to this calling people 'buddy' business. Some of the youth have started it around my way. I don't like it at all.
posted by biffa at 3:25 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


From the article:

Despite how common it is for a certain set of affluent millennials to be getting help from their parents at an age when many of them are themselves parents, it’s still the last taboo of finance that people don’t want to admit, according to Ms. Palmer.

“It’s easier to talk about saving more or being frugal,” she said. “There’s not as much shame around those topics.”


IDK, I'm not sure it's shame so much as it is a desire not to get into a sticky discussion about privilege. I've seen the undercurrents ripple during playground confabs when people process the information that a parent-funded a down payment on a house, or that someone is entering year 20 of paying off student loans. It's easier to chit-chat about the money that's perceived to be the result of choices you make rather than the circumstances to which you were born.
posted by sobell at 3:34 PM on March 4 [24 favorites]


C'mon, biffa buddy, what's not to like?

The idea of my late father calling me "buddy" falls into that set of things which are unimaginable.
posted by maxwelton at 3:35 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


Our Parents Are Broke & So Are We. Now What?

Ugh this article hit close to the bone. The article points out that while 50% of boomers will transfer an unprecedented amount of wealth to their kids, the other 50% will transfer jack shit and likely die in debt. A lot of that 50% consists of women who have been financially destroyed by divorce. Women like my mom.

My mother will *possibly* be able to eke out a so-so retirement IF
-she doesn't lose her job before she makes it to medicare age
-the housing market doesn't tank --AGAIN-- sending her underwater on her home --AGAIN-- before she can retire, sell it, and GTFO of her expensive town
-she manages not to get too ill to live at home

If everything goes according to plan, she retires, sells her place, and lives with one of her kids, helping them make ends meet by paying a nominal rent from her very small retirement funds, and caring for her grandkid. But those are a lot of big IFs. Especially that 2nd one, with the market looking like 2007 again.

If she winds up needing ***two entire decades*** of elaborate, 24/7 healthcare, like her parents did, we are...I mean, we're just fucked. None of her kids can afford their own homes, much less An Actual Not-Deathtrap Nursing Home.

These are the things I try not to think about, and just try to be happy that for now, I can afford to give her money for vet bills and to fix her broken refrigerator.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:35 PM on March 4 [28 favorites]


Have you or haven’t you cut the financial cord with your family?

No, I haven't. I help out my mother financially, and fully expect I'll be adding more of the day to day expenses for both parents over the next years, as my mother has about $7,000 in retirement savings (she's 75 and still working, but that won't last forever) and my dad has less than that, plus a mortgage. I've been giving them money since I was 18.

Oh, wait, that's not what they meant with that question. Apparently there's some bizarro world where parents give their kids money? Huh.
posted by lollusc at 4:08 PM on March 4 [20 favorites]


> Like, have we actually gotten to the point where it's considered odd for grandparents to look after grandkids

I'm handwaving, but I bet that it used to be grandmothers who looked after grandchildren in this way and that the grandmothers are more likely to be at work than they were a few decades ago.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:11 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


The article makes a lot of good points, but is this really something new? Especially among the wealthy; I am aware of one individual now in his 70s whose father bought him 3.35 million dollars worth of casino chips way back in 1990.
posted by TedW at 4:29 PM on March 4 [9 favorites]


So much of this nonchalant, tone-deaf talk is tied up in the worst aspects of that (perceived) 1950s boomer ideal of the nuclear family. The US ideal of 'independence' filtered through the 'family man' has always been based on finding an outsized niche to exploit without giving back to what came before you or provided around you and only only only giving forward to your direct decedents. I'm not saying that's ever really been achieved as the norm, but I'm say that's EXACTLY what we've tried to enshrine in law. That's why folks talk about the 'death tax' like it's a real thing.

We're now mostly insecure, lonely, alone, and yet increasingly dependent on precarious relationships because conservative culture has been calling personal isolationism 'liberty' and 'virtue' for more than half a century. Being tied to extended family and community above and below is rewarding and fulfilling and comforting. We've just been doing everything we can to pretend that humans aren't actually social beings. So we've created a cruel society around a cult of 'rugged individualism.'

in review, what sideshow said!
posted by es_de_bah at 4:29 PM on March 4 [5 favorites]


If you are dependent on regular cash or credit infusions from your parents, you are decidedly not "affluent" despite what the marketeers would like you to think.
posted by madajb at 4:40 PM on March 4 [14 favorites]


I have been trying to do this for about a decade, mainly because parental financial support often comes with major emotional strings attached. Sometimes I get away with channeling that money towards things they wouldn't approve (such as artmaking), because in my experience even when I followed their wishes they weren't happy anyway.

This search for financial independence has been trecherous. Visas get in the way a lot - Australian bridging visa hell meant finding any sort of work (beyond the occasional short contract) is almost impossible. Mundane day jobs like supermarkets and such wouldn't even interview me. Even though I'm a permanent resident now, which means technically a lot of options have opened up, I'm still having to make up for lost time and that holding pattern I was stuck in is coming back to bite me, because I'm overqualified/too old for entry level but not qualified enough for the next step. I've managed to get a lot of work done, mainly on my own dime, but it doesn't count for some reason beyond "oh wow you're so good please consult us for free because you are a THOUGHT LEADER" (and then you ask for money and crickets).

What's worse is that now the feedback I've been getting is predominantly "you were great! You interviewed really well! Your work experience is impressive! We are SO DISAPPOINTED we can't hire you and you did nothing wrong! We just chose someone else for spurious reasons" (which I suspect is often code for 'we chose a White person but can't admit that - for example, I freaking lost an Access & Inclusion job, which I was a top contender for, to a white guy who just happened to be more open about his neurodiversity than I was. "But you were soooooo good" oh shut up).

So I'm still reliant on money, just like I was reliant on my parents for money during bridging visa hell. I've tried to talk about it with my peers but it just leads to resentment, even when those peers have more access to things like social security or concession cards than I do by virtue of Immigration technicalities. My family currently wants to make a HUGE purchase for me which is in line with their values more than it is for mine, I can't talk about it openly yet for REASONS, and one of those reasons is that it would put me in a terrible position to be able to ask for help or support ever again. (I did ask them to just give me the damn cash. It didn't work. I get why they want to do this, there's a lot of logistical reasons, but STILL.)

Sometimes I wonder if my parents made a prayer to make me never be able to be independent because the idea that their children have their own lives is abhorrent to them. Which puts me at odds with my heritage culture where staying with your parents is a common virtue and filial piety is a Thing and you need to support your family when it's time. But I can barely support myself and dealing with their emotional mess is a struggle. If I can get a living wage for myself I would be less beholden to their decisions, but I have been doing everything I can and then some to be financially independent and it's not working and everytime I think about it I just want to cry. It's paralysed me into deep depression before.
posted by divabat at 5:25 PM on March 4 [17 favorites]


If you are dependent on regular cash or credit infusions from your parents, you are decidedly not "affluent" despite what the marketeers would like you to think.

As far as my lefty social justice peers are concerned, this is the definition of affluence.
posted by divabat at 6:00 PM on March 4 [9 favorites]


the new fashion for referring to male children as “buddy” instead of “son” (as if still a kid oneself)

Just want to take a sec to mention that my dad has called me "buddy" for 33 years. My dad doesn't refer to friends as buddies. It is a term of endearment for me. I never had the impression he thought he was still a kid himself. Was he an early adopter of an alarming trend? Would it have been more acceptable if he'd referred to me as "son," as in "hey son, how's it going?" More to the point, who gives a shit about any of this? Why was someone paid to write an article about this bullshit?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:44 PM on March 4 [22 favorites]


The article makes a lot of good points, but is this really something new? Especially among the wealthy

This. It’s this. It’s something people do when they have surplus money. Also known as wealth. It is something that the wealthy do, and those who can do it have wealth. It’s not new, it’s not unexpected, it’s just wealth doing what wealth does. Sometimes people don’t think of a little money or support or housing or childcare or cars or educations here or there as “wealth,” but that’s what it is, and it’s the inequities in those little things that compound over time and over generations to create much larger and more serious inequities.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on March 4 [20 favorites]


Another comment re nicknames—my 26 yr old son is Bud/Buddy (new trend my ass) and my 29 yr old daughter is Babe—the same terms of endearment my folks used for my brother and me, both born in the 1950s. Fuck the NYT for trying to make this a thing.

This was just another lazy effort to paint serious economic issues as little more than inter-generational warfare, with the selfish Boomers continuing our concerted effort to fuck over our children and grandchildren.

Christ, I hope this misplaced, seriously ineffective vitriol burns out before I leave this vale of tears.
posted by she's not there at 7:32 PM on March 4 [9 favorites]


So, I do not have children (can’t afford them), but I do have a cat and I frequently call him “Buddy” rather than using his given name or calling him “Son”. Should I be concerned that I am not adulting correctly? Or can I get away with this since I am an Xennial rather than a Millenial?
posted by Secret Sparrow at 7:53 PM on March 4 [12 favorites]


Kimberly Palmer decided to have a third child in part because of the 20 to 25 hours of child care that her parents, Gail Shearer and Chris Palmer, give her each month.

I can't even wrap my head around this kind of thinking.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:48 PM on March 4 [1 favorite]


> Have you or haven’t you cut the financial cord with your family?

Well, the summer I graduated high school the A/C went out, and the only person in the household who could afford to pay the thousand dollar repair bill was me, and two decades later that really hasn't changed. I try not to think about how much money I've given to my parents, but since you bring it up I just checked and it's upwards of $50k. But now that I work in SV making techbro cash, that grates a bit less. At this point though, cutting the cord would be something close to a death sentence. For them.
posted by pwnguin at 9:11 PM on March 4 [7 favorites]


It's just artless phrasing--I'm sure she meant that without the available childcare, she would have determined that the third child that she wanted to have would be too difficult to raise and elected not to get pregnant. People make these sorts of decisions all the time.
posted by skewed at 9:12 PM on March 4 [15 favorites]


Related to the conversation about supporting your parents: Aminatou Sow in The Cut
posted by naoko at 9:17 PM on March 4


If you are dependent on regular cash or credit infusions from your parents, you are decidedly not "affluent" despite what the marketeers would like you to think.

"As far as my lefty social justice peers are concerned, this is the definition of affluence."


Really? For either way? It's not a simple as that, I'd say. It's common to call out the rich college kids and the "oh I could never pay more than 2k rent a month, my parents are stingy" crowd out for affluence, because it's a class marker.

But no-one gets shit for living at home 2 hours commute to the city because they can't afford rent.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:40 PM on March 4


I reread this article in a bout of insomnia, and all I can say is "fuck you" to the NY Times for asking "have you or haven't you cut the financial cord with your family?" Let me tell you, nothing makes you feel like a loser like moving in with parents in your 30s. Kids my age talking about needing parental support to have a third child, and meanwhile I'm all "if I buy a bike I don't have to borrow mom's car." The article constantly assures us that Millennials aren't lazy by setting the bar more or less where they themselves are. Like, they treat it as a given that you'll have a career and stuff by your thirties; gosh, I really feel for that person who had to wait until 23 to get a career going, must have been torture. So terrible that the housing market forces these hardworking individuals to draw on family support in order to buy a house.

I feel like I'm watching, in real time, the torch being passed from one generation of out-of-touch NY Times readers to the next. Godspeed.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:33 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


If you are dependent on regular cash or credit infusions from your parents, you are decidedly not "affluent" despite what the marketeers would like you to think.

"As far as my lefty social justice peers are concerned, this is the definition of affluence."


Yeah, the notion that one's personal affluence must be separated from family affluence is pretty high on the list of Cursed Neoliberal Ideas.
posted by Jon_Evil at 1:30 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


As someone who participated in an affluent (not rich) milieu for a long time (I taught in an elite private school in an elite suburb for twenty five years), it's important to understand that many in the upper middle class do not necessarily have what people consider wealth, in cash terms; instead, they are frequently leveraged beyond belief. They owe more than they own, in other words - but they do own a lot, and are in a position to owe immense amounts without the imminent threat of starving or being evicted from their homes. They are fearful, however, because they are secretly aware of the imbalance and must deny it or risk ostracism. The NYT caters to the explicit values of people in that class, while stoking their fears. I stopped reading it a while ago because it was too annoying, and because it played my own fears too hard.

The other secret, if you live among the affluent long enough, is that many of the children do not grow up to be successful. Failure happens. The parents have such hopes for their offspring, who are taught that they must be professionals--distinguished, extraordinary--and then their offspring grow up and instead must deal with the trauma of everyday life in which careers don't pan out, marriages fail, and early promise doesn't deliver. The shame of having children who are not brilliant is inordinate. And golly, a lot of those children in those elite settings are not brilliant, believe me.

So love and support for one's children has a mirror image of shame and fear, both sides of that image lead to giving them money and support, and an industry has built up (of universities, real estate developers, and start-up opportunities, to name a few) to assuage that fear and shame.

Meanwhile, I found out yesterday by Googling that one of my third grade math enrichment students from 25 years ago is a professor of philosophy, while another is making craft mead.
posted by Peach at 2:50 AM on March 5 [22 favorites]


I don't think it's the millennials who struggle to see that they have not earned what they have or who wish to change the injustice and un unequal society that creates poverty for those it deems perhaps as you might put it Peach, "failures". (As someone who could be described that way, I prefer other terminology, but ok.)


Millennials are the most socialistic generation of all. This article was not written to help millennials understand they have more than they earned and should support others- something they already overwhelmingly support; but to mock those who need help from family.

Help from family is something that happens even in poor families too. It should not be mocked. Many families would give anything to help their children, and I have plenty of low income friends who have lived with their low income families when in need. There are plenty of intergeneration homes regardless of income bracket and I think making receiving support shameful or worthy of mockery is something I will never support.

Plenty of people with disabilities, mental health issues, dealing with long term domestic violence situations (say sharing custody for 18 years in a situation) are not going to be financially independent and they can starve and go without medical care. I think our society should step up and help, but if anyone in these situations can get help from family just to MAKE RENT, or to get medical care or food, the goal should not be to shame those who have help but to make that help MORE available, not more shameful. I don't have a problem calling out those who have a great deal of wealth and ignore it, and ignore the needs of those who don't or pretend they alone built their wealth with their frugality and smart spending- but the way this article is written and the starting premise and title creates a really cold hearted attitude toward those who need help in a society where too many are earning pay that doesn't pay the bills, or who have intergenerational values that include families supporting each other.
posted by xarnop at 4:32 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


As someone who grew up in the US but with a family background that prizes intergenerational relationships -- multi-generational households, grandparent childcare, family-centric arranged marriages rather than selfish "love marriages" (although the latter is changing even in the old country) -- I am consistently baffled by the assumption that you would birth a child, raise it to age 18 (including all the pricey piano classes, lacrosse tournaments, fancy private school uniforms to give it the best possible start in life), and then say "Welp, happy adulting, bye!"

It's not the reality for me or anyone else I know, whether their families immigrated here in the 1990s or the 1790s, but it's this weird cultural-aspirational myth, like the Self-Made Man or Manifest Destiny or something.

I did find it interesting, though, that a number of the families profiled in this story were recent immigrants. Maybe there's something to that, after all.
posted by basalganglia at 4:54 AM on March 5 [10 favorites]


I'm one of the few "millennials" who doesn't rely on their parents for uh....anything, because I can't, but I honestly don't begrudge or envy those that can and do. Money has always been a means of control and manipulation for my sole surviving parent, who simultaneously denied me financial help as a teen/early adult but then also tried their hardest to prevent me from being financially independent at the same time. So I've basically had to learn to be financially savvy despite not really caring about money just so I wouldn't have to rely on her or anyone else. It's definitely meant that certain career and life risks could not be taken. In any case, I believe what honestly needs to happen is a shift in the cultural perception of adulthood and independence. We cannot function economically as a individualistic society anymore. I know this because, based on this article and other research, we AREN'T.
posted by Young Kullervo at 5:21 AM on March 5 [5 favorites]


As of right now, my parents still pay my cell phone bill*, but I guess technically I'm financially independent other than that.

Except I have no debt, because they paid for college. And when I first started a business they loaned me $1500 to buy my initial inventory and never let me pay them back. And they paid my health insurance well into my twenties. And when I opened my shop last fall, my mom told me she had money set aside "for my wedding" and several thousand of that got me through the first few months. (I'm single, and likely to remain so.)

Both my sisters lived with my parents for at least a year after college, so they'd have some savings once they moved out. I had the freedom to take the risk of starting a business, without taking on debt, because I knew that if I failed my family could afford to bail me out. If I ever do need a bank loan for my business, my credit is really good because of all of the above.

It's absolutely a privilege, and I know it and I'm grateful for it... and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm a Millennial. My uncle's business is located in a building that used to belong to my grandfather. My mom lived at home for the first half of college. My great-aunt moved back in with her parents after her marriage failed (and stayed, for mental illness reasons, but that's another, longer story).

My family does this stuff because they can afford to. Full stop. We're lucky that what runs in the family is anxiety and diabetes, and not the kinds of personality disorders that make taking money from your family a fraught and toxic interaction. If that weren't the case, I know I'd be worse off.

I don't like the idea that I should be embarrassed to talk about this. Pretending I don't have this privilege would be hugely dishonest, and create a pretty unrealistic idea about how hard it would be to succeed in a path like mine without the support I've had.

Oh, and with all that? I still don't expect that I'll own a home before I'm 40 -- if I ever do -- and I've got no idea how I can afford to have kids of my own. So, y'know. That part, I do put down to being a Millennial. Family support is about resources, not what generation you belong to, but the skyrocketing costs of an adult life are a particularly Millennial problem.

*It's a family plan, and for the five of us is only slightly more, total, than individual plans would each cost for me and my sisters. A few times a year when we're all at my folks' house, one or the other of my parents will gripe about the cell bill, I'll ask what my share of it is so I can pay it, they'll never follow up on that, and the ritual continues.

posted by nonasuch at 5:24 AM on March 5 [14 favorites]


It's not the reality for me or anyone else I know, whether their families immigrated here in the 1990s or the 1790s, but it's this weird cultural-aspirational myth, like the Self-Made Man or Manifest Destiny or something.

Yes, I have DAR and Mayflower folk on both sides of my family, and the family origin story involves multigenerational extended families surviving poverty through two world wars and the great depression through labor and economic support, often in both directions. (Granted, those dynamics often came with baggage that was abusive.) If I'm a failure for not being fully economically independent at 30 (long past that point), so were my parents, my grandparents, and their parents. But that's also never been unidirectional since I've always been on call to provide care labor to others.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:56 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


IDK, I'm not sure it's shame so much as it is a desire not to get into a sticky discussion about privilege. I've seen the undercurrents ripple during playground confabs when people process the information that a parent-funded a down payment on a house, or that someone is entering year 20 of paying off student loans. It's easier to chit-chat about the money that's perceived to be the result of choices you make rather than the circumstances to which you were born.

I think this is true, and I think it makes it more and not less important to talk about this stuff. I am extremely fortunate; I come from a pretty well-off family that has been able to support me financially more than most people, and I feel really awkward and uncomfortable about it, because it's an awkward and uncomfortable thing, but I also think being open about it (not bragging, just being clear that I would not be in the position I am without that help) is important because, if you handle it thoughtfully, it shifts the discomfort from people with less privilege to people with more privilege. It's extremely unfair for people whose families aren't wealthy to look around and be like "why is everyone doing better than I am? Why do they have what I don't? What's wrong with me?" when the answer is "lol some people are just lucky, it has nothing to do with you, you are valid and good".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:16 AM on March 5 [16 favorites]


The mindset behind this article’s hyper focus on $$$ is how we get situations like Kylie Jenner claiming she is a self-made billionaire. Only true in a very narrow view of the factors required for financial success.

Things other than money that my parents did not give me:

A sense of self-worth rooted in anything other than being an obedient worker bee
Practice holding an adult conversation with another human being
A model of a loving relationship based on mutual respect
The concept of assertiveness
A network of connections
Any kind of financial advice*

* I was taught to avoid gambling or racking up debt; I’ll give them that.

There were regrettable decisions I made for myself in my 20s, that they maybe could have worked harder to dissuade me from, but I own those. I also made some decisions they weren’t happy with, that worked out great, so on balance I’m happy with how I’ve been running my life.

But I consider the list above to be core elements of decent parenting, and things they needed to get the ball rolling on while I was still a young child. I’ve been playing catch-up ever since on all of the above.
posted by mantecol at 6:25 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


I understand why this isn't talked about much (from both people who are getting support from their parents, and people who are supporting their parents), but I wish we could change that and make it something that can be more easily shared and discussed. I am reminded of something I wrote in a comment to a previous post about millenials and money:
>>" It took me years after I left grad school to realize that I was basically the only poor fool in my immediate cohort trying to do it on her own."

That was our experience as well. We were trying to figure out if we could afford a "starter" house down the street from a meth dealer, while it felt like all our peers were buying glorious large historic homes and going on amazing vacations. It took a few years (helped by people being indiscreet after drinking too much) to figure out that those people had all kinds of help. I would have felt a lot better about myself and where we were at if I had understood that at the time.
For both of us, our parents helped as much as they could, which meant graduating from college and grad school with comparatively little debt (low five figures, enough to notice but not life-changing) and occasional small cash gifts -- we are aware of the privilege that entails. But neither of our families has the kind of money that gets you a subsidized or free downpayment on a house (or, as has happened to people we know, a free house). I don't begrudge people those gifts; I just wish we did a better job of taxing inherited wealth to make things fairer, and had more robust safety nets so that people without supportive families aren't left hanging.

At this point I know quite a few people who are supporting their parents and all of them expect those costs to keep rising as their parents age. It often coincides with their kids going to college, putting them in a terrible position of having to choose which to help and how much, and limiting how much of a boost their kids will get compared to their better-off peers.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:26 AM on March 5 [4 favorites]


Yeah. I come from a well-off family that has always supported me - from college tuition to help with a house down payment, to regular cash assistance when my partner became disabled and I was suddenly supporting both of us and those mortgage payments. These days, their assistance helps me support not just the two of us, but a dear friend of mine and their child who are in some rough financial straits.

I'm grateful that they've been able and willing to assist me and my loved ones without tying unbearable strings to it, and I feel like part of the cost of that is me being honest and up front about it in conversations where it's relevant. I'm the first among my homeowning friends to have paid off my mortgage and it's not because I'm so frugal or smart or bought particularly intelligently or anything like that; it's because I've had parental help. I don't want to rub that in anyone's face but I also think I should tell the truth about it when the conversation arises. It can be awkward and embarrassing, but it doesn't help anyone for me to pretend that I paid off that mortgage entirely under my own steam through hard work and bootstraps or whatever the fuck.

I got lucky. I'm trying to pay that luck forward to other people without that luck and privilege, where I can. I expect to do that more often and more generously as more of my family's wealth flows to me. I'd like that to be the norm and expectation for everyone who got lucky this way, and that doesn't happen without me talking about it.
posted by Stacey at 6:31 AM on March 5 [8 favorites]


I got lucky. I'm trying to pay that luck forward to other people without that luck and privilege, where I can. I expect to do that more often and more generously as more of my family's wealth flows to me. I'd like that to be the norm and expectation for everyone who got lucky this way, and that doesn't happen without me talking about it.

Yup, this is largely how I feel! I also think that it's really important that we make systemic changes so that "having a family who have money and are not such fucking assholes that it is impossible to maintain a relationship with them*" is not basically a de facto requirement for comfort, and one of the things I find is that my privilege gives me a lot more time and energy to use in organizing around this. I have friends, and friends of friends, who have a lot of trouble finding stable living situations because they are marginalized along various axes, so a lot of the energy that they would like to expend on organizing goes to stuff like finding housing and worrying about housing. I think it's incumbent upon those of us with the privilege of stability to use that stability and the extra time and energy it affords us to advocate for a world where things as basic as housing and stability are not seen as privileges because seriously, what the fuck.

*I should note that my grandparents passed prong two of this test by only the barest of margins.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:39 AM on March 5 [11 favorites]


There doesn't sound like anything new here

Just a continual and spreading obsession with armchair microeconomics in the form of expressing every single human relationship in quantifiable monetary units.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:23 AM on March 5 [2 favorites]


The other secret is that a lot of things that require a family to pool its resources across generations in the US are government entitlements to individuals in many other countries.

My mother's mother is in assisted living here in the US and it requires the whole family to participate in juggling her finances and contributing where possible. My father's mother was much poorer, but she was in France, and we didn't need to contribute to her care at all.

I was upset with my parents for kicking me off the family health insurance when I graduated college, but obviously that's not an issue in France.

My cousin was getting basically the equivalent of welfare money in France that allowed him more financial stability than I had when I was broke at the same time in California. Especially since I was paying for things like tuition and health insurance, which he didn't need to.

His baby is now in free daycare, whereas I don't have kids yet because I can't afford day care costs. He also received a "gift" from the government upon the baby's birth and the baby herself is entitled to some government (financial) protections. Obviously, no child of mine would be (here in the US).

My family does pool resources, because that results in stronger finances that stretch much further *for all of us.* But even making this a family-by-family issue is still too individualistic. This is a societal issue.
posted by rue72 at 7:24 AM on March 5 [19 favorites]


Having come from an affluent milieu (but being broke, myself, until recently), it's been my experience that the people who least enjoy talking about getting family help are the ones who benefit from it the most.

Is it because their parents taught them that it's rude to discuss money? Yes. Is that because they'd like for the rest of us to assume they were able to afford a $650K house by working really hard? I think so.
posted by witchen at 7:53 AM on March 5 [12 favorites]


I'm not even a millennial (Gen X by about 4 years) and these "ermagerd millennials" think pieces are driving me batty. It's like rubbing salt in the wound that the Boomers created.
posted by jferg at 7:56 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


Thank you very much the man of twists and turns for presenting the other side of the story.

Lumping people together into "11k/year on average" and "more than half get some support" is extremely misleading when one millennial is giving 10k/year to their parents and another is getting 20k/year in support. I really wish these articles would break down the statistics into more than a simple average. It would be more interesting as well as more accurate.

For me, there was never any financial cord to cut after leaving at 21, there will be no future child care as neither of my parents are trustworthy to be left alone with any child, and there will be no inheritance as both of my parents not only have zero retirement savings, they are in significant debt. Once I'm confident that I can provide for myself and any potential children in the future, I will consider providing some financial support to one parent (the other is lucky I'm only mostly estranged). I'm fine with this as I have many other advantages in life and I am in a stable situation personally, but it's still irritating to be lumped in with people receiving impressive amounts of support when my scenario is very different.

I do think it's good to talk about this stuff openly though as it's easy to see others your age buying big houses etc and wonder how they can afford it, when really they can't, they+their parents can.
posted by randomnity at 8:10 AM on March 5 [1 favorite]


Count me as among the bitter ones. I was disowned and cut off financially at age 18, then somehow I got re-owned without explanation or discussion when I produced grandkids. And recently my parents angrily demanded that my sister, who is estranged from them, should repay what my parents spent on her to raise her from birth if she was going to pretend she's not their kid. I'm so jealous of folks with nice parents who can be trusted to watch children and pay for things!
posted by MiraK at 8:32 AM on March 5 [7 favorites]


My family primarily consists of petty criminals, cult members, cult leaders, and miscellaneous rapists, plus a few "white working class" racist scumbags who lick trumpist boots in exchange for their daily bread. For my part, I'm what you get when a lumpenprole manages to steal an education — and if I had been born a few years later, the gaps in the system that let lumpen me get an education without taking on a murderous debt load would have been closed.

I'm not the most dangerous weapon, but I'll gladly play support as a weather-style accomplice. If enough people like me slip past the defenses, we'll wrap our hands around capitalism's neck and squeeze so hard the damn thing snaps. That's why capital is dismantling the universities and dropping impossible debt on an entire generation. That's why capital makes sure that only family money can get you a real education or a respectable job title. They do it to keep more of me from happening.

The conservatives and fascists claim that leftist trash like me are anti-family. They are entirely right to claim that. All y'all on this thread who got your ticket stamped by your families, who feel your useless petit-bourgeois "shame" or "guilt" — guilt that's strong enough to make you hide who pays your phone bill, but not strong enough to get you to fight against the sick system — are missing the point.

The English language has an ugly jagged word for the type of economic arrangement where a dignified existence requires family money. That word is patriarchy. And under our increasingly patriarchal system, if your parents cut you off, you are fucked. You'll get cast down into the muck that I came from. So, therefore, you'll obey. You'll obey in high school so your folks will pay for college. You'll obey in your 20s, so that your folks will pay your down payment. You'll obey — and incessantly squabble with each other — in your 30s and 40s and 50s, so that you'll be in the inheritance. And the sharper economic disparity becomes, the more diligently you'll obey. Your leash is relatively long now. But it is shortening. If the patriarchs you've submitted yourselves to are relatively benign, good for you — but rest assured that most people with the power to decide who gets family money are inevitably corrupted by that power. Your kindly liberal patriarchs are an anomaly, an exception.

The conservatives and fascists understand that if people have the economic freedom to contradict their parents, they'll do so. Homophobic patriarchs understand that the best way to keep their queer kids in the closet is to make it clear that they will starve if their parents decide they should starve. Racist patriarchs understand that the best way to avoid having PoC as grandchildren is by making it clear to their children that they will starve if they date PoC. And even run-of-the-mill liberal patriarchs know that they can in a thousand ways shape the lives of their children through the careful application of the power of the purse. Just a little nudge here and there, am I right?

If it is possible to make a dignified living without family money, then parents will no longer be able to dominate and control their adult children. The conservatives and fascists understand that economic equality is a mortal threat to their hierarchical family model, because no one would ever freely choose to subject themselves to patriarchs. I think, deep down, the liberals understand that too. The sting you experience, the sting that you call shame, is what it feels like when your repressed knowledge of your own complicity tries to get out.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:06 AM on March 5 [20 favorites]


The sting you experience, the sting that you call shame, is what it feels like when your repressed knowledge of your own complicity tries to get out.

At the same time, and I speak as someone who determined to never, ever obey once I got through college--who made it clear that I wouldn't be bought--who is still trying to make that clear, and seeing on what terms I have anything to come home to:

I think you are missing another piece of the shame. It's the shame of: I had access to something not everyone does. It doesn't matter if that access came with a price, or whether I asked for it, or whether I took everything that was offered to me or some of it.

I had access.

And I didn't take it. I ran. I refused to keep paying the price of that access, and that comfort, and I could have. I could have let it corrode me and tried to use it to help other people and tried not to fall apart.

I am ashamed because I gnawed through my leash, and I am free but I am cold and I am hungry, and I sometimes miss the absence of fear, or at least the absence of the unknown, and what kind of person has those thoughts? I miss the absence of the things that were promised to me. I gnawed through my leash and I still carry the inborn arrogance of someone raised to view the world as something that I could pick up and hold in my hand, and I am sometimes frustrated that when I tug hard on the leash, nothing happens.

Shame is a hard thing to negotiate, with privilege. In other cases, when we are born with privilege we don't choose, we tell people to use it: use the guilt as far as it motivates you to reach down and turn traitor to your position, and toss it the hell out otherwise. You can't give it up, so use it as an equalizing weapon. But when you live in that... there was plenty, but I couldn't bear it, I couldn't bear it, I can't bear it--when you live in a house like that, leaving means you give up much of your power to change things for other people too.

I often think of a Terry Pratchett line from a similar hungry, ashamed cast-off man: "My family's rich. I'm not." Could I do more, if I was rich? Would I do it, if I stayed? Is running the best thing I could do?

And at the end of the day: I'm hungry. I had a choice. I made it, and I'm still making it, and I'm paying for that choice, and no matter what I choose the self-doubt over what I could have chosen will follow me. I think I am ashamed to have had a choice at all.
posted by sciatrix at 11:24 AM on March 5 [14 favorites]


I'm still itching at the notion that sharing resources in extended families is necessarily mark of extreme privilege, instead of a problem that our fucked-up safety-net depends on unpaid labor and pooled resources across generations. In my extended family, we mow lawns, drive nails, wipe butts, provide a home for kids, and wheedle for second-hand medical equipment, and swap old cars. The alternative is that someone goes without a home, health care, or transportation.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:58 AM on March 5 [3 favorites]


It is a mark of privilege, though. Functioning family safety nets are much more rare than they seem, because functioning families are much more rare than they seem.

Functioning family safety nets are also a pair of handcuffs, though: in the absence of a social safety net, should the powers that be inside the family decide they don't like what you're doing, you're fucked.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:05 PM on March 5 [7 favorites]


Well, yeah. On the macroscale, RNTP, no one's arguing that.

On the microscale--what do individuals do about that fucked-up system, given limited power and existing constraints?--things get much trickier. And aside from arguing hard for a more equitable distribution of resources that doesn't weigh on familial connections, those decisions about how to approach these decisions are fraught.
posted by sciatrix at 1:22 PM on March 5


It is a mark of privilege, though. Functioning family safety nets are much more rare than they seem, because functioning families are much more rare than they seem.

When families fail, almost always the costs and labor end up transferred along family lines. And that's not necessarily because Uncle or Grandma have capital. It's because they're the only ones left. Yes, it sucks when people don't have even that and when those situations are abusive, but we're not talking Little Orphan Annie and Daddy Warbucks here.

IMNSHO there's a big distinction that needs to happen between the resource sharing among poor and working-class extended families and inheritance of capital. Yes, that's a patched hand-me-down chair and that's a second-hand walker, but neither constitute any form of class mobility or security.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:37 PM on March 5 [5 favorites]


In other words, one of the tragedies of the American economic class system is that even the best efforts of poor extended families to provide for their children and grandchildren in terms of education, housing, medicine, and childcare are rarely sufficient to create financial security. That's a statistical reality that's gotten worse the last 50 years. Therefore, I don't think it's wise to attribute the same kind of privilege to poor extended-family attempts to maintain limited capital that we do to millionaires and trust funds.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:47 PM on March 5 [9 favorites]


> On the microscale--what do individuals do about that fucked-up system, given limited power and existing constraints?--things get much trickier. And aside from arguing hard for a more equitable distribution of resources that doesn't weigh on familial connections, those decisions about how to approach these decisions are fraught.

there are no individual-scale solutions. we may already be irrevocably fucked. If we are not irrevocably fucked, the thing that will unfuck us will be extensive mutual aid programs, along the lines of the ones organized by the black panther party back in the day. for a second it looked like occupy was going to be this, but, well, you know. maybe the dsa won't be useless? maybe the iww will become a real thing again?

All I know is, we gotta disprove Thatcher's old load of crap about how "there is no such thing as society only individuals and families" by actually building the precise type of society that Thatcher would most abhor. because even if family-based aid were feasible for most people, "family" would still be a deeply oppressive mode of social organization.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:44 PM on March 5 [6 favorites]


I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories!
posted by porpoise at 7:03 PM on March 5 [2 favorites]


Functioning family safety nets are also a pair of handcuffs, though: in the absence of a social safety net, should the powers that be inside the family decide they don't like what you're doing, you're fucked.

A conservative might say (I'm not one myself) that this only transfers the power to whoever is running the social safety net. Life your life in a way that the powers that be in the bureaucracy of the safety decide they don't like, and you're equally fucked.
posted by atrazine at 2:46 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


I'm deeply unconvinced that you can have fully automated space communism (ala Becky Chambers) without kinship structures. Some qualities of care are critically dependent on sustaining long-term relationships. While we might be able to make those relationships fully exogamous and "family-of-choice," I'm not convinced we and forego them altogether.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 4:15 AM on March 6 [1 favorite]


The sting you experience, the sting that you call shame, is what it feels like when your repressed knowledge of your own complicity tries to get out.

That seems like an awfully woke way to tell an awful lot of the people participating in this thread to go fuck themselves.

Maybe self-righteous lecturing is also a strong tool of the patriarchy. But either way, I feel alienated from this thread now, and won't share my experience of this.
posted by ambrosen at 7:22 AM on March 6 [7 favorites]


the new fashion for referring to male children as “buddy” instead of “son”

So, first, my father never called me either "son" or "buddy". Second, you'll be surprised to know that this isn't the only word I use that my father doesn't. You might also be surprised to know that he used different words than HIS father.

Like, different generations use different words man. I think it's pretty rad.
posted by VTX at 9:15 AM on March 6 [2 favorites]


IMNSHO there's a big distinction that needs to happen between the resource sharing among poor and working-class extended families and inheritance of capital.

There is already a distinction: one is called patriarchy and the other is called class privilege. There is some overlap in real-world families of course, where working-class families do manage to pass on significant-to-them amounts of actual $$, allowing their kids to climb one more rung up the class ladder, and rich families cut Lila out of her inheritance because she fell in love out of caste. But we already know that patriarchy and class are two separate but equally powerful systems of perpetuating their own kinds of privilege.
posted by MiraK at 10:06 AM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Lumping people together into "11k/year on average" and "more than half get some support" is extremely misleading when one millennial is giving 10k/year to their parents and another is getting 20k/year in support. I really wish these articles would break down the statistics into more than a simple average. It would be more interesting as well as more accurate.

Welcome to the wonderful/frustrating world of statistics! Average is used everywhere, even where it's not appropriate, because that's the only thing people who haven't taken a statistics class seem to know exists.


So my parents divorced when I was very young. My mother remarried a very well-off man, and my father was the one that struggled financially. Who helped more? It was my dad. Why? Because his help, while meager, didn't come with strings attached and wouldn't be thrown in my face if I was ever deemed not grateful enough. Who do I still have a relationship with? My dad. We have an understanding that he supported me whenever I needed it, so I (and my siblings) will be the ones taking care of him. We are essentially his retirement savings since he has given all he could to us instead of save himself.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:27 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


On average, each millennial parent receives $11,011 per year

More than half (53 percent) of Americans ages 21 to 37 have received some form of financial assistance from a parent, guardian or family member since turning 21

These are both very silly things to write. Not to throw too much shade on what's otherwise an interesting discussion, but the largely-unsubtantiated hot takes of whatever PR flack gets charged with writing up the results of the "TD Ameritrade survey" and the "COUNTRY Financial Security Index®" don't exactly amount to a rigorous analysis of a trend.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:46 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


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