DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have found a disturbing trend in the media and in real-life encounters -- that people who do not live independently from their parents are to be highly scorned.
I am 30 years old and have yet to move out of my parents' home. I was forced to make a career change due to personal reasons, and I will be graduating from a career college in only a few months, with high hopes of getting hired in my field. I feel as though people are heaping scorn upon my parents, as well, for not kicking me out as soon as I was of age.
Many articles and people say that living outside of their parents' homes is extremely difficult for young people, yet I still find myself on the receiving end of "You're HOW old and still living with your parents?!"
I have bitten my tongue against the urge to reply, "How old were you when your parents decided that you were an obligation that they could finally dispose of?"
Obviously this would not be a good response, but I'm at a loss as to how to handle the scathing comments gracefully. This is especially difficult since my parents have been nothing but supportive of my career challenges and have never made me feel like a burden.
GENTLE READER: The people who say this are HOW old?
Miss Manners asks because the generation that considers relatives to be natural enemies is aging. They grew up denouncing their parents' values, styles of living and psyches; they left home as soon as possible and resented the expectation of telephone calls and holiday visits; and they predicted antagonism from children -- their own as well as others' -- at every stage: Babies would ruin your life, teenagers would hate you, young adults would go off and never be heard from again, or, worse, come home.
That other cultures value and seek to prolong family ties does not discourage such believers from declaring generational enmity to be normal human behavior.
But things are changing. You are far from the only young adult living with his parents. And while doing so is always explained in terms of economic hardship and maternal laundry service, those are not the only reasons.
It seems that another generation of parents has reared children who become fond of them. Miss Manners keeps hearing of, and even reading about, college students who keep in frequent touch with their parents, and graduates who are frankly happy to return home, in preference to living in solitude or with yet more roommates.
So you should be hearing fewer such remarks. That aging generation is beginning to realize that if a time comes when they are no longer able to live on their own, it is their children who will decide where to place them.
In the meantime, Miss Manners suggests replying: "Yes, I'm very lucky. Are you able to see much of your parents?" Or, if their parents are not likely to be alive, "of your children."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Regarding a husband and wife planning an anniversary, is there one or the other who usually does all the planning?
GENTLE READER: If they cannot settle that peaceably by themselves, Miss Manners supposes that they will not have to worry about celebrating many anniversaries.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)