Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How Would I Raise My Children Differently?

As you all know, and the New York Times has insightfully covered, the Road to Adulthood has grown longer than we could have ever imagined. Unlike our parents, many of us have not bought a home by the time we are 22. We are not usually married by the time we are 24. We are not usually established finished with school until we are 25. We are not usually established in our careers until we are into our 30s. So, we remain in this suspended adolescent state well into our 30s. As you know, your parent's income is figured into your FAFSA form until you are 26 and Obama just passed the Health Care legislation allowing you to remain on your parents insurance until you're 26 as well. Our parents were the alleged selfish yuppies of the 80s, but it is our generation that lives for "me first" until we have time to have children:
National surveys reveal that an overwhelming majority of Americans, including younger adults, agree that between 20 and 22, people should be finished with school, working and living on their own. But in practice many people in their 20s and early 30s have not yet reached these traditional milestones.
This article seems to put the onus of this transformation into lifestyle choices, but I think it's much deeper than that. My mother, the uneducated super business woman, always told me to focus on my education and my career. I didn't even consider settling down until I was 25. Now, nearly 10 years later, I find that I'm unable to. I don't think I could pay for daycare if I had to, and I certainly can't afford to stay home with a child. Who would pay my student loans? My credit card bills?
I'm not mad at my mother for telling me to focus on my career... that was her generation's ideal: the career woman. Now, many of my friends are looked down upon by their mothers for trying to be stay-at-home mothers. The latchkey kids of the nineties and eighties didn't like our childhoods and do not want the same for our children. If I could do it again, I would focus on having a family because my ovaries do not--unlike my brain--function better as I get older.
In the late 1990s, however, parents’ spending patterns began to shift so that the flow of money was greatest when their children were either very young or in their mid-20s.”
More people in their 20s are also living with their parents. About one-fourth of 25-year-old white men lived at home in 2007 — before the latest recession — compared with one-fifth in 2000 and less than one-eighth in 1970.
Well, maybe some of those kids decided to invest in their education to their detriment causing them to move back in with their parents or need their parents assistance to float their lives while they attempt to obtain gainful employment. Just a thought.
It's funny, I used to look down on my peers that decided to stop with just a college education or *GASP* high school. Ironically, all of my seemingly uneducated peers are financially so much better off than I am. I wish that this article would draw more of a connection between the false dreams afforded by a higher education and the financial impact that has made on our "young" people.
More schooling has meant that children have to rely on financial support from their parents. Adults between 18 and 34 received an average of $38,000 in cash and two years’ worth of full-time labor from their parents, or about 10 percent of their income, according to the MacArthur network.
So, I think that we need to do things differently with our children, should they ever materialize. I am planning on focusing my children on skills that they can use to sustain themselves instead of the frivolous pursuits of a higher education. If my child is dead set on studying french or English lit, I will suggest that they do so part-time while working full time in a trade of some sort. As it stands, with the financial set backs of my career--and there have been many--I will not have enough cash to take care of myself, let alone a child who is 34. Oh yah, I will also tell him/her to have babies when they are young. Before 30 for sure. It's not easy to get onto a soccer field in a wheel chair.


  1. Interesting thoughts, the same article caught my eye the other day. I think more and more the children of the boomers and those who idolized career over family, or at least balance, are seeing how much they DIDN'T LIKE that aspect of their parents and family.

    Call me old fashioned but I still think people who want to have kids and families ought to be able to, and they ought to enjoy it and be able to throw themselves into it entirely if that's what they want to do. I hate it when people chastise stay-at-homes for "lack of ambition" or whatever. It's not like they didn't have the opportunity to do otherwise...let those people make their choices!

    It's also a damn shame that the route many of us were sold to financial security--higher education, law school--is a dead end. I'm sure a lot of people, myself included, dreamed of making a decent living as a lawyer in hopes of one day being able to support a family, or something to that effect. Instead what we have is this twisted, painful, drawn-out decade, 15 years, or more, trying to get out from under the debt. So long prime family-raising years. Hell, so long prime years in general.

    The scam is so much more than financial trickery. It's not the money itself that kills us, it's having to sacrifice so many associated plans, hopes, and aspirations.

  2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/14/AR2010061402838.html

  3. Here's another blog you might enjoy, called "Annoyed Librarian":




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