Hello everybody, welcome to episode 207 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is how to not be a burden to your family when you move back home.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com
Now folks, today we’ve got a question coming in from a woman who has recently found herself living back at home with her family after leaving her previous place due to a toxic relationship. While she doesn’t speak as much about her time there, her concern now is that she’s feeling out place at home with her loved ones. She’s feeling like a burden, but there could be more to it. Let’s look at this from a few possible angles and see if we can help her ask the right questions of herself to make this new move work for her. Here’s what she’s got to say…
QUESTION: “Do you have advice on what to do when you have to move back home with family? I had to move out of my house because of toxic relationships and I’m having a tough time getting close again to my family and I’m trying not to be frustrated because there’s no room for me here. I feel like a burden. I have no other place to go and cannot afford a place of my own.“
Young Adults Living At Home
All right, definitely a question I’m sure more and more people are asking themselves lately!
I’d heard a study that was researching the amount of young adults living with their parents and for those looking for some fun facts, of Americans aged 18-29, 47% were with parents before the coronavirus and it jumped to 52% since then. I’m also pretty sure that for 18-34, the number is still around 40%.
Good times! Lots of family bonding! And certainly it’s important to try to get along with whomever we’re living with as well as possible.
Why Is It Hard to Get Close to Family?
What many of us miss, though, and what I want to encourage you to do is really hone in on the specific reasons that you’re having a hard time getting close to your family. It’s important to get specificity here so we can find unique solutions as opposed to remaining in a cycle of thinking “none of this is working.”
You’ve identified that you feel like a burden, which is a great realization. So let’s talk about that specifically, and it also wouldn’t hurt to bring up some other possibilities that I advise you to consider.
But first, the idea that you’re a burden.
How Are You a Burden to Family?
If you feel like a burden (whether or not it’s even true), rather than dwell on it, take an active role by envisioning what you’d look like if you weren’t a burden.
What does the non-burden version of you look like? Is she actively looking for ways to make money so she can move out? Is she cooking meals for the family?
Is she cleaning the house once a week? Is she paying her parents at least a few hundred dollars a month even though she can’t afford full rent?
Consider anything you used to do in your old house that made you feel like a contributing member, and try it on for size at your parent’s house. Consider things you feel they’d appreciate, but wouldn’t ask for or don’t have time for.
And if none of this still feels right and you want more certainty, you can always ask your parents how you could best be of service to them while you live there.
Are There Other Family Issues?
Let’s talk now a little bit beyond the idea of being a burden, though. I’m inclined to do this because one thing you mentioned in your question was getting close again to your family. To me, that’s different from feeling like a burden.
So while you can definitely alter your approach in terms of contribution based on some of the suggestions I’ve just made, I want to also bring to your attention two other problems that might prohibit you from feeling close to your family even if you do start helping out more around the house.
First, make sure you’re not ignoring any separate family issues you might have. On the surface, there may be tense political discussions, house rules that you’re not on the same page about, a lack of privacy, “I told you so” types of conversations regarding your previous living situation, them shaming you, or simply having very different lifestyles.
All of these scenarios and more can be challenging enough, but needless to say, some families have underlying issues too. If there are unresolved problems in the family that you’ve not addressed for one reason or another, don’t expect much progress to be made until you do.
Have You Been Feeling These Issues Before?
And second, though it might be hard to do, it’s really worth it to sit and think about what issues you’re feeling with your family that you were also feeling beforehand at your previous place. If any of the feelings or arguments are similar, and especially if they’ve been around for an extended period of time, you really have no choice but to ask yourself what role you may play in all of this.
Maybe they’re personal struggles that come up no matter what, which you need to get to the bottom of. Maybe you’re attracting the same type of tension with different people because of something you’re doing or not doing.
Such introspection can throw you for a loop and make you question the perspectives of others in your life that you might have misinterpreted, but it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, your current relationships and your future relationships.
Conclusion: How Not to Burden Family
So if any of what I’ve mentioned hits a nerve and feels it may be a likely culprit, explore it further. And better yet, explore it with your family.
From what you’ve described, it doesn’t sound like a terrible relationship with your family, but rather one that’s misunderstood or a little distant. The more open and vulnerable you can be with them, especially if the goal is to create harmony within the household, the more they’re apt to reciprocate.
This is how relationships really begin to thrive and the living situation will progress naturally into something better.
Thanks a lot to the woman who sent this question in today. I really hope I was able to offer some new ideas to you as to how to repair this situation, and that I didn’t leave anything out.
Like many questions received here at OLA, communication will definitely play a big part in resolving most of this if I had to guess. Whether or not it goes as well as you might hope, there will still be a lot of relief in racking your brain and saying what you feel you need to say. From there, you’re sure to have some renewed confidence; a confidence that will likely take you to good places.
So thanks again for sending this is and trusting us with this. Time to wrap it up though, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this installment of OLA and took something from it, and be sure to come on back next time for 208. I’ll talk to you all then.