Living with Your Parents as an Adult and Your Self-Esteem
Living with your parents as an adult is more popular than ever before. Around 20 million young adults (aged 18-31) in the US live with their parents.1 In the UK, over a quarter of adults aged 20-43 still live at home.2 And the figure is even higher in Canada, with nearly half of young adults having this living with their parents.3
There are different factors behind the trend of living with your parents, including the rising cost of housing, pursuing higher education, low income, unemployment, saving for a deposit, health reasons, a personal crisis, or going through a transitional period. On the other hand, many young adults can also struggle to leave the nest because it gets too comfortable. But regardless of the reason, an issue that many young adults struggle with when they live with their parents is a massive drop in their self-confidence.
The Struggle of Living with Your Parents as an Adult
Living with your parents as an adult can lower your self-esteem but living independently from your parents can help to boost it. Living independently makes you feel like a "proper adult." You can take care of all your needs: washing, cooking, paying the bills, doing the cleaning, and so on. This is why it’s a shock for so many young adults who move back in with their parents after college or after living on their own for a while.
Suddenly, it’s as if you’ve reverted back to being a teenager again, with all of the usual confrontations and arguments with your parents repeating. Moving back in with my parents at various stages – after graduating from college, traveling, and living abroad – definitely impacted my self-esteem. I thought of myself as a child, immature, a failure, spoiled, and lazy. I didn't feel I could be seen as a responsible, grown-up, respectable person. Dating certainly seemed out of the question.
I felt ashamed, awkward, and embarrassed about admitting I was still living with my parents as an adult. Part of the reason for this, I think, is cultural. In some cultures, it’s totally normal to live with your parents until marriage. But in Western industrialized countries, leaving the nest as early as possible is widely expected, even if it’s not a financially wise decision.
How to Make Living with Your Parents a Positive Experience
Living with your parents as an adult can be beneficial in many ways. In order to protect your self-esteem, remind yourself of the upsides. This living arrangement can provide a safety net so you can focus on your long-term goals, such as saving money to move out, studying, or changing a career path. While being at home can be a recipe for conflict, it can also bring you closer to your parents and allow you to develop a healthier relationship with them.
Living with your parents doesn’t mean you’re not an adult and can’t look after yourself. You can still have a job, a partner, clean your room, cook for yourself, do your laundry, and offer financial assistance if that’s the agreement you come to with your parents. If you are working towards the goal of independence, then there’s no reason to shoulder all of this guilt and self-criticism. This living arrangement could actually be a very sensible decision.
Knowing that many of my peers were in the same situation was a relief. At least I wasn't alone. But I was just viewing my situation through the lens of comparison. This meant that when I compared myself to others who had left the nest, my self-esteem would plummet. I would start to criticise and judge myself quite harshly. This is why comparing yourself to others is a trap. Living with your parents as an adult can be a positive experience, so long as you continue to be responsible and goal-oriented. Ultimately, building a strong sense of self-esteem depends on being aware of – and manifesting – your inner qualities, rather focusing on your external circumstances.
1. Quigley, M. How to Handle Return of Boomerang Kids. AARP. May 2016.
2. Bulman, M. Number of young adults living with parents reaches record high. Independent. November 2017.
3. Tencer, D. Record Number Of Canadian Youth Living With Parents As House Prices Rise. Huffington Post. February 2017.
Woolfe, S. (2018, July 12). Living with Your Parents as an Adult and Your Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, October 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2018/7/living-with-your-parents-as-an-adult-and-your-self-esteem
Author: Sam Woolfe
Thank you so much for writing this! I'm 28 and have been struggling with embarrassment for not having my own place. I love my mom so much and couldn't imagine moving out right now, but I do feel the stigma!
When I went to college, I lived in the dorms. So it was definitely a shock after I moved back home.