Advice: Ask Natalie on dealing with family

"Dear Natalie,

I feel dumb asking this, but here it goes: how do I deal with my family? I'm back from school and living at home and I'm going crazy. My mom assumes I can't do anything and treats me like a little kid, not letting me go out at night and asking who I've been with. And my dad is angry that I don't have a job yet, so he keeps making me do all these weird chores like cutting down trees in the backyard. My younger sister is the worst though. She is so annoying. She keeps talking to me about the dumbest things and won't let me be alone, and I just need a minute away from her or I'm just going to lose it. Any advice on surviving living at home again?"

Okay, listen. I tend to not give the advice people are looking for, in similar situations as you. I know this. So before I let you know what I think, know that I'm sympathetic to your problem.

That being said, you do live in someone else's house, rent-free, getting breakfast, lunch and dinner for free, without contributing financially. That's not a bad deal. In the most basic of terms, you don't pay rent, you don't get a say.

Does your dad see these "weird chores" as a way to help the house since you're not working or paying rent? That could be it. Once you get a job he may cool off. Besides, cutting down trees in the back? That's some country shit right there, and I know in the country you have to do weird chores whether you have a job or not. I once spent a few hours filling blue bins with twigs for our wood stove.

Your mom is a different case though. She could just be dealing with a big case of mother henning (hen-itis?) Look at it from her perspective: her beautiful, favourite, most wonderful child is finally safe after being on their own for a year. Probably eating nothing but fast food (true), sleeping less than they should have (true) and doing adult things that she rather not think about (so much truth). You're her child. It might be annoying that she hovers, but she's just trying to keep you safe while you're still in the nest.

As for your sister, it's super lonely having a sibling leave for university. I'm sure when my older sisters came back from university they thought I was terribly annoying. My advice: tell her that you're happy to be home, but you need alone time occasionally and ask her to keep that in mind.

Your family loves you, but I get that it can be too much sometimes. Look into subletting for the summer or starting your new lease in September so you have a place to yourself next year. But visit home. It's always nice to see family.