Monday, August 19, 2013


And the thing is, Mom, Dad, I've lived upstairs since I was three, and it's been great. Tripp, Failure to Launch, 2006.

Failure To Launch, a romantic comedy, was nominated for People’s Choice Awards in 2007 for favorite movie comedy. And it was funny but under the humor it addressed a real problem of the rise in young adults, ages 18-31, still living at home.

I was reading the PEW Research report on Social andDemographic Trends and learned that the estimate, in 2012, of young adults between the ages of 18 to 31 still living at home was 36%. Granted, half of home-dwelling millennials are college students, Pew found; most (56%) haven’t hit their 25th birthday yet. Just 16% of adults aged 25-31 live at home. The economy plays into this, as does student debt (average of $27k upon graduation). Still, that’s 26.6 million young adults still living with their parents in 2012.

It boggles the mind.

I was on my own at 18. I was proud of the fact I was living independent of my family. Granted, I didn't have a lot of skills but I had been raised to be a self-sufficient adult and that meant working at whatever job I could to pay my bills. In the early part of my 18th year I lived with a couple of roommates until I could save enough money to buy a car. Once I had a car I moved out and rented a room from an older widow with kitchen privileges. I was attending college and working. It was great not having to share quarters—I had my fill of that. Not long after that, I found a better place renting from a widower who broke his huge house into 3 separate living quarters. I had the bottom half of the house and shared the kitchen with him. I had a four-room apartment and I loved the country setting with a huge yard, lots of trees and flowers, and at least 10 acres between neighbors and me. I could have my dog and my cat with me. The upstairs was a separate apartment and the tenet was an older woman in her 40’s. We all got along well but we had our own apartments to retreat to. There was a feeling of freedom and safety. It was a nice arrangement for a few of years. After college, I moved to take a full time job and my own ground floor apartment. Alas, my dog had to go to my parents’ house for a while. Eventually, I transferred to Virginia Beach and moved into a small house with cat and dog as roommates.

I had been on my own and independent for five years when I met the man who became my husband. I was 23. When we married, I gave up my small house and we found a larger place, ironically, only two streets over from where I had been living. It was a nice subdivision with large yards and close to work and the beach. J

I could not imagine moving back to my parents’ house as a young adult. In my mind that would have said I had failed to um, launch. It would say, I couldn't take care of myself.  My parents wouldn't have said no if I needed help. I received no financial help from my parents (who were still raising 7 other children) once I left home. I had to take care of me. It was my turn.

I’m not sharing this as a way of saying, look how good I am/was. It was more to give my mindset after graduating high school. Independence and self-sufficiency was a big thing for me.

But this generation, the Millennial generation born after 1980 and were between the ages of 18 to 31 in age in 2012 seems to be failing to launch. My son is on the tail end of that generation and he’s 18 now. On one hand he wants to be on his own but on other hand, he’s not quite ready to make that leap. I’m not surprised since males tend to take a bit longer than females to mature emotionally and gain their independence. Young women have a tendency to reach certain targets quicker than young men. 

This gender gap was addressed in the PEW study, The men of the Millennial generation are more likely than the women to be living with their parents—40% versus 32%…" There is another study I found interesting and also talks about the gender gap and it was conducted by the BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY, entitled, TwoDecades of Stability and Change in Age at First Union Formation and addresses both the play of gender and education in the process.

I’m not inclined to shove my son out before he’s ready. J However, we have made it a point to let our son know that he needs to make wise decisions that will allow him to live independent of us. I expect him to find his own place and be self-sufficient with in the next couple of years. This past year was vocational college. The next step is finding a job and saving up for a car. I’m not giving him one although I will help. I think one has a greater appreciates for what one has to earn. We've also talked about giving him a section of the property to either build or move in a mobile home until he can build. That won’t happen until he can support himself and has a solid track record of being responsible.

  • What are your thoughts on this tendency of this generation and it failure to launch?

"Look, many young men who should be able to move out, simply can't. It's called "failure to launch"…I promise you, when this is over; Tripp is going to be an independent, self-sufficient adult." Paula to Tripp's parents, Failure to Launch, 2006


Jo said...

I wasn't allowed to move out until I was 20, but, like you, I couldn't wait to do so. However, I think setting up on one's own has become a lot more expensive than it was in our day. Plus there aren't as many jobs available.

Yolanda Renee said...

I was disowned by both parents at 17. I've always been independent but because of my own heartache of being thrown away. I refused to do the same to my sons - I should have been stronger - Both boys failed to launch - although the oldest is now out on his own and my youngest keeps talking about it - but it's all talk. I take the blame - sometimes I want to move out! :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo, it wasn't cheap to live on my own when I was 18 and while there were jobs, it was still tough to get one with enough money to meet my needs. I think that is every generation.

However, I do believe the current economy does play into the equation. In this country there are 3.8 million people unemployed. Competition for existing jobs is tough--regardless of your age.

I do think there is a certain amount of families banding together to make it financially and all contributing. However, some young adults just don't want to be on their own. Some are very comfortable with the way things have been and the perks and security of living at home.

Jo said...

I have a cyber friend in the States who has had to move in with his kids, he and wife, as he can't find a job which pays enough to pay his mortgage. He has a downstairs appartment I believe.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Yolanda, I can understand that. As parents, we want to give to our children what we didn't have or more than we did. By the same token, I believe that parents have to hold certain goals and expectations they expect their children to reach. Independence is one such goal.

It's a hard line to walk.

Encouraging one's children to be independent isn't throwing them away. I know my son isn't quite ready to be on his own and probably won't until he's at least 20. But he does know that living at home comes with rules, if you will. He has to have a job, has to contribute something towards upkeep, he has chores, pay his phone and buy his own clothes and personal care supplies. That's not to say I don't step in now and then but he knows not to expect a free ride with me doing all the work. :-)

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Sia,

Yes, out generation is QUITE different. I see the youth of today, and shake my head. Although many are SO bright, others are not.

Yes, it is a tough world, but to survive one must jump in with BOTH feet!

I've been self sufficient since my late teens. I was fortunate to have a successful modeling career which enabled me to be on my own, pay for my college and travel the world.

Until I moved out in my early twenties I had paid rent to my parents. I never moved back.... Funny, but my older brothers didn't pay rent, moved out and then moved back in. At the time I didn't understand my parents thinking. They actually did them a disservice. Today, one is always between jobs and lives with other people and the other barely manages.

It amazes me who three siblings can be so different.

Johanna Garth said...

I'm actually very inclined to encourage my children to leave home when they go off to college. It's so hard for me to understand that kind of reticence. I, like you, loved being on my own!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those are some scary figures.
I was fortunate my parents paid for my college and I was home during the summers between semesters. But I did move out right after college and have been on my own ever since that time.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Michael, I had several siblings who did the same. The youngest is still depending upon Mom for help, even tho he lives in the family home and she's his neighbor and lives a bit further out on the family compound with her husband.

I point him out to my son as this situation will not happen on this family compound, lol!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex that's the way it's supposed to be. Parents help during college with the expectation of kids moving out on their own once they get the needed training. :-)

Johanna, I agree. I don't understand the reticence either. Son went to a local college and I didn't have a problem with him living here while he did that. I wanted him to be able to concentrate on his school. He is fully aware of our expectations.

L.G. Smith said...

I have a sixteen year old. He's eager to be on his own, but he's going to have to live at home until he finishes college. Can't afford for him to live on campus. We'll see if he's able to leave after graduating. It's a different economy than it used to be.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I never went to college, but I did move out when I was 19. Moved back for 4 months when I was 21 (this was a move from Arkansas to Oregon and then back to Arkansas) and I've been on my own ever since.

Anne Gallagher said...

Wow, I have guilt written all over me. I'm 51 and although have left home several times, have always returned and lived either with, or very near my parents. I don't think it has anything to do with independance on my part it has to more to do with dependance on their part. I'm the oldest, only girl, and now that my parents are older, I think my brothers and I both decided I would stick around with them until the inevitable.

Yes, I have my own house, but it's only one house away from theirs in a cul de sac. I help with the heavy lifting, as it were. Both of them are recovering and advancing in various stages of illness so I kind of have no choice but to stay close.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Anne--Don't feel guilty.That's a different situation entirely.

This was mostly a comment about those young adults that don't leave home or are leaving home at a much older age than is normal--by past standards.

I think it's natural to want to be living close by our family. I believe that's the way we were made. :-) I can't see anything wrong with living close.

I'm in Missouri because of parental issues. When my dad got cancer several of my siblings and I moved to Missouri to be closer to them. After he died (at 61) we were on hand to watch over and help my mom--she wasn't yet 60 but we knew she needed the comfort of her children around her.

Up until 2006 I live within a couple of miles from my mother as do several of my siblings. I'm now about 45 miles away.

Two of my brothers actually moved to the family compound to be on site. They each had their own place, as does my mother, but this way they were there to help mama with various things needing to be done on her place.

Mama remarried in 07, but she her husband have only recently had any health problems. They're both in their mid 70's but still very active and independent. Now, the sibs are around almost daily for coffee and just keeping a check in on them.

So staying close? That's the way it should be, in my opinion. :-)