If someone called me a “yuckie” a few weeks ago, I would scoff at the third-grade insult.
Now, I’ve learned that the term doesn’t relate to cooties or boogers. Rather, it means that I’m steadily draining my parents’ livelihood.
The term, an acronym for “Young Unwittingly Costly Kids,” first rose to popularity in 2010 with a surge of journal articles and academic studies that observed the increasing trend of students moving back in with their parents after university. I, however, only recently came across the word.
Immediately I wanted to learn more about the less than flattering term for my generation. With a few quick online searches I discovered that we are ruthless vampires of the family unit, sucking the family dry. Reluctant to leave the warm embrace of our parents’ homes, we force them into second mortgages, diminished retirement funds and readjusted styles of living.
Though I’m sure the researchers and journalists who created the term are patting themselves on the back, “yuckie culture” comes with a number of flawed assumptions.
First, the phrase implies that we don’t want to leave our parents’ homes. While I’m sure there are some recent graduates who do have very special relationships with their parents, I feel comfortable saying the majority of university students want one thing more: independence.
In fact, almost every decision we make in our early adult lives is driven by a desire to be away from our parents. Buying a new car, travelling with friends, moving away to university. Many of the seminal moments of our youth revolve around getting our space, so we don’t leave university with a craving desire to cuddle up with mom and dad again; we do it because we have to.
Which leads into the second assumption of the “yuckies” acronym—that we have a choice in the matter. The term dismisses the reality that after graduation many students are forced back into their parents’ homes because of a dismal job market and ever-increasing costs of rent. We are not sadists. We do not derive pleasure from taking money from our parents, but often we have little choice. After graduation and even during school, most of the employment opportunities are either bad jobs with small wages or unpaid internships.
Although the debate about unpaid internships is heating up, right now they are one of the best chances for advancement in the applicant-saturated workplace. But, as the preface suggests, these unpaid internships leave students with two options: They either overdo it by trying to balance an unpaid internship and a part-time job or reluctantly turn to parents for support.
And that is the final mistake that heralds of “yuckie culture” make—the assumption that our parents have to help us. The literature that currently exists makes it sound like “yuckie” parents begrudgingly give up their hard-earned savings to baby their now adult child. But if the alternative is their child working him or herself into the ground, missing holidays and weekend visits for the sake of financial independence, most parents would happily make a place for their child in their homes.
So the next time someone calls me a “yuckie,” I won’t think it’s a third grade insult—but I will think it has the same immaturity. Why? Because it dismisses how tough it is to be a new grad these days, it ignores the difficulties of unpaid internships and, let’s be honest, it just sounds gross.
Hurren is Opinions Editor of Western’s Gazette, where this first appeared. Follow @KevinAtGazette