How can I let mom know I need to be on my own?
May 10, 2009 5:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I let mom know that I need my own space for a while without sounding selfish and ungrateful? I want to stand up for myself but on the other hand, I know she struggles.

I'm asking anonymously because I have no idea if she might read this and get too angry with me before I can think over the responses and possibly change my attitude. I don't know how or if I should even mention this to her or just suck it up and deal.

My mother has already made up her mind that she (and my siblings, none of which are still in high school) will be living with me when I buy my house. She says her lease will be up and she'll help with mortgage and bills and then when she's steady at work, she'll find her own house and then move out. No actual time line. I have been planning for a while and don't really need any help with anything. It would never be turned down but I planned it so that I could finally be independent but I wasn't given the chance to say no. I don't want to seem like I'm kicking her to the curb but I should get a choice here.

I just don't want to share. I know that sounds bad but I don't. I moved out long ago and moved in with a few roommates. I have a job and have started saving money so that I could get my own reasonable, small place and live alone. I've been dreaming of it for years. Living with other people has shown me that I would much rather be alone and preferably far from people. I don't like to talk much at all though I have no problem picking up the phone. I don't like to deal with drama which is what its like living with my family and I don't like anything I own to be bothered. I also don't want to have to be treated like a child in my own house especially when I already feel like I should have been born 10 to 20 years older than I already am.
My many issues aside, I've always helped with bills and buying food. I moved out and away and still help with bills when she calls even though I've always preferred to keep a strict budget and money in savings. I hate being the one to take care of things. I wish I didn't have to even do that anymore but I would much rather that than sharing my house but I don't want to sound rude, selfish or ungrateful. I just need my own space. I've never had it, never had my own room till now at nearly 25, never had very many personal belongings (which I know is not important) nor have I even felt like my own person. Getting my place will be me growing up, stepping out on my own and catching up to my "age".
She has agreed that I can decorate everything which will no doubt cause issues with the siblings and that she has no problem putting her stuff in storage but I'm afraid it still wont be enough for me. I don't know but I can't see a compromise that I'm willing to put up with for any amount of time. In my current living situation I'm extremely unhappy and feel suffocated just having other people in the same house. I'm counting down the months till I'm alone and can be reduced to tears at the thought of having to wait any longer. I can't even put into words how much I need my own space, need to figure myself out and need to make my own rules.

How do I tell this to my mother? She has a pretty good deal set up but I don't know how long it lasts or if it's up with her lease unless she renews. I have a feeling she will still overrule whatever I say but I'd at least like to let her know that I'm not at all happy with the situation. I don't want to pretend that I am but I fear I may seem like I'm already doing that.

Feel free to let me know if I'm being completely wrong in this situation. I probably am. Also, if you can see any pros as to why this would be good for me in any way, please let me know. Thank you and feel free to email me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
She has agreed that I can decorate everything which will no doubt cause issues with the siblings and that she has no problem putting her stuff in storage but I'm afraid it still wont be enough for me.

If you do not want to live with your Mom do not negotiate for ways in which you can improve a living-with-mom situation. Tell your mother she can not live with you and your siblings can not live with you. Prepare to deal with a lot of crap from her and/or them but really the way for this not to happen is not just to carve out space for yourself in her plan, it's to make your own plan, stick to it and tell her she needs to make her own plan. You should not be negotiating for the right to decorate your own house that you bought and paid for. Your house means your rules, your things, your decorations and your own habits and whatnot. Sounds like you'd like to live alone. I can't blame you. make that a reality and don't let your family move in with you.

I'm not sure if you live in a situation where culturally this is somewhat normal, but in my culture, this sort of talk is borderline crazy depending on the rationale. The only reason I say that is not to poke fun at your family but to be someone from outside of your situation who is saying "you know, you do not have to let your mother and/or extended family move in with you. Period." I'm sure other people will chime in with similar opinions. You should not be living a life where you fear your mother's anger for not letting her walk all over you.
posted by jessamyn at 5:56 PM on May 10, 2009 [22 favorites]

Don't compromise on this at all. It will make you miserable. Maybe, maybe you can help them out with cash once in a while if your budget allows. Beyond that, there's no reason your mother and adult siblings can't work and pay the bills like everyone else.

Don't let her "overrule" you. This is a part of being an adult. She doesn't have the final say - you do. She can like it or she can shut her mouth. Your home, your rules.

If this poisons your relationship with your family (1) it's their fault, (2) it's no worse than would have happened had they moved in and leeched off you forever, and (3) they aren't worth your time. I'm sorry about this shitty situation.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:57 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Take control of your life and put your foot down. Your mother can't "overrule" any of your decisions unless you let her. If you want to buy a house and live in it by yourself, then do it. You shouldn't have to feel guilty about it either. Your house, your life, your rules.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:00 PM on May 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

It sounds terribly cold and heartless, yes blah blah blah, but what others have said here is true, you cannot compromise or 'give in' on this.

you will never have the independence and self-determination you seek while you are being forced to be responsible for others in your family. you have nothing to feel guilty about and what you want for yourself is absolutely normal, understandable and most of all, unimpeachable. good luck!
posted by supermedusa at 6:09 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

You have every right to call the shots. You have obviously been saving towards this goal for a while and you should be able to have your own space. After Mother's Day, talk to your Mom about how you feel. It is unfair for you to have to house all of the adults in your immediate family. And just being agreeable and not speaking up is going to be much worse for you in the end. Without any timeline they could plan to live with you for years. You need to discuss this with your Mom soon so she can start looking at other housing options or renew her lease.
posted by Buttons at 6:12 PM on May 10, 2009

It's your money and it's your place. You do not have to allow anyone to live with you. Period.

"Mom, I really appreciate the offer to move in with me and help with expenses. However, at this point in my life I'd rather live on my own. I'll let you know when or if my feelings change."
posted by deborah at 6:14 PM on May 10, 2009 [7 favorites]

Here's the thing: you are an adult, gainfully employed and not still financially dependent on your mom. YOU DO NOT NEED TO JUSTIFY YOURSELF. I say this in all caps because in your description of the situation, it is clear how guilty you feel, even though you have no reason to. It is unreasonable for her to assume that she and your siblings can move into your new home, pay bills as she chooses, and move out when it works for her. I would strongly advise having a very straightforward conversation with her in which you say that you are very much looking forward to having your own place, getting to know how you like to do things when you live alone, and being independent. I would not make any apologies for this- at all- because then you open the door for her to guilt you. Then, I would ask her to level with you about her lease and finances- which she owes you if she has expected you to help to this degree. If she's unwilling to do so, then I would tell her that you hope she respects your decision and you'll be glad to help her move into a new place if that's what she needs to do (if she already gave notice on her lease, for example). Extend the efforts of goodwill to abate whatever guilt you might feel.

If you do decide to let her move in, I would make separate rent deals with each of your siblings, as well as her, with clear guidelines of when they're expected to be out, and what the house rules are. I'd be very set in exactly how you want things to go before they move in, be clear with them and yourself, and stick to it. But I really think that once they move it, it'll be all downhill from there and your relationships with your family members will be much worse than they will if you put down your foot at this point.
posted by questionsandanchors at 6:14 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Please don't sacrifice your own life for your mother... speaking from personal experience, it doesn't ever work well!

Don't compromise on wanting your own home and space to yourself - it's entirely healthy and appropriate to want to find your own happiness outside of your immediate family - and if the thought of sharing your own, hard-won space is reducing to tears and making you feel selfish and ungrateful, that's a very good indication that you're not in a healthy situation right now.

Memail if you'd like to chat - but oh no, you're not wrong in this situation, at all!
posted by grippycat at 6:18 PM on May 10, 2009

When you become an adult, you get to (and should) relate to your parents as an adult, not as a child. It means you treat them with love and respect, but you make your decisions and live your life without seeking their permission or approval every step of the way. If living alone is what will not only make you happy, but also simply give you peace of mind, then that's a valid decision for you to make, and you don't need to negotiate it with your mother.

How do you tell your mother? "Mom, I love you and I will always be there for you, but I need to live alone." And she'll object, and you can repeat "Mom, I love you, and I will always be there for you, but I need to live alone." It's not cruel, it's not un-loving, it's not unfair. It's what you have to do to take care of yourself. If she's asking you to do something that will cause you unnecessary stress and discomfort, simply so that she and your (adult?) siblings can live on the cheap, then she is the one being un-loving and unfair.

Also, out of curiosity--if she is in a position to be buying a new house relatively soon, and your siblings want to live with her, why aren't they all saving together toward the new house, and renting a place together in the mean time? Why do they all think that it's your responsibility to house them?
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:27 PM on May 10, 2009

Have you tried explaining to her that you really need to live on your own? Maybe she doesn't realize that it means so much to you and thinks that you're on board with this plan. That said...

The place that you are buying -- is there any way it could be structured such that she has an "apartment," that can be physically separated from your part of the house, so you have your private area that others don't trespass upon? You mention siblings as well so that could complicate things, but ISTM that if there is a way you can say "OK, you can live in the basement apartment for a year, but then I need you to find a place," it could be a sort of compromise between the guilt of saying "oh hell no" versus the going nuts by not having your own space. Also, charge her rent -- not helping out with bills, straight-up, actual rent. It will save angst and bickering over money amounts and "I'll do more next time." (If you don't know how much the utilities will be, ask the buyer of the house what their average bills are, and divvy it up by percentage space that you'll be giving up. The utilities in my area will also provide this information on request, so hopefully it isn't much trouble for your to obtain.)

I speak from the experience of having bought a house for a close family member (with them going to pay for it, on a handshake agreement, which did not work out well for me financially or emotionally) when I say -- you need to set rules and a deadline, though. Otherwise the guilt keeps creeping up on you about "what sort of a creep am I that I ask for rent from my own mother," etc. It never gets easier once you get into a supporting relationship. I would avoid it if it's at all possible, but if it really seems not (I don't know why your mother has decided that she's moving in with you), lay out ground rules and stick to them. If you feel you can't stick to them because you worry you'll be a doormat, get a standardized lease form and ask her to sign it. I'm a doormat and I very much wish I had done things differently -- two bucks from the office supply store could have made the difference.

Good luck.
posted by sldownard at 6:28 PM on May 10, 2009

How do I tell this to my mother?

"Mom, I love you very much. I've never minded helping you, and I appreciate the many things you have done for me. But I'm 25, and ready to live independently. I know you want to live with me in my house, but it is time for me to live on my own."

Depending on your mom's history, you might want to remind her of how she was when she was your age. Was she on her own, or at least not under her mother's wing? If yes, then remind her that you only want what she had (or wanted) at that age.

This will be a hard conversation, but it will be easier to have it now than to have it once your family has moved in with you.

And no, at 25 it is not unreasonable to want your own space. You bought a house -- it is yours, to live in as you wish, and with or without whoever you wish.
posted by Houstonian at 6:29 PM on May 10, 2009

..and by buyer of the house, obviously I meant seller. Unless you like asking yourself rhetorical questions, in which case, by all means ask away!
posted by sldownard at 6:30 PM on May 10, 2009

Short answer: you tell her. Of course, you know that already, so think about why you're asking this question. What do you fear will happen if you defy her? You're 25, it's time to be an independent grown-up, not a child who needs Mommy's permission and approval to do anything. So what is stopping you from simply telling her she's not going to live in your house and neither will her other kids?

Make a list of these consequences you fear, and mentally prepare yourself to deal with them. I've found, in my 48 years, that only rarely does every possible bad consequence actually happen, but it calms me to think about what I would do anyway. It's sort of like having an emergency earthquake supply kit for your emotions.

Another thing I've found is that most people are more bark than bite, and if you stand firm, they eventually just slink away. Because what is Mom going to do? Break down your door with a battering ram? Her only leverage is emotional, which is exactly as powerful as you let it be. If you refuse to get caught up in the drama, stay calm and hold your ground, there's nothing for her to use against you.

Chances are, you're in for a very unpleasant few weeks or months while Mom tries to make you concede. But steel yourself, have your emergency response plans firmly in mind, and ride it out. As time goes on, Mom's bluster will lose force and eventually she'll get used to the new system. In which you are an independent adult, living alone in your own house, which you paid for with the money you earned. Good luck!
posted by Quietgal at 6:40 PM on May 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

Think of this situation using a banking analogy, where you are potentially taking out a loan with exorbitant interest.

Option 1: You say nothing and she moves in. You buy cheap with no drama. However, you know that this will eventually turn into a tremendous emotional debt for you, because you know that you will end up in a cycle that goes something like this: "It's my house but I'm being treated like a child. I knew this was a mistake. What was I thinking? I like to live alone. Why did I let this happen? I didn't want to upset my mom, but now I hate her." Plus, if you want to bring your friends over, guess what? Mom is there.

Option 2: "Mom. I love you and my siblings, but I am an adult, and I need my space. I know that this is hard to hear but it really is for the best, and I believe that our friendship will be stronger in the long run for this." And if/when she freaks, you say (as many times as you have to). "I'm sorry you feel this way, but is how things are going to be."

Option 1: You pay a little up front, but you end up, in the long run, in a gigantic hole of turmoil and emotional debt.

Option 2: You pay a lot up front (and it sounds like you really will), but in the end, your life and your relationship with your family are much, much better, and you are a happier adult.

And here is the bonus: you will have to learn to acquire the skills listed in Option #2 eventually anyway, so why not now?

No matter what you're told, you are not a bad person for being an adult and wanting to live like one.
posted by 4ster at 6:42 PM on May 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

I think you need to find a studio apartment right now and move into it. Tell her that for at least for now your plans have changed. In about a year buy your house and move into it by yourself.

THEN let her know you've moved.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:54 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would avoid this easy solution:
The place that you are buying -- is there any way it could be structured such that she has an "apartment," that can be physically separated from your part of the house, so you have your private area that others don't trespass upon? You mention siblings as well so that could complicate things, but ISTM that if there is a way you can say "OK, you can live in the basement apartment for a year, but then I need you to find a place,"
It requires you to draw lines that are harder than the one you are asking for help with now. When your mom is living in the basement apartment, how are you going to keep her down there? If she just wants to watch one TV show in your livingroom, will you be able to refuse her? Etc. I think if you let your mom live with you -- even in her own "apartment" -- she would take over the house by inches.

You have to take a stand here.
posted by grobstein at 6:55 PM on May 10, 2009

You sound so miserable that I think you should find a way to say "no." You know how they say 'pick your battles'? This is probably one to pick.
posted by salvia at 6:57 PM on May 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

great answers thus far but I suspect that things are not so black and white. Jessamyn did hit on a key point:

I'm not sure if you live in a situation where culturally this is somewhat normal...

Perhaps you could tell us (via Jessamyn) if this is a relevant to you. If not, then I think everyone upthread has pretty much addressed the issue.
posted by special-k at 6:58 PM on May 10, 2009

Do NOT give keys to any of these people.
posted by spinturtle at 6:58 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

is there any way it could be structured such that she has an "apartment,"

You know this will not work. Don't even think about it.
posted by grouse at 7:04 PM on May 10, 2009

It doesn't matter what if your culture says it's normal. It doesn't matter if your family says it's normal. You need your own space, you're going nuts without it and damnit, you're 25 and deserve to lead your own life, free from parents and siblings if you so choose.

Speaking as parent, I'm horrified that she would demand this of her child and not give them space. Children are meant to grow up and move out and be away for a while. What you're asking for is perfectly normal. If she tries to let guilt trip on you or if even siblings do, politely (or not) tell them no. Do not even let them spend the night once, as it sounds like they'll just move in.

Don't give end to her demands. The future and space you've dreamed of is right around the corner and it's yours for the taking.

You have nothing to feel guilty or bad about. This is your life and deserve the space to live it as you see fit.

Side note: You sound like an introvert. Check out this article and see if that description fits and if so, why you need your space.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 PM on May 10, 2009

You need to let her know, honestly, gently, soon, before she does anything about her own lease. You know what you want and need, and you owe it to the other parties to be brave and come clean about it as soon as possible, so they can make their own living arrangements.

Be prepared to take a bit of flak at the time: just mentally tell yourself "This half-hour of drama is the price of freedom. Once it's paid, I'm good to go."

You've mentioned a desire for a small, reasonable place of your own. This is a perfectly reasonable desire. I've lived alone since I was about your age and I LOVE it.

The key word here is "small." A small place will (1) be affordable for you to buy without your mother's assistance and (2) physically not have the space for family members to invite themselves to stay with you.

When househunting, find a place that uses that small space well, with high ceilings and maybe a yard or a balcony. A good-sized kitchen makes all the difference.

Then: "Mom, I've found the perfect place! It's a one-bedroom, so I can afford it all on my own and not have to be a drain on your resources. You can come visit for tea once I'm settled in."
posted by Pallas Athena at 7:34 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised no one has suggested counseling yet. An authoritative third party may be able to get her to accept your need to live alone more easily than you could.
posted by amtho at 7:36 PM on May 10, 2009

Go rent Million Dollar Baby.
posted by flabdablet at 7:48 PM on May 10, 2009

And yes, small is beautiful.
posted by flabdablet at 7:48 PM on May 10, 2009

It would be much easier to stand firm to your decision to live alone now than it would be to have to ask your mother and siblings they need to move out once they've moved in. Because, you know they'll never leave voluntarily, right?

Might be a good time to mention to your mother that she needs to find a new place before her lease is up and that you're glad she has your siblings to help find their place.
posted by Linnee at 7:59 PM on May 10, 2009

She has agreed that I can decorate everything which will no doubt cause issues with the siblings

Wait, what? Are the siblings moving in with you too?

You are a grownup. Part of being a grownup is being able to tell other grownups "no."
posted by ook at 8:56 PM on May 10, 2009

OMG, you sure that's your mother and not mine? It's going to be the toughest conversation you ever had, but look at it as literally saving your life. If you let her and the sibs move in, it will be their house, your mortgage and bills. Just thinking about the hot water bill and groceries makes me shudder. You'll never have any peace as mum will end up setting the house rules. Nope, if you want a life of your own, say NO, say NO repeatedly and clearly without any sugar coating, and tell her she must have a place of her own. Watch out for signs that she's not looking and will summarily plant herself on you one day because she can't find something suitable. Figure out what you'll do if she shows up with a moving truck. Find out where the local you-store-it place and a reasonably priced hotel are just in case. Turn her away. Remember the story about the camel with it's nose in the tent. What's wrong with her renewing her current lease? And don't give her a key under any circumstances. Buy a small house, one that's too small for her and and sibs. Buy in a place that's incovenient for her or that she doesn't like.
posted by x46 at 9:09 PM on May 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

SAY NO. Practice it in front of the mirror...NO...N.O. It can be hard to learn this useful word, but I suggest you do it now. You don't owe these people anything - you've worked for this, and now they want in? Say no - there's no need to explain or rationalize, they're completely out of line and they know it, they just don't expect you to realize that one word can stop all of the nonsense....NO.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:11 PM on May 10, 2009

Gee, how magnanimous of your mother, to agree to let you decorate a house that YOU ARE BUYING!

I realize I'm reiterating what some others have said, but holy hell, you need to reframe your whole way of thinking about your relationship with your mother, and the boundaries within it, if the idea that she has any say in whether or how you decorate your own house doesn't seem abnormally bizarre to you.

It sounds like you're already letting her think she might get to move in, and that's an unfortunate mistake, but it's something you're just going to have to walk back. "I'm sorry I let you believe that moving in with me was a possibility, but I've rethought the situation, and it's not going to be possible."

She'll demand reasons, and you'll have to give her one, but I wouldn't belabour the point or offer many justifications. Don't let her argue with her, and for god's sake, don't think she can 'overrule' you. You're 25. Unless you have bad credit and need her to cosign (and it doesn't sound like she's in a position to, anyway, if she relies on her 25 year old daughter to pay bills), she has no say whatsoever in whether she gets to move into your house. None.

Of course, if it were me, I'd just buy a one bedroom condo. You just want your own space -- you don't necessarily need a lot of it, just not to share it. So if you think you can't possibly win an argument with her about whether she's moving in, but something she absolutely can't live in.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:20 PM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

On one hand, you will have a week to a year, probably, of a hellish relationship with your mother. On the other hand, you will have a semi-permanent hell in the place you have been dreaming of as your personal sanctuary, the place you have sacrificed to reach, in the body of your mother and your flippin' siblings.

Imagine them sitting on your furniture in your living room, watching their television shows, while you are in the kitchen washing their dishes so you can make yourself something that you will retreat to your bedroom to eat. Then pick up the phone and tell your mother no. That year of sour relations will taste like manna from heaven.
posted by Foam Pants at 10:21 PM on May 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

As another adult who grew up without personal space, craved it deeply and lived in absolute joy when she finally achieved it - be firm on this. You need your own safe, secure, inviolable space. A place where you can shut the door and turn the key and be alone in your own skin.
From the sounds of things your family is pretty intrusive on your life as it is, and you are wise enough to feel that their habitation in your physical and mental space is using up all your oxygen. You need your own air to breathe.

If your mother moves in she'll never move out - I think you know this.

This isn't about hurting her feelings or being a bad child - this is about you acknowledging yourself as a person in your own right, WITH your own rights. And one right which it sounds you desperately need is the right to carve your own unique space for yourself in the world.
posted by Billegible at 1:49 AM on May 11, 2009

I have a couple of suggestions for you on the "how to" aspect of this.

Do you have a close friend who can practice this conversation with you? I think it would be helpful to role-play this before you tell your mother she's not moving in with you. If you could run through this several times, with your friend throwing out all the possible reactions from your mom, you'd be better able to handle the stress of the moment. It's like practicing before a job interview. You want to be prepared, calm and focused.

What about taking a friend with you for moral support? I'd go with you if I could. Someone to hold your hand, both figuratively and literally, if necessary, might really help. This is especially important if your siblings will be there too. It might make you feel less out-numbered.

And finally, I'm reminded of a scene in the movie "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner". Sidney Poitier's character is defending his position on wanting to marry a woman of a different race. His father is very much against this, and tells him how hard he worked as a postal carrier to support him and raise him and send him to college, and that Sidney "owes" him for all the toil and sacrifice.

Sidney quietly seethes throughout his old man's tirade and then he tells him quite forcefully that he owes his father NOTHING! That if his dad worked and sacrificed and gave to him, that it was because his father owed him, for bringing him into this world. And that if Sidney ever has a child, he'll do the same for him. But that now, he's an adult and he'll do what he thinks is best, and his father can either come along for the ride or get out of the way, but that this is how it's going to be. I'm paraphrasing, of course, but it's a great movie and if you rent it and watch it, it might help inspire you.

I wish you the very best of luck and I hope that down the line you're able to go back and read this thread from the comfort and privacy of your very own home, and feel a lot of pride and a great sense of accomplishment for making this happen.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:02 AM on May 11, 2009

In my current living situation I'm extremely unhappy and feel suffocated just having other people in the same house. I'm counting down the months till I'm alone and can be reduced to tears at the thought of having to wait any longer. I can't even put into words how much I need my own space, need to figure myself out and need to make my own rules.

Tell your mom exactly this. You're doing the roommates thing; you've always done the roommates thing; you can't do it any longer. It's nothing personal.

What you want (a space of your own) is such a normal human desire, so fundamental and modest, it requires no justification. No apology.

You sound like a responsible person who has taken the right steps to make this happen, as well as a caring person who has helped out with your mother's bills at the same time. You also sound like you're having an anxiety attack just thinking about giving up your dream of living alone. That should tell you something. "Just suck it up and deal," which you cite as an option, is NOT an option for you unless you really don't care about your own mental heath.

I love the comments above that talk about a "sanctuary," "your own safe, secure, inviolable space." This is what you need, and it's not too much to ask for. So focus on your goal. Your concern about your family doesn't need to be a roadblock unless you let it. Good luck.
posted by torticat at 6:55 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just don't want to share. I know that sounds bad but I don't.

Let me gently correct you here: this doesn't sound 'bad' at all. You're not bad for discerning what you want, setting a goal based on that, and achieving it. What you are doing is a rite of passage into adulthood, something that demonstrates commitment, responsibility, and financial savvy. So be proud of yourself for having those things at what is a relatively young age.

That said, you should not feel guilty for having those attributes when the rest of your family does not. I'm not sure what's holding back your mom or siblings with regard to purchasing their own home, but surely their own personal choices have culminated in their current situation. There is a big difference between helping someone and enabling their self-detrimental behavior and you appear to be sitting on the edge of that; if they want to achieve homeownership, the onus is on them to work hard, be financially responsible, and find a home they can afford. But for whatever reason, they have not done that and that is their choice. You are not responsible for fixing their errors or regrets.

I'm guessing here you're the eldest child? Often there is one child who is the 'fixer' and therefore the recipient of myriad guilt trips and forced obligations. It's clear from your post that you are having a hard time discerning between your rights and your requirements. As many have said upthread, housing your family is not your requirement although they have done a fine job of making you believe that. This is an unfortunate characteristic of a controlling, irresponsible family. Please recognize that is their problem, not yours.

You have skillfully grown up to be a responsible, goal-oriented person. Don't let their manipulations lead you to question your decision. Bear in mind, too, that no matter how much you give to these types of people, it will never be enough. As many have said upthread, if they do move in, you'll have a hell of a time getting them out. You'd be manipulated again and pressured into letting them stay even longer than you wish.

I believe the world can very often be categorized into givers and takers. Takers tend to breed givers, so that the takers can take advantage of them (the givers). This is what's happened here. Takers never, never, never stop taking: it's always someone else's fault they have no money, can't find a job, can't find a home, etc. Their opinion is that they are owed: by you for bringing you into this world, in particular.

Ultimately, no matter what you do for them, it won't be enough. So cut them off now before you enmesh yourself to the point that you lose sight of your goal of living alone. Be proud of what you've accomplished and don't let them undo what you've worked so very hard to achieve. They won't like it and will berate you, but stand strong against their insults; they will come at you hard and fast. Bear in mind their insults have more to do with them losing their free ride than your worth as a person.
posted by December at 7:51 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just don't want to share. I know that sounds bad but I don't.

Chiming in again. Sharing is a thing that's good to teach small children who are not always so good at sharing. It's good to be able to share to become an adult person in a general sense where youhave to deal with other people and you can't always control every aspect of your environment.

However, once you become an adult you can determine how much you want to share and how much you don't and take the consequences. It's a manupulative act if someone is using corrections that we use on children [i.e. making sure they understand the "sharing your toys is good"] as a bludgeon against another adult. It implies strongly that

- you are a child and need to be given corrective instruction as if you were a child [this is particularly potent if the correction is coming from a parent with whom the child has that relationship in the past]
- that rules that apply to children apply to you in the same exact way they used to [i.e. it was a good idea to share your toys when you were four, now you have to share your house now that you are an adult]
- you are breaking some fundamental rule of personhood through your actions when all your are doing is acting like a perefctly normal adult with normal boundaries (again, in my culture this is absolutely true) when you want to live by yourself in a house that you pay for.

People who say things like this are, themselves, either under a misapprehension about what sharing is about or actively trying to manipulate you by appeaing to your unequal footing in the parent-child dynamic and this is absolutely not cool. You get to determine what and how you share as an adult because you understand and can accept the consequences. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this.
posted by jessamyn at 9:13 AM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Can I suggest a book called "Boundries" by Henry Cloud?
posted by bensherman at 8:36 PM on May 11, 2009

Also want to be an additional voice who says that your mother will never move back out. A woman who has to commonly ask her child for money is not the kind of person who will have the means to get her own house.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:41 PM on May 11, 2009

A woman who has to commonly ask her child for money is not the kind of person who will have the means to get her own house.

And a woman who would give the owner of a house "permission" to decorate their own own is not likely to relinquish control over them either.
posted by Billegible at 2:03 PM on May 13, 2009

Creating Safe and Healthy Boundaries is a short read that might help. Looks like it's a jump-off point for getting people to pay for flaky-sounding seminars, but I think the info on this page has good detail for this kind of situation, like
- Learning to recognize and gracefully honor your boundaries (BEFORE your anger starts escalating) is an excellent anger-prevention tool, and an excellent way to also prevent fear, depression, or feelings of invasion!

Share as clearly as you can. When ____ happens, I feel ____. or It’s important that to me that you not do ____ around me/to me any more.

Boundaries are about what you will allow and what you won’t tolerate. They show that you know you are worthy of self respect. Deserve respect from others.

If we set boundaries out of love, “I respect both of us enough to let you know what’s important to me”, it can open up the relationship.

How can we set good boundaries with someone in fear?
- We can offer some comfort… remind the person of the things we appreciate about them. Let them know that setting the boundary is to help strengthen the relationship. (Remember the definition… “A boundary is any limit I need to honor so I can love or work with you without resentment and with integrity.”)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 1:59 PM on June 2, 2009

Update from anon:

I spoke with my mother and she has accepted the idea of my living on my own terms.
She wasn't too happy at first but once we talked about her working on getting into a more stable living situation for next year that will be cheaper and easier on her, she seemed to like the idea more. She hasn't completely given up the thought that it would be a good option but she's not pushing it anymore either.
I'm helping to make a plan in order for her to get her own place next year and will be getting my own later this year.

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:51 PM on October 12, 2009

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