One Step Forward Two Steps Back

Dear Patricia Marie,

I left home when I was 24, and, four years later, am about to move back in with my parents.

Living with my boyfriend didn't work out, neither did renting with friends, and now I'm badly overdrawn. My parents have already laid down house rules, including that I will not be allowed to have anyone stay overnight, and I'm feeling so deflated and depressed.

How am I supposed to get my life back on track? 

 Patricia Marie says...

Having to move back in with parents can sometimes make one feel like a failure, with an additional lost sense of independence. It is an entirely different dynamic from moving in with friends or a partner, and it can be a frustrating adjustment for both parties as it is very easy to fall into the old child/parent roles.

However, returning home doesn't necessarily mean reverting to previous house rules. To avoid any problems before you even walk back through the door, a new set of boundaries need to be mutually discussed and established, and any concerns raised from the start. Your parents might find it hard to recognise you are now an adult in your own right, and negotiating a verbal contract will force all of you to contemplate some of the questions and difficulties that your relationship will face, such as the rent you are expected to pay, which chores you will each carry out around the house, and how you will respect each other’s privacy. If they insist you will not be allowed to have any friends staying over, you may have to accept this, and perhaps instead you could occasionally spend the night at a friend’s house, which would offer a change of scene too.

You seem to be feeling rather vulnerable and fragile, but the love and security of your parents in their home could offer you much comfort at this unsettling time. You may discover a totally new way of being with them that you did not previously have, and may even enjoy their company. Of course it's important to contribute financially, but you can also use the opportunity of being at home to save and improve your finances.

Think of this as a temporary set back, which in turn will give you breathing space and help you recover from recent disappointments. It's not surprising you are feeling down, but the experience you have gained from this will prove priceless, and although your choices proved to be unworkable, at least you had the courage to try. Unexpected events occur to all of us - so accept that fact, and start to fully embrace the next chapter in your life. 

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to