Before COVID-19 began sweeping the nation, I was just like any other independent young adult living in a new city away from their parents. My city happened to be Richmond, Virginia, where I was working to build a life and reputation of my own. Now, in the midst of the uncharted times of COVID-19, my once bustling Friday nights have been reduced to sitting across from my parents on a stiff couch watching Cary Grant films and discussing the specifics of my dental plan. My 30-year-old sister, who is also back home, is never far, too often perturbed by the limited vegetarian options at home. And it has been nostalgically pleasing! While independent adulthood has it charms and returning home can seem restrictive, I would urge you to consider this perspective. There’s no better place to reset mentally, emotionally, and financially than at the place where it all began, your childhood home.
In addition to saving on groceries and utilities, it’s been wonderful to sit at home with loved ones and reflect on the past, discuss the present, and pray for the future. I now usually awake to a wonderful breakfast (courtesy of my mother) as opposed to a bowl of cereal or granola bar. I enjoy an early morning telephonic yoga session, where I used to be glued to a computer monitor, and I still get to enjoy the voices of my colleagues throughout the day by way of conference calls. I somberly ponder how life would be if I were doing this on my own, but fortunately, I find myself like the other 2.7 million Americans 25 and younger, living with new roommates, MY PARENTS. Unfortunately, many young Americans haven’t had a choice during this global pandemic and were forced home for financial reasons. Nevertheless, in order to make this transition smoother, consider these recommendations from the renowned psychotherapist and family therapy expert, Dr. Jenn Mann:
- Consider paying rent to your parents.
Dr. Mann believes that if you’re still earning a salary, you should have a conversation with your parents about your household contribution. Think of it as a fee for all the luxuries that they have likely provided at no cost. I’m sure most parents would enjoy a small contribution from their adult children. It may help them refill the snack cabinet that I’m sure you helped deplete.
- Establish ground rules.
Dr. Mann jokes in her study that most adults socially regress about two years for every step they take in their parent’s home, so consider some ground rules. This conversation should cover whether love interests are permitted to pierce the family’s bubble and whether chore duty will resume.
Additionally, use of common spaces should be addressed to avoid challenging overlap. This may be the most important topic of conversation if your home is anything like mine. Generally, there are multiple video conferences happening at the same time and unavoidable shouting matches.
- Start positive and end positive.
If living with your parents becomes unbearable for any involved party, give yourself two weeks to start considering other options before moving back into your overpriced downtown loft. Before your departure, make sure that this short-term inconvenience does not affect your long-term relationship with your parents. Maybe you have grown too old to coexist with your folks under the same roof and that is okay.
And if all this is a little overwhelming, just remember to have realistic expectations. No one knows your parents better than you. If all else fails, simply remember to be grateful for being able to go home.
Alex Frazier is a Virginia Management Fellow currently working at the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.