Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Robin Marantz Henig and her daughter Samantha Henig discuss what it means to be in your twenties today. In the summer of 2010, Robin Marantz Henig wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine called “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” that generated enormous reader response and started a conversation that included people in their 20s and baby boomers. Working with her daughter, she’s expanded the project into a book, Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck?


Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig

Comments [29]


To Ethan- guess what, all the previous generations usually lived at or below the poverty level when they moved out of Mom/Dads house. We all lived in crappy places at first, sometimes for a fair of amount of time. That what's young people do! You have to earn a Standard of Living, not walk into one, or expect the one from Home to continue when you leave it...!

Your generation, especially white suburban, or upper class urban, knows nothing about sacrifice and as such will never learn to truly live. Comfort breeds contempt for comfort, where living a hard life escapes most of you. Its why the Boomers kids a so whiny and soft.

Dec. 06 2012 01:12 PM
Molly from NYC

Aside from the conversation somehow revolving completely around women having children in their 20s or not... (how about other broader 20 something issues)... This notion that women in their 20s or early 30s need to have kids always stikes me slightly patronizing. What if the women hasn't found the right partner yet? someone she feels would make a good husband/father. What's the point of having kids in your 20s, just because you're younger, unless they don't mind being a single parent or stuck in a lousy relationship if there's no right guy around.

There are other factors at play. Both partners should want to have kids for the right reasons and can actually afford it. If a woman doesn't have those things until say her late 30s or 40s, who's to say she made a mistake by not having kids earlier?

Dec. 05 2012 10:53 PM
Ethan from Glen cove, ny

I'm 28 years old, unemployed, and currently going back to school at cuny for computer science. There are a number of reasons why many of my peers, including myself, have had a difficult time taking off. However, i would argue that the single most important reason is the state of the economy and how difficult it really is to compete in the job market. Despite my age and work experience, I've been applying to internships for software engineering with almost no results. The competition, even for jobs that are in demand, are outrageous, and getting a job isn't an expectation so much as its "beating the odds". Take a look at your own internships at wnyc, one of which ip applied to for next spring. How many candidates emailed a résumé? How many candidates did you interview. And how many did you actually hire? I once interviewd for a job where the employer had the audacity to interview more than 50 candidates for the same position.

The cost of living is also a big factor that I also think is heavily under reported. Most of my friends make less than 45k a yr. I may be wrong, but given the average cost of livinginNYC and the state's regional dependent poverty calc rates, most of us live with a salary that technically make us live below the poverty line or at the very least slightly above it.

Dec. 05 2012 01:00 PM
Anon from Canada

I believe it is a fallacy to assume that having children earlier in life will somehow disrupt the parent's/parents' personal and career objectives; having children later in life offers no guarantee of security or success any more than having them earlier in life (we cannot always predict outcomes). I had my child in my early twenties. I completed two degrees in his early years and began my career pursuits as he grew and fell into the flow of full school days. There were challenges to this choice, and some hard times, but I do not regret this decision. Today, I am in my early 40s and my son is about to turn 20. I am in a position to dedicate a significant amount of time to my career and well positioned to accelerate forward. My son - he may not have his life goals set in stone, but his feet are solidly in the ground (he has an established and growing savings, clear and achievable objectives, and dedicated time to travel and explore the world around him). I think any choice we make - whether the desire to have a family, career, or otherwise - is going to involve costs and consequences (whether immediate or delayed). If a person is keen on achieving a specific goal, he/she will accept the challenges that accompany that choice, and will learn to grow and move beyond them.

Dec. 05 2012 12:55 PM

Let's face it, the Boomers have been a near full failure as the inheritors of this Nations standards across the board. They have been horrible parents, ruined sexuality thru their promiscuity, that they handed down, made us nothing but a personal Image conscious culture - ever notice how Boomers buy their Cool off the shelf, instead of actually being cool? - and took the Greed mentality to such heights that even when they behave immorally, unethically and are caught they don't have the stones to admit it.

So what sort of kids do we expect them to have raised?

The Boomers have failed this nation on so many levels its almost funny. Almost.

Dec. 05 2012 12:48 PM
William Koggan from 08550

What about the data linking the fathers age and autism !

Dec. 05 2012 12:43 PM

Paid maternity leave = vacation!

The Entitlement mentioned is this - these kids of Boomers don't expect, nor wish to tolerate a lower standard of living when they move out of their parents house. They Expert to have big TVs, $200/month cellphone service, a stocked fridge, latest clothing, new cars, and a water view in a great apartment.

Dec. 05 2012 12:38 PM
nkh from nyc

How is it that having a job and paying bills or being married with children automatically make you an adult? What does your capacity to earn money or pay for your own residence have anything to do with being psychologically or emotionally mature. I'm sure there are plenty of 20-somethings who live at home who are very responsible and not the equivalent of a child living in an adult body.

Dec. 05 2012 12:38 PM

Why is this conversation only about women?

Dec. 05 2012 12:38 PM

As a woman in her mid-forties, I waited to have children not only for financial or career reasons. I was emotionally and physically abused and wanted work out those issues so that my children would not suffer. It took longer than I had anticipated and now it's too late. I have no regrets because I would regret it more if I continued the circle of violence.

Dec. 05 2012 12:38 PM
Sarah from Manhattan

I am a 28-year-old woman and have a career as a classical singer. I am experiencing the feelings of wanting to have a domestic life and a career, but I feel financially 'behind' with savings and retirement so I have donated my eggs to catch up with that. The relationship between the fertility of young people and financial stability that comes for more seasoned couples interests me, and it's my hope to bridge the gap.

Dec. 05 2012 12:37 PM
SusanK from NYC

I'm currently listening to the show and it hits home on many levels. I left Philadelphia in my early twenties after doing university programs abroad. I always wanted to live in NYC, the center of the universe. I spoke a few languages, wrote somewhat decently but had NO idea who I was or how I would navigate the world, not to mention carrying a lot of baggage from adolescence. So many of my friends came from divorced families, drug experimentation was common in my coming of age group and a lot of us who were working in artistic realms saw addiction first hand. I'm talking about educated twentysomethings... In any case, most of us were in NO position to have children before we knew ourselves. My friends who did get married young and had kids, most of them are divorced and some resentful. At the same time, I think it's great if a twentysomething has it together enough to start a family at 25-26.

Finally, I wrote a novel called Who Town that reflects my 20something experience in NYC: So far, young folk have reviewed it as realistic.

I'm interested in reading the book featured on the show... THe discussion has only just begun.

Dec. 05 2012 12:37 PM

I am a 31 year old scared to death of having children and with honestly no desire to have children. My husband (who is 29)and I are still trying to decide what to do with OUR lives let alone trying to be responsible for offspring. My parents don't seem to understand this but are dealing with just having "grand-dogs" at the moment.

Dec. 05 2012 12:37 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Remember, there's nothing new about women having babies in their 40s. What's new is women having their *1st* babies in their 40s.

And I have to disagree w/the part about never being as clever as you are in your 20s. Experience increases cleverness.

Dec. 05 2012 12:37 PM
30 year old Ashlynn from Brooklyn, NY

Just turned 30. Besides selfishly wanting to get my jollies and have my "act together" before being a mother, I believe there is an overarching feeling amongst educated young people that it's a scary world out there to bring children into. Environmental instability is a pervasive concern, and I personally have felt I would have to be enormously responsible to bring children into that difficult future.

Dec. 05 2012 12:36 PM
Andrea from manhattan

I am 42. We wanted to avoid making wrong decisions like our 70's/ hippy parents. Didn't want to end up divorced. Didn't want to "mess up" our kids - all of this is based on the idea that more therapy and yoga would get us to this place. Did it work? I don't know. I wish my body was younger - my kids are 5 and 6. And I'm not a perfect parent!

Dec. 05 2012 12:34 PM
Jennifer from NYC

I just turned 40. Throughout my 20s and 30s I had relationships and didn't focus on marriage and children, but did think it would happen one day.

Now that it's so late, I really regret that I didn't focus on finding a good many who wanted a family and can't help but resent my parents for never mentioning marriage or fertility to me. They provided no guidance or support during a time when I lacked maturity and focus. Wouldn't you think that parents would say something? Anything?

Dec. 05 2012 12:30 PM
Mike from Brooklyn

Why does there seem to be an implicit assumption that having kids is a good or "adult" thing to do? Frankly in a resource scarce and economically destabilized world it seems a bit irresponsible -- and arguably selfish if you're not in a place to take care of them.

Dec. 05 2012 12:29 PM
Mary chatham from NYC

As a parent of 3 20 somethings, i am noticing parents who seem reluctant for children returning fm college to move out. Is there something going on w parents of this group also?

Dec. 05 2012 12:26 PM
M. L. from New York, NY

A friend of a friend apparently grew up in comfortable circumstances. His father had a union job and supported the family on that one income. There was enough money for a boat and even a country club membership. I feel like my friends and I, who are in our mid-30s, cannot replicate that kind of family life. The ones who are "comfortable" get a lot of financial support from family.

Dec. 05 2012 12:26 PM

Money. That's the central issue. People wait for their lives to begin. They only need an opportunity and a real salary.

That is why young adults are stuck.
It was true in the nineteen seventies, it is true today.

Dec. 05 2012 12:26 PM
Lex from Jersey City

They've overlooked Gen X in this discussion. That generation had an important impact on millennials. Not a real thorough discussion.

Dec. 05 2012 12:25 PM
John A.

Blame Feminism?

Dec. 05 2012 12:23 PM
Christine from Westchester

Anon: thus is it ever so. I had my kids in my 30s and had to manage. It works out. You may need to take a look at those companies in Women's Mag that are family friendly. I expected my career would be derailed and when I got back from leave, got a promotion. Apparently they missed me when I was gone.

Dec. 05 2012 12:19 PM
Megan from Brooklyn

How great that a 20-something is so aware about the limits fertility! I am a pregnant 30-something Gen-Xer who had had no idea how hard it would be to have a baby in my mind 30s, and would wish the challenge on none. I keep warning 20 somethings not to wait too long and they look at me like I am crazy!

Dec. 05 2012 12:16 PM
Christine from Westchester

Have you observed parents lately? They're wiping kids noses through high school, contacting their college professors about their "children's" grades and otherwise, not allowing them to grow up. I know parents who text their college student 3x a day or more. Yikes!

My kids even complain about how they are treated at high school saying "they want to wrap us in bubble wrap" to prevent any problems. You have to let them grow up! No wonder the 20 somethings are stuck . They don't know what to do without mommy.

Dec. 05 2012 12:16 PM
mr nyc

The general cost of living, paying off college student debts, going to grad school because you need more degrees today to get jobs (thus incurring more debt), the fact that job security (as well as many jobs) have vanished have made it difficult for young adults to start their adult lives. Also, many people have been raised with unrealistic expectations of financial and professional success so, when they don't achieve it, they get depressed.

Dec. 05 2012 12:14 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I actually feel bad for young adults today for getting accused of not embracing adulthood. I am a Gen X'er who graduated from college in 1991, and due to the cruddy economy in that year, I was also unable to find a salaried job in my field. I ended up working FT at minimum wage in a record store, and working a 20 hour a week internship at a magazine - for 3 years.

The most major difference between now and then is that it was wholly affordable to move out on your own, and get your own apartment in big cities, for $350 a month. As a creative person, too, I was in no rush to "embrace adulthood," and feel like today's young adults should enjoy that rare time in which they are no longer in school full time, and have their own money, but have little responsibilities or things tying them down. The only real issue is affordable housing, and the need for young adults to indeed get out of their parents' homes, and learn how to financially make it on their own.

And people my age and older - you strike me as overly conservative in your views of what constitutes "adulthood." Not everyone is in a rush to get married, have kids, and obtain a mortgage.

Dec. 05 2012 12:14 PM
Anon from New York, New York

I'm in my early 30s--I don't know how I can have a child and not have it completely undermine my career. Most of my friends feel the same way. It takes so long to establish a career these days and to become financially sufficient that it doesn't even seem possible to have children early in your 30s while juggling professional responsibilities. There's no way my husband and I could afford day care AND our rent, even though we have two incomes.

Dec. 05 2012 12:14 PM

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