Adult living at home
April 26, 2012 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I'm a woman in...erk... my late 20s and living with my mother, who is in her late 60s. I had to quit work to deal with a serious illness, but I'm feeling good now and hopefully will get a real job later this year. But I'm wondering if I want to move out when I get one.

At the moment, my mother and I are living pretty comfortably between her retirement check, my government shame checks and the money I make from babysitting. Alone, I wouldn't be able to get by well, and Mom's money would be very tight. We get along well, split chores, and neither of us date, so there's no awkwardness with dates coming to the house (she's a widow who doesn't want to date any more and I'm a disabled asshole who didn't really like dating even before I was disabled). And I hate to think about it, but she's getting older and I think I should spend time with her.

However, being my age and living with my mother indefinitely sets off all of my "this is crazy" alarms. I lived on my own for five years before, and it was nice, and I also think my not dating is a general personality flaw, not something that would go away if I moved out. But I'm worried living with my mother will make me an immature creep, or at least make me look like one.
posted by WhathaveIdonenow? to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It works. Neither of you is unhappy. And given that you do not date (even if you did, so what?) I cannot think of a downside.

My brother is 55 or so, and never moved out of my mom's house (OK it's right on the beach, but still). He and my mom are comfortable, and it works for them, plus there is someone to take care of her as she ages.

Other than the societal "norm" that says growing up means moving out, what is wrong with a sitch at works?
posted by Danf at 7:46 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Echoing Danf, if you guys are happy with how things are them why change? In many, many places around the world living with your parents is the societal norm, not the deviation.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 7:48 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

However, being my age and living with my mother indefinitely sets off all of my "this is crazy" alarms.

That's a uniquely North American way of thinking. Lots of the world over people live with their elders.
posted by mhoye at 7:49 AM on April 26, 2012 [14 favorites]

I think there's a big difference between "I can't afford to live on my own - I live with my parents out of necessity" and "I live with my parents in a multigenerational home, but they're not supporting me." Certainly from the outside view if not the inside.

Also, I think "I'm living with my mother to help her out" is much less weird for a woman to do. I think it goes towards cultural expectations that women are caretakers, and that elderly women are less capable of living on their own. Which may or may not be the case in reality here, but I think it makes for a situation that's less weird.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:49 AM on April 26, 2012

A 40-year old friend of mine has been living with her mother for about fifteen years (in her case, it's her house and her (perfectly well, working) mother moved in with her.) It works for both of them, and no one that I know has ever raised an eyebrow at it. If you genuinely like and get along with your mom, then why not have her as a roommate?

It will, however, be best if you make sure that you're set up as roommates - i.e., splitting rent and bills, taking turns on chores, that sort of thing. If you fall back into adolescent patterns where mom cooks and cleans for you, it will look awfully weird to outsides (and probably cause resentment eventually.) It sounds like you're on top of that, so go for it.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:50 AM on April 26, 2012 [5 favorites]

Heck, lots of people *on my street* live with their elders. There's at least 3 generations living in the house across the street and next door to me. (Although the one across the street is a two-unit house, but the one next door is a single family.)
posted by rmd1023 at 7:50 AM on April 26, 2012

If you're happy living at home and it's financially easier, stay at home. Honestly, I think it's great that you want to spend time with her and are able to - as someone with older parents myself, I often wish that I could spend more time with them. If you're lucky enough to get on well with your parents, it doesn't hurt to remember that they won't be around forever.

Vis-a-vis dating, look, if you're a slightly unusual person anyway, the people you date will probably roll with the "live with parents" thing. Anyone with grown-up social skills can discern the difference between "creepy person living in the basement and sponging off her parent because she is lazy and selfish" and "self-actualized person who lives at home because it's best for her and her mom".
posted by Frowner at 7:51 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is nothing wrong with living with whoever you want to. If you're comfortable, if you both like the arrangement, and it's not putting either of you out financially, go for it.
posted by xingcat at 7:52 AM on April 26, 2012

If you do start dating, it's definitely something you'll want to tell people before bringing them home. "First time coming over" and "first time meeting parents" being the same night is a bit jarring to say the least.
posted by griphus at 7:53 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not at all uncommon in a lot of cultures, for people both wealthy and poor. I have a super-wealthy, married with children's cousin with a guest house on their property that her parents live in, and I have another married with two kids cousin who lives with her mom, dad, and sister because it's the only way all of them can get by. As Frowner says, it's pretty easy to tell the difference between someone living at home because that's the best situation for them, and someone who is living at home because they are selfish slugs who don't want to leave the nest.
posted by PussKillian at 7:56 AM on April 26, 2012

This is the new normal. There's nothing wrong with it.

(It's also the old normal, actually. Families living miles and miles apart is a relatively new thing.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:06 AM on April 26, 2012

Nothing wrong with it, and it is increasingly common even in North America.
posted by biscotti at 8:07 AM on April 26, 2012

I'm 27 years old and I live with my mother. This is partly because my mother is disabled and needs help.. but I'm sure if I wanted to move out, we'd find a work around.

We get along well, as well as two people cohabiting can, anyways.

I don't usually volunteer the information that I live with her. Not out of shame, but because it doesn't matter to me. Most people are content to know that you live in a house vs apartment and what city it's in. Only nosy people want to know who you live with. In those cases I just shrug and say I live with my mom and I take care of her. One would imagine this is the kind of information your friends would learn of long before you invite them over.

More and more people are living with their parents for financial reasons. At most, you're just another notch on that statistic.
posted by previously at 8:11 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing that if it works for you and both of you are happy, then there's no need to move out.

It's true that you want to live with your mom in a mature way - as restless_nomad said, roommates. That means sharing chores, sharing financial responsibility, and in general acting like a mature adult in a shared house.

It's not creepy when adults live with parents as caretakers or roommates. It IS creepy when (non-developmentally disabled) adults who live with their parents act like dependent adolescents and have Mom or Dad wait on them hand and foot and take on all the adult chores and responsibilities. Since it sounds like you are not doing this, then there's no problem with your living situation.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:20 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't think it was too unusual. I think there's more of a stigma attached to men living with their parents, but even that seems to be more of a North American thing than an international stigma.
posted by backwards guitar at 8:25 AM on April 26, 2012

Both my parents moved in with me when my father was ill, after he passed my mother stayed living with me and we lived together for three years or so before I moved overseas. It worked out great for us, neither of us was alone, we got along great and got to know each other in a whole new way both as adults and not as mother and daughter.

Why should you and your mother struggle to live separately if you are getting along fine together. Make sure you talk it over with her first and if you are both happy I say go for it.

Make sure to have all the financial stuff sorted, who pays how much of the utilities, if she owns the house do you help pay tax or mortgage payments etc that sort of thing. Make sure to respect each others personal space and items. Honestly living with someone, even your mother would probably be better for your dating life than living alone, living alone you don't have to keep your socializing skills in working order and it's a lot easier to become an emotional hermit, living with someone you rub up against people more and it keeps your social skills sharper.
posted by wwax at 8:38 AM on April 26, 2012

Here's the thing, some people will make judgements and lack understanding. But, it's probably because they don't get along with their family members as well as you and your mother get along. It might also be because they are only aware of what the media portrays.

My two siblings are also well into their 20s and still live with my parents. They can live in their own places and live comfortably; however, they enjoy being able to provide for each other and help each other. They also feel the same way that you do in the sense that they realize that their time with my parents is limited.

I love my family, but I need my own space. I don't get along with my family to the point where I can live with them. I have also craved independence ever since I was a kid.

Whenever this comes up with others, I simply say "to each their own" or "it works for them."

You can be mature even if you live with your parents. You can be immature even if you live on your own. Maturity shouldn't be defined by your living situation, but rather, how you handle yourself, your ability to take care of yourself, your ability to make smart decisions, etc...
posted by livinglearning at 8:53 AM on April 26, 2012

My husband has a good friend in a very similar situation; she's on disability and her mom's retired and they live together and nobody in their social circle thinks it's weird at all. Why not live with someone you love and have fun with rather than some random stranger? If you've each got your own interests and your own friends as well as the interests and friends you share, what could be better?

Yeah, dating could be awkward (I think my husband's friend's solution is to have flings when she feels like it at the performance festivals and workshops she attends, though that's my speculation only) but if that's not a priority for either of you, all the less reason to worry.

The age of "everyone has to move out of their parents' house or they're weird" in North America was a brief one--my two sets of grandparents shared their homes with my aunt and uncle, respectively, and said aunt and uncle each had friends doing the same--and it seems pretty definitively over now. So feeling odd about bucking a social trend that lasted maybe 40 years and was never universal even then? Pfui.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:33 AM on April 26, 2012

You should do what makes you happy in your life. Personally, if my momma was living alone and she wanted to, I'd prefer for her to live with me. I like her, and want to be around her. There's nothing wrong with liking your mom and getting along with her well enough to want to live with her.

That said, I think there are some good comments above on making this work in a mutually beneficial way, which it seems like you are already doing. I found yesterday's FPP on Adulting to be pretty interesting; you might want to take a gander at the blog. It's charming and well-written, and it might put your mind at ease a bit with respect to the whole "I don't want to be an immature creep" thing. You don't sound like a creep to me, if that's any consolation. You sound like a nice woman who loves her momma. Ain't nothing wrong with loving your family.
posted by k8lin at 12:17 PM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Speaking of dating and sex - I think respect is a two-way street here, as well. I mentioned that living with your parent(s) should mean acting like an adult, I also think it's imperative for the parent to treat their resident adult child as a grown-up and an equal. That means no pearl-clutching about one's pweshus baby HAVING SEX OMG! No rank-pulling "it's MY house" about all decisions. Parent and adult child need to respect one another's privacy and interests. It's a lot easier on everyone if both parent and child have their own space to retreat to, perhaps agree to separate meals if (for instance) kid likes spicy food and parent doesn't, etc. (Also, a good pair of noise-blocking headphones is a godsend!)

If you want to date, you should be able to; living with your mom doesn't mean a vow of celibacy or having to sneak around like a naughty teenager if you want to date or have sex. Now if you DON'T want to date or have sex, that's fine.

Now if I were dating a guy who lived with his parent(s), it might feel a little awkward having sex at their house, but, dammit, if my (hypothetical) BF's parents don't want to believe that their grown son has a sex life, there's a lot more issues there than where he lives. Living with your parents shouldn't mean taking monastic vows.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:17 PM on April 26, 2012

There are many cultures that believe children living with their parents until they're married -- even if that means never moving out because they never get married -- is totally normal. There's nothing crazy about it if it makes you and your mother happy. However, the points above about having clear boundaries that you're both adults and entitled to certain privacies, privileges and respects are very important. Any arrangement that lets you take care of each other, share resources, and spend time together when desired -- but also have spaces of your own and times where you don't have to spend time together -- would be ideal.
posted by davejay at 12:32 PM on April 26, 2012

Best answer: I'm 26 and I live with my grandmother. I personally think intergenerational living is awesome and more people should do it, especially when it removes/eases burdens (financial, social, emotional. health/disability-related) for one or both parties. It is good for the planet, promotes community, preserves dignity for older people who want to remain in their homes, etc. etc. etc. So many good things!

The biggest caution I have is, Don't let living with your mom get in the way of being the person you want to be. If you do or don't want to date someday, make it work for you based on YOURSELF, not where you live. Sort of related, I think the biggest danger of living with family is not that they TREAT you like a child, but that you start to ACT like a child. I know that's not the person I want to be, so I have to keep an eye on it. Whatever it is, figure out what your ideal "you" looks like and figure out how living with your mom supports or undermines that.

Basically, when I moved in with my grandmother, I came up with a list of ways living with her was in line with the values I wanted in my life, and a list of ways living by myself was in line with those values. Grandma won by a landslide, but as my life changes, the balance shifts and I periodically reassess. I expect that some day there will be reasons for me to move out and I probably will. As long as it is line with my values, it's all okay.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:24 PM on April 26, 2012

I agree with many of the posters here who can give you firsthand advice here, but I am someone with I guess, secondhand experience. I have one acquaintance who lives with her parents (we are both in our 30's) and I got the idea that she is semi-uncomfortable to admit that fact. I think livinglearning is right that people that make derogatory comments simply because they have such bad relationships that they can't imagine having the same setup; I also can't imagine the situation based on the relationship I have with my parents, but the more my acquaintance told me about her parents and their lives together (and separate), the more I thought it sounded cool and right. They are obviously happy people and living together really allows both generations to help each other and appreciate each other.

So to sum up, there's nothing inherently wrong with living with a parent. If it works for your relationship, then do it. If you care at all what people around you think, know that plenty think it's perfectly fine and even envy you.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:15 PM on April 26, 2012

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