The title of the article was What Is It About 20-Somethings? This piqued my interest since I have kids that are 20 and 25, and a couple of more that will be there soon. Plus, I’ve asked myself that question a few times recently . . . the twenties are just so different than they were 26 years ago, when I turned 20.
I followed a fairly traditional path by marrying at 23, buying a home at 25 and having my first child at 26. By 30 I was done (presumably!) having kids and was settled into the house I will likely own for the rest of my life. I have always been happy that I had my kids when I was young—by the time my husband and I reach 53 & 52 respectively we’ll be done with supporting our offspring; our youngest will have graduated college (that’s the plan, anyway).
The article details what most of us—and certainly I—have noticed; 30 seems to be the new 22. “Emerging Adulthood” is the name given to this somewhat-controversial new life phase. The controversy surrounds whether it’s an actual phase, given that it’s a Western thing, not a universal thing and whether it’s a phase or just Baby Boomers spoiling their kids.
My feeling is that “Emerging Adulthood” has come to be an acceptable, if recent, stage of life for American youth. And really, I don’t have a problem with that. Self-exploration, self-fulfillment, higher education, seeing the world—these are all worthwhile goals.
IF, and this is a big if for me, the explorers do it on their own dime. If the self-exploration is being bankrolled by parents, it’s not “Emerging Adulthood,” it’s “Delayed Adulthood.”
Life is, and always has been, a series of trade-offs. If you want to live in a nice house you work at a job that makes good money. Said job is probably not something in the arts. If the arts are your passion you may have to live more simply to finance following your passion.
If you want to graduate from college and travel through Europe—GO!—it will be a great experience. Work at whatever job you can get, live in a cheap apartment with several roommates, save every penny you make and then, when YOU have enough money—GO.
Finding and following your passion is an amazing thing—but you should work for it, not have it gifted to you. The material life you lead while pursuing your passion—will likely not resemble the lifestyle you may have grown up leading; that life’s many creature comforts were financed by years of hard work on the part of your parents. If you want the same comforts, WORK for them.
I am happy to provide my oldest daughter with a home in the summer; she’s financing her grad school through loans and living in a dorm during the school year. I’ll likely do the same thing for the rest of the kids when/if they choose grad school. But, beyond that, in this family we are done supporting you when you graduate from college. Sooner if you choose not to go to college.
“Emerging Adulthood” is one thing. “Delayed Adulthood” + “Extended Parenting Years” is another thing entirely.