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Is moving out just an escape?
January 17, 2013 8:00 PM   Subscribe

Is it better to approach family issues from within, or wait until you can gain an outside perspective?

Hi everyone - on preview, this question has similar aspects to one that was just posted today. However my question is a bit different, I hope, and relates to moving out in the context of solving family issues.

I've been talking to my therapist about my family situation at home (mostly to do with me feeling guilty when things aren't my fault, and feeling unable to assert myself when the parents do something I don't like), and he seems pretty firm in the idea that I should try and improve the situation for myself while still living at home, rather than running away by moving out. I think his reasoning is that the model for my relationships with other people is based on the relationships I have at home, and that that won't improve unless I change (or at least try to change) the situation at home. In contrast, from what I've seen on AskMeFi, the general advice seems to be that if you have an unhappy family situation, the best thing is to move out as soon as possible.

I tend to think that it would be easier to approach the situation once I've moved out, because I'll be able to approach my parents as more of an adult (in their view), and I'll have developed a firmer sense of self to guide me through it. But I can't deny that 'running away' is probably a big part of it, because trying to change the status quo is *hard*, and assertiveness is scary when you don't even know what your boundaries are.

I'd like to know what everyone thinks. I'm oscillating between: 1) moving out is a pretty big thing and maybe it's better to stay at home just for financial reasons (plus some unexamined guilt that I should be looking after one of my parents, who is currently high-functioning but stands to deteriorate within the next few years), and 2) I'm 23 now, I won't finish my degree until I'm 26-27, and if I stay at home until then, I'm worried about missing a whole chunk of my youth that I could've spent independent and growing and learning about myself. Do you think my therapist is right - should I stick with my family and try and do what I can now, or wait until I move out to improve my relationships? Advice and suggestions are all welcome. And sorry for the run-on sentences.
posted by cucumber patch to Human Relations (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I find that advice from your therapist a little weird, though I'm hesistant to second-guess them as they obviously know more about you specifically than any of us here will.

But I have to say, the ability to separate from my family was actually crucial for me to develop an independent sense of self and be able to re-approach them on a different and more self-confident footing. It is perhaps true that you could learn to deal differently with them while living at home with no break point at which you live away for a while as an independent adult, but it seems like it would be a lot harder. THere's a reason why most societies have developed some ritual or other for getting late adolescents/emerging adults away from their families.

It's a little hard to advise you about your situation because the information here is fuzzy. Do you need to live at home? Are they paying for your school or something else? Do you pay rent? What are your living arrangements? Are you employed (other than studying)? Other siblings at home? When you say that your parents may "do something you don't like," what are we talking about here? The normal freedoms they have as adults, or something that interferes with you? Or just petty annoyances?

So basically, it can be healthy to live independently for a while, especially at your age. But it's not really clear what the problems you're combating are. And it is a little strange that your therapist would be so adamant about your staying. It's true that parental relationships will color everything you do with relationships for the rest of your life, but it's not like you have to be under the same roof to work all that out.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you're over 18 then moving out is not "running away". I guess your therapist feels like if you learn to assert yourself as your parent's child, you will have a better foundation in life. If he's like a lot of therapists that I've met and studied then "the family of origin" is a big deal. From the perspective of "figuring out what's troubling someone deep down" it's a giant elephant in the room and usually the most important thing. It sounds like he feels like you shouldn't leave there until all the problems there are resolved or else they'll never be resolved! (Gasp!)

But at 23, I think that ship has sailed. Your time as your primary identity being your parent's child is over, and spending 3 years trying to fix the past instead of cultivating your adult self out in the world seems like a mistake to me. That's what your gut is telling you, and I think you're going to find a lot of agreement here. I think any decision you make should be purely financial - leave all the scary emotional stuff out of it. Either you can afford to move out or you can't. If you can, then you should.
posted by bleep at 8:15 PM on January 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


It's a little hard to advise you about your situation because the information here is fuzzy. Do you need to live at home? Are they paying for your school or something else? Do you pay rent? What are your living arrangements? Are you employed (other than studying)? Other siblings at home? When you say that your parents may "do something you don't like," what are we talking about here? The normal freedoms they have as adults, or something that interferes with you? Or just petty annoyances?

I don't pay rent, but I do help out around the house. I pretty much have uni from 8-5 Monday-Friday, which, counting the hours I have to study outside of school, doesn't leave me with a lot of time for working and saving money. But I've recently realised I've just been using this as an excuse not to find a job - this year I'm planning to at least work for one or two nights of the week. I have a slightly fraught history with my parents, especially my dad who used to get angry at me and sis a lot, and that means I tend to wig out when anything resembling conflict pops up, I'm super oversensitive to stuff that feels like boundary pushing, and at the same time ill-equipped to say no to small things (as in a recent example, dad feeding me chicken liver without telling me what it is, even though he knows I hate it. Ugh, is that too petty?).

I've actually been reading the responses in the other thread, and a lot of those are helping answer my question as well, so I think I'll go ahead and mark this as resolved. Thanks guys. Sorry about the redundant question :/! For anyone still reading this, the thread I'm looking at is here.
posted by cucumber patch at 9:00 PM on January 17, 2013


You're 23 years old. Your therapist is dumb and wrong and I would get a new one if I were you. You need to go be a grownup and live in your own house.

There's no reason you can't continue to have a relationship with your family of birth living under a different roof, and frankly, my guess is that the reason for your family drama is that you're too damn old to be living with your fucking parents.
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 PM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


I agree with the other posters. Your therapist seems to have a hidden agenda. Sometimes an outside perspective is necessary.
posted by Peregrin5 at 9:43 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't be quite as blunt as Sara C, but I'd be saying the same thing. You're 23. You need to be living apart from your parents.

I spent last weekend in Sydney (my first Mefi meetup and it was AWESOME, but I digress). My 14 year old daughter met up with an 18 year old online friend for the first time. The 18 year old drove me nuts for a whole lot of reasons, but what really did my head in was when she flatly refused to cross the road from our accommodation to Central station where she had to catch a train home. I was tired and hot and ready to embark on the four hour drive home, and didn't really want to escort her to the train... but she simply refused to consider crossing the road and buying a ticket by herself, so we went with her.

At some stage I realised that I had been living on my own in Sydney when I was 17. This chick couldn't cope with crossing the road and buying a train ticket by herself even though she was 18. I was suddenly proud of myself for moving out, to a big city from a small country town, and surviving.

Don't be her. Be me. Move out. Struggle with budgets and cooking and flatmates. Moving out isn't an escape, it's embarking on adulthood, and freeing yourself from the crap that living with your parents entails.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:56 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Fire your therapist and get a new one.

Even when MeFites in their 40's return home for a visit, they complain of falling into the same patterns and dynamics sometimes that were features in their childhoods.

I think it is near impossible to change negative dynamics from within when you will ALWAYS be viewed as younger/a minor offspring.

You can't change them. You can change yourself, and your life overall.

Focus on this.

It will be more productive and satisfying in the long run. Life is too short for what your therapist proposes.
posted by jbenben at 10:40 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Generally, if you are really in a bad situation, the advice is to move out, because you can't effectively deal with it and process those feelings until you are in a better place and out of the immediate stress (or even danger.) Based on what you say and your therapist's use of "running away" I wonder if your situation is more along the lines of normal young-adult growing up type conflict, and that's why your therapist thinks you shouldn't move out - because this is the sort of thing you need to learn to deal with before you move out on your own. I don't know what your exact problems are, but maybe these are things that you will experience in any living situation, so moving out won't change anything and you won't have developed the skills you need to deal with them. (Sorry this is vague, it's late.)
posted by catatethebird at 11:00 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you've never lived away from home and you're 23? Move out. Seriously, I have seen some...ah, arrested development issues.... in the folks who never moved away. Like, to the point where I suspect they're never, ever going to leave home and those people are in their mid-30's. You need to learn how to live on your own, ASAP. It's more awkward to learn how to be a grown-up the later that you start at it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:03 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe your therapist has a reason I can't think of for suggesting it, but honestly, every single person I know didn't fully understand how dysfunctional their family relationships were until they moved out and realized the rest of the world didn't operate that way. It's very difficult to get perspective on how not cool something is if it seems normal to you, and things seem normal if you're around them a lot. People who don't get distance from problematic relationships tend to put up with a lot of crap from people that other people simply don't accept.

Plus, dude, you are past old enough to move out. If you were 18 or something I could see it being more iffy, but I find it weird your therapist would discourage you from moving out at 23. It's not that it's bad to live with parents at that age or anything if you were happy and wanted to, to be clear, but if you're 23 and think it's the right time to go, go! And honestly sometimes the only way to handle family drama, especially where parents are concerned, is to become more independent and/or simply see your parents less. It is difficult for a child to get a parent to change their behavior and viewpoints, to say the least. Be sure your therapist isn't expecting a resolution when it's unrealistic. In real life, there will absolutely be situations where a resolution is impossible despite your best efforts. That doesn't mean don't try, but it does mean that you need to know when to try another tactic or throw in the towel. Telling someone not to move out at 23 seems to over-value the importance of resolving conflict; I wouldn't weigh it that heavily, or assume it's feasible.

Again, perhaps there's a reason that makes sense for why your therapist has suggested this -- maybe he feels you are largely at fault for some behaviors or something? -- but without knowing everything he knows, it seems like an odd suggestion.
posted by Nattie at 11:34 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even if you are moving out to 'escape' or 'run away' you will still have to deal with the real world when you are moved out. You will have to budget and hold down a job, negotiate with flatmates or cope on your own, organise your time for study, cook and clean etc. So if there are life lessons you need to learn, I think you will be able to learn them equally well living away from home as living with your parents. If I were you I would investigate two things before moving out: 1. money - can you afford it? 2. backup plan - can you move back in with your parents or another family member if you decide you don't like it at all?

I am concerned that your therapist uses emotive/ pejorative language to describe you moving out. I think it could be a good way to develop the skills you need to alter your family situation and/or put it into perspective. I would say go for it - I'm sure you will rise to the challenge!
posted by EatMyHat at 12:46 AM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Move out, get a new therapist.

I can't tell you how amazing it was to move out. Doing so made me learn about myself in so many ways I never would have been able to, otherwise. Those dirty dishes in the sink? Turns out, they weren't my brother's at all! That faint ringing in my ears? I wasn't crazy! It went away, and was revealed to be the sound of my mother's voice. 

It separates you from them, puts you against the blank canvas of adulthood and helps you clearly see what you're bringing to the table. I blamed other people for things that were my fault and learned about unexpected strengths, talents, and interests. I saw my family much clearer, which is all but impossible to do while living with them.
posted by blazingunicorn at 1:23 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Move out.

I have a slightly fraught history with my parents, especially my dad who used to get angry at me and sis a lot, and that means I tend to wig out when anything resembling conflict pops up, I'm super oversensitive to stuff that feels like boundary pushing, and at the same time ill-equipped to say no to small things


This is my family situation to a T. (And I'm 23!) I eventually learned to manage it in a relatively mature way (unless I was feeling really exhausted or irritable), but family is not by choice. Living with people you would not have necessarily chosen to be your intimates is a nontrivial decision. It's hard enough to live with the love of your life.

Once I moved out my relationship with my family became just beautiful. I was glad to have four-hour phone conversations with my dad, and when he raised his voice I didn't immediately bristle and undercut him. I was able to set my own boundaries and reinforce them MUCH EASIER because I was already starting from a position of independence, rather than a position of guilt and indebtedness. I didn't feel the need to rabidly defend my choices because they weren't being questioned and minimized at every turn. Life completely turned around.

I blamed other people for things that were my fault and learned about unexpected strengths, talents, and interests

Also very, very true. If I were you I would move out. You can still be close and care for your parent. But you are living in a world of frustration and sublimated potential if you are anything like me.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:11 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like EatMyHat, I'm also concerned that your therapist is using words like "escape" and "run away". It seems manipulative, like a calculated move to keep you at home so you can "work out" all of your problems and prove what a fabulously successful therapist he is. And in my book that's unprofessional and maybe even a little weird. A good therapist wouldn't make it seem like you were a coward for wanting to live your own life. Listen to me: you're not a coward, there's nothing wrong with you, there's nothing wrong with moving out.

23 is old enough to live on your own. It's also an amazing time in your life that you don't want to waste living with your parents. You don't want to be 27, still living at home and wondering where four years of your life went. You need the freedom to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. You need those sudden realizations that young adults get, whether they're mundane or profound or silly but freeing (I can walk around in nothing but an elf hat and eat Funyuns and spray cheese for breakfast!).

But that's not going to happen if you stay at home. You often can't work through familial problems when you're in the thick of them. Living at home will not allow you to deal with anything, it will keep you mired in the drama forever. What you need is time away to establish your own ideas, opinions and thoughts, to figure out who you are on your own and become your own person. This will give you a fortitude and sense of self that living at home will never provide.

Your therapist is wrong. Move out and get a new therapist. Please, for your sake, embrace your early 20s and live the kind of life that you'll be happy to remember when you're 40.
posted by i feel possessed at 4:36 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're 23 years old. Your therapist is dumb and wrong and I would get a new one if I were you. You need to go be a grownup and live in your own house.

It is true that the natural order of things is for a child to move out of the home. And it is often natural that some kind of conflict precipitates this move. But perhaps, maybe the therapist sees something in cucumber patch that leads him/her to believe that makes this advice proper? Maybe the therapist doesn't want them to do the right thing for the wrong reasons, and to work on the issues instead of being escapist.

Where you live doesn't affect who you are or whether you enjoy your life. Don't make dubious decisions because you worry that you might someday lament missing something.
posted by gjc at 4:45 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


How can we know what you should do? For one, you didn't really tell us what your parents are like. You feel guilty when things aren't your fault? Who says they're not? Who says they are? OK, I'm going to pretend that I know more about this than I actually do (just like you're pretending to know less than you actually do.)

Guilt over things not your fault is often an attempt to feel more in control. If it's your fault, you can do something about the situation. Who pays for your therapist? Will your parents continue to pay if you move out? Why is your therapist telling you what to do? If the model for you relationships with other people is based on the relationships you have at home, how does that relate to your relationship with your therapist? How about your relationship with us? Do you want us to tell you what to do so you won't feel guilty? Are your parents against your moving out? Have you discussed it with them? Did you do so during a fight with them?

Some situations can only be "fixed" by leaving them. You won't likely change your parents in any major way. How will moving out alter your relationship with them? Can it be done "amicably"? Where would you move? Do you friends live with their parents? Did your therapist actually say that moving out would be running away or is that just how you're hearing it?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:13 AM on January 18, 2013


So what your therapist says is absolutely not true as a general principle.

Maybe press him harder about why he thinks it's true in your particular case? If he doesn't have good answers, that's something to take on board as part of your assessment of the quality and applicability of his advice for you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:17 AM on January 18, 2013


I feel I should clarify some stuff about my therapist: "running away" wasn't his term, it was mine. I used it when I was trying to summarise what he was telling me. He didn't contradict me, but he stressed that it would be important to tackle the issues at home and then, if that doesn't work out, I can say I tried, and move out. He may have been concerned that my running away (again, my term) is symptomatic of a larger problem, ie. the tendency to quit when things are hard, which obviously isn't going to help me in the real world. I do have this problem but I don't know whether it can be improved by staying in this family situation, or whether I need to get out first. FWIW, he's actually a university counsellor, not a traditional therapist, and I'm not paying him.

Re: My parents: My mum is the classic peacekeeper/mediator who hates conflict and goes out of her way to help everyone. My dad, in the past, has had issues with controlling his temper, and has acted in ways that to me seem slightly manipulative, even if he doesn't mean to be. (For example, on the day it came to finalise choices for undergrad courses, one of the most stressful days of my life, when I told him I'd decided against putting medicine as first preference, he dropped the bombshell on me that mum had been diagnosed with Parkinson's. We had a massive fight when I confronted him and told him 'the timing was suspicious'. This may seem unfair to you, but I've always felt he had a history of guilt-tripping me, and that day was probably the last straw. My counsellor thinks that my guilt also arises from being unable to make everything better when my parents are experiencing friction, and that is probably true as well.]

Having said all that, my parents have mellowed out in recent years, helped by the fact that I slowly grew out of my miserable teenager phase. I do think they would be amenable to me asserting my boundaries a little more, and this year I intend to help them see me as an adult by starting to pay rent and phone bills. As a data point, we're an Asian family, and it's normal for Asian kids to stay at home for longer before moving out -- I feel like I've only just discovered the presence of mind to want to move out. Unfortunately my mum has so far dampened my one effort to talk about it, by saying that I "don't have to worry about this stuff until I've graduated", citing my student debt issues.

To be honest, all of this may be a moot point. I don't yet have the money to move out. It will take a long time, maybe a year to save up enough, considering my workload and lack of available work hours, and so I might as well work on family issues while I'm saving up and living at home. So in the meantime, I plan to get a job, start putting important documents away (they're all over the place, which is not helping my image), start asking my parents more about life stuff, cook and clean more at home, and then when I'm feeling like a capable human being, tell them I'm going to move out (and ask them to help me).

Thanks everyone for your replies. They've helped clarify my frame of mind. If any of the details I've just provided change the advice you want to give me, I'll happily welcome it. I'm not entirely happy with my counsellor because he does seem to sometimes push things that are irrelevant, but it's really hard to tell because I don't know my own mind enough yet. I may try getting a new counsellor.
posted by cucumber patch at 5:51 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Forgot to mention, I have a previous question about my dad here. It's gotten much better since then, but there's still stuff that tries my patience, and makes me not want to stick around for too long.)
posted by cucumber patch at 5:57 AM on January 18, 2013


Well, you have time to get your ducks in a row, but I think you're in a place where it makes sense for you to move out on your own. (Or into a house with a bunch of other students.)

When you go to school, this is usually a buffer between living with your folks and The Big Bad World. You have the safety net of having a home to retreat to if you need it, but you're out there making your own decisions and being independent.

To do this, you will need a job. I recommend something like a bartending or serving gig. You make good money for the hours that you work (at least in the States you do) and you have days for school.

Be a better time manager. WTF are you doing at school for 9 hours a day? I mean, you're in class for maybe 4 hours, tops. Get your studying done in the library or whatever.

I worked full-time and went to school full-time. It took me 7 years, but I did graduate.

You need to grow up and become an adult. I'm kind of miffed that you're thinking of asking your parents to help you. At 23 you should be able to stand on your own two feet.

Rather than sort out your family dynamic, your #1 priority should be to be independent.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:55 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think your plan sounds good. Set a deadline, make a budget, and talk openly about your plans to live on your own in a year or so. Get your therapist to help with that.

I totally agree that cultural factors vary - expectations of supporting a student and living at home are different from group to group. But even with that (and in a more pluralistic age and society), it still seems like a home environment you'd be better off getting away from, and I'm still stuck as to why the therapist thinks you will make more progress in an emotionally manipulative 24/7 living situation than outside of it. But I think you have a good handle on it, you know that it would be good for you to live on your own (probably with other hardworking students like yourself at first), and believe me, you can continue to work on your family issues for the rest of your life, no matter where you live. That's one thing we don't actually ever get to opt out of, truly.

I wonder if your therapist is really just prodding you to think about it more deeply. Maybe they want you to articulate better what it is you would be "running away" from, and whether you are indulging in a fantasy that you can just forget about all this and start over with a clean slate. It may be that the point is just "this is what your life contains and you'll need to work with and through it, no matter what." It's hard to tell, but it may actually be an attempt to open up a conversation about your family and prod you to think and talk about how things need to change and how you want relationships to be different in the future, and how you can lean to create that future. So I'd just say sure, make your plan, and meanwhile continue to pursue this conversation with your therapist. Some things you can put on your to-do list are: talk to classmates about their living situations and how they work it, what rent is like, and so on (respectfully of course, don't pry, but it's a natural question); visit your uni housing office to see if they can help with student apartments, etc). Take some steps.
posted by Miko at 6:59 AM on January 18, 2013


Can't you just take out some student loans and use them to rent an apartment, or even a room in a group house? You're in Australia, right? Student loans there are readily available, and repayment is based on income. You need a different therapist, one who will help to disentangle your life from your parents.
posted by mareli at 7:11 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is really a set of issues that you need to keep working on with your therapist.

Please don't fire your therapist based on this thread. Learn about what good therapy looks like, and try communicating with them what you're dissatisfied about. That's the real problem with "quitting when it gets hard," anyway: the quitting instead of trying the thing that really obviously could fix the situation. Your situation with your therapist may or may not be one that's fixable - but there are things you probably should try first. It's possible that's the message your therapist is trying to send about your parents, BTW.

Please don't take on debt based on this thread. Talk with a financial adviser before taking on any kind of debt, particularly given your lack of work experience. Please also realize that merely adding the word "student" doesn't make a "student loan" good debt.

(Especially because AskMe has a very strong bias against living with your parents as a young adult, and because I think it's pretty obvious you're not able to give us all the information your therapist has.)
posted by SMPA at 10:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


He may have been concerned that my running away (again, my term) is symptomatic of a larger problem, ie. the tendency to quit when things are hard, which obviously isn't going to help me in the real world.

Look, I'm sorry I keep being so frank about all this, but this is fucking insane.

You're an adult. You're not expected to continue living under the support of your parents indefinitely. Moving out isn't "quitting" your relationship with your parents, it's maturing and evolving that relationship.

Who arranged this therapist for you, and who pays? Does your therapist know your parents socially? How long have you been seeing this person? Does the relationship go back to a time when the therapist would have been talking to your parents about your progress? I guess my point is, can you be sure your therapist in on your side, here? Because this whole thing stinks to high heaven, I'm sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 10:54 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, until I got halfway though your question it sounded like you were considering leaving a spouse and kids.

tendency to quit when things are hard, which obviously isn't going to help me in the real world

Having a tendency to tell yourself there's something wrong with changing your situation isn't going to help you in the real world, there are all sorts of things that come up where it's appropriate to reevaluate your course of action.

You're framing this as "quitting", "giving up", and "running away", very biased ways of looking at things. You'd probably visit them and talk to them pretty often, since you go to school nearby. Try thinking about it as avoiding, hiding, and not learning the things you learn living on your own, until you've worked up some guilt about that. Now find the balance between them.

Everything else aside, this really stood out to me in your question:
some unexamined guilt that I should be looking after one of my parents, who is currently high-functioning but stands to deteriorate within the next few years

It sounds like you have a parent who you might have to help care for in a few years, perhaps even needing to have someone live with them who can care for them. Parkinson's isn't something that kills people off quickly, they may need care for many years.

If you are going to be a live-in caregiver for this parent, you might not have a chance to live on your own before you turn 40. You talk about not knowing your own mind yet, and you're still learning how to even deal with bills and important papers.

It's hard to be the main caregiver for someone with a chronic illness. It's going to be a lot harder to care for them if they are an aging parent and you still have a parent-child dynamic -- they aren't going to want to let you do things for them they can no longer do, or make decisions about things. Someone loosing their abilities to do things is not going to help your current dynamic at all. Feeling like you missed "a whole chunk of my youth that I could've spent independent and growing and learning about myself" isn't going to help either.

Worse, you won't have the skills you need to run a household if that falls to you. It's normal for adult offspring in your culture to continue living at home, but if you don't have the surrounding extended family that sometimes goes with that, you'll have to keep everything going without any experience and anyone to fall back on. I get the impression that your parents are doing a lot of things for you, things that you won't even comprehend that someone else has been doing for you until that doesn't happen any more. Sure you are helping out around the house, but someone else is in charge. You'll make mistakes on this, everyone does -- you'll feel far less guilty if the only person you inconvince with them is you, instead of making as many when you have someone who is dependent on you.

If you move out now, you'll have the chance to transform your relationship with your parents from adult-child to adult-adult, you'll learn to deal with society in the way adults do when it's a lower stakes situation, and you'll be in a much better position to care for your parent in the future. It's possible there might be some other practical benefits, like being able to participate in activities and make connections in your field of study if you live closer to school.
posted by yohko at 12:43 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's some other ways to spend a little bit of time on your own if moving seems like to big a step, you could get an internship in another city, go on a trip by yourself on a school break, enroll in a summer program at another school and live in the dorms.
posted by yohko at 12:47 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or take a summer job that provides housing, such as camp counseling, cooking, working in a resort. The latter can be lucrative.
posted by Miko at 1:24 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


i just read your other thread. it sounds a lot like my family of origin. get out as soon as you can. it is a whole lot easier to set emotional boundaries when you have a little physical distance. try to figure out a roommate(s) situation or take out student loans to help defray the cost and do it as soon as possible. spending most of your 20s living with your parents will not help your efforts to be an adult especially in romantic relationships.
posted by wildflower at 7:57 PM on January 18, 2013


Best thing I ever did was move 2500 miles away from my parents at 18. We had an extremely difficult relationship and had been doing family and individual therapy since I was 13. When I moved away I was able to come to the conclusion that I would never have the parents I want--I can only ever have the parents I have. Now that I've come to accept their faults and limitations I find that it's much easier to see their positive attributes. This distance also gave me perspective on our difficult relationship. They're good people and they mean well and certainly never set out to harm me. They have their own demons that interfered with their ability to effectively parent a troubled child and I can't fault them for their cluelessness.

As for your parents viewing you as an adult... I'm 37 and my parents still remind me to put the milk away when I'm finished or endlessly harangue me about getting my car inspected on the first day of the month it's due. And certainly their opinions count more in their eyes than my own. It's ok, though. I'm their kid and always will be, and they will always view themselves as the people with the correct answers to my problems. That doesn't mean I have to accept this view. I let them have their illusions. :)
posted by xyzzy at 11:52 PM on January 18, 2013


I think a lot of the time the idea is that it's okay (if a little bit quirky and attached) to live with one's parents during or after college and that it's financially smart, &c. Everybody likes it when it works out well. But it doesn't always work out well. I think when you're living with an adult with anger problems or a lot of negativity (i.e., folks like our dads), it's not a matter of just "maturely" navigating the adult relationship, it's dealing every day with someone elbowing their way into your personal space and criticizing you basically because they saw you in the kitchen in a moment of reverie and you were vulnerable. Every time something bad happens you're dealing with their tantrum, every time you announce a life choice you get an earful. It's difficult if not sometimes impossible to be cowed by that kind of relationship, especially if your major options are 1) acquiesce or 2) escalate. The other options are lie and hide things, try usually in vain to be reasonable, or move out. This kind of parental behavior is not over-the-top malicious but it's really, really fucking annoying.

I went through college while working and paying for my own apartment and it was perfectly fine. Honestly, I'm living at home right now for a brief period (at 23) and it feels absolutely ridiculous. I have to agree with Sara C. that there's really no reason someone should get comfortable living at home after, say, age 21, unless that is a major life choice for them.

Honestly, some people's personalities just don't mesh. I love my father very much but we could not be more different in a lot of ways. I like to talk to him when I don't have to live at home. When I am, I feel like screaming.

I have two friends who did the "smart" thing and lived with their parents during college to save money and both of them were going fucking insane by their sophomore year. It seems nice when everybody has the right expectations... but I honestly can't imagine feeling comfortable sleeping over at my boyfriend's place if I lived at home, for instance.

I think for people who moved out early and were independent relatively early on it's kind of unfathomable, in a way-- like the question that comes to my mind is usually "when do you plan on moving out," "what happens if you get an SO," and "how long are your parents going to take care of your responsibilities for you after you move out?" Like I can't imagine what it would have been like to live at home during college because my life was so different. I had so much space to discover myself and learn how to live an adult life.

For the record, I went to school full time at a very challenging school, worked part time (15-20 hours), supported myself entirely and graduated after four years. I did have a boost in the form of extra financial aid dollars; I'm not sure how student allowances work in Australia. You might need better time management skills if it's hard for you to find time for a part-time job.

I remember in your other question you mentioned how your dad tried to accuse you of thinking of your NYC trip as fun and games instead of taking it seriously, which is abso-fucking-lutely ridiculous and you already know that. But living with someone who wants you to feel guilty, afraid and threatened about things that should make you feel indepedent, happy and free is GOOODDDD SO FUCKING ANNOYING. So I 100% support your decision to move out soon. I think if you can get a part-time job and save most of your income you could move out much faster than a year from now.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:37 PM on January 20, 2013


And I think it sounds like your therapist is trying to help you without pushing you too far out of your comfort zone. It sounds like most of the thoughts about "running away from things" are your own, and I think you're feeling unnecessarily guilty. You know what-- I used to have a problem quitting and giving up on things, too. Moving away from home in no way ended my relationship with my parents. It was still a challenge, but one I could face from a safe distance. It was getting myself out of an emotionally unhealthy environment and giving myself adult responsibilities, and if anything that IMPROVED my ability to stick with things, because I relied on myself more.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:41 PM on January 20, 2013


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