I heard on NPR, a station I trust, that only 20% of teens cause trouble for their parents. That means 80% don't and I believe it. Of course, those 20% are no picnic. However, I think most kids do move out now if they can. Some stay longer for economic reasons because of the bad economy, but most also help out, many pay rent and do their own laundry, cooking, etc. Most do not expect us to support them, even if they are home. They mostly also are nice to their family members. And eventually they get jobs, move out, and live their lives without getting into trouble and without depending on us.
The automobile and kids driving to me seemed to start this trend. I grew up in the late 60's/early 70s and without parents handing out cars to kids we would not have been able to do any of the stuff we did. I was usually the driver and although I did not drink at all, do drugs or even have sex before marriage, my friends of choice were difficult children and I'd drive them to the places they wanted to go, albeit under a warning that if they were too far gone, they could walk home. Still, I think it makes me guilty that I drove them, knowing they were disobeying their parents and breaking the law.
I don't know how any of them would have gotten to the wild parties and crazy boyfriends without my car. And now it seems almost all teens who are teens and middle class, even lower middle class, have access to some car. And if they are upper middle class, I'm amused and amazed at how many parents think they have to buy cars for their young teen kids. And they pay for their insurance and gas...even after they have proven they are not trustworthy. Again, though, the majority of teenagers are trustworthy.
The internet is another issue that has brought teens and young adults from one end of the world to another so if somebody is prone to trouble it's easy to connect with difficult child strangers on the internet. I'm sure our grandchildren are going to have ways of communicating and traveling that we can't even imagine yet.
I also think that the huge divorce rate and two parent working families contributes to making it easier for kids to get messed up and have time to do activities without any parental support. My son put his infant son in infant daycare. Almost made me laugh when I heard about it. But...Must.Have.Toys. He's only six and ok. Time will tell how the divorce, his mom's remarriage quickly afterward, his dad (36) and his move in/out girlfriend and all the chaos in his life plus his extreme comfort with all things techie will affect him.
However, I'm a huge believer that, despite all this, when a person is an adult, they are making their own choices and whatever happened, they have a choice to overcome the "bad childhood" that all difficult children tend to claim or to get into trouble and blame this "bad childhood" they all claim. I did not have particular sympathy for 36 when he became an adult toddler. I know a lot of parents do cry over their difficult child adult kids and have a lot of pity for them and I respect that, but I was more disgusted by his behavior than sad for him. I felt badly for my daughter at times when she was using drugs, but other times I was also disgusted. I love them both with all my heart, but they knew what they were doing when they did it. 36 still knows. I blame nothing on his difficult child-ness except himself and probably his bad luck with genetics, which I also think plays a huge role. When our kids are difficult children...often it is because we married one and had a baby with one and, whether the parent was present or not, his genes live in our child forever.
I think lots of bad stuff happened in the 1950's and before that was hidden because nobody talked about anything back then.