A False American Ideal
I don’t understand why people get so upset about the prospect of helping older children. Wages are low, and have failed to adequately increase relative to the cost of living. Families have real difficulty surviving on one wage. Health care costs are astronomical. A serious illness can easily bankrupt a family.
The value of a bachelor’s degree, that sacred parchment necessary to get any reasonable job, is progressively decreasing, at the same time that the costs of an college education are skyrocketing. Today’s middle-aged children simply have more demands upon their lowered wages and live with more uncertainty in employment and health care.
Furthermore, the idea that children should leave the nest at age 18 never to return and to forever remain financially independent has always been an uniquely American ideal, and one that is completely discordant with the entire history of the human species.
There are so many reasons why inter-generational cohabitation is good for families: it fosters bonds between generations (e.g., grandchildren spend real time with their grandparents), it facilitates child care as older members of the family can care for the younger ones, it lowers the cost of living, and it provides older children the opportunity to care for their parents as they age, improving their quality of life and enabling them to save more of their inheritance, which would otherwise be wasted on nursing homes. I say more families should be thinking of this.