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dvchuck's avatar

What do I do about my 26 yr. old son?

Asked by dvchuck (230points) April 30th, 2008

My son is 26 and has never really held a steady job. My wife & I continue to support him while he tries his hand a different things. What do I do?

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13 Answers

Breefield's avatar

I’ve read about this before. I think the article I read advised you to straight up tell him he’s gotta go. Something about tough love being the only way to rid yourself of him.

gailcalled's avatar

Charge him very low rent and work out a timetable by which time he has to 1) find an apartment, 2) find a job and 3) move out. Six months seems fair, but you have to be prepared to keep your word.

BadMotherFluther's avatar

If you keep feeding him. He’s gonna come back! I take it, you have had a heart to heart with him?

gimmedat's avatar

Time for tough love. Job or school equals living at home. Playing XBox 360 in the basement equals time to go. Two things I have to give my kids: roots and wings. Time to spread those wings!

MrKnowItAll's avatar

Change the locks. Go on Vacation.

nikipedia's avatar

How’s his mental health? Is he depressed? Does he want to move out?

stephen's avatar

does he know you are getting confused about this? if not, i believe mrknowttall just gave u a wise idea!

ninjaxmarc's avatar

it would be okay if he was helping financial but sometimes it takes a few people a little longer to get up and go but tough love is the way to go in this situation.

Currently in school?

dithibodeaux's avatar

I also agree that a job or going to school is what I would ask of my kids. I really feel for you. I always say go with tough love, but I’m sure that’s easier said than done. I can’t say for sure what I would do. But definetly have some heart to hearts and start nugging, maybe he’ll get it.

mcbealer's avatar

You should, together with your wife, reach a mutual plan on this. Although it may be difficult at best, it will be necessary to be in accord on the next steps. My thinking is with gailcalled. Someday, he’ll thank you for it.

kevbo's avatar

After I graduated college, I lived at home for another 5 years until I was 26, largely because I was very depressed, highly idealistic, and clueless about the realities of the world of work. During that time, I also held many part-time and entry level jobs, and I didn’t move out until I received an unexpected invitation from a college buddy of mine to move with him to another state where he had a job. Even then, I didn’t earn enough to pay all my bills until a few months into my time there and my parents had to send money. Eventually, though, the idea of self sufficiency took root and I’ve managed pretty well ever since.

Like others have said, I would definitely assess whether depression is a factor, but only to recognize it for what it is. Based on my experience, trying to treat the depression absent any other corrective measure doesn’t do very much.

I would also suggest that your son might simply need a change of venue. I’ve read before that family members (specifically siblings) return to and maintain their familial roles as long as they live close to each other (e.g. in the same town). So, I would suspect that simply moving across town (assuming he still required some financial support) wouldn’t make much difference. Your son might benefit very well from a move to someplace totally different where he can get out from under his familial role and start “finding himself.” I don’t know where you live, but it helped me very much to find a large, young, metropolitan area with ample cultural offerings and an agreeable climate. If where you live is limiting for a person with his sensibilities or age, I would consider those factors important, too.

If none of the above sounds feasible, then I’d suggest you or someone he’ll listen to ought to sit down with him and map everything out. Chances are he wants independence, he just doesn’t know how to get there. Start with his dreams and concerns, which will probably be really vague (for example, I remember at that age telling my dad that I didn’t want other people profiting from my work.) It’s really important at this point to listen fully without judging or even hinting at criticism. Once you have that not-so-articulate goal articulated, break down in reverse order the steps that it will probably take to get there until it becomes clear to him that there’s a next step that he can do today and the next day and so on. (Somewhere in this process should be the goals of becoming self sufficient and moving out, of course.) Then it becomes a matter of taskmastering and absolutely holding him accountable to executing that plan of action. When or if he balks, then it’s either a matter of helping him problem solve or reminding him of the long term goal. Taking this route is really a matter of addressing and engaging his better self at the expense of his weaker self will hopefully fade from a gradual lack of importance.

kksw's avatar

How is he socially? Does he have many friends, lovers? Don’t make him feel like a burden but try and have a talk with him about what he wants to do in life, his goals and what action he and you need to take in order for it to happen

susanc's avatar

Read Jay Haley, “Leaving Home”. Helps you make changes in your own lives and thinking that you wouldn’t otherwise find natural. Can be
an opportunity for you to grow as well as helping your son to do so.
I like very much the encouragement you’re getting here to stay compassionate as well as finding your way to a plan. The kid may be in trouble. The three of you have to decide; the parents have to work as a team; you are already moving things along by asking for help. It’s inspiring.
My brother, aged 62, just moved in with us for about 4 months, broke, lonely, at the end of his rope; we love him, but were discouraged because he didn’t seem to be doing much in his own behalf; finally we said we needed to be alone together, and he INSTANTLY found work and left, with great love all around. You never know.

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