Dear Prudence

Help! Should I Move Back Home to Be Closer to My Aging Mom? Even if I Don’t Like It There?

A twentysomething daughter smiling with her mom.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Thinkstock.

Every week, Daniel Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. Should I stay or should I go?: My dad passed away two months ago, leaving my mom alone in our house down South. She isn’t doing badly—she has a great group of friends, is in good health, and is handling this situation as well as can be expected. But now that I’m in my mid-20s, I’m trying to figure out where I should settle down. I would have never considered moving back home until now—I don’t like the beach or the heat.
I have friends and a good job where I am up North, but the prices of houses are cheaper in the South, and I love my mom and don’t want to regret not spending more time with her.

Should I consider moving back home to be closer to her, even though I don’t really like it there? I feel like that’s what a good daughter would do.

A: I think you should play that particular scenario out in your head a little bit longer. Given that your mother is doing well, has a close group of friends, and has not asked you to move closer, I’m not sure that relocating would actually be the act of a “good daughter” so much as an anxious one. You don’t like the area, and if your only reason for moving there would be to help her out, I can envision a time in the not-too-distant future where you feel isolated, resentful, and overly enmeshed in your mother’s life, which wouldn’t be good for either of you. Visit and call her often, but trust that she can manage her own life and that what she would likely want for you, more than anything else, is for you to develop an independent life of your own that you love and value.