I am in almost the exact situation: I'm 24, living at home with my parents and my two siblings (however I’m the youngest, so perhaps I get away with a little bit more :P). First I think it’s good to think about why your parents do this. You say it’s because they think you’re still a child and need to be checked up on. But there’s plenty of other possible reasons:
- They’re worried about you
- They’re curious about you
- They’re just
being plain nosy!
It probably depends on the relationship you have with your family and the dynamic, but I’ll use mine as an example. My family are I are all pretty indoorsy and introverted, so it’s noticeable when someone is not at the dinner table. We get on well and are interested in each other, so it’s likely someone will ask, “Where’s so-and-so tonight?” (Sometimes this is purely to make conversation!) Specifically for my parents, they might be concerned that I’ve deviated from my normal patterns and worry about what might have happened to me. They’re your parents, so it’s normal that they’d worry a little bit about you. My mother always worries about us, but she’s aware that it’s somewhat irrational. It doesn’t make her feelings any less valid, though, so try to appreciate that.
Basically, there are loads of reasons why your parents might feel like contacting you when you’re not around. Since the reasons above (except the nosiness) are pretty reasonable, or at least understandable, I don’t consider it an invasion of privacy or feel like I’m being treated like a child. Also, I’m on good terms with my parents so I’m happy to do a little extra communicating to pre-empt that innocent curiosity turning into an annoying phonecall or text. What I’ve learned to do is mitigate being prompted as to where I’m going, when I’m coming home, etc. by just telling them in advance.
For example, I go out once a week on the same day so my parents know not to expect me until late on those days and don’t feel the need to contact me. I try to tell them about my plans in advance as much as possible, but sometimes plans change or I make plans on the spur of the moment. Occasionally I’ll decide to go to the cinema after work, so I’ll send a text:
Going to the cinema, won’t be home til 9
This way, they aren’t going to call or text me asking where I am. Or if I get invited for drinks and don’t know how long I plan to stay out, I just say,
Going out for drinks, might be home late!
It doesn’t take much time, and sometimes I’ll forget, but it’s a good habit to get into anyway. Especially at night, your parents might simply be worried. Since it’s pretty easy for me to alleviate that natural parental worry, I just get in contact with them before they get in contact with me. Even if it goes unsaid, I know they always appreciate it.
I think asking when you’re going when you’re on the way out the door isn’t necessarily because they’re treating you like a child. I would ask my sister or my partner the same thing (if I lived with them). It’s simple curiosity and interest in your life. What’s annoying is when they ask you while you’re rushing out the door. But all you have to say is,
I’m off to the gym
Which takes very little time, honestly. If they try to engage you further, and haven’t already read your ‘in a rush’ body language, just say:
Sorry, I’m in a rush!
If this is too annoying, again, just tell them in advance. If it’s the weekend, and I have plans in the afternoon, I’ll usually tell them in the morning when I see them. If I don’t run into them, sometimes I’ll seek them out just to tell them, if I feel like they’ll be wondering where I got to. It’s as simple as saying:
Hey, I’ll be going to the gym at 3 if you’re wondering where I am
Or just make it part of normal conversation if I run into them:
Ugh, have to go to the gym later, my arms are still killing me from
If I’m on my way out of the door and I haven’t told them yet (and if I have time before I go), I’ll seek them out quickly and say,
I’m heading out to the gym now, see you later!
(Optionally, you can add when you’ll expect to be home to avoid getting phonecalls later!)
If it comes to it, confrontation …
All of the above is actually pretty basic protocol when sharing a living space with somebody, and it should make their texts and phonecalls redundant. If it doesn’t, you know there is something more going on: they might be being plain nosy or trying to control you. At that point having a conversation is just unavoidable and that might lead to confrontation. Feelings are on the line here, and of course parents tend to struggle when their children become more independent and don't need them as much anymore. But at the end of the day, they should also want you to be happy, and their current behaviour is damaging the relationship you have with them. So ask them directly WHY they feel the need to contact you. Try to put yourself in their shoes and appreciate what they’re feeling, whether it’s worry or curiosity or even just a desire to be part of your life. Ask them to meet you halfway, and if there’s anything more YOU can do to make things easier for them. In return, will they agree to give you more space? Emphasise that you want to alleviate their worries, not that you’re trying to emancipate yourself from them, or that you don't appreciate their concerns. You’re all adults, so you should be able to reach a compromise. Good luck!