By Marcia Love
What truly signifies the official entrance into adulthood? For many, it’s that moment when they finally leave home to find their own way in the world, making their own decisions without relying on mom and dad.
But new reports are suggesting that even after sons and daughters move out on their own, it’s taking them longer to actually become independent.
According to a recent CIBC poll, 66 per cent of parents are feeling the financial strain of assisting their adult children. Released last month, the poll found one in four parents are spending more than $500 a month on rent, groceries, utility bills and vehicle payments for their kids. And it’s cramping their retirement plans.
Evidently, it’s taking us quite a bit longer to fully embrace what it means to be independent.
As much as we love that sense of freedom that comes with moving out, going to college, getting our own place, and doing our own thing on our own terms, we rarely know the true sense of being on our own anymore until we’re well into adulthood.
Mom is still slipping that extra $40 to her son “just in case” as he’s packing the clean laundry she just did for him into his car to head back to the dorm from a weekend back home. Dad is still paying to fill up his little girl’s gas tank after ensuring her car is running OK.
This is common, and while the hand-outs were once expected to end after college or university graduation, this hasn’t often been the case anymore.
In 2011, a Statistics Canada census found that 42 per cent of the country’s 4.3 million young adults (aged 20-29) were living at home — up 10 per cent from 1991.
With a tougher job market and fewer opportunities for those fresh out of college with little work experience to land solid jobs, grads are heading from the dorm room back to their childhood bedrooms.
There’s a comfort that comes in knowing you have somewhere to fall, a back-up plan of sorts.
I’ll admit I was one of the 20-somethings who did move back home to recoup and figure out a plan after moving out, returning for almost a year to decide what my next step was.
But there comes a time when you need to cut the apron strings. For me, that came when I moved 3,000 kilometres from home, forcing me to learn to do things for myself.
It’s a liberating and terrifying feeling at first. Because up until then, you don’t realize just how many decisions other people have been making for you. The best way to learn how to manage money is by managing your own money.
I’m not saying everyone over 18 who still lives under their parents’ roof is taking advantage of mommy and daddy’s financial status. Everyone has their reasons, and every situation is different. It’s challenging to find a job that brings in enough to pay the bills, and the cost of living isn’t getting any cheaper. In some families, it’s a case of mom and dad simply wanting to show love in a monetary form.
But there is a fine line between being a contributing member of a household and being a burden when one could be contributing.
Independence is a scary thing, but it’s also a necessary part of growing up and growing as a person.
When should sons and daughters be expected to go it on their own? It’s a difficult question to answer, because we’re no longer seeing students graduate post-secondary school in their early 20s. It’s become common for adults to continue their education into their 30s, and mom and dad don’t want to leave them hanging.
A parent’s son or daughter will always be their child no matter their age, and mothers and fathers want to see their children prosper. But often that means gradually taking steps back and letting them take the wheel and steer their own life.