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Adult Children Who Don't "Leave the Nest"

What To Do When an Adult Child Moves Back Home (or has never left)…

Have your adult kids returned to the nest? Are you ready to help them get back on their feet? Are you prepared to lay down rules and protect your own financial stability?

Whether they live under your roof or not, your adult kids are just that: adults. They have the right to be treated as such, just as you have the right to expect them to act as such. Because they are adults, the rules you can appropriately have over their life and their conduct is significantly different from those you had while they were underage.

House Rules Versus Running-Their- Life Rules:

This is where it gets tricky. Moms & dads love their kids. They want the best for them. When they see their kids clearly making mistakes and bad choices, they immediately want to intervene. The key is to remember that they are adults now and they have the right to make the choices they make as well as face the consequences, good or bad, of those choices. This is when all those years of teaching them should be kicking in. We all learn through our mistakes, and we all continue to make mistakes as adults. Our adult kids have the right to live as a mistake-making/consequence-facing human, just as we do. . .and as we are.

General Guidelines:

• Let your adult kids plan their own lives. Moms & dads should not try to make a life plan for their adult kids; this is something they need to devise on their own so they will follow it. Moms & dads can guide and support their kids, but treating them like babies may cause them to regress. They need to be moving ahead and maturing, not regressing into childhood roles. Adult kids should be living as independent young people and making their own way. They need to decide for themselves what they want out of life, and devise a plan to obtain it.

• Set boundaries without feeling guilt. Moms & dads need to put down boundaries and stick to them. Kids often assume the victim role and say, "I can't do it. I have to live here." Moms & dads buy into this thinking, and then feel guilty because they want to help their kids. When they feed that guilt, they ignore the fact that they are crippling their kids's advancement in life.

• Think about the true meaning of help. There is an old saying: "Those for whom you do the most, wind up resenting you the worst." Are you really helping your kids if you're not showing them how the real world works? Moms & dads need to redefine what it means to help someone. Look at your motivation for helping your kids. If you are doing it to feel better about yourself, then you probably don't have your kid's best interest in mind. You don't help people by taking away their self-sufficiency, pride of accomplishment and achievement. Kids need to take an initiative and find ways to achieve their goals on their own. If something is important enough for your kids, they will find a way to make it happen.

When House Rules are established, they need to remain focused on the Household. The following is a general list of common areas to address:

• Rent. Does this amount cover just shelter, or are food and utilities covered as well? If food is not covered in the amount, will they buy their own groceries, or contribute groceries to the household? When is the rent due, and what is the late payment policy? Will a deposit be required? Will said deposit be returned in part or full? If so, under what circumstances?

• Chores. How will they be divided? Obviously the adult kids need to be responsible for the cleaning of their own private areas, but what about shared living areas? What is the timeline for doing the chores in the common areas? How will the laundry facility be shared?

• Company. If the entrance to their private living areas is not private, you have every right to set hours for entertaining. Other areas to address would be those house rules other members of the household must follow such as no one of the opposite gender in the bedroom, no company in the house after midnight, etc. House rules apply to all in the household.

• Conditions of Residence. These would be rules as to why they are being allowed to move in and what will cause an eviction. Some moms & dads have a general rule that any kid living with them must be attending school full-time, working, or serving in the armed forces, as there will be no 'free ride'. If the kid is in school full-time they live in the home rent-free. The other circumstances require the payment of rent, usually based upon their ability to pay.

• Household Influence. If you have a rule against no alcohol, no drugs, and no r-rated movies, for example, in your home; you have the right to extend that rule to the adult kids. Anything you believe to be harmful to the environment of your home or harmful by way of example or risk to the underage kids is eligible for rule setting in this category. These items must be carefully addressed so they do not become matters of running the adult kid's life, or about what they do outside of the home. These rules need to stay strictly focused on the home environment.

• Their Kids and Pets. Keeping them under control and also living according to house rules. You have the right to have your privacy and your belongings respected. You have the right to expect them to parent their own kids and care for their own pets. This area can become an area of contention when moms & dads desiring to be helpful begin to interfere in the parenting style and routines of their adult kids. This is a huge no-no. They are adults and those are their kids. Unless your grandkids are in imminent danger, you have no right to interfere.

Running-Their-Life Rules:

It is difficult to see someone you love make choices that you know will have a bad outcome, or which you do not personally agree with. As moms & dads of adult kids, you must first and foremost respect their rights as adults.

Whether they live under your roof or not, you have no right to insist upon setting rules which interfere in their right to choose for themselves what to do with their own life. Some examples of Running-Their-Life Rules are as follows:
  • How they dress or style their hair
  • How they parent their own kids
  • Places they may go
  • Their diet and exercise program or lack thereof
  • What line of work or field of study they may be involved in
  • Where they may attend church or if they attend church or not
  • Where they may work or go to school
  • Whether they get piercings and tattoos
  • Who they may associate with outside of your home.

In Cases of Danger Exceptions:

In some cases, there is true and imminent danger involved to the safety and welfare of your adult kid, their kids, your own underage kids, or yourself. In these cases, you have every right and responsibility to act. A few examples would be as follows:

• Alcohol and Drug abuse. If their life or the life of another is at risk by all means intervene. This is where programs such as Al-Anon can help you understand the dynamics and what you can and should do. You may have to become acquainted with the principles of Tough Love and actually hold an Intervention to help your adult kid.

• Clear animal abuse or neglect as outlined by your state or local government. Your opinion that something is neglectful or abusive must be substantiated by state or local law before you have the right to intervene because it may well be just your opinion.

• Clear child abuse or neglect as outlined by your state government. Your opinion that something is neglectful or abusive must be substantiated by state law before you have the right to intervene because it may well be just your opinion.

Setting the Example:

The best way to teach our kids is through the example that we set. They learn far more from what we do than what we say, and they do watch what we do very closely. If we expect them to live a certain way, we must be consistently and without hypocrisy living that way ourselves. Then, if we set a good example, they may choose to adopt our philosophy and way of life for themselves. They also may choose to go their own way. The point is that it is their life and their choice, and that must always be respected.

Boomerang Kids—

They're back. The "Boomerang Kids" — young adults who left to go to college, get married or just strut their independence — are moving back in with mom and dad. Boomerang Kids can be a mixed blessing for moms & dads, both emotionally and financially.

The trend is cyclical. Especially during tough economic times, adult kids head for home. Census figures show that 56 percent of men and 43 percent of women ages 18 to 24 today live with one or both moms & dads. Some never left, while an estimated 65 percent of recent college graduates have moved back in with their moms & dads.

The reasons are many, the first being economics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.9% of 20-to-24-year-olds were unemployed in September 2003 vs. 6.7% in September, 2000. The jobless rate for 25-to-34-year-olds had also risen to 6.3% from 3.7% over the period. That sent a lot of young folks back home. Plus, there is the matter of debt, especially college loans. For as many as 40 percent of recent grads, it made smart economic sense to move back in with their moms & dads – where life is comfortable and rent is either low or nonexistent – while they get their finances in order. Then, of course, some return for personal reasons, to recover from a divorce or an illness, or just because they cannot afford their moms & dads' lifestyle living on their own.

Caution: Moms & dads are often happy to help out, both emotionally and financially. As a result, the arrangement often works to everyone's satisfaction. However, there are risks, especially for the moms & dads. These include family tension and misunderstandings, but also money.

The return to the nest can become a financial burden that can derail the moms & dads' plans and jeopardize their financial future, especially their retirement, as they try to do too much for their kids. For example, if moms & dads pick up a son's college loan, that payment is money not going toward their own retirement savings, very often at a time when the moms & dads need to be stashing cash at an accelerated pace to meet retirement needs.

Success Factors—

Studies show that the return to the nest works best when several factors are present:
  • The boomerang kid gets along with mom. (The relationship with the father seems to be less of a factor.)
  • The boomerang kid is cheerful and good company. (Mothers, especially, like the company of the young person and see it as a benefit of the return to the nest.)
  • The boomerang kid pays rent or contributes to the household in a tangible way. (About half make a payment of rent.)
  • The moms & dads are in a long–term marriage.
  • The return is a safety net while the boomerang kid makes a transition, based on a clear–cut need.
  • The return is temporary and a one–time event. (Kids who repeatedly boomerang find that relations with moms & dads worsen each time.)

How To Make It Work--

Most researchers agree that you as a parent can take steps to create a win–win situation:

1. Do not sacrifice your own financial future. Decide how much you want and can afford to help. Kids tend to think their moms & dads are wealthy, while some moms & dads provide more financial support than they can afford. Remember that your kids have decades to build their financial security, while you may be only a few years away from your retirement date. Ironically, if you are not careful, you could end up depending on your kids for help in your old age.

2. Help them restructure debts, rather than simply bail them out. Then teach them how to avoid new debt. One option is to match debt–reduction payments, with the understanding that they put away credit cards and live within their means.

3. Insist on responsibilities, which may include paying rent and/or payment in kind, such as taking on household chores (e.g., doing laundry, making dinner two nights a week, buying groceries). This can often be negotiated. One method is to ask the returning kid what he or she believes would be reasonable rent. (This is also the area, when not clearly laid out, that can result in the most misunderstandings, as adult kids return to old habits of expecting to be taken care of.)

4. Set a departure date, whether it be three weeks or three months.

5. Set house rules. Put them in writing. Make it a contract. Remember, it's still your house.

Boomerang Kids – having your darlings return to the safety net of their home – can be wonderful time of family closeness. Setting the tone, laying out the ground rules, and making smart–money financial decisions can help create a positive, supportive environment that is in the best interests of you and your returning family members. Good luck.

Reestablish the boundaries—

Whatever kind of behavior they expect from members of their household, these need to be reestablished with no exceptions for anyone. Remember, it's the job of a parent to raise the kids, teach them responsibility, and take care of them. It's not their job to put up with their bad behavior, clean up their mess, or continue to raise them as adults.

Here are some ideas to take or leave:

Establish a household curfew – This one might get a bit nasty when your adult child simply doesn’t abide by it. If it does, the answer is simply to install a deadbolt on each door and lock it at the given curfew hour.

Friends need to leave by 10 PM and everyone is responsible for their own mess.

Require that all adults over 18 and not in school, financially contribute to household expenses on a weekly basis. It doesn’t have to be much, $50 per week would be an adequate statement.

Require that all members of the household have chores and fulfill them before they are allowed to go out – no exceptions! This includes personal laundry.

No television, video games, telephone, or playing on the computer until chores are done and messes are cleaned up.

Though your adult child won’t see it this way, these are reasonable household rules that differentiate a home from a hotel. If he/she doesn’t like it, he/she needs to be calmly told that his/her alternative is to live somewhere else.

How to Get Your Adult Children to Move Out—

1. Communicate. Let your adult children know that you want and expect them to move out. Explain that this is good for them, good for you, and good for your relationship. Be kind and loving, but be firm.

2. Show a united front. Don't risk having one parent riding the fence and the other being the enforcer. Have a discussion with your spouse before you discuss the topic with your child. Make sure that both of you are on the same page. You can even create a list of mutually agreeable chores, time lines, household rules, expectations, etc.

o Agree that neither of you will amend the rules without discussing it with the other parent. One parent riding the fence to avoid confrontation will only cause resentment between the two of you.

o Agree to communicate with your spouse weekly or more often about issues that arise, progress that is being made, problems that are developing, etc. By staying on top of it you will always know what the other is facing when you aren't around. Make special time to have this talk and perhaps use it as a chance to sneak away for a nice dinner once a week. You deserve it.

o Discuss the plan with any other moms & dads that may not live in the home. If your ex is in the loop they may be able to help. Just by knowing they can stay out of the manipulation or avoid being dragged into the new policies. If they know your plan and your rules they can also help enforce them. By having all of the moms & dads in agreement the kids will feel the pressure.

o If both of you sit down together for a moms & dads' meeting and discuss the new rules you'll have a better chance of the rules being followed and everyone being happy once they're presented to the child.

o If one parent is easily swayed or will cave if confronted by the child you should point out that weakness when you are setting up the rules in your moms & dads' meeting.

o Realize that a step-parent has just as much right to decide what goes on in the home as the biological parent. By marrying into the family you were given a say in how the home is ruled.

3. Make a plan together. Living independently requires an income and a variety of different life skills. Help your kids analyze their situation and plot a realistic course of action.

4. Stay involved. Once you have a plan, meet with your kids weekly (or more often as needed) to communicate, assess the situation, identify short-term tasks, and especially to recognize and celebrate progress! Collaboration and cooperation between moms & dads and their kids can be a beautiful thing, but it takes lots of energy.

5. Consider a no-guests rule. Sharing your house with your adult kids can be challenging enough, without opening your home and your refrigerator to your kids' friends.
  • Be firm and address the situation. If necessary, explain it to the friends as a new rule.
  • Consider making the bedroom a no guest zone.
  • Don't be shy. Address the subject of having girlfriends/boyfriends over. Forbid your home from being used for their sexual convenience. If possible, forbid "dates" from coming over as soon as possible so bad habits don't develop.
  • It is perfectly reasonable to tell the kids they cannot entertain friends or other guests in your home, and this gives your kids a powerful incentive to find their own living situation.

6. Implement a list of chores and a curfew. At the very least, your kids should clean up after themselves and be considerate of you and other residents at all times. Don't feel guilty about this or let your kids squirm out of it; they will need domestic skills and basic discipline to make it on their own.

7. Don't provide all the meals. While your adult kids are living with you, make certain they contribute their fair share to buying food, cooking, and cleaning up afterwards.

o Start by asking them to make a quick run to the store for basic items. Make it their job to buy certain grocery items every weekend such as milk, cereal, bread, eggs, etc. They'll learn to budget their money and schedule the time to get it done.

8. Collect rent. The kids may be living with their parent(s), but if they're adults, they should help to support themselves. Be firm about this - it will help build your kids' self-esteem as well as keeping your resentment in check. Start small and increase the monthly amount over time until it approximates the cost of a studio or roommate situation.

9. Live your life. Socialize, redecorate your house, get a dog or cat. Don't let your kids cramp your style - that phase of your life is over!

10. Get some support. Talk with friends who are facing the same dilemma; enlist the help of a counselor, relatives, your church, and others who care about you and your kids to help you keep your resolve and help your kids take the plunge and move out. Make sure you and your spouse are communicating.

11. Report any unkind behavior or rude remarks to your spouse. You should both be aware of how the child is treating the other person. Take aggressive behavior very seriously.

12. Don't make living at home too comfortable or convenient. You are a parent, not a butler or maid. Consider removing televisions, video games, and computers, or at least limiting access to them, especially if these things are distracting the kids from getting jobs, saving money, and completing other parts of the move-out plan.

13. Stay positive. Focus on helping your kids towards independence and on the progress you and your kids have made, not on the negatives.

14. Be firm. If your kids disregard the rules of the house or treat you with disrespect, you must introduce consequences, up to and including forcing them to move out. Taking your adult offspring to a homeless shelter or changing the locks is excruciating, but it is kinder than hating them for continuing to take advantage of you.

15. Draw the line. There are some things you must not allow your kids to do under your roof, including dealing or using drugs, dangerous or illegal activities, and anything that endangers or infringes on the rights of other family members. If your kids persist in such activities, you may have to throw them out. If your family has conservative views on sexual activities you should also restrict the access to your home.

16. Set Goals and Deadlines. Give them a time line by which point they need to move out. You can change the locks if necessary but do try to have them move out on their own.

17. Stand by your rules. It's tiring to enforce them all the time but by ignoring some rules they assume you will cave on the time line to move out.

18. Work with your Spouse. Don't let your child gain the upper hand by turning you away from the rules that you and your Spouse worked out together. It's easy to get defensive and take the side of the child over your Spouse but remember... You and your Spouse are the rulers of your Castle, not you and your Child. Defensive Moms & dads become Single moms & dads quickly and is it really necessary to lose a Spouse because you can't tell your adult child "NO"?

19. Stay Out of the Drama. Your child(ren) have the ability to trigger you by what they say and do. Move past the emotion and drama. You are NOT a bad mother or father, you did the best job you could with the resources that you had and what you knew at the time. You are not helping yourself or your child by allowing yourself to be held hostage by anger, fear or even mental illness. Get support someone to talk to that will give you clarity on what is real and what techniques you can use to be heard.

20. Don’t Buy into the Poor Me Stuff. There are always excuses for not doing things. Instead of listening to what your child is saying. Pay attention to what they are doing. Focus on their actions and their plans. When they start to complain about how hard it is. Be understanding but keep focused on the “action” that they are taking and the ”plans” they have. There is the clarity. Your child may be arranging lots of job interviews but not getting hired. What could be happening here is for the child setting up interviews may be the desired result for them. They might have no intention of actually getting a job.

21. Teaching Life Skills. Don't think that by doing your child's laundry and cooking for him/her and handing out money is preparing them for the real world. They need to learn to take care of themselves. You must be firm and be ready for resistance. Remember, they are used to you doing everything for them and they may not be ready to give that up but you must prepare them to live life when the time comes you are no longer around. You may think being hard on them is tough but doing everything for them makes them helpless and lazy adults and it will be even harder for them once you're not around.

22. Be frank about this. Drug use or friends who use drugs are not allowed on your property. Do not allow them in your home. If they have listened this far, then possibly they will listen to you about this. If they are high then wait to comment about this. Make sure you are not high.


• Adult kids are masters at playing your emotions. The longer you give in the longer they will play you like a fiddle and the more unhappy you will be. It is your responsibility as a Parent to make them ready for the real world. Letting your child stay home and taking care of him/her like a Maid is YOUR fault, not the child's. If you baby them then they have no reason to leave do they?

• Ask them how much they've saved for a deposit on a new place. Help them keep track of their savings if you need to. Reward good saving practices by offering additional rewards as incentives. For example, after they've saved a predetermined portion of what they would need you can offer them certain furniture pieces, buy a microwave but don't allow it out of the box, help them pick out kitchen items or furnishings. Keep those in a "storage area" assigned for the new place but off limits for now. Seeing the items will further encourage independence.

• Discourage them from spending money on unneeded items. Are they buying video games, guitars, clothes, eating out with friends? Help them make a budget. Keep your eyes open and point out unnecessary spending. Explain to them what it's really like in the real world.

• Don't allow them to ban you from their room. It's your home. You should feel encouraged to go in from time to time, look for expensive and unneeded purchases, make sure it is clean. If they argue, remove the door from the hinges.

• Don't baby them, but do support them.

• Don't just hold them to the same chores you had them doing as a child. They're an adult and capable of not only contributing but helping you make improvements to your home. Even if they are employed you should feel comfortable assigning them more demanding and labor intensive tasks. For example: cleaning out the garage and repainting it, cleaning out the attic or other storage spaces, removing paneling and repainting walls, filing old papers and documents, organizing photos, redoing rooms in the house. The list is endless.

• Don't provide them with any additional conveniences at your expense. If they want conveniences they should get a job. This includes cell phones, cars, insurance, internet and even food costs depending on how much you are able to provide.

• Experts agree that the best way to discuss – and stick to – these household rules is to draft up a customized contract between you and your adult kids living at home. Schedule a mandatory family meeting.

• Get a calendar and establish a time line for getting a new job or additional jobs and moving out. Mark it on the calendar and let them know up front the date is firm.

• Helping them monitor their money and spending is essential. Consider setting up a savings account with both your names. You can monitor the progress and any money withdrawn won't impact your financial standing as it would for a checking account.

• If they are legitimately unable to find work ask your boss if they can be brought in one or two days a week for minimum wage. Have them file, etc. If you're able you can also take them to work and have them assist you with getting caught up on your work that could potentially make you more money. You may need to pay them out of your pocket but it could save you money long term.

• If they don't have a car, drop them off in a business or retail district and when you pick them up ask to see the application forms.

• If they spend too much time on line or on the phone, playing video games, etc. you should consider getting rid of the internet or phone line or eliminate their access to those luxuries. Consider locking up video game consoles, controllers and games.

• If you kid won't take initiative you can start speaking to neighbors. Find out who needs their lawns mowed, fence painted, etc. Because of your efforts you should feel comfortable being the one to collect the money once the job is complete and take a percentage. You can also make sure they did the job as instructed.

• If your child DOES have a post-graduate job, but its entry level (though on a career-oriented path), the odds are that they won't be able to afford living on their own just yet. As long as they contribute to the household's utilities, buy their own groceries (cooking for themselves), pitch in with household chores, and clean up after themselves, you have nothing to worry about. Give it a few years, as long as you can get along. Their salary will go up in time. Remember, many cultures are based on large families living together, and in today's financial crunch the job market is rough. Give them bonus points if they pay for their own health insurance.

• If your kids do require moving back home after school, after a job loss or divorce you should establish up front that you are doing this as a favor and it is temporary.

• In some areas it is common for kids to stay in the parental home longer than in other areas. The cost of living in a region is the main reason but there are other factors. Just because you moved out when you turned 18 doesn't make it practical today. An 18 year old in a large city will not be able to support themselves as easily as an 18 year old in a small town. If you're in a large city you may want to anticipate them staying longer or start the planning while they are still in school.

• Plan ahead! The concepts of responsibility, accountability, and independence should be introduced to kids gradually over a period of several years. If you overindulge your kids or allow them to feel a sense of entitlement, it will be very difficult for them to become successful, self-sufficient adults.

• Refuse to feel guilty. Remember, moving out and becoming self-sufficient is in your kids' best interests. Letting them stay at home and take advantage of you is not only miserable, but irresponsible.

• Remember it's your turn now No one wants to feel like they're letting their kids down, but if younger kids see their adult sibling still living at home when they are grown up, then what is to stop them from doing the same thing. You are not obligated to keep kids at home with you untill they are in their 30's or 40's. That was not part of the deal. If they make poor adult choices that is their fault and not yours.

• Think of jobs around the house you would need to pay someone for and assign those to be done by a certain deadline.

• You should stay on them. Nag if you must. Get them up early and watch them leave the house in presentable clothes to begin searching for work. Remind them you are doing them a favor and they should not confuse this time with summer vacation.


• Adult kids living at home who are over-parented and over-supervised will rebel as quickly as teenagers, so you need to develop some strategies to establish a new adult-to-adult relationship – quick!

• Do not put your own financial future on the line to support your adult kids living at home. You do neither yourself nor your kids any good by creating extra debt or obligations for yourself.

• Don't allow them to use credit cards. If they can't afford to pay them they can be digging into a bigger hole. Confiscate them.

• Don't be cruel! No matter how annoying they may be now, they are still your kids, and you should treat them as such.

• Drug use or people carrying drugs onto your property is illegal. For that matter any illegal activity by your adult child exposes all of you.

• Drug use or their friends who use drugs should not be allowed to enter your property.

• If you don’t know where the money to make the situation work will come from, you need to think long and hard about whether you can help your adult kids by having them live at your home.

• It may be hard to remember sometimes, but adult kids living at home are still adults. A sure way to set yourself up for conflict is to over-parent your adult kids.

• Keep an eye on bills coming in to make sure they have not opened lines of credit that can't be justified or paid for.

• Keep an eye on expenses and utilities. Keep records and set new rules if you find certain utilities costing significantly more.

• Once your kids are moved out, resist their pleas to move back in, especially if the living situation was difficult previously. It is usually better to lend your support in other ways, like helping them to find an affordable living situation or lending them money for utilities, etc. if you can afford it. They may struggle at times just to keep a roof over their heads, but they will probably prove resourceful and resilient enough to recover eventually. It may be better to let them be homeless for a time than to allow them to become helpless and dependent adults.

• This is one of the most difficult tasks in all of parenting. It takes a lot of patience and love, and sometimes professional guidance, to get through it.

Best Comment: 

Our daughter, age 31, is married, gainfully employed, happy and stable. Our son, age 27, is none of those things and shows no sign of ever getting there. He has a mild case of Tourette's Syndrome and is undoubtedly also ADD and depressed. He refuses to see a doctor or to take medication or to accept that anything is wrong with him. 

As a child, he was very pesky, always bothering his sister until she yelled at him or hit him. Then he would play the victim and complain to me. I got frustrated trying to settle things between them all the time or to get either one of them to stop their behavior. He would NEVER hit her back, saying that he didn't believe in violence. Nor would he stop being an absolute pest to her. To this day it affects his relationship with her. She just wants him to grow up and get over it.

In high school (I later learned) he was smoking pot before school (self-medicating his Tourette's) every day. He barely managed to graduate. Without the knowledge that drugs were involved, I never understood his difficulty with schoolwork, as he is very bright. Later, he moved out of the house and in with some other young men who were also involved with drug use. I later found out that he regularly used a variety of drugs, with pot being his drug of choice, because of its calming effects. Of course this lifestyle eventually led to several arrests, one right in front of us on our way back from a family vacation. We required that he move back in with us, we took his car (he lost his license), and took him to a friend at the courthouse several times a week for drug testing. He had to appear in court (rather an embarrassing event for my husband) where we told the judge what we had done and that we were seeing a positive change in him. He was fined and put on probation for a year. He got a job, started college, paid his fine in installments, and successfully completed his probation.

Here we are, several years later: he's employed part-time washing dishes at a pizza parlor, still working intermittently on his degree, still living at home, and generally still acting like a child. He's touchy, easily angered, and easily moved to tears if I complain about his behavior. He blames everything on someone else, especially me. He constantly complains that he wants a good relationship with me; that he wants me to be his friend; that he doesn't have anyone to talk to but he can't talk to me because I ask too many questions and always criticize him. [So I guess he wants me to be a friend, not a parent, and to blindly go along with whatever he wants, and disregard his history of lying to me, and his history of illegal behavior, and to treat him as an adult even though he shows no signs of growing up.]  Recently, I chastised him for his language and his disrespect, and he actually told me that social mores had changed! Today, he started to cook up a big pot of pasta for lunch and I asked him not to because it was 97 degrees outside, going to 105, and the air conditioner was already having trouble keeping up. He insisted that it was fine, he went outside, declared it an OK day outside and argued with me and told me that I had ruined his day. Later I heard him crying. Still later he came downstairs and said he was leaving for the day.

He recently hit a deer with his car (the second time that's happened since he started driving!) and has been driving my truck to work and school, which I don't mind too much, since I don't use it much anyway. What I do mind is that he's sort of started seeing it as his. He's even recently used it to help friends move furniture without my permission. He sometimes stays out all night, goes to class, and comes home to sleep. He's not paying any of his own bills...something that is about to change...and does not pay rent (another thing that may change soon).  Like an idiot, I had been letting him keep my debit card in case of emergency or in case I needed him to stop at the store. I recently added up his charges for a month and was horrified. I now have the card and do not intend to give it back.

I know he's an adult, and I should treat him as such, which may even mean telling him it's time to move out and/or time to pay his own bills. But there is more going on here. I don't want to trigger self-destructive behavior (which is something he has threatened twice recently). I need advice on how to handle this young man. I'm clearly doing something very wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We have gotten to the point where we have forced our 18 (almost 19) year old son out. I am scared to death and in an intensive outpatient mental health facility as I fear for his safety. He has no transportation other then a moped that he drives 20 + miles one way to a PT job. He has no money and is currently sleeping on a friend’s couch. He is failed out of college and Jr. college this year. He also has ADHD and depression. We have caught him twice with pot and he smokes a lot. He has received 2 tickets for drinking at college. We have asked him to apologize to all of us (16 year sister) to come home and that he needs to begin additional therapy for his anger. He has made no attempt to apologize and only comes to us when it is pouring rain and he needs a ride to work. If we don’t take him, he loses his job. Eventually we assume that his friend will say he has to leave. His next step then is probably a homeless shelter as none of his friends will have him at their house. I feel that if he goes to a homeless shelter, I will need to check myself into an institution and be sedated. It is a hopeless situation. Up through his jr. year he was on the b honor roll but senior year grades went down and defiant behavior escalated. He has a violent temper and has sworn at us many, many times.

I listened to your seminar and know that we should have not reacted to his defiance as we did- both my husband and I regularly had yelling matches with him. Is it too late? If we have him move home and he violates our house rules one time (no drugs, no alcohol, being home by a certain time?) do we kick him out again?

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