Woe Is Me! “I Really Want to Live on My Own, but My Parents Don’t Approve”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I’m 22 years old and I’d really like to move out. My parents want me to get married but I’m really not interested. I have a bunch of savings and I know living alone isn’t always fun and games, but I’m mentally prepared. The only problem is — I’m terrified of telling my parents. How do I make sure they don’t judge me. Please help!“
— Let Me Go!
RD: Hello. You’re about to take a big step — living independently is an important milestone in a person’s life, and I’m glad you feel mentally and financially capable of taking it. Congratulations! Now, as for your parents: you can tell them it’s something you need to do for yourself, and how it will benefit you and help you become independent. They might support you, they might not. But in order to take this step, you don’t need their approval.
If they’re against it, you might have to endure some difficult conversations, maybe some badgering, emotional blackmail, etc. But then you’ll be out, and be able to have a relationship with them on your own terms. They might take time to adjust, but as long as you keep the channels of communication open with them, they should be able to come around!
KB: You have already done all the hard work — what are you waiting for? Most people dream of the financial independence that would enable them to make a lifestyle choice with total autonomy. You have not only built that somehow (in your 22 years — wow), but you also seem to be completely secure in knowing what you want. If there ever was someone who’s ready to take this step, it’s you.
Your parents may surprise you; they may commend you for your foresight and financial planning and confident decision making, but you really won’t know how they will react until you do tell them. They may initially be a little disappointed, but if you have generally supportive parents, this is exactly the type of thing they will eventually get over when they see you are happy. You seem really mature and responsible and ready to take this step — I’m sure your parents will eventually see it that way. And if they don’t, well… whose life is it?
ADT: It’s time for you to be pig-headed. Discuss and discuss and keep bringing up the topic of you moving out repeatedly until you wear them out. Make it extremely clear how important it is for your mental health to move out. Invent an excuse about work being moved to another location. Do whatever needs to be done — not to obtain permission, but to get it into their heads that you’re going and you’re not obliged to listen to them anymore. You may love them but you have to set heavy boundaries if you love independence just as much.
DR: Remember the flashback sequence from Friends when Phoebe wanted to move out of Monica’s apartment, and since she couldn’t tell Monica about it, she simply started moving out her things in small quantities every time she went out? I think you should do that too. Then, one morning, just announce at breakfast that you’re moving, and get out before your parents really get a chance to protest — or, process even. By the time they get over “What the f*** just happened?” you’ll be long gone and settled in your new house — maybe, enjoying a glass of wine in the shower. (No, I don’t do that, a friend does, and she thinks it’s awesome.) Good luck!
LG: If you’re adult enough to live alone and support yourself, you have to be adult enough to accept that some people will disagree with your decisions and judge you for them. Not everyone will approve of or agree with what you choose to do, nor are they obligated to — this includes your parents. Part of being an adult is taking well-considered decisions about your life and dealing with the fallout. Your parents, from the sound of it, are going to judge your decision. They have a right to their opinion. What you can hope for is that they can distinguish between their disapproval of your choices from their overall opinion of you as a person whom they love. If they can do this, it will go a long way toward maintaining a good relationship.
So, present your decision similarly; there’s a way to make clear that your decision isn’t a rejection or judgment of them or their values, rather it’s an attempt to explore and establish your self and your own values — one of which is independence. There will likely be some overlap in the others — point out what you agree with them on and what is still important to all of you — and that’s where you all can focus and meet and enjoy each other.
Also try, if you can, to involve them in the moving out process. Maybe take them to look at flats, or talk over the pros and cons of different locales with them. A lot of times parents of adults just want to be reassured they have value in their adult children’s lives. Make clear you want to still be around them, even if you prefer to live alone. Good luck, sweet solo artist! Your desire to stand on your own two feet is commendable, and you seem to have thought this through — which makes me believe, whatever happens, you’ll land on your feet.