Help the Parents

I first heard about 40 and 50 year old moving back to their parents house from a TV reporter. I then did a little digging (read, went to google) and found this article attacking the poor writing of the AP article. Both of them are good to read, but they still fail to address the human factor in the story.

Why is it so negative to get help from your parents?

The American mentality of individualism and independence has made the family structure so negative that people are ashamed of living with their parents. I have laughed at the jokes about Tony Kansas City living in his Mom’s basement and the constant harassment in the internet of anyone that is a male still living with his parents. I can assure you with great certainty that if I had not had to move out when my parents got divorced, I would have lived them for a while longer. It is financially smart to either help your parents out or let them help you. Financially I have done both, I have helped my parents out when they needed it and I have also been helped immensely by them after I moved out.

One of the most bizarre things that I heard when I first moved to the US was the common theme amongst my classmates in High School about wanting to move out. Not just to go to college move out, but to move away from their parents as soon as they could. I placed most of it to late rebellion, like kids that pack up their toys and want to run away but just go around the block. Then I got a little older and started to hear from parents that talked about their kids like products with an expiration date. Many of the people I knew that had kids referred to the day when their kids finally moved out as the day their real life started.

I then realized that it is a reality of the American culture to kick the little birds out of their nest so they can learn to fly on their own. Even though we are mammals, the American culture does not think of family as a pack.

One of the scary trends that I have wanted to talk about for a while and will hopefully have time to expand on is how many of the people I know feel that their kids are going to be a burden to others. I grew up with kids around me, cousins over at my house or all of us over at our grandparents was the thing to do in the weekend. Kids tend to entertain each other. Here though, every time someone is going to spend time with us and they have kids they start apologizing in advance for their kids, and that is even if they have the courage to overcome the guilt of having other people be “bothered” by their kids.

Serious, people feel like their kids are their problem and they will bother others so much that they should not have a social life. A kid is going to act out the first time they start feeling comfortable in someone else’s place… but as long as they parents start setting some rules that go with the homeowner tolerance it should work out. I am pretty flexible, as long as the kid is not pulling the cat’s leg they are pretty much ok. I don’t have any ancient Chinese vases that will be irreplaceable, and if there is something I am in fear of getting broken… I just put it away.

Before this starts feeling like it is going in a tangent I will make the connection. I feel that the American culture has deviated from what a family is really supposed to be. If you start feeling like your kids are a huge burden that need to be babysat at home so you can socialize you have the wrong picture. Your friends, even those without kids should grow up beyond the I have a house that belong in an ikea calendar (see Fight Club) and have you over WITH your kids. If they are your friends it is time for them to get to know your kids, they are not going away or moving out for at least 18 years.

On the other side of that coin I see more and more of my peers being “burdened” by the thought of their parents or grandparents getting old and the guilt associated with having to put them in a nursing home to take care of them. I think that if more 40 and 50 year olds had their parents live with them so they can take better care of them it would solve that problem… I think that is what most of the rest of the world does it… so why is it so taboo here to actually take care of or live with your family?

7 Responses to Help the Parents

  1. I lived with my grandparents in Lee’s Summit for several months. Actually, several stints of several months for various reasons. It was a constant source of things to laugh at with my friends, but in the end it worked out great for all of us, except that living in Lee’s Summit in your grandma’s basement is really as good of a pickup line as one might initially think….

  2. I think the stigma of being an over-mid-20s adult, living at home with your parents, has more to do with the traditional belief that only burnouts, slackers and junkies could not be “successful” enough to make it on their own.

    That also assumes you adhere to the classic notion of what makes a person successful.

  3. I think each instance is different. Sure, we can generalize about the kid-man living in mom and dads but we don’t know why. Several reasons could be as simple as the person is a “loser” and taking advantage of mom and dad. That maybe where the stereotype derives from. Slacker, mooch, no ambition. The flip side is living with mom and dad for school, divorce, lay-off or simple companionship.
    In regards to kids, to each his own really. I DO have little tolerance for brats in my house and have broken real friendships because of their kids. To me, the kids represent a large portion of their parents. I also have friends who’d rather not be around kids socially and I understand but when it comes down to choosing *if* then there really is no choice. They understand that too.
    I recommend things to the youngins I know.
    1. Stay in school for as long as possible. Why rush into the work force. Smell them roses.
    2. If you have a good relationship with mom/or dad and they WANT you there…stay. Life is too short not to hang with your family.

    2 cents.

  4. I lived with the folks for about a year and a half after I got out of the military. Once I decided what I wanted to do I haven’t been back except to visit.

    I like my parents, especially my Dad. I mean of course I Love my family, but I like the folks as people. I would like them if they weren’t family.

    But having said that, after 4 years on my own it was hard to live with my Mother’s expectations of how I should do things. For instance, while I didn’t have a “curfew” Mom would bitch up a storm about how she couldn’t sleep until her precious boy got home at night.

    I don’t think I would volounteer for it again.

  5. I think Daniel’s got it pretty much covered. I’d like to add that the only thing worse than a failure to launch (simply staying with your folks well into your 30′s) is to strike out on your own and then return. American culture only has a few real rites of passage, events that we share in common with each other that make us adults, that make us respectable full-fledged members of society. One of them is coming out from under your parent’s wings, out from behind mom’s apron strings to fend for yourself. My old Kenpo sensei used to tell me that he believed every child is born with a form of reversible brain damage that only straightens itself out after spending about 6 months having to pay your own bills.

    And yes, some people are losers. Were that it weren’t so, but it is.

  6. Where I come from people lived all their lives with parents mostly due to lack of apartment space. So there is no stigma. You better have a real nice relationship with your parents if you are sharing the same bedroom :-)

  7. If people are helping their parents out and are paying rent, then I think that’s a little different than the burnouts that move back and mooch b/c the parents need their income for retirement. I will say,though, that in Hawaii, a lot of people live with their parents until they get married, and I do think there’s a huge difference in their level of independence and ability to solve their own problems. I realize that’s probably the responsibility of the parents not to enable that kind of behavior. Maybe it works differently in Colombia where it’s more of sense of collaboration, sharing and comraderie, instead of just mooching and being satisfied with the status quo.

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