You probably swore it would never happen — you would always scrape up enough funds to continue living on your own after college. But here you are, watching a reality dance competition show with your mom on a Saturday night after a home-cooked meal, finishing off the bowl of ice cream your dad eagerly brought you. In other words, you finally caved and moved back in with your parents. You’re in good company — according to the Pew Research Center, 36 percent of all millennials live with their parents.
Our generation’s common living situation can bring a host of unexpected joys. Although you were probably hesitant to move back home, you can’t deny the pleasures of having cable, full cupboards, and no monthly utilities fee. Living at home can be blissful compared to the stress of being on your own. On the other hand, it’s easy to feel like your independence is slowly slipping out of your hands — gone are the carefree days of staying out till 3 a.m. with no one asking where you are.
Living with your parents after spending years on your own feels profoundly different than it did back in high school. The relational distance brought on by your adulthood is hard to bridge, but it’s not impossible. Living with your mom and dad can teach you a lot if you put in the effort.
Here are five ways to get the most of living with your parents:
- Initiate conversation.
When my parents approach me asking what’s going on in my life and why I haven’t talked to them in awhile, I clam up. Even with their good intentions, I feel automatically on the defence to prove that I am doing OK. Instead of waiting on them, I’ve found that taking the initiative to update them on what’s going on in my life makes me feel more in control. I’m able to give them the gift of connection that they desire as parents, while maintaining my truest self.
Spend time with them.
It may sound elementary, but I’ve found it to be harder than it sounds. Life pre-move-in was all about hanging out with friends at the latest possible hour, sleeping in till noon, rushing off to that day’s activities, then starting the cycle over. My parents love when I take a night off from being with my friends and watch a movie with them, go get dinner, or heck, even wake up early and go out to breakfast. And by early, I mean 10 a.m. Baby steps.
Actually save money.
The temptation to spend the money sitting in your bank account can drain you of your dollars faster than you think. Just because you are free from a host of living expenses does not mean you should overcompensate by treating yourself to anything you want. My recently purchased overpriced pair of shoes that are staring at me from my closet can testify to that. You’re probably living at home to save money, so stay just as frugal as you were when you were shelling out monthly rent cheques and living off of boxed macaroni and cheese. This will ensure that you can start off on the right foot when you decide to move out. Your other option is to live with your parents forever. Your choice.
Invite them in.
Your parents are most likely your biggest supporters and the people that care the most about seeing you flourish in life. Don’t keep things surface-y in conversations. Struggling with a relationship? Feeling distant from God? Insecure about your direction in life? Go there with them. Full transparency may not be comfortable, but take advantage of the wisdom right in front of you.
Confront relational blocks.
Now that you have lived apart for a while, coming home may make you painfully aware of the problems you have with your parents. Maybe you’re frustrated because they don’t seem to support your lifestyle choices, or maybe you are still bitter from an argument that happened years ago. This season is the perfect opportunity to deal with those problems instead of running away from them. You may need to seek outside counsel to figure out how to go about addressing the issue, but don’t let it drive a wedge between you and them. And remember — you can’t change your parents, but you can start by changing yourself.
Don’t waste your parents’ gift to you by staying holed up in your room, only emerging to grab your keys and walk out the door. They’ll likely relish the extra time they get to spend with you now that you’re home. If your experience is anything like mine, you may even start to look forward to nights of dance competition shows and ice cream.
Photo (Flickr CC) by mykle hoban.