A Tiny Rant Concerning Those Ignorant Young Americans Freeloading in Your Basement

We don’t have a basement. Neither Miss M nor Daughter C nor A. Leland are ignorant, that’s for sure! But they are Americans!!

This little rant has been brewing for some time. Today’s the day the kettle whistled.

Yesterday morning, Mr. Big Food brought me morning coffee, we chatted, he made breakfast, I watered the Fall garden, he baked Gubo’s squash dressing for the tailgate (Go Dawgs), Miss M and I took the dogs to the pasture, A. Leland had coffee and did some reading on the patio, and Daughter C arrived home and went for a two-mile run. 

And then we hung around, figured out how to efficiently transport the dressing, collected our game-day stuff and– at 10:30am– Mr. Big Food, A. Leland and I departed for Starkvegas, leaving Miss M and Daughter C to tidy up the kitchen and so forth.


Mr. Big Food & A. Leland went to the game. I walked back to the truck– have I mentioned that it was hot yesterday?– and drove home. After chatting briefly with Miss M, I took a nap. And then I fired up my computer and learned that Americans are ignorant and everyone under the age of 40 is living in a basement under his parents’ house!  Okay– maybe not everyone. 

Some 36 percent of young adults between 18 and 31 are still living at home with their parents.

Why must this arrangement– family members living in close proximity to one another– be undesirable? Why is the goal to scatter families members to the wind, only to be in physical proximity at Christmas, or to “see” one another during a weekly– monthly– Skype chat?

Just down the road from the Farm, at the other end of the cotton field, are six homes within a hundred yards or so of each other. Each home is inhabited by a singular Cotton Farming Family. And Each Cotton Farming Family Home is related to the next Cotton Farming Family Home. As we travel the back roads of  Mississippi, we see lots of these family enclaves on roads that bear the family name.

So why is it a problem to have family members about? Where’s the argument that individuals flourish better when alone?

Why– as in what’s the justification– for thinking that children (and dear friends) must cut ties and cut out on their own? How exactly will they be better off alone?

I’m sure there are looser parents with looser kids in their basements. That’s too bad. But you know what? Failure is a choice. (Red Stegall said that and I agree.) 

I’m equally sure that ours is not the only home where parents and adult children are flourishing under one roof. There must be other homes

where no assertion about history goes unchallenged because the occupants know where the relevant books are;

where answers to empirical questions about South African plants are looked up on Wikipedia, as a last resort;

where family jokes are created and family history  recounted;

where there’s no need for a chore list because the inhabitants of the home are courteous adults;

where there’s laughter and music and everyone can hum along to “Sing A Family Song.”

Hey! Mr. Low-Man-on-the-Totem-Pole-Who’s-Tasked-with-Reading-My-Little-Blog. You should be so lucky as to have family and friends as I do! Ha. You lonely looser. 

(It’s not too late, Mr. Low-Man– although we are running out of room. But you could build a cabin, if you’d like. Not sure about running water. But it’d be worth it. I mean, come on. When was the last time you talked about Roger Bacon? or St. Elmo’s Fire? or Hume? You could learn a a lot.)

5 Responses

  1. Two separate issues…



    In the Basement.

    In the Basement, I have no problem with. As you say, family closeness is a good thing and to be encouraged (most of the time – there are one or two exceptions!)

    Freeloading is bad. Once a young person becomes an adult, s/he should be working towards financial independence, whether the same accommodations are shared or not. On the other hand, parents need to back off with the parental command attitude – their children are no longer their “children” – they should be considered adults and treated as such.

    One problem with this is that as long as they are living in their parents’ house, it is still their parents’ house. House rules are still house rules. There can be exceptions. When we were in Germany, it was not uncommon for a house with three floors to have one person living in the “basement”, but in that case, the “basement” had been finished in such a way that it was actually a separate apartment – just the bottom floor of a 3 story building. I assume said occupant paid rent to the ‘rents…but I never got into a discussion with my neighbors about it, so I don’t actually know.

  2. Yeah. I think what bothers me the most is the *assumption* that adult children living at home are freeloaders– making no contribution to the shared lives of the extended family and its individual members.

    You’re also right about “rules” and parental command.

    It all goes back to attitudes about parenting, doesn’t it? It you, as a parent, believe your “job” is to raise a child from a helpless infant to an independent adult, then the control becomes less and less. You become less a person who sets rules, etc., and more and more an older friend, of a certain sort.

    If you think the role of a parent remains the same as your children grow older… . Well. You’re probably more likely to have freeloaders living in your basement.

  3. “If you think the role of a parent remains the same as your children grow older… . Well. You’re probably more likely to have freeloaders living in your basement.”

    True – because it makes perfect sense – if you’re still the Parent, they’re still the “Children” and you’re the responsible ones – not the children. Self fulfilling prophecy, no?

  4. I grew up in Walthall (and still live very close, just not inside the village limits). I enjoy catching up on your blog every now and then. It makes me laugh and want to teach my children so many things. Thank you.

    1. Thank *you*! And you are welcome.

      I must say, though, at first I thought you might be Mr.-Low-Man himself! How else would you know what county I live in? I never mention its name. But then I realized there probably aren’t that many places in Mississippi with a burnt out courthouse. And no doubt we both read the same newspaper, shop at the same Piglet and so forth.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

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