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Home Is Where The Parents Are

Home Is Where The Parents Are

February 27, 2012

Should any self respecting Indian man live at home? How old is too old?

My name is Feluda and I live at home with my parents.

As an Indian man, saying the above is not something to be embarrassed about. If you are Indian and male, you are allowed to live at home until well into your 30s as part of an exchange of care. You are allowed to have your pants washed, have all your cooking done for you, then get trays removed as you perch your legs on the sofa to watch TV (unless your mum is hogging the TV, as is normally the case). And your parents get you to help them out. But I’m not sure this agreement is seen as positively as it once might have been.

An elderly English man I know said he thought it was normal in Asian culture for children to live with their parents longer than their white equivalents (though thanks to rising property prices and other economic factors, everyone is staying longer at home.) An Asian friend of mine has never moved out, and until recently, was still sharing a room with his younger brother – he can’t see why it’s an issue. Then there was my last landlord, who lived in the house with me and two flatmates, but despite being over 40, went home every night to eat a meal cooked by his mum.

In case you’re wondering, I have left the nest before. After I graduated, as soon as I found work, I was out the door. It was the right thing to do. I love my parents dearly but feel our relationship is healthier with a bit of distance between us. But the year before last, I had to move back after the end of a contract, and haven’t left since. Is it ideal? No. Do I want to move out? Yes. But right now however, that’s proving a little difficult. And I’m wondering if some of the stigma of living with your parents should be removed.

Now, to be clear, although I do live with my parents, I like to think I don’t demand much. I help with the shopping, cook a few times a week, I do my own washing, mainly as I don’t want to feel I’m a teenager again. They ask a few too many questions about where I’m going, possibly the result of overdosing on interrogation methods seen in TV-detective dramas, but that’s parents for you. Asian parents get a lot of stick for their overbearing nature, but they’re also just trying to be good parents, and often can’t help their anxieties spilling over. They’re still parents at the end of the day. Worrying is not a trait exclusive to Asian mums and dads.

While I have my own bugbears to deal with regarding being at home again, it’s the reactions from everyone else that have been most interesting. By and large, the reaction from white people is light mockery and incredulity. Relatives respond with a mix of concern, worry and judgement - everyone knows someone that has never quite left the nest. Speaking to Asian friends, they tend to have a similar response. Apart from the friend still sharing a room with his younger sibling (they both have good paying jobs, they seem to just believe in everyone living together), I know others who have never stepped away from the homes they grew up in. And in some ways, this is admirable.

Attempting to keep the traditional extended family unit alive and well in 2012, in England - probably one of the least family-friendly countries in Europe - when the dominant culture has quite a different attitude, is actually quite brave (though I fear for the sanity and emotional wellbeing of those in this situation, no matter how proud a face they might put on when defending the setup to those who can’t understand why anyone would want to live with six of their in-laws all under one roof).

Telling women you want to date that you still live at home is also something some men might not care about, but it does give me pause. Some understand. Some give a look of pity or disbelief. A few, amazingly, don’t appear to mind. But you have to hope they have a place of their own or any attempt at intimacy will be a bit of a struggle (unless they are really into PDA). This could be the best argument for having my own space.

But a few privacy issues aside, is there anything that bad about living at home? Single people already take up too many homes in cities like London. What’s so wrong with living with an elderly couple (who just happen to be your parents)? 


  • Vasu
    04.08.15 01:23 PM
    It's great for adult Indian males to live with their parents if they are single. But if they are married or committed....its just good sense to move out for the peace of mind of the guy as well as his partner. Too many complex situations mushroom if you don't and its just a difficult position to put your partner in. Like everything else all good and bad times come to an end and there has to be a boundary between childhood and adulthood. This thin boundary is usually established by flying away from the nest when the time comes while coming back for visits. All about balance.
    27.02.12 10:48 PM
    @ Felada

    I am kind of lost .....

    Are you asking, is it ok to live at home?
    Are you justifying that, it is ok to live at home?
    You are you happy to live at home?
    You have no choice, but to live at home?

    What is it? ......I can't understand your reasons.

    One thing I will say to you is this....Your childhood home is the best free hotel in the world. Everything gets done for you, and you don't have to do anything in return...Well I didn't.

    You are better off in every sense and don't let anybody tell you any different. No amount of nooky is worth anything against all the perks you get at home. Happy days.

  • Rajpriya
    27.02.12 10:26 PM

    You are right. They are the only people who loved their children and gave everything they can. It's only the right thing to do to care for them in their old age and the most charitable thing.
  • Vishal
    27.02.12 09:57 PM
    Lovely point this!

    Along with us living at home with parents, it also becomes our moral responsibility to take care of our aging parents after we're well set and they're really old.
  • Rajpriya
    27.02.12 04:53 PM
    @Aussie Desi,

    "If you enjoy living at home for the benefits that it offers, fine, but make sure any future life partner is aware of what she/he is getting into".

    Very likely your future partner could be the Great Wall of China between you and your parents.
  • AussieDesi
    27.02.12 04:36 PM
    Interesting article, and not surprised to see polar opposite responses to it!
    All "white people" leave their parents in old people's homes...all Indian families live together in harmony forever...

    I am no expert, but shouldn't we examine where the "family unit" sits in both cultures, eastern and western? In the US and UK, it is commonplace for children to leave home to attend college in different cities. Isn't this happening in India too? In Australia, this happens less, as a rule.

    But the interesting thing in my experience is that there are Gen Y guys/gals who are living at home for longer, or moving back after university, because of practical matters such as finance and lifestyle.

    There are others who move away for different reasons - maybe intimacy/privacy is one of those? - but maintain a different but stronger connection to their parents.

    Indian parents themselves, in a diaspora sense at least, are much more likely nowadays to travel and stay for a period with their children/grandchildren in England, Canada or wherever else. Sometimes health reasons dictate that, with the bst will in the world, sons have to place mothers into care homes in the west.

    For me, the issue is clarifying parental/children's expectations. If you don't want mum to come around and pick up your washing or deliver meals...she needs to be nudged in a different life direction. If you enjoy living at home for the benefits that it offers, fine, but make sure any future life partner is aware of what she/he is getting into.
  • Rajpriya
    27.02.12 03:27 PM
    Having lived in the West long enough I know there are children who come and lay flowers at their parents burial place months later even though they were not living very far away.

    Parents for most in the west are nonentities. They die after a lonely old age life in old age homes.

    Great western culture to follow?
  • Vivek Iyer
    Vivek Iyer
    27.02.12 02:56 PM
    Couldn't make much out of your article, but going from your rather straightforward teaser, I don't think we should really ape the western culture head to tail. That said, I don't see anything wrong in a guy living with his parents. I think we could copy many other constructive things like punctualtiy from the western world, not this!
  • shirish patwa
    shirish patwa
    27.02.12 01:48 PM
    I don't know what the author wants to convey by writing this confused article.I think that he has accepted the white people's way of living is the ideal one.I don't agree with him at all.I don't see anything wrong in parents ,grand parents and kids living under one roof. As about the privacy you require, the problem is totally different.We have huge population but scarce space,at least in metros and urban centers.But we have ingenious ways to tackle the problem!My Dear Friend, there is nothing absolutely wrong or absolutely correct.You need not feel ashamed of staying with your parents so long as you don't desert them when they are not in position to look after themselves!
  • Jyoti
    27.02.12 12:01 PM
    I come from a small village in India where the joint family culture still prevails. I left home as soon as I joined college. Not because of choice, but because my college was in a far city. That story apart, when I am saying that I come from a joint family, it doesn't mean only my parents and siblings, but also my grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

    Considering the fact that I cannot stay in my home for more than a month at a stretch, it sometimes hurt watching my father (who is 55) still being treated as a kid by my grandfather. Not his fault. It is difficult to teach someone who is 78. Situation would have been better if my father would have raised his concern when he was young. Staying together is not a big deal but only when the elder person realizes that the younger one is ageing too even though he/she is some 20 years younger to you.
  • Susmita Sen
    Susmita Sen
    27.02.12 11:12 AM
    I seem to agree with Kevin here that the piece has self-questioning, self-examination as one of its primary 'raison d'être's.
    Having said that, my own opinion is that there is something very wrong about the reluctance to quit the nest, even if you are in India for that matter. As far as being there for elderly parents goes, the kid (the term seems to be apt here) could live near them instead of with them. And is anybody ever asking the parents if they are secretly irked by a fledgling that refuses to fly?
  • Kevin
    27.02.12 08:06 AM
    Your article seems to be asking too many questions leading to an end where a reader such as myself does not see a strong stance of yours on this issue. I do feel a certain points where you strongly follow the dominant culture of moving out and staying alone, but it leads to a point where I sense you are asking yourself rather than inviting a reader to do that.
    Anyway that review aside, being someone who has experienced both sides of the fence, I can say living with parents is nothing wrong as long as you maintain an open relationship where they respect you as an adult and respect your privacy. This is very tough for Asian parents to do so but nevertheless, most of my friends' parents (and to an extent mine) are doing that and all is well. The only drawback I see is you don't want the many nice girls to come back home and meet your parents are planing to play black gammon or something you fancy. (a precaution taken to avoid getting R rating)

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