Growing up, it's kind of crazy to see how your relationship with your dad changes. If you're planning on leaving the nest, your feelings are probably pretty mixed. While you've been writing furiously in your diary about how you can't wait to grasp the sweet feeling of independence, you're also completely terrified — I mean, you'll either sink or swim while living on your own. Even if you're moving in with a significant other (which is terrifying in and of itself, since he's never seen your time-of-the-month garbage, and has no clue that you have the tendency to sleep-eat), there's a sense of security lost — and that's because your dad will no longer be in the house with you.
While it's a great time to relish in true adulthood and feverishly pine through IKEA catalogs for a real reason, it's also strange to figure out where your relationship with your parents will stand. Will the amount of phone calls go up? Will they still check in, and make sure you're paying rent? Only time will tell, but a few aspects will, without a doubt, change with a little distance.
If you're moving away even farther than the next town over, it'll be even scarier. Not only do you have to update your driver's license to reflect a brand new state, but you'll (gasp!) have to figure out the lay of the land on your own. My dad was in shock when I told him that I was planning on moving back closer to my college in Pennsylvania, after having graduated two years prior. Being a true New Jersey-ite through and through, it's obvious that he was a bit taken aback. I mean, he grew up, lived in, and worked in the same town his entire life. Moving out of that town is a big deal to him, since it houses almost all of his memories — mine, however, were scattered between states.
After moving out in 2008, I had a few rough patches (hello, economy!), but eventually found my footing, with my dad keeping my spirits up from a distance throughout the years. Celebrating seven years on my own, here are some key points to focus on if you're thinking of branching out elsewhere.
1. The two of you will be more in-tune to each other's routines
You know your dad gets off work at 5:30, and then typically goes out to dinner. Calculating an hour for dinner, and some time between for traffic, you know he'll be home by 7 p.m. So when the time comes, you know he'll be in a good place to receive a phone call. Any time before that, and you'll be reaching his answering machine — you know, the one with the message featuring your voice circa 2001.
2. He'll try to keep parenting from a distance
3. He might actually embrace social media, to "catch up"
"What is The Facebook?" he asked while you were living at home. You know he knew what it was, and it was more of a cry for help, since he had no idea how to set up his own profile. Now that you're away, his online habits are becoming more and more up to date. He's more willing to comment on that picture of you drinking a beer on the deck with "Hey, please call," and respond with "LoL" when you've posted a frustrated status — it means "lots of love," right?
4. You'll be visiting him more than he visits you
Don't take it personally. He figures that you'll be more comfortable back at home, even if that means extensive travel. He figures that his home is the center point between his kids, and after all, “you're the one who chose to move away!"
5. He might just take the distance personally
This can be true in a town where 95 percent of your graduating high school class can be found at the local bar on Main Street. If you're from a place where people rarely stray, your dad might wonder what made you make the move. Once you're well established (hint: married, or with a killer career), he'll finally learn that the move was based on your own personal growth.
6. You'll be kept up to date with all of your hometown's developments
You never cared about the new CVS opening right across from your middle school, but it's extremely exciting news to your dad. Since you're far away, your parents will want to let you know all about the new construction — you know, in case you see it and get confused when you come home next. "I might just switch my pharmacy!" your dad will claim, unaware of how loud he's being on the phone. "It's just so convenient now. And being able to walk past your middle school when I go really gives me flashbacks to when you were younger."
Next time you're in town, he'll probably want to take you out to lunch to "see what that new place is all about! The people at work love it!" And that new place will probably turn out to be a LongHorn Steakhouse. Oh dad.
7. He'll always make sure you're safe
8. He'll be way more invested in your love life
He always wants to make sure that you find someone nice. And, once you find someone nice, he'll grill you with questions about him until the scary yet inevitable "parents meet the boyfriend" event. Since this guy isn't coming over to his place to pick you up for dates, he'll be nervous that he can't form an initial read on him.
If he gets no news, he'll keep asking about the guy who had a crush on you back in college, regardless of how long ago college was. "Does he live around you now? Why don't you find him on the Internet and set up a date?"
9. Little changes in appearance will become headline news
Since he won't see you as often (and hasn't figured out how to FaceTime) your hair dye from two months ago will be big news. "Why do you always want to sabotage your natural color?!" he'll ask you. Just be glad that you didn't get a visible tattoo during the time away — if so, you might never hear the end of it. Even worse, he might question the new friends you made, who "encouraged you to make such bad decisions." Even though our bodies will always be ours alone, parents will always be parents.
10. Both his catty side and emotional side will really come through
Catty, since you're a safe distance away. Suddenly he'll be more energized to talk trash on the neighbors, since there's no way you'll run into them the next day. Emotional, since he'll realize how much he actually depends on you and misses you. Once you're out of town, he'll have to come to terms with the fact that small trips and moments you've shared together are tougher to accomplish today.
Images: Touchstone Pictures; Giphy (5)