When To Move Away

Do you think it’s necessary for a teenager to grow more emotionally distant from his or her parents to become more independent and adult?

When you’re a kid, your world is your parents. You could go on a vaction with them and only them and not be bored for a second. But when you get older, your friends take a more active role, you are beginning to build your own life. Does this mean that your parents have to mean less to you?

More questions to relate to this issue: At what age is this supposed to happen? Can you, realistically, live with your parents while being independant from them? Can you not scar your parents emotionally while letting them know they are no longer the center of your universe?

Hey, took me 32 years… :wink:

Seriously, I think that’s what college is for. Right at the time when a kid can’t stand his/her parents, he gets the opportunity to spread his wings. Depending on the general atmosphere into which s/he is thrust, it can do a lot for helping him/her form his/her sense of dependence or independence, i.e., if they’re living on their own and paying some of their own expenses, they learn responsibility quick, but if Mom and Dad pay for everything and all they do is party party party, then they’re not learning that much. Don’t get me wrong - I think parents should help out a kid, but there are limits, beyond which a kid is just a spoiled brat.

But then there’s another change, which, unfortunately, usually seems to fall a few years after graduating college, and that’s when the child realizes s/he is now an adult, and that his/her parents are adults themselves, and the relationship between the two begins to more concretely change from parent/child to friend, or adult/adult.

My family has always been close, and my parents have been very good at being supportive without being smothering - I always got to choose what I wanted to do, and they just helped me do it (i.e., marching band, extracurricular activities, what have you). I spent my first year at college commuting from home (and it was a long commute), and it was tough - not only was my mother going through menopause, but college changes you - first time away from your life-long friends, thrown into a situation where you meet people from outside your own neighborhood from different backgrounds, cultures, hell, even countries. So while I was dealing with that, plus dealing with my mother, plus coming out to myself and my friends, it was, shall we say, a stressful time. My second year of college I transferred to another school, and spent two years living off-campus on my own (at that point my folks’ money had run out, so it was student loans and work my way through college). Those two years gave me the sense of independence and responsibility I wanted, but at the same time, I learned to appreciate living at home a lot more.

So when I moved back home after school I promised myself I wouldn’t move out again until I knew it would be permanent - no more moving out, moving back, moving out. Well, that was like 10 years ago, and a lot’s happened during that time.

I would often get the reaction, “You’re 25/27/29/30 years old and still lving at home with your parents?!?!,” so there’s definitely some societal influence that living at home with your parents is a Bad Thing. But one of the things that I liked about my time at home was I was able to survive the initial trauma of moving back home after a year away, and after that I was able to live watching my parents change from parents to friends/mentors. And, to my parents’ credit, they very realistically let me live my own life - I came and went as I pleased, I did my own cooking, my own laundry, paid a little rent, and in return I helped with the upkeep of the house, chipped in with groceries, etc. Heck, for the past two years my mother let me use her car and we carpooled to work together.

Was it all easy? Hell, no! But my parents and I are enough alike to get along and different enough not to smother each other. Dad and I tend to butt heads a lot, but that’s normal (I mean, no matter how buddy-buddy we get, they always will still be my parents, ya know).

So is there a right time? No - every person and every relationship is different. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that kids leave for school when they do.


I pretty much agree with Esprix, with the added observation (which may be totally full of crap) that it seems to be more difficult for adult females to remain in the same house with parents than it is for males. In any case, I think any adult child who remains at home nestled under parental wings for too long is not doing themselves any favours (but, realistically, I realize that there are a lot of mitigating circumstances for this). I don’t think this distancing should be traumatic for either party; it doesn’t mean that your parents mean less to you, it’s just that other things mean more and more.

I moved when staying with my parents plunged me into a constant, month-long, near-suicidal depression. YMMV, of course.

Emotionaly distant? I hope not…I love my family. I’m growning up and out of the nuclear part of it, but they are still my family. My parents are more advisors and friends than the voices on high, but I still love them, I’m still close to them. Its just a different close.

Age is a unique thing, I don’t think there is a magic year where everyone is suddenly grown up.

As for pulling apart and becoming an adult without emotionally scarring them. Its possible. For some parents. But if the parents just don’t want to let go of the power, it may hurt when thier kids become people anyway.

I am still emotionally close to my folks, but I was out, back, out, back, out – a million times. We always got along well, but I must say, I probably would have done better if I had moved out permanently before that. Now my son is grown,and he’s been out/back/out/back/out. Now that he’s out, he is doing MUCH better and so am I (and my marriage!). We get along great now, but not so good when he was an adult at home. But I still hear from him weekly, which is great. My brother never keeps in touch with my dad, and it makes us all sad.

I think a huge factor in moving out is that you gain the skills you need to live in the “real world.” You need, at some point, to learn how to cook and clean for yourself, to develop the financial responsibilities to get the bills paid, and discover through trial and error how to deal with stingy landlords, noisy neighbors, and other little joys of adult life. IMHO, it’s easier to get this stuff figured out when you’re still young. If you move out at that point, you have the college situation and/or your parents there in the background to provide a advice, support, and a saftey net if things really go to hell.e Plus, being eighteen, you are confident that you know everything, so you have few fears about striking out on your own. I do not think the same is true of a thirty-year-old whose mommy still does his laundry.

I was really grateful to have my mom around when I moved out. I wouldn’t say that we are less emotionally close than when I was a sullen teenager. The nature of our relationship has changed–for the better.

As my mother puts it, 13 is the age of the body snatchers, when her little kids kept the same body but became alien creatures. It’s a natural process leading to independence; kids have to start rejecting their parents in order to explore who they are and what they think of the world outside the nest.

My parents insisted my sister and I go to out-of-state colleges. “That’s the only way you’ll grow up and become independent,” they said.

Yes, they DID want to get us the hell out of the house, but they were also right.

I dunno, I can’t remember when I was really emotionally close to my parents.

And when you’re a parent, your world is your kids. I have a daughter who is beginning puberty, and I already mourn her eventual departure sometimes. :frowning: I realize that I really only have a few short years left before her room is empty. Although I truly do want her to get out and explore the world, and live life to its fullest, I know what some of life’s potholes feel like, and the fact that I can’t steer her past them is troubling. The selfish part of me wants to freeze her right where she is and keep her home forever. As eager as I was to get out on my own, I never realized what it was like on the other side until now.