Let’s get real. Few baby birds having successfully left the nest ever desire to return. Although they remember the good things about the nest, it is still a nest. The nest means you don’t get to choose what and how you eat. The nest means this constant feeling of being crowded and watched. The nest means having a bigger bird constantly swooping in and squatting over you.
But with many changes in our culture and economic environment, more EA’s are living with their parents. In the book, Boomerang Age, Mitchell states that 40% of American Youth leaving at 18 return to the parental nest at least once. The author writes how emerging adults experience “less permanency and more movement in and out of a variety of family-related roles, statuses, and living arrangements.” (Mitchell). Various reasons have affected the instable living conditions including: economy, education, technology, and unpredictable love relationships.
Whether you are moving home because you want to, or have to, here is some advice in order to make your time at home a positive experience.
1. Discuss the Expectations of both sides.
What do you expect your life to be like as you return home? Do you expect to come and go as you please? Do you expect to eat freely whenever you want? Do you expect your life to be the same as your life on campus? Expectations should be discussed in a wide range of areas including: cleanliness, bathrooms usage, food, curfew, friends, and chores. (A complete article on this topic will be released next Monday).
You do have expectations on your parents (or you wouldn’t even ask to move in with them), so be prepared to share them. Your parents will also have expectations for you. One EA said, “as I have gotten older their expectations for me have grown, naturally.” A parent’s expectations are not because they are treating you like a kid, expectations are healthy part of any community.
Be sure to include your expectations of the future. How long do you intend to stay home? Open up and share your future plans (as best as you can). Your parents understand that you don’t know the future, but they want to see that you are moving ahead. While your parents do enjoy having you home now, it will not last forever.
2. Take Economic Advantage.
The first step to take economic advantage is to get a job – any job. It may not be the job you dreamed of, or thought you were promised after college, but it will help you get ahead, and give you work experience until a better job comes along your path. One EA said, “my parents didn’t like seeing me sit around all summer doing nothing.” Parents love having their children at home, but they want to know that it is helping you move forward in life, and not simply allowing you to slide through. You will be surprised, how tension might ease when they know you are working hard – at anything.
After securing that job, do not let the economic savings from living with your parents go to waste. Even if they charge you rent, living at home is cheaper than living with others. Set a monthly goal of savings, and put it in the bank, or apply it to your loan balances (depending on your financial situation). If you have trouble setting money aside, set up an automatic deposit into your savings account, or give the money to your parents so they can put it out of your reach.
3. Find ways to remain a part of the family.
One parent said, “We absolutely love having a house full of people and we love having our kids around.” While you may not want to slip back into the routines of your high school years, it is important to find new ways to connect with your family. How have you changed since leaving home? Is there a new hobby or interest that you can now share with them? Design an activity that you can do with your parents as peers.
If your parents wanted a boarder, then they would advertise for one. They allow you to return home, because they will want to continue a relationship with you. If you shut them off, you risk damaging the relationship. You can remove these feelings by prioritizing some meaningful interaction with the family.
4. Express Gratitude.
Your parents are real people, and struggle with their own emotions. Although many parents love helping, they don’t want to feel used. You would be surprised how much the occasional thank you will go towards a healthy environment. Alice Walked said that “Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
Take time to write a note, post a facebook status, or tweet how thankful you are for your parents. You can also show gratitude by “respecting some of your parents random wishes they may have for you” or pitching in without being asked. A heart of service and humility will do wonders in any household.
Learning to live in this new environment is a growth opportunity for you. One EA summed up the key to living peacefully at home, “A healthy and mature adult should be able to read and evaluate their social interactions with their parents and come to reasonable conclusions about how to act in a respectful manner without sacrificing independence – at least a Spirit-filled and Christ-Driven one.”
Living in community with others takes work. As you follow Christ and live by the Spirit, you and your parents will find this time rewarding and fulfilling.
Mitchell, Barbara. The Boomerang Age.