3 Reasons Why All Young Adults Should Consider Living With Their Parents
“My parents are my backbone. Still are. They’re the only group that will support you if you score zero or you score 40.” — Kobe Bryant
After I finished college, I moved back into my childhood home. With my parents.
In today’s culture, this is a badge of shame.
People at my stage in life ought to be renting an apartment somewhere else, living their single free life, maybe digital nomading around the globe, or, at least, starting families of their own…or so says conventional wisdom.
I partly agree with that. I am not living with my parents because this was 100% my choice, but rather because of serious health issues that required their support.
But I have come to realize that actually, living with your parents is really a blessing in disguise. In fact, I would highly recommend it for just about all young adults.
For the following reasons:
Reason #1 — Your Time With Them is Limited
“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” — Anthony G. Oettinger (Sorry, couldn’t resist 😉)
Not to be morbid, but we all know everyone is going to die sooner or later.
That’s the way the world currently works.
I once saw a TED talk, I think, where the speaker showed how many weeks a person lives using bubbles to represent each week. You spend X amount of bubbles at home growing up, then you spend X amount of bubbles going to school, finding a job, etc.
Seeing it all visually made me realize just how short life is, if all those bubbles can fit on one powerpoint slide.
If you move away from home, especially FAR away from home, and start a family/life there, you may only get to see your parents a few times a year or less (on holidays, or whenever you can afford a plane ticket).
In the meantime, your parents are growing old, perhaps declining physically and/or mentally, and getting closer to that time when they will leave this earth.
In the end, the number of bubbles in your life that overlap with your parents’ remaining bubbles are very, very few.
And while Skype calls, phone calls, and emails are wonderful ways to keep in touch, they can’t ever quite replace face-to-face interaction and physical hugs.
If your parents are in their 50s or 60s (let’s say 55), and they live an average lifespan of 79–81 years (for North Americans. Let’s go with 80 for good measure), then that means you have 25 more years with them.
Which sounds good until you factor in the possibility that you may only see them a few times or less per year (lets say 7 days per year, which is already a generous estimate for those who live far away from home), and they may or may not be mentally and physically sound for all of those years.
If we go with 7 days a year for 25 years, you only have 175 days left to spend with your parents, for life. That’s less than 6 months.
Also, no one is guaranteed to live 80 years. That’s just an average. Your parents’ lifespans may be significantly more than that…or significantly less.
Just keep that in mind.
I never grew up with my grandparents — one pair of grandparents passed away before I was old enough to know them, and the other pair lived in another country.
I only have one grandparent left of the original four (who still lives on the other side of the globe), and sometimes I am sad that I did not get the chance to really get to know them, learn from them, bond with them.
My parents are my closest “older relatives” and I am thankful that I do get to spend quality time with them.
So I am grateful to have this time to enjoy those every day conversations and closeness with my parents.
If, one day, they die before I do, I will still have these precious memories — and more of them than if I had left home immediately after graduating.
Reason #2 — You Have Easier Access to Their Wisdom and Guidance
“There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.” — Charles Dickens
A youtuber once shared a sad story about how, after moving out of the house, she got into a bad relationship with a manipulative guy who tricked her into marrying him, and then mooched off of her financially and emotionally until she eventually divorced him.
There were many factors that played into this tragic tale, of course, but as this young woman reflected over her life, one major factor she mentioned was: lack of wise mentorship.
Living on her own, far away from home, meant freedom without supervision, and for her, that was a bad thing.
I’m not saying that all young adults need their parents keeping an eye on them at all times, but it isn’t wise to try to do life entirely on your own, or even with only your friends for guidance.
(Remember, the reason why ancient Israel split into two after the death of King Solomon was because his heir arrogantly ignored the wisdom of his experienced older advisers and went with the advice of his friends).
In general, having older, wiser, loving people (like your parents) in your life is a very, very good idea.
If you don’t have parents to give you good advice about important life decisions (like picking a spouse or career, dealing with tricky interpersonal situations, etc), it helps to at least have a trusted mentor who is physically nearby and who can speak into your life — another relative, or teacher, or somebody older and wiser who loves you.
Again, if you are not living at home, you can always call home, using Skype, FaceTime, etc. But the problem with this is that usually the onus is on you to tell your folks what is going on and ask for their advice.
When you are living with your parents, though, they can see with their own eyes what is going on and give you much-needed advice, even (or especially) when you don’t ask them (because maybe you’re in denial, or you don’t realize something is a problem until it’s too late).
Because the truth is, young people are notoriously over-confident and often foolish.
We think we know more than we do, but actually, we don’t know what we don’t know.
I see sometimes the “foolishness” in other people — peers my age — as well as in things like my old journal writings, and I realize that if I see that in others and in my recent-past self, there must be blind spots in my own life right now that I don’t recognize.
That’s why I’m glad I have a pair of older, wiser, people who I know love me, nearby. People who are ready and willing to keep an eye out for me and keep me from getting myself into a mess.
Reason #3 — You Have the Support You Need to Pursue Things You Otherwise Wouldn’t be Able to
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.” — Satchel Paige
One reason Tom Kuegler, fearless leader of this Post-Grad Survival Guide publication, was able to…
- build his tribe and establish himself as a successful writer on Medium
- make a living writing
- pursue vlogging on YouTube, and
- eventually fulfill his dream of traveling to Asia
He wasn’t just mooching off of them, though, playing video games all day while living rent-free.
He was using that time productively to pursue his calling in life: writing. Content creation.
How many of us have the freedom to do this?
Those who are living on their own have financial pressures that those who live with their parents don’t (usually) have to face.
It doesn’t mean that one group of young adults is better than the other. There are advantages and disadvantages to both situations.
But the advantage to the second situation is that being able to stay with your parents, at least for a time, allows you to boldly pursue and experiment with your real passions and talents.
That is a huge blessing and a gift, and we should see it as such. If you want to be an entrepreneur, artist, writer, whatever — if you want to do anything risky — having the emotional and financial support of parents who believe in you is incredibly important.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that those who don’t have this resource are not able to also pursue their dreams and succeed. It just means that parental support is a MAJOR asset for those who have it.
So if this is your situation, appreciate the heck out of it, thank your parents profusely, and then no more excuses — get out there and start creating!
When You Should NOT Live With Your Parents
Of course, living with parents is sometimes not feasible, or not a good idea. Here are some reasons why you should not live with your parents:
- If your parents cannot take you in without hurting you or themselves.
- If you’re only doing it to escape reality or avoid taking on responsibilities you ought to take on.
- If you and your parents have an unhealthy relationship (codependency, abuse, etc).
- If your parents are actively impeding your ability to grow/mature/take on rightful adult responsibilities.
- If you are actively impeding your parents from doing something they really want or need to do (travel the world, sell the house and buy an RV, etc).
- If you truly have a fantastic job/opportunity too far away from home to live with your parents.
- If you are married, about to get married, and you and your spouse have agreed that you want to establish your own home in a different location.
This list is not, of course, comprehensive. There are likely other scenarios in which living with your parents is not a good idea. I’m not saying that living with your folks is always a wonderful thing.
But let’s not go to the opposite extreme and make the mistake of assuming that living with your parents is ALWAYS a bad idea in ALL (or even most) situations.
Living With Your Parents Doesn’t Have to be Weird
In many cultures, adults living with their parents is not the anomaly it is in today’s Western culture.
In fact, it’s expected.
And not just for a few years post-college, while you get your bearings and look for a spouse/job/house or apartment of your own…but for life.
In many Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, for instance, “family” doesn’t just mean Mom + Dad + kids. It includes the extended family — grandparents, even great-grandparents, and sometimes even uncles and aunts and cousins all live under the same roof…or at least very near to one another.
Sometimes this can cause conflict, of course.
But done well, with each member pitching in to support the family, each member loving each other well…this is a fantastic situation.
This kind of family structure negates (or powerfully counteracts) several social problems that modern Western people face:
- When grandparents grow old, they don’t have to fear being stuck in an impersonal nursing home, because they know someone in their family — a child, or grandchild — will take care of them.
- When parents don’t know how to deal with colicky babies or rebellious teens, they have backup — wiser, more experienced grandparents ready and willing to help them.
- When children’s parents are too busy working to play with them, kids can go to their grandparents/aunts/uncles for attention, love, and a listening ear.
- Aunts and uncles can help babysit each other’s kids when needed.
- Grandparents or even great-grandparents never have to fear being irrelevant burdens to society, because they are constantly surrounded by young people who can benefit from their stories and wisdom.
- Young people are less likely to feel neglected or unloved with so many potential sources of love (parents, uncles/aunts, grandparents, great-grandparents).
- Rebellious teens are less likely to get away with dangerous unhealthy behaviors because there are so many people at home keeping an eye out for them.
- …And so on and so forth.
In modern Western society’s hyper-individualistic and hyper-mobile society, this kind of family structure is increasingly rare.
Loneliness and broken families are on the rise, and multiple generations living together and loving each other is declining.
People often try to fill in the gap with involvement in social clubs, churches, etc., but the best of these clubs are not usually as great as the best of the extended family system.
Perhaps it is time to bring some of that extended-family-living-close-together idea back. Starting with young adults and their parents.
Of course, life is often unpredictable, and you can’t foresee whether or not a spouse, job opportunity, or some other life event might take you away from your family, whether you want it to or not.
But if I had a choice, I would like to — not necessarily live with my parents forever, but to live close by for as long as they are around.
So Consider Living With Your Parents, At Least For a Time
It’s different relating to your parents as an adult than it was when you were a child.
Even though you don’t need your parents cooking your food or checking your homework for you anymore, they still have a lot to offer, in different ways than before.
If you want to live with them for a few years while you start your business, remember that many have successfully done so before you. No shame there.
And if you decide that you want to take it a step farther and stay with (or at least close to) your parents (and even grandparents) for an extended time, raising your own family with them around, then more power to you!
If I ever get married and have kids, I hope those kids will get to know their grandparents in the way that I never had the chance to know mine.
I hope they will get to benefit from their wisdom and love just as (or even more than) I have. And I hope the same is true with my future in-laws as well.
Because I have good parents.
I appreciate what they’ve done and are doing for me, and I want to keep learning from them and be there for them if they need something in the future.
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