Jillian Knowles is 27, lives at home, and loves it. That’s her story, and she’s sticking to it.
Knowles talks about her life in an article posted by CNN for a series that is explained by this Editor’s Note: First Person is a series of personal essays exploring identity and personal points of view that shape who we are. The latest contributor is Jillian Knowles, an emergency medicine physician assistant in the Philadelphia area. She shared a related essay on living at home on CNN iReport.
I read the article as an attempt to point out that, hey, it’s not so bad to boomerang and, hey, it’s not so bad to live with your parents. But, in reality, what the article did, for me, was to reinforce all the reasons why moving back in with your parents should only be a card you play when you’ve literally got no other options.
Here are some excerpts from the article and my response.
1. “Despite the bad press my generation of ‘boomerang millennials’ has generated, some of us are happy and even grateful to have a soft place to land after college, even if we’re gainfully employed.”
I wanted to include this quote because I discussed being a boomerang kid in this post, so I understand what Knowles means by the press and attention we get in terms of boomeranging. I appreciate her pointing out that some of us actually ARE grateful we have somewhere to go. I know I was extremely fortunate to have a stellar support system and a place to go when no one would hire me. I totally and completely agree with this point and applaud Knowles for stating that we are, despite what some people think, grateful.
2. “My decision to live at home was not one of absolute necessity…I thought of my options: Live on my own and pay rent, utilities and food costs, as well as skyrocketing student loans, or move back in with my parents and pay an all-encompassing, smaller monthly rent that would allow me to try and get a jump on my student loans. I chose the latter.”
My decision to live at home again was out of absolute necessity. This struck a nerve with me.
I did not want to insert myself back into my mother’s personal life and have her inserted into mine. In my opinion, it’s not healthy for adults to return to their house as adults where they were once children. It’s not the normal way of things, and I, for one, loved my independence and desperately missed it while living back at home. I don’t even have the type of overbearing mother that was always in my business. But I couldn’t go anywhere, do anything, or see anyone without her knowing. I lived in her house, so my personal business was automatically her business, whether she wanted it to be or not.
If I wanted to visit friends out of town, or go on a date, or get drunk, my mom knew because I slept in the same house as her and she didn’t have a choice but to know. As an adult, I didn’t feel like I had to sneak around and do adult things. However, at the same time, it’s strange to come back to your mom’s house after a night out and for her to know you’re drunk. It’s strange to come back to your mom’s house after a night at a boy’s apartment and for her to know you slept somewhere else. It’s strange. And it can’t be helped. Even if they don’t ask, they know.
3. “Our new relationship is symbiotic. My parents benefit from having an extra set of hands around the house to help with chores and a constant source to explain all pop-culture references.”
I’m sure my mom would say she enjoyed that I unloaded the dishwasher and folded her clean laundry and vacuumed when needed. But, in my opinion, the relationship of a parent and a boomerang adult is not symbiotic. You get a place to live (either free, or for rent.. but let’s be honest- it’s your parents. It’s not a landlord. So, if you can’t make rent, you have some leeway there.) What do they get, exactly?
I, personally, ate my mom’s groceries and used her laundry detergent and paper towels and whatever else was in the house that I needed. I didn’t pay utilities so I showered and turned my lights on and off for free. So, no, unless your parents truly treat you as a tenant, it’s not a symbiotic relationship.
My mom was great because I had a part-time job at Old Navy so I literally could not afford to pay much of anything. She never pressured me or made me feel guilty because she saw me struggling with money and my life. But it wasn’t fair for her to take on the additional expense of an adult living in her house.
4. “In terms of romance, I am 27, and my boyfriend is 33. He is not allowed upstairs and has to sleep on the couch if he stays over. Thankfully, he is understanding and has a place of his own. I spend a couple of nights a week hanging out at his place.”
In all honesty, Knowles is very respectful and is following her parents’ rule that her boyfriend has to sleep on the couch. That’s great. She should be that way. It’s not her house.
However, if she lived on her own, she could have sleepovers whenever she wanted. She would not have to explain to someone looking for an adult relationship that she lives at home and that he can’t sleep in her room. Apparently, the boyfriend has a place of his own, so it totally baffles me that he would choose to sleep on his girlfriend’s parent’s couch.
I’m not trying to be critical of Knowles choices. I don’t know her or her parents. But I don’t agree with moving back in with your parents unless it’s a necessity. And I don’t agree that the relationship ends up being “symbiotic.”
The real truth is that some of us have parents who are willing to sacrifice for us, no matter what age we are. Again, I’m very, very grateful for that.