No spouse, no house, and no sign of growing up

On June 1, 2018, Michael Rotondo of Camillus, N.Y. left the safety and security of his parents’ house, marking the beginning of his transition to adulthood by leaving the nest. What has traditionally been a routine part of growing up became news in this case because Mr. Rotondo is 30 years old and only begrudgingly left his parents home after they won a court order to have him removed from the house. After eight years of living under his parents’ roof at their expense, Mr. Rotondo questioned the judge’s ruling in the case, declaring that he had to take his belongings and move, saying, “I don’t see why we can’t just wait a little bit for me to leave the house.”

While the case has made news because parents rarely have to take their kids to court to get them to leave their house, the “failure to launch” among young adults has become all too common, resulting in a seemingly endless adolescence in which twenty-somethings fail to take personal responsibility for themselves, their expenses, and the responsibilities commonly associated with adulthood. In fact, over the past few years – for the first time in over a century – Americans aged 18-34 are more likely to live at home with their parents than in any other living situation. USA Today reported on a study by CreditCards.com that found that 74% of parents with adult children have provided them with financial support, including help paying for living expenses and paying down debt. The impact of this is detrimental to the growth and development of young adults who are failing to mature and take responsibility for their own lives, and also for parents who are increasingly accepting the financial burden of children for an increasingly large amount of time. In fact, a study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet found that when parents pay expenses for their adult children, they lose out on more than a quarter of a million dollars in retirement savings.

This prolonged state of adolescence and the delay in young adults accepting responsibility for themselves has dire consequences for society. Instead of working hard and supporting themselves, our youngest generation of adults deflect personal responsibility and avoid tough labor. The Pew Research Center found that nearly 60% of millennials (currently aged 22-37) are unmarried and when asked why they are still single, more than a quarter of respondents said they were “too young and not ready to settle down.” Homeownership for those under the age of 35 has fallen to 36%. And millennials are the generation least likely to associate with a religious community, feel that religion is an important part of their lives, or attend religious services regularly. All of these factors point to the decaying of the most important aspects of American life – family, faith, and community. It puts our younger generation at an economic and moral disadvantage and our nation on the wrong path.

If we are to take control of our national future and put ourselves back on the right track, we need to stop coddling our youth. By allowing adolescence to drag on into adulthood when individuals have traditionally been (and should be) self-sufficient, we’re not doing our youth any favors, and are instead handicapping our American future.

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