When Is It Time to Leave

I visited a home several years ago where this battle was raging.  The parents had posted a notice on the refrigerator that summed up their frustration.  It said:                    
Children!  Are you tired of being harassed by your parents?  Act now!  Move out, get a job, and pay your own bills.  Do it now...while you still know everything.
Their kids didn't take the hint.  They were still there, watching daytime television and arguing over whose turn it was to take out the trash.
The issue of when to leave home is of great importance to your future.  Remaining too long under the "parentos" roof is not unlike an unborn baby who refuses to leave the womb.  He has every reason to stay awhile.  It is warm and cozy there.  All his needs are met in that stress-free environment.  He doesn't have to work or study or discipline himself.
But it would be crazy to stay beyond the nine months God intended.  He can't grow and learn without leaving the security of that place.  His development will be arrested until he enters the cold world and takes a few whacks on his behind.  It is to everyone's advantage, and especially to the welfare of his mother, that he slide on down the birth canal and get on with life.
So it is in young adulthood.  Until you cut the umbilical cord and begin providing for yourself, you will remain in a state of arrested development.  To use an earlier analogy, it is another of the "mudholes" that can trap and hold a person in an immature state.
The Scripture hints at this need to press on.  The apostle Paul wrote, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" (1 Cor. 13:11).  Remaining at home with Mom and Dad is the perpetuation of childhood.  It may be time to put it behind you.
There is a variation on this theme that is even more problematical.  It occurs when you have been away to attend college or to work, and then you've returned to live at home again.  That is called "the elastic nest," and it can be a disaster.  Why?  Because you've been on your own--you've made your own decisions and controlled your own life.  You've changed dramatically during your time away, but you return to find that your parents have not.  They are just like you left them.  They want to tell you how to run your life--what to eat, what to wear, which friends to cultivate, etc.  It is a formula for combat.
I understand that situation because I've been through it.  My parents handled me wisely in my late teen years, and it was rare for them to stumble into common parental mistakes.  That is, however, exactly what happened when I was nineteen years old.  We had been a very close-knit family, and it was difficult for my mother to shift gears when I graduated from high school.
During that summer, I traveled 1,500 miles from home and entered a college in California.  I will never forget the exhilarating feeling of freedom that swept over me that fall.  It was not that I wanted to do anything evil or forbidden.  It was simply that I felt accountable for my own life and did not have to explain my actions to anyone.  It was like a fresh, cool breeze on a spring morning.  Young adults who have not been properly prepared for that moment sometimes go berserk, but I did not.  I did, however, quickly become addicted to that freedom and was not about to give it up.
The following summer, I came home to visit my folks.  Immediately, I found myself in conflict with my mom.  She was not intentionally insulting.  She simply responded as she had done a year earlier when I was still in high school.  But by then, I had journeyed down the road toward independence.  She was asking me what time I would be coming in at night and urging me to drive the car safely and advising me about what I ate.  No offense was intended.  My mother had just failed to notice that I had changed and she needed to get with the new program.
Finally, there was a flurry of words between us, and I left the house in a huff.  A friend came by to pick me up, and I talked about my feelings as we rode in the car.  "Darn it, Bill!" I said.  "I don't need a mother anymore."
Then a wave of guilt swept over me.  It was as though I had said,  "I don't love my mother anymore."  I meant no such thing.  What I was feeling was a desire to be friends with my parents instead of accepting their authority over me.  Freedom was granted very quickly thereafter.
I hope you will be a bit more patient with your parents than I was with mine.  I was only nineteen years old, and I wanted it all.  I should have given them another year to adjust.  Your mom and dad will also change their thinking if you give them a little time.  In the meanwhile, if you are twenty-two or older and have been away from home, I would suggest that you not plan to return except for a specified period and unless you have an unusually harmonious relationship with your parents.  For most young people, bouncing back is built for trouble.
From Life on the Edge by Dr. James Dobson, chapter 9, pages 153-156. 
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