Sam Holstein

The Most Important Reason I Live With My Parents

I’m a twenty-two-year-old living with her parents, and I’m so thankful I get to.

It isn’t about money. I admit, right now my parents are financially helping me turn writing into a career. But when I’m making more off my writing, I intend to put that money I make back into the family.

I might move out when a bunch of friends wants to get a place with me, or I move in with a romantic partner. But short of a discrete reason to move out, I have no plans to. I’m not going to move out for the sake of ‘getting away.’

(What’s weirder is that they seem to want me around that much, too).

Why do I want this?

This Quartz article points out that if you lived with your parents until you’re eighteen, if you’re thirty years old, if you see your parents ten times a year, and if your parents live until you are sixty, you are already through 93% of the time you’ll ever spend with your parents. You only have 5% of it left.

They represent this fact in graph form.

Of course, my parents may not live until I am sixty, so I could have a lot less time left than that.

That’s unacceptable to me.

My parents are too important to me. They’ve been there for me my whole life. They supported me (yes, financially, but more importantly, emotionally) when the odds seemed ever against me. They are my family.

I can’t imagine being in our last five percent.

Luckily, there’s a way I can change these numbers.

When I live in the same area as my parents, I get lunch with them once a week, meaning I see them 52 times a year, not 10. We catch up about the big things and the smaller things. (Some weeks I might get lunch with them twice, bringing that number up to 78 times a year).

When I live with them, I see them almost every day, meaning I have nearly 365 days with them a year. I get to hear about the big things because I get to watch them play out. I get to hear about the smaller things when they happen, or even as they happen. I don’t have to hear secondhand about that hilarious comment my mom made; I can be there when she makes it.

So, let’s re-do this math. Let’s say I live with my parents until my 25th birthday. At that point, I move to seeing them for lunch once to twice a week. They live until I am sixty. The new math says:

We have 33% of our time together left. Not 5%.

This new picture isn’t so gloomy.

What’s more, this extra time is quality time. The time we spend growing up with our parents is special, but being an adult child is different. I can bond with my parents as an adult. We have a healthy relationship where we recognize and respect each other’s strengths and flaws.

Living with my mom as an adult isn’t like living with her as a child. She respects my adult boundaries. And when we do hang out, we’re watching our favorite TV show together with a glass of wine. We can sometimes be caught gossiping about the men in the house.

Living with my dad as an adult isn’t like living with him as a child. He respects my adult boundaries. When we do hang out, we talk about his work or what he did last weekend with the guys. He will tell me what he does and doesn’t want me doing with my life, but he doesn’t punish me the way you would punish a teenager.

I suspect some people who move far away at eighteen don’t have this. These parents and children never re-forge a relationship that is respectful of the fact that both parties in the relationship are adults. The parents maintain an ever-critical viewpoint, and the adult child retaliates the way they couldn’t when they lived under the same roof, which is to say “Dinner’s over, time to go home.”

The quality of their relationship suffers for it.

So, Mom (and Dad),

I love living with you. I love sharing my life with you. I love that I get to see you almost every day. I love knowing the contours of your life. Most of all, I love knowing that I have a lot more interactions with you ahead of me than a measly 5%. I want to be around as long as you’ll have me.

Your daughter, Megan

Written for Mother’s Day 2018