Before we get deep into this conversation, it must be said that there are a great many circumstances that can crop up across the various parts of the world or in a specific person’s life that make an adult perceive that their only option is to live with their parents. There are many cultures around the globe where living with one’s parents and grandparents and relatives, beyond childhood, is standard practice and even expected. And it also must be said that not all parents are the same. Though it is rare, it is possible for a parent to defy the more common and painful dynamics that occur between themselves and their adult children (the points I’m going to cover in this episode) thus rendering them capable of creating a positive co-habitation experience. Because of this, I can’t make the statement that living with your parents in your adulthood is always a bad idea in all situations.
But all that being said, living with your parents in your adulthood can be a really, really bad idea regarding your personal growth and life satisfaction, as well as theirs. It really often is something that raises a red flag. A lot of people who have continued to live with their parents or who have moved back in with them find themselves in a diminished state, but don’t really understand exactly why. And they certainly don’t understand the gravity of the situation. So today, I’m going to simply show you the down side of living with your parents.
- When you are young, your childhood environment (including your parents and the way they interacted with you) serves as the contrast which you experienced. Both positive and negative. It is that original contrasting experience that caused you to form your desires and therefore begin to build the path of progress and expansion for your life. To expand is to continue to step into what is desired as a result of the wanted and unwanted experiences you had. For example, lets imagine that the way you were parented caused you to feel like your parents had you so that you could support them. This experience may give rise to the desire to be free and to live your life for what makes you passionate. Doing so is part of your personal expansion. But many parents don’t change. They stay the way they are. This means many parents won’t act as an ally in your expansion path, especially if it opposes their needs. And so, using our example, they will not be on board with supporting you to feel free and to live your life for what makes you passionate. Instead, they will continue to demand that you live for them and shame you and impose consequences for not doing so.This means, for most people, continuing to live with your parents (or moving back in with your parents) is to step backwards in the opposite direction of your own expansion. It is to go back into the very contrast that already caused your expansion, hoping that now the contrast itself will change so that you can feel better, which it most likely wont. Living with your parents is so often a step in the opposite direction of personal expansion. It also increases that gap between where you are and where you want to be. And that gap is what pain is all about.
- When you live with your parents, and it isn’t good for you to do, you won’t feel good living with them. But you won’t feel bad enough to realize what is happening to you. It’s more like a gradual process of diminishment. You don’t realize the true impacts of the negative effects that the family system patterns are having on you. There are several reasons for this. One of these reasons is that every person normalizes their environment. For example, normal parenting in India is extremely emotionally abusive. But it is normal and an Indian child knows no different, any more than they understand what their parent is actually doing to them. Instead, they internalize it and blame themselves. If an adult who was raised in a normal household in India moves in with their mother or moves their mother in with them, the emotional abuse can be ruining their self-esteem and health. But they are so normalized to it that they don’t even realize what is actually happening to them. Or that their ill health and poor self-esteem is about the way their mother interacts with them every day. You can think of this problem as being like a slug who is so normalized to the feeling of a bit of salt that he doesn’t really understand why he is slowly dissolving. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: How Normalization is Hurting You and Hurting Society.
- Family systems are resistant to change. And family systems that are dysfunctional are even more resistant to change. Living with your parents can keep even the most conscious people trapped in certain family system dynamics and roles and thus keep you totally trapped in dysfunctional patterns that you developed as a result of it.There is a saying in the Buddhist community: Want to be able to tell if you are enlightened? Go visit your family. Every person, whether they are living with their parents or just visiting experiences this feeling of slipping right back into the same role you played your whole life and into the same relational patterns when they are around their family of origin. For example, you open the door to your parent’s home on that holiday and all of a sudden, it’s like you’re six years old again. You’re actually 40, but you and your sister are still trying to one-up each other to vie for your dad’s attention and approval. Mom’s afternoon nap and doll collection makes you feel like you don’t exist. The only way you got either of them to approve of you was to be everyone’s little codependent helper. And there you are washing the dishes again. Not one of your several relatives has asked you one question about your life all day. And by 3:00 in the afternoon, you’re thinking about how your current boyfriend is always focused on other things. In fact, why did you think it was ok for him to go golfing instead of be there with you on this holiday? And just like that, you’re convinced that your life is doomed to be an endless reminder of how unimportant you are.Trying to change your own patterns is a thousand times harder when the environment you live in and the people around you are reinforcing those patterns. It can be compared to asking a veteran to learn to become trusting and not be on defense, while he is actually still in a war zone. Living with your parents often means fitting right back into that nice little role in your family system, no matter how damaging that is to your own life.Your parents played a significant role in forming those patterns that are not working for you. Very few parents (so far) will get on board with changing so as to act as an allied force to you changing those detrimental patterns. So, they will be working against you changing for the better. Using our previous example, living with her parents would reinforce her codependent role of the doormat helper, the one that is currently ruining her adult love life. And it would cause her to feel unimportant and employ all of the dysfunctional strategies that she has learned to deal with that. For example, she may even start drinking again.
- One thing that is really hard for people to accept is that even the best parent is not capable of raising a child with no unwanted experiences. You experienced trauma, which is distress without resolve, no matter who you are or where your parents fell on the spectrum of function or dysfunction. But when you were a child, chances are that you felt powerless to do anything about those unwanted experiences. Whenever we can’t change a stressor, we cope with it. This means all of those nasty little coping mechanisms that may have saved your life in that situation, but that ruined your life and may still be ruining your life now, you will revert to. Did you use denial? Living with your parents, you will most likely slip back into denial again. Did you use self-harm? You will most likely slip back into some form of self-harm again. Were you passive aggressive? You will most likely slip back into being passive aggressive. Did you sleep to avoid everything? You will most likely slip back into being constantly tired and sleeping a ton. Did you slip into the role of surrogate partner for your mother or father? You will most likely slip back into being their surrogate partner again.And the interesting thing about when people live with their parents is that it causes people to revert in an even worse way… People tend to slip back into the feeling and belief that, just like in childhood, they are unable to change conditions and stressors in their life. The problem is, they aren’t actually a child anymore, nor are they in the same situation. They actually could change it now. But being around their parents causes this powerlessness conditioning to kick in. To learn more about coping mechanisms, you can watch my video titled: How To Let Go of a Coping Mechanism.
- Especially dysfunctional parents can get into really harmful interpersonal patterns just based off of you moving in with them or them moving in with you. For example, a parent may offer for you to move back in with them and then hold the fact that you did over your head as leverage for getting you to do what they want. Or let you move back in, but never stop shaming you for it. To understand more about this, you can watch my video titled: Cut the Invisible Strings (How to Detach From Manipulation In Relationships). Or, a parent may move in with you and expect your house to be run by their rules, making you the second-class citizen in your own house. For example, a mother may move in with a son and demand that she takes over his bedroom and that he keeps the house the way she wants it and that he eats only the food she cooks for him and lets her do his laundry, and plays victim control dramas if he refuses. Thus putting him back into the role of a child. By doing so, she is acting as a powerful antagonistic force to his own manhood.
- It can prevent a person from growing up. Living with your parents can serve as an antagonistic force to things like you maturing on a mental, emotional and physical level, getting out of your comfort zone, experiencing the new and the different, taking responsibility, developing accountability, owning your free will, being authentic and making choices that are authentic to you, becoming autonomous, knowing yourself, leading your life, being in reality about the world, learning from mistakes, learning life skills, planning for the future, developing financial intelligence, being empowered, creating a life that you can be proud of, being confident and becoming sensible.
- Living with your parents, you can fall victim to shadow tribe. Mankind is in the process of trying to evolve beyond shadow tribe and into conscious tribe. Reacting to the pain of shadow tribe is what brought us to the evolutionary step where we no longer have tribe. We have single family households. That is not healthy of course. It is an unhealthy pendulum swing. But we will eventually find a place where we choose tribe consciously and without the detrimental aspects that can come with tribe.To understand shadow tribe, you must understand that there is a light and a dark side to anything and this includes tribe. The light side of tribe is things like: Belonging, support, connection, being able to accomplish great things because of team effort, safety, more resources etc. The dark side of tribe (or shadow tribe) is things like: Inability to make changes that must be made for the benefit of members of the group or the group in general due to tradition. Belonging being conditional upon the adhering of members to detrimental beliefs or practices. The refusal to recognize the best interests of individuals, only the best interests of the group itself. A dysfunctional system structure and dysfunctional dynamics within that structure. Dysfunctional leadership. Control and manipulative distribution of (or access to) resources based on compliance. Dysfunctional communication. No diversity. Consensus that does not reflect objective truth or reality etc.When we fall victim to shadow tribe, we often swallow all the poison of shadow tribe in exchange for the needs that the light side of tribe meets for us. And it serves as a way to negate or excuse detrimental thoughts, words and actions. For example, we may see that truly fitting into our family or having a harmonious relationship with our parents means not being financially successful because the family finds unity through hating the rich and commiserating about their misfortune and poverty. Anyone who does make money is suddenly expected to be responsible to take care of everyone else or is ostracized and then talked badly about by all the other members of the family. If we live with our parents, we will be much more susceptible to succumb to our need of harmony and belonging by avoiding opportunities that might make us financially stable or successful. Or, we might excuse away something like racism, prejudice, or abuse because of culture or a revered religious belief. Thereby, succumbing to shadow tribe.
- There are plenty of ways that you living with your parents could actually be detrimental to them too. Some examples of this are: You might serve as an antagonistic force to their own expansion. For example, you might fall into a role that enables their dysfunctional behavior and thus prevents them from actually creating a life that would make them happy. Or you might engage with them in a way that is retraumatizing relative to their own childhood experience. Or you may actively impede them from doing something they really need or might really want to do. You might serve as an antagonistic force to their life satisfaction. You might put tons of pressure on them (such as emotional or financial). Regardless of whether they had a hand in creating the behavior in the first place or not, you might fall into dysfunctional and abusive patterns towards them. It’s easy for some adult children to be self-centered and not consider the negative impact that living with their parents could have on their parents.
The experience of multigenerational households, like all things, contain both sides of reality within them… Positive and negative. There are advantages and disadvantages inherent in it. It is important to be in reality about both sides of this reality. In one situation, a person may thrive by spending time with or even living with their parents. In another situation, a person spending time with or living with their parents may just be the reason why they are failing to thrive. And when this is the case, it is important to know why. Hopefully this episode helped you to better understand why. If by listening to this video, you feel like you are one of those people whose wellbeing is being negatively impacted by living with your parents, consider that an important step to your own expansion path and life satisfaction and health might just be living apart from them. Indeed in some cases, your ability to thrive might just depend on it.