Today: Jun 18, 2024

Comparing the generations


I often hear my parents talking about how different it was for them growing up than it is for my brother and I. My parents both had full time jobs (for four years already), they were married, and they had their own house, all when they were 21 and 22 years old. In today’s society, it is extremely rare to be out on your own and married at that age. Many young people are going to college now, putting their careers first and having a family second. Since college is becoming more expensive it takes students longer to get out of debt. As a result, this expense prolongs students from becoming financially independent adults.

Almost all of my friends, including myself, live at home with our parents. Our meals are prepared and our clothes are washed. I know we are spoiled. To be completely honest, I find myself being somewhat clueless on how to manage finances, and I question if I can survive in the adult world. Did you ever sit down and really look at and tally up all the expenses that go into successfully running a household? There is the mortgage, the utilities, taxes and the grocery bill among a bunch of other things. And trust me—when you look at all this stuff, you’ll get a migraine.

So has the age of adulthood changed, considering we put off doing all the things that our parents did that defined them as being adults; things such as buying a house, getting a full-time job right after high school, and getting married? Or have the times truly changed? To me it seems like our parents became adults earlier than us.

I’m 21 and I have yet to start my “real” full time job. New research suggests that the brain does not stop developing until at least the mid-twenties. So if that is the case, does that mean that my generation is on the right track because so many of us do not move out and even think about marriage until our late 20s to early 30s? Were our parents just more mature and responsible when they were our age?

My dad is always telling my mom to “cut the apron strings” because she does everything and anything for my brother and I. I feel like 80 times a day my brother and I say, “Mom, where’s my…?” “Mom, can you help me with…?” “Mom, how do I do this?” “Mom, where does this go…?” My dad will tell my mom that she needs to let us learn how to fly. But the thing is that I know if I were to fall, my parents would be there to catch me. So is that part of my generation’s problem: we have it too easy; that if we make a mistake, we know our parents will be there to help fix it?

I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that our parents had vastly different responsibilities as young adults: things that I could not imagine handling myself at this age. Maybe that is why my generation has different ideas about adulthood. Let’s face it, while there are great benefits that go along with being an adult, there are many pitfalls as well.

I think our parents are trying to allow us to be “kids” for a longer length of time than they were allowed to have. For example, when our parents were informed at college orientation that college is a “journey” and that students [their kids] were going to change their majors so frequently it would be hard to keep track, they didn’t run out of the building screaming and say that we were not allowed to go. They may have talked about how ridiculous it was under their breaths because they were not paying for a “journey,” they were paying for one degree. Yet, our parents still realized how important and necessary it was for us to go to college. They understood that sometimes, kids are going to change their minds.

Only time will tell if we will make it out in the real world. Hopefully, since we had much more time to be “kids” and make mistakes, we will be more satisfied with life, make well thought-out decisions and become active adults. Ultimately, I guess we’ll have to play the “wait and see” game.

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