Ever wanted to evict your own son? One New York state couple did just that a few years ago, so fed up were they with their jobless 30-year-old offspring. The Rotondo family’s failure-to-launch saga made international headlines, but a quieter version is unfurling all around us as record numbers of young men skip college and work to hang out — indefinitely — at Mom and Dad’s.
“Home was always meant to be a launchpad,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former Stanford University dean and author of Your Turn: How to Be an Adult. “But it sometimes has the softness of a couch.”
An estimated 60 percent of men ages 18 to 24 lived at home in March 2020, as did 22 percent of those ages 25 to 34, according to the “Current Population Survey.” That’s the highest proportion reported for the 25-to-34 age group in the past 60 years, and it’s significantly higher than for women in the same range. About 6.8 million men were in college last spring, compared with 10 million women, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found. And guys 25 to 30 were less likely to have a job or to be looking for one than those of the previous generation, according to a 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
Finding their way can be harder for boys, says clinical psychologist Meg Jay, an associate professor at the University of Virginia and author of The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. A young woman might prioritize work, marriage or parenthood, and she has friends to talk to about it, Jay says. “Many men, however, feel like their lives cannot start until they find a way to get their footing in the workplace, and many don’t know how to begin or where to turn for help.” High rent, college debt, paralyzing societal (and parental) expectations and COVID’s disruptions all contribute, mental health experts say.