by Melanie Hooyenga
|Melanie and her dog Owen, loving life in their one-bedroom apartment.|
Dear Helpfully Opinionated One:
I recently moved into my parents’ basement after living on my own for almost twenty years. How do I make this transition without killing them... or myself?
Leery of Silly, Embarrassing Rules
You’re in luck! Two years ago today I moved in with my parents -- into their basement no less -- and during my fifteen months, two days, and five hours (but who’s counting?) I learned a few things.
Rule #1: It’s their house.That said, you’re their child. Chores are required, but raiding the fridge, using up all the hot water, and lounging in your PJs are completely acceptable. But...
Don’t forget the robe. Your years of roaming naked are over. Even if you are lucky enough to have a door on your bedroom (which I did not) getting too comfortable in your parents’ home can lead to a multitude of questions NO ONE wants to answer. Bet you never thought they’d find out about THAT tattoo, did ya?
Check your maturity at the door. Try as you might to fight it, sleeping in your childhood home brings out the worst in all of us. Your mother’s casual comment to drive carefully before heading out for the night mutates (in your head) into her breathing down your neck and what time will you be home young lady? Growling and slamming the door are not acceptable responses. Same goes for your dad. His innocent inquiry about the location of his glasses/book/man-purse can quickly escalate to sarcastic apologies for sneaking out of the house that summer before senior year. Keep your guard up.
Not under my roof! Sex: the trickiest part to bunking with the folks. My best advice is to date someone who has his own place. Any embarrassment over your parents’ knowing their little girl is sleeping at a man’s house trumps having them learn your new boyfriend’s name by hearing it through the floorboards. But if you must sneak him in, be sure to keep an eye on those condom wrappers, especially if you have a dog that likes to bring things into the backyard (not that this happened to me...).
Most importantly, remember that they really do care about you. They’ve allowed you, your stuff, and your wildly intrusive dog under their roof rent-free, knowing that it will be tough on all of you. The least you can do is bite your tongue, smile, and wait until you’re out with your friends to vent. Oh, and buy your own alcohol. You ARE an adult after all.
In the past two years, Melanie has gone from living in her parents’ 62-degrees cinder block basement to preparing to buy her own home. She’s currently editing her YA novel but is considering a self-help book for her fellow 30-something divorcees. Follow her daily musings at @melaniehoo.