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Does not wanting to live with your parents means you are less filial?

“I see my single friends choosing to move out and rent some place to live, with crazy rent expenses every month. Some of them don’t even have domestic problems with their parents. They just want to move out to look independent.”

This was a comment I saw on a reddit thread.

The author seems to insinuate that those who choose to move out are being wasteful with their finances.

I have also heard remarks from others that adult children who move out are not filial.

Just for context for non-Singaporeans reading this:

In Singapore, it is common to live with one’s parents even after one gets married. Instead of going to school, they go to work.

Some might provide parents a monthly allowance (typically between $400 - $1200 or a % of salary).

Other than that, most things remain constant compared to schooling life.

I searched through Reddit and found other similar threads like AITA If I don’t want my mom to move in with me 

Coming from a huge and close extended family with many adult children who moved out in 20s - including myself - I thought it’d be good to explain a different view.

I understand this touchy topic for many and goes deep into many issues including privilege; independence; filial piety and more.

I will do my best to discuss this topic well in this post.

1. Independence

I started living alone when I was 21 when I moved to Hong Kong. I moved back for a short while but later on, moved out again.

Before living alone, I was basically quite pampered and did not really need to think about practical aspects of life.

In my time living by myself, I had to earn money to pay rent; manage logistics at home; negotiate with the landlord - all outside of comfort zone in a country where I didn’t have many friends and could not speak Cantonese.

I personally feel like its not about “looking independent” like what the author insinuates. Living alone really makes you more independent.

As one of the commenters pointed out:

Until one moves out and/or is involved in doing housework (be it engaging help or settling it themselves), buying groceries or paying bill, it’s hard to argue one is truly independent. I’m not saying the equation of independence is a simple summation of the above, but personally I think it makes up a big deal for it.

Some times, it bewilders me when i am being praised for travelling alone or knowing how to do basic things like groceries and cooking. To me, these are part of being a normal functioning adult.

My parents do not know or control what time I wake up, leave the house or come home.

In fact, I was shocked to hear two Singaporean men in their early 30s, saying things like “I cannot go back too late if not my mum and dad will be worried”

2. More time alone

Another advantage of living by yourself is that you get a lot of mental and emotional bandwidth.

I guess it is also dependent on how you use that time. If you go out often to drink, then that is not good.

However, personally I get a lot of time alone to observe; think; reflect and do deep work with minimal interruption. This helps me excel at work; grow as a person and also maximize my experiences in life.

In my circle of friends, those who live with parents still are a minority. 

I guess it is a result of people generally mixing with those similar to them. And also, many in the SaaS sector tend to be foreigners who moved away from home since a young age.

A lady I was close to at Salesforce moved from Taiwan since she was 18 to Japan, then USA and now to Singapore. Similarly, another one of my closest friends left Xiamen at 15 to come to Singapore.

However, one downside is that the loneliness can really get to you.

For me, I am fortunate that my parents are 45 minutes away but theirs are hours away.

It helps that I generally value my alone time and am quite self-secure in a sense I do not mind eating alone.

3. What does being filial mean?

One common accusation against those who choose to move out is that they are not filial.

However, I feel that living away from parents and being filial is a false dichotomy.

Firstly, filial piety is not about full obedient to your parents.

The key difference between an adult and a child is to be able to be an independent thinker and doer. To have autonomy over the decisions we make: where to stay; who we choose as a partner and how we want to raise our own kids.

If one provides for their parents financially and spends adequate time with them, they have done their job to be filial. The rest of their own lives is really up to them.

Secondly, relationships are not measured based on how many times a family meets; eats together but rather the depth of relationship.

Are you really close if you live in the same house but most of your time is spent on the screen? Or, you cannot share deeper things with them?

In the past in China, scholars will travel away from their village to go to the city to work. They will return on Lunar New Year and Tang-cheh (冬節) . Were they any less filial?

Being filial to me is not about staying in the same house but not burdening them to subsidize my life; my cost of living and help to care for some of my daily needs. To me, their time; energy and money should be used on themselves.

It's important to remember that independence and filial piety are not mutually exclusive; you can maintain a strong sense of independence while still fulfilling your responsibilities and showing love and respect to your family.

Finally, to address the money point, I do not see any merit to blindly accumulating cash. The purpose of money is really to buy the type of freedom and experiences that you want. In my case, I value living alone more than the money I had to part with.

I acknowledge that I am lucky to have done well at work which gives me the means to have the lifestyle I do today.

This is also a result of being surrounded by many outstanding people who have inspired me; influenced me positively and gave me opportunities. Your circle is everything and this is what I am also selective about who I want to be closer to.

Whether you choose to stay with parents when you are 30 years old or move out is really your own choice.

I hope that this post can shed light on a different perspective on those who choose to not stay under the same roof as their family.

And, that society can be more open and not write them off as simply trying to look independent; wasting money or not being filial.

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I am a a tech worker and Millennial content creator who shares ideas on how we can accelerate our growth while staying balanced.

Topics I cover include work; money; relationships and balance.

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