On my own
May 27, 2008 8:59 PM   Subscribe

I am 28 years old. I have a master's degree. I am an upper-level administrator at a small college. I make $50,000 a year. And I still live with my parents. Um?

My parents do not want me to move out. I just put a deposit on an apartment not 15 miles from them because, seriously, it is time to move out, and they seem to be very offended. What can I do to make them realize that I adore them, but I am just too old and too well-off to be living with them? They seem to want me around because I am entertaining, and I help them with housework, and that sort of thing, not because they are scared for me or anything like that. They constantly tell me, "You don't need to move out. You don't have it bad here." Like, I know, but I'm all grown up now, guys! Ugh. What can I do so I don't feel like I am hurting their feelings? (And, I am not an only child. I have a twin who moved out seven years ago. She moved down the street. Whenever she makes any sort of harmless comment about being broke or anything along those lines, the parents still say, "No one made you move out. It's not like you had it so bad here!" What is up with this? Did they think we would live with them forever?)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You need to cut the cord sometime. They'll get over it. All parents do.
posted by loiseau at 9:04 PM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

Develop an interest in Norweigan Death Metal. Your parents will beg you to move.

What can I do so I don't feel like I am hurting their feelings?

Stop hurting your own. Move already. They will get over it. And so will you.
posted by three blind mice at 9:14 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

What can I do to make them realize that I adore them, but I am just too old and too well-off to be living with them?

Move. They will get the hint.
posted by wfrgms at 9:14 PM on May 27, 2008 [7 favorites]

In some cultures, you live with your parents until you marry. At the risk of sounding crass, the dividing line between living at home and not living at home seems to be getting laid regularly.

Rather than just moving out, you could try to transition them by eating dinner with your parents a lot and leaving to go home to bed. As months pass, taper your visits down by coming up with social appointments (or excuses), until your visits home reach a level you're comfortable with.

The flip side is inviting them over to your place, but the problem with that is that you can't leave if they overstay their welcome; you'd have to ask them to leave.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:15 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe your parents don't want you to move out because they're afraid of confronting their own relationship. They may be fearful of having nothing in common with each other anymore. I think many parents have similar feelings of apprehension because it means they have to redefine their relationship. No longer are they Mom and Dad, the people responsible for raising and providing care for their children. Now they are husband and wife, companions and lovers. And maybe they're not comfortable with that yet.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:30 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is such a common dilemma here one the East Coast. For everyone I know who faced this, it was just (oh that word "just" hardly does justice to the situation) a matter of letting their parents know in no uncertain terms how much they loved them, appreciated all the sacrifices, etc., but that for that their own growth they needed to live on their own, to be a bit independent. That message goes down more like castor oil than sugar syrup, but it does go down.
posted by caddis at 9:36 PM on May 27, 2008

...I know, but I'm all grown up now, guys!

Not completely, if you can't find some self-assertion and tell--not ask, not apologize for--but tell them you are moving out. Until you do that, you're not quite there. (as someone a few years older than you, another secret is no one really gets "there", but moving out of your house is a really strong step towards that).

Your parents will have to deal with you being gone. If they truly object, get upset about it and direct that fear/anger at you, recognize it for what it is--selfishness. Your parents want you at the house for a reason, at a guess I'd say that once you're gone, then they are officially old. Or it could be a combination of a lot of different things. Point is, you want to move out, so you have to suck it up, and tell your parents you're moving. You sound like you're halfway there, just tell them. Don't ask, tell.
posted by zardoz at 10:01 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

Make it very well known how much you appreciate them (a gift, cook them a special dinner, write them a poem...whatever) and then be on your own. They might be afraid of being bored, so encourage them to take up a hobby or go to lectures/classes/book clubs etc. But, in the end, if they are bored without you around, its their responsibility to entertain themselves, not you.
posted by hazel at 10:04 PM on May 27, 2008

I moved out at 18, put all my stuff into my car (or as much of it as i needed) and moved into a filthy student house with a crazy old anarchist, a drum n bass DJ and a philosophy masters student. Sent them an email saying "hey just to let you know I've moved out", it was the easiest way to deal with it. I still came home once a week for dinner on the weekends and sometimes stayed the night. 4 years on I'm living back there for a few weeks whilst I take a stress leave from university, but they don't seem to mind the idea of me moving out again, once I have the cash.

Just do it. Move out, and be sure to visit sometimes!
posted by chrisbucks at 10:26 PM on May 27, 2008

Schedule a regular evening when you'll visit for dinner.

They want to remain close to you and they're afraid they'll lose their connection. Make them feel secure that they won't.

Oh, and get used to it. As your parents get older, they'll need you more. People can say "cut the cord", but family doesn't really work that way.
posted by 26.2 at 10:29 PM on May 27, 2008

What can I do to make them realize that I adore them, but I am just too old and too well-off to be living with them?

I suppose it's worth noting that maturity has little to do with age/income.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:01 PM on May 27, 2008

You get laid a lot living with your parents? Just tell your parents to stop being so selfish and think of your johnson for two seconds.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 11:23 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]

Just move. Honestly.

I've had my own wacky adventures with my family - push and pull back and forth - though I moved out and away much earlier than you did. I've done a lot of thinking over time about this family push and pull, and I think the simplest way to look at it is like this:

Children are full of promise and potential. You never quite know what they are going to become. All doors are open to them.

As they grow up, they make choices. These choices close doors. To someone who sees all doors as being open to their child at the start, there is no such thing as "another door opens". They just see the door close. Some doors mean more than others to your parents. They are probably slightly different to the doors that mattered to my parents.

From what you've said about how they act towards your sister seven years after her move, they see the idea of their child moving out as being an important closed door of intimacy and mutual support. They will fight this more with you than they did with your sister, as you are the last child living at home. You have to do it, though. You're right - at 28, you simply can't live at home and have a normal life. They are right - you will never again have the feeling of closeness with your parents that you do now, living in their house - even if you return to live there later on. It isn't the end of the world, though, and I'm sure even they will admit this. If you want a serious relationship, and if they want to see you possibly married with kids (and their grandkids), they are simply going to have to accept this move with love.

Invite them over for dinner first chance you get. Your sister, too. Make it clear you're still family, and you still love them all, but that you are just living in a different house. And don't take any crap off of them for making this move. Part of being an adult is saying to your parents, "yes, I am closing this door, but it's my choice, and see? Not so terrible after all, is it?" Their choice if they hear you or not, but then again, they're adults opening & closing doors of their own, aren't they?

Best of luck to you! :)
posted by Grrlscout at 11:27 PM on May 27, 2008 [4 favorites]

Wow, I moved out when I was 18 and my parents said something along the lines of "good luck , son". A parent who doesn't want their child to move out at 28 is a wee bit on the over-protective side. If it were me moving out, I'd tell them the same thing I told my parents when I moved in with my girlfriend: I'm doing this because I feel it's right and I realize you won't agree with it, but I think it's for the best. (Something along those lines).
posted by Anthony84 at 11:34 PM on May 27, 2008

As your parents get older, they'll need you more. People can say "cut the cord", but family doesn't really work that way.

Maybe yours doesn't; please don't presume to speak for the rest of us.

Anonymous, you need to stop asking ALL questions that start with "what can I do to make them realize..." or "how can I make them feel..." and understand that truly, you cannot. And you need to be okay with that. It's nice that you want to smooth the way with them, but come on, their guilt trip is uncalled for. You're clearly a good child to them, but they are not serving you well as good parents if they try to inhibit the basic requirements of your adult independence, like living on your own.

Every baby bird leaves the nest eventually; now go flap your wings.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:43 PM on May 27, 2008

yep, i think you have to accept the fact that moving out will hurt their feelings. that doesn't mean it's not for the best.

movemovemovemove. you will never be a fully realized adult until you live on your own.

they will get over it. my goodness, can you imagine your mom complaining to her best friend about your leaving? her friend will say, "my lord, irma, how else is he going to meet a WIFE?"

incidentally, i think HotPattata's assessment is pretty smart. they are terrified of an empty nest.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:32 AM on May 28, 2008

Yes just move. I went through this and I came to the following conclusion:

It's their job as parents to take care of you as long as you need and you, as their baby, need to prove to them that you are able to support yourself without their help. Think of it as a test. They're going to keep telling you not to move out, make you feel guilty, make you think that you need them. They're not trying to make you feel bad on purpose of course, it's their instinct to hold on to their child. After all they've had to support you for the last 28 years, so you have to understand that it's difficult to quit you cold turkey.

They will feel better once you're out for a few weeks/months and they see that you're doing fine.
posted by eatcake at 6:17 AM on May 28, 2008

Your parents might find out after a few years (it my parents about two in total) that they really enjoy the "empty nest". Encourage them to go out with other couples if possible. Do move out, just realize it's an emotional time for them and that they'll express that for a little while. You'll (hopefully with some patience) come to your own joint understanding of what works for both of you. Usually that involves you picking what works for you and consistently doing it, but clearly responding to any requests. (Note: I live a few hours away so it's a little different. I can't add to how it changes living in the same town.)
posted by ejaned8 at 6:47 AM on May 28, 2008

I think it helps my Mom still feel like a mother when I have her over to help me sometimes. Even if it's just taking the parents along to help pick up boring stuff like Windex and washcloths from Target (or wherever). It will make them feel included. And then fix them dinner at your place (or heck, get pizza). So that they know you are actually, really, ok.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:27 AM on May 28, 2008

As your parents get older, they'll need you more. People can say "cut the cord", but family doesn't really work that way.

Maybe yours doesn't; please don't presume to speak for the rest of us.

Fair enough.

However in reading the post, it seems the OP has a family where the members expect to provide long-term support and care. I made that leap based on (1) the kids welcome and encouraged to live at home well into adulthood and (2) the twin choosing to move down the street. That's the type of family that I'm lucky to have. I live thousands of miles from my family and have for more than a decade. The family connection of emotional support still exists, but it's shifted to me supporting my folks. While it's occasionally a pain, it's also wonderful.

That's the basis of my comment. For both the OP and her parents, the relationship will change when she moves out of her parent's home. However, there's no need to fear that they'll lose one another.

OP, definitely move because it's what you want. Just make a little room in your week to include your folks.
posted by 26.2 at 7:42 AM on May 28, 2008

OP cares about his relationship with his parents or he wouldn't have asked the question the way her did, I think. So advice such as "just cut the cord" may not fit his needs.

I'm closer to the parent side of this question, personally -- my kid who lives with me is eight years younger than OP, but I can't help seeing it more from their viewpoint. And from that side, well, of course they don't want him to go: moving out on someone -- whether it's a parent, a roommate or a lover -- is always going to feel like a bit of a rejection, and no one likes to be rejected.

So, as much as you need to do this, there's still no way to do it which won't sting a little. And necessarily, your relationship with them will be more distant, since you're not living in each other's shadow. But it's nothing they can't survive, and nothing your relationship with them can't survive.

That said, it's good to make it sting as little as possible. And all you can do there is to make sure you tell them that it's not about them, that you still want a close relationship with them, and that you won't be a stranger.
posted by tyllwin at 8:47 AM on May 28, 2008

What can I do so I don't feel like I am hurting their feelings?

You can make sure that what you are doing is fair and reasonable, but you can't control how they respond. It is possible that there's no way for you to move out without hurting their feelings. I'd make the question, "What can I do so that I'm certain that I'm treating my parents right, even if they don't think so?" This is a problem that you can solve.
posted by winston at 11:41 AM on May 28, 2008

You may in fact be hurting their feelings; you have no control over that. But that's not a reason to put your own life on hold indefinitely. Move out, continue to love and honor them and in time you'll all be glad you moved forward before you started resenting each other more seriously.
posted by judith at 11:55 AM on May 28, 2008

tell them you feel more comfortable having sex with people in your own place.
posted by shmegegge at 12:02 PM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

What can I do to make them realize that I adore them, but I am just too old and too well-off to be living with them?

Practice this one: "I adore you both, but I am just too old and too well-off to be living with you." Then leave.

You're a lucky, lucky person to have parents who love and support you like yours do, by the way. Millions of people would love to have your problems.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:10 PM on May 28, 2008

My parents (especially my mother) were very clingy.

I got married and moved out of home at 20. It took about 3 years before I got the visits down to fortnightly; for a while there, mum was visiting at least twice a week, for a day at a time.

Now, we try and have lunch/coffee about once a fortnight or so; just to keep in touch. It is a time investment; but I feel that my family is worth that.
posted by ysabet at 4:19 PM on May 28, 2008

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