STUDENT LIFE / MAR. 24, 2014
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How to Not Look Like a Baby When You’re Living with Your Parents

Since the 2008 economic crash, the number of young adults living at home has skyrocketed. As of 2013, 3.3 million adults between the ages of 20 and 34 were living with their parents. With those numbers, living with mom and dad doesn’t carry the stigma it did a decade ago. Nonetheless, you want your work team to see you as a competent professional, not someone who’s dependent on his parents.

One option, of course, is to keep your living arrangements to yourself. But that’s easier said than done in a team environment, where everyone’s personal business tends to be on display simply due to the lack of privacy. When you know that one co-worker is dodging calls from creditors and another is fighting with her husband, you can be confident that your living arrangements are probably a matter of public record. Besides, you don’t want it to seem as if you’re hiding something. So what’s the best way to handle the situation with your team?

Mommy, I need…

It’s fine for your colleagues to know you live at home, but they don’t need to know that your mother washes your clothes, cooks your dinner, cleans your room, and folds your underwear. Those little luxuries do nothing to enhance your professional image. Leave your, uhm, unmentionables…unmentioned.

Manage your own affairs.

There are certain things that adults are expected to do for themselves -- do them. Pack your own lunch. Go grocery shopping. Pay your bills. Pick up your own dry cleaning. And, whatever you do, don’t call home and ask your mom to make sure you turned your electric blanket off. If you’re that worried, go home and check it yourself. Or at least call mom from somewhere more private than the team area. And, speaking of calling mom, don’t let your coworkers hear you calling her to ask when your last dental appointment was, or when your car is due for an oil change. How are your coworkers going to trust you to pull your weight on the job if you can’t manage the little details of daily life?

Contribute.

Not too many years ago, even young children were expected to contribute to the family. These days, most children in developed nations are provided for, if not coddled, until their late teens. Now that you’re an adult, the balance needs to shift. If our grandparents could do valuable chores and hold small jobs when they were 10, you can certainly contribute now. In fact, you should be providing your parents with more assistance than they’re providing you. Act as if you’re living with them for their benefit, not your own. Paint the house. Mow the lawn. Call and ask if they need you to pick up something on the way home, or what they would like you to cook for dinner. And, if you really want to be a responsible adult, pay rent. 

The bottom line is, if you want your colleagues to see you as a responsible adult, you have to act like one. Don’t let them hear you calling for mommy every time your figurative shoes need to be tied. If you demonstrate that you are indeed responsible for your own life and that you contribute to your parents’ lives, living at home can show a depth of character that any work team would value.

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