A little while ago, I was reading the Facebook comments on a Huffington Post piece that discussed the how many successful millennials were living with their parents and exactly why that was a good move. The comments were divided to extremes on Facebook, with some people applauding the move as a smart financial decision, and some decrying it as a way for millennials to mooch off of and inconvenience their parents.
As a millennial myself, I am particularly aware of the perceived rivalry between my generation and the baby boomers. We millennials are considered entitled and lazy people who think we should just graduate and have every great opportunity at our fingertips with no hard work, and who want to depend on their parents to avoid responsibility. The rebuttal is that boomers don't understand the economic situation of today because they had the privilege of significantly lower educational costs, greater buying power with their lower wage jobs and more opportunities. I could get into the defense of my generation, talking about how boomers were responsible for raising millennials to be who they are, talking about how we are required to get degrees for jobs that used to only require a high school diploma, or talking about how we are expected to somehow work our way up through unpaid internships. But that's not why I'm here.
I'm here to address the disturbing undercurrent of the conversation regarding moving back in with parents, in which parents are expected to resent their adult children and vice versa when the child reaches working age. In my family, this sentiment is nonexistent. In fact, my parents are moving in with me. Here's why.
First, I should start with this acknowledgement: I was privileged with a fantastic relationship with my parents. They love me and I love them. Many families are not in the same situation. Growing up, my parents encouraged me in my every pursuit, took care of me when I was diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease and were there for me throughout college. At 18, I moved out to college and lived away for three years. I managed to live alone successfully and was responsible for myself. I bought my groceries, cooked and cleaned for myself and went to work. It was sometimes very difficult to manage my disability by myself, but if I needed help my parents would visit.
Last year, I moved from Washington, DC to Virginia into a one-bedroom apartment. At the time, I started to encourage them to consider moving to the DC area as well. They still lived in my childhood home, which I describe as "on the edge of civilization" in Pennsylvania, surrounded by farmland. It was beautiful, but boring. The DC region provided a level of excitement they had never experienced in my hometown: there was always something to do, the area is filled with history that appealed to my Civil War-buff father and it's a hub of the East Coast. My mom likes the idea of living in a condo that has nice amenities and requires less maintenance. They would be close to me to help me with my medical issues. My parents are in the process of moving now.
Our situation would not seem ideal to many people, but we actually like it. I want my parents to be happy, and they are extremely happy about "starting an adventure" and moving to a new area with many opportunities. The excitement in their voices when they talk about the plans they want to make is palpable. And I don't mind living with my parents: I may have a bit less privacy, but they respect that I'm an adult and don't need someone to monitor me 24/7. We don't do everything together. Sure, I may check in with them more frequently than I would if I lived alone, but I do that anyways because it's the responsible and safe thing to do. I would get in trouble if I, say, return home hammered, but with my chronic illness and desire to save money, I'm not a big partier anyway.
There are definitely benefits to moving in together, and they have encouraged me to do it. I am a money-conscious person, and they know that I am doing this to put money towards my loans and save, as opposed to mooching. In fact, it is helpful to my parents for me to work on my loans, as they are cosigners. We can pool resources: my dad and I can carpool to work, and I can help with the bills because I won't be paying a high rent (though they don't want me to pay rent to them despite my offers. At least let me pay the cable bill or something). It is very difficult to afford independent living in the DC area as a recent graduate, and I would rather live with my family than roommates with whom I'm not compatible. While my disability is not the primary reason to move in, living with my parents provides me with an invaluable support network. My parents are not coddling me: I have a job and responsibilities, and I am motivated to work for what I want.
When I told my dad about some of the extreme comments on the Huffington Post article, he was angry and puzzled. "Don't those people know what being a family means?" It is unfortunate that in some cases, people don't have as supporting of families as mine. But for me, I am tremendously thankful for the fact that my parents are who they are, and they seem to feel the same way about me. I won't live with my parents forever, and we won't always agree. For right now, this situation is appreciated by all of us: opportunity for adventure for them, opportunity to get ahead financially for me and a strong, familial support network for us all.