Arts & Entertainment
Dear Jody: Living at home ... again
Originally printed 1/28/2010 (Issue 1804 - Between The Lines News)
Q: I am a 21-year-old dyke. I am currently not working and, therefore, having to live with my parents. I was working until about three months ago when the company I was working for went bankrupt and, of course, I lost my job because of that.
Until then I lived in a one-bedroom apartment and was on my own, but I eventually was evicted because I couldn't pay my rent. I went to my parents and asked to move in with them. (I thought they would be ecstatic as they always say they don't see enough of me.) I was pretty desperate at this time. They said OK, with some conditions. Besides the verbal conditions, they made me sign a contract. In the contract it spells out what my jobs are around their house. The contract states that I can't have overnight guests, that I need to call if I plan to be out after two in the morning, and that after two months I would need to start paying them rent. Not a problem, I thought, because surely I would have a job by then.
Well, the two months are up and I don't have a job - or a life. I recently met the woman of my life and I am not allowed to have her stay the night. They don't like it when I don't call them on the night that I am staying with her. (I don't always know when that will be happening.) They say they worry that something has happened to me if I don't call them when I am not coming home. Don't they realize I made it home just fine when I lived by myself?
I hate living with them. I feel like I am just their maid with all the work I have to do around the house. I have no life with all their stupid rules, and now they want me to pay rent when I don't have a job. We got in a fight this morning and they said if I didn't like the rules, I could move out. They also informed me that if I couldn't pay the rent I would need to do two nights of the cooking and the laundry, as well as the cleaning. Well, I don't know where they want me to go if I move out, and I am not willing to do more work for them just because I can't find a job.
How do I convince them they are not being fair to me and that I am not their live-in maid? I can't help it that I am out of work.
A: It seems to me that your parents were upfront with you when you moved in. They offered you a place to stay and let you know what their expectations were as far as your obligations around the house, as well as their house rules and you needing to pay rent in two month's time. You had no problem accepting their contract then, and yet you are angry now because they are enforcing the contract. As far as the additional work around the house, that seems fair since you aren't able to pay rent. At least they aren't kicking you out - if you were renting a place, you would be kicked out. (Your parents have offered you a way to stay.)
When you stay out very late or decide to spend the night at someone else's place, it's common courtesy to call so your parents don't worry needlessly. I know it's hard to go back to living with parents once you have lived on your own. Sometimes, though, it's necessary, and you are lucky to have that safety net. You need to understand, also, that it is not easy on your parents having an adult daughter living with them again. Now, your decision is whether you want to continue living with them and pick up the extra chores since you can't pay rent or food, utilities, etc. - or if you should find somewhere else to live.Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. Reach Jody at DearJodyValley@hotmail.com. The "Dear Jody" column appears weekly.