How to manage when living with parents

Staying in the family home past a certain age can be tough. But thanks to increased rent costs, more and more of us are living in our childhood bedrooms at 23. So how can you navigate living with parents or other close family as an adult? We asked agony aunt Suzie Hayman.

A young man is walking outside. He is wondering how to manage living at home again. This is a wide-angle image.

Dealing with arguments when living with parents

It’s easy to slip back into old teenage habits, but all of you have to accept you’re a young adult now and your relationship has changed. You can’t change your parent’s behaviour, but you can influence it by changing yours. So suppress the urge to slam doors while yelling angrily. Instead, work on showing them how much you’ve grown (internally, of course – you probably won’t have shot up much since 18). If you’re going to share a home for a while, it’s important to find a way to make it as comfortable an environment as possible.

“When you behave childishly your parent will behave like a parent,” says agony aunt Suzie Hayman. “But if you act like an adult, they’ll have no choice but to treat you like one.”

Do I have to tell my parents when I’ll be out?

Your parents will undoubtedly want to know who’s in the house and who’ll be around for dinner. Problem is, when you’re living adult lives it can feel pretty intrusive. But as long as they’re not stopping you going out, it’s perhaps easier just to let them know when you’ll be back.

“I had to adjust to my mum’s kind-of-overbearing need to know when I would be in for food by texting her every day,” says Alice, 23, who moved back home to do her teacher training.

“She’d never really used her mobile before, and it was a change for me too. But things worked much better between us once we had that line of communication.”

How do I stop my parents pestering me about my future?

If you’re unemployed (thanks, precarious job market) or going through a break-up, you just want time to wallow. The last thing you need is constant questions about when you’re going to get your life together.

But, rather than jump down your parent’s throats, when they ask such things, say something like: “Thank you so much for asking, mum, I’m dealing with that.”

This makes it clear that, even though you’re grateful for your parents’ care, they don’t need to worry. You’re perfectly capable of making decisions about your future and will deal with it how you see fit.

However, if you’re going to continue to live rent-free, eat their food and not even try to look for a job, then they have a right to ask. To make sure this doesn’t become your situation, here’s an article on where to find a job.

Should I be helping around the house?

Unfortunately, that’s a pretty simple yes. Not helping will cause a lot more snide comments than it’s worth. The easiest way to avoid nagging is to do the washing up before you get asked.

Sit down with your parents and decide what chores you’ll be responsible for, how often you’ll cook dinner and whether you’ll pay anything towards the bills. It may not seem like it now, but you’ll feel more independent if you’re contributing. Plus, coming to an agreement will avoid any ‘you don’t ever do this’ battles. Trust us, that’s something a number of young adults living at home experience and dread.

“It’s not good for you, or your parents, if they’re looking after you beyond a certain age,” says Suzie.

How to have a sex life when living with parents

Adult children living with parents can make dating, especially the physical stuff, awkward. To prevent them calling the police when they bump into your topless ‘friend’ in the middle of the night, give them ample warning. They might end up telling you they don’t want you bringing anyone over, but then again, it is their house.

“My parents are pretty relaxed, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking anyone back. It’s not the end of the world though. I’ve always been more of a fan of nights away anyways!” says Clarence, 22, who lived at home for a year after graduating.

Having a social life when sharing a home with your parents

It should be OK to have friends over, as long as you’re considerate to your parents. This means discussing it with them first and being responsible for any mess afterwards.

“Ask your parents to have the living room for, say, one night a week,” says Suzie “But it’s not fair if you keep hogging the place.”

And make sure you still go out lots. And if the subject comes up, don’t be embarrassed about your living arrangement. Chances are a lot of people are living in their parents’ homes. See friends as often as you can, or you’ll end up feeling lonely and frustrated. Remember, this living arrangement won’t go on forever, so try to have as normal a social life as you can.

When’s the cut-off for living with parents?

When you feel ready. That doesn’t necessarily mean waiting until you’ve got the perfect job and house lined up, because that might mean living there forever. Give yourself time, but also be realistic. Try setting a deadline so you have something to work towards.

“See your time with parents as a temporary fix and aim to move out in ‘X’ number of months,” says Suzie. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss your target though. And don’t give up hope. You will get out of there eventually.

I’m worried about my parents if I leave

If your parents, or your siblings, are having a rough time, don’t let this stop you from moving out.

“You shouldn’t feel bad about not being able to fix things,” says Suzie. “It’s not your fault and it’s not your problem to fix.”

Before you leave, just let them know you’re a phone call away. But make it clear that this is for important issues only. It’s important to set these boundaries so that you can live your own life and grow as an individual.

Next Steps

  • Relate is an affordable relationship and sex counselling service. 0300 100 1234
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 07-Jan-2022