**Disclaimer: 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 wife beater, 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.
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 in 2015, 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, a fact that can sometimes be lost if the correct boundaries aren’t established, is that you are an adult and the dynamic between you, and your parents have changed since your childhood.
Setting aside what others may think, I have spent the past nine months learning the ins and outs, dos and do not’s of living with your parents post-grad. From my personal experiences, I hope some of these tips help you keep in mind that while this transitional period into adulthood can sometimes be tricky, you can still have a healthy relationship with your parents and still gain independence.
The path to adulthood is a marathon, not a sprint
Every situation is going to be unique and different when it comes to your path to adulthood and successfully navigating those murky waters. As much as we want to be 100% independent and self-sufficient the second we graduate, we still might need a little more assistance from mom and dad and the safety of our nest 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 to hunt for a job. Sometimes we are so eager to do everything by ourselves that we forget our parents number one job is to support and fully prepare us for adulthood.
The sad truth we might not like to think about is that our parents won’t be in our lives forever so, we should take advantage of 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. HOWEVER, 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.
Set ground rules
While this might seem like a role reversal conversation to be having with your parents, it’s a tough talk that you have to have. Whether you are living at home or your parents are supporting you in some way, you have to set some ground rules, so there are no surprises and both parties know what to expect going forward. Try to be open minded when going into this conversation and be prepared to compromise. These ground rules might include you not having a curfew or your parents expecting you to pay rent.
Again, everyone’s situation is different, but make sure that you and your parents get everything out on the table and are in agreement, that way you can avoid any unwanted arguments in the future. Again, 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 help keep you accountable.
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!
But, if for example, you need a parent to co-sign on a car loan then you have to run that by them. Being able to gain independence is a double-edged sword in that the more you want, the less help you’ll receive from others but the less you have, the more parties who have a say in how you live your life.
That 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 balance, respect and understanding will help you transition into 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!