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The Vine: October 20, 2010

Submitted by on October 20, 2010 – 10:59 AM34 Comments

Dear Sars,

Let me set the scene for you: I'm nineteen, currently living with my parents. I have my A.A. and I'm pursuing my A.S. in culinary management. While I love my parents, I've figured out that I love them from afar. Because of a series of events (starting with the removal of my adopted cat, my father going through my room daily, and arguments with my mother over whether or not I can be happy at the weight I am), I've been pushed to make that "afar" a lot further than it is right now. They know that my ultimate destination — for a lot of reasons, one of which is the culinary industry up there — is Chicago, IL. My parents live in Jacksonville, FL.

Because I can't stay in my house any longer, I've told my mother that in December, I'm going to move out. She thinks I mean somewhere in Jacksonville so I can finish my degree. I don't. In December, I'm going to move to Chicago and I'm going to stay there. This would mean dropping out of college and moving across the country by myself to live in a strange city and make it on my own in a well-known cutthroat industry. Suffice to say, I can understand my parents' hesitation.

But regardless, I'm leaving. I know my mother doesn't believe I'm leaving — when I asked her if she'd told my father, she said, and I quote, "Why would I? I don't think you're ready to move out. I'll tell him if and when you're ready to move out." So you can probably tell that she won't react to my news very positively. In fact, she's tried her damnedest to get me to spend my savings (which I'm saving for my apartment) on things I don't want or need. I'm not sure if she's doing it subconsciously or not, but I know she doesn't want me to go.

And herein lies my problem, Sars. I know I have to tell them. I can't just tell them, "By the way, I'm moving to Chicago tomorrow." I need to give them notice so they won't freak out when I pull up in a U-Haul and pack all my stuff in boxes and take off. They have to adjust to the fact that their baby girl is moving across the country from them, and there's really nothing they can do to convince me to stay.

But the thing is, I'm terrified to tell them. I hate arguments and confrontation. And I know that that's what's going to happen when I tell them — there's going to be an argument. Words will be exchanged that I know we'll regret. My mother will cry (her trademark for winning an argument).

So, Sars, here's my question. When should I tell them? I've had friends suggest just saying "fuck it" and telling them and walking away. I've had friends suggest I tell them after I've signed my lease. I've had friends suggest I tell them sooner rather than later, so they can be involved in the process of my move. What do you think would be the best, in this situation?

Nerve-wracked,

Home Sweet Home

Dear Home,

A month beforehand. It's the same notice you'd give a landlord, and while it's tempting — and, given your parents' consistent refusal to treat you like a voting adult, may seem advisable — to wait until the night before and then drop a peace-out on them from the middle of a cloud of bubble wrap, I suspect that that would just bolster their belief that you aren't grown up enough to make it on your own.

Part of that is legitimate concern for you, part of that is denial that you're no longer six years old…regardless of what it's made up of for them, keep in mind that, while they may want to turn your announcement into a shrieky referendum on your maturity, it doesn't have to become that for you. I get that you dread the inevitable "You're WHAT?" and "Are you CRAZY?!" and "No way can you blah blah doomed to fail blah blah undermining-cakes!", and it's hard not to take personally, but in the end, it isn't personal. It's their shit, not yours; it's not a prophecy.

Rehearse the announcement. Get a friend to help you if you can, the way that attorneys rehearse witnesses for cross-examination; have the friend role-play your parents, saying all the dismissive, combative, sobby things your parents might say, while you repeat phrases like "I'm sorry you feel that way, but I disagree," "I'm sure you don't mean that; I'll really miss you," and "I understand you're upset, but let's discuss this further after you've calmed down." You may get frustrated and upset and lose track of the script, and that's fine, but the key is not to fall into the trap of trying to convince them or get their blessing. You're not asking permission.

It won't go perfectly, but however it goes, then it's over and you can stop worrying about it. Just try to avoid getting into an unproductive "YES I CAN SO!" kind of dialogue, because they want to make it about "can" — are you able to, are you allowed to, whatever — and you just need to keep repeating, gently but firmly, that it's "will" that's relevant.

Dear Sars,

Me and my mom have a pretty unorthodox relationship. We're really close, almost like best friends, in a way. Since I'm an only child, we've always done things together and she's talked to me as she would a friend. I'm still respectful of her — it's not like I curse at her or anything — but we have a pretty relaxed relationship.

However, she does something that really pisses me off. Whenever we have an argument or disagreement over the phone, she's really quick to get snide, rude, sarcastic, talks over me, and hangs up the phone in my face. After this happens, we'll usually go days without talking, and I hate myself for it. It's really gotten to the point where I hate discussing certain things with her (i.e. money problems, school problems) because I know how she is. I've told her that while I love her, she can be a little hard to deal with.

She just says she has a bad temper sometimes and…she's pretty much dismissive of that. She's super-defensive when I bring her attitude to her attention.

But Sars, I really really hate when she hangs the phone up in my ear. It's like a total slap in the face. I'd never do that to her, and she does it on a fairly regular basis. It sometimes makes me not want to talk to her at all, because she's such a difficult person to talk about things with.

I don't want to make her seem like a bad person. She's not. She's done a lot for me. But I'm fairly independent — I don't mooch off her and expect much from her. But I do tell her about different things going on in my life since we don't live with each other and don't talk every day, but she's just…not an easy person to get along with. It's like, to put up with her, I have to remind myself that she's my mom and I love her. But it's hard to say I'd even like her if I was casually acquainted with her.

I know this is really one-sided, and I'm not trying to make myself seem perfect. But so many of these acrimonious phone calls wind up with me saying "hold on…calm down…wait a minute, let me just…I didn't say I…" followed by her just hanging up in my face. It makes me feel like shit.

What am I supposed to do?

Tim

Dear Tim,

Let me point a couple of things out to you here. 1) "[She] hangs up the phone in my face. After this happens, we'll usually go days without talking, and I hate myself for it." 2) "[I'm] saying 'hold on…calm down…wait a minute, let me just…I didn't say I…' followed by her just hanging up in my face."

…Okay? Okay, here's what I see going on here. You have given yourself responsibility for her behavior, because that in turn lets you believe that you can control said behavior. This is one of the most frequent (and understandable) pitfalls of interpersonal relationships, and it's particularly difficult to change the pattern with a parent. And you can change the pattern, even if you can't change her behavior — which you can't, really.

You can let yourself off the hook for getting angry at her when she's rude and verbally abusive; you should get angry. If she hangs up on you and the two of you don't talk for a few days, that's on her, not you. If she's talking over you, overreacting, bullying you, and you choose to end the call by saying, "Mom, I don't appreciate being spoken to this way, and I'm going to get off the phone now," that's on her too.

She does that shit because it works. Stop responding to it. She wants to hang up on you, fine; the next time you talk, she can initiate the contact, and if she doesn't lead with an apology, ask for one, and excuse yourself until it's forthcoming. If she's talking over you, inform her that, if you aren't allowed to speak, you'll be ending the conversation, and then end it. Stop participating. She may not catch her snap, but you'll spend less time trying — in vain, I will note again — to get her to hear reason, and less time feeling like crap about yourself for failing.

You aren't failing; this isn't yours to control. You can only control your own behavior, so the next time she's an asshole to you, "control" yourself out of the argument and don't take the bait. You have nothing to feel like shit about. Stop carrying that around.

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34 Comments »

  • RC says:

    @ Home Sweet Home -
    as usual, SARS is giving you great advice. I quibble only because I know what my mother would have done with a month's notice – as if I were a tenant. I would receive a BILL , just as a tenant would, and it would greatly exceed the amount of money I have saved. That's how my mother is – if one manipulation won't work, up the stakes. I have no doubt that if she had ever had fair notice of my moving, she would have found reason to up the stakes into the court system, for lack of rental payment. I wish you luck, be tough on this.

    @ Tim
    I am not a psychiatrist, but that level of manipulation is frequently seen with a Borderline Personality disorder; I have known a few. Check Wikipedia — it won't tell you how to deal, but it will give you some insight into staying out of the discussion.

  • Chanticleer says:

    Tim: I'm also an only child, and I ran into the same thing with my mom (ran into as in "ran into a brick wall, repeatedly, for twenty years"). Finally an excellent therapist told me that it wasn't my job to babysit my mom's emotions, and if she's acting like a five-year-old (or in your case a snotty thirteen-year-old), I shouldn't try to help her or stop her or explain myself, I should just excuse myself and let her work it out on her own.

    My mom hasn't changed at all. She still throws tantrums regularly, and I doubt that she'll ever stop. But it doesn't mess me up inside anymore. I don't sit there with my stomach in knots wondering whether I should try to call her back; I just shake my head and forget about it. My relationship with her is definitely healthier now: because I'm able to dismiss her tantrums without freaking out about them, I can enjoy the rest of my time with her without worrying about when the next storm will hit.

    I mean, obviously it'd be great if we could have moms who acted like reasonable adults all the time. But that's not going to happen, so… this is pretty good. Good luck!

  • Carrie Ann says:

    Home, congrats on your decision! I think you're making a good, brave choice and I honestly think it's going to be a great move for you. Before the conversation with your parents (which I agree should be about a month out), you should arm yourself with as many answers to your their questions as possible:

    1) Did you pick December for a reason? End of current semester in school? Time when you will have enough money saved?
    2) Do you know anyone in Chicago?
    3) Have you selected a neighborhood, or better yet, a specific apartment to live in?
    4) Do you have job prospects or a plan to find some?
    5) Have you explored avenues to finishing your degree in Chicago?

    If you had positive, thorough answers to all of these, I think you could shut them up. Even if the answer is "no," you should be prepared to explain why you're OK with not knowing anyone, or finishing school right now, or whatever. They still might not think it's a great idea, but they have no leverage to keep you in FL if you want to leave.

  • John says:

    @Nerve: Long ago, when I was young and coming out of the closet, I noticed that if I made a big announcement or a big deal out of it, people would respond as if it were a big deal. If, on the other hand, I treated it as an unimportant thing, then everyone else did too. I suggest a similar tack might be good with your parents.

    You can start by dropping little un-time-specific hints around — "Well, mom, you know I've been saving up so I'll be prepared when it's time to get my own place". Start mentioning other ways you've been preparing. (This will also establish that you are, in fact, ready, and being adult by saving, planning and researching.)

    Depending on your parents, you could even recruit them in non-threatening ways. Just strike up conversations like "Dad, what do you think are the most important things to look for in a first apartment? I'm making a list. You know, for someday." The point is to get the idea in their head, without letting them pin you down.

    When the time comes to announce, present it as happy news. If your mom cries and says… well, it doesn't matter what she says… you respond with "Aw, mom, I'm going to miss you, too! But I'll only be a phone call away!" In other words, pretend that any forthcoming criticism is actually her way of saying she'll miss you. Because, it kind of is.

    Of course I don't know your parents — but the fact is, you are an adult, and in the final analysis what they say doesn't matter. It's what you do. But do give them a little slack; those of us who have loved someone and watched them grow up sometimes find it hard to switch from seeing them as children to seeing them as adults. Your childhood was a long time ago to you — but to them, it was very recent.

  • ferretrick says:

    @HSH: I basicly agree with Sars about the one month is a reasonable time frame, but I also think that your friends that advise you to sign a lease first have a point. It's less of a "screw you, I'm out of here" than just pulling up in a U-Haul one day, but more certain than "I'm moving to a new city in Dec. but I haven't decided where I'll live/work/play, etc." When you've signed your name to a legal document and face financial consequences for backing out, it's more of a fait accompli (sp?) and harder for them to argue with. Also, it sounds like you have caved in confrontations with them before (who hasn't in confrontations with their parents?). But, those same financial consequences there will work to reinforce your will and keep you from caving. If your move out goal is Dec. I would "visit" Chicago over a weekend next month (read: look for an apartment and a job). Then you can come back with lease and job offer in hand and say "Hi Mom! Hi Dad! I've got my first apartment! Isn't it great?"

    One other thing I would like to point out-why are you asking your mom if she's told your dad you are moving out? My therapist calls that "triangular communication" when instead of speaking to each other, two family members use a third as a go between/peace keeper. Its a very common pattern in families, but also destructive. If you are mature enough to move out, you are mature enough to speak to your father about it directly. Work on breaking this pattern. Good luck.

    @Tim:

    "It's like, to put up with her, I have to remind myself that she's my mom and I love her. But it's hard to say I'd even like her if I was casually acquainted with her."

    And that's ok. Your mom behaves like an asshole at times. It's both possible and perfectly ok to not like her personality, and love her at the same time.

    "She just says she has a bad temper sometimes and…she's pretty much dismissive of that."

    And you need to keep repeating to her the message that that's NOT OK. Guess what? I have a bad temper. That's not an excuse for not behaving like an adult and keeping it controlled. Practice phrases like "I know you have a temper, Mom, but that doesn't mean I will accept snideness/hang ups, etc." "It's not ok to talk to me this way." "You will need to change your tone, or I'm going to end the conversation." "I'm actually not ok with how our last conversation ended, so I'm going to need a real apology before continuing." Delivered in a firm but neutral tone. Then, stop blaming yourself for what she does/doesn't do. She's an adult. Make her act like one.

  • Grace says:

    @ferretrick: I had never heard the term "triangular communication", but that perfectly describes the conversation dynamic between me and my two sisters. I am usually the "neutral" party, who listens to each of them bitch about the other, without passing those negative comments along to the target of the complaint. I stand up for myself, and when i'ts appropriate, I pass along feedback on why J thinks M is crazy/rude/whatever, but I've also made it clear that if they have issues with each other, they need to talk to each other, and not expect me to play arbiter.

    @RC: I don't think that a bill for rent is likely, or even legal. Unless Home has been paying rent all along, or has a contract, her parents cannot simply present a bill for rent and expect that she must pay it, let alone go to court to try to get it enforced.

    I agree with the suggestions to start explaining how you are preparing and taking steps for a move, and then let them know about the actual move a month before it happens. You're an adult, and while they may want to keep you in the nest for a while, you've got to strike out on your own sometime. Good luck.

  • LynzM says:

    @Sars – really awesome advice in both of these letters. I don't have much to add, other than to say that your comment about patterns is Spot On (and applicable to so many situations in life).

    Repeating the mantra of "You're upset, and I'm ok" to yourself might be helpful in both of these situations, too.

  • Felicia says:

    @Home Sweet Home: Best of luck to you on your journey. But please note that Carrie Ann is right; you need to have as much stuff as possible nailed down before you talk to the parentals. Also, Chicago is a tough, expensive town, and moving here from Florida in
    the winter time is not for the faint of heart. I strongly suggest that you get a handle on were you're going to live and how you're going to support yourelf before you take off; mostly because that's just a good idea, but also because you don't want to have to crawl back home with your tail between your legs after three months. But you're absolutely correct- Chicago is a terrific food town, plus, there are a good many culinary and pastry programs where you could finish up your course work. Hope it works out for you.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Sars, you really give the full package when it comes to advice!

    HSH, my advice is mostly on the practical side. The more you find out about your future home, the more it will seem real, an accomplished fact, and that will decrease any "pie in the sky/you don't know what real life is like" arguments from your folks.

    For instance: Chicago in winter is going to be, to use the scientific term, fucking freezing. You probably won't want to buy and ship winter garments from Florida to Illinois, but you will want a warm, albiet small, wardrobe to have on hand, and an idea of where to buy a coat, boots, etc. So when you're researching neighborhoods to see what you can afford/like, include searches of secondhand clothing stores and so on so you can be warm right away, not stumbling down the street in your windbreaker. Also a good time to research kitchen utensils, furniture, etc. Find out what's cheaper to ship and what cheaper to buy once you're there.

    If you're planning to take up school again in Chicago, get all your transcripts and such organized, and make sure any paperwork you need for transferring credits is filled out and sent. Even if you don't start going to class right away, it's going to be a lot easier to get that info together now, rather than on the net/over the phone later.

    These are just two ideas out of many, but the more you focus on details and checking things off lists, the calmer you can keep your mind. This is being done, here are the things I'm doing. It's not an idea or a dream, it is a plan being enacted. That knowledge can be a very useful sheild against tears and tribulations, because you have a solid place to stand within your mind and feelings.

  • Meredith says:

    @Home: I agree wIth everyone who says to nail as much down as possible. I'd include getting a bank account with a bank that has branches in Fla and Chicago. This should be easy (we live in the era of mega-banks!), and that way you don't have to mess around with switching accounts during the stress of a move. If you haven't already, get an account your parents aren't on, so your moving funds don't disappear "for your own good" (this happened to a friend of mine).

  • Beth C. says:

    @HSH, I have no advice for the parents, but I will say this about moving to Chicago: Buy your winter coat before you leave Florida. You are going to need a serious winter coat, as in knee length, heavy wool or something similar. It will be harder to find in FL, but it will be much cheaper because it isn't needed for everyday wear there. In Chicago, retailers have you over a barrel because you MUST HAVE the coat, so they can charge what they want.

  • Lucy says:

    I second ferretrick about short-circuiting the triangular communication thing. I used to deal with that a lot with my stepmom, where she would confront me with something my dad was allegedly mad about. Then I would apologize to her and feel really bad that my dad was upset, but also be mad that he couldn't tell me himself. Then when it finally occurred to me to ask him about it, it turned out she was making half that stuff up. New strategy: if he has a problem with me, and I don't hear about it from him, he's obviously not really that upset.
    This may not really have anything to do with your dynamic, but being able to talk to both parents by yourself is yet another fantastic sign of maturity.

  • mspaul says:

    @Beth C., not to mention that all the decent coats are long gone by December!

    HSH, not sure where you're looking to live or if you know Chicago very well, but don't be afraid to use an apartment broker. In Chicago the apartment owner pays the broker fee, so it's a free service for renters. Good luck!

  • Bria says:

    @HSH Amen on the get-basic-cold-weather-gear-in-advance advice. Two places to get excellent deals on stuff like that: Campmor and Sierra Trading Post. Both have websites and catalogs, both are worth a look to see what you can pick up. In addition to the coat, I recommend silk long underwear to go under your clothes, especially if you're going to be walking a lot. When I lived in Ann Arbor (think one magnitude of horrible less than Chicago), I had the hardest time with my legs freezing walking to and from class during winter. I was fine from the thigh up, due to a killer coat (thank you, Sierra Trading Post), but the icy wind was just cutting through my jeans. I threw on a pair of silks under my jeans one day and the HEAVENS OPENED AND SANG. I mean, it was a lot better.

    Also – chapstick and hand lotion. Keep both available and readily accessible to avoid serious winter chapping. It's a little thing, but it will make a huge difference.

    Most of all, good luck with your move. You know this is the best thing for you, and regardless of any drama the initial process kicks up, that will still hold true. At the end of the day, there's really not much your folks can do to get in your way. They know that (at least on some level), and that may add to their initial pushback against this idea. You might consider (and I can understand why this might not be appealing) having a plan for a return visit when you go into the conversation about moving to Chicago. If part of your "I'm leaving" message includes a reassurance about coming back to see them in the 6 months or so after you move, it might sting a bit less. Best of luck.

  • Amy says:

    @Meredith, @Home
    I would actually recommend caution before getting the bank account with branches in FL and IL to reduce bank stress — it is great for cutting down on ATM fees, but in my experience you can't actually do things in person in a branch bank in the second state (like transfer money between checking and savings, or change your automatic transfers from checking to savings) for the account you opened in the first state. At the very least, I would call an IL branch of the FL bank and ask. Or, plan on banking online.

  • Kelly says:

    @Home – No particular advice from me, just a word of encouragement. I moved to Chicago from California eight years ago, and I love it! There are those who will tell you you won't be able to hack the winters after being raised in a warm clime – but you will. And the spring, summer, and fall here can be just amazing.

  • Dawn says:

    RC, while I think it's great that you are strategizing ways to leave your parents' home why on earth would you move to Chicago in the middle of the winter? You live in FL and thus cannot possibly be aware of how cold and snowy it could be. So, be prepared for that.

    I second the advice to get things totally organized before launching the conversation. The more specific details you have, the more adult and reasonable you will appear. Not that this will necessarily have any effect on parents mourning the loss of baby, but it will help you keep the conversation on an appropriately adult level (on your side, anyway). No matter how they react, you don't want to be reacting to them like a spoiled child and having the details of your move planned will help that.

    If you don't know Chicago well or at all, I definitely suggest a pre-move visit. Chicago is actually a great town and I find it incredibly reasonable in terms of cost of living (compared to the outrageous rents of cities like New York or San Francisco). The Chicago Reader is the local independent weekly newspaper (online, too) and has a great rental section, as does Craigslist of course. Good luck!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    You live in FL and thus cannot possibly be aware of how cold and snowy it could be. So, be prepared for that.

    Really? I know you're trying to help, but she lives in Florida, not under a rock. Chicago winters aren't exactly the country's best-kept secret. Let's assume she considers launching her career and her adult life a worthwhile trade-off — and that she'll figure out how to do so, with various bumps along the way and the help of the internet, just as we all had to, because she's not five years old. Which was pretty much the point of her letter.

  • Alexis says:

    Sars's advice for Tim is perfect, but there is one other thing that might be helpful to think about.

    Me and my mom have a pretty unorthodox relationship. We're really close, almost like best friends, in a way. Since I'm an only child, we've always done things together and she's talked to me as she would a friend.

    I didn't have this relationship with my mom so I'm coming from a different place, but when I moved in with her for a few months after graduate school she said she wanted us to be like roommates or friends, but her behavior didn't back that up at all; she was still behaving like a parent, in both good and bad ways, including expecting me to do what she asked (putting herself in charge) in a way that may have been fine when I was a kid but didn't work so well for 23-year-old me.

    And your mom is doing something kind of similar. The story, from your side, and maybe from hers, is that she's like your friend who you have a relaxed relationship with, but she's not talking to you like in a way that sounds friendly, or relaxed. She's talking to you like a parent, one who doesn't like you to disagree with her. Your story doesn't seem to fit with reality, and it might help to look at a different way of framing the situation than thinking of her as someone who is like a friend to you.

  • petalfrog says:

    @RC… I hope you're not insinuating that Tim's mom has borderline personality disorder. I say this from the perspective of being in a clinical psychology doctoral program and having spent half a semester reading Marsha Linehan's book on treatment for borderline — many many people in this world are manipulative (or immature, we don't know if Tim's mom is TRYING to manipulate Tim) and do not have BPD. In addition, BPD is one of the most stigmatized mental issues, so I would be very careful in labeling Tim's mom as BPD (especially since there is no mention of any other classic BPD symptomatology such as self-injury). There is also no evidence that this behavior extends to anyone else except for Tim.

    Of course, this is may not be your intent and I do think your advice to Tim on reading up on how to deal with manipulative people is a good one, but I don't think reading up on BPD would necessarily be helpful here since much of what goes on with a BPD individual will not necessarily translate to a non-BPD individual.

  • Emma says:

    Chanticleer:
    ~My relationship with her is definitely healthier now: because I'm able to dismiss her tantrums without freaking out about them, I can enjoy the rest of my time with her without worrying about when the next storm will hit.~

    Just wanted to second (and ninth and so on) this. It took me a very long time to learn that particular lesson, and it's still not always easy to put into practice, but it's the best advice I could imagine giving to someone in this situation.

  • Jules says:

    I got a different read on HSH's letter. I have to bring up the possibility that HSH might be trying to solve a conflict by running away from it – which, won't. Between the ages of 18 & 25 I packed up and moved across country 3 different times (moving back to my hometown for periods in between each move). The problem was that I thought I had to move far away to establish independence and boundries when really, the fact that I couldn't stand up and do that while in the same city as my parents should have been a giant red flag. I wasted a lot of time, delayed my degree and thus my career, and was less prepared for some of the future curveballs life threw at me. Moving to and establishing one's self in an entirely unfamiliar environment is difficult under the best of circumstances. HSH is planning to do so in little over a month and it's not clear whether she has a job, a place to live, or any kind of support structure in place for Chicago. Obviously where she is now isn't working. I just want to encourage her to be really really sure she is not running from one set of problems and taking on a whole set of new ones.

  • L says:

    @Jules

    Yeah, she probably is… only thing is, it sounds like she needs to. Sometimes living with parents that interfer too much with your life can make it impossible even to know if you are being independent or not. Maybe her plan will fail miserably, maybe it won't. But it seems like one of those things that she'll regret not doing, and resent her parents for it in the long run. The issue in the letter is not if she'll move out, but how she'll deal with her parents reaction to it.
    I think it is important sometimes to get away and to figure out your life on your own… it could be running away… or running towards something.
    In your comment you say that with the experience you had you were less prepared to deal with things? I don't see how that is a consequence to trying to make it on your own… sometimes we do need to "waste time" in order to understand ourselves better. Being prepared is always helpful. I second whoever said it's not the best idea to move during the winter – I mean, I get the rush because it probably sucks at home and she wants to leave ASAP. But I'm from a warm weather place and have travelled to wintery places, moved to them during winter time, and it can be just soooo depressing, which could make those first few weeks seem worse than they actually are. Peharps waiting until spring?

  • Valerie says:

    @Home: I just want to say that I'm rooting for you. I'm old enough to have kids your age (and do, in fact), and you need to do this – I mean, move out, at least. Your parents are manipulating you and not treating you like adult. Yes, things may go badly; you may make mistakes – that's part of taking this leap. It won't prove that you're not capable or that you weren't ready, and don't let your parents use that against you. You'll deal and move on. And…I grew up in a colder climate, so maybe I don't understand how much of a shock it might be to go from FL to Chicago in winter, but I don't think it should scare you off. You'll deal with that, too. I think how you respond to a climate change like that varies WILDLY by individual, and Chicago's an awesome city at any time of year.

  • Dawn says:

    Respectfully Sars, hearing about Chicago winters (as a FL resident) and having actually experienced them by, you know, living there are tremendously different things. Visiting for a week (and knowing you actually get to escape back to your tropical homeland climate) vs. actually living in Chicago are different too. Planning a move in December to a cold, snowy climate is extra-hard is all I'm saying. We have a LONG time to live on our own as adults, and perhaps delaying a move for a few more months (while saving more money to set your independent household up) just might make things easier for HSH.

    But that is neither here nor there, I suppose, since that not what HSH asked about. Your (and others here) advice about keeping things straightforward and responsible and avoiding engaging in unnecessary dramas is definitely good.

  • Vicky says:

    Um just curious if I'm the only one who noticed she was talking about moving out in December. If it were me, I'd move out either in January or in the dead week between Christmas and New Year's. If you were planning on moving before the holidays, that's a fight in and of itself waiting to happen.

  • Jules says:

    @L: All experience is valuable, but I do regret the time I wasted by withdrawing from school to move (more than once)b/c at 45 I'm still trying to finish the PhD I always knew I wanted. My husband and I were in grad school when life threw us an unplanned baby curveball. Ironically we were living in my hometown and having never really worked out boundary issues w/ mom I finally was forced to do so within the paradigm of "my child/my rules, grandma."

    But HSH is only 19. I just wanted to point out to her that distance does not always solve boundary issues for you.

  • JS says:

    @Dawn: "Respectfully Sars, hearing about Chicago winters (as a FL resident) and having actually experienced them by, you know, living there are tremendously different things." Well…yes. And that's going to be true regardless of when or where she lives–there will always be aspects of the new place that you can't really understand until you experience them. But when you're an adult, it should be assumed (by yourself and everyone else) that you've considered that fact–that there will be things for which you are unprepared and you will handle them.

    I think we can assume that HSH knows that Chicago winters are rough (even to an extent that she may not be prepared for) because…it's Chicago, but that she has taken that into account and will be able to handle it because she is an adult. It's that kind of mindset *overall* that HSH needs to get into in order to address the problems she sets out in her letter. She's an adult. It's on her, and she can handle it.

  • Bria says:

    I am suddenly reminded of advice my sister-in-law (a life-long resident of profoundly cold places who runs and bikes outdoors regardless of the temperature) gives to people moving to colder climates: there is no bad weather, only poor clothing choices. HSH will be fine, whether this move takes place in December or June. All of the stuff one needs to make it through a Chicago winter is readily available for purchase. To the extent HSH shows up without necessary gear, it's a fixable situation that most people figure out quickly.

  • eeee says:

    Another angle for everyone focusing on the weather aspect:

    HSH says she lives in Florida NOW. She doesn't say she's lived in Florida all her life. By the time I was 19, I had lived in New Jersey, Germany (twice, once northern and once southern), Maryland, North Carolina, west Texas, Delaware, and Okinawa, Japan.

    And none of this, nor the fact that I had been living on my own for ~eight months in Texas and nearly two years in Japan, calmed my mother down any when I announced that I was moving to Georgia when I was 21.

    So just because she's in Florida now doesn't mean she's going to be gobsmacked by the weather. She might be struggling to breathe in the heat and humidity, and looking forward to seeing snow and rain again – like me.

  • Felisd says:

    @HSH: Good luck with your move! I think it is the right thing for you to do. I can tell you from experience that moving a distance away from controlling parents can be incredibly freeing, and it's amazing how much you grow as a person when you're on your own in a new place without someone telling you how and what to think.

    However, I want to forewarn you that, unless you plan to cut off contact with your parents altogether — and I assume and hope that you don't — there is a chance that the way they treat you will not change. I can tell you from experience (having moved across country to get away from my own parents… that's a Vine story in itself) that even simple distance will not automatically make the problems disappear, and they will not automatically start seeing you as an adult.

    You'll have to prepare yourself by learning how to deal with this effectively, and a good place to start will be in the conversation you have with your parents when you inform them that you are moving. There will be friction, as there always is when relationship boundaries are redefined, but in the long run, it will result in a healthier relationship between you and your parents.

    Again, good luck!

  • Kit says:

    @HSH Good luck on the move the Chicago – sounds like you have your screwed on and are ready for the big move. I myself, moved from Australia to England a good few years ago, and trying to break the news to my Dad (who I wasn't speaking to at the time) was certainly interesting. But was made easier as I had all the answers ready, had saved up my Pounds and gotten myself a place to stay and a job to help out for the first few months. Ok it was just with family but it was somewhere to start out (I was only 21).

    I definitely advise keeping your calm whilst talking to them – they are going to want you to react to their insane questions and disbelief as though your still a kid "I'm going and that's all that matters" (and stomping out of the room) so just be ready to take some deep breaths and have your reasons all ready to go. They need to know that you have thought about this long and hard and that you are indeed a grown up – even if they don't want you to be one.

  • M says:

    This is late, but I want to wish HSH luck!

    Are there any Chicago organizations you can join online? Then you wouldn't be moving to a place where you don't know anyone. Having aquaintances you can meet for coffee and ask for local tips would make things easier and more fun.
    The only advice re: weather I have really is that ebay has lots of down coats available. I went to Michigan in February and bought one specifically for that trip for less than $20. It's 80's style but toasty. Winter silks also puts stuff on clearance a lot. Long underwear seconds are a good buy, because really, does the fact that a seam isn't perfectly straight keep you less warm?

  • La BellaDonna says:

    Good luck to Home, and I've been happy with second-hand shearling coats bought on eBay. For $40. Warm as toast in the snow and cold!

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