Does Returning Home Equal a Step Backward?

Does Returning Home Equal a Step Backward?
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Leaving home is a wonderful moment. The feeling of freedom and the autonomy is one of the most emotional sensations that exists. When we leave the nest, it opens a whole new world of responsibilities, situations, and unexplored experiences. Little by little we learn to tolerate uncertainty, we learn from our shortcomings, and better organize our weeks, months, and seasons. But what about returning home?

The plans and sensations we live will require more or less strength depending on our age, personality, and stage of life. If our freedom comes in the form of studying far from home, of course the feeling of independence and freedom will be stronger and more important. If it comes from a commitment to work and responsibility of paying rent, we will value organization and our day-to-day responsibilities.

Nevertheless, if at some point all of our plans have become twisted and we find ourselves in a position in which returning home to live with our parents is unavoidable, is it easy to go back? How do we fit into something we have already forgotten?

“It may surprise you to hear this, but failure does not exist. Failure is simply the opinion that someone has about how certain things should be done.”

-Wayne Dyer

Returning home – going back to the (un)known

When returning home, the most important thing to keep in mind is the importance of empathyEspecially since this new living arrangement may become complicated.

Man thinking about moving home

Once you have adopted your own routines away from the watchful eye of your parents, your way of understanding and relating to the world will change. When moving back in, we must take into account not only our needs, but also what makes us uncomfortable or feel guilty. Taking a moment to put yourself in the shoes of your parents is necessary to find a balance of coexistence.

When we leave the nest, we are not the only ones who change. Yes our routines, priorities, and thoughts become different, but so do those of our parents. It is important to maintain restraint during the period of adaptation you and your parents experience. This will help avoid tension. In addition:

  • Make sure you communicate and exchange ideas
  • Understand that you have altered a dynamic that had already become stable
  • Negotiate a schedule and balanced expectations. Rigidity and structure can be positive. Respect it.
  • Remember that these are your parents, not roommates. 
  • Reduce your level of irritability (if you have one) by remembering that your family isn’t responsible for the situation
  • Don’t just see it as a “situation”, remember that each person involved has thoughts, emotions, and behaviors
  • Share family moments
  • Practice conflict resolution skills within the family. This will empower you in the process of reconstruction.

“He who can acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old can be a teacher of others.”


My house, my rules?

When a child goes home after living alone, they are returning home as someone who has become accustomed to their own routines and a distinct form of relating to the world which may be different from what they had as a child. There are elementary changes (such as economics), but it is also necessary to adapt psychologically. 

Discussing returning home

Although it is natural to help a child or family member, there are details you should keep in mind the minute you know someone will be moving back in with you. The clearer the priorities, the better the new living situation will function.

  • Remember that the role of a child is different for each person
  • Negotiate and establish chores and norms for living together
  • Communicate clearly with your child or family member. The fact that they may have experienced some tough times doesn’t mean you should be overprotective for a long period.
  • A few days after they have moved in, plan the future and get to know how all parties think of this transitional phase
  • Don’t neglect your own needs and routines
  • Don’t talk exclusively about the period of independence or personal crisis. Create moments for psychological rest.
  • Reduce explosive expression of emotions

As we can see, returning home is a process of support and understanding by all parties involved. Communication, understanding, and tenderness will avoid making something that is already complex more difficult.

“Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.