Thursday, October 18, 2007

Adult daughters at home: the right reasons

A reader sent me a link to an article which states that the responsible thing for adult children to do after college is remain at home with their parents. I decided to share it with you because, as many of you know, I also think that in most cases, the best thing for an adult daughter is to remain at home until she marries. Only I believe that the reasons the author of this article gives are all wrong.

Remaining at home is described as a period of rent-free housing, self-indulgence, relaxation and financial freedom. Every line shouts out loud, "me!" My money, my job, my career, my goals, my needs…

There isn't even one word about how it can be beneficial for adult children to continue learning from their parents' wisdom; not one word about the many ways in which they can be a blessing and asset to their families; not one word about ageing parents or grandparents who might need attention and care, help around the house, or simply company; in short, none of the reasons why I consider my own decision to remain at home until I marry a blessed opportunity to serve and love and honor my family.

In some traditional cultures, it's common for several generations to continue living under the same roof for a lifetime. It doesn't mean, however, that adult children take a self-centered attitude and remain lifelong Peter Pans. The family operates as a unit, and each family member is expected to be a productive part of the household.

We have my 91-year-old grandmother living with us; we love her, and I feel it's an honor to return even a bit of the love and care she generously gave us for as long as I can remember. Grandma isn't as capable, physically, as she used to be; she has needs to be tended to; she needs someone to take her to the doctor and serve her meals, and she loves it when someone can eat with her, and talk to her and just sit beside her and knit. Someone in your family probably has greater needs, too – the very old, the very young, the ones with less-than-perfect health. Always easy? Always pleasant? Certainly not. Rewarding? Beyond anything you can imagine.

I must tell you, however, that the point of view that article presents isn't new to me at all. During my years in college, many of my fellow students rented apartments or lived on campus, but many others continued living at home with their parents. Not many of these young women did anything to ease their mothers' loads. Most of them couldn't cook, some had no idea how to compile a grocery list, and a few couldn't even operate a washing machine. I guess someone forgot to tell them that laundry doesn't wash itself automatically, and meals don't just appear on the table out of thin air.

I believe that we, as adult unmarried daughters, have a unique opportunity to show today's self-centered world what it really means to honor and cherish our parents, to serve cheerfully and put our family first. We can show what it's like to be productive, industrious and creative; self-sacrificing, loving, and faithful; serving, generous, delighted helpers to our parents and siblings.

This vision of daughterhood is beautiful. It's powerful. Let us seize the chance and live it – for the glory of God.


Katy-Anne said...

Great post Anna! This is what we want to teach our daughters, although it is not popular in this day and age.

Sammybunny said...

In my pursuit of a less self-centered, more others-centered approach to life, this is disturbing to know people stay at home only for that reason! You are a beacon of light to people like that and I am so glad that you are staying at home out of love and dedication to your family! That is such a beautiful and admirable thing!

PhDCow said...

When adult daughters aren't taught the home arts, who's to blame?

Had I lived at home after high school, I doubt my mother would have taught me much about homemaking since she didn't do much of it herself. She wasn't interested in domestic arts and while my hope chest was filled with cookbooks, pots and pans, and linens, there was never any discussion of how I would keep a home once I was married.

It's only now that I'm a wife and mother that I'm seeking out the guidance of my father's mother to help me learn how to keep a home.

I'm not saying the mother is always to blame, but how is a daughter supposed to learn from a mother who isn't interested in teaching?


Terry said...

Anna, once again you are right on target.

AnneK said...

I read the article and I did not think it was terrible-honestly. It is obviously geared to a certain demographic men and women (not just daughters-correct me if I am wrong) who get out of college and get in the real world. Not every family needs that much looking after. Especially here in this culture, generations hardly ever live together, parents are usually self sufficient. And let us not forget that most parents want a good job for their children and would be more than happy to have the company of their children after college if they are living with them.

And most kids do pitch in with housework especially when they stay with their parents. They do learn responsibility at work which in turn makes them better adults both at home and at work. I don't know about everyone, I know that my parents would have LOVED to have me home even if just to see me everyday even if I never did a thing around the house.

Just my 2 cents which as usual differs from everyone else :D

Mrs. Brigham said...

Sean and I do not feel it wise to send either daughters or sons out into the world too soon, nor would we particularly want to see our child/ren wind up in student debt from attending a college far away with high tuition and board, or in bad financial situations from leaving "the nest" too soon. The future family's wellbeing can be jeopardized in either case. Beyond just the financial, we feel there are many benefits for adult children to stay at home until they have been called to marriage or called elsewhere. Adult children still get to be part of the family, rather than forced to do everything "on their own"; they still have their parents near by for guidance & leadership; and the watchful eye of mother & father once a possible future spouse is met, so that a beautiful, God-centered relationship can unfold.

Mrs.B said...

Bravo Anna!

I did not take the time to read the article but I didn't need to.--Your post was sufficient and I agreed with every bit of it! (o:


Dawn said...

Neat thoughts Anna :)
I think you are a true blessing to your grandma, I really do. Think of how she sacrificed her time and efforts for your mom and her siblings and then your mom sacrificing for you. What an honor it is to be able to give back to them.

Because of the world's mentality I always thought that once you graduate high school, that it, you get out of your parents house. I never knew there was other ways because no one ever showed me that.
I didn't go to college, but joined the Army instead.
Now my mom was a single mom as well and even though she wasn't a domestic goddess, she did teach me how to do my own laundry at an early age and cook basic meals (basic as in a meat, a veggie and a potato) and I pretty much picked up on how to do dishes, vaacume, take care of the cats, etc.
I wish I would have learned more, but honestly I don't think my mom knew much more. But she still did a good job with me. :)

The world shrieks in horror when they hear of adult children (men included) staying at home and waiting till marriage. Many young men do college courses from home while taking on a job or helping their father and young ladies learn hopefully how to be better with the home and family while pursuring a college course (or not) and waiting till their marriage. Of course the world looks at it in disgust, it's not normal to them.
Oh well. :)

USAincognito said...

Okay. So I have to comment as I disagree.

Staying at home with your parents until you are, what happens if that child never gets married or marries way late in life?

I think it unwise for a child to remain at home, waiting until they find someone to marry. Not everyone is going to get married.
And not everyone that marries does so right after highschool/college. Some people never find their soulmate until they are in their 30's or 40's. Are they to live at home without a fulltime job til that time?

I honestly think that responsibility can be learned outside of the home. When a person has their own place, their own bills to pay, a career/job to show up to, etc., they learn what it is like to run their own house in their own style. If a person does get married and wants to be a stay at home mom, I have no problem with that.

But I guess I have a problem with people who decide to continue living with their parents, not really working, not really doing anything productive in society, and just waiting around to see if they will ever find someone to marry. I honestly believe this breeds laziness, dependence, and irresponsibility.

Now, I know you are engaged to be married so I can understand your being at home right now until the two of you get your own house bought.

But I do think it best for children to strike out on their own after highschool/college and learn some personal responsibility and learn how to take care of themselves.

Karen said...

I'd much rather my children stay at home than in some God-forsaken sinhole they call a dormitory, or totally depressed and alone like I was in my old apartment. BUT, if they are going to stay at home, they are going to find out pretty darn quickly that I am not thier personal housekeeper or short order cook! In my opinion there is no excuse for not teaching your daughers AND sons to take care of themselves.
My husband can't even wash laundry properly and I have only his mom to thank for that, as she is one of those who takes it upon herself to do EVERYTHING. Kids need to learn to do things as young as they are able. There are no free rides in life so they might as well never have that conception from the get-go. It makes me utterly sick to see how spoiled and pampered children are these days, as if the world owes them something.

kyla said...

I think that is a personal choice that is often times the right choice for a family. In your case Anna, its great that you are there for your grandma. I know how important it is for your grandmother to have company. I have a problem when I am told that this is an absolute for every Christian family and then scripture is used out of context to support this notion. Most adults, whether married or single, will want to have their own home and I don't think that their is anything wrong or selfish about that.

Kelly said...

Great post Anna. It's all about WHY a child is at home. If they are working in the home or out and making making themselves useful then there is nothing wrong with staying at home to help the family. I grew up with a neighbor who lived with her parents, until they both died, she was never called to marry and she told me she felt that it was her duty to work and support them in their later years.
FYI I'm a bit of a genealogy buff and from lots of research into my family tree it seems that the single children were the ones who eventually cared for aging parents in their last years. Not that families have lot's of children anymore but if all the singles out there cared for elderly parents wouldn't that fix so many problems?

Jennifer Kaufman said...

Not everyone can continue to live at home after high school or college until they get married. Some people can't rely on their parents wanting them back home.

I've been on my own since I was 18. Have I dealt with difficulties? Yes, being independent is not easy, but it has made me very resourceful and scrappy.

Plus, I don't exactly get along with my parents (long story) and they live in one of those wretched outer suburbs where it's all mini-vans, McMansions and strip malls. I'm a city girl and I love the vibrancy and diversity of my community.

Granted there are many young people who live at home and are a blessing to their families. They help out around the house. They make meals, do their own laundry and help take care of elderly relatives. Sometimes they pay a small amount of rent. When they do move out of their parents' homes they do fine because they are used to adult responsibilities.

The other types you have to worry about, the ones who treat their parents' home like a hotel and never do a lick of work or help out with the finances. I've dealt with these types in the workplace and they are most lazy, yet entitlement-minded people I have come across.

Laura said...

I never went to college but I live on my own.

Basically parents felt that by the time I turned 23 it was time for me to be on my own. I've been out for a year. I feel like it is the right choice for me. My mother would have hated me staying home cooking, cleaning etc... My father would have disapproved too. They just have entirely different mind sets.They want to have a good life and, (they are Christians), that means a good job, insurance, security etc... I'm a little bitter about it because I *feel* like I get constant insults from them because I didn't go to college. They did not support me in that- they accepted it because they had to. I wish I could have been like my mom- passionate about something and love education. I don't. It is that simple. But I'm not exactly happy in my job now either. I really would like to be a receptionist in a doctor's office. You wouldn't believe how hard that is. blah.

So that is my story. As far as how I feel about adult children staying at home- I think it is up to the families to make the best choice. What works for some won't work for others.

Jordin said...

One of my friends from high school is having what she calls "the time of her life" staying at home--living in luxury. She goes to college but that's it--she's not a help to her parents at all. Actually, her parents WANT it that way--or so they say. They think these are her "free" years or something. It seems crazy to me. She's free to party, shop, and sleep all day if she wants, and her mom and dad just foot the bill.

While many college-aged young adults are irresponsible, I think many of their parents have a lot to do with it.

Bethany Sue, CFO said...

Anna I am really glad that you have taken the time to talk about the importance of caring for our Elderly. Before I became a stay at home mom, I was a nurse and at one point in my carear I worked with the elderly. There is so much to learn from them. They are important in our society. I bet Grandma loves having you around. God Bless

Anonymous said...

This is a good post! I wish I could commute to my school--but it's about an hour away and I wouldn't be able to get there without my own car. Anyway, this past summer, I really started understanding what it meant to help my mother at home. I wasn't able to get a 'steady' summer job like most college students, so I really helped my mom and LOVED it. There were hard days yes,but overall, I wanted to help. When I'm at home for breaks, I get up just as early as if I were at school and help her with errands and jobs around the house. She expects me to, really!

It just seems right to me. My mom as well sees nothing wrong with letting me live at home after I graduate (that's if I don't get married immediately after college). The only thing is, she wants be to be responsible while living at home!

Anna S said...

"I'm not saying the mother is always to blame, but how is a daughter supposed to learn from a mother who isn't interested in teaching?"

You're right - there's an awful shortage today of older women to teach younger women. I'll try to address this topic soon, as time allows.

"Staying at home with your parents until you are, what happens if that child never gets married or marries way late in life?"

I really believe it's a cultural thing in many ways. In our family, generations just remain together, not feeling that there's an urgency to separate once you reach a certain age, or that living under the same roof and being there for each other hinders your self-develoment in any way. My grandmother has lived with all or at least one of her children, all her life. I'm currently living with my family, above all reasons because I'm needed around here; and when I marry, my mother will probably live with us sooner or later. It's natural for us. But I do believe there's room for diversity. I understand not everyone can remain with their parents - but those who already do, in my opinion, should make sure they got their priorities straight.

Jennifer Kaufman said...

Jordin, your friend sounds like a real piece of work. I feel sorry for her future husband. She'll probably treat him like a walking wallet.

And on another note, I like the idea of older women teaching younger women. Mentoring is so needed in society. It can be done in the workplace, in school and at home.

Anonymous said...

You put this so beautifully, Anna. I haven't yet read the article, but I will...I guess I know what I'm in for!!

You said "I believe that we, as adult unmarried daughters, have a unique opportunity to show today's self-centered world what it really means to honor and cherish our parents, to serve cheerfully and put our family first." This, probably more than anything else in your piece, jumped out at me. It is advice all of us can & should heed. Whatever our station in life at the moment...we are here to show the world something different...we are to be salt & light.


Anna S said...

Brenda, it's not like this article encourages something radical and appalling... just the typical, self-centered attitude and immaturity of today's world. Enough to get me ticking though :)

Anonymous said...

USA- I posted this in yesterday's comments section, but I'll re-post here:

"I have a cousin-in-law who has now been married for the first time for about a year and a half, and she's in her late 40s! She lived at home (working and paying rent) and simply never found the right man (while not "dating" around) until the last few years and now they are very happily married! Their biggest "regret" is that they are too old to have their own children (tho' God works miracles everyday)."

She did work outside the home, as well as help around the house. She was seriously starting to feel that God had called her to be single all her life when she met her now-husband. I think the reason we ladies at blogs like this (looking to marriage and family) rile ladies like you (single and loving it) is because we focus on our goal, marriage, and tend to leave out talking about the single life. I think you are living your life as God has called you to do (sorry, I don't remember if you're a believer), and you have every right to stand up for that call. I want to let you know that I support your life decisions. I'm hopeing (baby willing) to write a post about single "vs" married vocations soon, perhaps you'll stop by?

God Bless!

mermade said...

Anna, I have been meaning to e-mail you about how much I appreciate your blog. As someone who started dating at the tender age of 13 and went to public schools, I can truly relate to a lot of what you say. One of the reasons I feel a disconnect between me and a lot of conservative Christian bloggers is just that -- I can't relate to them as well. I love Biblical Womanhood, for example, but I grew up in a radically different enviornment (I'm from Los Angeles, have ONLY attended public schools and had my first kiss at 12 at a school dance while slow dancing to the Backstreet Boys). This is far different from most Christian bloggers, who believe in homeschooling and not kissing until your wedding day! So anyways, I just wanted to thank you again, as a fellow Christian and future homemaker (while my kids are young), for your insight. You are one of the few bloggers that I can truly relate to.

maria said...

Regardless of whether one should or not stay home, this post reminded me of how important it is to be attentive to the needs of others around us, especially family members. Also, and although this may seem to be a rather unimportant detail, I realized even though I don't knit how that sort of work can create an atmosphere of love and of just BEING with someone without cluttering it with TV noise or just sitting having nothing to say (which is not necessarily a bad thing) or talking nonsense.
Thank you!

USAincognito said...

I look forward to reading the post about single vs. married vocations. Please stop by to let me know in case I do not have the opportunity to read it on my own first.
And, yes, I am a Christian. Just not as conservative as most of the readers here on Anna's site. But a fellow sister in Christ, nonetheless.

Anna S said...

Mermade - I totally understand where you're coming from. Feel free to email me whenever you feel like it!

Melisa said...

FWIW, I lived at home (mostly) until I was married at age 28. I say mostly because I moved out for 7 mos. and had a roommate - an unreliable one at that. My mother was so thrilled that I moved back home afterwards. Then after I was engaged, I relocated to where I am now and lived with my (at the time) future in-laws for the 9 mos. prior to the wedding. What a way to get to know ones in-laws, LOL!

My parents goal had always been (unbeknownst to me) to have stay at home until I was married. I regret the months that I was out on my own with a roommate. That was not the most fun time in my life and $ was a major issue due to the unreliability of my roommate.

When I lived at home, if I was not taking classes at night, I had to pay them rent (no biggie, most of the time). After I moved back home, I was not only working a FT job and a PT job (pay off bill racked up from the roommate issue), but I was going to school at night usually carrying 9-12 credit hours. However, it was still my responsibility to take care of my room, my laundry, clean the bathroom, help in the kitchen and help keep the rest of the house straight (when I was actually home and not asleep, lol!). Both of my parents worked FT at that point and my younger sister was still at home - and causing them major problems. So anything I could do to help them out was a blessing for all of us at the time.

My sister is one of those regrets that I had about the time period that I was moved out. I often wonder if I had been home during that time period if I could have helped guide her down a better path than the one she chose. It has affected so much of her life.

Anyway, I am diverging from the topic - we want our children to be at home with us as long as possible - hopefully until they are married. My husband and I both plan to train them in the areas needed so that some things will not be as much of a struggle for them as they were for us.

Thank you for writing such wise words to share!

Anonymous said...

howdy! someone commented on my blog and told me about your blog ... and how they thought I'd enjoy it (though I don't remember who off the top of my head).

This was a BEAUTIFULLY written post!

My husband and I talked about how we'd want our daughter to stay home until she marries (she's only 3 1/2 right now, so we have some time lol) ... and we've even talked about the possibility of having a multi-generation home ... or maybe buying land for her family to have a house on it too. Who knows what the Lord has in store!

I've really been enjoying what I've read thus far and I look forward to reading more!


Anna S said...

Melisa and Brandy, thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts! I look forward to 'seeing' you again!


I echo what Maria said, "Regardless of whether one should or not stay home, this post reminded me of how important it is to be attentive to the needs of others around us, especially family members."
I appreciate what you said Anna about unmarried adult daughters having a unique opportunity to basically be different than the world in how they love and serve those in their family joyfully.
I also appreciate what Kyla said about being sure not to make something like this into a biblical mandate when it is not. It is so easy to do this, particularly with things that seem like great things to do.

Elizabeth said...

Anna, thank you so much for this post! You know, I find that so often people think that an adult child living at home = an adult child living in luxary and doing nothing and letting his/her parents foot the bills and take care of them. Um ... excuse me, but although some twenty-somethings do this, a lot do NOT. I do not and I know lots of other twenty-somethings who do not! "I believe that we, as adult unmarried daughters, have a unique opportunity to show today's self-centered world what it really means to honor and cherish our parents, to serve cheerfully and put our family first. We can show what it's like to be productive, industrious and creative; self-sacrificing, loving, and faithful; serving, generous, delighted helpers to our parents and siblings." This is beautiful ...