Home for Dinner: Learning How to Live with My Parents in My Late 20s

Over the last several years, I moved in and out of my parents’ home a handful of times in between various school or career opportunities. Navigating the real world post-college has been more challenging than I ever anticipated, and my parents would probably agree. However, my most recent move back home has turned into more of an indefinite stay rather than a temporary one.

Since we have been “roommates” before, we knew we had to make a few agreements for it to work for everyone. One of those included my parents not asking details of my whereabouts, giving me a curfew, or asking why I was leaving the house. This allowed me to maintain the independence that I had when I lived alone. Although I wanted to be the independent, carefree, single woman that I was, my parents could not not be the parents that they were (and still are). Once a parent, always a parent – no matter the age of their children. I appreciated their love and concern, but also got irritated with their many questions when I tried to leave the house on any given day. Eventually we all got into a groove, and my parents found a different way to get information from me.

After a few months, every single time I would leave the house, my dad would ask me: “Will you be home for dinner?” After a few weeks of hearing it every day, I came to understand the deeper meanings behind that single question.

My parents genuinely care about me — they aren’t just being nosy.

In response to that simple question, I found myself voluntarily giving more details about where I was going, rather than just saying that I was going out and would be back later.

“I’m going to help so-and-so find an outfit for a wedding and then we’re going to get something to eat, so I won’t be home for dinner tonight.”

So, my parents get the details that they thrive on (because in their eyes, I lead such an exciting life), and — the best part — I am no longer irritated when I leave the house.

Dinner is an important meal for my family.

Growing up, we rarely sat around the dinner table at the same time because my siblings and I were very involved in sports and dance lessons. Almost every day of the week someone had practice, rehearsal, or competitions that lasted well beyond the dinner hour. Now that our lives are not quite as busy, the family that is in town frequently gathers around our dining room table for special occasions, holidays, or just because it’s Wednesday night. Since every night has the potential to be a family night, my parents want to know if I will be able to join them.

For my parents, cooking a meal for their children is an expression of love.

And also, in my opinion, the reason why my talent in the kitchen is lacking. My mom and dad are quick to offer to make me something when I say that I’m hungry. They take pride in being able to do something for their children, especially when their children don’t “need” them anymore. (But just for the record, Mom and Dad, I seriously still need you so don’t think that I don’t!) So these days, making dinner is a simple (or sometimes elaborate) act to show how much they love me (and I guess my siblings, too).

It’s been several months since my return home, and I appreciate everything that my parents do for me. Not every day is easy, and we still must overcome the challenges of being roommates. I don’t immediately wash my dishes or someone ate my food. But I am grateful for the love and support that my parents give to me. I may not be able to return the favor at this point in my life, but I hope to someday. So, for the time being, I always let them know if I’ll be home for dinner.