I’m Choosing Contentment Over Conformity
Parents. We all have them (sort of), we all love them (sometimes), and we all have to deal with their actions, asinine as we may believe them to be. I have to admit, my parents are pretty awesome. But, of course, they have their flaws, and they make plenty of mistakes.
My parents are devout conservative Christians. Obviously then, the church has been a large presence throughout my entire life. My father, in fact, is a full-time preacher.
Now that I am in my 20s, I’ve essentially taught myself out of religion. For a while, I would go along to get along. I believed that I could conform to my parents’ expectations and still, on some level, be able to live my life the way I wanted to.
That started taking a downturn, though, when I realized that most of the problems I had involved my willingness to go along with religion and sacrifice my own contentment for the sake of conformity.
Over the course of several months, I slowly worked up the courage to talk to my father, to try to work out a compromise concerning my involvement in religion. I was hoping that he would understand where I was coming from, and then I could be rid of religion and finally lead my own life.
Finally, the day came to confront him. I sat him down, and I told him that I no longer wanted anything to do with religion. I told him that I didn’t believe in it and didn’t appreciate feeling like I had to live essentially a double life just to please him.
His response was succinct enough: “As long as you’re living with me, not going to church is not an option.”
His reasoning? That he wasn’t “comfortable with it.”
So, I offered a compromise: “I will go as long as it doesn’t conflict with work–basically when I have free time. That would mean not attending either a Sunday morning or evening service, though.”
He replied that he would think on it.
However, the next time we spoke, he made it clear that there would be no compromise whatsoever. I would continue going to church. And I found myself right back where I started.
As of today, I think they’ve completely forgotten what I asked for all those months ago. They still force me to follow their religion, to follow their guidelines on how I look, how I act, how I talk, etc.
And again, I find myself conforming while sacrificing contentment.
It is with these thoughts that I recall, vividly, what my mother has told me on many occasions: “You still live in our house, so you have to live by our rules.”
In response, I can only think, “When your rules make your children miserable, when they force them to ignore who they are, when your rules place unnecessary strain on your children, is it fair that they have to follow your rules?”
Yes, I do still live in their household. And yes, I understand having to “live by their rules.” But, I just wish they would realize that by refusing to compromise their rules, by imposing their will over me with no chance for my wishes to be acknowledged, their rules are only causing more harm than good.
I’m at a crossroads now. I’m 21 years old, and I have some rather large choices ahead of me. Should I continue to keep self as an afterthought? Should I continue to live my life denying who I am in order to keep my parents happy? Should I sacrifice my contentment for the sake of conformity?
A few years ago, I would have answered “yes” to the above. But as I’ve grown up, I’m realizing something: Life is not life if I have to sacrifice my own beliefs, if I have to pretend to be the person my parents want me to be. Life is not life if I can’t be happy with myself.
I’m facing the realization that I cannot live my life like this, constantly sacrificing myself just to appease my parents and maintain our public image. At some point, I think my wishes deserve to be heard, too. And I’m afraid I will have to sit down and essentially force my parents to compromise.
I absolutely hate the idea of doing that, simply because I know it will hurt them. But, it’s time they start treating me like an adult.
Some may say that this is selfish, that because I still live at home, I should just continue to abide by my parents’ wishes.
I ask, though, at what point does it stop being reasonable to just conform?
To a certain point, we can and should conform, whether it be to secure a job or to simply keep pointless fighting to a minimum. But when life is at a standstill, when life stops being life, conformity simply isn’t an option.
I refuse to abandon contentment any longer in a vain struggle to keep other people–even my parents–happy.
This is my life, I’m the one that has to sleep with myself at night, and I’m the one who has to answer for the choices I’ve made in life.
Conformity or contentment?
I choose contentment.
Your main problem though is you live with your parents. You’re not conforming if you’re following their rules. Living in someone’s house, you’re expected to follow a certain set of rules. I’m 21, I don’t attend church or practice religion, and when I visit my parents (I live on my own) I put on a tie and go to church with them, because it’s expected of me.
Should I do this? Should I do that?
You should move out. Period. Because yes, it is SELFISH to want them to leave you alone while they are supporting you.
Sorry, you live with them, you conform. You move out, you live your life as you see fit. If you have roommates, you must make compromises as to how you live your life. That is how life works. The only time you are free, is when you are living on your own, without roommates.
I can’t agree with everyone here- Religion should never be forced on anyone, and at one point the parent has to allow the child to go down their own path.
Seems to me something else is going on here, like what does it say about a full-time preacher if his children don’t believe or practice what he preaches?
Regardless, your parents are giving you an ultimatum- “put up or get out.” Seems to me, it’s time to get out!
Hmmm, on one side, I understand what previous commenters are saying – if you live in someone else’s household, you’ve got to live by their rules. BUT, we’re not talking about landlords, or roommates, we are talking about your PARENTS! You know, the ones who are supposed to love and support you even if they don’t agree with your choices (within the limits of common sense, of course – I really don’t think the parents of a serial killer should respect their child’s life choice). Anyways, I personally see family more as a bond of mutual respect and love, and I don’t put much value on blood ties. I also believe that true family allows you to be comfortable being who you are, and not force you to play a role that you don’t like.
That being said, the solution is of course just what the others have said – moving out! Yes, it’s an extremely hard thing to do, for a plethora of reasons, but the rewards are sooo worth it! Of course, you’ll still have to take crap from people, BUT, in your personal life you will be able to be yourself, and you will be able to choose who do you want to be part of your personal life. And if you’re lucky enough to meet someone special around whom you can be yourself, and they still like you, whether we’re talking about friends or lovers, it’s magical! After all, taking crap from close people hurts so much more than taking crap from strangers. And THIS is where the compromise kicks in: you’ll have to take some crap from your parents until you can stand on your own feet. This is how a compromise works: you give up something in order to gain something better – in your case, you give up a little freedom now in order to have a whole lot more freedom later. It’s just how life works…
P.S.: I don’t agree with what Jordan said at the end of his comment, falseness is NOT a good foundation for a relationship, ANY relationship. That being said, if for him it’s a small thing to play that role in order to be with the people he loves, than kudos to him!
*Then* kudos to him, not than. Sorry…
Try to look at it this way: they’re not forcing religion on you — they’re forcing church. You can still believe whatever you want to believe. As someone who’s currently making a living evicting people from their homes, there is one thing I can say with utmost certainty — you can’t live anywhere comfortable for free. If church is the way your parents want to charge you, that’s their prerogative. If that’s not a price you’re willing to pay, find another place you can afford. You do have a choice, and it’s not between conformity and nonconformity — it’s about how much you’re willing to pay for rent.
I think the issue here is a lot more complicated than stay or move out, and that’s why I chose to accept this piece for publication, even though I have NO idea who this person is.
I think Jasmine read this the same way I did. To me, the issue here isn’t whether or not the author should move out. The issue is what the parents’ totalitarianism is doing to the family. Yes, if you still live with your parents, then you have to live by their rules. However, if you’re a parent, and you demand absolute conformity from your kids, then you’re going to drive them away. I see it all the time with the kids I work with, and I see it happening here. Over-parenting (i.e., maintaining too authoritative a presence in your kids’ lives) is just as bad as under-parenting (i.e., not being there at all for them).
The real lesson in this story is that the parents’ refusal to compromise is forcing the child to consider moving out and/or cutting ties with the parents. And to me, that’s just sad.
Yes Dr. Hong, you are correct. This is the true point of the story. Unfortunately, I have met situations like this on so many occasions that while rationally I realize I should be feeling sad, I can’t muster enough juice for that emotion… Also, perhaps even more sad is when children, when they’ve become parents themselves, go and repeat their parents’ mistake(s), or they go the opposite direction and fall in the other extreme. Thus, the cycle continues…
I agree with you Dennis to a point, IF the parents are the type to cut ties just because the writer moves out and refuses to go to church. To me, you simply can’t force religion on anyone. My husband’s parents are the same way — he “has” to go every time we go visit (I refuse), but he does it to make them happy. God (har-har) knows why it makes them happy when they know he doesn’t go when he’s not visiting, but that’s all it is. He’s placating them.
But again, his parents haven’t estranged themselves just because they know he doesn’t go to church when he’s not there. If that’s the case with the author, then that most certainly IS sad.
Umm.. and for the record, the “har-har” was not about God — just laughing at my mention of a common phrase when talking about religion. 🙂
Maybe they WANT her to move out and start to live her own life, which is why they are making staying home such a difficult proposition? I know that’s probably unlikely, but you never know…some people just don’t have the skills to communicate directly and honestly with their children (which certainly seems to be the case here, either way) and go about things in a manner most people would find appalling.
I don’t think your parents care what it is doing to their kids. Your parents are repeating what they were taught. They do not seem like the questioning type, and they expect you to be the same way. They cannot entertain any other belief system, since to do so might destroy theirs.
Just hang in there until you can move out. Make good use of your time in church by daydreaming or something
I was raised in a very open house, and honestly, I think parents FORCING anything on their child is wrong, and in your case, you should get out of there.
Devout religiosity is in and of itself uncompromising. There is no ground given, and you can’t force them to compromise. You need to realize that being selfish is a good thing, and they are greedy for wanting a carbon copy of themselves. Like Powderfinger said – just chill until you can move out. Don’t try to be yourself around them because they won’t let you.
Hmm, after re-reading this article, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe the author cares about his/her parents (“I have to admit, my parents are pretty awesome”) and maybe doesn’t want to cut ties with them – which I can totally understand. So, even though I still believe that someone in this situation should move out, I agree that efforts should be made for retaining a relationship with the parents (“And I’m afraid I will have to sit down and essentially force my parents to compromise” – yup, don’t give up the fight).
I’ll try to address everyone as best I can. I will admit, I wasn’t able to work on
this and add more details, so I can understand the confusion.
This was mostly due to having a lot going on right now, however I’ll take some time
out to try and provide a more detailed insight into what all is going on. I never
liked other people keeping me in the dark, so I won’t do that to others.
I may reiterate some things I said in the article and I may not be all that organized,
so bare with me.
Under normal circumstances, I would agree, I should put up with what they’re doing
until I can move out.
The thing you all should understand is that this isn’t a normal circumstance. It’s not
about whether to move out or to stay. If it was that simple, I would have moved out
At this point in my life, my parents have, for lack of better words, taken away my
future thanks to their love of religion. I am partially to blame for letting them, but
without religion, there’s a good chance I would have been well on the way to moving
out by now.
This involved moving from what I call my hometown while I was in my last year of high
I had lived there for 12 years, and me being who I am, I had just started to get
comfortable with the area. I guess you could say I have a very strong fear of anything
new, anything I’ve never experienced before.
The church my father was working at decided he needed to move on, find another place
to work. For reasons I don’t recall, he decided to find a place and move out as fast
as he possibly could.
We ended up visiting a church in October a few years back and moved there in December.
Tying in to what I said earlier, I was tossed into an environment (big city, tons of
noise, etc.) that I had never experienced before, not to mention I had never been in
this area before October of the year I moved. I had to deal with losing my friends, my
only real support group (I never could, and still can’t, rely on my parents for that,)
on top of being in a new place and not having a future to speak of.
This was all very stressful and, truth be told, it was next to impossible for me to
cope with all of it.
You could say I fell into a deep depression. I don’t care to use that word, however
it’s the only word that fits.
How I deal with things that hurt me is I distance myself from that thing until I can
fully come to terms with how much it’s hurt me, until I can deal with things
efficiently, until I’ve healed, basically.
Now imagine having to go to church twice every single Sunday, once every single
Wednesday night, and having parents parade their religion around you at least two-
three times (if not more) per day when religion has caused all that I previously
I guess you could say I turned very bitter and very hateful about the whole thing.
I couldn’t, and still can’t, fully cope with what has happened because every day I’m
reminded of all that I lost.
Obviously, this has affected many aspects of my life. Due to a few factors, mainly
physical and mental health, I’m not able to work right now. No one would want me to,
anyways. Thanks to all this, I can’t deal with stress. Any kind of stress causes me
to, for lack of better words, explode with anger. I can keep it in check right now
because I can go to a separate room and stay there for days at a time as needed, but
imagine being in a work environment and having that happen with no real way to escape.
More on the topic of religion.
For quite a few years, to put it mildly, I’ve been disinterested in it.
Up until I was 15, I would say, I was fine with it, but I suppose once I started
thinking, I got to realizing how much I disliked it.
I really had no reason to tell my parents how I felt because, going back to what I
said earlier, I was in a normal situation.
All of that obviously changed when religion cost me essentially everything I ever
Knowing how deeply my parents care for religion, I knew I was in a tough situation.
Boiling it down to a few simple statements, I could continue to fake it, make them
think I still liked religion, and forfeit any chance I had of being myself and having
my own life, or I could take a stand and take back what I feel is rightfully mine.
Each option presents problems, but I felt and still feel that the problems presented
with making a stand were worth it if it meant I could actually live.
As I said in my article, I got up the courage to talk to my father, however everything
I said was shot down and dismissed, and they now think I’m just lacking faith and that
I still really believe in religion.
At this point, I can’t do anything because I’m having to move yet again, and I won’t
have a chance to do anything until next year.
I can understand compromise, I can understand living by your parent’s rules, I can
understand putting up with certain things.
I do understand that life is supposed to work like that. To be blunt, children are
thought of as servants by the parents. You’re not supposed to be yourself until you
That’s wrong to me. I don’t feel you could get any more wrong about something like
To me, a parent/child relation is supposed to go both ways. As a parent, yes, you’re
supposed to try and teach your child in the right ways, however as a parent, you can’t
toss a boulder at your child and expect them to just stand there and hold it up
Part of any caring relationship is that of mutual concern for one another, taking into
account how each one of your feels and adjusting as you can to make things a little
By definition and by practice, religion is tossing your child a mountain and expecting
them to walk with it for 80, 90 years on a tightrope suspended over hellfire and
expecting them to be just fine.
As someone said, no, it has nothing to do with compromise. You have a set list of
rules that you must follow to the letter and if you compromise on any of it, you’re
going to hell.
You live and die not knowing what it’s like to be free, if you were to ask me.
That’s, to me, the bottom line.
In general, religion has cost me everything, why should I continue to give it any
That’s what this all really comes down to: giving up everything and then some just to
please other people. That’s not right, no matter who it is.
It can be your parents or the president or even some totalitarian dictator.
You shouldn’t give up everything you have and everything you are just because you’re
under someone’s power/responsibility.
If I’m wrong for thinking that, I’m fine with that.
The bottom line is that my parents need to think about how I feel for once instead of
how much their god is going to punish them for letting me be myself.
It was mentioned that I was possibly considering severing ties with them when I get
out on my own. I will confirm this as I’ve thought quite a lot about moving out and
never speaking to them again.
In fact, last summer, I almost did. I went up to visit my friends for a week back in
my hometown and we came up with a plan: one of my friends would drive down to where I
lived in the middle of the night, pick me up, then I would live with another friend
until I got on my feet.
I had no money and didn’t know how it would work, or even if it would work. It simply
provided me a chance to be free. That’s the only reason I considered it.
In ways, I regret that I never put that plan in motion.
However I knew that I couldn’t do that to my parents, no matter what they’ve done.
Sometimes, I think I’m just too compassionate for my own good.
I just want to live, and I can’t live when I don’t feel I have any control over my own
life. I’m 21 and made to feel like I’m 2.
All my life, I’ve sacrificed myself for my parents, for my friends, denied myself just
to keep everyone around me happy. These past few years, I’ve been asking for just a
little of that back, and it seems everyone thinks I should stop and continue denying
myself, that’s it’s somehow wrong of me to expect a little reciprocation.
After 21 years of being told I’m wrong and then seeing the ‘right’ things tear my life
apart, I can’t help but feel that anyone who thinks I’m wrong is full of it.
Simply put, I’m really not asking for much: just a little give and take, just a little
consideration, just a little compassion.
That should be something parents should give without pause, and that’s something my
parents staunchly refuse to give.
If I have to take my life back by force, I will.
You can think what you want about it, but I have to live with myself and sleep with
myself at night, and I can’t do either of those things if I let myself conform in this
That’s really the end of the matter.
As I said in my article: conformity or contentment?
I choose contentment.
Apologies for the odd formatting, I edited this in a separate program and I suppose there were some incompatibilities.
The only thing I would suggest you think about, and really give it some thought, is whether you really dislike religion, or if its simply your parents brand of extreme religious belief that you’re just disgusted with at this point. Although, if this experience has turned you off from all religion completely, I dont think I could honestly blame you, but it would be a shame (in my opinion, putting myself in your shoes) to have this force you to abandon religion for the rest of your life.
This is undoubtedly a toxic situation you’re currently in, and although I understand that there might be serious issues preventing it or a lot of obstacles in the way, you absolutely need to move out on your own somehow, and as soon as possible. Find some way to get some personal space for yourself and distance (whether it be a city block, or across the county) from your parents. You’re 21, and although a lot of other people your age depend on their parents, you have to find a way to escape their smothering control. If not, its just going to continue to get worse and worse, and you might eventually just reach your breaking point and snap.
What I simply cant understand is how ultra-religious people completely fail to see that this kind of behavior, forcing religion upon someone else in an extreme way like this, is (in my opinion) the NUMBER ONE thing that drives people away from religion, sometimes forever. Dont get me wrong, I dont have any problem with people who regularly attend church, or even simply think that people should attend religious services, but when I hear of things like this it just makes the religious person/people sound…..sadistic, for lack of a better term.
That’s the whole problem. Ultra-religious people are incapable of seeing or entertaining anything that might run counter to their beliefs. Ignorance rules, as long as you believe the bib-lay.
I’m an atheist, but for those who do believe in God, do you really think he gave you such an incredible brain and then expect you to not use it?
Okay, let’s not let this devolve into a sweeping condemnation of religion. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with religion in and of itself.
I think it may be too easy to blame the author’s parents on their religion, but I don’t think the issue is that they’re devout Christian. The issue is that they’re not willing to compromise with their kids.
You may argue that they’re related, and you might even be correct here. But I think it’s important to draw the distinction.
I’m sorry, but grow up. All I see here is you blaming everyone else and you refusing to take any personal responsibility. There’s always some excuse. Your parents are supporting you, their requirement for that is that you go to church. The person who is responsible for you is you. No one owes you anything.
Eventually, when you do move out, you’re going to live your life the way you want, which most likely won’t include religion, at which point your parents are going to either cut you off because they think you’re a heathen, or will continue to love and support you because you’re their daughter and they can look past the rejection of their faith. So, that’s going to happen at some point or another, right? I mean, eventually, that’s what’s coming. So just move out sooner rather than later, and save yourself the years of self-effacing conformity.
Also, I get the idea that parents are ruling their family with a totalitarian fist, but the article was written in such a way that it really does make the writer look like a whiny kid. You can take out the religion and put in vegetarianism, or veganism, or keeping Kosher, or Star Wars fanaticism. Parents should be receptive to what their kids are saying, but in the end, it is their house, and unless going to church is going to pose some immediate health risk, it’s their prerogative to require people who live under their roof to participate in whatever it is that they do.
Maybe when she’s older, moved out, and comes back for the holidays with a family of her own, her parents will understand why she doesn’t want to go to church, and they’ll let it go. And if the parents allow this to be the thing that drives the family apart, then yes, it really is their fault. But the writer can leave peacefully (I assume), without that happening.
I think Anonymous’ response has actually given me as a reader a lot of clarification, however I believe their relationship with their parents, and the massive problems within it, has simply coalesced around religion. Clearly this move was devastating and Anonymous didn’t, and doesn’t, have the coping skills needed to adjust to their new environment. Religion is always likely to be a point of contention going forward, yet I think the bigger concern is the lack of support from the parents which would enable Anonymous to lead a productive life. I believe Anon. needs to move out but until they are emotionally stable enough to do so and hold down a job then it won’t happen. It’s a catch-22 that is making the entire family miserable. I think Anonymous needs to find some help and develop coping skils, then get a job and move out. The relationship with their parents and religion will then sort itself out. Religion just happens to be the incidental point of conflict but it’s really not the main or biggest problem. I wish Anonymous luck.
I suppose a lot that’s going on can’t easily be described in words, and that what I’ve said already, I admit that it doesn’t cover everything. I also admit I don’t care to write another exposition, rather I would prefer to just address and reply to a few comments/concerns.
First, I would like to address those that say I should grow up and that I’m just being whiny. You have a right to your opinion, however I find it a bit offensive that you can’t really put yourself in my shoes and understand where I’m coming from with some or all of this.
As for my trying to shrug off responsibility, to be blunt, you couldn’t be farther from the mark. If you read what I said in my previous comment, you’ll see that I do take some responsibility for what all has happened.
I won’t take all of it, though, that would be idiotic. I’ve sat down, looked at what has happened and then pointed fingers at the appropriate places, myself included.
As far as ‘growing up’ goes, a lot of this ties into ‘growing up.’ I would like a little breathing room so I can actually start being an adult. As it stands, at this moment, I don’t have that.
That’s really what a lot of this boils down to.
Secondly, my apologies, I really didn’t intend to start a religious debate or any sort of condemnation of religion. I admit, I feel very strongly about religion, but out of respect for others, I will try to keep that to myself.
That being said, I did go off on a bit of a rant in my previous comment, so if anyone was offended by that, my apologies.
One more note on religion before moving on: it was mentioned as to whether I’ll be turned off of religion for the remainder of my life. I have seriously thought about religion, and I’ve found my beliefs to differ entirely from those found in organized religion. As to if I’ll hold those beliefs for the remainder of my life, that remains to be seen. I don’t rule out the possibility of getting back into religion later on in life, however at this point in time, I have no intention of involving myself in it.
Thirdly, I really don’t expect everyone to agree with me on this. Again, different opinions, and I respect that.
All that I ask is that you really analyze what I’ve said about the situation and put yourself in my shoes.
If you still feel the need to condemn me, at least put it in a more tactful way.
I’m not trying to preach or lecture, I just want to be able to keep this civil and it’s difficult to do so with some of the comments I’ve seen.
All that being said, at the end of the day, I’m going to go in whichever direction I feel is correct. Love it, hate it, whatever, that’s pretty much what everyone has to do.
Lastly, Lady Bee, I appreciate the luck-wishing, and I also appreciate those that have shown support. At a time like this, it feels like fighting against a strong current, so seeing that some agree with me is comforting.
Depression is real and hurtful, even if you do not care for the word. It is not a weakness but the sign that something is deeply wrong. I think you need someone to help you through your problems, in order for you to be able to take decisions and be able to act on them. The fact that you are on the brink of exploding all the time is certainly linked to your feeling of not being able to do what you want. All your problems seem linked, and I believe the first step to get rid of them is to find someone to help you.
Thanks Anon. for this article.
Reading this, i almost imagined that perhaps i had been bitten by a magical unicorn-faery that simultaneously had given me the talent and courage to write this as well as completely erased my recollection of having written it.
Six months ago I left the religion of my youth at twenty-three.
Leaving my entire social, emotional and moral framework behind.
I came to a crossroads similar to yours, where it was obvious that my time, interest and faith where being wasted or mis-spent, opportunities slipping away because the faith prohibited .
Despite taking all the steps i was told would bring joy (Baptism, Preaching, Bible reading) i was unhappy.
I looked at the people who had been in the religion for decades and asked myself if they where any happyer then anyone else.
My suggestion, as someone on the other side of quitting cold turkey, is
don’t make the choice lightly.
I am living alone and completely independent.
If your going to be kicked out for your decision it would be better to take steps with the support of your parents to slowly move out and adjust to a life outside of the constant financial security and support your getting right now.
Will you be losing contact with allot of friends and family by not being in the religion anymore ?
Make sure you have substitute relationships.
Your first years away (as mine no doubt) will be spent building a family of friends and intimate associates.
You’ll have to relearn who you can trust.
Can you perhaps move back to where you have that support group, on your own ?
I’m kind of on a rampage of experimentation, catching up with all the stuff i missed doing as a teen.
Don’t get me wrong, i don’t hold anything against my time in the faith as a youth, it kept me on the straight and narrow, and i can experience these things in the context of a developed adult versus an immature and unprepared teen.
So in a way I’m grateful for the good things i can take away from that time, which i think is the best attitude to have towards it.
However i have no more time to spend on superstitions and behavior constructs derived from a jewish tradition out of place in a world as advanced, connected and self-aware as we live in .
I recently had an intimate relationships end because of my almost militant disregard for religious sensibility.
If you make this choice, don’t burn bridges, but don’t look back.
Follow your heart. Stick to your guns.
Be happy in your skin, its the last time you’ll wear it.
I don’t know…it’s still hard to tell even with your clarifications because you are focused on defending yourself rather than providing additional details that are actually helpful in clarifying the situation. But why is moving out “cutting ties” to your parents or “doing” something to them that you feel you can’t do? Unless, because of their religion or other beliefs, they expect you to live at home until you are married, I don’t see how moving out on your own is in any way harming your parents. You are 21. Seems it’s expected by most people at that point, no?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand where you are coming from to a point. Even though I moved into my own place when I turned 18, my parents helped pay for my college (and grad school) so I always felt a duty to them, even though I wasn’t living under their roof. I know I’ve made decisions I wouldn’t have otherwise, if not for the feeling they were always looking over my shoulder and judging me.
But even when I made decisions they didn’t agree with they were supportive, because they saw that I was attempting to compromise in other areas. Over time they came to see that I was capable of making responsible decisions on my own. In retrospect, it was a good way to ease into adulthood. Baby steps. The funny part is that I began to see that my parents were not, in fact, morons and did know what they were talking about most of the time.
Add to that, I had a TERRIBLE relationship with my parents as a teen. I was the most rebellious, smart ass troublemaker there ever was. I’m amazed to this day that they didn’t kill me. I would have killed me! Moving out and getting some distance greatly helped our relationship, and I think you should seriously consider doing the same. It appears to me that you are afraid of taking that step because then, and only then, will you have to own up to and take responsibility for our decisions 100% and you aren’t confident in yourself to make the right choices. Behind that is a fear that if you do make a mistake, your parents won’t be there to support or help you when you do. But, I think it’s time to cut the cord.
I went through something similar a couple of years ago. I was living with my dad and stepmother due to a breakup plus being unemployed. My dad and I get along wonderfully. The stepmother and I? Not so much. I still don’t quite get why he married her…
In any case, I was also 21 and while dad had no issue with me being an adult and doing my own thing… she wouldn’t have it. The church issue was dropped years ago since my dad happens to share my view on religion and tolerates his wife’s beliefs. What really got me though… well, first, I was told that I would have to give up my 2 cats (both that I adopted as kittens with dad’s permission) in order to move back in. Second, I was forbidden from even bringing dates home. Third, she always seemed to find fault with me no matter what I did.
I fought, rebelled, and generally acted like a teenager for a year before I moved out. I’m personally not looking back. The harpy has yet to enter my current place (been here over a year now) and I plan on keeping it that way.
Looking back, I can see why she was hard on me. Her methods just pissed me off but that was the goal (more or less). You see, our parents lived in an age where you moved out of your parents house by the time you were 20 if you didn’t go to college right after high school. So I hate to say it, but you still living with them is telling them that they have failed you somehow and that you are still too immature to handle your own life.
The only way you can get away from their rules is to build your own life away from them. Because once you haul that last box (or black garbage bag)away, they can’t tell you to do a damn thing that you don’t want to. Even if you can only afford a cramped studio, you can be as much of a raving atheist as you want in that small space.
I’m now 23 and I have to say I love living with roommates. Sometimes I consider moving back in with my parents to save money… then I think about what exactly that would mean and manage to find a way to get my rent paid.