Editor’s Note: Crosswalk's Singles Advice is an advice column for singles featuring an anonymous question from a Crosswalk.com reader with a thoughtful, biblical reply from one of our single contributors.
As an adult, I’m still living in my hometown. I would really like to move away and strike out on my own. But I can’t help feeling guilty about leaving my parents behind. Is it wrong for me to leave?
Hi, there! This question hits home for me. I’m currently preparing to move, quite literally, from one end of the country to the other, leaving behind the city I grew up in.
However, I don’t think it’s wrong to want to leave. There are a few reasons why I think it’s acceptable to move away from your parents, and a few considerations with which I would temper that conclusion.
Reasons Moving Can Be Beneficial
1. Sometimes Moving Means Following God’s Call
I remember leaving home for the first time. I grew up not only in the same city, but the same house, my entire life. Then, at eighteen, I moved to the other side of the country for college. I wouldn’t see my family for months at a time.
However, I knew God had called me to that path. He’d placed a dream upon my heart, and I knew the school I’d chosen was where He was leading me to pursue those goals.
Sometimes I felt guilty for leaving my family, knowing how much they missed me. I wondered if I was neglecting my God-ordained duty to “honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12).
Luckily, I think the Bible does speak to this. Many times in Scripture, God called people to leave everything behind and follow Him.
When God called Abram (soon to be Abraham) in order to make him the father of many nations, Genesis 12:1 says, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’”
When Jesus sent out the Twelve, He said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37-38).
This is not to say that choosing to stay with your parents is contrary to God’s will; it simply means that sometimes (though not always) God does call us away from our family.
2. Sometimes Moving Is the First Step to Transitioning to a New Phase of Life
In 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
It’s common for married couples to move away. Genesis 2:24 states, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”
Today, on average, people tend to get married later in life. Thus, this definitive moment when a person is to leave their parents doesn’t necessarily exist for singles. However, we are meant to mature, grow, and be open to where God may be calling us. For some people, moving may be this needed step to make their own decisions, claim their own faith rather than that of their parents, and build their own support system of believers.
This doesn’t mean a person can’t be mature and own their faith while being near parents. It just means that sometimes, moving might be a helpful step.
3. Sometimes Moving Is about Pursuing Joy
I spent the first eighteen years of my life in one home. I was content, but the more I traveled, the more I realized how much I love discovering new places. As a writer, I find endless inspiration from new locales. Traveling always serves to reignite my creative spark.
In moving, I’m excited to be living with one of my best friends, and I can’t wait to explore the bustling writing scene. Also, living minutes from the beach…well, I can’t turn that down.
The idea of moving brings me joy. We can always find joy in our present circumstances, which in fact the Bible tells us to do (e.g. Romans 12:12, James 1:2-4), but the Bible also tells us that our Father gives us good gifts (Matthew 7:11). Just because we’re meant to find joy in every circumstance does not mean that we need to stay in a circumstance that may not be God’s best for us.
If God has given us something that makes us praise Him and rejoice, it’s not wrong to pursue this. Though fleeting earthly pleasures are indeed warned against, we should enjoy the gifts God gives us.
Questions to Ask Before Deciding
Of course, this decision must be approached with a great amount of prayer, and God’s will must be sought above all else. However, some of these questions may help in making a wise choice.
2. Do Your Parents Need You?
As parents age, they often need care. But for many young singles, our parents are still relatively young, are independent, and are in good health.
We should indeed care for our parents who are aging, ill, or otherwise in need of support, and if we feel called by God somewhere else, a decision to leave such parents should not be undertaken lightly.
However, for many of us, though we may feel that we are abandoning our parents, it is comforting to realize that our parents, though they may miss us, do not need us.
2. Will You Still Be Able to See Your Parents?
It can also be helpful to consider whether we will still be able to emotionally connect with our parents. In the age of video chat and instant messaging, it’s easier than ever to stay connected. And unlike in biblical times, travel is significantly more feasible.
Family is still important. It may be helpful to consider whether you will be able to visit your family for holidays, or whether you’ll be able to head home if there’s an emergency. It comforts me that if something were to happen, I could hop on a plane and be home to support my family within less than a day.
3. Are You Moving because You’re Running Away?
Most of us, at some point, feel stifled by our parents, or just want to get away. Though abusive situations are a different beast entirely, it’s worth asking ourselves if the reason we’re so keen to leave is because we’re running away from conflict.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Instead, we are to resolve conflicts. Instead of leaving so as not to deal with our relational issues, it’s important to honor our father and mother enough to seek reconciliation. Even if this does eventually lead to moving far away anyway, we should consider our motivations and attempt to make peace. We don’t have to stay after we make peace—or even stay until we do—but the desire to move far away may be a symptom of a deeper problem.
So Is It Wrong to Leave my Parents?
In the end, each person’s journey is unique, and God calls us all differently. However, we are under no blanket obligation to stay near our parents—even if they want us to. God does call people away from their families, and seeking God’s leading is not contrary to our directive to honor our father and mother
Alyssa Roat studied writing, theology, and the Bible at Taylor University. She is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing Services. Her passions for Biblical study and creativity collide in her writing. Her debut novel Wraithwood releases Nov. 7, 2020. She has had 150+ bylines in publications ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Find out more about her here and on social media @alyssawrote.
Disclaimer: any single editor replying to reader questions through this advice column is a Christian seeking God's direction through his Word. We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. As we explore issues with you, we will seek God's guidance through prayer and the Bible.
Have a question? If you have a question about anything related to living the single life, please email firstname.lastname@example.org (selected questions will be addressed anonymously). While we cannot answer every question, we hope you'll find encouragement in this column.
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Alyssa Roat studied writing, theology, and the Bible at Taylor University. She is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing Services. She is the co-author of Dear Hero and has 200+ bylines in publications ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Find out more about her here and on social media @alyssawrote.