17 Gen X'ers Reveal What They Really Think About Their Adult Kids' Struggles, And It's So Honest

    "The only thing worse than being a Gen X’er’s adult kid is being a retired Gen X’er. Talk about inflation killing your life and dreams, and you can’t make up for it because your body is breaking down."

    Recently, we shared a Gen X mom's viral rant about how hard it is for her to watch her millennial and Gen Z kids struggle to get ahead. In a TikTok that's been viewed over 14 million times, 51-year-old Jessica McCabe aired her frustration that the American dream seems so much further out of reach for her kids than it did for her.

    Jessica McCabe sitting in her car with text that says "Where did the American dream go?"

    In the comments, millennials and Gen Z'ers felt really seen and appreciated hearing from someone around their parents' age who actually gets it. And other Gen X'ers joined the conversation on BuzzFeed and HuffPost to share what they think about the struggles the younger generations are facing. It was really great to hear from more Gen X'ers, so here's what they had to say:

    1. "I am 44, and my kids are teenagers right now. I keep telling them to move somewhere they can live happily and comfortably. It could be the middle of the country, another country altogether, or working on a cruise ship to earn their room and board. All I know is that nothing is sustainable for anyone these days, and I can’t imagine what it will be like when my kids are out of college."

    Young adults wearing cap and gown for college graduation

    2. "My kids are 31 and 27. My son (31) has done very well for himself; my daughter is doing okay now but has struggled. She finally started to make a decent living doing a YouTube channel about cinematography."

    "It's definitely more difficult for young people today with the housing costs for renting or owning being very much out of control. That said, it wasn't easy for me, either. I graduated from college in the middle of Bush senior's economic downturn, and I had to work two jobs to be able to afford to put a roof over my head. I wasn't allowed to live with my parents after college. Tough love tactics from the parents forced me out by age 23."

    Carl Miller

    3. "Life is definitely harder than it was a few decades ago — and not just for younger people. I'm a Gen X'er and I'm living with my mom (in a house that's paid for because my dad built it) because I can't afford to pay rent anywhere right now, even though I'm working two part-time jobs."

    "Job hunting is difficult because the hiring process is more hands-off than it used to be, and employers are getting pickier. There was also a time when a single person could afford to pay rent for an apartment on ONE income, and even factory workers, teachers, and gas station workers could afford to buy houses. People used to be able to work their way through college and graduate debt-free. But not anymore! 

    "Something seriously needs to change in this country, because the American dream is becoming out of reach for so many people these days!"


    4. "I am Gen X, and believe me, I had it harder than my parents. When my father was in high school and college, he worked as a lifeguard at the beach every summer. He told me he worked one summer with lots of overtime and was able to pay for a new car without a loan."

    Vintage dad and son wearing swimming trunks

    5. "I'm Gen X, 53 years old. Every since I was a small child, I was aware of the way things are going. I always felt the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation. I could not understand how a select few humans no different from any other human could hold the threat of annihilation over all of us. I was 9 years old. I had constant nightmares. Since then, everything has only gotten worse."

    "Humans created climate change, the poisoning of our planet, mass extinction, the rise of fascism. I have three children and want them to have a future. I love all life and want life to continue. If we don't do something, if something doesn't change, then there will be no future for us and our children.

    "I can't even believe that we ask why our children are despondent."

    Human Being

    6. "Anyone who came of age after 1970 (which includes a whole swath of boomers) has had to contend with stagnant wages. The first raise I got at my first real job in 1983 was 8%. After that, it was all wage freezes and excuses as to why raises couldn't be more than 2% (even in years of high inflation)."

    "I've been struggling to catch up ever since. At nearly retirement age, I'm finally coming out ahead a bit every month. I even tried moving to a state cheaper than the one I grew up in. I also went back to school and got a master's degree. None of that helped.

    "One of my kids is doing well. The other, who is married with two young kids, struggles every month, and I feel bad that there isn't much I can do to help them."

    undrgrnd girl

    7. "Gen X here. When I graduated from college in 2000, I rented a two-bedroom, two-bath townhouse for $550. It was a well-kept property in a safe part of town. That's not even a possibility these days. I can't imagine the kind of money young people have to make at the same age I was then to afford living on their own."

    "Apartment for rent" sign

    8. "My mother is a boomer and a widow. I'm a Gen X widow. I have three kids: a millennial son, a Gen Z son, and a Gen Alpha daughter. All of us live together (except for the Gen Z son, who is in the military) because in our city, there is no way we can afford to live apart. This is what the American dream looks like now."


    9. "The only thing worse than being a Gen X’er’s adult kid is being a retired Gen X’er. Talk about inflation killing your life and dreams, and you can’t make up for it because your body is breaking down."

    Save Democracy

    10. "Y'all, this isn't new. I experienced this in my 20s into my 30s until I got frickin' married, and I'm an Xennial, or whatever we're called this week. Went to college, got good grades, worked 60 to 80 hours a week from 18 to 35, and said eff this because it got me nowhere with nothing. The world is burning, and I can only apologize to my kid and fear for his future."

    Worried mom looking at bills while her kid plays games on a tablet next to her on the couch

    11. "Gen X mom here. My kids — both adults — have worked way harder than I remember having to, and they still can’t get a foothold in this world! No way should crappy rental properties be over $1,000, let alone the cost of owning homes. How did it all become so outrageous?"


    12. "I am a Gen X'er, and the standard steps that are supposed to have worked for our generation barely even worked for me. So I'm completely able to understand why it's exponentially more difficult for millennials and Gen Z'ers to achieve these milestones."

    "Even with no debt coming out of college, I still could not afford to live on my own until I was almost 29. This was because I was caught in the massive layoffs that crushed the workforce (particularly young, fresh-out-of-college types) when the late-'90s tech bubble imploded (a period also noted for the financial scandal disasters that aggravated this condition, such as Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and Arthur Andersen). 

    "As a result, I was out of work with not enough experience to get the only jobs that existed at that point, while CEOs, boards, and senior management cut expenses so their paychecks and dividends remained untouched. For the next three years, I could only get temp jobs, interspersed with periods of unemployment. So even with no college debt and being able to live at home, I was still left financially devastated.

    "When I did finally land a full-time, long-term job, it was just enough to make the tiniest bit of financial steps forward. It still took me more than a year to be able to pay down the newer debts and be able to move out and rent an apartment, with multiple roommates. And while that job was serviceable, I stayed in it much longer than I should have because of the fear of being out of work again (understandable after nearly three years of that experience).

    "So now, many years later, I do actually own a home and have a solid-paying job. But the experience (and ongoing financial roadblocks, including shockingly worsening health insurance coverage) has left me in a place where the idea of getting married and having kids has never even remotely seemed like something that was attainable for me."


    13. "I’m Gen X with a Gen Z son. I was so glad when he decided to skip college and learn a trade. It’s so unfair the way the system that worked for us no longer works for younger adults."

    Instructor and student working on an engine in an automotive trade school class

    14. "I'm an older Gen X with Gen Z kids. The only reason my kids are thriving financially is because their grandparents paid their college tuition and bought their first cars. Their friends, saddled with student loan debt and auto loans, are working hard and getting nowhere. It's a jungle out there for Gen Z. They're strong, resilient, and hardworking, but the odds are ridiculously stacked against them."


    15. "Gen X mom raising Generation Alpha kids here. I also have my boomer mom living in my basement apartment. I get so infuriated with her when these types of topics come up, when I express my worry about paying for my kids' college or trade school, and whether they will ever own a home or live comfortably without needing roommates."

    "Her answer is to say that if they just don’t buy fancy cars, like she sees in apartment parking lots, they can surely afford a house. That I should cut back on takeout to afford college for them. She's so out of touch with reality, and she’s the same age as most of our lawmakers. Term limits and age limits are a must. No one over 65 (fairly standard retirement age) should be in office."


    16. "I (Gen X) keep telling people that we should absolutely forgive student loans and even offer a cost of living stipend for those who want to enter the trades. Why? Because a thriving middle class with opportunities for advancement is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy."

    Broken empty piggy bank labeled "Student Loan"

    17. "Gen X mom raising a Gen Z daughter here. I know the world is getting much harder for her, and I wish it wasn't that way. But my thinking is, if I don't teach her a strong work ethic, then she has even less chance of success. I try not to make guarantees — sometimes you can do everything right and still lose, but if you don't even try, you will definitely lose."

    "There are also some things she has better than we did: She's gay and out in school, which was nigh on impossible to do when I was her age unless you wanted to be bullied daily."


    Are you a Gen X'er? Tell me what you think about this conversation in the comments!

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.