My last post was about my quarantine when I arrived in Hong Kong (I moved from Toronto) except I didn’t go into detail about my living situation aka moving back with my parents. I, a twenty-something-year-old, moved back in with her parents. It hasn’t been easy but that shouldn’t be too surprising. I’m sure a lot of people are on the same boat so why not share my experience if it means helping someone out there?
Parents Moving Back
When I was in university, my parents moved back to Hong Kong. Since I was in Boston, it didn’t really matter much to me. I knew that living with them again was always a possibility but not something I actively thought about. (I’m the type of person that tries her best to live in the moment rather than worry about the future. That mindset has brought me some troubles before but we’re not getting into that today). Also, that time felt so far away. I had more pressing matters to focus on.
Should I Move Back to Hong Kong?
Even after I graduated, I was either abroad or in my hometown, Toronto. My parents were in Hong Kong so we were still halfway across the world from each other. The pandemic changed everything. I’m not the first person to say this and I certainly won’t be the last. The company I was going to originally work for in Shanghai shut down permanently. I had another job offer but it was up in the air due to closed borders. Should I keep waiting for this current company to get back to me? I couldn’t keep waiting mindlessly. What if this opportunity didn’t work out either? After having some discussions with my parents, we decided that it was best for me to move back to Hong Kong. I couldn’t escape thinking about the situation anymore. This was it. I was going to move back in with my parents.
I panicked for a bit before tossing all my thoughts to the back of my mind. The situation didn’t really hit me until the last few days of quarantine. I was quite worried about my upcoming life. My mind was swirling with all the negatives. Moving back was going to be rough. After all, I had all this freedom for so many years. I could do whatever I want, come home whenever I want without someone nagging me. I was a free woman. But I also missed them. I haven’t seen them for a year.
My Initial Reaction When Seeing Them In-Person After a Year
Not physically seeing your family for a year had some effects. It made me realize how different we are. They were always there but I didn’t look carefully. After moving back, these differences are practically screaming at me. My mom is a hoarder. I am not. My mom worries about everything. I’m chill. I like to be alone most of the time. My mom can’t stand being alone. I like to have deep, meaningful conversations with people because I enjoy the human connection. It’s awkward for my parents to open up. I had this ideal view of how my parents should be but now I’m more accepting of who they are as people rather than how I want them to be. To be honest, I’m still struggling.
Adapting to a New Situation
When enough time has passed, you kind of forget what it’s like living with your parents. No worries. I was reminded on the very first day when I moved back. My mom couldn’t stop nagging me. I wasn’t wearing enough clothes, not wearing the right type of mask, not drinking enough water, etc. My favourite one that she pointed out was that I gained weight (Asians love pointing this out, don’t they? It’s the first thing they comment on when you haven’t seen them in a while). I was in a bad mood that day. I felt like I travelled back in time. I’ve matured physically and mentally but all of a sudden, I felt like 16 years old all over again.
You know how people say there’s never truly a moment where you officially feel like an adult? That may be true but there have been moments where I think I really am one now. One of them is being able to see my parents as flawed human beings. Younger me would be annoyed about them not being better parents, picking out their flaws, and complaining. Older me understand their perspective more. They will always be worried about me. I can be 50 years old and they’ll probably tell me to put on a sweater because it’s cold. There are moments where I still get annoyed at them but I’m much better at being patient and understanding.
Cultural Differences/Generation Gap
I told myself that my parents nagging me is their way of communicating love to me. Growing up in Canada, we emphasize how important communication is but it’s not really a thing in Chinese culture. In Chinese culture, we swallow our bitterness because maintaining harmony is the most important for a relationship. It’s hard for them to know how to communicate well because that’s what their parents taught them. It’s their normal. They are also surrounded by like-minded people even today, reinforcing the idea of how you’re supposed to interact with others. We grew up differently so of course, we’re going to have our differences. I also understand myself better. I’m clearer on what I want and my thoughts. Yet my parents stayed the same so of course, we’re going to clash.
I used to follow my parents mindlessly because I thought they knew what’s best. They’re not going to purposefully hurt me, right? They’re my parents and I’m just a little kid. What do I know? The truth is, they’re doing what they think is best for me but it might not be how I think it’s best for me. I can think for myself now. I’m an adult (okay, semi-functioning).
It’s a lot of compromises. I have to explain that I am a grown adult now and need some privacy. Thankfully, they do respect that. Although I am still trying to adapt to my new environment, my best friend reminded me of something important. We tend to forget that our parents are getting older just like us. Coming back is just as much as an adjustment for them. We’re still trying to find that equilibrium. I’m also still working on communicating better with my parents. It’s going to take time and I’m still not there yet.
Tips for Those Moving Back to Live with Their Parents
Those who are moving back home or thinking about it, remember to communicate with your parents, respect each other’s differences and compromise. I cannot emphasize how important communication is when moving back home. Talk to your parents about boundaries. This one is a must.
It will not be the same as living out by yourself. I went from being by myself 24/7 to being constantly surrounded by people. I feel like I can’t truly relax in case I don’t hear them when they call my name. When times are tough, I just have to remind myself that I am glad I get to spend more time with them, something I did want for the longest time. Trust me, you’ll need reminders like that too.
What are your thoughts about moving back to live with your parents?