Friday, June 21, 2013

Slouching Towards Adulthood

Different subtitle.  I am confused.
Slouching Towards Adulthood: How to Let Go So Your Kids Can Grow Up, by Sally Koslow

I can never resist "state of society" books like this.  Koslow is a mother of grown sons, and looking around, she noticed a whole lot of 20-something and even 30-something young adults sort of wandering around in an extended adolescence, doing lots of things but never quite getting around to the traditional milestones of adulthood like a steady job or career, marriage, children, or having a place of their own.   Here she analyzes societal trends, interviews lots of young adults and their parents, and spins some theories.  She calls this 'adultescence.'

First off, I have to point out that Koslow is mainly talking about what must be a fairly small slice of the young adult population--mostly upper-middle class, highly educated, and probably white, nearly always with parents who are well-off enough to give them some financial support.  I do not actually know anyone like this in real life myself.  I know a fair number of young adults, but none of them would be featured in this book.

I also find it a little odd that Koslow invariably refers to the parents of adultescents as Baby Boomers.  Is this correct?  I mean, my parents are Boomers, but here we're talking about people who are mostly 10-15 years younger than I am.  OK, granted, I actually have a sister who is nearly 15 years younger than I am, but I would have thought that most of her contemporaries have parents who are not quite Boomer age.

Anyway.  Koslow describes young adults who have a whole lot of prestigious education and probably carry a lot of student debt, but for various reasons have not translated that into a career.  One of the major reasons is the economic pit we are living in--it is incredibly hard to get a good job after graduating from college these days (just ask my sister)--but it isn't always that.  Koslow goes into all these different things, and it's pretty interesting.  She ends up with chapters on marriage and having children, and the unexpected pitfalls on the way.

She's not saying "Kids today, they're so rotten."  There is a lot of sympathy here for the difficulties of getting launched into life, and admiration too.  Also some exasperation, but she theorizes that the Boomer parents have a lot to do with it.*  As the subtitle suggests, she ends up advising parents to let go and let their kids make their own lives (on their own, without constantly running off to help pack for a move, and without financial support for fun stuff like a year in Thailand or the latest smartphone).

It was interesting.  But I think it mostly applies to a fairly small segment of the young adult population.

*Here we run into the generational thing again.  If it's Boomers' fault that young adults are butterflies, flitting and sipping in the garden of life, why didn't Gen X do it too?  Our parents were all Boomers.  Maybe we just couldn't afford all the international travel; we hankered after it enough, or at least I did.  And there were lots of complaints when I was in college about the Slacker Generation, but we seem to have gotten over that now; first we fueled the dot-com boom and then we, uh, got underwater on our mortgages.  Maybe this is just the current version of the complaints about Gen X.


jrleek said...

"I mean, my parents are Boomers, but here we're talking about people who are mostly 10-15 years younger than I am."
Well, our parents are pretty old for Boomers, 46 is the very beginning of that generation, and they had you at a fairly young age for Boomers.

I actually know a lot of people who fit this description to some degree. Almost all of my friends from High School or College, really. Most of them haven't gotten married and had kids, although a lot of them have well paying jobs.

Jenny/Teachingmybabytoread said...

It's because Generation X is awesome.