Girls live at home after one-and-twenty for a variety of reasons that I, personally, find fascinating. If you live at home then it’s probably for one of these reasons:
- You have a personal and strong conviction that living at home is God’s plan for unmarried and childless women.
- You don’t have any money for rent or mortgage and, therefore, a home of your own.
- You value the company and safety (among other things) provided by living at home.
- You are intentionally choosing not to be “hyper independent” and “too individual” by living at home.
- You’re living at home because this happened and that happened and there’s not a big plan, it’s just life, which is fine.
Hundreds of thousands of girls throughout history have lived at home until marriage and motherhood, or for the rest of their lives if marriage and motherhood never happened. The idea of girls living at home is not a modern phenomena or a sign of the times. That said, however, it may be an ancient and established practice, but it’s not an easy practice or, necessarily, an ideal practice.
The Bible suggests that marriage and motherhood and living in a home of her own is the ideal for most girls (Genesis 2:22-24, Proverbs 31:10-31, Ephesians 5:31-32, 1 Timothy 5:14 and Titus 2:3-5). Some girls are asked to sacrifice these things for devotion to God. And then there are those of us who, for whatever reason, are living at home after one-and-twenty today and trying to do so gracefully.
I’m blessed to live at home and I love my parents and sisters dearly. Nonetheless there are irritations and pressures inherent to living with my family in my late twenties. And — much as I love my mother and the farmhouse kitchen we share — I want a kitchen of my own!
Jesus said that we would have tribulations. Peter and Paul said that we should not be surprised when we endure trials, temptation (such as the inclination to covet our friends’ kitchens!) and suffering (such as the pain of wondering if we’ll be living at home for the rest of our lives or should start thinking of finding our own home — the one we planned to find with a husband someday). So don’t fret because living at home is hard sometimes.
The “secret” to living at home gracefully is, in my limited and far-from-perfect experience, to give grace.
It’s easy to demand grace by expecting people to give us grace by showing forbearance, humour and understanding. What if, instead, we give grace by showing forbearance, humour and understanding to others? Grace is favour, kindness and pardon as well as the undeserved mercy of God. It is synonymous with words such as kindness and generosity. Perhaps grace, in our lives, looks a lot like the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
And, practically, here a few suggestions to consider:
1. Make your own corner of your home, truly, your home.
I, personally, love making my room into my home with pictures, throws and cushions. I’d love to say that it’s a little bower of loveliness. I’ve been so busy studying for the last year or so, however, that I appreciate it most as the one room in the house where I can make a pile of “important” papers and find them undisturbed and untidied later! You may not have a room of your own, but if you have a corner of a room or a bed of your own then you can do something lovely in the way of homemaking. I also have a chest and a wardrobe full of things that I’m saving for my future home — candles, tablecloths and teacups.
2. Grow up.
Don’t believe that living at home inevitably means being a Peter Pan adult who refuses to, well, grow up. It’s possible to be a balanced, mature, responsible adult who lives at home. Don’t use living at home an an excuse for carelessness and immaturity. Set an example of love, faith and purity. Be considerate, kind and helpful around the house. Help with the dishes or the finances as your parents desire. Talk and find a way to work with them on defining and maintaining your “adulthood” while living at home.
3. Take a deep breath and remember that your parents’ house is…your parents’ house.
The older I get, the more I want to run my home my way. Oh, I don’t want to embrace outrageous decor or lifestyle, but I do want to create a home of my own for the fulfillment and nurture of some people of my own and that sometimes makes it hard to submit to my parents’ (usually perfectly reasonable) ways. When it’s very hard, I remember the address on my passport and licenses. The address is my parents’ address and a good reminder that by choosing to live at home, I’m choosing to honour their requests and keep their rules.
4. Be a member of your family.
It’s easy, when you’re trying to establish yourself as an adult while living at home or when you’re struggling with an aspect of living at home, to distance yourself from your family. I know! You’re not just a lodger. One of the blessings of living at home is having fellowship and friendship as well as accountability and those aspects of life that are good for building character and grace! Find ways to build relationship and contribute love, fun and sparkle to your family day by day.
5. Embrace today.
The likelihood that I’ll live at home for the rest of my life is small. Sometimes it feels as if “today” is going to go on forever. And sometimes I realise that, if and when I’m living on my own or with a family of my own, I’ll miss the conversation, laughter and games of Dutch Blitz around the kitchen table. I try to enjoy the good times and fun moments today while dreaming of (and working towards, as and when possible) a home of my own.
And, whatever else you do, pray. Pray for grace for yourself — and for grace to give to others. Pray for the humility and humour you need to live gracefully at home. And don’t forget to pray for a home of your own someday too!