Dear Barb—Being Young Again

Dear Barb:

Hi, I am in my early thirties and unfortunately I have had to move back home with my parents.  My wife and I separated after seven years of marriage, and we have one daughter.  Our separation was amicable, and I see my daughter regularly.  The problem I am writing about is my parents.  They treat me like I’m still a kid.  For them it is like time has stood still.  Mom wants to know where I am going and when I will be home and she expects me to be home for dinner every night.  Also, Dad wants to hang out with me and watch movies and go fishing and whatever. 

It seems they want me to fill a gap in their lives.  Since I’ve been away for so many years, I would have figured they had developed hobbies and stuff to do with their friends, but I guess not.  I need some help explaining to them that I am Not a kid anymore. 

Help, Jamie. 

Hi Jamie:

Thanks for taking the time to email.  Your situation is all too common at the present time, as many adults find themselves having to move back in with their parents for a variety of reasons.  You do not explain why you had to move back in with your parents, however I will assume it is for financial reasons.

To have a mutually respectful relationship with your parents you need to discuss things like boundaries and house rules.  You are correct that you are not the same person you were when you left.  You are an adult and have been on your own and running your own household.  Therefore, your parents need to see you in that role.  The parent/child relationship is over, you are now adults and should share a mutual understanding and respect for each other.  Do not expect your parents to pick up after you as they did when you were younger.  Actively participate in the household chores, such as doing your own laundry, helping with cooking and home maintenance.  Boundaries need to be followed.  For example, if a door is closed, neither party can just walk in.  Privacy must be respected.

You also need to contribute to the household.  If you are unable to financially contribute, offer to help wherever needed.  Remember this is your parents’ home and you need to respect their house rules.  Most of all you need to be grateful that your parents opened their home to you, not all parents are willing or able to accommodate their adult children, for a variety of reasons.  Good luck Jamie.