Get a Job!

Once again an article online got me thinking. While I don't necessarily disagree with The Wall Street Journal's premise, the headline, Why Kids Today Have it Worse Than Their Parents (Ben Casselman), sure sounds whiney.

But the meat of the article has some good infonuggets:

"Today's 20-somethings are, broadly speaking, the children of the last of the Baby Boomers, those born in the late 1950s and early 1960s. That generation, like this one, came of age in the midst of a brutal recession: The unemployment rate for 18-24 year-olds topped 17% at the end of 1982. (In 2010, it briefly crossed 18%.)"

As a twenty-something back then, yeah, I remember that time well. Things were tight, but we got through it OK.

Now, having recently sent three newly-minted adults out into the world, I have firsthand experience of how both recessions have effected young adults. Lucky me.

It's no secret that we believe having adult children live at home is bad for both the kids and their parents. It prevents a child from making the full transition into adult life and robs the parents of the chance to become a carefree couple again.

From time to time we take a little flack for this position, so allow me to qualify. What worked for us may not be right for someone else. Every family is different and should do what they see as best for them.

But many parents are not happy about their adult children still living with them. They have boomerang "kids" that have settled in indefinitely, and show no sign of going anywhere soon. Time and time again they are reassured by their Boomerang.

Dad, I'll move out as soon as I find a job, but there aren't any available.

Then an article in the The Wall Street Journal comes along and reenforces Boomerang's whining that he can't find gainful employment. He's probably printing it out to accidentally leave on the dinner table as we speak.

Perhaps the problem is that any he can't find a job that he wants. And, with all of his expenses covered by Mom and Dad, he has no incentive to take on work that might be beneath him.

Here are a few things that we have learned while our offspring have begun living in the real world:

-Don't wait until after graduation to look for a job.

It can be tough to find any job. Our youngest, who just graduated from college in one of the most economically strapped states, scrounged for several months to find anything that paid. That was during his sophomore year, in 2009, in the depths of the recession.

He eventually found a job delivering pizza. He still has that job, along with three others. Two of those are in his chosen field, but they are entry level and part time. He'll have to work his way up. Imagine that, not starting at the top.

-You won't be able to afford a place as nice as the home your parents have worked for decades to afford. You're not supposed to.

So if Boomerang takes whatever he can find and starts earning some money he could move out, right?

Oh no, Dad, I'll never be able to afford a place to live.

We own rental property, so we have seen a thing or two about how people afford an apartment. We don't rent fancy townhouses, nor are we slumlords, just average, affordable, decent apartments. They are a lot nicer than our first abode was, and young people are finding ways to pay the rent.

Right now our tenants include a student with two fast food jobs, a young couple who both work and go to school, a recent graduate who worked her way through college (also by working two fast food jobs), interned in her field, and got the job she wanted at graduation, and two twenty-somethings who figured out that they could share a two bedroom if they split the rent. None of our tenants did this by sitting on Mommy's couch all day bitching about the economy.

So after the Boomerang lands that not quite perfect job, he might have to get a room mate, become responsible, and actually take care of himself. Oh the horror!

It may not be easy, life often isn't, but it most certainly is possible. He'll learn what its like to be a real live adult, something he can be proud of.

The bottom line is, the kids who don't want to live at home, aren't living at home. They find a way to make it, struggle, work really hard, and start building their lives. So if you want that boomerang out out of your house, you'll probably have to give him a push.

(these ideas may help: Top Ten Ways to Scare Your Boomerang "Kid" Out of the House)

Need more incentive? Right after I finished this post I came upon this article: Thirty Is Not The New Twenty: Why Your 20s Matter (Dr. Meg Jay).

Here are a few choice quotes:

"Our 20s are the defining decade of adulthood. 80% of life's most defining moments take place by about age 35. 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career."

"Too many 20somethings have been led to believe that their 20s are for thinking about what they want to do and their 30s are for getting going on real life. But there is a big difference between having a life in your 30s and starting a life in your 30s."

"Yes, half of 20somethings are un- or underemployed. But half aren't, so my first piece of advice is to figure out how to get yourself into that group."

Dr. Jay hits the nail on the head. She dispels the myth that delaying getting started with life has some sort of benefit to young adults.

All it does is put them behind in a race where they'll need every advantage to keep up. As parents, why would we want to help in holding them back?

I wouldn't.


YOUR TURN: You've heard my thoughts - what are yours?

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