MFA Mailbag recently received this email asking for our guidance:
“I left my parents’ house on good terms. Great terms, even. After I left for college a few years ago, my relationship with my parents has only improved. When I wanted to move out, they agreed that it made sense for me to get an apartment in the city instead of staying at their house in the suburbs. I hope that most of people had a similar move-out experience to mine.
However, that there is one small nagging issue.
Since I left on such good terms and my apartment isn’t far from my parents’, they don’t see me as completely independent from them, although I am financially. This is manifested in a few different uncomfortable ways. They invite me over for dinner, to hang out in their living room, to do nothing at their house, very frequently. I don’t mind spending time with them at all. I adore them! But I want them to see me as independent. Any suggestions?” — Jen
Moving out is always a transition, both for us and for our parents if you’re lucky enough to have a good relationship with them. My situation was very similar…I moved out of my parents’ house but didn’t live too far away. For a while, it felt like I wasn’t completely independent from them and I felt guilty for missing spending time with them. But there’s nothing to really feel guilty about.
It’s important to assert your independence when you’re ready. Some parents struggle to let go, but you can get through it faster by talking it out with them. Be honest–the email you sent us sounds like a great conversation-starter. Tell them you love spending time with them but that you’re excited to start this new phase in your life. Make sure they know that you’re feeling a little smothered and that you want a chance to really try to spread your wings.
Try setting up a bi-weekly or monthly “date” with your parents. That’s what I did. I went over there for dinner once every week, then once every other week, and now I go over more monthly. Ease into a routine, then slowly ease into your own independence. Or, invite them over to your apartment for a game or movie. Nothing shocks them into reality like seeing you in your OWN environment! Plus, it may help them continue to feel involved.
Treat it like you’ve moved far away and tell your parents that you want to try out having to fend for yourself. I’ve started this with my own parents a bit because I’m considering moving across the States and want to know that I’m capable of doing so.
Get ready for some huffy conversations (if your parents are anything like my mom!) but make sure to show your respect and appreciation for them…and even let them know you love spending time with them!
I’m sure you know that your parents are only clinging on because they love you. Love them back, show you appreciate them, but explain the importance of you moving on into your own life. Act like an adult by being up-front and honest, and they may just start treating you like one.
Sarah and the My First Apartment Team