I was recently conflicted after coming across an article about a 31 year old pharmacist living with his parents. His story was not the typical failure-to-launch tale of woe, but rather a scathing critique of the Toronto housing market paired with a flagrant flaunting of his alleged rockstar lifestyle. The angry comments on the article led me to reexamine my own circumstances. I mean, the author and I do share a few meaningful commonalities. Namely, being 31 year old pharmacists of Middle Eastern descent who live with their parents whilst earning about 130k/year. Was the vitriol thrown at him also applicable to me? Am I a female Peter Pan who is shirking adult responsibilities like 35 year debt obligations and tedious household busywork?
Toronto-Life-induced-identity-crisis aside, I must say that having little to no living expense is a definite perk. It has allowed me to save up a much larger nest egg than would be otherwise possible at my age. Plus, while I was on sick leave and earning a fraction of my regular income, it was nice to not to struggle to make mortgage payments (my tenants did that for me). Since recovering and returning to work, I’ve made every effort to pay my parents back for the kindness they’ve shown me. Although they flat out refuse to accept rent, I often splurge for indulgences that my very frugal, immigrant parents would not allow themselves. By paying for our biannual family trips, I feel that I’m paying them back while creating lifelong memories with my loved ones. A definite win-win.
I often feel that ours is a symbiotic, rather than a parasitic relationship. While my dad was experiencing a particularly acute bout of vertigo, I was able to drive him to his specialist appointments. As a pharmacist, I oversee their medication regimens, pay for their gym memberships and provide (often unsolicited) dietary advice. I go shopping and for nature walks and see movies with my mom, activities that my dad would rather forego in favor of gardening or solving crossword puzzles. My dad handles the day-to-day management of our rental properties, dealing with tenants and contractors (something I’d be notoriously bad at doing). My mom is an amazing cook and talented seamstress, often tailoring my clothes, altering store-bought pieces so they fit to a T. I’d like to think that my parents and I have a better life because of the close relationship we have.
So if we are happy and we aren’t hurting anyone else, does this still constitute a problem? Up until now, I haven’t had any problems holding down a job, living alone (which I’ve done off and on since my early 20s), or maintaining outside friendships or relationships. I certainly don’t plan to stay at home forever, but it feels right for the time being. Certainly, being extra close is better than being totally estranged, a situation affecting 10% of families. Since all of my avid Googling has not yielded a satisfying answer, I’ll have to discuss this with my shrink at our next appointment. I’ll follow up if I’m on my way to becoming a female Norman Bates =P