This co-dependent life: the parent and adult-child relationship

These days, it seems like it’s more common that millennials are living with their parents. But what happens when “home” means living with only one parent. Whether due to divorce or death, there are various reasons why you may find yourself living with just one parent.

Usually when we talk about co-dependency we are referring to a romantic relationship. However, this is not always the case. In reality, co-dependency can affect any relationship, from friendships, to parents. And now, as millennials are flocking home in large amounts and with divorce rates increasing, it seems that a lot of millennials are living with one parent post-grad. This inevitably leads to a co-dependent relationship.

Parents think they are never wrong.
When we live on our own, we get to make mistakes. We get to make our own decisions. When we live with a parent, we find ourselves seeking advice from them. From their point of view, they want what is best for us, however, they forget that we are adults. They begin to think that the parental way is the ONLY way. This stubborn behavior inevitabley leads to arguments. When the child feels pressured to do anything he/she will likely rebel or retreat.

Lots of bickering takes place.
It’s the people we spend the most time with that tend to push our buttons the easiest. And so having to live with a parent when you are an adult is a difficult task. When you see your more successful friends living their own lives, away from their parents, it’s inevitable that you become a little jealous. And that jealousy may reveal itself as random outbursts towards the only other person there, your parent.

Both social lives become hindered.
Look, we love our parents and they love us. If like me, you went away for college, then all you ever really wanted to do was spend time with your parents. And even as an adult that desire doesn’t go away. However, when you live with this person, and spend every evening with them, you become accustomed to making plans with them instead of your friends. And the same goes for the parent. They want to spend all their free time with their adult child because they don’t know how long this scenario will last and they want to soak up every ounce of time that they have with their adult child.

However, the negative aspect of this is that neither person has a thriving social life. Now, I’m not saying that we should all ditch our parents to go get f****d up at bars and sleep with any rando we meet. But what I am suggesting is that there is a balance that could be established to help the parent-adult child relationship be a little healthier. There is also the issue of the adult-child feeling guilty for making plans and NOT spending time with their parent. Which leads me to my next point.

Everyone needs their space.
When you share a small home such as an apartment or condo, it becomes even more difficult for both people to have their own space, to find alone time. For instance, if one person is in the main living area watching tv, and the other person wants some quiet reading time, it becomes very difficult for either person to truly enjoy themselves. And with everyone leading busy lives, and having their own ways to unwind and relax, living with a parent/adult-child becomes a challenge.

Look, various degrees of co-dependency exist. It’s not a one size fits all dilemma. But there are definitely signs to watch for when you find yourself living at home with either mom or dad. Establishing some ground rules is a good idea to avoid a co-dependent relationship. And if you find yourself in a co-dependent relationship with a parent or adult-child, just know that both parties want out of the co-dependency. Eventually, life will bring some miracle that will allow you to move out and live more independently and inadvertently help your relationship.

Now, I’d love to hear from all of you. Have any of you ever experienced co-dependency with a parent or child. If so, please share your experience below. I love hearing all your comments and feedback.


A 20-something girl on a journey to find herself with hopes of helping others feel their feelings.