LAST week, I came across this screenshot of a Twitter post posted on Facebook. It read, “Asian parents are gonna shelter and coddle you and not let you do anything even vaguely independent your whole life and when you reach 20 and don’t know anything about the real world they’re gonna call you useless and get mad.”
You see, I have a problem with this. As Filipinos in particular, we have been so accustomed to the “close family ties” culture that we often make it a justification that we still live with our parents even after graduation and already earning on our own. My own opinion is that “coddling” Filipino parents is a pattern but it’s not a permanent requirement. Children, especially in their 20s, are adults and are responsible for their own decisions. Let’s not put the blame on our parents when, in the first place, we’re fully able to live on our own. We just choose not to.
My own principle has always been financial independence from parents once you started working and earning on your own. Financial independence doesn’t necessarily mean spending your own money any way you want it forgetting about your responsibilities to your family. Financial independence is the freedom to properly allocate your money according to savings and spendings without anyone pressuring you or guilt-tripping you to spend or give monetary contributions. You give on your own capacity and free will.
But finances is only one side of living independently. There’s more to it and I’ve listed down some of its pros and cons here:
You have your own personal space. You can exercise, work-out, or maybe be a couch potato for a few hours without someone reminding you to get up. At times, living with your siblings and parents even though you’re all grown up triggers petty fights due to annoyance. With your own space, you prevent that. As they say, distance makes the heart go fonder.
Sometimes it does get lonely. You may come home from a long day at work and all you ever wanted is, say, a hug from your mother but she’s not there.
Living independently gives you free will to reflect on things and decide on your own. This is because no parent will be telling you what to do. Instead, you find it in your heart to cultivate your faith, through whatever religious denomination you belong to. In other words, your spiritual experience is from within you and not someone else guilt-tripping you to go to church on Sunday morning or to pray the rosary. That’s more powerful.
You live your spiritual life according to what you grew up in and according to what your parents tell you what to do. You follow blindly as you don’t have the means to reflect on it silently on your own as what you would perhaps be given the liberty to if you live alone. That’s dangerous and shallow. If the spiritual experience is not personal and does not come from within, it tends to falter easily.
If you live away from your family, you get to allocate your savings and spendings. If you’re responsible enough, it challenges you to learn how to budget your money and to also have something to give back to your family on a regular basis. Living alone leaves you no choice but to mature financially and learn stuff on your own.
If you don’t spend your money properly and just give in to the feeling of liberty, chances are you’re going to spend it on the pettiest stuff and before you know it, you’re broke without savings. It takes a certain level of maturity. On the other hand, another con could be not being able to give to your family because you also have your own bills to pay.
There are still a lot of factors to weigh when it comes to solo living. It’s not always the most ideal option for everyone in their 20s. We face different circumstances and we are born in families with different economic statuses. Maybe when talking about this issue, what we should keep in mind is our personal privilege, our ability to give back to our parents (in whatever way we can) after years of taking care of us, and the ability for personal growth.