How to tell parents you're not ever coming home?
October 24, 2012 1:22 PM   Subscribe

How does one tell dysfunctional parents that you're not planning on ever coming home after being away for a work contract (i.e. a supposedly temporary absence is going to turn permanent)?

The situation is this. One parent is truly toxic. I've worked out damned if I do and damned if I don't with this one, so whatever. The other is co-dependent on the toxic one (and me and my brother to a lesser degree) so in that sense is dysfunctional.

How can I tell the co-dependent parent that no, I'm travelling permanently when not other working, and then how I can tell both of them diplomatically so that the toxic one doesn't chuck all the stuff in my room out? (there's really only one bag of souvenirs from my various contracts that I want to keep, but I suspect it'll be the first one to be targeted if I don't tell them right).

Should I be honest and state I'm travelling and not coming home, or should I just lie that I'm finding work continuously, or be vague about whether I'm exactly travelling or working at a particular point in time, or even something else?
posted by glache to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get your brother, or someone else with on-site access, to rescue your possessions from your room before you drop the bomb. You can't burn a bridge and still use it as a storage locker.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:29 PM on October 24, 2012 [28 favorites]

So...presumably, you need to find yourself a storage unit for your stuff, and go home at least once more to get it. You can't say you're never coming home but keep all my stuff, thanks.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:30 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

This reads as if you intend to never come home again, but that there are things that belong to you that you want to keep in your old room indefinitely. Can you clarify? Because I think if you really do want to be able to move to a situation with no in-person contact (or perhaps no-contact entirely), you first need to make some sort of clear plan as to how you're going to take responsibility for your own possessions.
posted by scody at 1:30 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tell them after you've moved your stuff into storage away from their ability to be near it.

Come back for one visit to do this, then start travelling after that.
posted by tilde at 1:30 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you ask your brother to get your stuff and keep it for you in a safe place?

You are asking both how to do this and whether you should. Until and unless you determine that yes, you want to tell them, I think you can leave it a bit vague.

It's too bad English doesn't have a word for "not yet" or "not now."
posted by ambrosia at 1:31 PM on October 24, 2012

You are in control now. Disclose only as much information to them as you see fit. You're an adult who doesn't need to justify anything to anyone, not even your own parents.

On preview, qxntpqbbbqxl's explanation sounds like the best hope for getting your stuff back.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:31 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Don't put it as "not ever." Say "I found a great situation that's good for me, and I'm going to do that. I'll keep in touch with you guys."

If they ask when you are going to come home, just say you don't know; you're going to pursue these great opportunities and see how they go.

If you are an adult (?) then moving out was going to happen sooner or later.

And if a sibling or trusted friend can go over and get your stuff for you, have them do so.

But if a bag of souvenirs is the price of your freedom, it could be worse.

Be prepared for them to be unreasonable no matter what you do, and just get it over with.
posted by emjaybee at 1:32 PM on October 24, 2012 [10 favorites]

What emjaybee said. Don't tell them. Just keep coming up with reasons why it won't be now, or next month, or the next 3 months.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:33 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

"Hey, Mom. My friend X is going to come by this weekend to pick up a box of stuff from my room. Yeah, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but she needs it for reasons."

Then you can tell them everything or nothing at all about your future plans.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:34 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm confused about what the actual situation here is.

So you're currently working away from home, and you've made the decision the decision not to return home at the end of the gig? Or maybe you've been offered a permanent contract?

Bottom line, regardless of what your parents are like, is that unless you're sixteen years old, this is a normal thing. It shouldn't need to be something you have to brace yourself for. Most people eventually grow up and move away from their parents' house.

Yes, it sounds like your parents might freak. It might be hard for you to hear. You need to stay strong and stick to your guns. Not physically being there will probably make it easier.

The only thing you can really control is saving your stuff. You mention a brother - can you have him grab that one important bag before you fill your parents in?

In terms of your last paragraph, I'm a strong proponent of not filling parents in overmuch about the day to day when you first strike out on your own. Because, yes, people have highs and lows and good days and setbacks, and if you tell your parents every little thing, they will find excuses to shut you down or "come to the rescue". I don't think you should explicitly lie, but there's nothing wrong with letting them have an understanding of the situation that is a little bit more optimistic or that would make life easier for everyone concerned.
posted by Sara C. at 1:36 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Consider also the possibility that the things you've left at the house aren't necessarily so important.
posted by Citrus at 1:39 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yeah, just to second everyone else: you can't have it both ways. Either you do live there, in which case your stuff is in your room, or you do not live there, in which case you're using someone else's house as a storage unit.

It doesn't matter if it's your parents, or the codependancy or whatever: it's an either/or situation.... you live there, or you (and your stuff) live somewhere else.
posted by easily confused at 1:44 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

Never burn a bridge unless it is unavoidable.
Do what you have to do, and try to preserve the relationship as best as you can.
posted by Flood at 2:11 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Completely agree with emjaybee's option. You want the lowest-drama option here, and this seems to be it.
posted by smalls at 4:28 PM on October 24, 2012

Be vague. It sounds like the only purpose of being specific would be to hurt your parents. Which maybe they have earned, I don't know, but it doesn't help you out right now.

If you can manage it, coming home long enough to get your stuff out of their house would support the illusion that you have some kind of long-term employment that will keep you overseas for an unknown period of time.
posted by EvaDestruction at 4:43 PM on October 24, 2012

Aside from getting your things out, why not just ultimately tell them that you've moved out from the home and are now an independent adult? If you are an adult, is there any need to be passive-aggressive about it? If they freak out, tell them you'll talk again when they're calmer and hang up the phone.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 6:12 PM on October 24, 2012

What emjaybee said. Exactly.

This is what I did for two years with my toxic parent, until I could get all the legal/financial stuff in order to fully cut contact. It works pretty well, especially if (when you do have phone/email contact) you emphasize how busy you are pursuing all these amazing opportunities.

I'm sorry- this situation sounds pretty shitty. Memail me if you'd like to talk more.
posted by Cracky at 9:03 PM on October 24, 2012

Nthing emjaybee too; it's essentially what I did with my parents, whose summary would be basically identical to yours.

Please, please get someone to rescue any souvenirs you feel attached to. As far as I know, I have lost all of my childhood diaries, family photos, childhood photos (save about a dozen I rescued before leaving), and yearbooks, notes and cards signed by dear friends. I had asked for them over the years, before cutting off the relationship with my parents, but never got a thing. It is something I'll regret for a very long time, especially photos of loved ones who have since died and whom I'll never see again.
posted by fraula at 4:58 AM on October 25, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the amazing responses. My brother would not be able to rescue my stuff because the parent concerned has no sense of privacy--they raid all his stuff and I can't make him be responsible for mine. It's literally just one backpack of stuff--everything else that is valuable (e.g. textbooks) I have online access to or can just buy hard copies. All of the above plans of action are good so that is what I would do. I'll remain vague, but if it gets nasty and they press for more definite plans I will simply go back and retrieve that bag of stuff and put it into storage. I only wish I could remove my brother and put him into storage with friends because yeah the toxicity is just unbelievable (he's 17 and has one more year of school to go). Thanks everyone!
posted by glache at 1:59 AM on October 26, 2012

Can your brother rent a storage unit on your behalf? Or, hell, on both of your behalves? (Not sure that is a word, ha.) It might be possible for him to do at 17, or he could enlist the help of an 18 year old friend. That's something that sounds like it would be a net benefit for both of you.

Also, re it getting nasty and them pressing for more definite plans, never underestimate the power of just not returning their calls. The great thing about being away from the presence of toxic parents is that you're away from their presence. They have no power over you. You have the freedom to speak to them or not, comply with their wishes or not, and tell them whatever works for the circumstances.

I was lucky that my "toxic family" situation manifested itself in my parents not giving much of a shit rather than giving too much of a shit, but if you need advice or moral support, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by Sara C. at 6:27 AM on October 26, 2012

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