Life is EXPENSIVE. Groceries for one person can quickly add up to over one hundred dollars every two weeks. Gas is even more outrageous – I filled up my mom’s minivan last week, and it cost almost fifty dollars! Not to mention the unexpected payments – the twenty-five-dollar parking ticket, the medicine from your visit to the doctor, or the surprise vet visit because your cat has ear mites (and of course you already spent fifty-dollars on an at-home treatment that failed).
With all that being said, I am a 20-year-old with a full academic schedule and a part-time job, and my parents still support me financially. Now, before you close this article and chalk it up to another “spoiled brat” attempting to justify spending her “daddy’s money,” here are a few things to consider.
Media Portrayal: Think about this for a second. How many TV shows or movies can you think of that feature a slew of rich kids living life, enjoying their private school, and the one kid who is trying to fit in, but comes from a middle-class family that struggles to pay their tuition? Gossip Girl. The Clique. Dead Poets Society. Even Mean Girls shares the theme of a character attempting to live above their means. I’m sure you can think of more. It’s easy to see how college students – or really any young adults – who receive financial support from their parents are wrongly stereotyped as rich, spoiled children who have never had to work for anything.
Financial Support Does Not Equal “Rich” Parents: According to the media stereotypes above, students receiving money from their parents do so because their parents are rich. They are the students who “get everything handed to them,” and who “don’t know what it means to struggle.” While that may be true for the wealthy characters portrayed in the media, being financially supported by your parents does not mean your family is rich. It simply means your parents are doing what they have always done. They are budgeting, setting aside money to care for their child (children). Parental financial support does not equal an endless supply of money.
Frequency: The media also contributes to a misunderstanding in the number of students – young adults even – supported by their parents. An article published in December of 2017 claims 74% of parents financially support their children after the age of 18. The same article claims 84% of parents help with living expenses, and 70% give money to help pay their child’s (children’s) debts. Most parents don’t expect to stop supporting their children until they are over the age of 25. What does this mean? It means that most adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are still financially supported by their parents. That means that most students you talk to, most persons between the ages of 18 and 25 that you meet, are receiving (or have received) financial support from their parents after leaving home.
Times Are Different: I know the argument that “times are different” is something you probably here often, but the truth of the matter is that they are. The idea that parents should stop supporting their children at age 18, or when they move out of the house, stems from the cultural norm less than a century ago when girls rarely finished high school, boys were working and married as young as 14-15, and both were having children by age 16. Going to college was not the norm. As a Time article published in 2014 points out, less than a century ago adolescence did not exist. Children were children until 13, and then they were adults – working, marrying, paying the bills. With the addition of 4+ years of schooling, the milestone of marriage or full-time work is postponed, and the age of adolescence is created. Because of the lengthening of childhood years, doesn’t that mean the amount of time in which children are financially supported by their parents should be lengthened as well?
Age Restrictions: In the United States, at the age of 20 I cannot drink alcohol, rent a car, rent a beach house, or book a hotel room. There are rare occasions in which hotels allow persons 18 or 21 to book rooms (although let’s be honest, those hotels are usually of lower quality) or beach houses that are privately owned that make exceptions for some persons. Overall, there is a resounding chorus of you-need-to-be-older's. My point here is that it is somewhat unreasonable to expect every person over the age of 18 to be financially independent when some places refuse to recognize them as adults.
I am not in any way trying to say the stereotype of the “rich kid” doesn’t exist, because believe me it does. I’m not saying that every student should be financially dependent. I understand this isn’t the case for every student or young adult being financially supported by their parents. But, I also understand what it is like to be made to feel guilty and like “less of an adult” because of financial support from parents.