We all have a disheartening, pitiful image that we conjure up when a millennial says, “I still live at home with my parents.” Cue the middle-aged, overweight man in a stained white t-shirt, sweatpants, chilling on the couch in a dingy basement. As a millennial who moved back in with her parents following graduation, I can attest to the fact that I have received every type of response when I admit to my current living situation. Sometimes it'll be a look of pity, other times an understanding nod. Just because this is my situation now, though, doesn't mean I'm looking to gain independence from my parents soon.
Here are the Facts.
Believe it or not, the number of millennials who move back in with their parents has been increasing over the past four years and is actually higher than during the Great Recession. According to recent research, 15.1% of 25 to 34 year-olds were living with their parents. The main thing to be cognizant of is that everyone's situation is different as they are beginning their path to full adulthood and sometimes moving back home is the smartest option.
Regardless of the situation, though, the fact is that you can lose your sense of adulthood if you don't set proper boundaries when you're living with family. A lot has changed since you were a child, and your parents need to recognize that.
Setting aside what others may think, I have spent the past nine months learning the ins and outs, dos and don'ts of living with your parents post-grad. I hope some of these tips (based on personal experience) help you. Keep in mind that this transitional period into adulthood can sometimes be tricky, but you can still have a healthy relationship with your family and gain independence from your parents.
The path to adulthood is a marathon, not a sprint
Every path to adulthood is going to be unique As much as we want to be 100% independent and self-sufficient the second we graduate, we might still need a little assistance from family before we are ready to fly by ourselves. That assistance doesn't have to be living at home; it could be some financial support or help hunting for a job. Sometimes we are so eager to do everything by ourselves that we forget our parents' number one job is to support us.
The sad truth we might not like to think about is that our parents won't be in our lives forever. We should optimize the time we have with them now before we venture out into our careers and start families of our own. You have to set your own pace of your transition into adulthood…don't worry about what everyone else is doing.
Plan a realistic timeline for yourself for milestones of independence from your parents whether that be covering all of your bills or getting your own apartment. If you have difficulty determine what your timeline should be, there are some tools you can use. One is creating a vision board to set your goals and then work backward from there. Another method is using a planner like the Productivity Planner to keep you on task every day, week, and month.
Set ground rules
While this might seem like a role reversal with your parents, it's important to set ground rules with them. It's also a tough talk to have. Whether you are living at home or your parents are supporting you in another way, you have to set boundaries so there are no surprises and both parties know what to expect going forward.
These ground rules might include you not having a curfew or your parents expecting you to pay rent. Try to be open-minded when going into this conversation and be prepared to compromise.
Again, everyone’s situation is different, but make sure that you and your parents get everything out on the table. You will be able to reach an agreement eventually. That way you can avoid any unwanted arguments in the future. Always have an end goal in mind that you are working towards and let your parents know what that goal is. That way you have someone to keep you accountable.
If you aren't used to having these kinds of difficult conversations, I highly recommend reading the book Crucial Conversations. This book will give you so many tools to approach high-stakes conversations. Buy the book here!
Making your own decisions
As an adult, you do have to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions. However, if your parents are still supporting you financially in some way, they do still have a hold over some of the decisions you make.
The beauty of being an independent adult is if you want to buy a new car or go on a trip then you can do that! For this reason, you can fall on the dependence on your parents and the idea is that you overcome the co-dependency and you let them know that.
Gaining independence is a double-edged sword: the more you want, the less help you’ll receive from others but the less you have, the more people have a say in how you live your life.
Respect is a two-way street. You need to respect your parent’s opinions and decisions as they should do the same for you. Does that mean you are going to agree all the time? Probably not. But, just like any relationship you have to respect the other individual's thoughts and perspectives. After all, they are still your family, and the last thing you want is to let this transition in your life create a wedge in your family dynamic.
As you are trying to gain independence from your parents, a good dose of respect and understanding will help you build a healthy relationship for years to come. While you might be ready and eager to fly the nest, your parents might have a hard time accepting that. It will take them some time to adjust, but be patient with them. It’s only because they love you and still want to protect you. You have your whole life to adult, so take your time and make sure you are ready to fly solo.
Do you have any other tips for how to gain independence from your parents as a millennial? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments!