20-Somethings - Generational disconnect with parents?




Scarlett
05-11-2008, 03:47 PM
I was on general chatter this morning, had this idea in my head and posted it in a topic that it wasn't super-related to...I was wondering if anyone else in my age bracket has any comments/thoughts on this topic...here is my earlier post.

I'm a college student and last night I was having a semi-drunk conversation with my college friends about a similar topic. A number of us feel like there is a generational disconnect and our parents have unrealistic views about what things are like for us because they use their experiences “when they were our age” as a benchmark.

For example at times when I ask my mom for money, the tone in her voice and comments indicate that she thinks I am spoiled and lazy because I don’t have a job (although I would definitely consider going to school full time in a science heavy major a full time job). She will tell me how when she was my age she had her own apartment worked full time and paid her own bills. She did not go to college and got a job right out of High school…she actually ended up with a decent job. Back “when she was my age” it was possible to have a good job without a college degree…while it is possible now, it’s much harder and you’ll most likely end up with a job with little job security. I feel like it would be very irresponsible for me in this day and age to not go to college or any sort of trade school out of high school and support myself..I might be ok in the short run but this is not a good long term plan. Her comments just feel like a slap in the face after I work my butt off at school (I don’t think anyone would say upper level chem. Classes are fun/easy), participate in a handful of clubs/activities so that I have things to write down on a resume, and TA for a class. I am already super busy and feel like it is more responsible for me to devote my time to activities that will serve me when I get out of here then to try and make an extra 2-3 grand per semester. My mom doesn’t realize that nowadays simply having a degree is not all you need for jobs/grad school. You need to do activities/internships/network etc in addition to that to set yourself apart from everyone else that has a degree.

Also a lot of us felt like our parents don’t realize how difficult it is to put yourself through college. Back then college was cheaper and FAR fewer professions required grad school. Back then it was realistic to go to school for a semester then work for the summer and be able to pay for it. Also it was easy to get a low interest student loan…Hillary just gave a speech here where she said she got a loan at 2% to pay for law school and didn’t need a cosign (which made the audience gasp). A lot of my friends say their parents give them crap about having to cosign their loans…because we should have to do it ourselves…and not have a parent sign our loans so that we get the loan at a 15% less rate. Also back then the majority of college students went to school and didn’t work at the same time, they were able to only focus on school.

Wow this is getting long…to summarize we feel like our parents don’t realize how difficult it is to be a college student these days and think all we do is drink/sleep and occasionally go to class. They don’t realize how stressful it is to feel like being in college is your only option and if it doesn’t work out you’re screwed. That is costing one hundred grand plus to finance your education and whether you have to pay that back in loans or your parents paid for it..it’s a lot of money hanging over your head and it adds to the pressure. Back then people our age had more options and did not need to rely on their parents as much.


LiLi Gettin Thin
05-11-2008, 05:10 PM
Oh, I hear you. I graduated a few years ago with a B.S. in Computer Science and it definitely was a full time job. Unfortunately, my parents weren't in a position where they could help me financially. So, on top of my school & activities, I held three part time jobs. That was a killer, especially the semester I was taking Engineering Physics and Discrete Mathematics! True, I only got an average of 4 hours of sleep per night, but I did graduate with a 3.8 gpa and got a terrific job right off. I did have to sacrifice a bit on the social scene, but I think it really helped my organization and prioritizing skills later on in the "real" world.

Don't get me wrong, if my parents were in a position to help, I would have dropped two of my part-time gigs in a minute and asked them for money! :)

junebug41
05-11-2008, 05:19 PM
My parents were astounded at the cost of attending college. This did not make them suddenly able to help me, although I'm sure they wish they could have done more.

The cost of having a non-labor driven economy and the cheap cost of immigrant labor means that we are more reliant on skilled workers, which means we are more reliant on our educations (or simply the piece of paper) and that in turn means that college is big business. While my parents *get* that college costs are outrageous, they still expected me to work. In financing my own education this also meant I could have control over every aspect of my education. I got to change majors and change schools (this may or may not have made it easier, but that's not really the point of life experience).

I was also fortunate, in a way, in that I didn't fall into that awful category of "your parents make just enough to feed you and therefor they should be able to pay for school so- no aid". With a mother on disability (I actually send her $$) and a father whose income I didn't have to take into account (and his contribution wasn't extensive anyway as he has a young family), I was able to max out my aid.

Frankly, I feel like this generation is in fact MORE connected with our parents because we are far more reliant on them for a longer period of time. My mother would have never dreamed of calling her parents for money when she was in school, but while I was interning (for free) in another state last summer, I could call my dad and say, "I'm kinda hungry this week (that ALWAYS gets my dad;), could you help a kid out?". Kids who are so wracked with debt end up moving back home after graduation and I know kids (and they really are) in their mid-late 20's who still whine to their parents for money. I think parents are way more apt to "parenting" beyond the age of 18 these days, whereas a couple of decades ago, you graduated high school or college and that was it. On your own. My mom put herself through school with a grant intended for minorities and women in the 70's, took on a very low interest loan and worked- while being married with an infant. I couldn't even imagine. my father dropped out of college to go to Vietnam and put himself through school upon his return. But they both understand the issues and differences with higher ed these days and they are just very different.

Fast forward to the early 00's and my fiance put himself through school, but he had help "here and there" from his parents (a little grocery money here, a phone bill paid there, much like me). Well, he will be putting himself through school for a looooong time because his education cost him over 100k.

They are completely different scenarios, but both still contingent on personal responsibility. I suppose my mom could have said "forget it" and kept on having kids, or my dad could have worked in the oil fields or my fiance could have stayed in Nebraska and I could have just kept one of my college jobs as a secretary, but we certainly wouldn't be who we are today.

And like I said above, I understand about the internships. With mine, my parents would always hopefully ask if it was paid and I had to laugh. They were AWESOME experiences, but I understood that in order to leave the state for a few months (while still attending college online), I had to take out the loan and save up. I did what I had to do. My parents did what they had to do. You will learn that you will do what you have to in order to "become" you as well.


vixjean
05-11-2008, 07:12 PM
I have been on my own since 18, have made a way for myself working full time as a barista and also at a gym, I earned scholarships and grants for myself and did pay my way through college, (I am 27 now) I have about 6,000 left in school loans. I have a professional job and am doing okay for myself. I never ask for money from my mom. So, really I don't agree, no matter what you are doing, there IS time for a job, even if it is just a small one. It was hard, it was murder, I remember trying to find change in my car so I could call my boyfriend to tell him I was coming over, but didn't have gas, so I might not make it... I made it about 5 miles from his house. I remember eating one meal a day, chicken nuggets from McDonalds, lol!
Now having said that, if your parent's do have money (mine didn't) and they can spend a lot on your school, they should be able to feed you and help you get around, and an occasional outfit or something.
Also, I just want to say that if your mom didn't go to college, then she isn't going to 'get it.' No matter how hard you try to explain (my mom is the same why)..... she likes to throw it in my face that I don't USE my degree. No not directly, but there are so many benefits from college for me in my daily life and in my professional life.
Good Luck!

Tonia
05-11-2008, 07:12 PM
Catherine,
In my humble opinion I think that your parents are not blind to the fact that "our parents have unrealistic views about what things are like for us." I am going to be frank and say that YOU have an unrealistic view of how things were for THEM.
Just sayin'.

kaplods
05-11-2008, 07:41 PM
I've seen photos of my parents first apartment (scary!!!!) and heard stories of them buying 1 bottle of soda (not a 2 liter, but a 12 oz bottle) to share with a bag of potato chips - as their WEEKLY treat (often scrounging through the 20 year old second hand couch's cushions to find the funds). They went out to eat once a month (usually a VFW fish fry or a church supper).


I suppose I could say (and maybe convince myself) that they underestimate how hard I've had it. Maybe it's even true, but I can guarantee you that I don't realize how hard they had it. Though I do know that I wouldn't last a week in their 1964 life.

carolineintx
05-12-2008, 10:10 AM
My parents both came from very poor families. My mom grew up in an apartment in the city with her parents and 6 brothers and sisters. My dad grew up in a rural area, eating spaghetti 7 days a week and has hammer toes from not getting new shoes when he outgrew his old ones. They both worked the fields picking tobacco (my mom in CT) and potatoes (my dad in ME) as early as they were able. My dad joined the army when he turned 18 and forced to leave home, and eventually got a decent office job and earned his associates degree, my mom worked all thru high school and after she graduated she stayed at home and contributed her earnings to the family until they got married.

I have to say despite their never having had the chance to go get their bachelors degree, they were incredibly understanding of the time and energy that goes into it. I only worked a 10 hour a week job when I was in college, and my Dad would from time to time send me money to cover what expenses those earnings and my savings from my summer job wouldn't cover. And they did contribute a lot of money towards my tuition, my student loans are pretty manageable as a result. Their outlook I think coming from poverty was that their kids should have every opportunity to better themselves, so my brother and I grew up knowing that once out of high school we were going to college, and my parents were willing to do whatever it took to get us through school. I feel really lucky to have had really understanding parents. I think the only disconnect is that its hard for me to imagine growing up with as little as they did, we weren't rich but there was always food on the table and if I needed something there was always money to buy it.

BellyUp
05-12-2008, 02:06 PM
I think that's the biggest difference in the the generational disconnect is the finacial education. Things are a lot tougher in the workforce these days! University is harder and much more expensive! But, our generation isn't as savvy with money. We probably didn't grow up budgeting, saving and investing the way many of our parents did.

I think it's insane to go to school full time and work full time. I work a full time job and a full time business and the thought of having school on top of that boggles my mind! It's not lazy to not work 20+ hour zombie days...it's HEALTHY! Personally, I like my sleep and relaxation!

I plan to have a savings plan for my kids starting at a young age. They will contribute throughout their childhood and I will contribute as well. I think it's very important for kids to have a savings they can choose to use however they want when they are 18. If they spend it all on crap, that is their choice. If they choose to invest, go to school, or put a down payment on a house, that is their choice. Hopefully I will teach my kids well enough how to be smart with money. My parents sure didn't!

My parents pay for my college bound step-siblings EVERYTHING. School, rent, cell phone, car etc etc etc. They are now CRAP with money. I'm soooo glad I realized this WASN'T a good thing and became totally self sufficant. I was lucky to be born with a talent that takes me farther than a degree, so I was only in school a very short time. Boy! Was it ever enough for me!!

I think it's important for parents to help. Not too much, not too little. Just enough to keep you from being a zombie!

BrandNewJen
05-12-2008, 03:21 PM
I'm sorry... I DISAGREE. Honestly, what I hear is a lot of excuses.

I went to a private university on a scholarship b/c I worked HARD to get it. I worked a part time job since I was 16 years old, b/c I wanted to get a car so I busted my butt to DO IT. What wasn't covered by my scholarship went on a student loan that *I myself* am responsible for paying back.

I owe over 27,000 in school loans, am 25, and can PROUDLY say that I never ONCE had to ask my mother for money. In fact, it would be embarrasing for me to have to do it. I have pride in myself and my abilities, and part of that is being able to make ends meet and TRULY bust my butt to pay my bills and make sure I have money when necessary. Because I wasn't spending my money on the alcohol needed to fuel "semi drunk conversations"... I learned about budgeting at an early age... I learned about prioritizing what I did and didn't need, what I had to work hard for and what I could skate by...

I went to college, was in Honors classes, was in clubs and activities, had a steady boyfriend, had close friends, and I WORKED A JOB. Make that TWO JOBS. And for the last two years of school, I worked THREE jobs. Save the sob stories!!! I was writing an honors thesis, working 13 hours a week at an on-campus job, 16 hours over the weekend, and another 10 hours at a paid internship at a school while also going to school full time (5 classes per semester)

And I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.98 GPA.

And then I went to grad school for my Ph.D. And I worked while in grad school as well!!! ::gasp::

What didn't I do? I didn't have a lot of "semi-drunk" conversations because I had more important things to do and other priorities than drinking and partying all the time.

I don't care what generation you're from--- HARD WORK has been and will always be a part of a successful life. For our parents, hard work was a full time job, marriage, and babies at the age of 23! (eek!) For us it's going to college full time, grad school, balancing school work with job requirements. It's a balancing act called life. I'm sure your mom was MUCH MORE busy with work and a family and children than you are with your 5 class-per-semester school load.

I think working during school is a NECESSITY whether you need the money or not. You think when you graduate with your degree that employers are gonna say "oh look, she had good grades" or do you think they're gonna say "oh look, she had good grades and also has a WEALTH of work experience!" ??? Balancing work and school means that you have MANY other capabilities besides knowing how to read and write papers. It shows you have skills that will actually be beneficial in the REAL world, the world that doesn't CARE about classes and books, etc... the world that cares about how you handle yourself as a person, how you prioritize, how you handle your time, how you are able to handle task management, etc etc etc.

You're doing yourself a disservice by complaining about what you're NOT doing... just go DO IT and stop making excuses! You will learn so much more about yourself if you work a job AND go to school, not to mention make yourself so much more marketable and valuable to the work community at large.

junebug41
05-12-2008, 03:47 PM
I'm sorry... I DISAGREE. Honestly, what I hear is a lot of excuses.

I went to a private university on a scholarship b/c I worked HARD to get it. I worked a part time job since I was 16 years old, b/c I wanted to get a car so I busted my butt to DO IT. What wasn't covered by my scholarship went on a student loan that *I myself* am responsible for paying back.

I owe over 27,000 in school loans, am 25, and can PROUDLY say that I never ONCE had to ask my mother for money. In fact, it would be embarrasing for me to have to do it. I have pride in myself and my abilities, and part of that is being able to make ends meet and TRULY bust my butt to pay my bills and make sure I have money when necessary. Because I wasn't spending my money on the alcohol needed to fuel "semi drunk conversations"... I learned about budgeting at an early age... I learned about prioritizing what I did and didn't need, what I had to work hard for and what I could skate by...

I went to college, was in Honors classes, was in clubs and activities, had a steady boyfriend, had close friends, and I WORKED A JOB. Make that TWO JOBS. And for the last two years of school, I worked THREE jobs. Save the sob stories!!! I was writing an honors thesis, working 13 hours a week at an on-campus job, 16 hours over the weekend, and another 10 hours at a paid internship at a school while also going to school full time (5 classes per semester)

And I graduated summa cum laude with a 3.98 GPA.

And then I went to grad school for my Ph.D. And I worked while in grad school as well!!! ::gasp::

What didn't I do? I didn't have a lot of "semi-drunk" conversations because I had more important things to do and other priorities than drinking and partying all the time.

I don't care what generation you're from--- HARD WORK has been and will always be a part of a successful life. For our parents, hard work was a full time job, marriage, and babies at the age of 23! (eek!) For us it's going to college full time, grad school, balancing school work with job requirements. It's a balancing act called life. I'm sure your mom was MUCH MORE busy with work and a family and children than you are with your 5 class-per-semester school load.

I think working during school is a NECESSITY whether you need the money or not. You think when you graduate with your degree that employers are gonna say "oh look, she had good grades" or do you think they're gonna say "oh look, she had good grades and also has a WEALTH of work experience!" ??? Balancing work and school means that you have MANY other capabilities besides knowing how to read and write papers. It shows you have skills that will actually be beneficial in the REAL world, the world that doesn't CARE about classes and books, etc... the world that cares about how you handle yourself as a person, how you prioritize, how you handle your time, how you are able to handle task management, etc etc etc.

You're doing yourself a disservice by complaining about what you're NOT doing... just go DO IT and stop making excuses! You will learn so much more about yourself if you work a job AND go to school, not to mention make yourself so much more marketable and valuable to the work community at large.

While you should be proud that you were able to accomplish so much, it's not necessarily a detriment to your character to have parents who are happy to help you when they can...

kaplods
05-12-2008, 03:56 PM
True, but I also do not think it's a detriment to a person's character if they cannot or choose not to help their adult children financially. Or fail to be sympathetic when an adult child comes amoochin' (especially if they hand out the money anyway, in that case, nod your head respectfully when you hear the "when I was your age" lecture and say thank you).

One of the reasons that few people are savvy with money is because of the generosity of their parents. They don't grow up budgeting, saving and investing the way their parents did, because their parents didn't realize the importance of teaching it at a young age.

junebug41
05-12-2008, 04:08 PM
True, but I also do not think it's a detriment to a person's character if they cannot or choose not to help their adult children financially. Or fail to be sympathetic when an adult child comes amoochin' (especially if they hand out the money anyway, in that case, nod your head respectfully when you hear the "when I was your age" lecture and say thank you).

One of the reasons that few people are savvy with money is because of the generosity of their parents. They don't grow up budgeting, saving and investing the way their parents did, because their parents didn't realize the importance of teaching it at a young age.

Oh, I agree, especially with the bolded part. I was working with this intern on a shoot. He drives a brand new SUV, had his education 100% financed by his folks and he's actually REALLY apologetic about it, or at least very humble. He worked his butt off and expected no handouts from anyone and is a terrific human being overall. I had to tell him, "being an a$$**** has nothing to do with how much $$ you have. I've known poor jerks and nice rich people." I met his father at a corporate event last week and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree :)

But yeah, as I mentioned I especially agree with the bolded part (and the rest of it, too), I just thought post was a *little* harsh at first reading, IMHO.

iriswhispers
05-12-2008, 04:13 PM
i agree that there are things about our 20-something lives that our parents aren't able to understand - but i don't think any of us have a very accurate picture of our parents lives at this age either. we have to accept that we face some different challenges rather than just assume everything is harder now.

i completed my bachelor's degree on a scholarship and i worked while i was in school, many semesters with 20 credit hours. i have found that this has been very beneficial to me and i'm certainly not upset or feeling as though i missed out on anything. and yes, i partied a bit too - that's the one thing i think in retrospect i could have done without, but i think the party scene is one that most teens and 20's will explore. i've never asked my parents for money (and wouldn't dream of it - i can't imagine their reactions!!) but there have been times when my mother has taken me shopping for groceries or some new clothes over break - i may have had to miss out on a few drinks at the bar or ordering in chinese but i've certainly never been in need of anything like food, shelter or clothing.

ladybugnessa
05-12-2008, 04:16 PM
One of the reasons that few people are savvy with money is because of the generosity of their parents. They don't grow up budgeting, saving and investing the way their parents did, because their parents didn't realize the importance of teaching it at a young age.


SO VERY VERY TRUE.

my mother loved me too well. bailed me out of everything
Mom died 12 years ago and it's when I had to become a grown up. she was not there to bail me out any more.

they gave me whatever I wanted and needed... I say no to my daughter now not because I can't but because it's not good for her if i always say YES....

kaplods
05-12-2008, 05:15 PM
Rereading, it I can see how my post could have sounded harsh (especially if you imagine me with a furrowed brow and my voice dripping with hostile sarcasm).

I tend to forget this, because I almost never speak with hostile sarcasm or furrowed brow (except once in a while to my dear husband, on those rare occasion when I feel he isn't quite so dear).
____

I know that tone of voice can't be easily transmitted, and while I know they're supposed to help, I really hate using emoticons (because to me, they seem even more sarcastic).

To try and clarfy, I'm not trying to judge or criticise - I certainly have had my share of "no one understands me," self-indulgent, even whiney moments, not only towards my parents, but many other people. The truth though, is that it's often difficult to understand a vastly different perspective/experience than our own.

We've also all had experiences with people who tell us how "lucky" we are, in ways that we don't believe reflect luck at all. My mom's sister would always say how "lucky" we were to take family vacations. They never took a vacation, because they never saved for one. Our family had less income (despite what my aunt implied), but put aside money and made small sacrifices to be able to do so. Luck really didn't have anything to do with it.

I've had women in weight loss groups express jealousy over the bigger women's larger weight losses (proportionally, the weight loss was pretty similar).

We all make silly comparisons between ourselves and others (I'm smiling, at the foolishness of us all, myself included, and if I were speaking it would be in an amused, but understanding and gentle voice).

junebug41
05-12-2008, 05:24 PM
Oh I meant BNJ's post, the one I quoted. I know you weren't judging. In fact you make sense to me (as usual).

KforKitty
05-12-2008, 05:38 PM
BrandnewJen makes a very good point about the value of work experience for future employers. As well as teaching you valuable life skills, earning some money of your own gives you some independence.

I'm probably of your parents generation and I did go to college but once I left home at 18 I've looked after myself and what I have is my own. Even when I married I paid for everything bar the buffet at the reception I had for only 40 family and friends. I never expected anything as my parents never had anything to give.

My kids have so much more than I ever had - latest fashions, toys, electical equipment, regular paid for after school activities etc. I don't begrudge them this for one minute but they do expect to keep up with their friends and don't really know the true value of things. They do have a much easier life than I had but there is certainly much more pressure put on them to do well educationally. Whilst I never had that pressure, as expectations were generally low for a working class girl in the late 70s/early 80s, I was myself driven to exceed the expectations of my class and gender. So no, I don't think we had it easy, I had to push damned hard to be allowed to stay on at school past 16 and this was at a time of recession where youth unemployment where I lived was at 30%.

Kitty

kaplods
05-12-2008, 10:10 PM
that's ok, junebug41,

I think the comment does as easily apply to what I said. That's the darn limitation of online communications. And I don't think the emoticons do much more in clarifying.

One thing to just know about me, is that if I sound like I'm p'd off, I'm probably not. I just really don't get p'd off much (except as mentioned, at DH, when he's just being an H).

I do understand who most people think what they do, even when I disagree. I just can't seem to help but point out another side of the story. I think it's only in seeing all sides of an issue that we really start to understand the issue (if that makes any sense at all).