A recent story in The Atlantic pointed out something that most folks in Cherokee County already know: Many young people in their 20s and early 30s are returning home to live with their parents — at least, temporarily.

In fact, an analysis by Zillow, the real estate website, suggested that about 2.9 million young adults are now living with a parent or grandparent. Some are college students, but a surprising number are young adults who are highly educated — mostly 25 years old or younger. Sometimes it’s because of suspension of on-campus college classes; for others, poor economic conditions are to blame.

That’s not all. The Pew Research Center, in March 2020, suggested that the younger the adults, the more likely the pandemic has affected them in ways that would force them to turn to family members for help. Unable to cover rent and other costs of living — because of job loss of other factors — they have opted to move back home.

There’s little doubt this increased tendency to rely on the older generation will cause younger adults to suffer from feelings of worthlessness. In America, children are raised to believe they are failures if they can’t pull themselves up by the bootstraps. The fact that many have no bootstraps — or for that matter, simple boots — doesn’t seem to factor into the equation.

It’s a stark turn of events. Many Americans don’t want to admit that “trickle-down economics” simply don’t work. If they did, the affects of the pandemic wouldn’t be quite as harsh. In other countries, although the economic struggle is real, it isn’t quite as devastating as it is for many in this country. And the burden seems to be falling largely on the younger generations.

There are other issues at hand. Younger adults are delaying marriage moreso than their older counterparts, mainly because of their impressions of how financially secure they must be before they undertake such a commitment. On the one hand, they are hearing from their parents, grandparents and pastors that they should be stable enough to ensure a successful family life; on the other, they feel they aren’t getting the help they need. It’s easy to see where this train of thought can lead.

Young adults are the future of this country — and the world. The older ones, who are perhaps more stable financially, must extend a helping hand to these younger people to ensure their success. It should never be forgotten that once today’s middle-aged Americans retire, they must rely on the younger generations to support them through the rest of their lives.

There should be no shame for younger adults living with their parents until their situations improve. That’s the way it traditionally was for Native families, and for all others who took family ties seriously. We must all be ready to open our hearts — and our homes — to those in our families who need them. Especially as long as COVID-19 continues to dominate our everyday lives.

— Tahlequah Daily Press

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