About a century ago, it was expected that a young woman would stay at home with her parents until she was married. Since then, America’s views on marriage, commitment, independence, success, and women’s rights have drastically changed. Living away from family is now valued in America. Living away from your family means that you are independent, successful. Since the recent economic struggle began in 2008, it seems that more and more men and women have to return home to live with their parents. Even as people are moving back in with their parents and staying there for longer, living at home still seems synonymous with a “failure to launch” or being unsuccessful.
I moved back home after graduating from undergrad in May 2012, and I began graduate school in my hometown the very same month. I was met with mixed reaction from my peers. Some said “I’d live off of my parents for as long as possible if I had the choice! Do it as long as you can.” Others said “That’s going to be so hard – moving from college independence back home? I could never do that. I mean, I love my family, but it’s just time to be out on my own.”
Both points are valid. For me, it made financial sense to move back home while going to graduate school since I didn’t have the money to support myself independently yet. My parents were willing to let me live at home without rent, which really helped me out. There were also things that my parents and I did have to get used to as well. Namely, that they wanted to know where I was going to be and when I was going to be home. It’s somewhat easier for them not to worry when I was away from home and doing my own thing at college. When I am living with them, it is easier to worry or think about me not being home when expected, and it can really make my parents worry. Both of us had to make compromises. They had to trust that I was going to be as safe as possible, and I had to communicate my schedule with them a little bit more. Though this was something I wasn’t use to doing since before college, it also was a good crash course in how to live with other people and respect their feelings, not only mine. It made me a more conscientious person, something that sometime we can lose sight of when we are living for ourselves in college. I definitely think learning to compromise now will help in the future when you are living with a roommate or spouse.
Now, I’ve been offered a job and have put in my application for my own apartment. Looking back, I’ve realized what a blessing this extra year with my parents has been. Living at home after college was not like living with them when I was younger. I was a different person after my four years away and they were different as well. My parents and I had grown and could now have a more adult, equal relationship. I also realized that this would be the last time in my life that I would spend with my parents full-time. I took the opportunity to learn more about them and their past. Family stories have been a great blessing to me because it helps shed light on where I’ve come from as I begin to set out on my next chapter in life.
Casey is about to graduate with her masters of social work (MSW) in May 2013 and will be starting a job in treatment foster care. She also sings, plays guitar, dances, takes pictures with her Canon SLR, writes, sews, quilts, and does pretty much anything else that’s crafty. She one day hopes to be published, adopt children from across the world, and become fluent in american sign language.