Moving out but Dad keeps crying

I want to move into a house my grandparents left me, but my dad isn’t taking it well. Our elder warns against being held hostage to a parent’s emotions — but she does suggest a compromise.

Dear EWC

I recently told my family that I wanted to move out and into a house out of state that my grandparents have left for me. I told them that my decision has nothing to do with them — it’s simply that I want to pursue photography and I feel that in order to do so I need to really put myself out there, plus I miss living there and would like to try it out, living on my own. Everyone was baffled and felt that it came out of nowhere but they seemed to handle it well — everyone except for my father who has spent every day since I told him crying and pleading for me not to go. This was a shock to me because I had never seen him cry ever! Now he doesn’t want me to go and he says he’s not forcing me to stay but everyday he asks me to reconsider and he tries to bribe me telling me that he can send me for a couple of weeks, but I don’t know how else to tell him that’s not what I want.

I’m 24 years old and at some point I will have to move out of my parents’ house and the longer I wait the longer I will last not doing anything that will help me grow as a human to better myself and my future. He doesn’t accept it and he is getting depressed, crying and saying that I’m hurting him and he doesn’t know how he’ll do anything if I leave. It’s too much pressure and pain for us both and it makes me want to give in and not go even though I really do want to. Any advice on how to make him accept it and be OK with it, will be helpful. I am confused and mentally drained.

GrannyJ replies

Thank you for writing to EWC. After reading your letter, I felt badly for your dad, and for you. Being gifted a house by your grandparents is a wonderful opportunity not many young people receive, and, at the age of 24, you certainly should be able to live on your own. You are young and relatively unfettered right now, so this is a great time to pursue your dream of being a photographer. However, you will have to figure out the best way to proceed, in light of your dad’s opposition.

I am always reminded by something my daughter told me when she was 21 and still living at home. She had gone out with an older guy (24) who was in the Navy, and was past curfew getting home. When I scolded her, she told me, “Mom, there are women my age who are married, have children and their own homes”. That was an eye-opener for me. We parents have trouble realizing our little boys and girls have become adults, capable of living on their own. In addition, there is a big gaping hole left in a parent’s heart when a child leaves home.
I don’t know anything about your father and why he would have such an extreme reaction about you leaving home, but I suspect the current status of our nation with Covid-19, and maybe all the political unrest, etc. has affected him emotionally, Maybe he was already experiencing a little underlying depression, and this situation tipped the scale. Maybe you will be moving a long way from home, and he knows he won’t see you often. It’s hard to say, not knowing him.

I suggest offering a compromise, if it’s feasible. I don’t know how far your grandparents’ house is from your current home, so I hope distance isn’t a barrier, but I suggest going there for short visits then go home in between. Do this for a little while and see how your dad reacts. You might also consider inviting your parents to go with you on one of your stays there. Your dad will still be sad, but this might help him adjust better. Present this plan to him in a positive and encouraging manner, and you might even consider including him in some of the planning. Be sure to acknowledge to your dad that you know your moving out will be hard for him, but remind him you are 24, and you have to make this big move sometime. Remind him that he and your mother will be able to visit you, and you will be going home to visit, also.

In all truthfulness, you can’t be held hostage by your father’s emotions, and his sadness and depression are not for you to try and figure out. I suggest talking privately with your mother and telling her you are concerned about your father’s extreme reaction to your plans. I am suggesting this because there is always the possibility your dad may need to see a medical professional if his sadness and depression continue, or get worse.

I wish you all the best, and I hope your plans work out. Take care and good luck!

Letter #: 462452
Category: Family

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