Gen X Mom Asks 'Where Did The American Dream Go?' As She Explains How Much Her Kids Have Struggled Since Graduating College

She seems to have the right idea.

Gen X mom talking about her kids' struggles on TikTok @that1crazy72 / TikTok

Jessica McCabe, a 51-year-old mom who is retired from the military and a part of Generation X recently posted a video in which she talks about the differences she’s noticed in the way her kids are struggling to simply live in America compared to her life as an adult.

It’s no secret that there’s a massive divide in ideologies surrounding life in America. Many older generations believe that Millennials, Gen Z and younger generations are just lazy and “don’t want to work,” while the younger generations are capable of understanding just how difficult it really is to be in their own position.


This Gen X mom asks, 'Where did the American Dream go?'

“I am so tired of feeling helpless as a parent. Yes, my kids are grown adults. My oldest is 28, my youngest is 25,” Jessica, explains at the start of her TikTok. The text overlaid at the beginning of the video reads “Where did the American dream go?”

“I thought by teaching them what I learned, which is you work hard, you get a good job, you're gonna get the things in life that you need, right?” she asked. “Worked for me. Why wouldn't it work for them? Cause it doesn't.”



A key human experience and an important lesson in life is understanding that we are all a culmination of our own, individual, lived experiences. My life may not be the same as your life, and your life may not be the same as your parent’s life.


Thanks to the uniquely American experience, things like inflation and wage stagnation have contributed to these experiences becoming glaringly different based on the time period you grew up in. This Gen X mom is one of the few that seems to have bridged the gap in understanding this key concept.

“The world [has] changed, all right? And now I feel like I see them struggling, and before my generation comes at me: Yes, I understand struggling is a part of life. We all struggled. But there's a difference between struggling and drowning,” she goes on.

She knows that prevuous generations had to struggle, but adults today are drowning. She describes how she was able to easily provide for herself independently on a $10/hr pay table. “Now you have to be making 6 figure salary to get a decent, tiny little place to live.”

The current American lifestyle is unsustainable, and it’s affecting her too.

“I told my son, all you have to do is work hard, go to college, or join the military like I did,” she continued, and he did just that — minus the military part. After graduating college, he quickly received a job and started working, telling his mom that after a couple of months of saving money, he would move out and live on his own. 


“It's been 10 months. He has saved almost every diamond. Still can't afford to live,” she said, and this is the reality for so many Americans, including the one typing this. A Pew Research Center study published in 2020 found that for the first time since the Great Depression, a majority of young adults in the U.S. live with their parents.

“In July, 52% of young adults resided with one or both of their parents, up from 47% in February, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of monthly Census Bureau data.” Around this time, the number was 26.6 million adults that live at home with their parents, and the number has surely increased since then.

Equally as concerning, a Pew Research Center study published in 2022 found that “Americans [are] more likely to say it’s a bad thing than a good thing that more young adults live with their parents.” We can only hope that they’re saying it’s a bad thing because that means our society is failing as our Baby Boomer mom Jess believes.

“It's literally turning into the ultra-wealthy and then everybody else is just poor,” she says. “Like that's what is happening,” and that was just her son. Her daughter worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day until she was able to afford a down payment on a home. Her mortgage payments? Double what Jess has to pay.


It’s entirely unsustainable, and until something gives, the American dream continues to be a mirage of goals that can never be achieved.

Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.