Saturday, April 21, 2007

Growing Up = Moving Out?

A couple of weeks ago, I made a post called "The Blessing of a Daughter at Home". In that post, I talked about how a family can benefit from having a grown-up daughter that chooses to remain at home instead of moving out and living on her own or with roommates.

Today I would like to talk about the other side of the story – the daughter who continues to live under her parents' roof while her peers are moving out one after another. So what about her? Is she making some sort of noble sacrifice, giving up the freedom and independence she could have had if she hadn't chosen to stay with her family? Is she missing out on fun and experience?

Many of you probably know I'm one such woman. I'm about to graduate from college and I already get a lot of questions, such as: "Well? Have you started looking for an apartment to rent? When are you moving out?"
Imagine how this trickle of questions will turn into a flood if I'm not married in a couple of years and continue living with my family "without an apparent reason"!

To say it simply, I enjoy living at home. I don't see it as a sacrifice or handicap; I'm blessed by having an opportunity to help and serve my family, but I also think I'm much better off at home than at some shabby rented apartment, spending my evenings alone or with a couple of random roommates.

Many young people claim you can't learn to take care of yourself until you've moved out. That one always puzzled me. Why can't we learn to take care of ourselves – and others – while living at home? I know twenty-somethings who never bothered to learn how to cook or clean before they moved out. Why, though? Is there some magic barrier between them and the kitchen? A friend of mine is 23 years old; she has no idea how to operate a washing machine. Another twenty-something never did grocery shopping for her family or mopped the floor anywhere but her own room.

Another common argument for moving out as early as possible is "freedom". You'd be independent and free if you moved out, I'm told. No one would ever nag. No one would ask you to help out in the kitchen or run some errands when you'd rather read a good book. No one would ask when you're going to be home; you can come and go as you please. No one would wrinkle their nose if there's a pile of dishes in the sink. Isn't that grand?
Yep, I could be free. Free from responsibilities, free from having to count with other people, free from having to worry about anyone's needs but my own.
You know what, I'd rather not.

Here's a paradox: most people want to have a family someday. Yet the single years are portrayed as glamorous and put on a pedestal. No wonder there's so much dissatisfaction when party-time is over and diaper-changing time comes. People pass from the role of rebellious teenagers to that of carefree young singles, and miss out on learning to be an adult who functions in a family, contributes to its well-being and faces obligations and requirements.

I can't ignore the financial issue, either. I didn't put it on top of my list, but it's definitely something to consider. Not having to pay for rent saves a lot of money; instead, it can be placed in a saving program and used later in a better way (when I say "better way" I don't mean buying the most expensive clothes or going out as much as you like).

Sure, I could live with roommates, and then my rent would be much cheaper. But who promises they will be a positive influence? As a student, I chose a college near home so I wouldn't have to live on the campus. I know there were drugs, alcohol and promiscuity. There was even a case of rape during a party. I successfully avoided that for 3 years. Why start now?

I understand circumstances can be different. People might decide to move out for a variety of reasons. What I speak about is the general attitude that moving out as early as possible is desirable, and that wild party life stimulates maturity and personal growth. I love living at home, I know I'm needed at home, and that's where I choose to remain.

10 comments:

Candy said...

I think its nice that you are able to be at home and help out your Mom. Remember too, in the Bible some Mothers and daughters (even daughter in laws) lived together!
I love your posts,

Candy

Anna S said...

Candy,
you make a good point. For example after Ruth became a widow, she continued to live with her mother-in-law Naomi, and remained by her side through hardships and poverty. Ruth is one of my favorite figures; I'm planning to write about her sometime soon.

Christie Belle said...

Good for you, Anna. I lived at home for a long time too. I never had that desire to live on campus at a college far away either. And, hey...here I am back at home while my hubby is gone. I don't see anything wrong with it, especially since you are such a big help to your family.

Jordin said...

Anna,

My parents and I were talking about this very issue the other night, and I told them that if I weren't getting married, I would definitely want to stay at home! What a ministry a young woman has, serving her family in such a wonderful way--while preparing for her future at the same time! I admire you and other women who choose to stay at home--even when everyone else is choosing to "do their own thing." Sadly, that "thing" usually leads down the wrong path.

Verne said...

I pray that my two daughters will choose to remain at home until they are married, or indefinitely if they never marry. I think that you have made a wise choice. My husband and I have talked about how women need protection, and how they can be a blessing at the same time.
PS, Ruth is one of my favorites, too!

Verne said...

Oops. Tracy posted as verne.

Haus Frau said...

You are right on so many levels, Anna...on *all* levels of this topic, imho.

My experience was one of early independence (at 17). It was known that when each of us graduated (or before..in my case) that we'd move out and make our own way in the world.

We're not going down this road with our daughter. Nope. No way. We have a precious relationship with her and she's welcome to remain in our home until she's married.

We're making plans to build a small cottage in the backyard, a small dwelling with a bathroom and loft...a fine size for El if she wants a bit of freedom in creating her own little home yet living at home. However, she loves being near us at night - comforting and close.

And who knows... perhaps the small dwelling will become a Honeymoon Cottage one day. :o)

Anna S said...

Haus Frau,
It's wonderful to hear about parents and grown children having a loving and close relationship. Living with parents is too often described as either "being suffocated" or "being a leech".

Craftydaughter said...

Wonderful post Anna.
That is what I get. "Are you going to college after you graduate?" "When are you planning on getting a job?" etc etc.

It gets frustrating, especially if the people who ask have asked before. I love being at home under my daddy's firm hand. I have everything I want right here. I have a vehicle I didn't have to pay for, granted it wasn't new...it needed bad repairs when dad bought it, but he fixed it... I have a gas card so when I need to fill it up I don't have to pay for it, a nice cellphone....and lots of other stuff that would disappear if I moved out on my own.

People don't understand that I still need my family. Sometimes, when I think about the day I get married, I cry so hard. I don't want to leave them. I have more to say on this subject but I need a tissue now.................

Anna S said...

Craftydaughter,

There are certainly financial benefits in living at home. Not having to pay for rent is a major one. Gas, electricity, groceries and other necessary things are also cheaper when shared by several people. And sometimes our parents' generosity extends even further.

However, living at home doesn't make us some kind of leeches, or weaklings that aren't ready to get out and face the world.
When asked while I still live at home, this is what I usually answer:
1. "Why would I move out? I enjoy being home"
2. "I'm needed at home. I serve and help my family"
3. "Moving out would lead to unnecessary expenses"

I can also understand your anxiety about getting married and leaving your family someday. I don't know how old you are, but I can tell you that even though I've been praying for a husband with all my heart for a long time now, I'm anxious about how my family will manage without me. I'm an only child, and I know my help is very much needed. However, God's plan for most of us is marriage. And I know nothing will bring our parents more joy than seeing grandchildren!