Home for the Holidays … and Beyond

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies recently released its annual state of America’s housing report. It shows more young adults’ living with their parents than at any time since World War II.

Half of Americans aged 20 – 24 live at home. And more than a quarter of those aged 25 – 29 bunk up with their folks.

In the past ten years, the number of American adults under age 30 has increased by 5 million, but the number of households headed by adults under 30 has increased by only 200,000.

These statistics are surely triggering Millennial jokes across the country. Comedian John Crist has certainly gotten a good laugh out of his generation. His “Millennial International” spoof is spot on.

At the risk of appearing tacky or insensitive, Crist parodies common “adopt-a-child” advertisements by humanitarian organizations. He offers an opportunity to sponsor a Millennial for $2,900 a month.

“The need is enormous,” a sponsor explains. “There are over ten million Millennials who have graduated with no work ethic, no job, no discernible skills at all. And they have expenses.”

Three stereotypical Gen Y-ers itemize their expenses: housing, student loans, credit card debt, Volkswagen Jetta lease, beard wax, Spotify premium, pet food for a rescue dog, spin cycle membership, Ubers home from a pub crawl, essential oils, Kale Krunch.

The sponsor adopts “Declan” from Beverly Hills (played by Mr. Crist).

The sponsor describes the program: “It’s the same as a traditional sponsorship program except instead of getting – say – a soccer ball for his birthday, he’s getting an Audi.”

Is Declan capable of getting a job with his art degree? Sure, he says.

“But I sort of feel like employment right now would be stifling to my creativity.” He’s an aspiring photographer. He’s also gluten-free, lactose intolerant, allergic to peanuts, and sensitive to pollen.

***

I recently met a gentleman who was helping support his 30-year-old son in Hawaii. The son is an occupational therapist by day and a surfer by afternoon. He isn’t making enough to pay all his expenses.

The man’s other son, 28, had recently moved back in with him. His garage is full of furniture the son had won on a game show while living in California.

All dresser-ed up with nowhere to go.

Many Millennials drive for passion, meaning and authenticity. To them, rolling out in pajamas, facial hair and dreadlocks is not a sign of laziness. It shows you’re being real.

But “real” is not reality. The participation trophy mentality has short-circuited many young people’s understanding of value. Everyone getting a medal is the same as no one getting a medal.

The good news is for every 25-year-old living at home, there’s a 25-year-old contributing mightily, such as one who works for me. She recently juggled two complex jobs at once while we filled an open position.

As in all of life, there is light in darkness and hope amid malaise. There are new opportunities to take responsibility and to learn to add value.

For both Millennials and the generation that raised them.

 

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.

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