July 20th, 2024

It’s almost a necessity these days for many young adults to live at home

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on July 15, 2017.

There’s been much ado and handwringing over the past decade as adult children “fail to launch” —lazy millennials refusing to grow up, leading to the breakdown of society, the usual finger pointing and cliches.

Which easily ignores all the actual reasons the younger generation is happy to stick around.

Fifty or so years ago, a basic high school education was enough to snag a job with a decent wage that would let you save up for a home, start a family and more. That’s next to impossible nowadays. Wages have stagnated — if you earn minimum wage, even with prudent financial management, you’re barely scraping by. A higher wage requires a higher education. Which means tuition and debt. A young person can do the “smart” thing and go into studies that put them in a well-paying, in-demand field, and they’ll still be starting out their adult life with a debt-load unheard of decades ago, one that could be in the tens of thousands depending on the field of study. It’s daunting.

Which means young people are making wise decisions — to live with parents to save money and pay down the debt, to live with parents and work to save up for school, or live with parents and work until they figure out what they want in life because dropping thousands of dollars for school that may not be right for them is just not logical.

Plus, living on your own is expensive as hell. A half-decent apartment in Medicine Hat that isn’t a health hazard can run the cost of a mortgage payment, minus any benefits of home ownership. Rent can easily eat up a whole paycheque. Roommates are an option, if you can find ones that you mesh with — but what better roommates than the people you’ve been roomies with for the first couple decades of your life.

And speaking of home ownership — it’s simply something that’s out of the reaches of many young Canadians, especially those in growing, booming areas where even small homes in need of renovations are going for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Getting that 20, 30, 40K needed for a down payment means working hard — and living with the parents.

Not leaving the nest isn’t just about the benefit to the younger generation. Many seniors and middle-aged folks face financial instability — especially with the recent economic downturn — so why not have an adult child stick around to also help pay the bills? To help with more physically demanding housework that an aging person may be less able to do? To be right there in case of an emergency?

One thing that’s also left out of the equation is that it’s not just about the financial numbers.

The nuclear family of mom, dad, two point however-many children living as unit under one roof is a relatively new phenomenon.

Throughout human history and culture, intergenerational households have been the norm. Mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins — living together, working together, taking care of each other. Sitting down for meals, sharing their days with each other, sharing laughter, sharing struggles, sharing the burden of chores, passing along family traditions and stories, and so much more.

That is so comforting in a world that can be so uncaring and isolating.

And really, who on their deathbed is going to look back on their life and say “Wow, I wish I had spent less time with my children or parents?”

(Peggy Revell is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)

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