Parenting at my parents' house: We need to talk about the not-so-empty childhood bedrooms

accreditation
Parenting at my parents' house
Parenting at my parents' house

There is stigma in being a single parent, there is stigma in being a young parent, but the world really frowns when you are a young single parent and you still live at home.

I was watching an episode of Homeless Young Mums, a YouTube series which follows the lives of young moms who find themselves homeless, and are temporarily living in a mother and baby hostel in the UK.

As I watched, an uncomfortable feeling of familiarity with these young parents suddenly hit me, which was that a lot of millennial parents in South Africa still stay in their childhood bedrooms.

Society encourages reproduction after youngsters have gotten all the desires of youth - partying, travelling and dating - out of their systems.


Must read: Only 25% of children in SA are part of a nuclear family, and it's not such a bad thing


Much of it is the cultural norm that we will graduate and work hard enough to move out of our parents house, but life can sometimes throw a curve ball.

Because there is a lot of stigma around people who go against what popular culture dictates, this is a topic often not talked about. Some of the stigma comes from a fear of burdening our parents.

In 2013 TIME Magazine published an article titled “The Me Me Me Generation: Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”

Millennials are called many things but here is where the article got it right:

Plenty of millennials live with their parents. I will give them that.

But there is more... many of these young people are parents themselves, and this is especially true in South Africa's context where the family unit is seen to be changing.

According to the 2018 Children, Families and the State report 62% of South African children live in a extended family situation.

This means that more and more parents are living with their grandchildren - and having a say in their upbringing.


Also read:  'Living alone is simply unaffordable': One reader shares the financial struggles of needing to share a roof with her in-laws



There are many reasons that could explain the expansion of these multi-generational households.

However, before you brand millennials as lazy (because society likes to condemn us), apparently today's youth is the most educated generation. Yet we struggle to place a decent paying job, so we can't actually afford to move out of our childhood bedrooms yet.

The unemployment rate of young people in South Africa stands at 50%, of which 9% are tertiary graduates and 33.4% hold a senior certificate.

Is this why moving out so difficult for millennial parents?

Kamva*, a single mom with a three-year-old, still lives with her parents. She says a big part of this decision has to do with finances, and her parents are supportive of her decision.

Although she is a Junior Accountant by profession, she says her salary is not enough to cover rent, expenses and a child minder.

She says as black millennials our parents place a lot of hope for the family's success in our hands.

She adds that living on her own is not possible yet, as the money she would have otherwise used for rent and other expenses that come with living on your own goes towards household contributions. 

And she is not expected to stop contributing towards her family's expenses simply because she moved out of home.

Part of her contribution goes towards her dad's car insurance, helps with groceries and is used for other family emergencies, like when her parents need to attend important family gatherings in the Eastern Cape, which costs about R5000 for petrol money alone.

This is besides the costs that go towards her daughter, as they do not form part of household expenses and Kamva handles them on her own.


Also read: You don't have to feel guilty about living with your parents - unless you're not pulling your weight

Television personality Dineo Nchabeleng is also another young parent who is familiar with such a living arrangement.

Although she moved out of her parents' house a year after she had a child, Dineo is familiar with the not-so-empty childhood bedroom.

“It’s their first grandchild, so everyone is hands on. I know she is in safe hands when I go to work", she said in an interview with Move magazine.

Joanna Kleovoulou, a clinical psychologist from PyschMatters, says that living at home when you are over 25 years or older "is a financial decision, as they either have been retrenched and cannot afford to carry a household any longer, or a joint financial decision to share expenses in order to cover costs or to save."

Are you a parent still living in your parents' house? Are you a grandparent living in your house with your child and grandchild?

How do you feel about your living arrangement?

Share your story with us, and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Read more:

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 1175 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
49% - 5350 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
37% - 4063 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 388 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.18
+0.2%
Rand - Pound
19.77
+0.2%
Rand - Euro
16.72
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.48
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.0%
Gold
1,790.96
-0.1%
Silver
20.55
-0.2%
Palladium
2,270.50
+0.7%
Platinum
960.50
+1.5%
Brent Crude
97.40
+1.1%
Top 40
63,955
+1.3%
All Share
70,620
+1.3%
Resource 10
64,891
+0.6%
Industrial 25
86,129
+1.8%
Financial 15
15,927
+1.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE