By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
In the 2006 movie “Failure to launch,” a young man suspects his parents of setting him up with his dream girl so he’ll finally vacate their home. Based on new data from Statistics Canada it seems that more Canadian parents than ever may be driven to such extreme measures.
The study compares the young adult years of three generations: the late baby boomers (born 1957 to 1966) when they were aged 20 to 29 in 1986; Generation X (1969 to 1978) who was in that age group in 1998, and Generation Y (1981 to 1990) who reached it in 2010.
It turns out that members of Generation Y in their 20s were more likely to be in school and at home with their parents than their counterparts in the two other generations. In fact, at the same ages, over one-half of Generation Y lived at home with their parents, compared with one-third of their counterparts in Generation X.
The knock on effect is that Generation Y has also delayed living with a partner and having kids of their own. At ages 20 to 29, 19 per cent of Generation Y had children, compared with 29 per cent of the late baby boomers of the same ages in 1986.
Now don’t get me wrong. Boomers love their offspring. We have encouraged them to stay in school and get multiple degrees.However, with total tuition for an MBA at University of Toronto over $80,000, it is not surprising that huge student debt after graduation is one of the reasons many kids can’t afford to move out.
But once kids are in their 20s, they need their own mental and physical space, and so do their parents. A friend with three children in university told me she had to rent a storage locker for their stuff when they all arrived home at the same time last summer.
I think part of the problem may be that as parents we send mixed messages. When kids first move out we hate being empty-nesters and by the time we realize it is actually a good thing, they are back. When they do come back, we fall into old parent-child patterns that no longer make sense and cause family friction.
I’m not sure what the solution is, but I do know that it helps if you begin paving the road to your children’s financial and personal independence from a very young age.
- Save as much as you can afford for their education in Registered Education Savings Plans so they do not need to take out massive student loans.
- Encourage your kids to get part-time and summer jobs and always bank a portion of their earnings.
- Help them gain life skills like budgeting, preparing meals and doing their own laundry.
- Create the expectation that leaving home is a natural part of growing up.
- If they do come back, negotiate clear boundaries including a firm future moving date.
And if all else fails, you could always try some matchmaking. Or better yet, tell your stay-at-home kids you are thrilled they plan to be around to take care of you in your dotage. That ought to be enough to make any self-respecting twenty-something start packing.