Your Parents, Your Degree, and YouPosted: November 17, 2011
The New York Times is talking about college graduates who are moving home with their parents. The statistics are alarming:
14.2 percent of young adults are living with their parents, up from 11.8 percent in 2007. Among young men, 19 percent are living with their parents.
The actions of the young are self-perpetuating. Young people are reluctant to set off on their own until they have greater financial stability. But the economic conditions necessary to make them financially secure are difficult to achieve while consumers like them are still too nervous to start making big purchases, on housing or anything else.
In the spirit of this conversation, I talked to one recent NYU grad, Todd Selby, who has been living with his parents for three weeks now.
Todd graduated early, and quickly found a full time job, a fellowship with a non-profit in North Carolina. After two months, however, he wasn’t meeting fundraising quotas, and was let go.
So he moved back home to New Jersey with his parents. Now he’s in a band and working on music, while working part time at a Hot Topic.
Jordan: Did your parents support this move?
Todd: My parents luckily have been very supportive. They were like, “It’s understandable. You lose jobs. It doesn’t work out. Whatever.”
They also understand how common it is for college graduates to live at home considering the high price of college. They also realize that this is kind of unprecedented, that no generation has paid this much for schooling. So they certainly understand that I just need a little time to recuperate and figure out what I want to do.
Also I’m still only 22. I’m just out of college. It’s not like I’ve been living here for years. I’ve only been here for three weeks. It kind of seems like I should be getting my ass out but I might stay here for another six months, maybe a year, I don’t know.
Jordan: How has your dynamic with them changed since high school?
Todd: I certainly have been trying to like go out of my way to help them with things. I’ve been on my best behavior and stuff like that. I’ve refrained from drinking excessively or like smoking pot around them or whatever. I really want to respect what they’re doing for me.
Jordan: Do you have chores?
Todd: I’m here just because my parents are really nice. And so I will just do things without question.
Jordan: Do you have to contribute money to live there?
Todd: They kind of won’t let me help out with things money-wise. They’re just insisting, like, “You don’t have any money. Just work on getting money for yourself.” So they’re providing money for stuff like food.
Jordan: They must like you a lot!
Todd: We do have a really good relationship. We’ve barely had any arguments since I’ve been home. I just do my best to just respect their house and they pretty much enjoy having me around.
Jordan: What would you suggest other people think about before asking to move back home?
Todd: Definitely before you approach [your parents] have some sort of plan, even if it’s kind of flimsy. Because the first question I think some parents would have, I suspect, is “All right, well what are you going to be doing while you’re living here? Are you looking for a job?” So even if they’re not all things you’d want to do, figure out some options.
Jordan: Any tips for cohabiting successfully with parents?
Todd: I’ve definitely gotten the sense from my parents that they want to spend a pretty good amount of time with me. So when my mom is like, “I’m going out to the store,” I’ll just be like, “Oh do you want me to come with you?”
You can’t cut yourself off the way you could from, say, roommates you met on Craig’s List. You’ve got to kind of become part of that family unit again.
Jordan: How have your parents changed since high school?
Todd: They’ve changed their habits a lot, their spending habits. They spend a lot more on themselves now, which is great. I’m so glad to see them basically happier.
Jordan: So what’s your plan?
Todd: I’m working on music. I want to be a musician, me and everyone else. But I feel like I really have a shot at it. So that’s basically my goal, my ten year goal. Of course a more immediate goal is to find some kind of job. It doesn’t have to pay real well, as long as I can rent a shitty apartment in Philly and continue making the payments on my student loans.
I’m young. So there’s really no better time to make an attempt at getting into music. I’m just going to go for it now.
Jordan: Any issues you’ve had to work through with your parents?
Todd: One thing is I’ve been so focused on being independent and stuff that I’ve been actually been over-thanking them for everything. They said, “You do realize we’re family. We’ll do anything to help you need as long as it’s within reason. This is certainly within reason.”
It’s just walking the line between becoming too dependent on them and not being appreciative but also remembering that they want to do this for me. They get a joy out of being able to help their kid again, even if they are kind of done with parenting. It’s still something they want to do.
Jordan: So the lesson is that they’re still your parents and they still love you.
Todd: That’s basically it, yeah.