Category Archives: From the adult child’s perspective

Voices of young people struggling to find meaningful employment

Several weeks ago, The Globe and Mail ran an excellent piece about the challenges Canadian young people are facing as they try to get established in the careers. As part of that story, they created an “audio slideshow” in which six young adults between the ages of 22 and 29 describe the difficulties they have experiences as they try to get them established in permanent careers and feel like they are truly functional adults contributing to the Canadian society. Their stories are typical of those facing this generation of young people, many of whom live with their parents as a way of making ends meet (42.3% of Canadians 20-29 live with their parents according to the latest census). It’s startling to hear these young adults describe their frustration in their own voices. It’s an interesting series and well worth a listen.

Click on the image below to view and listen to the audio slideshow on the Globe and Mail’s website.


Kids at home? Do *they* think they're part of the "entitlement generation"?, a site targeting young professionals in Canada, is running a survey asking members of “Gen X and Y” (though I suspect they expect to hear from Gen Y and the Millennials… Gen X is now into their 40s and even 50s) how they feel about being labelled the “entitlement generation,” including some questions that seem designed to tease out whether respondents actually engage in the behaviors typically mocked or scorned by columnists (and worried about by parents). If you’ve got adult kids at home, they might want to check out the survey at

Interesting perspective from an adult son living at home

This video from WUSA9 in Rockville, MD, shows an interesting perspective from an adult son living at home. The family dynamics in the video are interesting to watch, but the revelation comes at the end, when the young man says that he would view having his own place as a “luxury” — the luxury part being that he wouldn’t “have to hear the nagging.” But he views that luxury as being worth only $100-$200 — not the $1,000 it would cost him to get an apartment of his own. So, he’s happy to stay put and live for free, with being “nagged” the only price he has to pay…

Do your kids see you as a nuisance they’d pay a few hundred dollars to avoid? If so, it’s time to have a serious talk about the reasons why your adult child is living at home, and a timeline for them to move out.

This video is from a WUSA9 news story at

A positive living-at-home experience, from the adult kid's point of view

Unfortunately, we often have to talk about the challenges that arise when adult children move home – and there can be many. But there can also be many benefits. For the adult child, there are obvious financial benefits. But there are also benefits that involve the chance to develop deeper relationships with parents and any younger siblings still living at home. Tegan Flanagan described her experience living with her parents (bringing her boyfriend with her, no less) in a great piece for liquid ideas. Among her observations:

It’s not ‘cool’ to admit this but I actually enjoy seeing my parents and brother every day and from an economic perspective it just makes sense to live together under the one roof – the space is there to be shared, less food is wasted when there are more mouths to eat it. Sharing a meal around the dinner table and debriefing on the day is also really quite cathartic.

You can read her piece on liquid ideas here.

The perception problem

I came across an editorial in a college newspaper today in which the writer looked for reasons why so many college students and recent graduates are currently living with their parents. It’s always interesting to see how the situation is perceived by the adult children themselves. The writer’s perceptions are in line with what I see and hear from other adult children in their early 20s. Here’s my analysis of her points:

1. Generation Y had dreams of being independent at college, spurred on by unrealistic movies, and has “received another kick in the jaw” by being unable to do so.

My take: It seems to me the perception here is the problem. We all see idealized lives in the movies. There are few movies about people going to jobs they don’t like for 40 years to support a family that they can only rarely take on vacation. Feeling like you’ve been kicked in the jaw because you misunderstood your own financial ability to support yourself seems strange. Unless the kick in the jaw is that your parents are unwilling or unable to support the dreamed-of college lifestyle.

2. The economy is to blame for the lack of good, well paying entry-level jobs. “I’m sure every student knows a recent graduate who has a degree in something impressive like molecular biology but is putting that brilliant mind to work as a full-time barista at Starbucks instead of interning at a hospital.”

My take: I graduated from college 12 years ago. Then, unable to find a job that took advantage of my new skills and education, I went and worked for slightly more than minimum wage in a bookstore while, yes, living with my parents. My point is that it’s not a new problem that college grads can’t find jobs in their chosen fields, especially jobs that pay a living wage. Yes, this is a problem, but it it not new. The key is to find opportunities to grow in whatever job you can find. I built a website for that bookstore, asked for the responsibility of writing some newspaper ads, and started a community book club. These efforts made this job more than a sales clerk position and allowed me to use it as a springboard to my first “real” job.

3. Tuition has climbed out of proportion with family income.

My take: Yes –I absolutely agree. When I was in college, I made my way on scholarships, meaning I graduated unburdened by student loans. I’m not sure this is possible today. Parents and their children need to have conversations about college early — and if the children want to go, it’s a wise idea for both parents and teenagers to start saving. It’s much easier (and less expensive) to save at least some of the money ahead of time than to be burdened with loan payments for 20 years. This is a real problem.

But it’s the second point that I find most interesting. My perception is that no one has been able to walk straight out of college and get a “real” job since my parents graduated — about 40 years ago. At that stage, the baby boomers began to fill up jobs, meaning that there were not so many openings for young grads as older people retired. Hence the predicament of Generation X, which is now continuing with Gen Y, rather than emerging as a new problem.

I’m sure today’s college students will think I am an old crab-pot if they read this. But am I wrong?

You can read Brittany Forrell’s editorial “Tuition Costs Crush Students” in the Missouri State University Standard here.

A 20-something responds to the NYT

Back in mid-August, the New York Times published an article entitled What Is It About 20-Somethings?: Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?. It’s an interesting — if very long — read, especially if you have adult kids at home and are struggling to understand how you ended up in this situation.

Loads of people have written response to this piece online, but the first I’ve found that I’ve felt is worth linking to is from Charles Jeffrey Danoff of As a twentysomething back in his parents’ nest, he shares some great insights — and tidbits from an important conversation with his mother — that offer a great perspective from a thoughtful adult child at home. It’s worth a read, and you can find it here.

Moving home with kids in tow

I’ve talked before about how much more complicated it is when your adult children move home with kids of their own. Not only do you have to sort out your relationship and space-sharing issues with an adult — you also have kids involved, and they may not be happy to have left the home they were used to and be “stuck” with Grandma and Grandpa. These can be the most fragile situations, but they can also be the most helpful — think about how powerful it is for your grandkids to see good parenting in action, both by you and by your adult child.

There’s a great blog post on the blog about what it felt like for one woman to move back in with her parents after a divorce — and share a bedroom with her two children. If you’re living in a similar situation, it’s definitely worth a read.