Jewish World Review March 20, 2012/ 26 Adar, 5772
Should be ashamed, but aren't
By Tom Purcell
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Sheesh, our generations are changing fast.
I refer to a recent Pew Research Center report: Some 30 percent of Americans ages 25 to 34 have moved back in with their parents.
And most aren't embarrassed.
Just 24 percent of the young adults said moving in with Mom and Dad was bad for their relationship with their parents. A quarter said it was good for that relationship. The rest said it didn't matter.
I know a thing or two about this. In my late 20s, I hit a bad patch and moved back in with my parents for a spell -- the last thing on Earth I wanted to do at the time.
Earlier in my 20s I was a very cocky lad. I'd worked a great job my first three years out of college, then quit to make some real dough in sales. I hated the job, though, and as soon as spring broke, I gave my notice.
Lucky for me, I had taught myself to do stone masonry during high school and college. I made terrific money rebuilding retaining walls then.
So, after quitting my sales job, I enjoyed that spring and summer, working hard labor. While selling one stone job, I met the president of a small communications agency, who offered me a job there.
Within a year, and cocky as ever, I joined up with another fellow to form my own communications agency. We did exceedingly well at first and I got cockier.
We decided to invest time and money in another venture we were sure would make us rich -- one with a few tech wizards. But it made us broke.
One spring Sunday morning after I'd paid my federal income taxes, I was down to my last $3.40. My credit card was maxed out. I went to a Burger King, downed a coffee and a bagel, then started knocking on doors, looking for more stone walls to rebuild.
I sold a small job and began making a few bucks. It never occurred to me at that low point that I could have qualified for food stamps or unemployment or any kind of government help.
That spring and summer were grand. That autumn, I took a cushy position with a big company. Initially, my income was wonderful. I got myself nice suits, a new car, a nice apartment.
Then a recession hit and business was horrible. My income suddenly was lower than my outgo. I loathed the job.
After so many ups and downs -- and so many more downs than ups -- I was finally beaten down. I sublet the apartment, sold the car and moved home, tail tucked between my legs.
That was because there was a stigma then that frowned upon able-bodied fellows in their 20s, adults by any measure, who moved back in with their parents -- for any reason.
I felt that stigma keenly.
When others asked where I lived, I told them I had a house in a nice suburb.
When people discovered I lived with my parents, I told them Mom and Dad had lost a fortune in the stock market and I had to take them in.
If any people knew the truth, I avoided them.
But there's no such stigma anymore.
One therapist told The Washington Times that the trend of adult children moving back home was well under way before the Great Recession, which "normalized" that behavior. Children now become "adults" much later in life.
For me, moving home made it easier to start a freelance writing business and save just enough to buy a modest little house.
My only point? At least I was embarrassed about it!
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© 2012, Tom Purcell