Do you remember when we were supposed to grow up? You know, that time when your parents expected you to get a job, move out, and act like an adult. It was time to fly the nest, cut the apron strings, things like that. I doubt those expressions are even heard that much these days.
Childhood was an accepted time of your life. You were forgiven a lot of naughtiness, allowed occasional tantrums, and encouraged to make friends, play with your toys, explore the world around you, and read books. Meanwhile, everything was done for you. You never had to think about the food on the table, the clean clothes that were there every day, or being able to depend on the protection of your parents at all times. But there came a time when that childhood would have to end, and you would be expected to become responsible for your own choices and actions. They prepared you for that as you grew. There were warnings about having to contribute to the family expenses once you were working, and having to help out around the house with some chores too.
Perhaps just as importantly, you anticipated that change. You wanted to become an adult, and be part of that next generation, continuing the good example shown by your own parents. You wanted to be able to drive a car, travel to new places, and take your place in society as an adult. It was a bit scary of course. You would have to make your own decisions, and be responsible for your own actions. You would have to fund the things you wanted to do too, and everything you wanted to buy and own. But despite all that, the idea of branching out on your own and eventually living in a place outside of the security of home was exciting. Excitement was good.
Looking around in 2018, I wonder where that has all gone. It seems to me that children rarely want to grow up anymore. Thirty is the new twelve, and elderly parents still have responsibility for their children to the grave. When the youth of today make bad decisions, it is rarely their fault, and they refuse to accept the consequences of their actions. They can have children without thinking about all that entails. Turning to others to look after them, provide entertainment, subsidise gifts and excursions, or just always be at their beck and call. They can buy things they can’t afford, and then throw themselves on the mercy of family to sort out their debts.
And moving out now seems to be the last option. Why pay rent for a small room, when you can continue to live in the house you have always known for nothing? When your food is still prepared and served, your clothes washed, and you don’t have to do anything except just lay on your bed? Why learn to drive, when your doting parents are happy to run you around like a free taxi? Why bother to accept responsibility for anything, when it is always someone else’s fault? After all, you didn’t ask to be born, live where you were put, or be expected to grow up and take some responsibility. Hardly your problem, is it?
Before you rush tell me this doesn’t apply to every family, and certainly not you and yours, I know. But it does apply to so many, and that number is increasing every year. Confused parents mollycoddling teenagers, stopping the natural process of development. Determined to be different to their own parents at any cost, and to do things their way, they are raising a generation of dependent adults who no longer know how to cope with life, and refuse to accept any responsibility for anything. Sit around long enough, and someone will feed you. Throw all your clothes on the floor, and someone else will eventually wash them for you. Do nothing at all, and be sure that it will all get done.
Just not by you.
I won’t be around to see it, but I would be fascinated to get a glimpse into a future where millions of fifty year old people wake up one day, realising that their parents are no longer around, and nobody is left to clean the house, pay the bills, prepare food, or drive them to where they want to go. A future inhabited by ‘elderly children’, who have never grown up, and don’t even comprehend what responsibility means.