Am I Ready to Leave Home?
“I sometimes feel that people are looking down on me because I’m 19 and still living at home, like I won’t be an adult until I live on my own.”—Katie.
“I’m nearly 20, and I hate it that I have very little say about how my life is run. I’ve considered leaving home.”—Fiona.
LONG before you’re ready to leave home, you may begin to feel a desire for independence. That feeling is normal. After all, as discussed in Chapter 3, God’s original purpose was for youths to grow up and eventually leave their father and mother and establish their own family unit. (Genesis 2:23, 24; Mark 10:7, 8) But how can you know when you’re truly ready to leave home? Consider three important questions you need to answer. The first is . . .
What Are My Motives?
Look at the list below. Number in order of importance the reasons why you want to leave home.
․․․․․ Escape problems at home
․․․․․ Gain more freedom
․․․․․ Improve my status with my friends
․․․․․ Help out a friend who needs a roommate
․․․․․ Help with volunteer work in another location
․․․․․ Gain experience
․․․․․ Ease the financial burden on my parents
․․․․․ Other ․․․․․
The reasons listed above are not necessarily bad. The question is, What is your motive? For example, if you leave just to escape restrictions, you’re likely in for a shock!
Danielle, who left home for a while when she was 20, learned a lot from the experience. She says: “We all have to live with restrictions of some sort. When you’re on your own, your work schedule or lack of finances will restrict what you can do.” Carmen, who moved overseas for six months, says: “I enjoyed the experience, but I often felt that I had no free time! I had to keep up with the normal housework—cleaning the apartment, fixing things, pulling weeds, washing clothes, scrubbing floors, and so on.”
Don’t allow others to rush you into a decision. (Proverbs 29:20) Even if you have valid reasons for leaving home, you’ll need more than good intentions. You’ll need survival skills—which leads to the second question . . .
Am I Prepared?
Moving out on your own is like hiking in a wilderness. Would you trek into wild country without knowing how to set up a tent, light a fire, cook a meal, or read a map? Not likely! Yet, many young ones move away from home with few of the skills necessary to run a household.
Wise King Solomon said that “the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) To help you determine whether you’re prepared to step out on your own, consider the following headings. Place a ✔ next to the skills you already have and an X next to those you need to work on.
□ Money management: “I’ve never had to make my own payments on anything,” says Serena, 19. “I’m afraid of leaving home and having to budget my money.” How can you learn to manage money?
A Bible proverb says: “A wise person will listen and take in more instruction.” (Proverbs 1:5) So why not ask your parents how much it’s likely to cost each week for one person to cover the rent or mortgage, buy food, and run a car or pay other transportation costs? Then have your parents help you learn how to budget your money and pay the bills.*
□ Domestic skills: Brian, 17, says that what he fears most about leaving home is having to do his own washing. How do you know if you’re ready to care for yourself? Aron, 20, offers this suggestion: “Try living for a week as if you were on your own. Eat only food that you prepare for yourself, that you buy for yourself at the store, and that you pay for with money you have earned. Wear clothes that you wash and iron. Do all your own housecleaning. And try to get where you need to go by yourself, with no one picking you up or dropping you off.” Following that suggestion will do two things for you: It will (1) give you valuable skills and (2) increase your appreciation for the work your parents do.
□ Social skills: Do you get along well with your parents and siblings? If not, you might assume that life will be easier when you move in with a friend. But consider what Eve, 18, says: “Two of my friends moved in together. They were best friends before they shared the apartment, but they just couldn’t live with each other. One was neat, the other messy. One was spiritually-minded, the other not so much. It just didn’t work!”
What’s the solution? Erin, 18, says: “You can learn a lot about how to get along with people while living at home. You learn how to solve problems and make compromises. I’ve noticed that those who leave home to avoid disagreements with their parents learn to run away from conflicts, not to resolve them.”
□ Personal spiritual routine: Some leave home with the specific intention of escaping their parents’ religious routine. Others fully intend to maintain a good personal program of Bible study and worship but soon drift into bad habits. How can you avoid ‘shipwreck of your faith’?*—1 Timothy 1:19.
Jehovah God wants all of us to prove to ourselves the things we believe. (Romans 12:1, 2) Establish a good personal routine of Bible study and worship, and then stick to it. Why not write your spiritual routine on a calendar and see if you can maintain it for a month without your parents’ having to prod you to do so?
Finally, the third question you need to consider is . . .
Where Am I Headed?
Do you want to leave home to get away from problems? Or to break free from parental authority? If so, your focus is on what you’re leaving, not on where you’re going. That approach is like trying to drive with your eyes fixed on the rearview mirror—you’re so preoccupied with what you’re moving away from that you’re blind to what is ahead. The lesson? Don’t just concentrate on moving away from home—have your eyes fixed on a worthwhile goal.
Some young adults among Jehovah’s Witnesses have moved so that they can preach in other locations within their country or even overseas. Others move to help with the construction of places of worship or to work at a branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Still others feel that they should live by themselves for a time before they get married.*
Whatever your goal may be, think it through. “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage,” states a Bible proverb, “but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want.” (Proverbs 21:5) Listen to your parents’ advice. (Proverbs 23:22) Pray about the matter. And as you make up your mind, consider the Bible principles just discussed.
The real question is not Am I ready to leave home? but Am I ready to manage my own household? If the answer to that latter question is yes, then you may well be ready to strike out on your own.
For more information, see Volume 2, Chapter 19.
In some cultures it is customary for a child, particularly a daughter, to live at home until married. The Bible does not offer specific counsel on this matter.
“A man will leave his father and his mother.”—Matthew 19:5.
For a time, give your parents the total amount of money it costs to cover your food, lodging, and other expenses. If you’re unable or unwilling to pay for your upkeep while at home, you will be poorly prepared to move out on your own.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Your motive for leaving home can affect how happy you will be after you do so.
The goal I would like to achieve by moving away from home is ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Even if your family life is difficult, how can staying at home for a time benefit you?
● While at home, what can you do that will both benefit your family and help you prepare to manage your own household?
[Blurb on page 52]
“It’s normal to want independence. But if your motive in moving out is just to get away from rules, all that shows is that you’re not really ready to move out.”—Aron
[Picture on pages 50, 51]
Moving away from home is like hiking in the wilderness—you need to learn survival skills before you start the journey