We've Raised A 'Me' Generation

My friend, Ann, a full-time working mom from New York whose kids are a few years older than mine, once warned of the perils of showering my kids with Baby Mozart, 24/7 flash card drills, and "help" such as doing their homework, cooking separate meals like a short-order chef and excusing them from household chores. "The world doesn't cater to individuals like that, and kids raised with too much attention have a really hard time once they get out of the house on their own."

Turns out she's right. However, it's us moms -- working, stay-at-home and everything in between -- who pay the price, not our pampered kids (at least as long as we are alive to keep indulging them). The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition (subscription required) ran an article I found horrifying on Saturday describing the "Me Mother's Day" where 20- and 30-something kids bought themselves presents to honor their moms on Mother's Day.

The article says that Jeffrey Levy, 26, of Washington, D.C., bought himself laser hair removal for Mother's Day, saying "She'll be glad I did it." Yelena Leshchinsky, 25 of Atlanta, bought herself a health-club membership and was giving mom a tour of the gym as her Mother's Day gift. Wow! So thoughtful. Evan Frankel, 27, joined an online dating service, explaining that it is his mom's dream to see him get married.

Meanwhile, the May 22 issue of Newsweek reports on "The Fine Art of Letting Go," about baby boomer helicopter parents who invested so much in their kids that releasing their children into adult life is a traumatic rite-of-passage -- for the parents. The kids boomerang right back home -- the "Boomer Files" reports that 48% of college students graduating in 2006 say they will move back into their parents' home after graduation. Today's kids mature later -- 27 is the median age of marriage for both sexes now; in 1950 it was 22 for men and 20 for women. In 1960, 77% of women had left home, married and had kids by age 30; in 2000, only 46% of women had done the same. What are we doing to our kids, and to ourselves?

At times it seems to me that there's a backlash coming from the supermom movement, where so many of us women became convinced we need to do it all -- work full-time, keep the house sparkly clean, tone and sculpt our bodies, raise uber kids. But I've always feared our kids would pay the price. Now I think a dose of selfishness and "slacker mom" attitude is probably a whole lot healthier for everyone.

The only "gift" reported in the Journal that showed a kid thinking of someone besides himself was Evan Jones, 22, who moved out of his mother's house in Guilford, Conn., on Mother's Day. "Moving out of the house is probably the best gift I could give her," he said.

washingtonpost.com Update: Leslie has posted in the comments.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 16, 2006; 8:29 AM ET  | Category:  Raising Great Kids
Previous: Mother's Day Chorus: Give Us Flexibility! | Next: Politicking The Working Mom Agenda


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I would be THRILLED if my daughter removed the tramp-stamp tatoos from her body as a Mother's Day gift for me!!

Posted by: June | May 16, 2006 8:51 AM

Hmm. There are some who feel that Mother's Day is a holiday mainly for the greeting card & floral industry, so they choose not to celebrate it at all. In ways I think that's preferable to "My mom thinks I'm a hairy beast so I'm getting myself laser hair removal for Mother's Day."

If you're inclined not to go the traditional route, ask your mom what she wants. If she says "Oh, I'm fine", then give her a call or send her a handwritten letter -- just something to let her know you're thinking of her. If the money's burning a hole in your pocket, give it to a charity in her name.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 16, 2006 8:55 AM

I totally agree with Leslie. My kids are way too spoiled! My 16 year old daughter needs someone to hold her hand for every little thing: she can't get up by herself, she can't clean her room without assistance, she can't do the dishes if we don't stand there and watch...it goes on and on. I tried not to be so harsh with my kids as my parents were with me, but in retrospect--it wasn't that bad and I was living on my own--independently--at 20!

Posted by: VAMom | May 16, 2006 8:56 AM

Um- wait- is it really a bad thing that the median age of marriage has gone up, and that only 46% of women have married and had kids by age 30? Why do these statistics merit a "what are we doing to our kids?"
It seems to me that we should be happy about these statistics- I recall reading that, for example, in states where the age of marriage is higher (like Mass), divorce rates are lower, etc. Are we really nostalgic for the days when the median age of marriage was around 20?

Posted by: randdommom | May 16, 2006 9:09 AM

Oh- and by the way I married at age 22 and had my first child before I was 30. Although things have gone very well for me and my husband, I think we've just been a lucky exception- in retrospect I would never advise anyone to marry so young.

Posted by: randommom | May 16, 2006 9:13 AM

"it's us moms -- working, stay-at-home and everything in between -- who pay the price, not our pampered kids (at least as long as we are alive to keep indulging them)."

No, it's not. Parents who spoil their kids have taken the easy way out by providing goodies and indulgence rather than training and discipline. It's easier to give in and buy our kids off than to raise them well. Moms may miss out out on some respect and Mothers' Day gifts, but their kids will face broken marriages and repeated failures in a world that requires dedication, discipline and respect for others to accomplish anything meaningful.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 9:16 AM

VAMom has a point. The harshness wasn't so bad and honestly our kids are going to think we are too harsh, too mean, and just don't understand no matter how much we let them get away with and walk all over us. Back to the firm hand approach. Maybe less will come home with tattoos, piercings, pregnancies, and addictions. Can't hurt trying.

Posted by: food for thought | May 16, 2006 9:16 AM

"At times it seems to me that there's a backlash coming from the supermom movement, where so many of us women became convinced we need to do it all -- work full-time, keep the house sparkly clean, tone and sculpt our bodies, raise uber kids."

Did we really think we "needed" to do it all, or did we want to do it all? Without trying to say what choice is right for anyone in particular, is it possible that we all have to make a choice? Sometimes you simply can't do everything well and have to decide what's most important to you. Trying to do everything possible, when there simply isn't time to do it all, is a choice of it's own - the choice to do nothing well.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 9:21 AM

What does marriage have to do with maturity??
This stat is bogus...."Today's kids mature later -- 27 is the median age of marriage for both sexes now; in 1950 it was 22 for men and 20 for women. "

Maturity should be considered moving out of the parents house, on their own, with no help from the parents, and making it on their own. That is a major part of maturation.

Simply put, today's generation is the result of the conservatives in this country, where they all en mass believe that "father knows best". Typically, what he knows best is for him to have complete control over their kids seemingly forever.

Posted by: kme | May 16, 2006 9:21 AM

So what does the age at which one gets married have to do with the maturity level of a person? Would it not be immature to rush into a marriage at 20 versus marrying at 28 when there's a well established relationship? I would think it'd be more mature to wait.

Posted by: huh? | May 16, 2006 9:23 AM

As a Boomer, we are the first Me generation; we're simply passing it on to the kids.

Posted by: Stick | May 16, 2006 9:24 AM

I hope the opinions presented in these articles become mainstream again. As someone raised by strict parents who insisted that I contribute to the household chores, get a job, and always act with discipline and integrity ("You don't just represent yourself, you represent US."), I've always been amused by how utterly incapable and unprepared the coddled trust-fund set is. Even though hard work has pushed my wife, my son and myself into the upper-middle class, he'll work his butt off and take at least equal responsibility for his studies and financing his education (and there's no way I'm going to run out a buy him a bimmer like these teen brats I see here in the NoVA suburbs).

Unfortunately, the age of over-parenting seems to have overlapped with the age of "Greed is good" and cap gains/dividend tax cuts. It's easy to see how anyone under 35 could have blended those messages to draw the conclusion that life is about doing as little as necessary to get yourself rich. And, if you can't find happiness along the way, its someone else's fault.

If my son grows to be a happy, honorable, well-adjusted, contributing member of society, that would be the best Mother's (and Father's) Day gift he could give us. That, and his great smile.

Posted by: Me-first is not a family value | May 16, 2006 9:25 AM

Just another way to blame Mom?

Sometimes people are just plain selfish. My mother-in-law is incredibly self-centered and materialistic. She is nearly 70 and was raised in a very poor family. She demands specific gifts for her birthday and holidays. She becomes angry if she perceives that we spend money on our own children and don't fulfill her wishes (as if our medical expenses and mortgage are optional!)

She was a daddy's girl, too.


By contrast, my own mother thinks of everyone else first. She was born during the depression and was on her own early, emotionally speaking, as her mother was often ill and incapacitated, and then died when my mother was still quite young. Her family was also poor.

Sometimes, a child grows up to be who she (or he) is... sometimes decent parents raise jerks, too.

I'm not sure whether we parents have as much control over the "end product" as we like to think we have.

Posted by: Kate | May 16, 2006 9:26 AM

My mother-in-law has a "principle of selfish parenting." The parents come first, and the kids are expected to do their fair share of cooking, cleaning, etc. My son's childhood was full of wonderful things-- lots of creative activity, playing in the woods, inventing things-- but he was also expected to help cook and clean.

My mother felt she was expected to do too much as a child, and so really didn't expect anything of me besides washing my own clothes after I was around 9. I didn't even need to keep my room clean. When I grew up, I had a very difficult transition to the real world and doing all the tasks that my parents never taught me.

Now my husband is much more capable on domestic chores than I am-- can clean quickly and is an excellent cook. What's more, he enjoys it while I still have to force myself to do the work. Your mileage may vary, but I certainly want to adopt "selfish parenting" for my kids! I do think it's more work, though.

Posted by: Ms L | May 16, 2006 9:29 AM

I find the dynamic Leslie's talking about really interesting food for thought as my husband and I prepare to have kids and talk through what kind of parents we want to be. Salon.com ran a great group of articles a while back about "mommy madness" and a book called "The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women." The result is a generation of kids like Leslie describes, failed marriages, and unhappy women. There's a good interview with the authors at this link http://dir.salon.com/story/mwt/feature/2005/02/23/warner/index.html

One comment about "Food for thought's" idea: "Back to the firm hand approach. Maybe less will come home with tattoos, piercings, pregnancies, and addictions. Can't hurt trying."

I don't think that's the right approach either. My parents did this with me and I still had all the problems she mentions (not blaming them, my bad choices, but their firm hand just instilled fear of turning to them for advice and help). Isn't there a middle ground?

Posted by: MiddleGround | May 16, 2006 9:30 AM

"Simply put, today's generation is the result of the conservatives in this country, where they all en mass believe that "father knows best". Typically, what he knows best is for him to have complete control over their kids seemingly forever."

Kme, you've got this sooooo far wrong that it's bizarre. Conservative (especially Southern) dads have, hard-wired into their DNA, the goal of raising kids who will grow up, take responsibility for their lives, get a job, and move out. I don't know where this idea of letting adults stay home with mom and dad forever came from, but it sure as heck didn't come from conservative fathers. Sounds like a mommy idea to me ;-)

Posted by: Conservative Republican Dad | May 16, 2006 9:30 AM

Many young adults today suffer from rising living costs and college tuition rates without a comparable raise in salaries that would afford these individuals the ability to live on their own. The average student loan debt upon completion of college is $20,000. To suggest that children who move back home after graduation is solely a product of lenient parenting is to ignore a fundamental problem currently in our society. It is not only coddling that may bring your child home but also the fact that cost of living exceeds the amount that child can pay to live on his own.

Posted by: Theresa | May 16, 2006 9:30 AM

Theresa, you're right to point out that a university education is expensive these days. I would encourage any and all parents to plan ahead. We've used the Maryland Prepaid College Trust for our kids, and it's making life much less stressful for everyone involved as our son heads to college. This may not be the best savings vehicle for everyone, but saving ahead for college really, really helps.

Posted by: Older Dad | May 16, 2006 9:34 AM

I was a little shocked at the implication that just b/c people are marrying and having children when they are older that this means they are less mature. In my mind, the longer you wait, the better...and that waiting itself is a sign of maturity. We have way too many Britney Spears and Jessica Simpsons who rushed into marriage young then crashed and burned. And I think some parents would be glad that their children are trying to choose and establish their careers and "kiss a few frogs" before they find the right prince or princess to settle down with. I think instead of lamenting this older average age of marriage we should be encouraging people to wait and marry older!!! You better be damn sure that marriage oath you are taking is with the one you really want and when YOU are ready and not just b/c you feel pressured with the need to check off that "marriage" box on the checklist of life that was handed down to us by your generation.

Also, while I totally agree that kids need to get out of the house and stop depending on their parents (30 year olds living at home are simply NOT sexy or cool), there are some parents in some cultures that actually prefer and even expect their children to live with them until they get married and have children and to even stay afterwards. Breaking out of the house early is definitely an American thing (check out independence ages in Italy and China for a comparison).

Posted by: 29, unmarried, and mature | May 16, 2006 9:35 AM

I keep reading all these articles about spoiled members of my generation (I'm 27), and it doesn't really hold true for my experiences or those of my friends.

Maybe the richest 5 percent to 10 percent of kids were spoiled growing up. Most of the folks I know did their own homework as kids, had to do chores, and were never given a car when we turned 16 -- if we wanted something, we had to get a job and work for it.

I guess the richest 10 percent are more likely to have jobs at elite media institutions, so they can sit around opining how spoiled their badly raised adult children have become. My message to you: spoiled kids have always been brats, and we've always known who to blame. Here's a hint: the parents.

Most of my friends are college graduates at a time when an undergraduate degree means less than it's ever meant before. We're entering the workforce with record-level student loan debt. Wages have stagnated, and the average price of a new house in the area is now 10 or 20 times what we take home every year. We look at our parents -- who for the most part have saved very little for their old age and been fiscally irresponsible -- and we know we don't want that. But when we calculate what we'll have to save for a retirment that probably won't include Social Security, we realize that we need to set aside 15 percent of our income to retire by the time we're old.

With all these other stressors, it's little wonder that we want a few extra years to get our lives in order before we get married and start popping out babies. And then we have the insult of having the most spoiled generation in history -- the baby boomers -- telling us that we're immature for our reaction to the messed up world they've built for us.

Posted by: cs | May 16, 2006 9:36 AM

Spoiled kids aren't just a burden on their long-suffering moms. They're also the very people that we in generation Y have to call classmates, colleagues and "friends." Responsibility and humility don't just make better children--they make better people. And I'm all for it.

Posted by: john | May 16, 2006 9:38 AM

Theresa, I have relatives who insisted that their daughters either go to a state school (lower cost) or make up the difference through scholarships or take out the loans on their own. Penn State, UVa, Texas and UCLA are great schools and are much cheaper than the average university costs, particularly in-state.

As someone who got out of undergrad 15 years ago with plenty more than $20k of loans courtesy of a large, private university, it just means you have to have that much more determination to make it on your own. And, the government will let you defer payment of their (already low interest) loans if you earn too little.

So, the notion that kids would have to boomerang home because of the cost of college is a red herring.

Posted by: Me-first is not a family value | May 16, 2006 9:40 AM

"there are some parents in some cultures that actually prefer and even expect their children to live with them until they get married and have children and to even stay afterwards. Breaking out of the house early is definitely an American thing (check out independence ages in Italy and China for a comparison)."

The economic and social arrangements are different in those countries. What we're really talking about here is taking on the role and responsibilities of an adult. Years ago, in more agrarian times, it meant taking on the responsibility of a wife and children, and becoming an equal partner in managing the family farm. Today, it could mean finishing school, going to work, and taking on a proportionate share of the household expenses.

Honestly, I would care if these kids did not appear to be putting off adulthood. I know one young man who married when he was 20, still in college. Probably not the greatest choice. However, he has worked to put himself through school, he and his wife (and now daughter) have lived in his parents' basement, he's graduating this month with a degree in computer science, and he already has a job lined up as a programmer. This young man is, unquestionably, an adult - and acting like it. His parents are, quite justifiably, very very proud of him.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 9:41 AM

I believe the point of the later marriage statistic is the general idea that today's early twenty-somethings are totally unprepared for real life because their parents have been doing EVERYTHING for them. Like paying for supplies, arguing with professors, doing taxes, etc.

In other words, college kids today are only as mature as, say, 50's high schoolers. And all thanks to smothering parents.

Posted by: tallbear | May 16, 2006 9:43 AM

CS

"most spoiled generation in history -- the baby boomers"

Did you ever hear of the Vietnam War?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 9:48 AM

An additional response to the notion of kids moving back home upon graduation as indicia of the laziness of a generation: As someone who pursued a public interest career upon graduation from a state university, who could not possibly earn enough money to pay rent in New York City, I am offended at the presumption of my "selfishness" and "laziness". I worked while attending graduate school. I never owned a car. I studied on the subway on the way to my rather low-paying job in social work. Perhaps if I could afford both health insurance AND rent I wouldn't have been such a "burden" to my parents. And yes, I use the word 'burden' faceitiously, since my parents were more than happy to assist their struggling child. Why not focus on the cost of housing, the cost of health insurance, the crippling debt that students find themselves in in order o get a minimum education?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 9:53 AM

Frankly, this is why I moved out of Northern Virginia. Too many kids driving fancy cars their parents gave them. Too many parents throwing obscenely fancy parties for their kids' third birthdays, which they can't actually afford.

I moved somewhere a lot less afflicted with Affluenza, where my kids won't have to be stigmatized for not having the latest video game.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 9:55 AM

...it's not surprising that "me" generation parents would raise "me" children.

I suppose it's also not surprising that the criticism is actually directed not at boomer parents or even their children, but at "slacker" young adults.

Posted by: DCdad | May 16, 2006 9:56 AM

To kme: "Simply put, today's generation is the result of the conservatives in this country, where they all en mass believe that "father knows best". Typically, what he knows best is for him to have complete control over their kids seemingly forever."

Dad was just sitting on the couch, minding his own business...and he somehow got dragged through the muck. I'm not sure where you got the idea that conservative dads are trying to control their kids. The only thing most conservative dads I know are trying to control is their 7-iron and the remote.

Posted by: FH | May 16, 2006 10:00 AM

How true! It's even worse having to manage these kids in the workplace where they expect to be pampered even when they don't produce. I'm just glad that I got real as a Gay man before I might have reproduced, so I'm not to blame for any of these self-centered children.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | May 16, 2006 10:11 AM

"it's us moms -- working, stay-at-home and everything in between -- who pay the price, not our pampered kids (at least as long as we are alive to keep indulging them)."

I've got to disagree with this. I myself have had it with rude, spoiled brats everywhere who were never thought to say "Please", "Thank you" or "Excuse me". Maybe their parents were too busy working long hours so they could buy them more stuff to make up for the hours they weren't there to teach them manners, or else they're afraid to discipline them for fear that their children won't like them or, God forbid, it will harm their self-esteem, but most kids today make me want to slap them upside the head. Geez, I'm tougher on my nephews than most parents are with their own kids, and their parents are even tougher than me. And what kind of kids are they turning out to be? Respectful, kind, considerate, and self-reliant. Get a clue parents.

And for the mom whose daughter "can't" clean up her room, wake up, or do dishes without help, are you freaking kidding me? Try putting all of her bedroom stuff in trash bags on the curb, throw water on her in the morning, or make her eat off of dirty dishes and you'll see how quick she "can" learn to do things.

Posted by: Dee | May 16, 2006 10:11 AM

The reactions of the people against the Conservatives' comment just confirms how true the comment is.

Posted by: jim | May 16, 2006 10:11 AM

No matter where you live, and how insanely expensive rent, health care, etc. are - there are ways to make it on your own. As the oldest child in my family, I watched the youngest move back home - twice. And part of the reason (in my opinion) is that while he could afford to live on his own, he could not afford the lifestyle to which he was accustomed. He could have lived with a roommate or 2, in an apartment that was ok, but not great, a little small, etc. I did.

I think the problem is that kids, especially the younger kids in a family, don't remember their parents struggling financially. Doesn't mean the parents didn't struggle, but they hid it from the kids. Or by the time the youngest was paying attention, the parents had moved up the payscale and could afford more. When you're accustomed to a nice place to live, in a safe neighborhood, and a reliable car, and weekly maid service, etc. it's hard to learn how to live in a dumpy apartment, and choose to not go out to eat with your friends because you don't have the money this month. It's easy to forget that most of us - even our parents - started out with entry level wages, and had to find a way to make ends meet. Over the years your salary will go up, and you can start adding those niceties back into your life. There are always choices - for parents, it's how much to coddle your child, and what you teach your kid to expect/demand from life. For the grown kids, it's how to live on what you earn (or get parental assistance).

Posted by: JB | May 16, 2006 10:14 AM

Ummm, does anyone realize how much more expensive it is to just LIVE nowadays? Since the 1970s, housing prices have increased by 500% while salaries have only increased by 300%. That makes it a whole lot harder for people my age (27) to be independent when, comparatively, our money does not get us as far as our parents. And I think it is good that people are waiting to get married. With a divorce rate as high as it is, why rush into something just because society deems it "time." Why do people feel it necessary to impose their values on everyone else?

Tattoos and piercings are not the problem, by the way. I love how the older generation gets so outraged by these things.

Posted by: oh puh-leez | May 16, 2006 10:15 AM

My 14 year daughter cooks, the 11 year old does my laungry, my 9 year old son takes out the trash, and for the first time mowed the lawn, and my 3 year old likes to bring me beer as I kick back on the deck, yeah, and he recycles the empties too. He gets a sip of beer and a pat on the head as a reward.
Since we are a 1 car (minivan) family, I walked the kids to the grocery store Saturday evening while my wife worked. We bought my wife a card, flowers and breakfast stuff. When we got home, we cranked the tunes, buffed the house, signed the card and slipped it under the vase of flowers.
We let my wife sleep in on Mother's Day while me and the kids prepared breakfast. During the feast, the kids begged us for a new baby, not that there's anything wrong with the old baby, but the bed is getting too little for 3 persons. The girls keep insisting on taking the littler ones to the park or Blockbuster just so Mommy and Daddy can spend time together and attempt to make another one. It's so darn tempting! My wife got teary eyed at the table because she felt so special to have such a happy family. Now I have 2 thoughts on this subject: 1. Why would the kids want to leave the house as soon as possible. 2. Why would I want them to leave?

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 16, 2006 10:17 AM

We are a nation of entitled whiners. Boo-hoo, I have to correct my kids. Boo-hoo, they have to make their own way. Boo-hoo, I have to pay for college. Yeesh! How many societies would kill for such "burdens."

And stop blaming conservatives. At least they correct their kids.

Posted by: Skeptical | May 16, 2006 10:19 AM

Didn't mean to offend -- don't mean to suggest that a kid who boomerang's home after graduation is necessarily lazy. But I DO mean to state that such a person is not a victim of the realities of how much things cost. Conversely, that person has received the invaluable asset of advanced education and should feel empowered to then go make a life for themselves. If, for example, our children *elect* to purchase an overly expensive education and/or *elect* to move to one of the 5 most expensive cities in the country after graduation, then they are subject to the realities of that decision.

On the other hand, if this person takes their BS in American History and moves to Omaha, They can probably get a job teaching 6th graders and live within those means. If the goal was to get out of school and live in NYC, then perhaps the child could have *elected* a different major and *elected* different summer jobs.

To tie back to the main subject here, kids need to know that the decisions they make have consequences at any age. As you grow up, more and more of those consequences fall to you to fix, not Mom or Dad. I think it is reasonable to assume that by the time one graduates college (or has reached such an age) one can deduce what the possible consequences of any choice.

I don't mean to be a complete grouch here. Certain things can't be predicted (your company does an Enron, life-threatening sickness, etc) and when your kids hit those, you pick them up and dust them off as best you can, no matter what the age. After all, you love them more than anything...

Posted by: Me-first is not a family value | May 16, 2006 10:22 AM

Everyone, please read Stick's comment above.

My mother, a baby boomer, has been complaining about this fact for as long as I can remember. The baby boomers were the first truly spoiled generation in this country. I thank God that my mom was very much a slacker mom: Our reward for having to fend for ourselves at a young age was great freedom and the abiility to take responsibility at a young age. This reflected her philosphy as a high school teacher: If you talk to "kids" like they are adults and expect adult decisions from them, they are likely to respond.

Yes, I definitely matured earlier. I married young and had a child young and I have to admit that I am boastful about it. I think people live under the delusion that there is the perfect moment for these things; they spend their lives getting ready. Life does not work that way--I think the biggest sign of immaturity is to believe that it does. What usually happens is that people keep waiting for these perfect moments, but end up rushing in the end because they don't realize time is running out.

Life is random and chaotic and wonderful as a result.

Posted by: p-man | May 16, 2006 10:23 AM

I listen with some amusement and some trepidation to parents who insist that their children are the center of their lives, who want to give their kid everything, who stress about missing a soccer game. The best thing my parents did for me was love me unconditionally, but teach me that the world did not revolve around me. That I simply could not have everything. That sometimes what I wanted required too much of a sacrifice from the rest of my family, and I would have to do without. That being part of a family meant pitching in and helping out. That there were serious consequences for disobedience.

You do your kids no favors by spoiling them or indulging them, by apologizing whenever you can't give them something they want but don't really need. My mom always said that her job was not to be my friend, but to be my mom. Thank God for that.

Posted by: Kathy | May 16, 2006 10:23 AM

This has got me thinking. How many of you would feel comfortable correcting a neighbor kid if they were doing something obviously inappropriate? How about teachers-- how empowered do they feel to discipline? I think both of these groups no longer feel that they can discipline (gently, verbally) without feeling the parents' wrath. This is a loss for everyone, especially the children.

It's harder to be a parent if the village isn't helping with the children. On the other hand, I think we, as parents, bring it on ourselves.

I've seen both liberals and conservatives who don't discipline their children. Let's leave politics out of it-- generalizations of this kind are useless.

Posted by: Ms L | May 16, 2006 10:27 AM

To the person who suggests moving back home is a way to live more "comfortably" rather than learn to tough it up in a "small" place with roommates: Gee, when I moved back home into my financially struggling parent's cramped apartment in the Bronx to save a few pennies, it wasn't to take advantage of their life of luxury. Don't people get that we live in an economy that is BRUTAL to the working poor who are trying to get an education? Personally, I thought it made more sense to contribute to my parents' household with any cooking and cleaning that I could contribute. It made more sense to pool our resources, than to move out just for the sake of some societal notion of "adulthood"! Please articulte to me how this makes me a coddled whiner!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 10:28 AM

Oh, the irony of all these posts decrying the younger generation's lack of respect while slamming them in the same breath.

Look, if living at home automatically qualifies a twentysomething as a spoiled brat, then guilty as charged. But so far, I'm coming up empty-handed on other safe places to live that won't run me far more than the recommended one-third of my monthly salary in rent - and no, I'm not flipping burgers. In the meantime, I make the payments my parents ask me for, help out around the house, and keep asking if they're sure they don't want me gone (the answer's always "but we like having you here!"). I'd gladly do more, except that short of the walking twenty miles to my job, in the snow, uphill both ways, yadda yadda, I'm not really sure what "more" is...or that it would satisfy some of the folks on this blog even if I did.

Posted by: terrible twenties | May 16, 2006 10:40 AM

I have seen many examples of "spoiled" kids, some who turned out ok by the time they were 30 and others who completely self-destructed, one even becoming physically abusive to his parents. The link that I saw in all these situations was not working mom or stay-at-home mom, it was guilty parents buying their children's love. Not in a conscious way, but in a way that was obvious as time went on. Even the poorest parents tend to give in too much to children's (somewhat natural) tendency to want everything and take the easy way out. These parents did not make their kids take any responsibility, so the kids floundered for many years after high school until they decided on their own to become responsible -- or not.

I wonder if a lot of the mental health issues young people have today are the result of so little being asked of them. (And the wonderful picture of extended childhood that is painted by MTV and other TV shows.) They are treated like children so they remain children as long as possible.

There are lots of "ME" kids out there, but on the other hand, there are some great young people who know where they're going and work hard to get there, even when they DON'T have the best parenting.

Posted by: Tanger | May 16, 2006 10:47 AM

Oh for crying out loud: talk about conflating different statistics.

That one about only 46% of 30-year-old women moving out, getting married and having kids? Those are three different things, and frankly plenty of smart, independent, loving parents have their first kid after 30. This is, after all, a first world country. That number doesn't mean nearly half of us still are living at home after thirty!

No husband, no kids and suddenly you get slapped into the same category as folks living a protracted childhood in their family home? That's some really poor statistical analysis.

Posted by: check your numbers | May 16, 2006 10:47 AM

I teach eighth grade (in a private school). Yesterday, I sent home a note to a mom informing her that her child had neither a pen nor a pencil for class and asking her to please be better prepared in the future. I got a phone call accusing me of being too hard on her!! You tell me. Who's pampered and spoiled? What kind of preparation is this for real life?

Posted by: Another Mom | May 16, 2006 10:53 AM

My mother once asked me what I thought a parent's most important job was. "To love your children?" No, she said. A parent's most important job is to raise responsible children - children who can go into the world as adults and live on their own, respect people and receive respect in return.

Posted by: scr | May 16, 2006 10:54 AM

Quick synopsis:

1. We reap what we sow. If we do not instill a sense of responsibility or caring for others, then we ought not be surprised by the outcomes.

2. Our children generally live up (or down) to our expectations. See point #1.

3. It's never too late to effect changes, although it certainly becomes harder.

4. Chill.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 10:54 AM

A grown child who has moved back in with his/her parents in order to help the parents out with their financial situation in many ways has a "roomates" relationship with the elders rather than a parent/child relationship. No one could (or has) accused such a person of being a coddled whiner.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 10:55 AM

I hope that every parent on this chat today is listening long and hard... really listening. I do not have kids yet, but my experiences with family, as a teacher, and as a nanny have taught me that America has a huge problem with indulged kids, especially the ones growing up right now. SAHM and WOHs are equally guilty, but it seems that there is a tendency to meld the child's actions to the mother's. If the kid acts out, mothers take it personally, as if there kid's actions are a reflection on them. Parents at the school where I used to teach would come in when their kid got sent to the principal's office and insist that "Joey" could have never done that, it must have been the other kid's fault. When I was young, if my parent's had to come to school because I got in trouble, you better believe I'd be in trouble at home too. Some of today's parents are guilty (they work too much, they had children too late) and materialistic (my kids need to have such and such in order for me to be preceived as rich enough, successful enough). Whatever. Please, parents - read today's chats and look for signs that you are straying from raising responsible children. Then do something about it.

Posted by: scr | May 16, 2006 10:55 AM

To "Me-first is not a family value" and others who have this view that only if you pay for your education do you aprreciate it and act responsively, I would like to offer this other perspective. I come from a culture where parents always pay for their children's education as far as they can afford it. My parents paid for private school and college for my sister and I. Never once did we take it for granted, drop a course, or fail a course. We both graduated wihin the minimum time possible. We knew that our parents both worked hard to give us a good education and that they greatly believed in our abilities so we worked hard to never disappoint them in this regard. I was valedictorian of my high school class and graduated with distinction from college. When I came to the US for graduate school, my dad gave me money to get started and wanted to give me more but I studied really hard to get a tuition scholarship and a teaching assistanship so as not to take any more money from my parents. Now that they are older and retired, my sister and I do everything we can to assist them financially and emotionally and to show them how much we love them.
I hear over and over again in this country how our children should just have to tough it out to learn the value of things but when it comes to education, I completely disagree. We should be responsible for our children's education if we can afford it, they did not just crawl out from under a rock, we chose to bring them into this world and we should equip them to succeed in it. Children can be taught to be responsible and hard working without being saddled by a mountain of debt by the time they are 22.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 10:57 AM

"27 is the median age of marriage for both sexes now; in 1950 it was 22 for men and 20 for women. In 1960, 77% of women had left home, married and had kids by age 30; in 2000, only 46% of women had done the same. What are we doing to our kids, and to ourselves?"

I have to say, I don't necessarily see these statistics as a bad thing. I married when I was 29 and -looking back- that was one of the best decisions I've ever made. (And, no I wasn't living at home. I was a self-supporting student, grad student, and then working professional living several states away from any family). But, I am a different, much more well rounded and thoughtful person when I got married than when I was 22.

Perhaps the longer wait for such life-changing decisions reflect "my" generation's desire not to make the right decision for them and not just get married b/c it is expected. That factored into my thinking (having been proposed to before when I was much younger).

And, NO, I'm not saying that getting married young is always bad or that it never works out. But, anecdotally, of those I know who got married young (including my parents and the parents of many friends) have not worked out. And, there is a >50% divorce rate for a reason. Maybe the wait is recognition of that fact and a desire not to be part of the statistic.

Just throwing that out there as a possibility.

Posted by: JS | May 16, 2006 10:58 AM

I remember reading a couple years ago a magazine piece from a financial columnist who decided the best way to keep his teenage kids from asking for more stuff was to lay out the family budget for them. He went through insurance premiums, savings, 401K, gas, food, utilities -- everything. And when he got done, they were both just aghast and wanted to know why the family wasn't SAVING MORE!

I think it's true that there is occasionally a "selfish seed" who won't respond to any kind of input. But I really appreciate the way I was raised, where there were often discussions of whether or not we could afford something -- not the "needs", which would have been scary just the "wants." It got the message across early that there is a difference.

Posted by: wenholdra | May 16, 2006 11:03 AM

Quick synopsis:

1. We reap what we sow. If we do not instill a sense of responsibility or caring for others, then we ought not be surprised by the outcomes.

2. Our children generally live up (or down) to our expectations. See point #1.

3. It's never too late to effect changes, although it certainly becomes harder.

4. Chill.
***

Mmm, ditto!

The world is not changing in that major a way, the world did not peak with our parent's generation and another round of "those darn kids got no respect like it was back in the good ole days!" is just that- another round of the same old that I'm sure my generation will be spouting in a few decades.

Second, all you parents chose to become parents to instill your own values and sense of responsibility on your children- so that's exactly what you get. Children do everything that adults do, they just don't hide it as well.

Posted by: Liz | May 16, 2006 11:05 AM

Jim, what in the world do you mean by "[t]he reactions of the people against the Conservatives' comment just confirms how true the comment is?"

Are you seriously suggesting that the more traditional, conservative dads don't expect their sons and daughters to grow up and move out? What _do_ you think they want - to keep their kids living in the basement as long as possible so they can force them to vote Republican? Please - explain what you're trying to say! (And how it relates to parents' expectations for children and young adults.)

Posted by: Huh? | May 16, 2006 11:10 AM

Ooops. Sorry, that should be:

Perhaps the longer wait for such life-changing decisions reflect "my" generation's desire TO make the right decision for them and not just get married b/c it is expected.

Posted by: JS | May 16, 2006 11:14 AM

As a 20-something person from the "boomerang" generation, yes I did move back home after graduation. I do have a full-time job at a firm downtown, in addition to one working retail on the weekend. I don't blow money on going out and Gucci purses. I make dinner twice a week, spend quality time with my parents on the weekends, and took my mom out last Sunday to brunch and a show to thank her. Instead of seeing kids as burdens, I agree with commenter Liz; you do reap what you sow. My parents paid for my entire education, and let me move back home, no questions asked. They understand that it makes sense to save up money for a house or condo than to blow it all on rent. Job salaries have not kept up with housing costs in this region, and where it was easy for you to "tough it out" with a lot of roommates- we are learning that our salaries barely allow for even that. I thank my parents weekly not verbally, but through my actions that show I do still appreciate and love their unconditional support.

Posted by: jackie k | May 16, 2006 11:21 AM

My husband and I had our child when we were in our late 30's. That child came into our lives at a point where we were no longer just getting by and actually have some discretionary income. The most difficult thing for us to do is not buy her whatever she wants. We could easily, buy the newest gizmo that all the kids have, but that doesn't teach her any sense of delayed gratification or what money is worth. We have a rule in our house that she saves for stuff from her allowance or waits until Christmas or Birthdays. She has learned how much it takes to buy those things and is less interested in the newest fads.

What really gets me is that other parents say "If E has one, then I will get you one". If you don't want to buy a Barbi every week, don't. Don't use my child and my rules as the excuse. Say no, that's your job as a parent. And if they cry, don't give in. Parenting is not necessarily a fun job at times. When I get home from worked I'm tired, but I still have a job to do. Yes, it would be easier to give in than fight the battles, but I am trying to raise a responsible, caring child who grows up to be an asset to society.

Posted by: Working_Mom | May 16, 2006 11:27 AM

I love it. The generation of the deadbeat dad gets worked up that it's children turned out to be just like them.

Everything good that has been done in government for nearly 70 years is being intentionally rolled back by people who deeply believe that Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon of all people were right and all you can do is whine that your children see how bad this world is and laugh at you and ignore your whining.

Posted by: deadbeat | May 16, 2006 11:36 AM

I'm a 34-year-old new mom of a 5-month-old. I got married when I was 31. I don't see my 20s as an extended childhood at all - I got a job out of college, worked my way up to the job I have now, lived on my own, moved to several new cities and generally developed into a very independent person. Sure, it's a different kind of 20s than folks who marry early have, but I certainly wouldn't call it childhood either.

Posted by: chicagomom | May 16, 2006 11:36 AM

SCR, I think your Mother was wrong. My Mother did everything she could to make me a responsible, respectable adult and she failed miserably. What she did raise was a pot-smoking, beer guzzling, disrespectful drop-out. It wasn't until she suffered the consequences of her mistakes did she finally learn how to love. When she visits, she does a lot of head shaking and eye-rolling, but our family always sends her home laughing.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 16, 2006 11:39 AM

OK, this story is 100% true:

My nieces and nephew grew up in a tony suburb of the super-rich (think Great Falls). They were used to getting everything. My nephew, 19 years old, was home from college and knew one of his friends' family was away. So he broke into their house, knowing where the hidden key was. He and his friends drank all the alcohol and trashed the place, and then drove around drunk, and high, in the beemer his parents had given him. It was only discovered when the family friends came home early. The friends decided not to press charges, since they didn't want to ruin my nephew's life.

Faced with the acts of their son, an adult, committing several felonies, thousands of dollars worth of damage, and endangering the lives of countless people, the parents decided the only punishment was not to let the kid take the beemer to school the next semester.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 11:41 AM

Typical strawman argumentation from a Republican..Conservative Republican Dad just doesn't understand the basic rules of logic, I guess. The point is that conservatives put much emphasis on antiquated, reactionary social norms - one of which is that the father is (to use your failed leader's phrase) 'the decider' and everyone else just puts up and shuts up. No one said anything about 'not moving out' or 'not getting a job' - the point is that everyone else in a conservative's dream family listens to exactly what the father says.

And just as a general response to the column: screw you. Your generation is leaving my generation saddled with 10 trillion dollars of debt, has killed nearly 3000 of my peers in a totally misguided catastrophe in Iraq, and taught us that America has no meaning other than how much money you can wring from the system. Your generation has ruined our republic and, barring some Herculean effort on the part of my generation, has resigned our country to permanent decline. When your generation was our age, you guys came the closest to actually achieving the more perfect union we were all taught to strive for by our Founding Fathers; but you betrayed those principles, sold out, and have stood by as our country slides toward fascism.

Shame on you.

Posted by: MA | May 16, 2006 11:41 AM

"We reap what we sow. If we do not instill a sense of responsibility or caring for others, then we ought not be surprised by the outcomes."

I couldn't agree more. My family is a great example. My mom and dad split when I was very young, and then my dad had two more kids with his second wife. My mom and I didn't have much money, whereas my dad and his second family got by rather well on his much higher salary. As a matter of necessity, I learned to pull my weight around the house (the day I turned 10, my mom greeted me with "Happy Birthday! Now you're old enough to learn how to use the washing machine!"), and I learned that I had to work for things. My half-brothers, on the other hand, were frequently indulged. My stepmother had the "nothing's too good for my boys" attitude, so they got practically everything they wanted and never had chores or responsibilities; my dad wasn't happy with all of that, but he traveled a lot so wasn't there to enforce chores, and I think felt guilty about being gone and so gave in to most of the demands. I was hugely jealous of their lives when I was a kid.

Fast-forward a few decades. I worked my way through college and law school, got a job, moved out -- generally became an adult. Frankly, I never even considered moving home for anything other than a month or two while I got settled elsewhere; my mom just expected me to be self-sufficient, so I never considered any other alternatives (of course, I also chose a less-expensive city and higher-paying profession in part so that I could have that independence).

My half-brothers, however, both struggled immensely -- they spent high school running around and playing instead of studying (their mom's response was "he's only a senior once, he should have some fun"); one got expelled from high school shortly before graduation; both left college under not-so-good circumstances; both took at least 6 years to graduate, etc. And, of course, the whole time, everything was paid for by my increasingly frustrated dad. Amazingly, once he finally cut the purse strings, they came around, graduated, got jobs, and generally got their acts together. Coincidence?

In some ways, I worry for my kids, because we are better off financially now, and so I can offer them things that my mom never could. But it isn't about the amount of money you have, it's about what you do with it. My kids will be cleaning their own rooms, helping with dinner, getting jobs to earn spending money, and paying at least part of their college educations.
Part of me wants to give my kids the indulgent childhood I never had and always wanted. But then I see what that did for my brothers, and I realize that really wouldn't do them any favors. The most important thing I can do as a parent is to love my kids enough to teach them the skills they need to thrive in this world, even -- especially -- when doing so is hard.

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2006 11:43 AM

I think this is an excellent post, and a critical question for us to consider. As an educator (in a middle/lower middle class public school), I can't tell you how many parents don't expect their children to have (and complete!) homework every night. Parents are no longer the allies of teachers - after years of permissive (and continually permissive) parenting, it is much more difficult now to expect the "basics" from high school students - arrive to class on time, with homework done, with pens, paper, etc. and be respectful. By expecting more of our kids, we are helping them - not hurting them!

Posted by: mateacher | May 16, 2006 11:47 AM

Thanks, MA, for summing up my thoughts (and those of my friends and classmates) so succinctly.

Posted by: Couldn't agree more | May 16, 2006 11:51 AM

Many thoughtful comments here. But to the whiny 27-year-old, "oh-puleez" - yes. Tattoos and piercings are a part of the problem. I'm 33 years old and it blows my mind how many of you walk around like spoiled 13-year-olds at the shore for the summer, with not a care in the world. I left home at 18, joined the Marines, was home for a few years caring for a sick mother. When I got too self-indulgent at 25, my dad did the best thing he could have done - kick me out. Went to college, held a full-time job, took care of myself. Half of you 20-somethings wander around the world like tourists with our tattoos and piercings instead of engaging in the world. Get up off your asses, start living life, and stop whining.

Posted by: Mikey | May 16, 2006 11:54 AM

I was raised by the ultimate "slacker mom." She didn't clean and barely cooked -- she preferred to leave these tasks to her kids. She demanded absolute, unquestioning obedience and respect. The consequences for failing in that obedience were severe, and it was understood that her love was entirely conditioned on our living up to her expectations. As a result of her training,I've grown into a very responsible and capable adult (to use Leslie's measure of maturity, I've lived on my own since I was 18, married at 23, had a child at 30).

But while my upbringing may have turned me into a responsible adult, those lessons came at a pretty terrible emotional cost. And I'll be damned if my daughter will go through what I did. I know there has to be a middle ground somewhere; that I can raise a responsible, respectful kid who's still secure in my unconditional love. I just don't know how to find it yet. Luckily, my daughter's still an infant, so I have some time to work it out. Here's hoping I do.

And I completely agree with Anonymous's point about the value of education. My kid won't have her own phone line, a tv in her room or a new car, but I'll sell a kidney if I have to to make sure that she graduates from college unburdened by debt. I think that's one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 16, 2006 12:00 PM

Incredible discussion. Keep it coming.

Clarification: didn't mean to suggest marrying later is a bad thing. Just that living at home until then is kind of irresponsible (and not as much fun as living on your own and taking care of yourself).

Request: I am fascinated by the teachers who've written about "parents no longer being allies of teachers." I see this all the time -- especially how a small number of nutty parents can destroy the trust between parents and teachers. Would love to know more from the teachers' perspective. Could you teachers send me more comments off-line at leslie@lesliemorgansteiner.com? What can parents and schools do to rectify the situation?

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 16, 2006 12:02 PM

To MA: Grow up...The WWI generation lost over 100,000...WWII over 400,000...Vietnam over 50,000. If you're going to sit down and cry about how tough you got it, think about how tough your forefathers had it. As for raising kids...how about love them as much as you can. You do that, and they will probably turn out O.K.

Posted by: FH | May 16, 2006 12:03 PM

I have to agree with all the posts saying that young adults who move back in with their parents aren't necessarily lazy schmucks. Most parents want to help their children get established in the world and as long as both kids and parents have the right attitude, this isn't a problem. Probably one of the best things my parents did for me was to allow me to get out of undergrad without debt. I had two scholarships, but my parents did pretty much pay for the rest (although neither were in high salary fields). I appreciated it, they know I appreciated it, and I even tell others how much I appreciated it. After college, I did go back and live with them for about a year and a half, without paying rent. However, it was all with a plan. First, of course, I needed a job. And, per usual, the first job out of college paid rather pitifully. Second, I needed a car (not in an area with public transportation). Then, I needed to find a place to live, with a roommate. Given that first job salary, all of this took a while and would have taken just that much longer if I'd additionally had to pay rent to my parents and/or had to pay school loans.

Regarding early vs later marriage and kids. I got married at 24 (a year after moving out of my parents' house). My husband was also 24. It worked for us. Some advantages are that when you're younger, you're less likely to be so set in your ways to make blending your life with someone else difficult. I also think we were used to not spending a lot of money so it didn't traumatize us to mostly save our money so we could buy a house. We didn't hurry into having children though, not til almost 30.

I do have one comment about having children later. People often act as if one can just wait until you're ready in all ways to have a baby. While I am a big believer in planning, some people ignore the basic biological realities of fertility. Women's fertility goes way down starting in their mid-30s (sometimes earlier). You hear a lot of stories about what women dealing with fertility treatments go through, sometimes for years, in order to have a baby because, unfortunately, they waited a little too long.

Posted by: X-Genner | May 16, 2006 12:04 PM

I'm always amazed and annoyed by statements like "In 1960, 77% of women had left home, married and had kids by age 30; in 2000, only 46% of women had done the same" that are thrown out as a criticism of my generation without any cultural context at all, especially by a writer who is focusing on work/family balance - she especially should know better! It's pretty funny that Leslie titled her post about raising a 'Me' generation, when a good section is all about her problems and not even bothering to take a rational look at what she's written - in this case, she's the one who's being exceedingly self centered, and judging another generation by the issues in her own life.

The stat mentioned above doesn't necessarily have ANYTHING to do with children being spoiled -in my opinion, it has more to do with the fact that, on average, my generation has to invest MORE time and money to get the same professional starting point our parents were at in their early 20s. In many career paths in the year 2006, you just aren't competetive even at the entry level without a graduate degree - in my field, jobs that 30 years ago were available to people with a B.S. degree, now require a M.S. in order to even have your job application eligible for consideration, and jobs that used to require a M.S., now require a Ph.D. This level of education doesn't come w/out of a price in terms of reaching other life milestones - maybe some people can have it all early in life, but in general, those extra years of education mean that most men and women are going to be pushing marriage and children back a couple of years.

For example, I'm 31 and part of a group of 9 college friends (all female) who have kept in touch since graduation. In this group, 5 of us have master's or law degrees - and I don't think our level of education is that unusual for this generation of middle class young adults (in fact, I'd say that we're probably less career-ladder-climbing-obsessed than many people you meet here in DC). If you polled female 30 year old college graduates in 1960, I certainly don't think that you would have found that 50% of them had completed graduate degrees at that point in their lives (and a smaller percentage of women in the year 1960 possessed bachelor's degrees than in 2000, which further impacts this statistic)..... that extra time spent on education means that often takes longer to accomplish some other things in life.

I'm not whining about the time and money that I've invested in my education - I just wish that the media would be more realistic about the reality of the professional world (and to the parents who will be influencing career choices). Young adults should mentally prepare for the likely necessity of increased education beyond a bachelor's degree. This means that they need to take a good hard look at their student loan load, figuring that they'll need to add additional education on that at some point - they need to figure out how they're going to get health insurance (many entry-level jobs don't provide that), they need to be taught to set up IRA's early (they're probably not going to get any retirement set-up at the entry level jobs, and they'll probably switch jobs so often that it won't matter anyways). Women need to figure out when and how they're going to fit children into the mix - I'm in the science field and have a LOT of female friends in graduate school who went off birth control the moment they finished up their field or lab work (they were doing research that wasn't really feasible to do while pregnant, for various reasons) - they wrote up their theses or dissertation, defended, and graduated 8 1/2 months pregnant. That's the level of planning it takes to make this work sometimes, and the next generation needs to be prepared (that's real work/ life balance, not whining about Baby Mozart CD's). And it's not the end of the world if parent's allow their kids to move back in for a bit after college while they're figuring this all out - my parent's did, and I can certainly cook, clean, and take care of myself just fine....most people eventually manage this.

Posted by: a slightly younger perspective | May 16, 2006 12:05 PM

I agree that the cost of living (and being educated) has risen dramatically, but it's also true that the standards for "survival level" living have changed as well. Any 20-something nowadays would be bereft without a cellphone ($50/mo), a laptop ($2K), an i-pod ($300 plus i-tunes), cable TV, and the occasional $8 "martini".

But that does not explain why so many young adults seem so helpless in practical matters - unable to cook, clean, do their taxes or laundry, balance a checkbook, or manage money. That is entirely the work of their parents, who did not expect them to figure out anything on their own or take responsibilty for the results. I don't think this is a socio-economic thing - I know plenty of sane and self-reliant kids who grew up wealthy, and a few basket cases who grew up working class. As my own (tough-loving) mother always says, "Kids become what they are expected to become."

Posted by: E in DC | May 16, 2006 12:08 PM

"Typical strawman argumentation from a Republican..Conservative Republican Dad just doesn't understand the basic rules of logic, I guess. The point is that conservatives put much emphasis on antiquated, reactionary social norms - one of which is that the father is (to use your failed leader's phrase) 'the decider' and everyone else just puts up and shuts up. No one said anything about 'not moving out' or 'not getting a job' - the point is that everyone else in a conservative's dream family listens to exactly what the father says."

What straw man? Kme attributed the problems of "today's generation" to "conservatives in this country." Given that this followed directly after the statement "Maturity should be considered moving out of the parents house, on their own, with no help from the parents, and making it on their own. That is a major part of maturation" it is reasonable to assume Kme was linking the problem of kids NOT moving out and making it on their own to conservative dads.

We were in fact talking about "not moving out" and "not getting a job." Where are you on this - are you arguing that conservative (even the evil Conservative Republican) dads are trying to keep their kids from moving out (or even doing anything that would tend to discourage them from moving out)?

I offer a thought experiment. Which parent is more likely to say "we should kick his lazy butt out" - the evil conservative Republican dad, or the virtuous liberal Democratic mom? Not saying the butt kicking is the right response - just suggesting that you should pay attention to the focus of an argument before trying to teach the basic rules of logic to a 45 year old professional with a degree in mathematics (and a minor in speech and four years of collegiate varsity debate experience).

Posted by: Huh? | May 16, 2006 12:10 PM

College costs a LOT more than it did for our parents (and it really is no longer merely a question of personal motivation to "put yourself through school" by waiting tables or working in a hardware store as lots of parents and grandparents did) so if parents can afford to help out with tuition, it seems wrong to me to begrudge that. But a key side effect of the parent-purchased education seems to be a failure of the students to downgrade their lifestyle during and after college to what they can afford in their own right instead of what their parents can afford to give their children. As an earlier poster mentioned, people who choose low-paying jobs in expensive cities have made their own beds...they aren't just helpless victims of circumstance. People like Jackie K who think it's throwing money away to pay rent instead of a mortgage need a bit of perspective too...our parents and grandparents rented for years before they could buy their own homes. Having roommates and a small crappy apartment is a stage of life that builds character and is practice for the eventual responsibility of owning a home (although for these people, their parents will probably walk them through every little step of that too). It takes patience and maturity to understand that you can't have everything your parents have earned over a life time at age 23, but by going through the difficulty of earning these things for yourself, you will value them more and you will also develop a clearer sense of yourself as distinct from your parents.

Posted by: Not a boomerang | May 16, 2006 12:12 PM

"As an earlier poster mentioned, people who choose low-paying jobs in expensive cities have made their own beds...they aren't just helpless victims of circumstance."

A little perspective on this comment too. Sometimes a low-paying job is a stepping stone. You may have to do your time. Also, it's easy to say, "oh, just live somewhere cheap." When your whole family lives in an area, whether DC Metro or NYC, you may not want to just chuck it because it's expensive. You may not be too anxious to leave. As with most of the big decisions in life, these things aren't always that simple.

Posted by: X-Genner | May 16, 2006 12:20 PM

To Me-First-Isn't-Etc. and all other posters with that mindset, consider this:

I started college in 2000, and finished in 2004. I went to a state university because it was the least expensive option, as well as the only option where I would get tons of aid through scholarships - enough to cover tuition, room & board, and books for that first year. I qualified for some well-known private universities (Georgetown among them), but knew that I wouldn't be able to afford them without massive loans. I made what you all would say was the responsible choice with respect to my education.

However, things changed rather quickly. Thanks to the older generation, while I had enough for that first year, the tuition increases in the second, third, and fourth years meant that, if I wanted to continue, I would have to either take out loans or work. I ended up doing both, working nights so that I did not have to dig myself too far into debt. I didn't drive (and I still don't), didn't have a car, didn't go to the movies, didn't go to bars or clubs - basically, I studied, worked, and studied some more. Sometimes on the weekends, I'd hang out with friends. I remained on campus my whole time there because I was too far from home to commute, and because staying in the dorms was cheaper than getting an apartment (even with a roommate), as the cost of living in the area was far too high.

I left college with $25,000 in debt anyway, just from the loans. So I moved back home, got a job a couple months after graduation, and decided (with my family) that staying at home and paying down that debt was more important than adhering to society's outdated ideas of maturity and adulthood. I stayed at home for a year, until I wrangled my debt down to $10,000, paying a couple hundred a month towards household bills and expenses instead of paying upwards of $900 for a crummy apartment in a questionable neighborhood. I did my own cooking, my own chores, and was a productive member of the household - and never once did I feel the need to be praised for this, because it really was just a roommate situation anyway.

I moved out after a pay raise allowed for it to be closer to work, so that I could come in earlier and work longer hours when necessary. I plan on staying single and childless at least until I am 27, because I plan on getting a master's so that I can better ensure that I will be financially able to take care of a family.

But all you people see is a young person who racks up debt, boomerangs home, and doesn't want to start a family, so you say we're immature, greedy, needy, and somewhat useless. Coming from the generation that screwed us over in the first place (wages that don't reflect cost of living, the housing market where a one bedroom condo can go for $300K or more, just-okay state colleges that cost as much as upper echelon private universities did 15 years ago), and coming from the generation that's about to ask for the biggest social security payouts to the largest number of people since social security began, that's rich.

For the record, I am in no way unique. Mine is basically the same story as the younger adults that I work with, as well as most of the people I went to school with. I have a feeling WaPo bloggers hang with people who can afford to raise spoiled brats and blithering idiots; for the rest of us, our parents managed to raise us with at least a modicum of responsibility. It's not our fault we're being handed a completely screwed up country. You were the ones who voted for all this, bought all this, made all this, and now you want to blame your kids for this? That's really rich.

Posted by: young'un | May 16, 2006 12:25 PM

Mathteacher, I live in Fairfax County, where the educators think they are the end-all, be-all providers of success. The teachers pawn their educational duties off on the parents of the kids in the form of hours and hours of homework. Then they complain that the parents aren't doing enough. You teachers are professionally trained and have quite enough time during the course of classroom hours to educate my children in what you think they should know. I have 4 kids to teach how to be successfull and the time that I have to dedicate to the school with all its BS homework is really interfering. I think you should take some of your own advice and learn to use your classroom time more wisely.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 16, 2006 12:25 PM

To Mikey:

You have no idea. I am 27 and live in Boston. I graduated from college with a 3.82 GPA and a BS in Communication. I work a full-time job at an insurance company, plus have a part-time job as a tutor for the SATs. I also volunteer at my local animal shelter. I am in no way a whiny kid wandering around like a tourist without a care. I am engaged in the world, care about politics, and am a good citizen. And, yes, I have one piercing and two tattoos. Not that you would notice them if you saw me walking down the street. What possible difference do tattoos and piercings make? How do they change what type of person you are? Your argument seems to be against the lazy "tourists," as you call them, that don't engage in the world around them. I can agree with that but not with your stereotype. You do not know me, you will never meet me, and yet you judge me based on an opinion I hold. Suddenly I am a "whiny" 27-year-old that doesn't know anything...good God, get a grip.

Posted by: doubly oh puh-leez | May 16, 2006 12:27 PM

Here's some perspective on why some people behave the way they do-

In my husband's family, it was EXPECTED for parents to:

Fully pay for education, including graduate/professional school

Support children, including buying cars, etc., throughout the educational process

Permit children to live at home until married; they all went straight from their parents' homes to newlywed homes

Parents of brides pay for lavish weddings

Provide funds to help pay downpayments and closing costs to purchase homes

Pay for the divorces/rehabs that came along

Posted by: June | May 16, 2006 12:38 PM

I'm confused by this statement, "...the notion that kids would have to boomerang home because of the cost of college is a red herring."

I graduated from college almost 15 years ago and moved back home because I could NOT afford to live on my own (I live in Montomery Co). I worked temp jobs until I found a "real" job, paid rent, paid off my own student loans (so they could afford to send my younger brother to college), cooked and cleaned, and helped around the house. I also bought a cheap Ford Escort to get to work since I couldn't afford a fancier car (which I still drive!)

I lived at home until I got married (28). I definitely should have figure out a way to move out - get a roommate, whatever, but I always felt like I didn't have enough money to do so. My mom commented once that my salary was at or below poverty level. So, the comment about the cost of college being a red herring is totally ridiculous, especially since I couldn't afford it and I went to a cheap local school AND it was far less expensive than today.

Posted by: Former Boomerang Kid | May 16, 2006 12:42 PM

A sense of entitlement might be the problem, but not the tattoos or piercings themselves. I am 36, running national operations for a global company, and my tattoo and piercing hide nicely beneath a suit when they need to. My girlfriend and I plan to have a couple of kids by living within the means that I can supply while the kids are young. Incidentally, my only formal education is a B.A.

I absolutely agree that changes in the standard of living impact the cost of living. I live near a large university and the students have cars, budgets for eating out, cell phones, and clothes not purchased from Salvation Army--none of which I had until I was in my late 20s. The price of living may have increased, but so has the baseline for a lot of people. For me, too, but I am glad that I developed the habits of having a very tight budget because those will help us when we're living on one income.

Posted by: tattoos and responsibility | May 16, 2006 12:48 PM

What does multiple body piercings and tattooing make? The journal of American Pediatrics (my wife's a pediatrician) note that kids who have multiple body piercing and tattooing also engage in more risqué behavior (i.e., unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, drugs, alcohol, etc.). This study was based on population of similar kids (all came from military base). The point of the article was actually seeking intervention for these individuals not simply profiling. Is it right to profile people, look at this blog and see how SAHM, WAHM, conservatives, liberals, young, old all profile each other.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | May 16, 2006 12:51 PM

While I won't generalize and say that everyone born after 1975 are spoiled brats who expect the world to revolve around them, my observation is that these kids still have a long way to go to understand what life is about by the time they graduate from college. I've employed a dozen people in their early 20s since I started my business three and a half years ago. Some of these kids are unhappy that I "only" give them 20% raises a year as the business has grown. They have and always were paid what the tech industry pays normally along with standard benefits (full-health coverage, 401k, etc. from month 8 of the business onward). So they cannot complain I underpaid them to begin with. Because of this attitude and unreasonable expectations, I have in the past six months decided to hire older people instead, since older people have learned that it's not always the employer's privilege to hire them.

I enjoy being around the enthusiam and energy of youth, but not when they're expecting to be paid six figures by the time they're 28 without a Masters degree or experience that is commensurate with this level of compensation.

As an Asian immigrant, I was taught by parents who experienced hunger and poverty to be thankful for the opportunities I got and to take advantage of those opportunities. The attitude I'm seeing among the indigenous population is that everyone deserves a nice life because they went to college. Don't look now, but there is an entire generation of Indians and Chinese busy learning. They're going to breath down our necks in about ten years.

The entitlement mentality has got to stop if this country will remain at the pinnacle of civilization.

Posted by: GenX immigrant | May 16, 2006 12:57 PM

Unless somebody throws out some stats, I will assume that the statement "[our] generation has to invest MORE time and money to get the same professional starting point our parents were at in their early 20s" is junk. Generations always feel that way about the previous generation. What about the first generation to set out on their own and not inherit the family farm? What about the "go west young man" generation?

Show me some numbers.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 1:01 PM

It's m-a-teacher, as in the state - "ma" is an abbrevation for Massachusetts you illiterate frog.

Posted by: mateacher | May 16, 2006 1:06 PM

"The WWI generation lost over 100,000...WWII over 400,000...Vietnam over 50,000"

WWI and WWII was participated in by the world for a common cause. Iraq is not. Vietnam was a huge mistake. Will it take a total of 50,000 lives to see Iraq is a mistake? I cry for all the mothers who had one less son or daughter at home for Mother's day this year. BUT, I am very proud of our troops who answer a call that very few of us answer. Here is a group of young people who definitely cannot be called ME participants.

Posted by: Appalled | May 16, 2006 1:07 PM

So the Journal dramatically self-dubs an article "Me Mother's Day," cites a handful of arbitrary examples (out of roughly 60 million "20- and 30- somethings" in the U.S.) and all of sudden this is an epidemic indicative of the selfishness of today's recent college graduates?

As quoted in Steiner's article: "The only 'gift' reported in the Journal that showed a kid thinking of someone besides himself was Evan Jones, 22, who moved out of his mother's house in Guilford, Conn., on Mother's Day."

Well obviously since the Journal reported just this one act of Mother's Day kindness then it HAD to be the only one to occur Sunday.

Please.

So now it's time for American mothers to reclaim their right to laziness and become "slacker moms..." when many are already "full-time working moms." How convenient.

Give me a break, boomers.

Posted by: Dennis, 22, Louisiana | May 16, 2006 1:07 PM

"The WWI generation lost over 100,000...WWII over 400,000...Vietnam over 50,000"

Well maybe when Bush starts eventually bombing Iran and starts WWIII, the body count will be more to your liking.

Posted by: mud | May 16, 2006 1:18 PM

Disclosure statement - FWIW, I'm a 32-year old married black man who was raised in the same Brooklyn 'hood as Mike Tyson.

I'm certainly not part of any group that is saddling anyone with a deficit or a war. I voted for the other guy. Also, I leave plenty of room for the notion that people can move in with their parents and contribute (or go to school while living at home). For me the objectionable and immature part of the "boomerang" notion is the concept of taking advantage of the parent -- and having been conditioned by the parent to think that taking advantage is acceptable.

However, having had a moment to think about it, it occurs to me that maybe I see things differently b/c I'm the first person on my dad's side to graduate from college -- had to fight to get in, stay in, and get out -- and so I see it as a privilege. Maybe I'm chafed b/c a huge % of the rich kids at the expensive school I went to didn't see it that way and went home to live with daddy so they could one day inherit his business.

[decides not to play race card -- puts deck back in pocket]

I think that some of the 26-31 year olds thought I was knocking them and I'm not. But I have too many friends (of all ages and colors) who do not correlate hard work to success, or who play the 'victim' card after they make a bad choice. If my child takes his toys apart, he'll have no toys long enough to learn a lesson. As an adult, if I think the "death tax" is too high I need to structure my estate differently.

There IS such a thing as an innocent victim. But the vast majority of us need to suck it up and fix what we ourselves broke.

Posted by: Me-first is not a family value | May 16, 2006 1:30 PM

MA teacher, you just made Father of 4's day. He loves to be insulted. And your insult was a juicy one - "illiterate frog." I laugh every time I read it. He'll probably relish eliciting that one all week.

However, I would have loved a reply to his post, however offensive it was. "Appropriate amounts of homework" is a huge topic for another day, but as a parent with kids about to enter school, I have heard many responsible parents complain that the homework assigned to their kids leaves no time for family life, and to be honest, I'm worried. Off topic, I know, but just thought I'd bring it up.

Posted by: cb | May 16, 2006 1:31 PM

To those who complain that the "older generation" screwed things up for you. . .let me give you a special phone number call 1-800-WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH. This is the complaint that every person has when starting out. I made it (when I graduated in 1984), and started scrabbling around for a position with a living wage, and found it difficult. . why? because I grew up in Michigan, where they gutted the Auto Industry and the unemployment rate hit 15%,(25% in certain areas)I had to move out of state (along with most of my friends) to find anything to do. . .and yes I lived in a crummy apartment in a questionable part of town. . .Why? because I would have rather that than die of the terminal embarassment of living with the folks. . .I was brought up that once I graduated I was on my own, and that it was my Parent's time to have fun. . .

Posted by: Pre1965Birth | May 16, 2006 1:35 PM

To mud: my comment was to point out that past generations of americans have had it just as rough and in most cases rougher than this generation. It had nothing to do with "liking" a body count.

Father of 4: I loved your comment about hours and hours of homework taking away from "quality" time with your kids.

As for moms...and dads...I think most of us are just doing the best we can. At some point, the blame for being lazy has to go to the person being lazy.

Posted by: FH | May 16, 2006 1:36 PM

Changing the thread slightly but... Unreasonable hmwk? That just makes the teacher correct more. Unless the hmwk is making the kid correct some other kid's test the plan backfires.

I know this cuz I watched my Mom work on papers through the night while I was knocking off 11th hour term papers.

Posted by: Sean | May 16, 2006 1:38 PM

Well, of course most generations think that they have to do more than the previous....and in most cases, educationally at least, it's true. My great grandparents didn't see any point for either of my grandmother's to get a college education, but my grandparents certainly wanted their daughters to get one....and many of my cousins are now getting their graduate degrees.

Speaking of 'Go West Young Man' (or Woman), as described in the Little House books, Laura Ingalls taught public school at age 16 without a college education (and it didn't seem to be an uncommon practice at that time), but certainly no school system today would ever hire a 16 year old to teach a class. In fact, most systems are starting to require additional training past the basic bachelors - that's all over the news with the No Child Left Behind requirements....many of my friends and family are teachers, and they definitely are starting to see more training credits/education requirements for their jobs. There certainly have been thousands of good men in the history of this country who supported their families while being functionally illiterate...but I certainly wouldn't bet on someone today who couldn't read or write.

You need some stats? Hmmm....According the National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/fige-1.htm), in 1964 there were approximately 60,000 non science and engineering graduate degrees awarded to women; in 2002, there were about 240,000. The science and engineering degree category also increased, especially for women.

Now of course, these figures show the acquisition of graduate degrees, and don't necessarily prove that there is a demand or a requirement (there's probably a stat somewhere, but I don't have time to look for it right now). However, common sense would seem to indicate that there wouldn't be THAT dramatic of an increase in degree acquisition (w/ the significant time and expense involved) if there wasn't some sort of market forces pushing this trend. My own professional experience is that as people in my office retire (who only have a bachelors, and have conducted their job very well over the years), we are only considering potential hires who at least have a master's.....the other resumes just go into the trash. There's probably a number of people out there who could do the job perfectly well without the extra 3 years of education (and the $20-60k in student loans), but we have so many people applying that already have the extra education, that the degree becomes the minimum baseline for consideration.

I'm not saying that the increased educational requirements are a good thing or a bad thing, or that it makes my generation a better workforce or not ---I'm saying, THIS IS THE WAY THAT IT IS, nowadays.....and it's really silly to expect the younger generation to make the same decisions and be at the same place at the same time that the previous generation did, if you don't consider the reality of today's world.

Posted by: a younger generation | May 16, 2006 1:39 PM

RE:Unless somebody throws out some stats, I will assume that the statement "[our] generation has to invest MORE time and money to get the same professional starting point our parents were at in their early 20s" is junk.

Now that is an awesome "end all be all" question that would allow whichever of the 3 generations to tell the other two to shut up and color.

Posted by: Sean | May 16, 2006 1:39 PM

The younger generation will also have to deal with the environmental mess that our parents and grandparents generations created.

Posted by: bunny | May 16, 2006 1:51 PM

I know. Illiterate frog seemed so fitting. I apologize for a long-ish posting, but I would like to try & respond to cb. Thank you for your question - I can already tell that your kids are very lucky to have a parent interested in their intellectual development. Education is a very difficult topic to discuss because it necessarily involves overgeneralizing broad populations of students. Are parents doing enough? Are parents doing too much (the helicopter parents Leslie has written about)? Are students better/worse off than years ago? If they are, how would we even know - what benchmarks do we use to measure achievement? I would like to limit my comments to the population I interact with - middle/lower middle working class. This isn't a community where parents spend extra money for SAT tutors, etc., so we may be talking about apples & oranges. But my students' parents who complain their children have too much homework aren't doing so because the kids are missing out on family time. It is interfering with a sport, or an after-school job or their "social development" (which I haven't quite figured out if that means something beyond hanging out with friends). Each of these things may be important, but in my opinion, these things are secondary to a child's intellecutal development and challenge from school. If it interferes too much with a job - long term these kids would be so much better off if they did well in school rather than sacrificing for an after school job. It isn't a binary situation - you can have a job, play a sport, etc., and still complete homework. I understand that some kids need to work - I did, too, in high school. But parents and kids should contribute to the educational process by putting school responsibilities above most other things. Teachers should contribute by assigning challenging, comprehensive homework, not busy-work that understimulates students. An anecdote (and rest assured, I understand that the plural of anecdote is not data), but things like this occur frequently. One student of mine came to class at the beginning of the year 5 minutes late every single day. Afternoon detention, morning detention, lunch detention, etc. worked to no avail. When I met their father, he said "So, what's the big deal? Five minutes a day. Call me when something bad happens." Five minutes a day is 25 minutes a week, which is nearly a class period. So he was missing nearly a class period a week. When you have more than 120 students to nurture and teach throughout a day, imagine the time you have to waste if a "few" kids are a "few" minutes late to each period. I'm sure someone will accuse me of being a boring teacher - again, exactly what I'm talking about. In the working world, you don't get to be 5 or 10 minutes late for every meeting because your boss is boring. There is a complete relinquishing of standards and responsibilities for kids BY their parents. I am happy you care about your child so they may have a good school/family balance - that's just not the group I deal with. Thank you for the question!

Posted by: mateacher | May 16, 2006 1:51 PM

It's really not that hard to avoid the "me, me, me" trap with your kids. Don't over-indulge them with too much stuff or through giving in constantly to their whims and demands. Have them do regular chores, let them learn from their mistakes (forgot his homework...let him take the bad grade for the day), don't offer more than one choice per family meal (unless food allergies are involved) and don't buy them cell phones, ipods and other luxuries, but rather have them save their own money for them. If you threaten to discipline them in some way such as witholding privileges, then follow through consistently. All of these things will help build a hardworking, imaginative, empathetic, moral, responsible, patient character in your child. They will value themselves, other people, and their property more if they have to work, save, and wait for things and experiences. Delayed gratification is the name of the game, whether we're talking luxuries or relationships. They will live happier, debt-free lives and be able to solve their own problems if they are raised this way. Oh, yes, and don't forget to restrict or turn off computers and TVs from time to time and take some walks in the woods instead.

Posted by: Arlington Mom | May 16, 2006 1:53 PM

"I agree that the cost of living (and being educated) has risen dramatically, but it's also true that the standards for "survival level" living have changed as well. Any 20-something nowadays would be bereft without a cellphone ($50/mo), a laptop ($2K), an i-pod ($300 plus i-tunes), cable TV, and the occasional $8 "martini"."

While I don't know how anyone justifies an $8 martini, some of the things you've lumped in here as "indulgences"--namely the laptop and cell phone--could be important if you're in a field where you need to be reachable at all times and work on the go. And I'm curious how recently the person who counseled looking for clothes at the Salvation Army has tried looking for a professional outfit there - I've yet to find anything that would pass muster at my office. Not all our standard of living expenses are so we can keep up with our parents; they're so we can keep up, period.

Posted by: tt | May 16, 2006 1:54 PM

Father of 4, glad to see you back and bringing some humorous perspective.

I think that all this back and forth about whether kids who live at home are whining parasites is missing the point. There are a lot of kids in my generation and younger who were coddled and took a long time to figure out the world. They are not necessarily the ones living at home - they are more likely to have their own apt paid for by their parents. The kids who move back home are just as likely to be truly struggling financially, and be acting responsibly by keeping themselves out of debt.

Also, tattoos and piercings are not on the same level as drug addictions, and a study based on kids growing up on a military base I would not think applies to the entire population of children.

Trying to make living at home or having tatoos synonymous with being irresponsible or immature is silly, the circumstances are going to vary with every individual. Encouraging parents to raise kids who can take responsibility for their lives and their communities is the point, I would think, not complaining about permanent ink or living arrangements.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2006 1:55 PM

And many young people have a cellphone instead of a tradional landline, not both. I am 27 and all of my same aged friends have gone landline free - soon they will be antiques!

Posted by: hothand | May 16, 2006 1:57 PM

I'm not getting the whining either. I graduated in '94 with huge student loans--mom and dad did not (could not) contribute a thing after freshman year. I HAD to get a job before I graduated, and I applied over 75 places. My folks were able to pay my first month's rent and give me $500 to tide me over until my first paycheck. I ate Campbell's soup, drove a used car, and lived in a group house for years because that was all I could afford. I needed a master's degree to advance in my career but again, I didn't move home--I worked full time and went to night school and took out loans, which I am still paying off six years later. I just don't buy that kids are that much worse off now than 10 years ago. My education cost $30K a year. My first job only paid $26K a year. I managed. My sister, who also has school loans, is living in NY on $30K a year without any help from the parents. Her best friend from college is also in NY, living in an apartment her parents bought her. Guess which one has been promoted three times in a year and a half?

Posted by: Arlmom | May 16, 2006 2:01 PM

Leslie,

You ARE the "me" generation. It started in 1946 and ended in 1964.

J.


Posted by: John Edwards -- Annapolis, MD, USA | May 16, 2006 2:03 PM

"This is the complaint that every person has when starting out. "

Pre1965Birth, your parents (or possibly your siblings) helped end WWII, eradicated polio, and helped bring the civil rights movement to a head. That's rather different from what our parents have done: rack up debt farther than the eye can see, decimated our moral standing as a nation, and allowed schools and communities to flounder, just for starters. And you can say all you want about Vietnam, which, granted, was awful, but they did WWII, Korea, and the Great Depression, and still managed not to screw things up. No comparison.

A poster above asked for numbers. As it relates to education: according to the National Center for Education Statistics (part of the DOE), between 1993 and 2003, tuition costs increased by about 28% adjusted for inflation. Admission to college increased by 15% between 1992 and 2002. In 1994, the percent of people ages 25-29 who had a bachelor's or higher was 23.3; in 2004, it was 28.7 (though, it should be noted, between 2000 and 2004, it went up and down slightly - possibly due to recession, etc.). Also, 49% of bachelor's degree recipients in 1992 took out some loans to pay for school, compared to 65% in 2000. The 2000 group borrowed larger amounts, as well, to offset the rise in costs.

So to sum up: a greater percent of young people are going to college, college costs quite a bit more now than it did 10 years ago, and people leave college with greater burdens of debt than ever before.

The NCES website: http://nces.ed.gov

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 2:04 PM

Arlmom,

Wow - good for you for accomplishing all that you did. But, were you married and a mom before age 30? Do you think that your sister will be? Do you think that's a reasonable goal for 77% of women to accomplish? If not, what do you think of Leslie's rant "what are we doing to our kids and ourselves?" The criteria of being out of the house, married, AND having kids by age 30 (all 3, not just having the good job and being out of the house) is one of the items that she used to define the selfishness of this generation.

Posted by: Not whining....but realistic | May 16, 2006 2:10 PM

My Parents did not "end" WWII, they were born in 1929 and grew up through the Great Depression and WWII, (if anything they saw did the same things as Ronald Reagan) They Voted for the Man. . .and we lived through the Oil Crisis of 1973 which oh by the way saw gas go from 10 cent/Gallon to 50 Cents per Gallon overnight, at the time when the average salary for a family of four was $12,000.00/year. As to the "racking up debt" arguement, may I remind you that the nation had a net surplus until 2001. Not everyone went through the 1980's racking up debt (at the time I was just starting out) The basic choices/obstacles have remained the same. . .the only thing that I see that has changed are the labels. . .remember I have to plan for a retirement in the shadow of the "big handouts", and am none too happy about it. . .so what do I do? Invest, and work, work and Invest. . .

Posted by: Pre1965Birth | May 16, 2006 2:17 PM

Ok, those numbers prove exactly what Anon's summary says they prove. I think that also proves that college is now more competitive. But that's not the same as saying that one now must have MORE debt to reach "the same professional starting point our parents were at in their early 20s".

I was hoping that someone would point out that the flaw in the argument is that as a parent we all want our kids to be better than us. Smarter, more successful, better looking, bigger, stronger, faster, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, etc. I again suspect that all generations have felt this way.

However, I wonder if there is a correlation between higher levels of competition and a 'fatigue' that has these folks boomeranging back home rather than slogging through eating ramen noodles with 4 roomates until they can buy a place? It's not an excuse. But it might be a partial explanation.

Posted by: Numbers | May 16, 2006 2:18 PM

Wow. What a fascinating list of comments. I am responding to the one person who said "there must be a middle ground." There is. I was a spoiled rotten only child of older parents (let's just say I was a "suprise"). They were raised during the depression by VERY strict parents. They got very little in the way of attention, affection, or material goods from their parents. I, on the other hand, pretty much got what I wanted, including lots of attention, and my parents not only paid for undergrad (at least what wasn't covered by my scholarship) but they also paid for my private law school (even giving me a stipend so I didn't have to work), and they bought me a new car when I was in college. But I don't think this made me lazy, or incapable of dealing in "the real world." I was incredibly grateful for their generosity and I worked very hard in school. I got great grades in high school, which resulted in an 80% tuition waiver at my in-state undergrad school, and I got great grades in college, which resulted in admission to a top law school. I understood that it was my responsibility to do my best (and to make sure I got through undergrad in the regular 4 year time period). Since law school, I have worked as an attorney, fully supporting myself, making a good salary. I am responsibly saving for retirement (I max out a 401K and have a separate mutual fund), I have a house downpayment/emergency fund, I volunteer at the VA hospital, and I have a great group of friends, not to mention a good relationship with my parents. The bottom line is that I was spoiled as a child, for sure. But I still managed to come out of that loving, and frankly, pretty catering environment, with a clear understanding of my responsibilities in society and the ability to not only function, but succeed. I recognize I would never be where I am today if my parents hadn't paid for my education. I am deeply grateful that they didn't saddle me with a huge debt just to make a point about not spoiling me. Granted, I know a lot of parents can't afford to pay for their kids educations (especially nowadays), but if you can, go ahead and spoil your child, pay for their college, etc. As long as you also pass on to them your values and expectations and lead by example, you will likely raise a good kid who will do just fine.

Posted by: X Generation | May 16, 2006 2:18 PM

For those living at home who don't like the stereotypes of boomerangs as lazy, etc., it might be worth thinking of whether you are doing anything to perpetuate the stereotype.

I have friends, close to age 30, living with parents, doing part-time temp work and I know they aren't happy about it and would never rub it in their face. But still I get quite a few remarks about how their cars are so much nicer than mine, and when am I ever going to get a new car, etc.

Of course, their full wages go to the car payment (yes, they have mentioned this) while I have been self-supporting for ten years and my car is paid off. Comments like these tend to perpetuate the myth.

Posted by: Also not a boomerang | May 16, 2006 2:25 PM

Um, pardon me, but since when is a woman getting married and having kids the sole measure of "adulthood"? I didn't marry until 30 (the horror!) and have no children at 34. However, I have an advanced degree and purchased my first house when I was 23 - without my parents' help. Doesn't that count for something? Cripes.

Posted by: lpr | May 16, 2006 2:26 PM

The writer confuses issues. For example, Baby Mozart is a way to stimulate the baby and give it pleasure -- it has nothing to do with the teaching of values such as not being selfish, doing one's own responsibilities etc. Teaching these things is not going to be magically promoted through being a "slacker mom." Indeed, this article is the work of a slacker writer, who had a deadline and came up with this short, off-the-cuff informal blog as the best she could do. But the mixing of apples and oranges makes the whole issue, as stated, mush. If you want to slack off in life, however, you might enjoy it.

Posted by: John Norman | May 16, 2006 2:26 PM

....and this is a shock? The best parenting allows for failure. Lessons are learned about consequences by experiencing them and the feelings of shame, humiliation and embarrassment that go along with them. A parent's job is to try and manage the situation so that those lessons are not over the head or too debilitating for the kid. Pandering to children is, in the best case misdirected and in the worst case self absorption of the parent.

Posted by: VADad | May 16, 2006 2:32 PM

Pre1965Birth, in 1999, the US saw its first budget surplus since 1969. If your 2001 figure is correct, then that's not a very long time to have a budget surplus.

"But that's not the same as saying that one now must have MORE debt to reach "the same professional starting point our parents were at in their early 20s"."

The stats clearly indicate an increase in the overall cost of education, adjusted for inflation, but you're right in that they don't indicate whether scholarships and grants increased over time. If someone can supply data on scholarship money (for example, whether overall non-loan aid increased or decreased in the years leading up to 2000-2004), I think we might get a slightly clearer picture of what's going on.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 2:32 PM

My sister's boyfriend moved back home after college to save money while he looked for work. Here it is a year later and he's still living at home and still has no job. He's still looking for that dream job (and can't understand why no company is willing to hire a recent grad with no experience for that uber-cool high tech programming job that he is convinced he deserves). He doesn't want to hear anything about doing grunt work, starting on the bottom, getting experience, and working his way up the ladder. He's convinced because he has a degree he knows everything and should be able to get that dream job. His parents seem perfectly happy to have him at home and to take care of him so he has no pressure to find a job. What scares me is that he seems to have no motivation to find work and is happy to live off his parents. Now he and my sister are talking about marriage. They plan to get engaged next year when my sister is finished with grad school. What I want to know is mommy and daddy going to pay for the engagement ring. Are they both going to move in with his parents. Does he expect to be taken care until that dream job falls into his lap (which may well be for the rest of his life). The really scary thing is that my sister doesn't see this as big problem. Lots of her friends are living with mommy and daddy or depending on them to pay their bills. And she also buys into the idea that a collage degree = the perfect job from day one. She also believes that this dream job is going to fall into his lap any day now.

There is only 10 years between my sister and I. I'm amazed by how much has changed in 10 years. None of my friends lived with their parents for more than a month or two after college. Most of us did internships or volunteered to gain experience and we expected to start out on the bottom. Most of us started out sharing apartments and continued to live the "student" lifestyle for the first few years after graduation so we could make it on our own. Having to move back home was a major embarrassment not the norm. Why are today grads so unprepared for reality? Why has this changed so much in just the last 10 years?

Posted by: cw | May 16, 2006 2:36 PM

Megan,

The study never said people were addicted to drugs rather the population of people who had the multiple tattoos and body piercings were more likely to engage in that type of risk behavior. In fact, the more piercings and tattoos someone had the higher risk they were for more deviant behavior. The researchers were actually surprised by the findings since the kids at these schools were not disruptive. This study was also based on teens not adults.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 2:39 PM

I want to comment 1. on the idea that you need to move out of an affluent, materialistic area if you want your kids not to be spoiled. On the contrary, it's a perfect setting--my kids constantly see other kids with much more than they have. But that's a chance for them to learn that there will always be people who are richer than they are, but we consider ourselves fortunate to have what we do, and we have different ideas about what's important. They have gone from complaining about how this friend's parents bought him this or that, to being proud of saving up their own allowance to buy the things they want, that they know how to cook and clean because we don't have a maid, etc. 2. It's not necessarily "slacker" moms who raise thoughtful, independent kids--sometimes kids wind up spoiled because parents don't want to take the trouble to teach them how to do things themselves, to enforce rules, to put up with the tantrums when you take away a toy they won't share--in other words, it's actually a kind of laziness sometimes that has parents wind up doing everything themselves and asking nothing of their kids because they can't be bothered investing the time in training their kids.

Posted by: no slacker | May 16, 2006 2:40 PM

What a crock. Kids will act this way if parents LET THEM. Every time I see a parent in the store giving in to the whims of a spoiled, screaming child, I think "serves you right" to the parent and "please don't let that kid end up friends with my kid". I don't know when discipline and respect went out of fashion, but I would rather be outdated and have a sulking child who didn't get his/her way about something than have a child who leaves me alone for 10 minutes to play with the new toy he/she just threw a fit to get.

Posted by: Unreal | May 16, 2006 2:46 PM

I couldn't believe Leslie Morgan Steiner's mention of later marriage rates in this context. I'm 38 and single, while my mom married at 20. She wasn't more mature than I was at 20, she had limited options as a working class woman in 1964. She was also escaping an unhappy homelife. Her early marriage and stay-at-home motherhood left her ill-prepared to leave my abusive father, keeping her in a violent marriage for years. My mother and grandmother encouraged all of us children to put off marriage until we're older, and not to feel it's necessary at all, depending on what is right for each of us.

I'd add that while there are some spoiled brats in my blue collar home community, there are far fewer than what I've seen in wealthier ones. While I appreciate the many options that children of professionals have, I love the work ethic of many (though not all!) blue collar kids.

Posted by: Blue Collar Roots | May 16, 2006 2:52 PM

X Generation, it sounds like you were spoiled materially only and that your parents gave you guidance as well. You seem to have a good head on your shoulders as well as having lived a life of privilege growing up. This is not the norm. I can't tell you how many of my staff (45 people, about 3/4 under the age of 30) come into my office with a massive sense of entitlement. "I shouldn't have to make copies, because I graduated cum laude." Whatever. Any job worth doing is worth doing well.

Good luck to you, though it doesn't sound like you'll need it!

Posted by: Hmmm | May 16, 2006 2:53 PM

My 4-year-old currently displays tantrum behavior frequently when she's not getting her way, i.e. she can't have the toy she just hit her little sister with or she's whining/crying about getting something that it wouldn't matter if she had except for the way she's (not) asking nicely for it. I have to remind myself that even though giving her whatever it is might be good for the momentary peace, it won't be good in the long run. Yeah, this instilling manners and teaching discipline is a pain but some of us are trying to do it.

Posted by: X-Genner | May 16, 2006 2:55 PM

This article completely ignores the economic challenges that my generation faces. While the cost of tuition has soared in the past two decades, entry-level wages have remained stagnant. For a lot of recent graduates, enduring the embrassment of living with their parents is a more responsible decision than racking up debt. As for the marriage statistics, I'm thankful that my generation has learned from the mistakes of our parents. The boomers' divorce rate should be enough to prevent anyone from rushing into a commitment.

Posted by: ljg | May 16, 2006 3:03 PM

To say that only parents contribute to this behavior is letting other adult influences off the hook. Teachers that can't demand respect because parents won't let them, scout leaders that let kids goof off because it is just too hard to keep them in line - plus they aren't their parents. And, this latest phenom, little league. Everyone gets a trophy, when you strike out, you are told good job. When should kids learn about failure? Even though you are not a parent, if you have a job, volunteer situation, that puts you with a kid, you are an influence.

But as someone said earlier, it is much more difficult to discipline than to let it go. I can't spend time with certain friends anymore because of the threat of my children getting hurt because of their kids reckless behavior. It has happened before. Good luck!

Posted by: jen | May 16, 2006 3:07 PM

Kids!
I don't know what's wrong with these kids today!
Kids!
Who can understand anything they say?
Kids!
They are so ridiculous and immature!
I don't see why anybody wants 'em!
Just you wait and see
Kids!
Kids! They are just impossible to control!
(Soon you'll be old enough to be)
Kids! With their awful clothes and their rock an' roll!
(Another teenage delinquent)
Why can't they be like you were,
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids to--
Kids!
What the devil's wrong with these kids today?
Kids!
Who could guess that they would turn out that way!
Why can't they be like we were,
Perfect in every way?
What's the matter with kids?
What's the matter with kids?
What's the matter with kids today?

Posted by: adams&strouse1960 | May 16, 2006 3:11 PM

>>Arlmom,

Wow - good for you for accomplishing all that you did. But, were you married and a mom before age 30?<<

Yes, married at 27, helped husband get through law school, first child at 29. Am now in our third house (condo, TH, SFH), started with a condo with $1000 down when I was 25. I agree that (owning) real estate has gone up A LOT in 7 years, that is tough.

Posted by: Arlmom | May 16, 2006 3:13 PM

Ironically there was a letter recently to Ask Amy (I believe) from a 23 year old who didn't know how to "act adult" and couldn't understand why his parents wouldn't help him. His parents had apparently always made his decisions for him and he didn't know how to make one on his own. So sad! I hope my kids turn out better than that. Since my first daughter was born, I have told my husband that it is our job to raise them so they move out when they're grown. Hopefully, we can achieve that.

Posted by: KS | May 16, 2006 3:15 PM

C'mon. Stop it.

"This article completely ignores the economic challenges that my generation faces. ...in the past two decades, entry-level wages have remained stagnant."

Lets ignore that this is a generalization devoid of any facts. Maybe that's true in some fields. And I'm sure in other fields (encyclopedia salesman?) wages have even decreased. But for those of us in IT, we know that entry-level wages have skyrocketed over this period. So, as others have said, people make a choice about what they want to be when they grow up. Therefore a choice about what they can earn.

Posted by: Stop it! | May 16, 2006 3:18 PM

People doing the "my generation has it the worst" dance are completely proving the point about it being a ME generation.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 3:19 PM

Anonymous poster - I was responding more to the comment that: "Maybe less will come home with tattoos, piercings, pregnancies, and addictions." I understand the point of the study, but to the extent that other people think tattoos themselves are the problem, I think they're missing the point.

I think that a lot of the comments here emphasize that focusing on the material aspects of being "spoiled" misses the more important underlying attitudes that can be more troubling, and those can come in all guises.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2006 3:20 PM

People doing the "my generation has it the worst" dance are completely proving the point about it being a ME generation.

Previous generations also make the mistake of saying that they had it the worst, almost as if it is a competition. We should never wish for there to be another great depression, world war, or war of any kind just to legitimize our generation and to say when we get older that we suffered, made sacrifices and somehow survived. This type of competition between the old and young is stupid, pointless and even dangerous! If my kid's generation never has to experience something like 9/11 or the current Iraq war I will be thankful, not worried that it will make them soft or spoiled!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 3:29 PM

We asked our kids to read Tom Friedman's The World is Flat when they were each 14-15. Certainly opened their eyes as to the competition out there and what they needed to do.

Spouse and I worked, borrowed and scholarship-ed our way through school -- no parental assistance. I refuse to hand my kids $50 at the college dorm and say "you're on your own now," but they *will* be working and taking out some loans to help defray the costs. And a car is not in the financial aid package, either.

Posted by: Derwood Mom | May 16, 2006 3:32 PM

My story is similar to Arlmom's...I got significant help from my parents for tuition at a private university, along with some smallish scholarships, financial aid (including $10K in loans), and a part time job. I also graduated in 3 years instead of 4. I thought about moving back to my home area after graduation because, as X-Genner pointed out, the idea of being close to family is appealing. However, I was not going to be able to get the kind of job in that area that would pay me enough to live on my own, etc. So I took a job in Chicago that paid $30k/year, and with about $1000 in seed money from the parents, I struck out on my own. Sure it was tough at times, but I had worked hard and consciously planned to reach the milestone of self sufficiency, and the independence was important to me. When it came time to incur the $100k+ in law school loans a couple of years later, I knew how to handle the student lifestyle just fine, no help from parents other than occasional treats. In contrast, my husband moved back home with his parents after finishing school despite making a very good salary, because they insisted that he shouldn't throw his money away on rent. Eventually, he realized that although they wanted to help him out and believed they had his best interests at heart, he just needed to cut the apron strings and grow up. After he moved out (to rent an apartment) he was embarassed that he had waited so long. When we got married a few years later, his parents also guilted the heck out of us for getting a place across town-where we could afford it-instead of "near them" (i.e., in the same suburb--they were crushed when we eventually moved to the next state). The funny thing is that although we still live much closer to his parents than to mine, we're closer to mine because we can discuss life's problems in a critical, realistic way without having to worry that they will try to take over and just do things for us, or complain that "this never would have been a problem if you would have stayed here". Based on my experiences, I feel that it's great for parents to help their children, but the main type of help should be helping the child figure out how to solve a problem on his/her own. The rewards of raising an independent child are reaped both by the parent and the child. Maybe that is the middle ground...

Posted by: Not a boomerang | May 16, 2006 3:33 PM

"Lets ignore that this is a generalization devoid of any facts. Maybe that's true in some fields. And I'm sure in other fields (encyclopedia salesman?) wages have even decreased. But for those of us in IT, we know that entry-level wages have skyrocketed over this period. So, as others have said, people make a choice about what they want to be when they grow up. Therefore a choice about what they can earn."

In a recent issue of Rolling Stone (the one with Bush on the cover in a dunce cap) it noted that since 2003 salaries have increased on average only 2.4% while inflaction has increased by 3.6%, effectively wiping out any gains. Those of you in IT, who are smart enough to make it in that field, are fortunate to not have to worry too much about salary. However, not everyone has the ability to work in a field with guaranteed high salaries. There are many people who work very hard in various other fields that are just getting by. And it is a problem that, ON AVERAGE, wages have stagnated. To not believe it is to have your head buried in the sand.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 3:34 PM

One comment about how we could avoid lots of this trouble if we just didn't live in big cities. Big cities are where lots of jobs are. They are where lots of big companies who hire lots of entry-level people are. Some industries, such as publishing, are concentrated in big cities, and almost impossible to pursue outside of them. I don't think the solution to financial troubles is to just move to Omaha--for many people, that just isn't realistic, even if it is possible.

Posted by: Kathy | May 16, 2006 3:36 PM

My boyfriend is 30 and still acts like a complete spoiled toddler. (He has a lot of great qualities too, I'm just detailing the ones relevant to the discussion here.) He expects things to magically get cleaned up, food and supplies to magically appear around the house, etc. I wouldn't say he has sexist expectations, because it's not that he expects me to do everything because I'm female....he doesn't care WHO does stuff, just so long as it's not him! He just has all these things he "can't" do.

Why "can't" he? His parents always completely babied him and continue to do so. They still do lots of his shopping for him, make appointments for him, etc....and they live clear across the country! I'm not joking, people. Wish I were.

Posted by: The Brat's Girlfriend | May 16, 2006 3:37 PM

I really don't see a link between watching baby einstein and becoming a spoiled brat. Discipline is not a prerogative of working class parents. Various examples sited in Leslie's post and in the thread prove nothing other that people are different. Some appreciate that the fact that their parents paid for college and others use a "trust fund" as an excuse to never grow up. However, I haven't seen a single statistic to say that less involved parents produce more successful kids. In fact, two immigrant groups that have been extremely successful -- Asians and Jews -- family committment to helping their children lead better lives is an integral part of their culture. I totally sympathize with the young people who posted on this topic. It's a competitive world out there, a lot more competitive than when I graduated from college in the mid-80's. My parents helped me as much as they could so I could have smaller loans when I graduated. They also helped with graduate school. They would have liked to help me to make connections in my chosen field, but I had to do that myself. I want to do the same for my kids because by the time they go to college it's going to cost $500K for a private school and $100K for a public one. And in order to get into college they would have to be extraordinary athlete/school president/valedectorian. I am being sarcastic but I really can't see what's wrong with making our kids life a little easier.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 3:43 PM

For the Brat's Girlfriend - Good that you're recognizing this now. My parents were both babied by their parents. Early in their marriage, my dad's parents would fly from Phoenix to Chicago to take my (married) Dad to a routine doctor's appointment. Not surprisingly, their marriage imploded, with neither taking responsibility, each saying the parents broke them up. They have struggled ever since and (believe it or not) each found a spouse who babies them.

Be careful of further commitment with this guy, unless you are prepared to take full responsibility of these things for the rest of your life.

Posted by: For The Brat's Girlfriend | May 16, 2006 3:45 PM

Why are you still dating this guy?

But seriously, my parents sacrified a lot so that I could have an education. They did not require that I pay my own tuition, but I did have to do work-study if it was part of my financial aid package, and I was responsible for part of the loans. Being a student WAS my job, and they made that clear. They also made clear that I was on the four-year plan, and that any graduate school was up to me. The result? I focused on my education, graduated from a good school with minimal debt, and was self-sufficient after that. I don't think parents should make their kids pay for college if they can afford it just for the sake of making them pay for college. My education was the best gift my parents ever gave me.

Of course, now I have massive debt from law school, but that's a different story.

Posted by: Sue | May 16, 2006 3:47 PM

to echo the comments of other readers, since when does marriage status define maturity? at 26 i am happily pursuing my dreams, getting a masters, and working on four different continents. i've never run a balance on my credit card bill and will pay my student loans off in 5 years. the choices i'm making in my life right now don't include marriage or children, and i wouldn't have it any other way, but i certainly don't feel immature!

Posted by: Happily unmarried | May 16, 2006 3:47 PM

Am I the only one totally irritated by the older generation? These irresponsible people are the ones who did this to the younger generation!! How dare they blame us for their mess!!!! I am 24 years old, work two jobs and make less than $45,000 yearly with both jobs and I still am barely making ends meet. I drive an older car and have to sink hundreds of dollars a month in a student loans that total about $25,000! Tuition has gone up outrageously in the past five years, let alone twenty! The costs of living has skyrocketed, and wages have gone nowhere. No generation since the beginning of WWII has had to deal with the mess created by our parents. The only reason why many of my friends stay at home is because they really have no other option. It's not like they make enough to feed and clothe themselves in this economy. We are not slackers, we have it bad because of you all!! Don't blame us for trillions in debt that we have to take care of, international relationships that we have to fix..I am to irritated to go on. Listen, please don't blame our generation, we are struggling to survive in a world you created! I guarantee you half of the people from the older generation haven't even saved up for retirement..and you know who's paying for that as well as our mountain of student loan debts. Remember that when we toss many of you into free, unsanitary state run institutions because you tried to teach US about money. Ha Ha!

Posted by: NM | May 16, 2006 3:48 PM

@ljg who wrote "This article completely ignores the economic challenges that my generation faces. While the cost of tuition has soared in the past two decades, entry-level wages have remained stagnant. For a lot of recent graduates, enduring the embrassment of living with their parents is a more responsible decision than racking up debt."

What debt would you be racking up, especially if you didn't have to pay for college? If you racked up credit card debt on booze, trips and CDs, well, that's your own damn fault. Don't whine about it.

I graduated from college in 1995, took a job paying $20K in DC and lived with 4 other people in a rented townhouse and paid off $20K in student loans in 8 years. Was it easy? No! But it's possible. I lived in near squalor, but that's the breaks. I now appreciate my 2800 sq. ft. home all the more.

Posted by: Jacknut | May 16, 2006 3:50 PM

@NM who wrote "Am I the only one totally irritated by the older generation? These irresponsible people are the ones who did this to the younger generation!! How dare they blame us for their mess!!!! I am 24 years old, work two jobs and make less than $45,000 yearly with both jobs and I still am barely making ends meet. I drive an older car and have to sink hundreds of dollars a month in a student loans that total about $25,000!"

I don't know your living situation, but if you share your housing with roommates and limit your luxuries, you can live quite well on $45K. You should be bringing home about $2600 per month after a small 401(k) contribution. $700 on rent, $700 on loans and $250 into savings still leaves you with about $1000 a month for everything else.

Posted by: Jacknut | May 16, 2006 3:57 PM

How are we defining generations here? Example - I always thought there was something called "Generation Y" but I am not finding it. As a Generation X person, am I supposed to channel my irrational anger at the generation who fought the Vietnam war or those just slightly older who own the big oligopolies (Think "Steinbrenner)? Or are those the same generation? Because, I would hate to be irrationally angry at the wrong people.

Generation Gap: http://library.thinkquest.org/23440/index.html

Posted by: Hmmm | May 16, 2006 3:58 PM

I have heard that marrying after 25 probably saves a person their first divorce. Let's face it, we live longer, have many more choices about what we will do with our lives, and generally, as parents, we have tried to impart not only that a nice house in a nice neighborhood is a good thing, but also that playing a musical instrument, enjoying art galleries, etc, adds a great deal to our lives -- all require resources that most people don't suddenly aquire when they graduate from college. Last but not least, we all know how important it is to know ourselves a little better than most 20-year-olds do, before we jump into marriage, especially if we have an expectation that marriage is a lifetime commitment. We need to appreciate that our world (I'm 56) at the 20-something stage, was dramatically different than our childrens' world is today.

That being said, we shouldn't be coddling our children to the point that leaving home for them becomes a silly notion. (And the thought occurs to me that while we blame our kids for being immature and self-centered, maybe we encourage them to not grow up, to make ourselves feel younger and more needed.) But,as my wise, grey-haired mother told me on more than one occasion, "Even birds know when it is time to throw their chicks out of the nest. Otherwise, they would never need to learn how to fly."

Posted by: maria | May 16, 2006 4:01 PM

Nevermind. Should have looked on Wikipedia in the first place.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generations

Plenty of groups here to be mad at...

Posted by: Hmmm | May 16, 2006 4:05 PM

@Hmmm...

According to my marketing class (where all these terms come from anyway), GenX is people born between 1965 and 1978. GenY is 1978-1992. Millenials are born after 1992.

As for your anger, don't bother. Just be mad at the person who picks their nose on the Metro. It's all his fault anyway.

Posted by: Jacknut | May 16, 2006 4:06 PM

Sue, I'm in exactly the same boat. My parents did everything they could to pay for college for my brother and I, at the colleges of our choice, with the clear statement that that was the end of the line. Since then, we have both taken on loans to go to graduate school and law school and have done just fine.

And I totally agree with you, that was the best thing they could have done. My parents were never overly strict and have always been generous when they can, but they taught us to be responsible, work hard, and solve problems. That's more important than requiring a child to pay for college just for the sake of it.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2006 4:06 PM

Can we stop with the "all young people do this, all young people do that" generalizing for a minute? I think it's pretty clear that people who are not raised by affluent, indulgent parents usually turn out quite different from people who are. And that personality also plays a big role - I know people who grew up poor who now feel that the world "owes them" and people who grew up rich who assume that the world owes them. I also know people from different backgrounds who are independent and well-adjusted. And I know baby boomers who are the most self-centered, materialistic, ridiculous people you could imagine.

Personally, I was brought up being mostly ignored by my parents and just expected to make my own way. I got very little financial assistance for college and none for post-college. That just meant I had to struggle harder than some of my friends, who got rent assistance from their parents, were able to move home for periods of time, had their tuition paid for them, etc. I don't think having to go into literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt (law degree) made me a better person than my friends who only have tens of thousands in debt. But that's life. I do resent being lumped in with statements like "all 20-somethings are selfish and lazy and entitled," however, because I'm not any of those things and most people my age aren't either.

With every new generation, there will be older people tutting about "kids these days" and how they don't have the right values, etc. I'm sure you baby boomers remember your parents doing it to you, and believe it or not, their parents surely did it to them. Now turn down that music, kids! It's nothing but noise!

Posted by: almost-30something | May 16, 2006 4:08 PM

I wish it were that easy. I have gone thru 3 roommates who couldn't pay rent, moved away, or went back to school and considered moving on campus cheaper (it was included in their rent). I am about room-mated out. Not to mention the average roommate here in DC is not asking for $700 for monthly rent...more like $1100. Check out Craigslist or Washingtonpost Classifides and see how much rent people in our area are asking for! I could live on my own for half the costs. Which is what I do. Been the roommate route...it was a disaster!

Posted by: NM | May 16, 2006 4:16 PM

I have been reading the posts with interest today.

My folks always told my brother and I that we could always come home to live after college even though they helped us to pay for undergrad so we had fewer post-graduation debts than most.

As a Gex Xer who graduated when it was very difficult to find a job in one's field, I lasted 3 months at home after graduation. While my parents would have loved me to stay longer, I just couldn't do it. (I am now in my mid-30s and Mom & Dad would still love me to come live at home even if we drove each other crazy. I think that is just a parent thing.) I got a job (any job would do), I moved out, got roommates (3 of them), learned to live within a budget (a very, very tight budget), ate a lot of Ramen, didn't have cable, drove a very used car, had get togethers with friends at the apartment where everyone brought something so the costs were minimal, never bought anything at full price and learned to deal with it. My parents thought I was crazy and wouldn't visit me at my apartment because they felt the location/condition/etc. was beneath me. I still remember explaining to them that if I can afford to pay the rent and my bills on my own, it wasn't beneath me. I think that parents, mine included, often forget that it is the struggle that teaches us. If everything is easy, one doesn't have the opportunity to learn very important life lessons about what is really important and what can you really live without as well as how peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, while very tasty, can get old after several months. :-)

The current crop of college student/recent grads I see in my office working as interns blow my mind. They have all the newest gadgets, shop everyday during their lunch breaks, complain about not being able to afford to get the latest/greatest whatever, not being able to afford an apartment in the "hip neighborhoods", and don't seem to understand that as an intern you don't get to be involved in strategy meetings but you do get to do the filing/copying/research stuff that is still important. My favorite though was the girl who brought her mother to her job interview for an internship. Her mother asked more questions about the job than the girl did.

Oh, I also have a tattoo.

Posted by: Gen X In Chicago | May 16, 2006 4:17 PM

A-MEN. I hope you can hear me hollerin' in the midwest GXIChicago......

Posted by: Gen X In Boston | May 16, 2006 4:21 PM

I disagree wholeheartedly that the age of marriage is an indicator of your thesis that "Today's kids mature later." Who cares what hte median age is for marriage or having kids? I think its the mature thing to wait until you meet the right person to get married - which happens when it happens. The fact that women, in particular, marry later now is that we have more options and do not have to get married to get out of the house. I'm 29, have a great job and am very responsible, and, I dare say it, mature. I pay my own bills and have relied on my parents for nothing since college. The fact htat I am unmarried is a lifestyle choice, not a maturity issue.

Posted by: 29, unwed, and mature | May 16, 2006 4:23 PM

I think I love you, Gen X in Chicago...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 4:25 PM

If some of the behavior of "kids" in their 20s mystifies you, get a load of the current crop of high school age teens.

At least in my corner of suburbia, they are spoiled rotten. Money is "wipe", presumably toilet tissue. Last year's must-have ipod is too "so last week" to use. A dozen pairs of designer jeans aren't enough. A car is expected at age 16, preferably new and of the correct model and color.

These are children whose sense of entitlement is so strong that they demand a better lifestyle than their parents can afford. The parents stretch to accommodate them, only to find that they have raised the bar for the next round.

These kids focus so intently on indulging themselves that few have the grades or the discipline to get the kind of education necessary to perpetuate the standard of living to which they have become accustomed. Why would they leave home?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 4:25 PM

The comments on growing materialism seem to echo what is seen across the generations in the Wikipedia link that someone posted. May have really taken root in the MTV generation (Me. Rats.). Seems like most people have hit on the answer. Acquiring expensive stuff (including an expensive education) is OK as long as you are smart/mature enough to recognize and appreciate that this "stuff" has value. And over a certain age, build character in the kids by making them pay for an appropriate portion of the "stuff" on their own, or not have it.

Posted by: Me-first is not a family value | May 16, 2006 4:34 PM

"These kids focus so intently on indulging themselves that few have the grades or the discipline to get the kind of education necessary to perpetuate the standard of living to which they have become accustomed. Why would they leave home?"

Especially considering the fact that their parents are apparently so mentally constipated that they can do nothing but nod dumbly as they allow their own children to lead them around.

You can't blame the child for piss-poor parenting.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 4:35 PM

"But that does not explain why so many young adults seem so helpless in practical matters - unable to cook, clean, do their taxes or laundry, balance a checkbook, or manage money. "

I have to say, I'm 30, my parents taught me none of this stuff, and I've still managed to learn it all. no debt other than my home and a small car debt, I can cook and clean, my closes are always nicely laundered (although I still stink at ironing). "kids" in their 20s need to suck it up and take responsibility for their own lives and learn to stop blaming their parents. Shesh!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 4:36 PM

Interesting that the "slacker" Gen-Xers all seem to be doing fine! Seems like our parents were able to find the middle ground others have mentioned.

It's not that hard - love your kids, be as generous with them as you can within reason, and teach them to respect themselves and others.

That's what my parents did and they have 2 headstrong, independent, educated, and gainfully employed children who are completely devoted to them.

Posted by: Gen X in NYC | May 16, 2006 4:36 PM

It's no wonder that high schoolers have an inflated sense of entitlement. Look at some of the TV shows that are on: The Fabulous Life of..., Cribs, Laguna Beach, My Super Sweet 16, and on and on. These kids are watching these shows and thinking to themselves that they deserve what the celebrities or spoiled brats on TV have. Society's obsession with celebrity life, and all of the trappings that come with it, is helping the whole entitlement thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 4:37 PM

A second AMEN to Gen X Chicago. My experience was very similar to yours and I value my independence more than anything and struggled in my early and mid twenties to "make ends meet" as a young staffer on Capitol Hill. Now, as a married 30 yr old, i may be still paying those student loans, but my husband (Hill person too)and i just bought our first home, we max out our retirement vehicles and still manage to have a "fun" lifestyle - but we worked our BUTTS off to get where we are. While it was a bummer watching some of my friends with more parental help having more "fun" than me - it was a point of pride to "do it on my own." That said, my experience isn't the only way to go and I don't agree with the statement that if you live at home with your folks then you're "slacking"... as long as you don't take advantage of them, i don't see the problem! I also find this "generation-bashing" interesting. I see people both older and younger than me feeling like the world owes them something and not being responsible citizens/friends/humans. To simply say this is a "generational" issue is pretty one dimensional in my opinion. Clearly from the responses here, it's a little more complex than that!

Posted by: Gen X DC | May 16, 2006 4:37 PM

Good on Ya Gen X Chicago. When my old car died, my mother begged me to take her money for a nice, new BMW. I politely declined and bought something I could AFFORD! She, along with many parents, wanted to use her kid (me) as a status symbol (Ok, my daughter just got a new BMW, isnt it great, she's doing so well). It would have made me feel less human and adult to not do it on my own.

I know if i ever NEED anything I would not hesitate to ask (i.e. my parents paid for my sister's medical care when she got cancer), but barring real need, I'd rather do it on my own.

29 in DC.

Posted by: Gen X DC2 | May 16, 2006 4:50 PM

I am only 22. I don't have any kids. I can tell you all this however. You know how birds toss their young out of the nest?

My parents never tossed me out of the nest. What they DID do was hold me OUT of the nest by one leg looking down at the ground. They had a firm grip on the one leg, but that was all they held on to.

Let me tell you. I am GLAD my parents did not spoil me when I was younger. I am GLAD my mother wasen't a stay at home mom, taking care of every scrape and bump.

I am completely and fully independent (have been for a WHILE now) and have a fantastic relationship with my parents.

I honestly believe that if I had been spoiled and "taken care of" that I would be a lazy bum sitting in their basement with cheetos on my chest.

Posted by: Satisfied and nonspoiled | May 16, 2006 4:51 PM

DC2- You make two very interesting points. I think the "helping" as a status symbol for parents is sometimes VERY true! My parents try to do the same thing now with stuff for our new house and it drives me crazy! "The "so-and-so's" daughter has this wonderful furniture and we think you need it too!" And the second point about "WANT" vs. "NEED" is absolutely true. Part of being an adult is knowing the difference between these two words!!

Posted by: Gen X DC | May 16, 2006 5:00 PM

Having read through several of the posts here, I can honestly say that I can see both sides of this issue. The teens and 20-somethings have a point, as do the 30's 40's and "boomers." Yes, boomer's is pretty much the category of folks over 49- deal with it.

I had the anti-helicopter parent experience for the most part growing up- being in my mid-30's. I paid for college (because I wouldn't go to the one my parents wanted), paid for grad school, never lived at home after graduation on terrible wages and stuck in a nowehere job.

I take great pride that I still managed to get into a career I love- that pays enough for me to live well and that lets me enjoy what I want to do. My biggest problem with the current generation (and I've hired plenty of 20-somethings) is what I believe parents have instilled in them- Mother's and Father's. It's the "everyone gets a trophy, everyone's above average, I want lots of feedback about what I do right and wrong, I want credit for everything I do, I want to advance quickly and guaranteed...."

Somehow I feel like parenting and protection/validation have gotten way too crossed. Their failure is your failure. What they do says something about you.

Not the case. The best you can do is instill in them the ability to make choices- informed choices. Not good choices or bad choices- we all will make plenty of both in life. And, whatever choice is made that there are consequences. We all reach a point in our lives (or should) where you have to say- "I got myself into this, I've got to get myself out."


We do kids no favors by letting them think life is easy or that you will go out and be famous and successful and rich, etc. And as for some of the 20-somethings here who rage at the older generations- good for you. I did that as well when I was in my 20's. It's good because those older generations don't know what you face now- and it's a tough world out there. So are you going to whine about what they've done or are you going to take it on and try to do it differently? Your choice.

Posted by: cd in dc | May 16, 2006 5:04 PM

Gen X in Chicago again, I have to say that I did have some of my own "slacker" moments on my way to total resposibility, but always managed to try to make sure that I was covered financially first. I did quit one job so I could go and travel in China for 3 weeks (how often does one get to do that) and have probably spent too much of my savings on trips overseas, but I also have realized that this is all a balancing act.

I have had a variety of jobs over my tenure as an "adult" and have learned that there is value and a skill to be learned in any job you have. Whether it is waiting tables (time management), working in an office (multi-tasking, meeting deadlines), working boat repair (ability to follow direction), working in HR (dealing with all kinds of people), etc. It is this lesson of "you can learn something from any job you do and if you take a job you need to do it well" that I think has somehow gotten missed by many in ALL the generations. This was a lesson I learned from my mom. My mom is 1st generation and her father, even though he was a physician in Latvia and spoke 5 languages and could read 2 more, was only able to get work as a janitor in a hospital when he came to this country. He instilled in her, and she in me, the idea that having a job and taking care of one's responsibilities is often more important than feeling fulfilled all the time. (after all that is why they call it work!)

I definitely didn't get my "dream job" right out of school, I still haven't found my total dream job, but I did find an industry that I enjoy working in. I do my job well and have been well compensated for doing my job well. But it didn't happen overnight and there were a few missteps along the way but as I see it, that is all part of the process.

Posted by: Gen X in Chicago | May 16, 2006 5:07 PM

NM, you are too funny:

"It's not like they make enough to feed and clothe themselves in this economy. We are not slackers, we have it bad because of you all!! Don't blame us for trillions in debt that we have to take care of, international relationships that we have to fix..I am to irritated to go on. Listen, please don't blame our generation, we are struggling to survive in a world you created! I guarantee you half of the people from the older generation haven't even saved up for retirement..and you know who's paying for that as well as our mountain of student loan debts."

What drama!

1) It's not like anyone in any of our generations is paying down those trillions we are in debt - we just keep racking it up. Someday, someone will have to pay (my guess is that we'll have to hand over California to the Chinese)

2) We middle aged people have been paying into the Social Security system for years and years and years - you've been paying into the system for about 10 minutes. If the system goes belly up, we're the ones who are screwed.

3) The economy isn't so bad right now - but NOBODY makes money when they are in their 20's and you're not going to starve on $45K.

4) Finally, you're absolutely right - many of us who are over 40 probably don't have much squirreled away for retirement - because we have to spend $6,000 per kid for braces and we have to buy band instruments and uniforms and pay for summer camp!!!!!!

I know, we're horrible, horrible people. You're entitled to so much more.

Posted by: VAwoman | May 16, 2006 5:31 PM

I think there is a middle ground... or at least that you don't have to be a complete hard *ss to have kids who grow up and act responsibly. I admit to being fairly indulgent to my kids, at least thought I was, although some of their friends had far more stuff (who needs so many Barbie's anyway?). I had them do some chores but probably not as many as I did as a kid. Their homework, well they had to do it although I was always willing to go through it with them and help if needed. And I paid (and am still paying) for most of their college expenses, actually I am proud they will have no loans to pay off. I am not rich either but I have always saved. But anyway somehow in college both my kids became very frugal and proud of it... and seemed to grow up and actually realize how hard I have worked and saved for them and what that meant. I'm not sure how that all worked out, no way would I hold myself up as the ideal mom who has it worked out. I guess I feel I have been pretty open and upfront with them about the world, how things work etc... and I shifted more and more responsbility and freedom to them through high school because I wanted them to be able to handle (and glory in!) the freedom of college. And... it seems to have worked. My daughter was self-supporting right out of college and is now on her way to grad school. My son is going into his senior year so I am not sure if he will get right on his feet after college, remains to be seen. I am certainly no helicopter mom, I let them have their independence and they know I value that. But I am also compassionate and would be glad to help if needed on a temporary basis until he gets settled in life. I don't think you have to be an ogre to have successful kids.

Posted by: Catherine | May 16, 2006 5:40 PM

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for
authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place
of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their
households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They
contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties
at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L.
Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277
(1953).

Posted by: ACB | May 16, 2006 5:52 PM

You know, I am perusing all of this in disgust. What kind of society are we? When I decided to move back home after graduation so I could pursue graduate work in environmental justice and still afford my loans and health insurance, my parents welcomed me with open arms to their crappy apartment in the Bronx. I didn't sponge off of them, I cleaned, I cooked, I did my laundry. I worked nights to lessen my loans. The bottom line was that they were PROUD of my decision to embark on a public interest career, and understood that it would present financial challenges for me. And they wanted to help me out as best they could. And that didn't mean buying me a car or a tv or an ipod (which didn't even exist at the time). Why is someone like me being lambasted for being coddled and lazy when all I want to do is help? Am I really such a child for not wanting to try to get a higher paying tech job in the Southwest? Is this what our society has become?

Posted by: so saddened | May 16, 2006 5:55 PM

Another AMEN to Gen X in Chicago! We bought our first sofa in 1987 -- four years into our marriage. We still have it. It replaced a 40-year old loveseat which I'd bought, along with a houseful of old furniture, for $125 from a college friend who didn't want to haul it all back to Texas.

Bought our first house eight years ago when my spouse's final student loan was paid off -- after 14 years of marriage and at age 37. Saved every penny ourselves while paying for daycare, rent, and grad school. The kids were six and seven and remember it vividly -- the shame of it!

My kids don't have ipods, TVs or computers in their room. (When I asked, my 14 yo didn't want one. ?!?!) They know how to do laundry, vacuum, cook, scrub a toilet, and perform chores with minimal grumbling.

We could afford to spend money on technojunk and designer clothes, but that would limit other things like...college. We've talked to the kids about these things, including the importance of becoming independent, the costs of college, cars, etc.

I don't claim that my kids are perfect and that I've done an impeccable job as a parent. But the kids have been the priority.

Our job is to guide them into becoming responsible adults with a strong ethical core. But the job doesn't start when they're 18 or 21 or 30 when you're trying to boot them out of the nest...it starts when they are little.

Posted by: 40something w/teens | May 16, 2006 5:59 PM

And by the way, I fired off "crappy apartment" with regards to my parents home, only to suggest that my family were not rich suburbanites. Actually I found their home LOVELY. But make no mistke, it my decision to move back home wasn't based upon an issue of my not wanting to move to a sketchier neighborhood or live in a less posh situation.

Posted by: so saddened | May 16, 2006 5:59 PM

For the record, I was definitely given everything growing up and was totally indulged. I'm an only child...maybe I'm fighting the stereotype of being a spoiled brat that comes with being an only child, but I didn't turn out spoiled. I'm in my 20s and bought my own place, do my own laundry :) and know how to fix things around the house, take care of myself, etc., have a good job...

I appreciate everything my parents have done for me (on the $$$ side, for instance, paying for all my school, undergrad and law sch, so I have no debt except a mortgage) and in some ways, maybe that's why I don't want to depend on them now. At some point, haven't they done enough? Wasn't the point of all that help to get me to the point where I can take care of myself? Esp. at this age?? I think so, and I feel like I owe it to them to make it on my own now.

Posted by: The Brat's Girlfriend | May 16, 2006 6:25 PM

To those of you who have worked hard to do the right thing, I commend you. There is no shame in an adult child sharing a home with his or her parents if there is a concrete goal and the child contributes to the household while actively pursuing that goal. For some, that means returning to the nest to complete an education or to save to buy a home of their own or to heal after a divorce. For others, it may be to help care for an ill parent.

Frankly, I don't see much dispute here. The vast majority of posters appear to agree that giving kids too much stuff and too little responsibility isn't doing them any favor in the long run. Give the kids the tools they will need later instead of the very cool gizmo they want this week that everybody just has to have and that will be forgotten in a drawer six months from now. And if an adult child isn't doing anything meaningful, parents should feel free to pull the plug.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 6:34 PM

I did not have the opportunity to go to college and went to work right out of high school. By the time I was 22, I had moved out on my own. My mother very clearly let me know that I was welcome to stay. She also let me know that if I thought I was *adult* enough to be on my own, then I needed to act like an adult and take care of myself because she didn't have a *revolving* door. I never considered moving back home. Even when I hit a few rough patches financially, I worked overtime, borrowed money, or did without. I was not interested in being an adult child.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2006 7:59 PM

My family was not the sort to allow pre-marital sex in their home. That was part of my motivation to go out on my own. Are today's parents allowing this with their 20's children? How long does someone have to be boyfriend/girlfriend before they are allowed to spend the night with your son/daughter? I always felt somewhat like a 'child' as long as I had to follow parent's house rules rather than making my own house rules.
I know people with children in their 20's who are contributing members of the household. I also know some who still expect parents to pick up after them, cook and do laundry, provide groceries, and allow them full priveleges of adulthood without much adult responsibility.
There is a difference between helping your children and enabling them to continue to be "dependent".

Posted by: Iwonder | May 16, 2006 8:09 PM

"Am I the only one totally irritated by the older generation? These irresponsible people are the ones who did this to the younger generation!! How dare they blame us for their mess!!!! I am 24 years old, work two jobs and make less than $45,000 yearly with both jobs and I still am barely making ends meet. I drive an older car and have to sink hundreds of dollars a month in a student loans that total about $25,000! Tuition has gone up outrageously in the past five years, let alone twenty! The costs of living has skyrocketed, and wages have gone nowhere. No generation since the beginning of WWII has had to deal with the mess created by our parents. The only reason why many of my friends stay at home is because they really have no other option. It's not like they make enough to feed and clothe themselves in this economy. We are not slackers, we have it bad because of you all!!"

NM, you may have more options that you think. Get some roomates and carefully reevaluate/trim your expenses. It sounds like there may be some leaks in your budget. There are a lot of good websites with tips on budgeting and living frugally.

My husband and I are Gen Xers. We put ourselves through undergrad and grad school. After my husband finished his graduate degree, we (a family of three in DC) lived off of less than $45K/yr for several years (until mid-2005). Our budget included monthly payments on my husband's $60K in school loans. We lived completely off my husband's salary with no outside help.

So it can be done. It requires careful planning, prioritization, and a good deal of delayed gratification.

Posted by: Not a victim | May 16, 2006 11:06 PM

Is grad school (not law or MBA) really worth all the extra debt? Do you really make that much more $$$ in the long run to justify the expense and time involved? Just a question...

Posted by: huh? | May 17, 2006 8:22 AM

To huh?

It probably depends on what grad degree you get and where you get it, for that matter. I spent about $14K and 2 years of my life (going part-time for about 2/3 of the time while working and full-time at the end, not working). We saved the money for school before I ever started. I went to a state school. In the field I'm in, you need the Masters to work at the professional level. For me, given the amount I paid for my degree, it is worth it. For others that chose to go to private schools and spend 2 or 3 times for the same degree, maybe not.

Posted by: X-Genner | May 17, 2006 8:39 AM

"When I decided to move back home after graduation so I could pursue graduate work in environmental justice and still afford my loans and health insurance, my parents welcomed me with open arms to their crappy apartment in the Bronx. I didn't sponge off of them, I cleaned, I cooked, I did my laundry. I worked nights to lessen my loans. The bottom line was that they were PROUD of my decision to embark on a public interest career, and understood that it would present financial challenges for me. And they wanted to help me out as best they could. And that didn't mean buying me a car or a tv or an ipod (which didn't even exist at the time). Why is someone like me being lambasted for being coddled and lazy when all I want to do is help?"

First, it isn't at all clear that you're the type of person under discussion here. Second, regardless of your motives and what you're trying to accomplish, it is fair to ask whether or not there comes a point when you should be expected to make your own way in the world. Perhaps you will always want to do non-profit work. That's an honorable choice. Unless you are independently wealthy, most of us would expect you to find a source of support that will keep you from being a continuing financial burden on your parents for the rest of your life (even though we recognize that they love you, and no mom will ever really consider her children a "burden").

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2006 8:58 AM

"My family was not the sort to allow pre-marital sex in their home. That was part of my motivation to go out on my own."

Wow - that's a really, really mature motive for moving out. Just out of curiosity, did you give any thought to upgrading to marital sex? (Less guilt, same great taste!)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2006 9:02 AM

Actually, it involved a fiance, not casual sleeping around. Did you wait until after your vows?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2006 9:22 AM

Some of us actually do wait until after our vows, even without the parental control. :)

Posted by: X-Genner | May 17, 2006 9:56 AM

You wrote: "I teach eighth grade (in a private school). Yesterday, I sent home a note to a mom informing her that her child had neither a pen nor a pencil for class and asking her to please be better prepared in the future. I got a phone call accusing me of being too hard on her!! You tell me. Who's pampered and spoiled? What kind of preparation is this for real life?

Posted by: Another Mom | May 16, 2006 10:53 AM "

I'm left wondering why the teacher of an 8th grade student needs to send a note home about pens and pencils. It's absurd. Why can't an 8th grader remember his or her own writing implements?

I think once I was in FIRST grade, it was my job to remember my school supplies.

Apparently, it's not just the parents spoiling this particular child. The school is right in there, too.

Posted by: Kate | May 17, 2006 10:03 AM

"Actually, it involved a fiance, not casual sleeping around. Did you wait until after your vows?"

Yes

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2006 11:47 AM

Wow, now this has devolved into a "people who have premarital sex are skanky sinners" debate? How progressive.

I don't think one needs to be a working prostitute to value having privacy from one's parents.

And I don't think people who have sex "outside of marriage" (otherwise known as 99 percent of the population) are less moral than those who don't. Get over yourselves. Not everyone graduates from high school and instantaneously finds "The One," and if you did, you probably didn't cast a very wide net.

Posted by: almost 30something | May 17, 2006 12:18 PM

As a sixteen year old with many spoiled friends, I know my mom appreciated my mother's day gift I gave her. I mowed the lawn, weeded the garden, made her a delicious dinner and bought her pretty writing paper she'd had her eye on. She's my best friend, and I was happy to tell her what a great mother she is.

Posted by: eliza | May 17, 2006 4:55 PM

Hold it, why use marriage and childbearing as a measure of maturity? Don't societies which assume you're not really mature until you marry and have kids often end up with people marrying and having kids too soon, instead of waiting until after they become mature enough to handle those.

Posted by: Cindy | May 17, 2006 6:07 PM

"'Simply put, today's generation is the result of the conservatives in this country, where they all en mass believe that 'father knows best'. Typically, what he knows best is for him to have complete control over their kids seemingly forever."

Kme, you've got this sooooo far wrong that it's bizarre. Conservative (especially Southern) dads have, hard-wired into their DNA, the goal of raising kids who will grow up, take responsibility for their lives, get a job, and move out. I don't know where this idea of letting adults stay home with mom and dad forever came from, but it sure as heck didn't come from conservative fathers. Sounds like a mommy idea to me ;-)"

Not all conservative dads do. Consider the even-more-conservative (especially Middle Eastern) dads who have the goal of raising sons who will grow up and meet their responsibilities to their families by getting jobs and staying in the extended-family household (and the goal of raising daughters who will grow up and meet their responsibilities to their families by being housewives and moving out to their husbands' families' homes).

"I don't think one needs to be a working prostitute to value having privacy from one's parents."

One doesn't even need to be unmarried to value having more than one thin wall between her bedroom and her mother-in-law's bedroom.

Posted by: Cindy | May 17, 2006 6:32 PM

cw asked: Does he expect to be taken care until that dream job falls into his lap (which may well be for the rest of his life).

I bet he will. I know a guy whose wife supports him ENTIRELY because he wants to "own his own business." Doesn't want to learn about business by working in one, apparently. Just wants to start at the top.

Whether they're parents or spouses, these people find folks who take care of them.

Posted by: wenholdra | May 18, 2006 5:45 PM

"Consider the even-more-conservative (especially Middle Eastern) dads who have the goal of raising sons who will grow up and meet their responsibilities to their families by getting jobs and staying in the extended-family household (and the goal of raising daughters who will grow up and meet their responsibilities to their families by being housewives and moving out to their husbands' families' homes)."

Yes, they do - and it's really the same concept. There's an expectation that children will become adults, shoulder the obligations and responsibilities of adults, supporting themselves and pulling their own weight. That core expectation is deeply ingrained in the conservative world view.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2006 1:55 PM

"Wow, now this has devolved into a "people who have premarital sex are skanky sinners" debate? How progressive."

No one used the words "sin" or "sinner" - that was your contribution to the conversation.

"I don't think one needs to be a working prostitute to value having privacy from one's parents. "

Of course not. And that's often one of the factors encouraging people to grow up, move out and take responsibility for their lives. It isn't usually the only one, or even the most powerful one, however.

"And I don't think people who have sex "outside of marriage" (otherwise known as 99 percent of the population) are less moral than those who don't."

No, but many people do. It is neither bizarre nor unreasonable for parents to expect their children, as long as they live at home, to respect the moral code of the parents.

"Get over yourselves. Not everyone graduates from high school and instantaneously finds "The One," and if you did, you probably didn't cast a very wide net."

I didn't either - and I still waited until marriage. Don't act as if this is an alien concept. Many people pull it off without suffering an serious physical or psychological damage ;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 19, 2006 2:01 PM

I think most parents would rather their kids live with them for a couple years after college and get on solid financial footing than pay exorbitant city rents and be swamped with credit card debt and the like a decade down the road.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 1, 2006 2:19 PM

We have 1 child 13 -- I have a wise friend who gave us advice when our daughter was born and we took it. Our daughter has not had friends bring her b-day gifts since she was 5 -- all gifts are broght and not signed and are a donation for charity. she has asked adult family friends who buy her large holiday gifts to purchase expensive american girl dolls and clothes and donate, with no name attached, to charity and not give her a gift. all happily agree. she volunteers 2 hours per week at a non-for-profit. she also says that she loves giving to others. she makes many of the gifts she gives and buys others, always with her own money.

the friend who gave us advice has is extremely wealthy and has raised great kids.

the problem with the advice we were given is that it takes a lot of work and time on the part of the parents. i think if kids are so selfish we need to look at the parents and the home -- children learn what they live.

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Posted by: John S | July 1, 2006 11:55 AM

Values change and each generation lambasts the next. Your parents did the same to you and you think you have turned out perfectly. Typical baby boomers. me me me. People live longer now, life is elongated, each stage of life is longer than it was, and the world is much more complicated. 300 years ago you would have been married when you were 14, is that better than married at 21 , and is that better than married at 31 ? 14 year old groomsmen and brides worked for 60,000 years , as did arranged marriages. Things change, but your new values are to rigid to accept that reality. The baby boomer generation that married at 21 , generally also divorced eventually , making for shattered homes and children raised by TVs and single parents trying to work both male and female roles at once. Look in the mirror and remember what your parents thought of your generation.

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