Not Quite Adults

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Richard Settersten and Barbara Ray discuss why 20-somethings are delaying adulthood. Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood, and Why It's Good for Everyone draws on almost a decade of cutting-edge research, and has nearly 500 interviews with young people. The findings reveal that a slower path to adulthood may be beneficial.


Barbara Ray and Richard Settersten

Comments [27]

michael from ny

I could not stand this section. The guests seemed to have a tunnel vision of the implications of being the crutch for young adults. Has the world become that different of a hazard than any other time in history? Why is the world so difficult for this generation that they must have more support and time to make valid decisions for themselves. Choices, struggles, and mistakes are a part of life. To insulate a young adult from that aspect of life for as long as possible cannot be beneficial to the children as people.

Dec. 29 2010 04:14 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn

Hi, Leonard, Maybe the main character in my novel Different Flags was a pioneer as far as a young person in search of guidance and herself go. She felt that she needed something that she wasn’t getting from her family of origin in San Francisco. Ani needed a purpose in life and she wasn’t getting it. Her trip back to Argentina gave her the chance to get to know who she really was and wanted to be. The novel takes place in late 1982. Ani is based partially on me and my own feelings as a young woman. Growing up can be scary. Eugenia Renskoff

Dec. 29 2010 01:55 PM
Tim from Berkeley, California

Guests seem dazzled by this generation, blind to its biggest handicap: most fail to participate in public life. They completely avoid eye contact with strangers and seem to meet people almost strictly by connections. This means not only an incomplete "independence" that they as individuals are achieving, but a loss for society. I praise 20-somethings for their sensitivity, ability to introspect, and open mindedness - in some ways they are rather more mature than those who came before. But they are hardly moving towards being self-sufficient independent adults when it comes to the public sphere. And by the way, economic hard times are a great reason to cut costs by living with others, but that those others are one's own parents means these young adults haven't even tasted the excitement of grown-upness yet, and their parents seem to be just fine with that. What's wrong with renting a small house with a bunch of friends? I would hope that parents would be eager to contribute to a part of the partial rent due for a room in a shared house and ask the kids to do odd jobs to earn the rest.

Dec. 28 2010 09:24 PM
Emma from DC

We were always a BIT behind, not b/c of lack of smarts, but b/c my parents came to US as grad students. They had to study, raise kids, then join the workforce (later than most of their colleagues). Also, we had to save up for family in the old country and work towards citizenship. I was undecided/unrealistic re: career, so I got waylayed a few times. And yes, NYC was TOO expensive for me! I left b/c I couldn't get a teaching job. Now I'm 31 and have my first REAL job w/ good benefits, decent salary, etc. It took a LONG time, but I got here!

Dec. 28 2010 05:18 PM
Not Buying from NYC

Karla, all that site appears to be is a fake blog fronting for an instructional CD/DVD sales operation.

Dec. 28 2010 01:39 PM
Karla from Manhattan

I recommned the authors of Not Quite Adults visit the website hjs11211 suggests. If they do I think they will learn that their research requires additional interviews.

Dec. 28 2010 01:19 PM
Julia from Manhattan

I was frankly amazed at Leonard's comment suggesting that young women are somehow being "exploited" by not marrying. Really?

There are so many conservative, reactionary sentiments toward women buried in this statement that I don't even know where to begin. It's very disappointing to hear the kind of deeply ingrained sexism that still pervades some of the most progressive, forward-thinking media in the US.

Dec. 28 2010 01:16 PM

just do a google for parents call boss

it's a real problem.

Dec. 28 2010 12:51 PM

A flip side to this may be that children who maintain this kind of connection will be more likely to participate in the care of their aging parents later in life. My siblings and I were very much involved in managing my father's recent illness, and I was shocked to discover that our degree of involvement was considered to be very unusual.

Dec. 28 2010 12:44 PM

in what world did people ask for the "ring before spring"?
this seems like a relic of the 50s -- I graduated from college in the early 80s, and none of my contemporaries were in a rush to marry or bear children. Nor did they move back home when confronted with tough times.

Dec. 28 2010 12:41 PM
Karla from Manhattan

Are you kidding me?!! WHO did these people interview????--Mother Theresa!! I am the parent of a lazy 21 year old college dropout who stays up all night playing video games--and the parents I speak to have similiar stories.

Dec. 28 2010 12:40 PM
Ben from Brooklyn

I wish you had more young adults talking about these issues. Your discussion of young adults and marriage seems to forget that the concept of marriage has changed significantly over time, and after generations of seeing marriages not work, it seems like young people are perhaps progressing to have more realistic relationships with their partners. A good example of where this has occurred in in the french Paxe (sp?) system.

Dec. 28 2010 12:38 PM
Susan from Manhattan

College-bound high schoolers don't get jobs now because they have TOO MUCH HOMEWORK!

Dec. 28 2010 12:37 PM
L from Brooklyn

I am a college professor and I see students who are highly dependent on their parents for decision-making, highly anxious, easily stressed, and expectant of high praise/reward for little work. They are nice people but I am not sure what will become of them.

Dec. 28 2010 12:35 PM
E from NYCsomewhere

One of your guests expressed concern for the loss of vocational schools, arguing that "college isn't for everyone"
As someone from the upper middle class, with parents who both had advanced degrees from top universities.. and who was unable to follow in their footsteps, but still went to a top NYC arts / design college, I will attest that even at this level - the idea of 'college' as some kind of exemplary is so absolute that it in fact ruins the education .. In that at my school they will depend on the sink or swim attitude to justify that they are maintaining this 'exemplary' status..

Dec. 28 2010 12:35 PM

hjs11211, I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm 30, I fit the discussed demographic to some extent, and neither I nor anyone I know has ever had his/her parents call a boss. Straw man.

Another thing that's worth discussing is that the fleeing of the nest, the notion of generational conflict and finding yourself outside of your ancestral home: that's not really like a universal human experience. Remaining in close proximity to the kin group is a much more universal scenario, isn't it? And for good historical reasons...

Dec. 28 2010 12:31 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Oh, that reminds me, student loans!

That’s what really made post-college life on my own tough. Whatever little money I earned in my early career, a big fat check went to student loans every month for years.

Dec. 28 2010 12:28 PM
rpaaswe;; from manhattan

The previous "norm" that these authors refer to wasn't itself always a norm. Up until the middle of the last century, children stayed home until they married, even those who married later than average. They worked, contributed to the household economy and finally left only when they married (some, not even then) The norm of moving out of the family home immediately after college only took hold after the fifties.

Dec. 28 2010 12:27 PM
Mike from BK

I am curious how part time jobs as teens plays a role. When I was 16 I got my first time job and I think that molded me to have a need for independance. It just seems to me that less and less kids are working these part time jobs. I met so many kids in college who never got thier first job until after they graduated from college. It seems to me that those kids are more likely to stay home later in life.

Dec. 28 2010 12:27 PM
Sandy from Brooklyn, NY

20-Somethings are CHOOSING? Some of this is not a choice. Bad economy aside, more and more young people have fewer job opportunities unless they get a graduate level degree. A college degree no longer cuts it and with outrageous tuition fees it's no wonder that 20-somethings have less money and are less likely to get married and settle down. And as N has mentioned, what's the definition of an adult? I think the volunteerism, dedication to public service, higher education, living in diverse communities, etc. makes this generation MORE adult than generations before.

Dec. 28 2010 12:26 PM
b from Brooklyn

I'm 27 and have lived outside of my parent's house since a few weeks before my 18th birthday. My older brother on the other hand has been in and out of living with my parents throughout the last ten years.

I didn't finish college, but instead dropped out to pursue a career in technology. I am underpaid for those in my field, but have been able to make things works.

I am lucky in that I have cheap tastes, and have been able to find reasonable (by NYC standards) rent. Though the main reason I can afford to live on my own is that I have largely ignored the existence of my student loans. I am not the only person I know in my age group to have made this choice.

If I were to start paying them off, I could not afford rent and eating.

The point is, everything is more expensive than it used to be. I can't move because I can't afford the rent increase. The cost of living is going up, the cost of education is going up. Real wages are not going up. I have broader choices than most of my peers since I work in a high growth industry; but many of us are stuck with huge debt and no jobs. I can't tell you how many people I know with college degrees working in the bar and restaurant industries. College degrees may be an employer requirement these days, but the market is saturated with college graduates. There just aren't enough jobs for everyone with a BA/ BS.

Dec. 28 2010 12:26 PM

by the way these are the same 20 somethings that have their parents call their bosses to stop their bosses from "mistreating" them

Dec. 28 2010 12:26 PM
Phil from Park Slope

Student loans, anyone? Education costs are so much higher than they have ever been, and I know that myself and most of my friends are still paying, and we're in our 30s. My parents didn't have that when they were starting out.

Dec. 28 2010 12:25 PM
PL from Queens

I am glad to finally hear discussion in support of young people living at home with their parents while they are still growing into adulthood. I am an only child whose father died before I reached adolescence. I continued to live with my widowed and, eventually, aging, mother until her final illness and death. To many people who know me, this was seen as an unusual situation. But my mother and I were very close and provided emotional and financial support to one another. Although I had a job and cultivated a life of my own apart from my mother, living with her did not necessarily impede my maturation. In fact, I would argue that it helped it because I learned what it meant to become an adult female by observing this most important person in my life.

Dec. 28 2010 12:23 PM
Elle from Union City, NJ

It's not just the economy. Young adults today have more social options than ever before. The tyranny of choice- instead of the presumption that you would enter into a profession immediately, get married and have a family, up and coming adults have to choose what they want- and they're told that 'everything is possible'. It's daunting, and I suspect drives some young people back to the nest.

Dec. 28 2010 12:18 PM
Joe E from brooklyn

Is it worth considering that home used to be a place that you wanted to leave more so than today, when children have this different, less strict relationship with their parents that your guest mentioned?

Maybe home is too nice a place these days?

Dec. 28 2010 12:15 PM
N from nyc

i don't understand how adulthood is related to moving out. i'm 26 and i live at home but i don't feel like a kid. i grocery shop, cook, clean, contribute the best ways i know how, and i take care of myself in many ways that don't relate to money. i know a lot of people my age who live on their own who i don't feel are more grown up than i am.

Dec. 28 2010 12:12 PM

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