A new survey shows many Baby Boomer moms are supporting their adult kids, financially or otherwise. Should we really be surprised?
Reuters reports on a survey by research firm The Kitchens Group, showing that over half of moms in the Baby Boom generation provide their kids with financial support. Twelve percent have primary responsibility for one or more grown children's financial upkeep, and 9% have at least one kid living with them indefinitely. There are lots of possible reasons for this, one obvious one being that for young people on the job market today, it's hard to find a job that pays a living wage. However, Liz Kitchens of The Kitchens Group thinks there's more at work than money.
Predictably, Reuters hits the kids-are-lazy hypothesis, quoting 58-year-old mom Denise Beumer: "My son, he can't put the dishes in the dishwasher. It's like they feel it's an entitlement. I'm wondering if I made things too easy for them." Of course, it's possible that some of today's youth are just too coddled to flee the nest (they must exist, people talk about them enough). But it's also possible that young people today are just tighter with their moms than in generations past. Helen Bernstein, whose grown daughter lived with her for a time, says she never would have done the same: "I left home at 17 and never looked back. I felt like once I left my parents' house, I would have been a failure to go back." And Kitchens herself says, "I wasn't completely unhappy when both of my kids bounced back for periods of time," Kitchens said. "I think we've created good dinner companions."
A wealth of anecdotal evidence suggests that many twentysomethings today are closer to their parents than the Baby Boomers were to those who spawned them — and it's not a shock that with that closeness comes and increased degree of financial enmeshment. This certainly has potential negative consequences — kids' freeloading and the control issues that often spring up around money come to mind. But it's also true that the American economy and the American family both look different than they used to, and maybe it's time to acknowledge the ways these differences could be intertwined.