Putting Off Being An Adult: Are Millennials Refusing to Grow Up?
Traditionally speaking, there are certain milestones in a person's life that when reached, are a sign of growing up. Diploma. College. Getting a job. Moving out from your parents. Getting married. Having a baby. Yet more and more millennials are deciding to skip over these traditional milestones. Does this mean they are living less of an "adult" life? Or are they being responsible by putting off these milestones until they can afford it? Are they missing out?
According to an August 2012 article published by Bloomberg, the cost to attend college has went up 1120% since 1978. In monetary terms, $1 in 1978 equaled $3.52 in 2012, because of inflation. It's easy to see that the cost of college far outpaced inflation. Raising cost of college, means more and more students taking on large loans to finance their education. This should pay off, right?
Wrong. In 2012, a person with a bachelor's degree could expect to earn $41,000-$44,000 right out of college (according to CNN.com). Not good. Not bad. But not enough to live on IF the person has a lot of student loans. This is where living at a parent's house for as long as possible has become popular. Save money, pay down debt. But is having parental roommates delaying adulthood?
First comes Love, Then Comes Marriage
More and more millennials are putting off getting hitched too. According to the United Nations World Marriage Day 2015, citizens of the USA and UK get married at the age of 27.9, on average. In 1978, that number was 24.2 years old for men and 21.8 for women (US Census). Are millennials putting off getting married because they have too much debt in student loans? Do they not want to move out of mom's/dad's? Are their commitment issues (whoa, don't even get me started on that one)? Is marriage a thing of the past?
What's the point of getting married anyways? In the past, it held an unfortunate meaning: the woman was given away and expected to serve her husband and raise children. I get that some people want that traditional family make-up. I get that there are many religions value marriage and what it symbolizes. I also get the value of commitment. But outside of ALL that, what's the point?
A wedding can be expensive, even if you just go to the courthouse. Rings are expensive. Changing a last name can be a headache. The tax breaks for being married are slowly diminishing. Divorce rate is high. The stigma for living together before marriage, and/or having children outside of marriage, has decreased. I am not saying I support these concepts one way or another, I am just putting together a discussion based around the millennial generation delaying certain traditional milestones. What are your thoughts?
Then Comes Baby In a Baby Carriage...
How do you know if you want kids? How do you know if you have time for kids? How do you know if you can afford kids?
I have talked to many late-20s to early-30s women who do not have children. The reasons why are numerous. The time hasn't been right. They work too much. The finances are not in line. Babies are time consuming and expensive. Is it fair for a baby to spend more time with a babysitter than his/her own parent? Will the parent feel guilty? Can the parent afford the astronomical cost of daycare, on top of every other debt?
Sometimes a person has to be thrown into a situation to realize it is doable. Wants, needs and expectations all change as a person grows. It is important to note that everyone is on their own journey, and just because millennials are taking more time to hit certain milestones does not mean that they are not adults.
Millennials are the most educated, and racially diverse, generation. They are free thinkers, who question "why," "when," and "how." They propel themselves through social media and drive advancements in technology. They are highly educated and underemployed. They have grown up in a time of economic uncertainty, and the economy hasn't been overly gracious of them since they entered the job force.
Maybe it isn't that the millennial generation is putting off growing up, maybe it's that they are redefining being an adult in their own terms.