Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Do kids leave home too early?

I have mentioned the difference between the Brazilian and American cultures when it comes to kids living with their parents. American kids who go to College usually live in dorms, fraternities and sororities as early as age 17.

Brazilian kids live with their parents through College, and sometimes even after graduation. Many still live with their parents even though they earn a decent living. Many only leave the parental home when they get married. The sense of family is so strong that some young Brazilians like the comfort of home-cooked meals and laundry by mom or the maid. Furthermore, homes are very expensive in Brazil, and people in their 20’s cannot usually afford a decent apartment. Living with roommates is considered less desirable than living with Mom and Dad. What are the upsides and downsides of young adults living with their parents?

Upsides:

– When American children go to College, they are usually 17. That is an age when kids still need parental guidance. For some kids, losing the parental influence makes them more prone of getting into trouble. Thus, Brazilian kids observe curfews and know they cannot sleep with boys or girls that easily.

– It’s a lot cheaper. Parents spend fortunes (namely retirement money) to pay for their kids’ room and board. Even when it’s the kids that pay, they graduate with huge debts that are will follow them into their middle-aged years.

– Kids living at home in their early 20’s have to gain with their parents’ life experience. The daily contact with Mom and Dad creates a bond that is for life. Conversations around the lunch (Brazil)/dinner table are fruitful. It is undeniable that even though kids come home during holidays and summer vacations, they don’t have the same level of interaction than kids who live at home during early adulthood.

– Kids usually live with more comfort at their parents’ house, and don’t have to worry so much about laundry and cleaning.

– College students and young adults eat healthier if they live at home and have family meals. The “freshman 15” is a sign that pizza and burgers sometimes becomes the staple of some College kids’ lives.

Downsides:

– Sometimes living with Mom and Dad way into adulthood is really a fear of facing reality and hard work. It can be an easy way out. It often happens when lonely or unhappily married parents project their neediness into their children. In that case, it is the parent who doesn’t want their child to move on.

– Children who live at home until they are well into adulthood don’t learn to be independent. They have trouble in performing simple housework tasks when they are finally on their own.

– Young adults who live with their parents until they get married are basically leaving Mom and Dad for the new spouse. They never learned to live on their own, or even to be alone. Brazilian women have an exaggerated fear of being alone since most never lived by them.

With all the immigration that America has seen in recent years, it is more common to find College kids living with their parents, especially in families from China, India and Central and South America. Many of these parents are afraid of losing influence over their kids, and want to avoid the subtle discrimination that happens with kids from different cultures in dorms, sororities and fraternities. There is also a religious aspect (fear their children will be influenced by more secular philosophies or have sex before marriage) and a financial aspect (immigrant families generally have less resources).

We also see parents who WANT to see their kids out of the house early. In this highly individualistic society, the ME is always in play. After decades of child rearing, many parents want to have time for them, especially if they are divorced. They want the freedom to come and go and travel during low season. The ones who are in the dating world want the freedom to bring their new dates home without having to worry about their kids’ reactions.

Conversely, many couples fear so much being alone with each other (the only thing keeping them together are the kids) that they hold on to their children for as long as they can. Many women define themselves as mothers first, and when their kids leave the nest they lose their purpose of living. They are unable to find pleasure in other life pursuits. These are the parents who will certainly interfere in every aspect of their children’s life and marriage.

Every family is different. Instead of having to follow a certain pattern, parents need to balance independence and guidance, family influence vs. world influence. Remember the old saying that we don’t raise kids for ourselves but for the world? It’s certainly true.

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February 15, 2011 - Posted by | Being a mother, Difference between cultures, Family, Society

6 Comments »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Me. On the plains. and Brasilmagic, Robert Hill. Robert Hill said: RT @Brasilmagic: Do kids leave home too early? http://wp.me/p65D5-pV […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Do kids leave home too early? « Brasilmagic’s Weblog -- Topsy.com | February 15, 2011 | Reply

  2. In Brazil it’s so normal to live with parents that girls aren’t turned off if the guy that want’s to go out with them lives with their parents. On the contrary, they become part of the family many times. Most of my boyfriends lived with their parents and I even had the key to one of my bf’s apartment. I was like family. So everytime I see on TV that American boys that lives with their parents have trouble dating, I think it’s an overly individualistic society.

    Comment by Fernanda | March 27, 2011 | Reply

  3. in america it is extremely important for kids to go out into the world, make mistakes, and learn to think/fend for themselves at an early age. and while family is important there, we learn that our parents can’t/won’t do EVERYTHING for us. also, in many of those immigrant families, what you see is the kids trying to break away from those traditions they feel keep them separated from their american peers (i witnessed this first hand growing up surrounded by 2nd generation immigrants from all over the place). if you live in a place where it is not important for you to be particularly good at anything (such as brazil where personal connections rather than merit get you far in life) then it is ok to live at home and be lazy about life. however, if you do not live within this sort of social paradigm (where personal merit tends to be more important than who you know), then the rite of passage of becoming self-reliant and independent is a necessity.

    Comment by bamabrasileira | February 20, 2012 | Reply

    • And what’s the point ?
      The whole ‘independent’ thing may sound very admirable but it has been the reason for the collapse of American family life. majority of this lazy generation of Americans has not even paid for their children’s education..leaving their children to struggle against loans right into their adult lives with a rightful bitter feeling. Such children are unlikely to care much about their old parents who will likely end up spending their 25 odd years of retirement a a desperately lonely condition. As is indeed the case in a huge number of American homes.. the old are lonely, pathetic and depressed.
      The culture of selfishness (disguised as individualism) leads American parents to believe that they can still lead the life they lead in their 20s after they are well past 50. They fail to realise that life moves forward when your children move out, not backward.

      Comment by Andrew | January 23, 2013 | Reply

      • Whew! I’m glad I paid for my CHildren’s College Education and they know they can always move back home if they need to! On the other hand Andrew, you have to admit that most Colleges in Brazil are FREE, state owned and the kids live with the parents. So the parents don’t have to spend their retirement to send their kids to good higher education. Ivy leagues can cost 200k! Not many people can pay for their kids college without going bankrupt.

        Comment by Brasilmagic | January 23, 2013

  4. Yes, it is true that Ivy League colleges can be unaffordable. Nonetheless, a substantial number of American parents do not even make the effort to send their children to college of any sort. They ask them to leave because they want to be ‘free’ after ‘years of child rearing’ – Gah! How Selfish can you possibly get?
    And ‘sacrifices’ such as sending your child to a regular college are generally rewarded; you don’t need to worry too much about retirement, you need cash, your children will help you, they’ll be well placed to do so. And it’s not like they’ll do it out of a feeling of debt; it’s just a normal family bond that results in stuff like that. Just like it’s normal family love which prevents parents from kicking their children out. If the bond does not exist, too bad. The parents have failed, they are failures in the most fundamental aspect of human life.

    Comment by Andrew | January 24, 2013 | Reply


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