In their eyes, I was still the baby. As the youngest of three girls, it was understood in my household that I was not yet a full adult, although 20 years of age. So telling my parents I was going to move in with my boyfriend post-college was a little nerve-wracking.
Let me rewind a little. I started dating my now boyfriend roughly a year and a half ago. He was a senior and I was a freshman, both at Penn State. Despite the apparent age difference, I have never met anyone who so perfectly paralleled my being. He likes the same kind of music, he compliments my weirdness, he views the world in a similar light, he has an ego which perfectly rivals my cockiness and ultimately he wants the same level of goals in life as I do. By default our relationship started becoming pretty serious, pretty “fast.” (It only took him seven months to ask me out. *rolls eyes*)
Because he was graduating soon, our relationship was immediately text-based and long distance. As a freshman, I was so awkward with him in person so texting was my saving grace. Babe, if you’re reading this, thanks for sticking with me through my awkward phase.
Our weeks were spent as entirely separate lives— mine at school and his working in New York City. Weekends revolved around me driving 4 hours to get to the city. It was a lot to balance with school but I never felt like it wasn’t worth it.
Long distance days turned in to weeks, which turned in to a year of being together and talks of a future— both long and short term.
I will be graduating a semester early in December of this year and we knew after that we wanted to live together in the city that had formed our relationship.
Beyond the hours upon hours of looking at apartments on Street Easy and creating a list of anything and everything we were going to need to buy, we knew a key component of making the big move would be to have my parents on board or at least to have them in the know.
He had it easy. His mom asked if we were planning on living together after I finished school and she was fully on board and supportive when he said that we were. I knew my conversation with my parents wouldn’t be as easy.
I have amazing parents…amazing conservative Christian, anti-sex before marriage, anti-living with significant other before marriage, parents. Terrifying right? If you come from a similar background you can imagine why I wasn’t running home to share the news to mom and dad.
If I had the choice I would have put off “the talk” for as long as possible but with the loving pressure from my boyfriend I knew I just had to do it. Here’s what I learned when I finally did:
Telling them doesn’t need to be a formal sit down discussion.
I actually only ended up telling my mom. One, because my dad isn’t home as often so it just worked out that way. And two, because I have a deeper relationship with my mom and knew she would tell him just fine that evening.
I had been waiting for “the right time” for weeks until I realized there wasn’t going to be the perfect time. My mom and I were eating dinner together after we had both gotten off of work and we just starting catching up because I had been away all weekend (visiting the boy).
What a perfect conversation starter. She asked about him and I updated her on us. From there I just totally angled the conversation how I wanted it to go. I went on to talk about how excited I was to graduate and move to the city. Bae and I had walked around and looked at an area we think we want to live that weekend so I told her all about that neighborhood, making sure to use hypotheticals and the pronoun “we” to describe living there.
Conversation kept going and I eventually threw in the phrase “when I move in with him.” Mom cringed. I stopped talking but I knew this was my perfect moment. I asked her why she cringed and let her open up about the topic.
Be prepared— for the worst and the best.
I had no idea how this conversation was going to go. Was she going to get mad? Was she going to voice disappointment? Was there going to be a rift between us moving forward?
To combat any of these situations, I wanted to be prepared both for her and myself. I literally wrote out a list of talking points that I wanted to go over. No, I didn’t have it in front of me when talking to her but by creating it, the list was in my head.
I went over everything from our rationale for wanting to take that next step to financially how it would be beneficial to coexist and how we had created an in-depth budget. Most importantly, though, I addressed how I knew she disagreed with my decision. I wanted to reassure her that my decision was by no means walking away from faith and “everything I had been taught.” I wanted her to know that I simply viewed things differently and that I would never want to outright rebel or disrespect them.
By approaching things in a calm, mature and respectful manner, it made it so difficult for her to be angry. In fact, she wasn’t angry at all. She listened to everything I had to say with an open heart because she never felt attacked or that I was being defensive about my decision.
You don’t need to ask for permission.
At this age, you are legally an adult. As an adult you have the ability and should be making decisions for yourself. Asking permission to do something puts the ball in your parents’ court. If they say no, are you going to outright disobey them or disregard your plans? Be respectful of course but you should just tell your parents what you plan to do because after all, you are an adult.
It is ultimately your life.
At the end of the day, regardless of the conversation outcome, you are living your individual life and need to do what makes you happy. If your parents are like mine, they won’t always agree with what you do but they will always choose to love you regardless as their child.
Parents want to be ‘in the know.’
My mom ended up hugging me after the conversation was over. What?! Not only that but she was laughing and smiling for a good bit of the talk. She thanked ME for telling her. All along, my mom just wanted to be involved in my life. From telling her about my weekend to telling her about my post-college plans, she was just happy I was keeping her in the loop.
After all of that, my mom ended up understanding why I want to move in with my boyfriend and although she didn’t agree with it, she was supporting me, as her daughter.