It’s Thursday, which means it’s time to read words from somebody much more pleasant than your’s truly, Vanessa. She talks about millennials and boomerang children, because if there’s one thing the internet doesn’t have enough of, it’s hand wringing about the young people.
One of my favourite things about my new job is that I get to talk to Korean people all day long and see their points of view on various things. This week I sat in on a conversation class ran by my American colleague and we discussed boomerang children. I knew, just from the tone of my colleague that this class would yield an interesting discussion — and not just because of the Korean opinions.
My colleague started off with a simple statement: In America, when you turn 18, you move into your own apartment and it’s not normal to live with you parents anymore.
This isn’t news to most of us. The idea of boomerang children has been in the news for years now and, while I’ve read many articles about how American children are lazy and that the boomerang generation is just absolutely THE WORST, I don’t think that I honestly looked at it from an outside point of view until now — how weird is it that we just kick out children out of the house and refuse (or ostracize) them shelter if times get tough?
In Korea, young adults live with their parents until marriage (27-30). By living at home, they aren’t forced to take crummy part-time jobs to pay rent in a dingy student apartment, they aren’t required to go without meals or drop classes to work more hours and they’re free to either save their money or to spend it on more consumer goods.
Let’s do a comparison of two people that readers of this blog know:
Nelson lived at home until he was 25. He saved all his money, rode his bike everywhere and then bought a house and had it paid off by 30.
I moved out at 18 and bounced back a few times before moving out permanently at 22. I’ve spent over $19 000 in rent — plus utilities, toiletries, groceries etc. My trade-off, of course, was that I lived closer to work and school and saved time on my commute.$19 000 can but a lot of stocks though, and I shudder to think about how much more money I would have today had I continued to live with my parents.
In this clear example, it seems foolish to move out on your own at a young age — think about how much more successful young people would be if they were able to use their limited resources for investing! Why don’t we encourage this type of behaviour? Why is living at home until you have the resources to be a fully-functioning member of society stigmatized?
The answers to these questions can only be speculated. In my opinion, the reason is two-fold:
- We have the idea of the American Dream so ingrained in our heads that to accept any leg up to become successful is stigmatized (like borrowing from your parents). We need to have the same starting ground as everyone else (move out at 18) and to work hard and pull up our boot straps in order to get ahead.
- We have the stereotype of a spoiled American girl who lives at home and spends all her money on shoes and make-up (or, loser boy who plays video games in the basement all the time). We believe that, people who live with their parents past 18 are destined for this stereotype and we do our best to discourage it.
What do you think? Should we start reforming the way that we treat our young adults or should we continue to push them into the world after graduation and watch them make their own way?