Why Men Feel Emasculated When They Live With Their Parents
It is now very common for young adults to live with their parents. In the US, 33% of 25- to 29-year-olds live with their parents or grandparents. In the UK, 26% of young adults (aged 20-34) live at home. And in Canada, over one-third of adults aged 20 to 34 have mom and dad as their housemates.
But the figures aren’t split equally between young men and women. For example, in the UK, nearly a third (32%) of young men live with their parents. But even though this is a common living arrangement, it has also been a cause of emasculation for many men. It seems that men face a unique kind of stigma for living with their parents.
The Stigma of Living at Home as a Man
Living at home with parents is one of the reasons that men feel emasculated. No man wants to be seen as a mommy’s boy who has to depend on his mom to look after him. A minority of men may live at home with a mom who cooks, cleans, and does their laundry for them. However, most men (and their mothers) don’t live out this kind of dynamic.
Yet even if you do live independently, except for the fact you live at home for financial reasons, you may still feel you have failed as a man. As you find yourself in your childhood bedroom as a young adult, getting into the same old arguments with your parents, it can feel like you’ve become a teenager again. This is a common experience for both young men and women, but many men find that it really impacts their confidence.
Men feel expected to meet certain standards of masculinity. This means being self-reliant, getting your act together, and being financially independent from your parents. And the one way that men can feel confident they’ve achieved this benchmark of manhood is by flying the nest. When you still live at home with mom and dad, it can feel like you’re a man-child who never grew up. This is the stereotype that many people hold onto, men and women alike.
As a man living with your parents, you may feel shame, embarrassment, and awkwardness about your living situation, and hope it never gets brought out into the open. It can feel like the elephant in the room when you’re dating. How is any woman supposed to find me attractive or take me seriously when I still live at home? There are men the same age all around who have moved out. So you compare yourself to them, judging yourself harshly, feeling emasculated by your living or financial situation.
Why Men Living With Parents Shouldn’t Feel Emasculated
The fact is there are many valid reasons that young adults live with their parents. Not all men choose this living arrangement because it is easy and comfortable. Most men, ultimately, want to move out. (You shouldn’t stop dating because you live at home, but let’s be real, dating and relationships are easier when you live independently.
Young adults may live with their parents for financial reasons (e.g. low income, insecure work, lack of affordable rent, saving for a deposit, or funding higher education). Men may decide to move in with their parents to look after them. Or they may move back home so that they themselves can be supported in times of hardship (e.g. job loss or mental health issues). Many young adults also get on pretty well with their parents and can’t stand flat sharing with strangers.
As a man living at home, you can still pay rent, clean up after yourself, do your laundry, buy and cook your own food, contribute to bills, and generally be responsible, respectful, and helpful around the house. You can be well put together as a man and live with your parents. At the same time, you can be a complete mess and live on your own.
If you feel ashamed for living with your parents as a man, it’s very likely that you care about the situation more than anyone else does. Sure, some people might judge you for it. But that really is their problem. It shows a real lack of understanding.
The important thing is to not let your living situation affect your self-confidence and self-esteem. There’s no reason it should. Regardless of your living arrangement, what matters is that you live responsibly and positively. Living with your parents can be a cause for gratitude. As well as being financially sensible, it could also improve your relationship with your parents (hopefully!)
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I'm a freelance writer who is interested in mindfulness, mental health and the evolving concept of masculinity.