Independence is a questionable concept in Black households. Yes you can work; yes you can buy groceries; and yes you can raise your younger siblings if you are older. But does that mean you can move out and be independent? No. Well, not according to our parents and in all honesty not according to the economy.
I moved out of my parental home for many reasons, but my mental health was the biggest one. As the oldest, there are so many responsibilities to think about; so much so I could not worry about my own health. It’s mentally draining; but living with parents is also financially draining. Many young people nowadays take care of households financially, since some of us earn double the amount our parents do.
I spoke to Amanda, 26, who told me her struggles because of staying with her parents. She is a third-year student. She fell behind with her schooling when she got pregnant as a teen. Her parents’ lack of respect of her boundaries still makes her feel like she is 16.
“My relationship with my parents is hard most days. Even though I am considered an “adult” by the world, under their roof I am a child who must report where she is, what she is doing there, and when she’s coming back. I could move out, but I don’t have the money to do so right now. I am finishing my degree and my daughter just entered high school.”
Siya, 23, moved out of his parents’ RDP house and built a shack in the yard for himself – that is normal practice in the townships especially for young men. As a woman I always thought boys having their own shack gave them much more freedom than girls. But Siya says differently. As much as it may appear like he has independence, he is still expected to take care of the main house’s chores, pay all the bills, take care of the younger siblings, and as an only boy be the head of the household.
This is a universal issue for many young people. The idea of independence sounds amazing, but many cannot afford it. But when you get the time, space, and financial stability to do so, please do. I was scared going out to live on my own; it was not an easy decision, both mentally and financially, but it’s definitely worth the peace.
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Tell us: What are your experiences as an adult living in your parental home?