Advice for parents of “big kids with even bigger problems”

Gail Parent on boomer parents and how to kick a 28-year-old out of the nest


 

Photograph by Stephanie Diani/Getty Images

A bestselling author and television screenwriter, Gail Parent has won two Emmys and was nominated for 12 more for her work on shows ranging from The Golden Girls to Tracey Ullman’s comedy specials. In her new book, How to Raise Your Adult Children, co-authored with psychotherapist Susan Ende, she offers advice to parents of “big kids with even bigger problems.”

Q: Social scientists and demographers now talk about a period of life called “pre-adulthood,” after adolescence but before true financial independence, which often stretches through the late 20s. The reasons it takes so much longer to reach adulthood today are primarily economic: rising costs of a university education, higher housing costs, higher unemployment. What are the effects of all this on parents?
A: We were raised to think our parenting days were over when our kids left home to go to college. But they aren’t. Financially and emotionally, many families don’t separate and adult children don’t achieve true independence. A lot of adult kids are essentially thinking they should still get an allowance—only it should be a big one, big enough to buy a house. And huge numbers of them are moving back in with their parents.

Q: In a recent Pew Research study, 13 per cent of American parents said an adult child had moved home in the past year because of the recession. Obviously, this has implications for the household budget, but what other kinds of issues does it raise for parents?
A: You can get very resentful. I have a good friend whose son had to move back home because he wasn’t making any money. He’s a white rapper, which is a hard line of work these days, and he refused to get a job in, say, a bookstore. So he’s living in what was her office, and she’s had to create a makeshift office in her bedroom. You have your home the way you want it, and now the kid is imposing.

Q: Whatever happened to the cultural stereotype of the mourning empty-nester?
A: I don’t think it’s how most parents feel. You want your child to be independent and when he’s not, it ruins the rhythm of life. The problem is that when adult kids come back, they don’t really take their place in the family. They’ve experienced some degree of independence, even if they’ve just lived at university, and now feel there shouldn’t be any rules. It’s very disruptive. They’re coming in at one in the morning, the parents are worried, and the kids are saying, “But I’m all grown up, you don’t need to worry.” Well, grown-ups don’t live with their parents. And grown-ups let people know they’re going to be out late.

Q: So part of the issue is that both parents and adult children can fall back into old patterns, with the parents trying to be authority figures and the kids acting irresponsible.
A:
Right. We’re supposed to be letting go of our old role, protecting and taking care of the child, so he can assume his new role as an independent adult. That’s a hard transition that becomes even more difficult if your child is almost 30 and living in the basement.

Q: You argue that there should be an explicit time limit on the arrangement and maybe a written contract, also. Does it really need to be so formal?
A:
It’s important if your kid is the kind who reverts to expecting you to do his laundry. It’s your job as a parent to get him to stand on his own two feet. Unfortunately, because of the recession, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary that your kid lives at home. But in many cases, a lot of these adult kids have degrees and can’t find a job in the field they want to be in yet won’t take another, lesser job to support themselves. You don’t have to say, “Get out tomorrow,” but you should be saying something like, “You have a month to find a place, find roommates.” A deadline gives them impetus.

Q: If adult kids are unable to take care of themselves, surely part of the responsibility for that rests with parents.
A:
That’s true. We don’t teach them early enough about independence, and consequently they’re immature in many ways. This hands-on, child-centred philosophy of parenting that’s become popular can come back to haunt you. One mother, who wrote asking for advice, had always helped her son with his homework, and now he was in college, expecting her to research his essays.

Q: What kind of strain does it put on a marriage when adult kids come home?
A:
A big one, because it’s not normal. You see that other people’s kids are out in the world, starting their lives independently, getting a job—and yours isn’t making his bed.

Q: Why do parents feel impotent in these situations?
A:
The basic line is, “I can’t kick my kid out.” They want to, they just don’t have the guts to do it. When I talk to my friends on the phone, it’s, “My son moved back home, and I’m going crazy.” This is why you have to discuss a timeline before the kid moves in, and age is relevant. For a younger adult who’s just graduated, six months is a reasonable length of time to get a job and a place. If the child is 28, though, it should be, “In a month, you’ll have to leave.”

Q: In 2004, some U.S. researchers looked at what kind of support parents give their children aged 18 to 34 and found that, on average, parents contribute $2,200 a year over that 17-year period, to cover education, housing and other costs. That’s a lot more than in any previous generation. What’s going on here?
A:
The kids feel entitled and the parents feel obligated. Often there isn’t a clear separation—this is my money, you have your money—even if they’re living in separate places. This is a big change, I think. When I finished college, I wanted to be out on my own, alone. My parents didn’t want me to have an apartment in a bad neighbourhood, and so they offered to pay part of the rent for a better apartment. I refused—it seemed too babyish. But today kids expect help and the reality is that they don’t have the opportunities we did. It’s maybe the first time in history when your kids will likely not have the same standard of living that you do. Of course, we want that for them and feel guilty they won’t get it, so a lot of parents wind up giving their kids money. They want to rescue their kids from economic reality.

Q: You think it’s a mistake, full stop, to loan money to your adult kid. Why?
A:
If they need it in the first place, they’re going to have trouble paying it back, and there will be resentment on your side, that you haven’t been repaid, and on theirs, that you’re expecting repayment. Resentment rips families apart. If you can afford to, give the money as a gift, don’t loan it.

Q: That same study I mentioned earlier on 18- to 34-year-olds found that about half were receiving a huge amount of time assistance from parents: averaging nine weeks of full-time, 40-hours-per-week help a year. What kinds of time-consuming demands do adult children make?
A:
Often they want child care help, and sometimes the grandparents aren’t the backup in case a babysitter quits or gets sick—they’re on the front line, because of the economy.

Q: What kinds of problems occur then?
A:
You do have a different point of view on how to raise a child than your parents do, and this can lead to conflict: you drop them at your parents’ house and then are upset to find out they’ve made them say prayers, for example. I just heard last night from somebody who sent her darling daughter to stay with her grandparents for a week, and they cut her hair, which she considers a total violation. I agree that when you get your kid back, she should have all her hair on her. But you don’t want to yell at the grandparents, who might then say, “Well, get somebody else, then.” So there are power struggles. You really can’t have two alpha females trying to be the boss of one child, and this is what can happen when children depend really heavily on their parents to provide child care. Of course, some grandparents are dying to be asked. I have a friend who won’t go out on the weekend, on the off chance that her children will ask her to babysit.

Q: What other kinds of unpaid work do adult children expect?
A:
Many male adult children go through a divorce and because they never learned how to do things for themselves, their mothers act as surrogate wives, fixing up their apartments and so forth, right down to the silverware. Other adult children want help with errands. I know an adult child who’s left home and is working very hard, whose mother picks up prescriptions, takes clothes to the cleaners—and pays when she picks it up, too.

Q: So essentially she’s a personal assistant who’s paying her employer?
A:
Exactly. The mother’s attitude is, “I can do these little things for her,” but it’s time-consuming. The adult child feels entitled because her mother doesn’t have a job and seems to have time on her hands. If the mom has never worked, she’s essentially been a personal assistant the child’s whole life. I think in some cases it’s a two-way street: the mother still wants her job, she doesn’t want to be fired as the personal assistant.

Q: Do you think this generation is more selfish than yours was?
A:
I know they are. In my generation, once you left home, you just did not expect or often even accept money from your parents. Today, that’s the norm.


 

Advice for parents of “big kids with even bigger problems”

  1. I just kicked out my adult child for the third time, after 6 years of him refusing to leave cause he didn’t want to “suffer”. No contribution to the single mother household, lack of respect in everyway, disruptive behavior worse and worse as time goes on. I dont accept that things are more expensive, it is all relative. These children if ours have no problem buying expenseve toys for themselves instead of helping with the groceries. I have great guilt for raising a child on my own, with nothing, and seeing these gross entitlement issues. I have decided to spend every dime I gave earned in my hard working lifetime before I pass. If these children of mine can find me, they will see a woman finally able to live a few years for herself. Best of luck to them!

    • See, in my humble opinion, this comment exemplifies more the cause of today's societal "malaise" then the rest of this prognostication. The baby boomer generation is the first truly selfish generation – and have nutured that same narciissm in their youth.

      If your child is selfish, irresponsible and ungrateful, perhaps – just perhaps – you might have had something to do with it? When you are a mother the nature vs. nuture argument doesnt apply because you are tacitly, up to a point, responsible for both.

      Ultimately your response to his selfishness is in turn selfishness, and unfortunately exemplifies the baby boomer population. You have soaked up your parents inheritcance, taken out second mortages on your homes and will pass down nothing to the next generation unless its debt. You lived a culture of "me" and are shocked that your children did not develop the moral character you so abjectly failed in passing on.

      Shocking.

      • I disagree. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Redhead stated that she suffered a lot of guilt raising a child in a single parent home. Yes. She probably did contribute to her childs' feelings of entitlement, but at the same time, she did the best that she could.
        I was raised in a single parent household, but because my own mother was without help, social or otherwise, she was forced to make me help. I was working part time and contributing by the time I was 14. Do I wish she could have helped me more…certainly I do. Perhaps Redhead made more sacrifices than my mother did, and created the situation…but, there is also this whole societal shift where younger people in her child's situation are told that they should feel sorry for themselves because they weren't raised in a two parent home..and it's taken advantage of.
        I've met more than one grown up who hasn't moved on from their parents divorce. It's really rather pathetic..and our society supports and validates this sort of self pity, rather than encouraging people to move on, they're told that it's the fault of their childhood/parents and this gives them the illusion that they hold no responsibility for themselves.

        Soaked up parents inheritance? Are you kidding me? Many of these "kids" are waiting for their parents to die and take over the house they're still living in.

  2. Those narrow minded, selfish, Conservative parents shouldn't be hassling their free spirited, well-educated, Liberal children about wanting to live at home.

    Hopefully when Ignatieff becomes the PM he will make a law prohibiting parents from kicking their children out of their house as long as they have attained a post secondary education.

    Conservatives need to learn that living in a wonderful socialist society means having to provide for anyone who doesn't want to waste their lives working for a living.

    They need to be more like Han Solo and less like Darth Vader!

    • I find it interesting that you consider parents helping their children to be the conservative position. Think about the things the welfare state does – it subsidizes post-secondary education, provides welfare for unemployed people (so they don't need to move back in with their parents), helps people buy homes (more in some countries than others), and provides pensions so old people can live independently.

      The welfare state and the nuclear family are intrinsically linked. Because people no longer provide support for their children past a certain age, and because children no longer provide much support for their elderly parents guess who does: big government. Extended families are the greatest social program in history, and they cost the taxpayer nothing.

    • You are being sarcastic, right?

      • I was hoping that was blatantly obvious…my Jedi mind trick must be too powerful.

    • Obviously Mandatory Jedi you're either joking or one of these "entitled" offspring.

      • please see above comment

    • Don't try to politicize this. This goes beyond party line.

      • I would bet my entire moisture farm that the vast majority of those adult children living at home don't vote Conservative.

        • LOL, awesome!

  3. This article is definately timely but seems pretty one sided to me. There is a difference between sharing one’s wealth and having a child who sits on the couch until they are 40. If parents want to give their children money – it is their money – they can do it if they want to. My parents give me money. I used to refuse it but then I thought – really – why? They want to give it to me, I’ve never requested a handout and really wouldn’t they rather see me pay off my house now than give it to me when I’m 60 and they pass on and I don’t need it – by then I’ll have paid everything off and have a pension so I’ll have no need for the extra money.

    As for the economy – there is no doubt about it – my pension will be 1/2 what current baby boomers get because baby boomers have a big voice so they’ve got everything they ever wanted – sure they do their jobs well – but they also lived in the golden age – new schools, new universities, a rise in good jobs, great pensions because they are such a big group – they just have to vote together and they get what they want – so my salary, my pension, everything – is so small compared to what my parents generation got – so really if we want to discuss who believes they deserve everything – the baby boomers have some accounting to do too!

    • Just to clarify, NOT all the boomers got everything new. Those of us in the forefront, born in the years just after the war, lived in an economy that hadnt been changed since before the Great Depression; went to old schools, were treated by old or returned army field doctors, and got by with very little supports. The same grey skirt and white blouse served me through three years of high school. As the first of us graduated the workplace was suddenly flooded and with my ( deeply costly student loans) BA I had to take a job as a care attendant in an institution. And was glad to have it.The second decade of the boomer life was more like you describe but my decade was full of high unemployment, very high inflation, prejudice against women in the workplace and all those other boring cliches that younger folks dont believe really happened. My point is that every generation gets its trials sooner or later and I dont think being old and frail in the economy you project will be any picnic for the spoiled.

      • well you chose to be a trail blazer, so no sympathy and you will have it good in the future so suck it up.

    • Your second paragraph is bang on their a bunch selfish children and their come up-pence is well over due

  4. A simplistic take on a complex issue.

  5. Nodding along with most of what you're say here. I'd expand the point about specialization of labour and note that through much of human history there was no such thing as "job" that one had to seek out, attain, and hold. One's contribution to the group and/or family (either amongst a foraging band, or in a horticultural village) was determined largely by gender and age, with little or no specialization beyond that. But the work or labour itself was there to be done – one gathered, harvested, hunted, and so forth to contribute to the general welfare.

    While it's true too many suffer from a sense of entitlement (unwilling to work undesirable or poor-paying jobs) and laziness, it's nevertheless a novel development that humans have to decide what form of abstract exchange of time/skills/labour they want (or will be accepted) to engage in. It's why the key question one usually poses when meeting a stranger at a party is "what do you do'? For thousands of years, the key question was "who are your kin"?

    While it's a blessing of modern times that each individual can ideally choose his or her own occupation to some extent, there has to be something to be said for a social world where one's role awaits them. It must have been far less stressful, in some ways.

    • I like the tie-in to changing modes of production. In many respects the nuclear family of the 1950's worked because it was a networked nuclear family. People lived separately from their parents and siblings, but relatively close by. They could still benefit from task-sharing. This was possible because the kinds of jobs available in the Fordist era were often interchangeable, and required general skills rather than specialized knowledge. As we become more specialized (damn you, information revolution), however, we reduce our geographic flexibility and end up going to where the work is. So networked nuclear families too, have become a thing of the past.

      • I think there's two key shifts since the 1950s that work at cross-purposes. First, a system providing a low to mid middle class lifestyle for the masses, on the basis of blue collar, low-skilled employment (and I'm not for a second devaluing honest labour) proved unsustainable (if it ever was – I'm out of my depth on economic history here, but I've always thought a lot of the 1950s was a post-war economic bubble, more than a fundamentally sustainable arrangement.)

        Second, and this probably is related to the shift of the family from a unit of production to a unit of consumption, our expectations of low to mid middle class wealth have expanded unrealistically. I'm stunned by the size the size of houses, for one example, that pass as family starter homes in Canada.

        I suppose a question to ask is if the changes in family dynamics, structure and mutual support were dependent upon economic changes, or if the two had more of a co-causal growth relationship. Has the isolation of the nuclear family been a result of a horrible misjudgement of economic "carrying capacity" on our part?

        • Can I hire you two (Sean and hosertohoosier) as policy analysts ? :-) Out of curiosity, which generation are each of you part of?
          I have seen a sense of entitlement regarding employment among GenX 'ers from upper-middle-class families. They didn't need to work through high school and/or university, and often were encouraged not to, so as to focus on academics and extra-curriculars to become well-rounded. The rest of us (yup, I'm 40) have had to scramble to keep adequately fed and housed, and went through years of doing whatever it took. But now, mid-career, there's not much opportunity for advancement, as the Boomers are still holding tight to their careers.
          In addition to expectations raised by the post-WWII financial boom, I think standard of living expectations have increased unsustainably at least in part due to media exposure. Prior to TV, people saw what the Jones had, but most people had the same income, and credit wasn't as available. Now, we are daily confronted with what people of much higher income live like/ have, and that is portrayed as the norm.
          Hence the difference between closets in 1920's houses (small or non-existent) and the current walk-ins, which are the size of many 1920's bedrooms.
          Interestingly for me, my parents and my youngest sister's family (4 kids) have worked out living arrangements all in the same (although very large) home. Me? Much happier a few cities away in an old, inner-city rowhouse.

          • I am an older member of generation Y, old enough that I can sort of remember the tail end of the Cold War, the recession of the early 90's, and the time before the Internet. My generation grew up hearing that it was special, that we were going to save the world, etc. etc. – and I think that fed into our expectations.

            The basic formula for success presented to us was grades -> university -> $$$. However we went to school in a time of rampant grade inflation, followed by rampant credential inflation, so I think most of us think we are above average (in one survey I saw, 80% of people in my generation considered themselves to be above average intelligence. So, I think that is where the entitlement comes from -the 50th percentile thinks it is the 80th percentile, and expects that level of remuneration.

            I think I have grown more humble in the past decade or so. University taught me that I am not the smartest person out there, and the recession has helped moderate my job expectations. I have also learned that brains aren't everything – my most successful friends are the ones with good networking skills (doing coops during undergrad helped them out a lot too). Finally, living/working as a grad student has made me realize that I don't need a lot of money to be happy.

  6. Yeah, back in the day it never happened.

    Riiiiiiiight

    I think that, if anything, this has to do with people marrying later. Anyone heard of couples living with oarents?

    Besides, I hope the article will appear on how to make mother-in-law NOT to move in

    • Actually, pre-WWII, and still today in many non-Western-European cultures, many couples and families do live with their parents. I think a part of the reason couples are marrying later is that it takes so much longer to get stable enough to be ready to begin one's own family, whether or not that involves children.

  7. I live with this reality right now except I am the step-parent who continues to pay for the bum in the basement. Modern Society is fostering a generation that takes responsibility for NOTHING – everything is everybody elses fault and parents continue to enable this attitude. Sad state of affairs.

    • It's your house. Tell the "bum" he has 1 month to find a new place and tell your partner he/she is being unreasonable. (if he/she insists on supporting the "bum")

      What wasn't discussed in this article is the fact that nobody respects a push-over. They see that person as weak and whiny. Parents lose the respect and reverence of their children when they allow them to sponge off of them well into their adulthood. The adult child is secretly yearning that his/her parent(s) will push them out and force them to make it on their own. That way they can develop self-respect and confidence. It's plain poor parenting to allow healthy children to live at home past their early 20's. You're only facilitating their bad character. (fueling is more like it)

    • Yes, I think step-children can be the bigger problem since there is often less emotional attachment. You still need to take responsiblity for your own life. If resentment makes it difficult to live with your spouse, you need to make some tough choices but be prepared to live with them.
      Some kids actually contribute and can be helpful around the house and can create a mutually beneficial arrangement. Everyone needs a bit of persoanl space and privacy and no one wants to feel used.

    • Frustrated, I am doing research for a documentary about adult children living with their parents. Would you be willing to talk to me about your family's situation? Email dreamfilm1@gmail.com

  8. Sure hope the author never had kids. She’s kind of hateful to adult kids. Look, every situation is unique. I’m an adult who’s living in the same house as my parents. We operate as one family, just older than most. Recession has something to do with it, but so do other factors. Primary is being allergic to cigarette smoke. Since most condos and apartments aren’t smoke free, it drifts. I had an apartment for many years. And some nights, I drove around for hours or even checked into a hotel because of drifting smoke. It’s that or end up in a hospital. I don’t need a single family home, and they aren’t cheap. So what to do? Meanwhile, I’m an only child. My parents spent a lot of time alone (my dad travels a lot for work), we were all miserable and not knowing many people (let me tell you, even today, that smoke allergy is a massive roadblock in meeting people). So we decided this worked best for us. And I sure don’t need some whacko author telling me our lifestyle is wrong. It’s ironic, isn’t it? supposedly, people are more tolerant of alternative lifestyles these days, but when a traditional family is close, lives together and enjoys it, some say it’s wrong?

    • I think you are in a different situation, living with your parents by everyone's agreement, as a contributing member of the family, as opposed to a dependent with no primary "job", whether that be school, volunteering, or employment.

    • They are not referring to children who help their parents but those who are non contributing & lazy ones.

  9. I just have to say, I think this phenomenon is almost entirely foreign to those growing up in very conservative families.

    I think the reasons are as follows:

    (1) Such families tend to be large, so the parents tend to rely on the children to operate as a team rather than as individuals, so siblings grow up with an ingrained sense that they have to help out and can't expect everything to be done for them.

    (2) Children tend to leave home earlier. This is a combination of (a) being used to greater responsibility at a younger age (see 1), and (b) socially conservative beliefs including the notion that one shouldn't have sex before marriage….leading to marriage at a younger age.

    (3) A general openness to having more children themselves (speaking of the grown-up kids here). It's one thing to go back to live with your parents when you're alone, but it's quite another to bring your own large family of children with you. It's not generally done except in times of total urgency.

    • I wonder how much of that could be explained just as easily with background factors. For instance, in Canada politics has a lot to do with geography. A large percentage of left-leaning people live in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal – expensive places to live. I couldn't find Canadian cost of living data, but in the US the difference between me living in a medium sized town and New York city in terms of cost of living was 91%.

      • It would be really good to have some stats on it – I am basing my comments entirely on personal experience (although to be fair, there aren't that many families like this, and I do know an awful lot of them from many different communities/religions across the continent so my personal experience probably is somewhat representative in this case).

        Anyway, I don't think cost of living by geography has much to do with it: as you pointed out upthread, people have to go where the work is. The kids in these families generally end up all over North America, in big cities and small, depending on their chosen university, chosen profession, and chosen spouse.

    • ) Such families tend to be large,

      It is safe to say that family size currently is mitigated largely by cost of living and desire to improve or maintain standard of living, but also, prior to increased economic pressure, family size could also be varied across religion more so than political ideology. It was generally understood that I come from a large family mostly because my mother is staunchly Irish Catholic.

      And while cost of living may be geographically heterogeneous, the overall pressure trying to generate income that will out strip costs still persists. Yet when faced with these realities, the aggregate response to having extended families living together is shock and inter-generational condemnation. It should be pointed out that the necessity for people to break out on their own is largely a Western cultural view, which is probably motivated by strong individualism. I would suspect that even here in Canada, the cultural attitudes towards having extended families is probably a better predictor of success as the boomerang phenomenon cuts across ideological lines as well.

  10. In my experience the parents have to accept much of the responsibility for this phenomenon as they do not tend to encourage independance in their children when raising them. Their are reasons children start school at age 5 and finish at age 18. Given the proper encouragement and increasing level of responsibility, they are actually supposed to be able to care for themselves when they reach the age of adulthood. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you can take care of yourself. Now that does not mean living in the lap of luxury and having all the bells and whistles. Maybe it means living in a college dorm or in a basement suite with a buddy. It means taking the city transit to get your groceries and having no cable tv but at least you are out from under your mom and dad's thumb. It can be the best time of your life.

    • I remember when I moved out on my own, after a certain age my parents influence began to feel more and more suffocating. They really did spoil me and my brother as kids, having the tendancy of doing everything for us, get us whatever new toys we wanted… Independance felt like prying out of their grip one talon at a time then going out and learning everything from scratch, and the sudden freedom was amazing. It was quite a lopsided progression though, could have been smoother.

      My brother on the other hand so far has moved out with some friends for 4 months before he decided it was much cheaper and easier to move back with the parents. They have all been driving each other crazy ever since, heh.

  11. I agree with most of the authors points but I have to stand up for recent graduates of post secondary education. No one here is pointing out how this cycle of parents ntaking in their older children is disrupting this economy even further. I live alone and far away from home for the only reason that the economy deeply affected my home town. Now I see how other adults here live at home with their parents whose retirement plans have now changed because they obviously have better jobs than their kids. But now this prevents young qualified people like me from obtaining those jobs that baby boomers should be leaving behind. It's just chaotic I tell you…

  12. This article hits home and is so true. We've just been able to throw the lazy 27 year old son out a month ago after 5 years. Imagine I said he could stay if he paid rent, well he's paying it to someone else now. If we hadn't I doubt he'd ever have left.

    • But now he resents you. Congratulations on your family values.

  13. It's not the economy, it's the expectations that overage children have on their too-accomodating parents who have spoiled them. Parents are responsible for their children only until the kids are 18 … then, if the kid continues on to a university degree, for 4 additional years. If the kid quits or fails, it's no longer the parents' responsibility.
    Throw the kid out for its own good.
    If you don't have the balls to do so, make sure your kid does all the housekeeping, mows the lawn, does the shopping and cooking … s/he will move out pretty darn soon, or at least be somewhat worth all your expenditure.
    And if you loan money to your kids, tell them it's at 10% per annum … so when they finally fly free on their own wings, you'll win in the end.

    • carful what you wish for. i left home when i was 17, 24 years ago. i never went back, ever. i never have asked for a single nickel and never write. you sound just like my old man did.

  14. Why are people of the younger generation having trouble moving out? Perhaps it's because it is practically impossible to afford a decent place to live without the combined income of two high income earners. http://www.crackshackormansion.com/
    When my father was 25, he was able to outright purchase a house in downtown Victoria on a municipal salary. The growth in boomer net wealth has come mainly due to rising house prices, at the expense of their kids who now face a situation where good jobs are scarce, unemployment is high, and buying a home is outrageously expensive.

    • I'm from Toronto, and I can actually do the math because my mom likes to brag about how much she paid for the house I grew up in (I am assuming the sale price as being a bit lower than the neighbours – their house was essentially the same as ours, but they put a bit of work in it). Accounting for inflation, the value of my parents home has increased 462% since 1979. I think it is part of this crazy mentality of homes as an investment. The price of homes probably should increase over time, as populations increase or as people get wealthier, but there are no fundamentals that can justify an almost five-fold increase. It is the same damn house it was 30 years ago!

      Outside of the big cities though, you get much more sensible real estate prices. Perhaps part of the problem is that city folks stay out of small towns in part because they think the salaries there are laughably low (of course they may prefer big cities, and there may be no jobs in small towns). This website (http://www.bestplaces.net/col/) is American, but it results in some truly amazing results. For instance, if a New Yorker making $50,000/year (the median salary there) moved to Topeka, KS, they would only need to be paid about $22,000 to maintain the same lifestyle.

      • Actually hoser, it's not the same house – it's 30 years older. Which just reinforces your point about the absurd expectations of ever-increasing home prices.

    • So then why don't they live in a less-than-decent place? I did it for years (I'm still in a one-bedroom apartment) and it never killed me. What I didn't do was mooch off my parents until my 30th birthday.

      • Exactly – when I graduated from university the first time it was right into a recession – the only job I could get in my field was part time in a city away from my parents. The idea of staying at home was attractive, except that my father made it very clear that was not an option. So I moved, lived in a studio apartment in a house (landlords lived on the main floor) – did that for 18 months until another job, full-time, in my field opened up. The only reason I got the second job was because I had the first job.

        Parents don't do their children any favours by letting them stay at home, even if they do pay rent etc. Becoming independent is the marker of becoming an adult. Your world view changes completely when you are paying utilities, rent, spending time getting food in, cleaning, etc. and finally making decisions about priorities in your life – do I want a house or a vacation? What am I willing to do without so that I can get my dream?

        • I did without cheese! When I moved out at 18, I was shocked at my first grocery bill. Those were lean years for me, but I had my independance!

  15. I have a brother-in-law still living at home with his parents, and he's 31. His mom cooks for him and does his laundry. He doesn't even have a job anymore. He plays computer games and watches movies all day. But my mother- and father-in-law are afraid to kick him out.

    • My father-in-law died over that identical situation about 20 years ago and I am NOT going down that same path. They could not or would not kick my sister-in-law out inspite of her being almost 40 and never really having a decent job.

      Life is pretty simple – grow up; take resonsibility for YOUR actions; if you can't afford it don't buy it; and STOP blaming everybody else for your short-comings and inability to fgure out. I would like to retire but have bailed kids out for way too long. We would have been mortgage free years ago if we – I – had just said no. I kept thinking it would change but it does not. We – I – have just told the child NO for the last time and it feels like a tremendous weight has been lifted from me. Gheez!

  16. If you are parents with lazy, lay about, non contributing adult children living with you, be vegetarian.

  17. This article makes it seem like the kids WANT to stick around at home. It's degrading for many in Canadian society, even those whose cultural background encourages staying at home. For some (and I would argue relatively few) it's the easy way out, but for others, it's a matter of necessity.

    The job market sucks, rent is soaring, never mind the housing market spinning out of control. It's not that we're (as in Gen Xers) are not taking responsibility, but the state of the nation is mainly the doing of the baby boomers. We are also the product of your attitude; we are your crowning achievement.

    The common anecdote is the older generation telling the younger how tough things were. I'm fairly certain that even in (or because of) this age of information, times have never been tougher. Sure, resent us Gen X and Gen Yers for being "lazy", just know we resent your generation just as much for making the bar so much harder to reach.

    • And setting standard of living expectations so high that most families can't. and won't be able to, achieve them.

    • Parents in general have no problems with children living with them as long as you contribute by helping them around the house and respect their rules while you are living with them.

      • Exactly. Although parents may need to accept that their children just spent 4 years living independently and have their own routines…successful houses have to combine those somewhat. Most people in their mid twenties should be able to accept that adults live differently than parents and children. Both parties have some adaptation to do.

        • You have to remember that the decision to move back are the children's, unless they are pressured by the parents to do so, children have to adapt. If they do not like the rules set by the owner of the house, they are free to find another accommodation. Respect and helping with the chores go a long way to smooth out any problem when moving back with your parents, they may not even let you go when you are ready to move back out.

    • Boo Hoo!

  18. I moved to Alberta in 2005 at the age of 22 (after living on my own in NS for 2 years), every year since then I've made more money than both of my parents combined, I sometimes send them money to help out. The only people my age that I know who still live with their parents are Albertans.

    • That is a sweeping statement. I have seen and heard of many lay about children living with their parents from many provinces in Canada

    • I left my home in Newfoundland at 18 and moved to Alberta and for the last 20 years of living and working here i have not seen this,I disagree very very much with this blanket statment. Albertans in my experience are generally very hard working people sure just as anywhere else there are lazy people and i have come across some pretty lazy people from NS in my working life.So don't think you are some how better because of where you come from.

      • I suppouse I didn't word that statement with much thought as to how it would be interpreted, I didn't mean to say that Albertans were lazy. Of course the only people I know out here who live at home are Albertans because all of my east coast friends who have moved out here don't have the option of living at home!

        I have some friends back home who live with their parents, most of them university grads who pay around $500/month in student loan debt. There are still many good jobs to be had in Alberta, but I pity the folks who missed the gravy train boom and decided to stay in their parents basement over the past few years!

        • You make more than your parents combined because you live in Alberta and they live in NS simple as that.

    • In fact, Alberta has the lowest percentage of people aged 20-29 living at home in Canada: http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/a

      PS: just because people are living with their parents doesn't mean they aren't working. They may be saving up, and in the case of Alberta, there may not even be available housing. A cousin of mine had to live in a hotel for a while after moving from Newfoundland to Alberta.

  19. 2 University grads and the last off to college this fall gives me the credence to say this. If the adult child needs to stay at home until they find a job where they can support themselves (never said dream job) , then they should be earning their keep by whatever means available, cooking, cleaning, shopping yard work whatever. The parents should now be reaping the rewards of all the hard work they put into raising their children. If the parents see their adult children rewarding them with their efforts of gratitude while every effort is being made to find work, then they should be more than willing to help out.

    • This I agree with, but it starts in childhood. Make us make our beds…or at least make us help with the dishes. Make chores and skills a part of life early on (and yes, there are few ways around the battles you'll encounter as we resist). Do like my parents did and make us earn things (not love, let that come naturally.) Our education will serve us well in the long run, but for newly-minted grads, we face a convoluted path to "success'.

      • Career paths are non-linear now. "Filler jobs" like sales or coffee shops, which were cool in university, now have to be justified to potential employers. We have to use agencies or spend months applying online to find an entry level job that at least serves as a stepping stone to future employment. A degree does lead to employment usually, but not often where we'd like it to. Help us see that we can "Settle" for a job that isn't inspiring to us without being trapped–and, maybe, encourage us to get a loan and enter a skills-based program, eg some tech school, to augment our degree. Thank you to the parents who let us build capital, collect ourselves and prepare to launch out into the world from their couches. Thank you to those parents who grasp the reality today: that we may need to still learn skills like saving or financial management that you had learned by our ages, that our first job is likely not going to be what we were taught to think it would be, that we may have to leave your city to find work–and that we are no longer "in it together" with our friends. The first launch can be isolating as that community feeling of university has ended.

  20. On the ride home today, I was listening to CFRA and they were interviewing a mother who had been in line at the Apple Store in Rideau Shopping Centre since 4:30 this morning, waiting to buy the new iPhone 4. Why? Here's her answer: "My 14-year-old-son has had an iPhone for three years and he loves it, and he really wants this new phone for the video capabilities."

    Got that? 14-year-old-kid wants a new iPhone, and he wants it NOW!!!

    Twenty years from now MacLeans will probably be doing a story on that same mother, and how she makes her 34-year-old son's oatmeal and butters his toast each morning before he heads to the rec room to smoke dope and watch cartoons. It will make for a nice feature article on the "new reality" of extending adolescence past the age of 30. And of course, she'll still be paying the monthly bill on his new iPhone28.

    • Hey, the boomers wanted to make 60 the new 30, and it looks like it happened. Be careful what you wish for!

  21. In all fairness, I think the overage kid thing does have something to do with the fact that families are so small now. Back when you had 4 or 5 kids, you couldn't possibly feed them all until they were 25. Now, if you've got one or at most two kids, it's not such a huge burden if they stick around. Still, in a lot of cases, it's just parents who have spoiled their kids rotten, and continue to spoil and pamper them as adults.

    • This is true too – along with houses being much smaller – when you have six children (as in my family) living in a three bedroom, 900 sq. ft. house – the expectation is that the older children will move out (the hint was the luggage as a high school graduation present). My first sibling when to nursing school (at the time you had to live in residence); the second become an RCMP officer (again boot camp in Regina), etc. etc. But my parents had to move into an apartment before the youngest got the hint – as in 'we are moving and you can't come with us!"

      But if you have two kids and a 3,000 sq. ft house – there is no pressing need to move them out.

  22. Interesting Canadian take on this situation. I was born and raised in Canada and left home at 18 to go to university in BC. Straight out of university I got an engineering job in Japan and have been here for 9 years. In Japan, a good portion of grown up kids live with their parents after university and while working full time. It is entirely expected, by both the parents and the kids. This situation seems to be working. It is all in the way you look at it from a cultural perspective. It can work.

    • In Japan, children no matter they are an adult with children of their own are taught to respect and listen to their elders.

      • Don't forget, Japan has ~4X the population of Canada with ~4% of the landmass.

  23. My two adult sons, my wife and I live together in a small townhome. Both our sons are employed in their chosen fields, and they pay rent, and they are well on their way to completing degrees in the applied sciences. When they resume classes in the fall, we will gladly support them as we love our sons and want them to succeed, not be drowned by thousands of dollars in debts to satisfy our selfish desires for more space. I make more money now than I did when they were children and had to be clothed and fed three times a day — it is not like I am languishing under the immense cost of supporting my sons who grow increasingly independent with each passing year.

    Besides, we enjoy their company, when they are around (most of the time they are out and about, working, socializing and enjoying their young adulthood). We eat dinner together, we get along well, we all contribute to chores and household costs, and there is an atmosphere of love and mutual respect.

    From an economic standpoint, it makes sense for the four of us to contribute to one household. A single person living on their own is the least efficient economic unit. In a couple years our sons will have graduated, and will reach a point in their careers when they can afford to live on their own without having to borrow. The time to move out will come. But at the moment the sheer idea is nonsense. Out here in BC the living costs are so high, and rent is atrocious, how can any single person making $14 an hour be expected to live in comfort AND go to school without taking on significant debts and the associated risks?

    I resent the implication that all parents must necessarily hate their children if they fail to become debt slaves the moment they reach the age of majority. That adults living with their parents are irresponsible, or that they lack skills and/or motivation. Perhaps the problem is not with the kids, but with my fellow baby boomers, who are too self-centered to realize that the debt-based lifestyle they've forced onto their kids will doom them to a life of servitude and misery

    • Sorry, that should say, "my husband and I"

      we're not THAT kind of family :)

    • I don't think I've ever seen a family that works like this. I'm not doubting, just saying you must have done something right!

    • You have an ideal family, but many do not have your situation. Some as presented above, have children who do not care to help around the house nor give consideration and respect toward their parents. With that in mind, their concerns are just as valid as those helpful and respectful children who are living with their parents.

    • "Perhaps the problem is not with the kids, but with my fellow baby boomers, who are too self-centered to realize that the debt-based lifestyle they've forced onto their kids will doom them to a life of servitude and misery."

      Servitude and Misery? Fact is, the scenery is changed and nobody will ever get it good like the "baby boomers" again. Even so, there's no need to coddle your adult children. Things were hard during the 30's and 40's and people worked hard to get by. They worked hard so the pampered boomers could enjoy their prosperity. Too bad they selfishly ruined it.

      If a university education is too expensive try taking an apprenticeship. (carpenter? plumber? electrician?) The bachelor's degree has become too watered down anyway; the master's as well. Like houses in Toronto or Vancouver, it's not worth the inflated value. "When times are hard you've got to change".

      BTW, things aren't getting better. What are your kids going to teach theirs. It's about perpetuating a sustainable family life long after you are gone.

    • There is an awful lot of sense in what you say but to get where you are one had to anticipate well this social trend we are now living. I was out and on my own at 18 and never looked back. Did four degrees, worked at virtually everything I could to pay for it and at the end of my PhD had a 60,00.00 debt. After fifteen years at work, as a prof, I am free of that and am now working on the mortgage. I naturally thought my kids would have the same drive and I strove to instil that in them. One is getting there the other just cant seem to grow up. All his friends are in the same spot. Working dead end jobs and living at home. I make him pay rent but that is of little use in helping him find some drive for life. I call his generation the lost-drive generation. Very frustrating to watch as a parent.

      • We're doing a documentary on this topic and would love to speak with you. Please email dreamfilm1@gmail.com

    • Nothing wrong with adult children living at home while they complete their educations. Nothing at all. I don't think that's what this article was getting at. This article was more targeted at the lazy laybout kids who are able to continue their slovenly ways because their parents still support them. Obviously this is not your scenario, and you need not feel resentful towards the article.

    • I'm with you. My four kids live at home, and they are wonderful. If your adult kids are a pain in the butt to you, you need look no further than the mirror as to why…..

    • Comedymom, I'm doing research for a documentary and would love to speak with you about how you're making this work. Please email me at dreamfilm1@gmail.com

  24. I live and care for my elderly parents, and have siblings who have no effing clue about how long and labour-intensive a day can be for me. Although they are still independent in many ways, there are many tasks that they no longer have the strength to do, but the tasks are essential just the same.

    Beats the hell out of putting them in a home, though. In BC, extended care is in a sorry state no thanks to Premier Gordo The Drunk–and that is essentially the idea behind my being here.

    On top of that I hold down a job.

    It is now a rare occasion that I will associate with my siblings when they come to the house. Their condescending attitude towards me makes me angry, and my parents don't need to feel that anger. The unfortunate part is that, no matter what I do, they sense the rift and feel powerless to do anything about it.

    Eventually, though, I will leave, and I will know when it is time to pass on the reins. It has been almost 12 years now.

    I am getting very, very tired.

    • I should add this about this author. She has failed miserably in taking account of the fact that adult children living in their parents' homes because of the circumstances I described is more common than anyone in this self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, know-it-all society is willing to admit. I am insulted by her implications, but there is a special place in Hades for people of this ilk.

      • Sounds like you're also suffering "compassion fatigue". Find someone you can trust to talk to about it!

  25. "Q: In 2004, some U.S. researchers looked at what kind of support parents give their children aged 18 to 34 and found that, on average, parents contribute $2,200 a year over that 17-year period, to cover education, housing and other costs. That's a lot more than in any previous generation. What's going on here?
    A: The kids feel entitled and the parents feel obligated."
    Actually no – what's going on here is that tuition fees in the baby boomer generation were about 300$ a semester. I payed 7200$ a year –
    money I made busting my ass off in summers working in heavy industry or out in the bush fighting forest fires – and doing the worst jobs out there because you're the lowest in seniority. And yeah – I lived at home for a year after I graduated, working a few jobs until I could get a steady job in my field and move out – all while paying back the 2200 a year I borrowed. All in all I paid 8000 back in a year . Did I like living at home? Hell no.

  26. So don't call me lazy – don't tell me I feel like I'm entitled – I bet the author of this article never worked a job where she gained 15 pounds in a summer from muscle to pay for school.
    Yeah, I was one of these guys who (like the glorious Baby Boomers) tried to make it on his own. My first year I didn't have near enough money so I was eating half the time from stealing from the caff. I came back after my first year weighing 160 pounds. I now weigh 190 – a healthy weight for a guy who's six foot one. Still tried to make it. So my second year I got a job washing dishes 32 hours a week while doing 30 hours of class and about 40-60 hours homework – needless to say I failed a class or two. So yeah – then I was faced with the fact that I had to borrow money from mom and dad. It was the only option. My dad used to tell me all my life growing up that I should go to school, get an education, so I wouldn't end up at the steel plant dying of lung cancer by age 65 – but when the time where I needed the help, he didn't want to.

  27. I don't blame him for it – he's a guy who left home at 17 to work in a mine – but the fact is I wouldn't have graduated if I hadn't of received financial aid.

    What's really going on here is this conservative BS of an older generation automatically thinking its tougher then the next one. What do you think the Greatest Generation would think of you people? "I fought in a goddam world war and these kids are complaining about helping out with their kids education, and then blaming them when they can't stand on their own two feet in the biggest recession since the depression!"

    In fact, its funny how you people say we're so selfish and lazy – when yours was the first generation to throw your parents away in nursing homes because you didn't want the people who raised you impeding on your lives when they needed you the most – the Greatest Generation – the ones who fought and died so I can live in a free society.
    And you try to talk to us about gratitude.

    • Awesome comment!

  28. Our generation are people who grew up in the recessions of the 80s and 90s – many in the factory towns that got hit the hardest, like me. You grew up in the biggest boom in world history – you didn't even have to graduate highschool for a decent job. And then you have the nerve to call us spoiled,selfish, feeling entitled, and lazy when we're floundering in debt and struggling to get on our feet. Its like putting salt on a wound.

  29. Nice to say today's generation is "selfish". I wonder where they could've possibly gotten that from? Possibly the generation that raised them. =/ Kids learn from their parents.

    • My beef with these inter-generational arguements is that they often just turn into finger-pointing, blame-shifting mindsets. (not you in particular Sheena, but the general attitude is bubbling up)

      My Dad has complaints about his parents generation, my generation complains about his, and chances are my kids will have all sorts of complaints about me and my generation. The way I see it, the preceeding generations screwed many things up but they also got many things right. When I look into the situation the boomers grew up in, I'm not so sure my generation would have reacted any differently.

      (continued…)

      • A while back I was listening to a podcast where Michael Enright read an essay where he essentially said "my boomer generation has left a mess of a society behind, but look at all these bright young faces, it's up to you to clean it up and I think there's hope because you're all so smart". Does he plan on dying tomorrow, or is it just too hard to make a change when you're older? …An older generation saying "you'll have to fix our mistakes", and a younger generation saying "we are weak because you raised us this way".

        Taking the long view, the generational lines start to blur and it looks like this society is simply ours to make of it what we will. Us being anyone who's living in it.

  30. Although if you have a child at home at 28, you're going to have a cycle of dependency there some how. Seek help for both parties. One of my friends lives at home at 26 for several reasons: 1) doesn't want to waste money renting, would rather save then buy. 2) Parents have addictions and appear to be unable to function without some help by the child. 3) Child is reluctant to leave them on their own. Those reasons are very different. Perhaps sometimes the free food wins out over the dependency issues. But it is not always laziness, incompetence or greediness that keeps a child at home. Even if it may appear like those are the reasons, the child may have his or her own narrative and stories (reasons) that justify their presence at home.

  31. Continued.. "There are many psychological, financial, physical and social dynamics that keep kids at home longer than expected. Perhaps too there's a cultural expectation that the parents will take care of the kids and their kids, but that someday, the kids will repay this. We have that expectation too: we are launched by our parents, and then pay taxes for the rest of our employed lives (probably the next 45 for me) to support those who are older than us. And as the system becomes more strained, I suspect more and more of us children of boomers will be caring for our parents in 20 years. So to the "newly married for the second time" woman who replied on Macleans online, I say "well, your very educated 23 year old is having trouble coping. She'll come round eventually if you've done your parenting job right, If she doesn't and you have to kick her out, she'll be fine and launch well, but don't be surprised if she's reluctant to support you later on without at least making it very clear the sacrifice for 25 years that she'll be making to support you later on." I have little patience for selfish parents who failed previously to ensure a little toughness in their kids…but parents also have to recognize that 16 years of school does little to help us survive in the "real world"; there's a culture shock period. Yes the Boomers created our world. We have no choice but to live in it.

    • On the topic of kids not being prepared to move out on their own, I would just like to add that after a few years of living on my own I had learned the lessons of household and financial management pretty well. Now whenever I'm living with roommates I feel like I'm finishing the job their parents didn't do. So many fellow 20-somethings don't seem to have ever had to clean up after themselves or not wake the house up at 2AM on a workday, and a thousand other thoughtless habits. I think I'll have a headstart when it comes to raising a child of my own, having had to raise so many other peoples grown children, heh. (to be fair I was once just as clueless)

      • (continued)
        I think that my parents sort of went along with the materialistic flow of the times and wound up spending most of their time working so there just wasn't a lot of time or energy to teach us much. I think we learned more from the TV, unfortunately. Though now my Dad seems to want to teach us a bit about cooking, hindsight perhaps has him feeling under-involved. I believe that if we didn't get an ideal situation, we must simply take matters into our own hands. To get stuck on the shortcoming of our parenting can often just foster a sort of victim-mentality which so often only keeps one stuck in a rut. Our parents were human, so why not forgive their shortcomings and get on with it?

  32. My younger brother is 23 and still lives at home. But what's good about it is that my single parent Mother couldn't afford a mortgage on her own and as my brother doen't look like he's going to leave anytime soon, what they've done is gone in on a mortgage together. They've bought a house that they're both paying into equally. And they're converting the basement into a seperate enterance apartment so they'll each eventually have their own living area. When my brother gets married he's agreed to buy Mom out of the mortgage so she can get an apartment or condo and my brother can start his married life as a home owner.

    It makes a lot more sense to me than Mom continuing to pay what she can't afford for an employed, educated 20-something son to freeload.

    • Win, win situation. I just worry what his future wife's take on the situation.

      • If she has any brains in her head she'll think – a man with his own home AND he gets along with well with his mom – what a catch!

  33. Well Baby boomers have only themselves to blame as to why their adult children either can't leave home or
    move back home…..it was that Baby boomer generation who didn't care as the cost of buying a house
    outstripped the average wage AND when college tuition went up so high it is ridiculous.
    What is happening is that we are now in a new model of families of all ages and stages living together for
    years like people do in India and China and other places where a family together has a higher standard of
    living than each one owning their own place (even if this were possible financially.)
    Baby boomers have to remember that until it is cheap to own a house and cheap to go to college that
    THEY have helped create this new way of all generations living together. Maybe it won't be so bad when the
    Baby boomer parents need their 'kids' to care for them in old age and then the kids inherit the house.
    For the ones without a house to inherit they are screwed big time..
    Poor families have lived together for years so what? Baby boomers helped create this new poverty
    model because of collective decisions governmentally, economically, and socially that have resulted in
    over priced real estate and college prices. Suck it back Boomers because you are
    reaping what you sowed. Your kids aren't moving out any time soon. Live with it.

  34. We are the sandwich generation. Aging parents needing care on one side and adult children who refuse to grow up on the other. It sucks to be 50! Thank goodness for a decent paying job to keep up. But my retirement needs attention as well. Who will look after us when our government pensions go under!

    • No one is going to look after you except yourself. New reality coming down the pikes.
      Gen Y knows this already.

  35. The census has some interesting data on the regional distribution of this phenomena by city: http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/a

    A lot of the cities at the top of the list are in Southern Ontario (Toronto, Oshawa, and Hamilton are the top 3). My unscientific ogling of the data suggests a few factors that tend to make cities higher on the list. I think economic growth is a big one – people in areas that have undergone a slump (for instance, auto/steel industry towns) seem to do poorly. More prosperous parts of the country – like Alberta, Saskatoon and Edmonton, have done comparatively well. Real estate prices may be important – Toronto and Vancouver certainly rank high, but there are other places that don't fit that trend. For instance, Victoria is actually low on the list despite being (I believe) Canada's most expensive city. Immigration is probably another contributor, since they are more likely to embrace extended family structures.

    It will be interesting to see what the data shows in the 2010 census… certain government decisions pending.

  36. She should probably stick to writing television shows…..or whatever else it is that really does an occupation…

    • sorry…whatever else it is that she really does for an occupation….

  37. The article is good, but the comments are better, more insightful!

  38. These are things that many parents have tried to tell their children. The problem is the children not caring as it is "just dad talking about hard his life was. Blah Blah blah. Leave me alone, I have almost hit level 97 on my video game."

    As you said, we may not remember it all now but chances are our parents did try to impart this knowledge to us, many times we were just too silly to listen.

  39. Parents need to take a close look at what they are actually doing to the children they allow to live at home. I have two friends – single women after divorces – each with a 26/27 year old son living at home. The sons are working – kind of – but they spend a lot of their earned income on toys (video games, new computers, iPhones, etc.), eating out and their cars. The mothers like to have them around, but at the end of the day the sons are really just surrogate husbands. They can pretend all they want that the sons are contributing to the household (very little and very irregularly), but they enjoy having a male around without having to deal with a husband. I don't know if it is sick or not, but I don't think in the end it will do any of them any good. At some point, the sons will find a girlfriend and will move out quickly or move her in (and that will not work); and the mothers will be left to deal with 'alone' issues on their own.

  40. If you raise an a$$ don't be surprised when he stinks.
    Parents who don't raise their kids to be self-sufficient end up with kids who are not self-sufficient. Is that a surprise? No, just common sense. BTW: A collage degree will not confer self-sufficiency. You cant buy education, it takes personal effort on the part of the parent to instill pride and work ethic into their offspring.

  41. This article upsets me and offends me. I do not believe I am entitled at all. I hate taking money from my parents. It's not a pride thing for me, it's a respect thing. My parents are in their own debt. They are not responsible for helping me get out of mine, OR am I looking for help.
    I am a fulltime university student. A mature student, a little older at 25 years. Even in the spring/summer term I have chosen to take on a full course load. I have two part-time jobs. I rent an apartment where 80% of my income is spent (then there are bills- internet, phone-no tv, hydro, and with whatever is left, groceries which I wish I could say were a healthy array of items in canada's daily food guide).
    If the university I'm attending was closer to my parent's home I would rent out my old bedroom. I would much rather have my income go to my parents to help them out. Currently, I am in $35 000 in debt. This will grow as I go into my final year, and then go on to my goal of an M. A.

  42. OK……….. Well she is talking about dual income educated people not the majority of people here, that said she is a ignorant selfish @#$%. I left school and home at 15 and when I did come back I paid rent, my mother was a single parent. The boomers had all the breaks and all the opportunities my uncle lived at home and my grandparents paid his tuition and living expenses for 7 years of engineering school. My mother had a grade 11 education she started at $1/hour in 1973 by 1985 she was making $16/hour that's 16 times starting wage in 12 years. I started at$6/hour in 1993 I would be making $96/hour with same wage growth!!!! Sure they paid 21% interest in 1982 but their house is worth between 8 and 20 times what they paid for it!!! So you resent us for being lazy and selfish(LOL) fine when you finally retire in 15-20 years and want us to support you with 75% of are taxes for health care and CCP, guess what? YOU CAN GO @#$% YOUR SELVES. As for having kids it takes money to do that and we have none so SURPRISE!!! WE CAN'T AFFORD THEM SO STOP ASKING WHY WE NEED ALL THESE IMMIGRANTS BECAUSE WE WILL STILL BE WORKING FOR MINIMUM WAGE OR UNEMPLOYED BY THEN AND SOMEONE WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR YOUR HEALTH CARE AND RETIREMENT!!!!

  43. Are you a parent with your kids back home (or maybe they never left)? Are you an adult choosing to return to your parents' home? We'd love to speak with you and hear your stories for an upcoming documentary. Please email dreamfilm1@gmail.com

  44. Some people in this comments thread really aren't getting it. Here's some excuses I'm seeing thrown around.

    1. Little Johnny isn't working because he can't get the job he wants.
    2. LJ is living at home because he can't afford rent.
    3. LJ is living at home because that is what people used to do before World War II and still do in many parts of the world.
    4. LJ is living at home because he never learned how to take care of himself independently.

    Not one of these passes the laugh test as a reasonable excuse for anyone over the age of majority living with their parents like a giant, swollen baby.

  45. No one gets the job he wants out of university. University dictates how far you might go in a career, not where you start. LJ needs to man up and put his time in washing cars before he gets to sit in a cubicle and watch YouTube all day. Why would anyone hire LJ when he has not shown he can hold down a full time job for any longer than a summer, if that? You have nothing to offer, LJ. There is no reason why any contributing member of society would have any respect for you at all.

    Boo hoo, housing is expensive. Ya, well, so are the vodka Red Bulls LJ is throwing back out with his friends every night. If LJ can't afford the rent where he is, he should move somewhere cheaper. I'm in London, which is not a small town, and there are lots of places here a person could afford with a minimum wage job. Yes, they suck and they are in crappy parts of town. That is where people live when they are young. That is why they want to work hard and move somewhere better. At least they do if Mommy and Daddy aren't fluffing their pillows every night.

  46. This isn't the early 20th century, nor is it Saudia Arabia. Who cares what people do elsewhere, much less in the distant past? In North America, kids move out and get their own places once they grow up. We built the best countries in the world using that system, so I see no reason to go backwards. Especially since the theory that kids can't make money or afford housing is completely bogus and at all odds with the real costs of labour and housing.

    Grown kids live at home because they can't take care of themselves and they can't take care of themselves because they never leave home. Where does the circle end? LJ is a young man with nothing but energy, no matter how cleverly he hides it when he is hung over. He needs obstacles, not assistance. Yes, he is liable to do stupid things and yes, he is liable to get hurt and into various kinds of trouble. What he will probably not do is die from being forced to look after himself the same way everyone over the age of 40 was.

  47. It is so very, very simple: tell him you are giving him first and last month's rent on an apartment and kicking him out in one month, no arguments, no excuses. Buh bye. See you for Sunday dinner. Don't bother bringing your laundry. Your mother and I are going to have sex now.

    • Perfect. If my parents had given me first and last' on an apartment, I wouldn't have spent three months homeless. But it seems like if you were born in the Sixties, you hate your kids and don't know how to parent.

  48. Man alive, where do we begin?

    Even making one's bed is a little ridiculous: http://www.cracked.com/article_18595_6-slacker-be
    … you should only make it after you change it.

    Education is more expensive than ever. Everything's more expensive than ever.

    You know our generation is more selfish than yours? Really?

  49. Accepting help from parents is not necessarily a sign of immaturity and dependence. Sometimes, it's the opposite. For me, the feelings of entitlement existed when I was younger and resented my parents for not having been there for me the way I felt they should've been. Back then, I refused everything from them, because their persistent offers of money felt like (and in all likelihood were) efforts to buy their way out of guilt—and dammit, they deserved to feel guilty for what they did to me (sarcasm). It was when I grew up and realized that nobody has perfect parents and that I had to take responsibility for my own life that I developed the humility to accept a small amount of money from my parents–just enough to help me go back to school. I don't feel entitled to that money–except in the sense that all my siblings have received much more so I do feel on some level that "it's only fair." I feel grateful to come from a family that has the money to help, and I hope that I may one day end up with enough financial security that I can pay it forward to somebody else. Yes, I could be bloody minded and make more sacrifices than I already have and go it alone, but what's the point?

  50. Love the idea of a finance class.

  51. She's right on that a contract is a good idea. On my website, I've been offering a contract template for parents with adult children moving home for about three years, and I get great feedback from parents who say it has saved their sanity!

  52. I agree with much of what the author has written, and I do in part think the reason many young adults aren't ready to leave the nest is a result of their “helicopter” parents who raised them. However, we can't just throw around the word recession and not take a deeper look at how it's affected their behavior and the environment they're living in.

    There are a lot of bright and well-educated twenty somethings eager to start their careers but due to a lack of well-paid entry jobs, it's difficult for them to get their feet off the ground. Companies are cutting back more than ever and all they have to offer are three month unpaid internships. These internships barely provide any insight or training, and entail more administrative work than anything else.

    I think poor parenting has something to do with it, but the onus should also be put on CEOs as well as the government who hasn't done anything to stop them.

    For more on unpaid internships, check out this article in the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/business/03inte

  53. It is really irritating hearing this woman speak so poorly about young adults moving back home. She wrote in such a biased manner, and honestly, it was offensive, rude, and closed-minded… and I'm not even a parent with a young adult at home or an adult living at home! She forgets that sometimes, it is for the best. That people have different situations and nothing is wrong with that. I just hope in her old age, she isn't a poor, helpless lady living on the street since obviously, my young generation will be paying for her health-care, pension, ect with OUR tax money, yet she seems terrible reluctant on people helping eachother.

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