Peter Pan For The Moment
By Mandy Langston
August 1, 2005
In the Jan. 24, 2005, issue of Time magazine, Lev Grossman coined a new term for the “new breed of young people” who “won’t—or can’t—settle down.” Twixters are a generation of twentysomethings that don’t move on with their lives in the traditional sense and often still live with their parents.
“What are they waiting for? Who are these permanent adolescents, these twentysomething Peter Pans? And why can't they grow up?” Grossman asks.
It’s true—there is an entire generation of people out there, many of whom are graduating from college and realizing that everyone else has a bachelor’s degree, too. The value of a degree in the job market has been diluted to the bare minimum requirement to be considered for a position that carries a decent salary.
The result is a group of college graduates going back to school to get a second degree or pursue a master’s degree and further postpone their transition into adulthood and the “real world.” Twixters are portrayed in a negative light for not getting out on their own, starting their own families and holding down a nine-to-five job with benefits and a company car.
With as many as half of college graduates bringing their diploma back to their parents’ house, it seems silly to look down on everyone who doesn’t strike out on their own after graduating. Many Twixters return to their parents’ house to ensure a more financially stable future or out of a sense of obligation to their families. It hasn’t been that long ago that twentysomethings were living with their parents until they left home to get married. Why all the pressure to become independent? What is the merit in having an apartment of your own and barely scraping by with sky-high rent when your parents live just across town?
American culture dictates that the second a person turns 18, they should move away to college and get a great job the second they graduate. People who move back in with their parents are considered pathetic and dependent, even if they only intend to stay for a year or so. This philosophy is just silly, considering that it alienates people who are budget conscious and perhaps interested in living close to their families.
A person who moves back in with his or her parents can save $6,000 in one year (instead of paying $500 per month in rent). The cities that young people want to live and work in are often the most expensive, especially considering that the average undergraduate debt is nearing $19,000. If you’ve been on the job search lately, you’ve probably found that entry-level positions are scarce and often unappealing. Mom’s cooking, easy access to laundry and great parking are starting to sound more and more appealing ...
If you’ve got parents who are cool enough to let you come and go as you please (even if you kick a little money back to them for rent), the deal doesn’t sound so bad. You’ll definitely be home for the holidays, and you might even learn to respect your parents as actual people instead of the oppressive monarchs they were when you moved out at 18 to go to university. You can even redecorate your old room (time to take down those old Romeo and Juliet posters ... I am leaving mine up until the walls fall down) or move into another space in the house for a clean start and private entrance. The stigma surrounding moving home after college for a year or two is silly considering all the perks.
It is not at all uncommon to find people in their early 20s in Europe living with their families. Some cultures dictate that a young person should live at home until they are married. It can be considered a sort of accountability if a person is looking for some structure in the vacuous hole that can become the roaring 20s. Moving back home can be a logical step, as well as a considerate one, despite the stigma. At some point though, it might be nice to get a place of your own and let your parents have the run of their roost once again. It’s cool to be Peter Pan ... for a little while.