According to THIS report the number of families that live in “extended family” situations is on the rise in the US. This is hardly a surprise given the current retraction of the economic situation; municipal defaults and stock market losses forcing older family members who can no longer make it on their retirement income and the highest unemployment rate among 18-29 year olds (including college grads) in decades. It is so bad, for many faking it to get on disability is more lucrative than trying to work or make it on their pension. For most Millennials the American Dream of home ownership seems to be slipping through their fingers, and the seeming inevitability of the freezing up of mortgage capitol as municipal and mortgage defaults lock up bank asset/liability ratios will only make the situation worse as we experience the largest Downward Class Migration in history.
Boomerang kids are a staple American comedy stereotype. From movies like Failure to Launch to Facebook memes the 20-30 something living in their parents basement is stock in trade. It is also becoming much more common. And why not? Most of the rest of the world already lives this way. Almost no one I have met in the Middle East or Asia does NOT live in a multi-generational home. And it has always been thus. I have been reading the Ring of Fire series by Eric Flint and his excellent research into the period around the 30 Years War reminded me that even before we called them family, we called them tribe.
I am fortunate, in that it seems certain I missed the malaise affecting the economy. At least in the sense that I have a stable job and sufficient income to plan for my future without either crushing student/personal debt or being locked into a retirement plan that is no longer functional. Our plan, investing in land and making it productive, will even free us up within a few years of having to depend on the US Government honoring its obligations to me in the form of my military retirement. Given just a few years to get the land productive and develop local markets I feel very confident I can make enough surplus from the land and my crafts to barter/sell for what we don’t make and for the small amount of cash we will need to meet our basic needs. Since it is likely one or more of my parents of in-laws will eventually be dependent on us and since the future for our children is so shaky, this is the best situation I believe I could wind up in. One reason I am focused on a larger piece of property than I really need to practice Permaculture is to insure I have sufficient to attract one or more of our kids to settle near us. This will only be possible if they can earn enough through their own activities to support themselves and their own families. That is much easier with the REAL safety net of family/tribe near you.
A lot of the uncertainty in America right now is, I believe, the result of a fundamentally re-structuring of our society. We feel the tremors beginning and are uncertain whether we should bolt for the door or hide under the table. The anchors of our lives have not and will not change. Faith, Family, Loyalty, Hard Work. These will allow us to weather the storms that are coming. These are the things worthy of our pursuit. How are you building them today?