Ask a Famous Man: “Am I Ready to Leave My Parents’ House?”

This is a monthly column transcribed by Emma Smith-Stevens, a conduit for the unerring wisdom of famous men—those inhabiting this earth as well as the hereafter. She is also a fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Subtropics, Conjunctions, Wigleaf, and elsewhere.


Dear Famous Man,

I’m 24 and I finally decided to leave my parents’ house. As my move-out date gets closer I get more and more nervous. I’m afraid I’m not going to make it on my own and I’ll have to move back in. Also, I have lived with my parents my entire life and I am used to it.

I like doing a lot of family things together, and I love my mom’s cooking and just my parents’ company in general. However, I feel like being at home is not allowing me to grow up and become my own woman. Like it’s making me lazy and unmotivated. So I am moving out to become independent and responsible. 

I am thankful for having such great parents that care for me like they do. And I guess I feel guilty that I am leaving them behind after so many years. I am just tired of having them on my heels all the time. How do I get over my fear and guilt and lose the uncertainty over my decision to become independent?

Anxious in Port Jarvis, NY


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Dear Anxious,

You are wise to be scared. Wiser than you know. Moving out of your parents’ house is a big step. Gaining independence might seem appealing, but it has many pitfalls. There’s a lot of bad out there. Beware.

You might be thinking, “I want to start something new,” but it will break your parents’ hearts in two if you leave them. And you will always carry the burden of knowing that they are grieving. If you’re okay with all that, and you really want to strike out on your own, here are some tips:

You’ll need a lot of nice things to wear. I’m not psychic, so I can’t tell you what occasions you are going to have to dress up for, but there will be many, and you’d better start stocking up on fashionable clothes ASAP.

Your parents have always told you what a pretty smile you have, and it’s true—thanks to the braces they paid for when you were in junior high school. At home, you smile and your parents smile back, and then they give you food and shelter and all the things you need, because they never want to see you sad. But out in the world, things are different. While not impossible, it is hard to get by just upon a smile.

When making new friends, be sure they are nice. Mean friends might seem hip or groovy, but actually it’s better to have nice friends. A lot of them.

It’s a wild world. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Since you are still living with your folks, you really have no idea, but let me tell you—I’ve seen a lot of what the world can do. Too many things to name, most of them terrible. But if something bad happens to you, don’t retaliate by becoming a “bad girl.”

Your parents will never stop wanting to take care of their precious baby daughter. No matter what you accomplish—how many degrees you get, how many companies you run, or how many religious conversions you undergo—they will always remember you like a child. So, if the going gets rough, you can return to their house at any time.

I hope this advice proves helpful if you do choose to venture out. That said, I highly recommend that you live with your parents forever—or at least until you find a supportive, totally normal boyfriend who treats you just like they did. Take good care.

Cat Stevens


If you would like guidance from a famous man regarding a personal or professional dilemma, please send your inquiry to emmasmithstevens (at) gmail (dot) com.

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