It has been said recently, that this latest generation of new adults has it worse-off financially than several of the generations before them.* Those of us who have retired benefitted from the growth and comfort of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Today’s new adults are struggling to afford the basics in life: shelter, a car and paying off their education debts. I feel, we have a responsibility to help them.
If you’d asked me 20 years ago what my retirement living situation would be, I wouldn’t have considered a multi-generational home. I would have expected that my daughter would have left home as soon as she had steady employment, just as I had and my parents before me.
The Way It Was, Is Not The Way It Is
As a young adult, everyone I knew left home in their late teens or early twenties. We rented a small basement apartment. After several years of full-time employment and with the financial help of relatives, we bought our first home. Sure, we didn’t have large cell phone/internet bills to pay back then but it was also easier because of the small gap between what we earned and what everything cost. That was then. Today is not the same.
Progress Is A Myth
We are doing a great dis-service to this generation of new adults by expecting them to advance through life the same way we did. We were fed the fairytale of progress as kids: as time passes, things will get better. It will be better for you than your parents and your kids will have a more comfortable life than you do. That is not reality. Time does not automatically create improvements. Recent political policies around the world, show that hard-won rights that we thought were impervious, can be clawed back. Positive changes need to be protected and guarded, and complacency, taking them for granted, is how we lose them.
The proportion of Americans who think it’s unlikely their kids will have a better future rose from 25% in 1999 to 40% by 2019.**– The Wall Street Journal
Re-Think Your Expectations
I am not a financial analysis. I cannot explain how we got to this point in history where new adults can’t afford to live independently. I just recognize the reality. It calls for adaptation on everyone’s part. Just as their young adult lives don’t look as independent as they thought they would, hoped they would. Neither do ours. Income-earning adult kids live with us. They don’t leave the nest as we may have expected. We both have to be flexible. Together, we help them through a difficult time that neither of us could have imagined.
Across a range of issues, manufacturing fake generational battles denies us the benefits of intergenerational connection and solidarity.**– The Wall Street Journal
Helping Them Helps Us All
It’s important to not let the media pit one generation against the other. They did not deserve or cause their difficult situation. We did not earn or deserve our better situation. However, I believe that we do have a responsibility to support them at home and in the community.
Is this issue impacting your family? How are you coping?
You are absolutely right. My adult son and I are sharing our house. My daughter and her family are planning to fix up the lower level and move in. It’s an old farmhouse, so there’s plenty of room, but things are definitely different than they used to be.
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