How do you convince your parents that you are an adult when you are still living in their basement?
According to Huffington Post, 56% of 18 to 24 year-olds were living with their parents in 2013. I know firsthand how difficult it is to move back into your family home. Sure, it's economical, and for me, was the only solution at the time, but it can send you reeling and retrograding within a matter of hours.
First, it's the "wait, you're going out at this hour?!" then it's the "why didn't you come home last night" and finishes with a "but I made this dinner!"
How are you supposed to establish yourself as an adult and build an adult relationship with your parents without returning to your angsty/high school self?
- Although I don't think of myself as a "drinker," my parents never have alcohol in the house - ever, not even holidays. l tried to respect that, but I totally had a bottle of wine in my room all the time. It felt like I had to sneak around like I was in high school. I mean, I wasn't getting hammered alone in my room, but if I wanted to have a glass of wine with my dinner, I had to covertly disappear and reappear from the table.
- My parents are pretty chill - I never had a curfew growing up (mainly because I didn't have any friends) - but when I moved back home it felt like they were constantly watching me, and would get frustrated when I went for a drive after 8pm or needed to just get out of the house in the evenings. And if I didn't come home from work right away, I got the never-ending text messages.
- After a mere few weeks, the "I'm an adult, I can do what I want" arguments started. My parents and I always got along; I never had a "rebellious" phase or acted out, but when I moved back in after college, tensions were high. Although I didn't purposefully slam my door, I definitely blasted the music when I needed to pretend I wasn't where I was.
It was a long and rough year before I was able to move out. Since then, my older brother and older sister have moved home for one reason or another. And we are not the strange cases...
This is becoming the new norm.
So how do we establish ourselves as "adults" while living under our parents' roofs?
1) stop thinking of it as a battle
Moving back in with your parents should not lead to bloodshed. Don't feel like you are fighting for territory or space, and don't use your words as weapons. These people care about you and are here to help you through this strange time in your life.
2) establish space and time early, but prepare yourself for push back
Although this isn't a battle, I do think it is important to establish boundaries early on. When you make the decision to move in with them, make sure you take the time to say, "I'm not sure how much I will actually be around the house, but when I am, I will be respectful of your schedules." It acknowledges that you are adult enough to be gracious but also lets them know that you won't always be there for 6 o'clock dinner.
3) remember, saying you are an "adult" and actually being an "adult" are two very different things
We are all striving to be "adults," so remember that your 17 year-old self would have thought that being an "adult" would be staying out late and doing whatever the f#ck you want, whereas real "adulting" means understanding responsibility and respect. When your mom asks, "Are you really wearing that?" Rise above and cool down. You are a respectful adult, who doesn't need to fight over a simple question, or roll your eyes, or throw back a death glare.
4) this is just as hard for your parents as for you
Your parents raised you. Whether you had the typical wash-your-hands-before-dinner kind of childhood or the food-in-front-of-tv kind of life, your parents raised you. They remember you a certain way, and they parented a certain way. Then you left, you changed, you grew, and they weren't a part of it. You didn't share all of the strange stories that now make you, well, you! They are struggling to understand this new person that is living with them, while comparing you to your childhood self. Give them a break.
5) do something to contribute to the house every day, or at least on a regular basis
Cook dinner, vacuum, go grocery shopping, etc.on a regular basis. Don't think of it as "chores," but things that you would do to help your roommates. You are living in shared space, and that mess is just as much yours as it is theirs. Remember, this "adulting" thing is about responsibility. Plus, it will silently prove that you are an adult, while also silently acknowleding that you appreciate them and their kindness.
6) if you are in a place in your life where you need true financial help, don't take it for granted
Sit down, and be incredibly clear and gracious about every time they buy you dinner, or gas, or insurance - even if they offered and they know that they will be supporting you and they buy you gas every week, don't take it for granted. Don't get entitled - see #3.
Overall, be courteous. Yes, they are your parents, they offered, etc. but they didn't have to say yes.
I wish I had followed through with these when I was living at home, but since hindsight is 20-20, I now realize the points where I was being selfish, hurtful, and entitled. And that isn't who I am! Nor is it who I want to be!
So, if you are thinking about moving home, or have already made the transition, take a breath and remember that you are an adult even if you are back in your old room with your stuffed animals and prize ribbons.