Once upon a time you would have waved your children off to university with tears in your eyes, assuming they would never live at home again. But things have changed.
Now many young adults find it impossible to make ends meet, and stay at home well into their twenties. In fact, 36% of young adults live at home full or part time.
A perfect storm of property prices, university loans, social media and parenting styles has created a brand-new social tribe – an inter-generational family made up of our kids (the 18 to 32 year-olds dubbed “millennials”) and us, their parents (often referred to as “baby boomers”). Meet the billennials.
Then and now
Think back to when we left home with the vision our lives would be as good as, if not bigger and better, than the ones enjoyed by our parents.
Today we fret about how our kids will get past first base without the Bank of Mum and Dad. Forget granny flats, the boom now is the building of “graddy” flats, home extensions for offspring bouncing back from university.
As the original helicopter parents, we remain involved in much of the minutiae of our children’s lives in a way our parents never did. In return they keep us abreast of modern life, from social media to fashion trends, plus new technology and the latest much-watch dramas.
Sex under the same roof
Even sex under the same roof – once unthinkable before marriage and pretty ill-advised even afterwards – is now tolerated.
Young people may bring their long-term partners or even new partners home for the night. To avoid being kept awake all night, it’s advisable to set some ground rules.
How different to our own formative years and early adulthood!
Keeping in constant contact
Millennials are constantly in touch with both their friends and family. According to research by retail consultancy Honest Opinion, which surveyed 1,000 people (500 millennials and 500 parents), 60% speak to, text or message their mothers at least once a day. Plus, half of 30-34 year olds speak to their parents once a day.
Perhaps this is unsurprising, given their upbringing. Monitoring the TV programmes our kids watched, panicking over them getting into the right schools and navigating social media were just some of the new additions to family life that never existed when we were young.
The fear of stranger danger meant they didn’t just run off and play anymore. They had play dates, organised by us, and spent hours in the car as we transported them from A to B.
Shopping is something that mums and daughters in particular enjoy doing together. Sharing advice on clothes, technology or bigger purchases like cars is something that works both ways and both generations can benefit from.
Our fashion and music tastes may have been polar opposite to those of our parents, but the lines with our children are more blurred. Social anthropologist and trends expert Dr John Curran explains, “Traditionally, music and fashion had clear generational boundaries that allowed the young to rebel but now we are finding that parents have not shed their youth identity.”
Dads who were skateboarders still wear Vans, he says, as their sons and daughters do. A mother’s love for R&B, soul or disco from the 70s and 80s is central to the music millennials listen to.
A closer relationship
Millennial parents feel they have much closer relationships with their children, though no more loving than the ones they had with their own parents. In fact, 60% of baby boomers say they are closer to their children than they were to their own mothers and fathers.
With fewer boundaries it can be tough to step up to the “I’m your parent, not your friend” conversations. Plus it’s hard enough to plan for one’s own financial future without at the same time keeping an eye on that of our kids.
But the joy of your kids choosing to spend time with you because you both enjoy doing the same things is priceless. Even if you’re the one who has to pay the bill.
Pick up the new issue of woman&home to read our full Billennial report.