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Needy Parents

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"Your life begins when the kids go to college and the dogs die" - If only that was true.

My life has been great.. I have a loving and wonderful girlfriend (who is also my best friend and life companion), have started a good job in Manhattan and in good general health with the exception of my bank account which always seems to be a bit lacking. Overall, it's the best I've ever been both in emotional and rational terms and I owe much to Objectivism and a little cognitive therapy a couple years ago.

But I've hit a stumbling block, and a very probematic one involving my parents.

I've always been close to my parents and there was no reason why I wouldn't be. My parents provided me with everything in their power to make my life as comfortable as possible and I've done everything I could realisticly do in return. The past couple years I've lived at home and commuted to college which worked out because tuition was nil and I always had a home cooked meal (and bad in other respects in that I never really had a college experience).

Lately my parents have been acting strange. Their #1 fear is that I'm going to get married soon (they were both married and divorced young) which is totally irrational because I cannot afford marriage financially and I simply don't want to get married in the next year (and neither does my g/f). As many times as I communicate with them that I'm not going to get married, they will continue to make comments to others like at my graduation party where my mother would say "Hopefully this is the last party til John's marriage in 10 years", or "what are you guys, married?" (when I choose to spend time with my g/f than at home) and other times when they've explictly told me not to get married.

This has led, in part I believe, to a general enmity between my parents and g/f which would even be an issue if I didn't live at home. Even when I moved to NYC for a month in Feburary (lived with my uncle to cut down on my commute) my mother was jealous when I decided to spend the weekend with my g/f rather than come home (I eventually comprimised and did both). Overall, this need for me to be home is driving me and my g/f nuts because of the guilt my parents attempt to impose on me for wanting to be other places. My parents always know where I am - out of respect - but that's usually just one of three places: work, my g/f's and home. I don't party, drink or do drugs or anything that should be of concern to them or my health so I think I'm deserving of being able to switch between households as long as I tell them where I am.

My mother has always been a "provider" in the sense that she couldn't do enough for me, my sister or anyone in the family. She never minded cleaning, cooking and doing the odd things for the family - in fact she enjoyed it. Now with my sister moved out (goes to school in Philly) and with me starting a new leg of my life (the working part :P ), she may feel empty that she cannot cater to anyone anymore even with my father still home. Her biggest fear - I think - is that my g/f is taking now taking up more of my time in terms of cooking, doing my laundry and just being there for me. I guess it's the difference between romantic and maternal love; my mother cannot give me what I need more today and that's the romantic, value-sharing love. Even though she started a new job - and a demanding one at that - see can't preoccupy herself enough to cover me and my sister's absense in the house.

Now I have some solutions. I could be frank and explicit in a talk with my parents, although we've already had two "talks" in the last 2 months on the subject. I'm not going to change their minds on the subject... So.. I have to adapt and change where I life. Problem is that requires money that I don't have right now and I am partially financially dependant on my parents until my business picks up at work. I could also talk to my parents' close friends and ask them to perhaps influence them a certain way.

But I need a way to keep my sanity in the meantime because it may take about 3-6 months before I have enough money to move out. I don't want to live with my parents for a second longer than I have to, but with no current cashflow I'm kinda stuck.

Anyone have suggestions in any of those areas?

Edited by Toolboxnj
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If your parents are empty-nesting, and talks with them haven't helped, the best thing to do would be just to bide your time, and work extra hard until you can get out of there. Living with your parents always has strings attached, and you just have to deal with them. Is getting a second job to speed things up an option?

Sticking around there isn't doing you or them any good. It's preventing both you and them from living your lives. You from starting yours, and them from figuring out how to end theirs. Until you are moved out, they won't learn how to cope with an empty house.

One thing you might want to throw out there to help minimize the nagging about your girlfriend is to explain to them that they are putting you into a position of being very uncomfortable living there, and making you want to move out before your really financially ready, which may land you exactly where they don't want you: living with your girlfriend in her apartment.

It is important to listen to their concerns about a hasty wedding. I'm sure you understand them, but ask them about their concerns and show them when you agree. This will let them know you recognize that their concerns are valid (if they are) to put their minds at ease, and let them know you will consider those things fully before you take the plunge, but also make it clear that the decision is yours, not theirs, and if there are mistakes to be made, their yours to make--and learn from.

You might also explain to them that you plan on being with this woman for a very long time, whether you marry her or not, and that the nagging, overbearing way they are showing their concern is driving a wedge between them and her, which means, ultimately, a wedge between them and you. Point out to them that it would have been the same for them had their parents tried to interfere in their relationship, no matter how well-intended such interference is.

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Thanks for the advice.

I am only in sales training right now and I'll be "in the field" a week from today. Things are going to be slow in the beginning in terms of income and I'll be working + commute about 60-70 hours a week. So, a second job is really out of the question. It'll probably take 3 months to finally get that steady income from sales charges.

I'd have to find a place very close to NYC on the New Jersey side in order to cut down on the commute cost (which including gas runs about $25/day) and those studio apts start at about $750/mo plus other expenses that will probably bring it to $1000/mo, which could be handled if I'm making $800-1000/wk easily. I'm sorry if it appears that I'm rationalizing, but NYC Metro rents are terribly high and probably why everyone in my training class still lives at home as well.

As far as the marriage problem I could understand where they are coming from. These are certainly issues they should be aware of but I don't exactly know how to assuage their fears. I'm learning in sales that people generally just like to listen to themselves talk. Perhaps I should employ some of my business techniques of my parents.

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I'm sorry if it appears that I'm rationalizing, but NYC Metro rents are terribly high and probably why everyone in my training class still lives at home as well.

I don't think you're rationalizing. I'm well-aware of how expensive urban living is (see where I live), and you're right to tough it out in your parents house as long as necessary to prepare yourself.

These are certainly issues they should be aware of but I don't exactly know how to assuage their fears.

You might not be able to. They know that young people screw up. No matter what they do, you're going to make mistakes. They're right to advise you, but worrying over it is kind of pointless. I actually think its good to make as many mistakes as early on as possible (with some specific exceptions), because you have to make mistakes to learn from them.

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The thing is, you know your parents are in the wrong. Instead of attempting to string their irrationalities together and sympathise with whatever bizzare logical connections they've made, you should have just questioned them on their assertions using nothing but reason, until it is clear in the front of their minds. Then they can see how ill-thought their emotions are just as well as you do, and if they still attempt to assert the irrational then they are evading. Don't give in to the expectation that certain people can't be reasoned with.

This is all assuming, of course, that there is no objective reason as to why they should worry about you in that way.

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For most parents, it is extemely difficult to treat their child as their intellectual equal after years of putting themselves in a position of teacher and helper. While one would not start with a presumption that they cannot be convinced, it's quite okay to realize that you cannot convince them; you can agree to disagree and still have a decent relationship with them. Essentially, as parents, they're in a special category.

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