Help! My parents want to move near me. What do I do?

Posted by
My parents want to move near me
I’m one year out of college, one year married (thanks Offbeat Bride!), and six months into my first real adult job. We’re halfway across the U.S. from our parents, and that’s just fine.

Now that I’m “settled” and my parents are on their own (my spouse and I are both only children), they’re looking into leaving their house and home state (both of which they dislike) and returning to mission work. I’m really happy that they’re looking to pursue that again. Except. The mission they’re looking to work with is 30 minutes from my house. I’m still trying to settle into my own life here.

How do I tell my parents that having them live that close is stepping on my opportunities for growth and freedom as an adult? What is the best way to explain that living near my parents has to be as much my choice as theirs? -Maggie

What a good, difficult, and understandable question! Homies, how have you handled, or would you handle, this talk with your folks?

Comments on Help! My parents want to move near me. What do I do?

  1. It sounds like your parents aren’t feeling like moving now, and I expected as much. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it keeps sounding less and less likely. It’s a whim that I think strikes a lot of parents when their kids move away, but a whim that gets pretty quickly suppressed by reality and the realization that the distance between you feels a little less harsh in the 21st century.

    For anyone whose parents sound way more serious about an immediate move to your hometown, I’d just encourage them to take a STOP and BREATHE moment. They’d be leaving behind their support systems (friends, church, other family, jobs) for a totally new place. While that may be appealing to them as you make this jump, they don’t really know yet how they’re going to need to lean on those as they’re entering a new phase of their lives. Empty nesting can be a sad time, but it can also be a really fun, interesting time. They shouldn’t step out on that just because they felt like following you.
    If they’re still talking about it, ask why. Why near you? They’ll give some cursory reasons, but if you keep pressing, you’ll likely get to the root of it. Tell them you love them and understand that they want to be near you, but you made the decision to move across the country–not to get away from them–but to make a fresh start. If they’re really interested in moving to your side of the continent, maybe suggest some cities within a day’s driving distance that will suit them better.

  2. I’ve definitely dealt with this. I’m not an only child but an older child with a brother who’s going to college 3,000 miles away from home, and my parents toyed with the idea of moving closer to me and my fiance when my dad was job searching in our area. My fiance was fussing that my parents would smother us, drop by unannounced, etc. but when it came down to brass tacks, it wasn’t really about us. We live in a major metropolitan area that has cool restaurants that my parents want to try out–our hypothetical proximity to them was just a bonus. Ironically, for all the fussing he did about my parents, we just moved in with HIS mother because it was the most fiscally responsible thing to do once our lease ran up. C’est la vie.

    Try to see this from your parent’s perspective. What would your parents get out of the move? What does your area have that their former town/state didn’t? Another thing that’s worked for me is putting my boundaries in a positive spin: when I started college, my mom wanted to call me daily, but I remembered that she calls my grandma every Friday, so I said, “Why don’t we have our own mother-daughter phone call every Sunday?” She loved it, and now this tradition has been going strong for six years straight–even through midterms and finals in college!

  3. “What is the best way to explain that living near my parents has to be as much my choice as theirs”

    Whether or not your parents move near you is not your choice, actually. It’s not their choice where you live, and vice versa. You can, however, set boundaries as needed to maintain your personal life and space.

    And I agree that 30 minutes away is more than it seems. I live about 15 minutes away from my parents, and they don’t intervene in my life and space. hell, I used to work literally across the street from my brother’s house, and only went over work a few times to meet their new cats and/or child…when I was invited.

  4. I can feel a little of what I might have felt from this letter if my Mum had decided to follow me to Canada a couple years ago. Like no Mum this is my place! I don’t want awkward stories of that time Small child me pooped in the fern garden being told to my new baker!

    One I think a solid read of the captain awkward blog specifically posts about parents and boundaries would do you well. If this question hasn’t been asked, many similar ones would have. Boundary setting in general is a great adult skill to have. Get your spouse in on this too in case they call when you’re out like “Greta will call you back Friday at 6, have a good skeetball game, BAI!”.

    My experience – my mum and I really didn’t get along at all when I lived at home. We are quite similar with our biting remarks and control wanting and perfectionism. But I could not see that back then. When I later moved back home we actually got along ten times better – because I didn’t do all the little annoying things that would set her off when I was a teen. I cooked my own meals, I did all the laundry, I could drive myself places (and home at 3am!), and I was just in general easier to be around. I didn’t feel like it was a battlefield of mum versus me. I began to care less and less that she didn’t like my coloured hair piercings tattoos etc, and now I care not one tiny bit.

    So you may find that the dynamic has shifted. Hopefully in a positive way.

    I am just about to move back to the same suburb as my parents and one sister, and am actually excited about being closer. My parents health isn’t the greatest and I want to help them out. But mum knows I don’t always wear clothes so she shan’t be dropping around unannounced 😛

  5. I love this conversation thread!

    After 7 years of living only an hour away from my parents, I’ve recently been desperately trying to convince my parents to move even CLOSER. I definitely went through a phase where I wanted independence, but now all I want is their support. (Especially since we’re new homeowners, and kids may be in our near future.)

    My mother in law lives 15 min away, which I thought I would hate, but actually I LOVE it. She even has a key to our house! We love it that she come over to let our dog out while we’re at work, and it’s nice to see her when she occasionally drops by.

    Only you can assess your relationship with your parents. Everyone else has mused on the same idea: set boundaries, communicate, and reflect on the real reasons you’re feeling trapped. If all else fails, you can control your own location.

  6. I hear you and while I don’t have much good advice (reading the thread for that!) I wish you lots of luck. Not all of us are meant to stay close to our parents. ♥

  7. Hi! I know this conversation is years dead, but I wanted to post an update. The solution to this turned out to be cutting off all contact with my parents, collecting evidence for a restraining order, and moving to another state with a name change. Points to the people who brought up abuse – it turns out I had a LOT of repressed trauma that was causing memory loss, a case of childhood malnutrition from being underfed and over-exercised (they put me on fad diets in elementary school!), c-ptsd, a boatload of emotional abuse, undiagnosed chronic conditions (that might have been caught if I had ever seen a doctor) and a reasonable and healthy fear of my parents! Even thinking about calling them to say hi caused me to panic, revert to childhood thought patterns, and be completely unable to do anything for the rest of the day, and running into them at the grocery store would have resulted in being criticized for my choice of grocery store, my food, my weight, my “expensive” tastes (sorry that I find that protein makes me happier and healthier?), my clothing and hair choices, and on and on and on. In hindsight, I was right to panic about them moving, and I’m grateful that you all took time to think about this question with me. For anyone else who comes across this post and has an “unreasonable” aversion to their parents being involved in their lives, I recommend Reddit’s Raised by Narcissists forum and a good therapist.

    • Toxic Parents (or In laws) is also a good book and the DWIL group on Babycenter is great, even for childfree people. I’m sorry that you had to cut off contact but if you’re doing better, I hope everything is going well. Sometimes it makes sense.

  8. I think a lot of you need to grow up and act like the adults you claim to be and stop being so selfish. All i’m hearing is me, me, me. In life you have to think of others.

    You can still have independence and not be smothered by setting some boundaries that are not so strict. Remember your parents brought you into the world. Try and think about how you would feel if these comments were from your children in years to come. Some of these comments are just horrible and self centred. Think also about your potential children and how it would be beneficial for them. I get it if there is abuse or the relationship hasn’t been great from the start, but otherwise some of you need to focus on the benefits more not just for you but also potential grandchildren and your parents. Also people can want to make amends. How would you feel if these comments were posted by your in laws/parents about you when all you wanted was to be part of the family. After all you may have your own families but your in-laws/ parents are part of your family too. Its as if some of you want to abandon your family/ forget they exist or only acknowledge yours but not your in-laws. To be honest this mentality is why we have the problems in the world we do. There will come a time when you wont be able to spend time with them. I bet some of you are happy to accept money etc but cant even be bothered to have a relationship with them. If you had a good relationship with them as a child then just because you have reached adulthood DOES NOT mean you cant have that and your own life/accomplishments/ independence. If not you are doing something wrong. And if you cant reply on family when you get older then who can you. It sounds as if a lot of you and your attitudes are the problem not your family. Also there is nothing you can do to stop them living near you. Just plain NASTY

Read more comments

Comments are closed.