Sunday, January 30, 2005

I Confess, I'm a Twixter

I don't know how many of you read or subscribe to TIME magazine, but there was an interesting article in the Jan. 24th edition about the new "breed" or young adults (our age) who are basically resisting growing up. Now for you Mormons ;) some of this may not apply, as many of you are married already. However, you may relate to much of the article as it relates to jobs, careers, finances, etc. The article is called "Grow Up? Not So Fast". I'll post a link to it, but I think you have to be a subscriber to view the article. If that's the case, let me know and I'll try to post some of it. If you do manage to read it, I'd love to hear your reactions.

4 Comments:

At 1/30/2005 11:34:00 PM,

Whoops, forgot the link:

http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/archive/preview/0,10987,1018089,00.html 

Posted by Rich

 
At 2/01/2005 11:36:00 AM,

I remember when articles like this were coming out every couple of months in '01-'03. At the time, I assumed that the terrible job market was a large part of the reason for unusually high numbers of twenty-somethings and even thirty-somethings who resisted leaving the nest.

However, from a lot of anecdotal evidence, as well as the dubious-but-not-THAT-dubious labor statistics released by the government, I can conclude that the job market has improved quite a bit since then. We're not at 1999 levels where one could be an English or sociology major and accept a high-five-figures consulting or IT job upon receiving a bachelor's degree, but no one in his right mind expects that sort of job market to be sustainable.

Can we all agree that the "twixter" phenomenon (...ugh, what a stupid-sounding term...) is bad? From the standpoint of the LDS church, it seems to be: we are encouraged to become self-sufficient and raise families of our own, hopefully in that order. From the standpoint of common sense, twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings who refuse to leave the nest are failing to learn lessons of personal responsibility and will probably be less effective parents and members of society once they finally do strike off on their own. Needless to say, I'm not advocating that young folks cut all ties to the parents and pretend that they no longer exist; hopefully, parents and grown children can mutually support each other (psychologically, spiritually, even monetarily), rather than maintaining a one-way support relationship typical of parents with toddlers.

Given the improvement in the job market, and the coincidental flowering of the "twixter" movement, I am initially inclined to chastise the "twixters" themselves for lack of motivation. After all, they are well past the age of accountability, even under the most liberal definition of the phrase.

However, the twixters are only human. When they are given a choice between supporting themselves and being supported, many of them will choose the latter because it is generally cushier and less risky. In economics, it is taken as a given that some people are naturally more "risk-averse." Others naturally prefer to take more risks, which generally leads to a much wider and less predictable variety of outcomes. For example, the 25-year-old who stays at home and dabbles in the local community college without direction is safe, secure, and well-fed. The 25-year-old who moves to New York with dreams of making it big might end up a wealthy stockbroker with great social influence, or he/she might end up in the gutter.

In the end, I frown upon parents who allow their children to make such a decision at all, once the children have reached their mid-twenties and/or have completed a college degree. I understand that the parents' motivation is to help their children be happy and secure, but ironically, if they decide to shelter their children indefinitely, they are effectively standing in the way of the children's path towards self-sufficiency, families of their own, and an ultimately happier and more fulfilled life.

I imagine that most parents of this sort don't realize that their compassionate attitudes are producing the opposite of the result they desire. Many of the "twixter" generation's parents had trying times when they were growing up fifty years ago. They look back on these trials not as challenges that strengthened them and taught them valuable life lessons, but as mere hardships that nobody should have to endure. Given the obsession with social status among most of humankind, I would also imagine that many of these parents are/were ashamed of their trials, seeing them as symptoms of low socioeconomc class.

Admittedly, my analysis is slanted by my own family history. Both of my parents grew up in working-class (but not poor) families, in communities of many other working-class families, in cramped (but not run-down) houses. Neither really had anything in the way of luxuries as they grew up, and money was always tight. Both of them worked very hard in school, went to college and medical school on scholarships, and began successful medical practices. They married and bought a lovely house in an upscale part of the big city (in their eyes, Pittsburgh was certainly a big city). They decided, perhaps subconsciously, that their children should never have to endure the trials that they had endured. And that's where I come in. I will freely admit that I have aspects of the twixter mentality; otherwise, how could I have majored in sociology and organizational behavior, the laid-back cousin of a legitimate business major?

Anyway, I don't know how one would go about convincing parents to allow their children to be exposed to trials, to taste failure firsthand, and to learn personal responsibility and other vital life lessons. As I said earlier, I think that obsession with social status will discourage many parents from even allowing the possibility of failure to ever enter the equation for their children, whether early in life or in the "twixter" years. But I do know that these trials are vital for our progression. I look to D&C 122:7 - "[K]now thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." 

Posted by Chris Potter

 
At 2/03/2005 03:52:00 PM,

All you have to do is go to Europe to see this taken to the extreme. It's scary. I don't know if the phenomenon here follows the same pattern, or if it springs from the same causes, but I know plenty single adult men (35-45) with careers who still live with their parents and who don't expect to leave. (For those of you who were in Rome w/ me, Allesandro Formili is a great example.)  

Posted by Chris Patton

 
At 10/07/2005 10:05:00 AM,

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