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Response to Laelth (Original post)

Thu Dec 5, 2013, 09:38 AM

72. I don't know if this is what you are talking about, but...

I am a mom with two teenage girls. I was born in 1964, so that puts me at the tail end of the Boomer category.

I look at the world in which my girls are growing up in, and economically it is like a different planet than the one I experienced.

So many things have changed. It's not horrible, but it's different and more challenging. I don't convey a sense of pessimism to my children. However, we have many, many discussions about the future, about life.

When I graduated from high school, I went to college and took out student loans and graduated with debt. Although many people try to continue this model, I can see that it's a model that is NOT working now. College costs have soared and kids graduate with six-figure student loan debt that enslaves them for the rest of their lives. If they run into financial trouble (which is terribly easy to do, because job prospects, the employment situation and a downward pressure on salaries--are real) they are completely screwed beyond repair. Those student loan companies default you and your credit rating is screwed and you have little chance of getting a good job because employers check credit ratings. Your life is a mess that is impossible to escape, as interest accrues and the debt grows. I don't want that for my kids.

We talk about alternative routes. We discuss options NOW. Our kids can take honors classes and get college credits in high school. Many of my friends' kids have graduated high school and entered college as sophomores. That helps financially. I also talk with my kids about working and attending college simultaneously. Pay for college as you go, taking a lighter load of classes but working internships and other entry-level jobs to help ease that loan burden. We also talk about attending community college, living at home for the first two years and other options. There's nothing wrong with doing this. It's a different world now. Tuition costs are CRAZY and unless you have 70k sitting around to pay for one child in college, you're put at the mercy of the student-loan mafia. I'm trying to teach my kids that we support alternative routes. We don't care if it takes them eight years to get a degree. Better to work, get financial support from us and get that degree slower--than to graduate with a mountain of debt and a degree in English Literature that leaves them strapped.

Pressure is on these kids to live in big houses, drive expensive cars (with $500+ monthly payments) and have oodles of material possessions purchased with credit cards. We teach our kids that this lifestyle turns you into a hamster on a wheel. We teach them to work hard and be smart with money and to realize that much of what they see around them in the suburbs is hot air. I think many GenX/Milllennials look at everything their parents have--and they see the lavish lifestyle and they feel inferior. Why can't I obtain this? Why is it so damn hard? They feel like failures. We teach them that this is not true. People overextending themselves and living lives slaves to their creditors--is how many people do it, but I think it's time that we teach our kids that this is untenable and foolish. We teach them to focus on inner happiness, kindness and living within their means--as signals of success--not a BMW in the garage and a McMansion.

I support my kids no matter what their choices are. No matter what their incomes are. However, I do sense that the bottom has dropped out on so much. I see my friends kids graduating from college and working as waitresses or in lower level jobs, and the pay is terrible. These are smart kids with straight A's in college, graduating from Big Ten Universities. If this is the reality for many, then we owe it to these kids to help them adjust to this new reality and support them as they grow up and figure it out.

I also think the old model, "You're 18! You're on your own now" is cruel. There was a new study which defined adolescence as ending in the mid 20's. I remember being that age. It's scary to have such heavy adult expectations foisted upon you, when you're still maturing. I think we need to be kinder. We need to adjust our expectations. We need to understand that our kids may not go to college, because it's just not feasible for some. Maybe they'll go to community college or learn a trade. If they do go to college, they might not graduate in four years and obtain a $70,000k job with a primo corporation with a primo corporation in Chicago. This was the norm, when I was in college.

It happens for some, but not all. We need to educate ourselves on what is happening in the world and help these kids adjust to it. It's a different world out there now.

Sorry for the long post, but this subject is close to my heart and your OP sparked lots of thought!

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