I’m 25 and still living at home. But that doesn’t mean I’m a failure, or that my life is a failure. And it doesn’t need to mean that for you, either!
There are lots of reasons to share a roof with your parents, even in your mid- or late-twenties. It’s not a reason to despair. (Although I sometimes feel that way, too.) Here are some of my reasons – feel free to reference them the next time that church-member or well-meaning relative gives you that pitying look and says, “So…”
1. Home is Cheaper
The economy might be picking up now, but cost-of-living is still a consideration. Mortgage or rent, insurance (health, car, house, other), groceries, gas, electricity, heat and A/C, taxes…all things I am more-or-less shielded from for now.
Added to this is the college debt a lot of people my age struggle under. I personally don’t have any debt, but that’s because I worked a super-cushy housekeeping job while getting my Associate’s Degree.
I also don’t yet have a four-year degree. Since I haven’t settled on a career path, I see no need to spend all that money for a piece of paper.
My brother also isn’t following the stereotypical college path – he’s pursuing certification in HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration) with a clear career goal in mind, and he doesn’t need a bachelor-something for that.
Driving Our Parents Up the Wall
I got my driver’s license after I was eighteen. More young people are getting their licenses later, too, and why not? For me, it was largely a matter of the regulations – once eighteen, I was no longer required to take drivers’ ed or log hours of test driving. The fees at the DMV were also lower for a major than a minor.
My brother got his license just a few months ago – a school semester before his 20th birthday. For young men, it makes even more sense to wait on that expense…after all, our insurance company has been sending him birthday cards since he turned 16, just waiting for a chance at those increased rates!
Let need guide you. I drove my parents’ van until schedules forced me to get my own car – and by then I had saved up enough to pay cash. No interest on that purchase. My brother only got his license because he had to take college classes at a campus an hour away, and we couldn’t drive him there. No shame in waiting on these “milestones” until they’re actually useful.
Don’t bury yourself under debt for appearances (to appear like you “have your life together”)! One of these days, I hope to buy a house of my own. But until I’m ready to take that step, there’s no point extending myself financially when I have another option.
I Can Give Back
While I’m here anyway, I can make myself useful! I don’t sit on my duff and watch Marvel movies all day. (Well, that’s not the only thing I do!)
My parents will have to clean their own bathrooms and bake their own cookies when I move out. Their house isn’t just a free bed with a stocked fridge – it’s also a home. My home.
2. Prince Charming is Still Coming
Well…”wonderful young man” hasn’t shown up yet. There have been a candidate or two, but no one who’s shown the least interest in me.
Sometimes this really hurts. As I watch my peers and friends marry and bear children, something deep inside of me screams.
What’s wrong with me? Am I not beautiful? Not a suitable wife or mother? I’m way more mature than they are, God, why aren’t You letting me marry?!
But I’m not mature – not enough, anyway. Not yet. Because when I am, God will bring my “perfect young man” and give me my happily ever after.
Which will probably involve staying up with babies until two in the morning and wishing I’d thrown the Mr.’s ring in his face when he asked me.
So I wait. Sometimes I understand that God knows best, and it’ll all work out. Sometimes I ache and can’t sleep. But if Abraham and Hagar, Jacob, and the American divorce rate tell us anything, it’s that it’s worth it to wait for the prince. Cutting corners with the pirate only lands us broken hearts and tangled lives.
Emotional Support Is Crucial
I am beautiful. I am loved. Manifestly, because my parents and brother love me and tell me I’m wonderful.
I could get my own living arrangements while I wait for Prince Charming. But rattling around in a big, empty house all by myself would not be good for me. Not only would I be more vulnerable to “cutting corners”, but my anxiety and self-doubt would feed off itself and create a whirlpool of despair pretty quickly.
Maybe I’m the only one?
While I’m still part of my parents’ home, not only am I growing, learning, and becoming more mature – but I also have the chance to focus on other people. Getting my eyes off my own navel and on the needs of others (and how I can help them) will make me a better wife in the long run (not to mention making me more emotionally stable and complete while I wait…patiently).
3. I Love My Family
Okay, for this one I need to unload a little of my weird life:
I’ve been home-schooled my entire life. You could say from kindergarten, as much as “kindergarten” is a formal thing. My parents have never spoken down to me as a child, but always discussed the family’s plans, problems, and triumphs with me.
One of our favorite things is to talk together, and we discuss everything: the movies we watch, the video games we play, the sermons we hear, the news we read… We’re “together” on it.
A lot of families aren’t quite like that. My grandma still believes that “teenage rebellion” is a natural and necessary part of growing up. But as the recent book Why I Didn’t Rebel explores, not all of us did rebel – and it’s better that we didn’t.
You don’t have to be like everyone else! 😊
The Historical Precedent
However, in researching this issue I discovered something interesting: children leaving home after high school (both to attend college, and afterwards) only became the norm after World War II.
Laura Ingalls left home at eighteen – because she got married. Corrie ten Boom lived in her parents’ home – even sleeping in her childhood bedroom – until the Nazis arrested her whole family (when she was 52 years old!).
So, the next time someone gets up in your grill because you’re still “in your mom’s basement”, just tell them you’re following the example of the majority of human history.
It’s not staying in the nest that’s new and weird. It’s thinking we must flee our family, as far and as fast as we can, that’s weird.
OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER: Some families deserve to be fled. However, I’m assuming that if your family is so dysfunctional your parents are abusing you, a 25-year-old is big enough to get out of there. Find a church or shelter. Get help. My grandpa got on a train at 15 and attended high school in another country (not because his family was dysfunctional, but because he was a glutton for learning). Point being, if you’re the 25-year-old of the post title, you can do this.
If you’re not in that camp, there’s nothing to be ashamed of in still living at home. I still am. A lot of people in their twenties and thirties – men and women – are still with their parents. Almost half, according to EliteDaily. I wonder what the numbers were for the 19th century…
My Culture is Counter-Cultural
I recently read a novel that pointed out “all living is ‘assisted living'”. The culture of breaking everybody out by age group is fairly new – and I’d say it’s inferior.
Kids weren’t made to be shuffled off by grade, surrounded by shallow children just like them who are going to give them false contexts of self-worth (peer pressure, y’know?).
Old folks weren’t meant to be off-loaded into quote-unquote “homes” where they sit in wheelchairs, drooling at the TV, and longing for their grandchildren to visit for fifteen minutes.
We were made to be family. I still need my parents. I plan to need them right up through raising my own kids. I’m not dead weight because I don’t have my own roof – I have a job and contribute to the family’s expenses. My family needs me just as much as I need them.
Maybe your mom is one of “those people” getting on you to get a “real life”. Well, now’s your chance to look her in the eye and tell her, “Mom, if I move out, I can’t spend as much time with you.”
Kids should know they’re important because their parents love them more than anything else – not because they bought the right brand of backpack or shoes.
“Mature adults” shouldn’t drop off the globe as soon as they hit 65, or have a medical condition that makes them less fun to be around.
Grandpa smells a little funny? Well, he’s had sixty years to stockpile jokes, so of course he’s funny! And Little Johnny’s going to play a board game with us, because once he graduates college, guess what he’ll be? Not a fourth grader – no, he’ll be an adult! And if he’s never seen adults in their natural habitat, how on earth will poor Johnny know how to get a job, let alone move out on his own?!
Join the Counter Culture
You’re not a failure. And you’re not hopeless. You’re home. So am I.
We can’t live in the “should be” or the “will be” or the “could have been”. All we’ve got is the “right now”, so let’s make this a home. Home is where my family is.
She currently lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, writing…and other excuses for not gardening.
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