Sure, they pay for everything…

But I’d still like to set some boundaries with my parents. 

Our elder helps a letter writer who has just moved back home and needs a little space. 


Dear EWC


Hi, I am moving back home as I got fired in November from my job. It ended up being a toxic workplace so not sad it happened. I’ve been staying in my place as my lease is coming up and for financial reasons myself and my parents agreed it would be better to move back while I figure out next steps and try to get a job. Which leads me to the question of boundaries, since I am in my late 20s. I was looking for advice on how to implement boundaries so I can feel that I still have a certain level of freedom/independence but am still able to be appreciative/understanding that my parents are paying for I’d say 99 percent of things (food, utilities, gas and I’m not paying rent). I’m paying for my own cell phone bill and anything fun that I want to do/presents, but since I’m an adult I don’t feel like I should have to give them an itinerary of everything that I’m doing but I do understand/appreciate what they are doing for me. So, I was just wondering how I can find a balance between respecting them and still having my own life. Thanks.


Ketchman replies

I’m one of the Elders here at the EWC. I’m glad you’ve contacted us and I’ll try to help.

I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost your job but, as you mentioned, losing a job in a toxic workplace is likely more of a blessing than a curse. You’re fortunate in being able to make a soft landing in your parents’ home.

The downside is that when you’re living in anyone else’s home, and they’re footing most of the expenses, it’s impossible to totally live your own life. In return for providing room and board your parents are entitled to set whatever requirements will make them comfortable with you sharing their home. There will, inevitably, be a necessity for a few compromises, and compromises, by definition, work to restrict some of your freedoms. Your parents might, for example, prefer you to not have a lot of guests, or have overnight guests, or consume alcohol or weed. While I think it would be unreasonable of them to require an itinerary of everything you’re doing, they do have that right. Hopefully it hasn’t come to that.

I suggest that a good approach might be to sit down with your parents, over breakfast or a cup of coffee, and discuss what parameters will make everybody comfortable with the current living arrangements. If there are a few impasses when it’s your freedom vs their comfort you should be prepared to give a little. Once everyone agrees to the rules, you’ll need to religiously abide by them. If you’re lucky enough to have reasonable parents it should all go smoothly. If not, all the more reason to accelerate the job search while living under the parental reign.

Show your appreciation by taking part in the household chores.  Gestures like washing dishes from time to time or something as simple as taking out the trash go a long way towards showing them your gratitude. When you do get back on your feet and, once more, employed, take them out for a nice dinner or something similar.

Finally, I hope you can use your time with them as an opportunity to learn about your parents, and them about you, adults to adult. That’s a whole different thing than your previous relationship of adults to child. I can almost guarantee you’ll discover new things about each other.  It could be the start of a whole new and rewarding friendship.

I wish you, and your parents, some interesting and rewarding times over the next few months. I hope you will all emerge from it with a relationship even stronger and more loving than at the start. Thank you for giving me a chance to offer a few words of advice. You’re welcome to use us again, anytime you could use a bit of advice or second opinion about ‘most anything that might come up. There is always someone here for you and, if you like, you could always ask for me.

Article #: 494783
Category: Family

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