A Manís Guide to Moving Back in With His ParentsÖWhile Maintaining
at Least a Little Dignity
by Brett & Kate McKay
Art of Manliness
to live with your parents after you turn 18, or moving back in
with them after graduating collegeÖisnít that the antithesis of
how the regular spate of ďWhatís the matter with the menz?Ē articles
portray it. The fact that the number of 25- to 34-year-olds who
are living with their parents has doubled since 1980 (it now sits
at 22%), and that more men in that age group than women have moved
back home (22% versus 18%), is often used as evidence that young
men are willfully refusing to grow up these days, and have gladly
traded their manly independence for a chance to play video games
in mom and dadís basement.
are definitely cases of 20 and 30-something men living at home in
order to prolong their adolescence, to say all men in this situation
are lazy moochers is to paint the picture with far too broad a brush.
The reasons for the increase in the number of young men moving back
in with their parents are much more nuanced and complex, and include
both cultural and structural changes:
education costs. Back when your Baby Boomer parents were
in college, a semester of school cost just a few hundred dollars,
and it was easy to graduate with little to no debt. But since
tuition has increased between 1 1/2 and 2 times the inflation
rate each year. Today students can graduate $25-$100k in debt,
double that if they go on to graduate school.
job market for young people. Since the 1970s, real income
has declined for young people, and the job market has gotten more
competitive. The current recession only made things worse. The
first decade of the 21st century constituted one of the toughest
job markets for young people in recent history. Today just 54%
of adults between the ages of 18-24 are employed. The recession
also hit the paychecks of young people more than any other age
education requirements. Fifty or sixty years ago, a man
could get a decent paying job with just a high school education.
Today's job market typically requires candidates to not only have
a college degree, but often an advanced degree as well. Because
schooling is now both more expensive and lengthier, it's taking
young people longer to become financially independent.
housing costs. On average, your parents and grandparents
probably spent only 1/3 of their income on housing. Today 1 in
4 Americans are spending more than half of their income putting
a roof over their heads. With housing costs up and paychecks down,
getting a place of their own has become much more difficult for
those in their 20s.
generational gap. The rift between Baby Boomers and their
GI generation parents is the stuff of pop culture legend. Boomers
and GIís often had completely different tastes in music, dressing,
and values. Boomers couldnít wait to leave home, and their parents
were glad to see them go. These days, many of the Millennial generation
get along great with their parents and consider them friends.
Parents and children listen to the same Jack Johnson songs and
sit down to watch Boardwalk Empire together. And because
many Boomer parents worked full-time when their kids were growing
up, they arenít sick of their offspring yet and like having more
time to spend with them.
it to say the phenomena of young people moving back home is more
complicated than ďYoung men today are lazy and unmotivated.Ē And
as we mentioned in our
series on the history of the bachelor, far from being the recent
anomaly the media has made it out to be, living with your parents
well into your 20s was the norm for young men for much of history.
It was in fact the post-WWII period, with its flush economic prosperity
and robust governmental housing and educational subsidies which
allowed young men to strike out and settle down early, that was
the real aberration. It should also be noted that multi-generational
households have long been, and continue to be, the norm in many
other countries and cultures; the peculiar American fixation with
having your own homestead is in many ways a function of our frontier
Now all of
this isnít to say that itís always a good idea to move back in with
your parents and that you should feel comfortable living with them
indefinitely. Or that living on your own isn't a very worthy goal.
Rather, it is to point out that stigmatizing a young man's decision
to move back home as always unmanly is misguided. Like
many things in life, if you do it for the wrong reasons, and you
do it immaturely, itís unmanly, while if you do it for the right
reasons, and in the right way, it can be, if not overtly manly,
at least dignified. What are those right reasons and behaviors?
Advice on Moving Back in with Your Parents
a good reason for moving back in. This is numero uno in
importance when figuring out if moving back in with your parents
is the right decision for you. You should have
a specific, sensible reason as to why you're returning home (or
havenít yet left). Your reason shouldn't be vague like "I need time
to get my life back together." How do you know when you've gotten
your life back together so you can move out? Vague
goals lead to vague results. Most American parents don't
mind housing their adult children so long as it's furthering an
important life goal for them. If you're trying to save money so
you can go to school, great! If you're trying to save money so you
can backpack through Europe, not great.
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© 2012 The Art of Manliness