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Adult Children—When to Help and When to Let Them Learn

M. D. Jackson is a college psychology professor, author, family counselor, and a mother of nine adult children.

When to help your adult child, and when to let them learn on their own.

When to help your adult child, and when to let them learn on their own.

Knowing When to Help Adult Children

We have a standing joke in our home: when I was working toward a doctoral degree, my sons occasionally started spending money in their heads. In other words, they liked to plan what they were going to do with the money I was going to make. I always tell them that I am leaving all my money to the dolphins, so they will have to make their own ways in the world.

On some level, like all jokes, there is some truth to what I say. I expect them to have jobs, work hard, and support themselves in life. The phrase "tough love" comes to mind, but as a college psychology professor, family counselor, and former personal loan writer, I have met many parents who spent their life savings bailing their children out of predicaments. This article is for those parents.

The first thing to do is figure out the difference between help that will actually benefit and help that will only hurt your kids. Below, you'll find sections that answer these main questions:

  1. What can you do when your grown kids are making bad decisions and end up in trouble—romantically, financially, emotionally, or with the law?
  2. How can you help your adult child become financially independent?
  3. When is it time to cut the apron strings and close your checkbook?
  4. When is it okay to step in and help?

When Your Grown Kid Makes Bad Decisions

There is a big difference between trying to fix your adult child's ongoing, self-created problems and helping a kid face a life crisis. An adult child who makes a poor decision—like a daughter who buys a Coach purse instead of paying her bills, or a son who gambles with his rent money—should learn from that decision. But then there are real family crises—auto accidents, illnesses, layoffs, house fires, the list goes on—when families should work together.

When Your Adult Child Does Not Listen to Your Good Advice

You're saying all the right things to your adult child, but for some reason, they just don't listen. What can you do? Well, the answer depends on whether or not you are supporting your child financially.

  • If you're not giving them money, then you're not entitled to give them advice unless they ask for it or to try to prevent a serious mistake. This will allow you to save your breath for when the advice might be heard and make a difference.
  • If you are financially supporting your adult child, then you still have a say in how their time and money are spent. Spend that money and advice wisely. For example, if you want your child to go to college, then offer to continue funding them while they do so (and if you don't want them to drop out of college, then make it clear that your financial support will end if they don't attend).

So unless you're paying the bills, you don't get any say in how your adult child conducts their life.

What to Do When an Adult Child Calls From Jail

You get a call at 1 a.m. that your adult child is in jail. After hearing the sob story about drunken driving, drug possession, or some other involvement in illegal activity, many parents will rush to bail their child out of jail. Many parents go as far as taking out loans to get adult children out of jail. Why? A friend of mine repeatedly hocked his vehicles to keep his son out of jail for possession of an illegal substance. Even though he knows he is enabling this child, he refuses to stop and let his son feel the consequences of his actions.

In our family, I have made it clear that if one of my children does something illegal, they better not call me. They know I will not bail them out.

Your child is an adult. They should be responsible for their actions. If you bail them out of jail and put yourself in financial dire straits, you are teaching them that you will always be there to fix their problems and willingly suffer for their mistakes.

There is another very good reason to NOT hock the farm for bail: chances are that adult child is going to continue the behavior that put them in jail. They swear it will never happen again, and you want to believe. Every parent wants to believe the best about their child, but it's your job to know the difference between fantasy and reality.

If your child is headed down a dark path, you can be a light and an example, but do not save them from their consequences. Protecting a child from their own mistakes means that you do not think they can handle the situation on their own. If that is what you believe, then you need to admit how you participated in creating the problem.

To learn about how to set appropriate boundaries for adult kids who live at home, read How to Create House Rules for Adult Children.

As for children who are still dependent, it's important to be clear on whether you are supporting or enabling them.

As for children who are still dependent, it's important to be clear on whether you are supporting or enabling them.

What to Do When an Adult Child Asks for Money

Many young adults today seem to have the idea that mom and dad are made of money, so they can spend carelessly. This is the child who gets a new tattoo or a new phone, splurges on a fancy part for a vehicle, buys new clothes, purchases frivolous items for their apartment (or worse—gets a brand new vehicle), then asks you to pay their rent.

Learning to handle money never killed anyone. If your daughter's vehicle gets repossessed because she cannot pay, it will only hurt her credit. This type of lesson is important. If you protect your children from these lessons, they will never learn how money works, and they will continue to lean on you for help.

Case in point:

My oldest son earned his first vehicle. He learned to fix the old Bronco himself and he took care of it (you could have eaten off the floors in that thing). I was very proud of him. Eventually, the Bronco needed work that would be too costly so he decided to trade it in for something newer. He needed a co-signer, so he called me. My deal with him was that I would co-sign, but if I had to start making payments, I was going to take the vehicle. When he lost his job, he called me to say he could no longer make the payments, so I came and got the vehicle. It doesn’t matter that I don’t drive a stick shift or that I did not like the car, I took it on principle. He was not mad because I made it clear from the beginning that I was not going to buy him a car. (He has a car and a job now, by the way.)

Too many parents base their relationships with their kids on money, out of fear that if they don't, their child will not have anything to do with them. That’s right, your actions are not driven by love but by fear. This is a trap for everyone involved. If you have been a good and loving parent, you need not worry about your adult children never calling. As they grow up, they will drift away for short spells. This is a natural part of becoming adults. They will call, and you will have great conversations about their kids and life.

Questions to Ask Before You Give Money to Your Adult Child

  1. Ask yourself: Can I afford it? This should always be your first consideration. If you have plenty of money, you might want to help them out, then continue to question #2. But if you can't afford to help them without damage to your own financial health, then just say no.
  2. Ask yourself: Will this money actually help? Is this a short-term crisis or a chronic condition? Is it a temporary or a permanent need? If your financial assistance will solve the problem now, then move on to question #3, but if it won't, consider helping them find other solutions.
  3. Ask yourself: Will this money be used responsibly? Will help pay for something important or will it be used on frivolous items? Is it for something they need or do they just want it? Is your child following a budget? If your help will not be spent responsibly, then don't give it.
  4. Ask yourself: Is there something else I could do to help? Sometimes, you can offer another kind of help instead of giving money. Maybe you can offer to watch your grandkids while your adult child looks for a job.
  5. Ask yourself: Will it help them gain future independence? Some gifts are money well spent. Investments in furthering education and funding business ventures are smarter than helping your child take a nice vacation, no matter how desperately that vacation is needed.
  6. Ask yourself: Is this a pattern? If you have gotten into a habit of funding your adult child, or if you perhaps even pride yourself on continuing to pay for them, it's probably not healthy or sustainable. It may be time for both you and your adult child to grow up, break the cycle of dependence, and find other ways to maintain your relationship.
  7. Ask your adult child: Is this a gift or is it a loan? It's important that both of you get your expectations straight. You may expect to be repaid while your adult child is secretly hoping you'll forget all about it. Transparency is key.
  8. Ask your kid: When will you pay me back? Part of being an adult is keeping promises. Discuss a repayment schedule and make plans for what will happen if those dates are broken.
  9. Ask your kid: Are you going to ask me for money again? Don't get into an unspoken ongoing financial agreement. Have explicit discussions about your financial expectations.

Note: If you want your kid to stop asking you for handouts, the biggest mistake is to say "no" and then let them whine and cry and guilt you into it. This is precisely why people play slot machines: there's always a chance it will pay off! Better to say "no" and stick to it. Saying "no" clearly and firmly is sometimes the best thing you can do for your child.

"Emerging Adulthood" Happens Between Ages 18-30

Pew Research conducted a recent study that found that almost a quarter of 25-34-year-olds are still living with their parents.

But What if Parents Have the Money to Help?

What happens when you have money and your children never have to work for anything? They become useless, incapable, entitled adults who have no concept of real work. When a wealthy, enabling parent dies, their kids waste their inheritance on stupid things until it's gone and then they have no idea how to function.

Part of being an adult is paying your own way in life. Let your children have their own dreams and let them work to accomplish them. Make your children work for something. When you prevent your child from working, then they never learn to make it on their own. Let them help the homeless and do charity work even if- especially if-you have money.

Case in point:

A 44-year-old woman came into my personal loan office one day. She was beside herself in tears. Her father, a famous heart surgeon, had so much money that even until the day he died he was sending her checks. After he died, all the money went to his 28-year-old trophy wife. His daughter admitted that her father ruined her. She said, “He never made me do anything, so I never learned to live.”

Why Shouldn't a Parent Help Their Child Financially?

When a person works hard for something, they appreciate it, but when something is given, they do not feel a sense of responsibility for it. This is even true with college, where I currently teach. Most of the students who work hard in part-time jobs and for scholarships will appreciate their education, whereas those whose parents pay for their school are much more likely to drop out.

Some parents say they want their children to have things easier than they had. Well, why would you want that when you turned out so well? Children need to experience hardships, they need to know the world is not fair, and sometimes life sucks. Why?

Until you know pain you do not appreciate health,

until you know poverty you can not appreciate wealth,

until you know failure you can not appreciate an accomplishment,

and until you work for something you can not take pride in owning it.

Do not rob your kids of these experiences. Be there for them with love and moral support, not to fix their mistakes and/or hand them your checkbook.

Case in point:

Years ago, I had an employee who was extremely emotional. She would cry uncontrollably over dogs that had died 20 years ago, and publicly share intimate details of her relationships without solicitation. Her whole life, her parents had taken care of her every need. At the age of 45, she moved back in with her parents. I can't tell you what happened to her, but I can tell you that I had to let her go from a part-time job.

These days, the biggest danger facing retirees, the one thing they haven't planned for, is having to support adult children and grandchildren.

How You Can Help an Adult Child Without Spoiling Them

  • When your adult child calls with a problem, talk them through it. Discuss their resources and options.
  • Reinforce your child's intelligence with affirming statements such as "You are smart, and I'm sure you will figure this out," or "You are strong enough to handle this."
  • Help them think logically. Let them decide what their best option is based on the resources available.
  • It's tempting to send money. Who doesn't want to help the people around them? But you are not here to fix the lives of your children, you are here to teach them to stand on their own and think for themselves.

What if You Always Help Them?

When an adult child is dependent, it creates a negative relationship between the child and parent. The child resents the parent rather than respecting the parent. If you had to rely on someone else for everything, you might start to resent them as well. The adult child starts to expect the parent to fix their life, thus creating stress for the parent. Eventually, life situations implode from this scenario.

Case in point:

Years ago I knew a family where the daughter was constantly in and out of the parents' house. The adult daughter wasn't on drugs but, she refused to take responsibility for herself or her own children. The adult daughter left her kids for days at a time with her parents until she finally stopped coming home. By taking on the daughter's responsibilities, the parents took over all the responsibilities for the grandkids.

Case in point:

An elderly couple is currently in a court battle with the husband's adult children who want half of everything the man worked for during his life. Essentially, these adult children are trying to take their inheritance before their father has passed away. All their lives the father has given them everything, now they believe they are entitled to more. The man is having to fight a costly legal battle to keep his own money. There's a fine but crucial line between parenting and over-parenting.

When Does a Child Become an Adult?

When is it time to cut the strings, close your checkbook, and back away? Take all of these things into account when you decide exactly when your child should transition from child to adult:

  • There are many different expectations, not only across cultures but from one family to the next. Every family has its own culture which influences every family member's expectations. In some families, multiple generations all pitch in to live under one roof—in others, kids are expected to move out at 18 to start their own families. So there is no universal cut-off age: You'll have to look at your family's explicit and implicit assumptions and patterns for guidance.
  • Another thing to consider is the changing times. We used to consider all 18-year-olds adult, but recently, a new term has been added to our vocabulary for what happens between graduation from high school and eventual independence: "Emerging adulthood" is what we now call that transition period between 18-30.
  • Pew Research conducted a recent study that found that almost a quarter of 25-34-year-olds are still living with their parents.
  • "Failing to launch" is another new term that describes the inability of millions of young people—even those with jobs—to fully transition into independent adults.
  • Due to a difficult economic climate (the increasing cost of tuition, the stagnant minimum wage, etc.) we have a rapidly growing problem in which many young people are having a hard time gaining the self-sufficiency of adulthood.

When You Should Help Your Adult Child

Most adult children will move back home with you at least once. Usually, this happens after college. By that time, the kid should be behaving as a roommate instead of a child—cooking, cleaning, doing chores, and contributing to the household.

Our deal with our kids was they got one year after graduation before they had to start paying rent to us. In that year, they were also expected to save money for an apartment and a car. I would never let my children starve but, short of that, all life experience (easy and hard) is for their own good.

If for any reason your kids need permanent assistance (like if they have a disability or a chronic illness) and if you are their only means of support, then of course, you'll need to have other plans in place and will need to make arrangements for after you die. A financial adviser might suggest smarter ways for you to help in a way that doesn't disqualify them from social services.

Let your adult child live their own life. Do not try to save them: Let them save themselves. I guarantee when your children are older, they will appreciate the values you taught them and be better people.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: We had our 24-year-old son sign a roommate agreement. We gave him three months to help out around the house, pay us his rent of $200 a month, and to either go to school or get a job, or he has to move out. Now there is almost no communication. Did we do the right thing?

Answer: Your son is 24, not 12. I don't know your son, is he capable of all the things you asked of him? Is he able to get a job? If the answer is yes, then you did the right thing. When kids first gain independence communication may be light for a while. Also, I don't know how you presented this to your son. If it was presented as "you are 24 and a loser who needs to get it together," he may be mad at you. If you presented it as "we love you, but you have to learn to survive on your own" then he has no reason to be upset. Growing pains apply to maturity and emotion as well. Your child is not your friend. You can have a close relationship with your child that is not based on your financial support.

Question: I have a twenty-eight-year-old son. He has been clean and sober for six years. He lives at home and hasn't worked in five years. He is depressed but won't get help. It is very sad. As his parent, I am heartbroken. How can I help?

Answer: I would start by giving him a reason to work, such as "starting next month you will be paying $450 a month in rent." No matter who I am talking to, if they are not engaged in physical activity (working out) or a sport, they should be. Exercise is the best cure for depression, it ups the serotonin levels in the brain. While this doesn't work for everyone, it does work for most people. Sun is also useful for depression. Many people who were career drug addicts crash into depression when they are sober. It's the inability to deal with life's challenges that spur the drug use, to begin with. At 28 he has most of his life ahead of him, it's time to live again. If you are in good physical condition, start taking him hiking, tell him you want to go but don't want to go alone. Get him moving.

Question: We have a 19 year old daughter who is very headstrong, never listens, moved out 3x and came back, failed her first year in university, took a semester break and works part-time. She spends her money towards her boyfriend, eats out a lot, and pays a lot on salon care. She paid her own tuition and a little share in the house. You can't have a good conversation with her because she is always in defensive mode. She threatened to move out again, and my husband said to go ahead. She was resentful because we didn't help her pay for tuition. What shall we do?

Answer: Everything you mentioned is part of growing up. As long as your daughter is in school and working, let her do what she wants with her money. Just don't give her additional money when she asks. You don't have to micromanage your daughter. The lessons will come when she can no longer support her lifestyle. If she isn't going back to school then charge her rent. If she moves out, she moves out. I would teach her to budget though. This isn't a "parents being mean" lesson. This is a "I love you" and this will come in handy lesson.

Question: I have 2 grown daughters who both have college degrees. They don't look for work, party all night or watch TV, then sleep all day. My wife is a recovering alcoholic, and I also have 2 younger daughters who I all have to look after. What should I do as they are using my wife as a shield for their laziness and manipulative behaviour?

Answer: You are going to have a sit down with your wife and talk about your daughters' behavior. You are going to have to get her to agree that this behavior cannot go on and something needs to be done. That something is going to be putting your adult daughters under contract to live in your house. If they do not want to sign the contract and agree to your rules such as getting jobs, paying you rent, moving out in six months, then your daughters can choose to leave now. If they stay and are not holding up their end of the contract, get some boxes pack their stuff and kick them out. Even adult children want to be parented. Be a parent, not a doormat.

Question: My daughter is twenty-six-years-old, living at home, and CPS just took her three-year-old. She is on the wrong path, and I have been holding her hand every step of the way. Recently, it has started to cause my husband and I serious problems. How do I help her grow up?

Answer: If she is on drugs, get her into a treatment facility. For a lot of young women having a baby will make them more responsible. In your daughter's case, that did not happen. To have CPS take a child, that parent has to be visibly unfit. CSP usually requires parenting classes. Know that you cannot make her a better person, she has to do that on her own. You might want to back off her for a bit. If you are always fixing her problems, then she has no reason to grow up and handle them herself. Put it to her like this, "If she doesn't take care of her child, why should you take care of her?" She's an adult. If she is going to stay with you, she should be supporting herself with a job, paying you rent and taking care of her child. If she is not going to do those things, then all you are doing is helping her be irresponsible.

Question: My son is twenty-six-years-old and has never had a job. He takes one college course per semester, and he is up all night on the computer or TV, so he sleeps all day. My husband says, "you can't help him if he doesn't ask for help." I worried, and don't know what to do. How do I help him?

Answer: At one class per semester, he should graduate in about sixty years. Why isn't he working or paying rent? Your son isn't progressing because he doesn't have positive resistance. You don't have to be mean to him, but, he should have been out of your house years ago. If the two of you are ok with him staying, that's up to you. He could be working part-time and saving money for his own place. The normal rule is if you are not a full-time student, then you work. The two of you are not helping him by allowing him to cruise. Time to talk, he should be paying rent to stay there, and he should have chores, if he doesn't want to do that he can get a job and save money so he can move out.

Question: My son is 33 and lives on his own, but I have helped him out so much with money, etc. He won't get up some days to go to work because he says he doesn't hear the alarm clock, so I will call for 30 minutes or longer to wake him up. I have paid to have his lights put back on; this has gone for years. I have been stressed to the max. Every time, I say I'm not doing it again. Please give me some ways for me to stop and let me know he will be OK. What do I need to do?

Answer: Get him a loud alarm clock, have him put it across the room so he has to get up to turn it off. Let him fix his own mistakes and figure out his own life. That doesn't mean you don't love him. It means he is a man that you are treating like a 10-year-old boy. How can he act like a man if you insist on treating him this way? If he gets into trouble, say "You are a man now, you can fix it." He has to get it together on his own. You aren't helping him; you are enabling him. Expect more, expect him to be a man.

Question: I'm trying not to be a nag, but I realized I am not trusting my adult children to make decisions. I pry into their lives and am constantly asking them what they plan to do despite them being 29, 31, and 33 years old. They don't ask for money, they live on their own, they all have jobs, but they are not living up to their potential. Two are in the restaurant business, and one has a full-time job with benefits. I see them wasting their lives away. Do you have suggestions for books that deal with unmotivated adults?

Answer: We give our children life, but it isn't our job to tell them how to use it. Happiness is not predicated on fulfilling a parent's idea of our potential. Your children are not asking you for anything; leave them alone. A person can have all the potential in the world, but that doesn't mean they want to become what you think they should become. Consider all those sports dads who pushed their kids to be athletes when the kid didn't want to play. Your scenario isn't any different. Why don't you find out what your kids' dreams are and support those? I would rather my child pursue something they love that makes them happy than to have them do what I think they should do and be miserable. Instead of working on your kids, look for personal growth opportunities for yourself. Live by example.

Question: When you have an adult son who has been arrested and is in jail calling you and begging for you to bail him out and making promise after promise to never use drugs again and that he has learned his lesson, how do you stay strong and not feel so guilty for not bailing him out?

Answer: Well is this his first time in jail? For people who are truly straightened out by jail, it only takes one time for them to change their ways. If this is the second or third time, this person is giving you lip service to get out. I'm not sure why parents all feel it is necessary to bail these kids out. Parents should only feel guilty if they were involved.

Question: My 21-year-old daughter wants to move in with her boyfriend. She still has three semesters of college left. If she chooses to move out, am I right to say you need to get your car not take mine? Right now we pay her car insurance, medical insurance, and phone bill because she lives at home and goes to school. Should we still pay her expenses?

Answer: I’m not sure why she would think you are going to pay her way if she moves out. The point of moving out is taking responsibility for yourself. The only reason you would pay anything is if you promised to help with college expenses. As for the car, it’s your car. There again I’m not sure why she would think taking your car was an option. We did help our kids get their first car, they were all used vehicles, nothing fancy. Mostly bought private party. All of them had to pay us back for the car. Encourage independence in your adult child. This is an about punishing them because they won’t live their life the way you want, it’s about giving them the tools they need to succeed in life.

Question: My 19-year-old son has anger and mental health issues. I worry about him constantly. He and my husband do not get along. He cannot stay at our home. I can not afford to financially help him pay for a home. I love him so much and have tried many times to help him with his issues, with support and doctors. My husband will not let him stay in the house, and I am ready to end my marriage to go and rent a place for him and I. What should I do?

Answer: I'm not sure what you mean by anger issues. If your son is mentally unstable, then you need to get him into a facility. At 19, a lot of young men experience anger without cause. The brain doesn't stop growing until around the age of 25. Our first responsibility in life is to our children, however, once they hit a certain age, they need to be on their own. If your son graduated from high school, he needs to get a job, go to college or a trade school. If your son is working and going to school, he isn't going to be around much. If you want a divorce, then you need to do it without consideration for your son. Do not use your son or give your son that kind of power. Getting divorced should never happen because your adult child doesn't like your spouse. Your adult child didn't marry your spouse, you did. If your relationship is not working, that is one thing; if you just want a reason to leave, that is something else entirely. Take responsibility for your own feelings. Your son is not going to always be around, unless you want to support him forever. That means you are not taking care of your relationship with your husband. I don't understand why you would take the side of your son who is acting out over the husband who just wants peace in his home.

Question: My 37-year-old married daughter (3 kids and pregnant) has always made her life harder than it has to be! It kills me to see her to keep running in front of that train. How do I let go? It is a selfish journey as I have trouble living a happy life knowing she is "suffering." Will she ever learn, and how do I let go?

Answer: To overcome any situation in life, a person has to learn new skills. Whatever skills your daughter presently employs, those skills are not helping her fix her problems or make better decisions. Also, she is 37 and married; her problems are her problems. Yes, she is choosing the hard road, but it is her choice. Your daughter is still alive even though she has made these decisions; don’t save her from her mistakes anymore. Let her be an adult.

Question: My 29 year old daughter has moved back home and now stays out till the early morning hours. I feel like I am living with a 16 year old and can’t take it. What should I do? I also have an elderly mother who lives with me too.

Answer: Time to set boundaries with your daughter.

1. Curfew

2. Rent

3. Chores

4. Time limit on staying (I usually say six months)

This is your home, if she can't follow the rules, she cant stay.

Question: My 24-year-old daughter lives under the freeway. She left the house because she refuses to live with my husband who is her stepfather. He was verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusive to her. She swears to her sister that she hasn't been doing drugs or drinking for a while now. I am planning on leaving my husband to help her. She also thinks she has PTSD. Am I doing the right thing?

Answer: The answer to your question depends on what you want. If you are married to an abusive person then yes you should leave. If your husband messed up your daughter with his behavior, then you should help her. As for her self-diagnosis of PTSD, that needs to be determined by a professional. She may have issues from the abuse, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's PTSD. The type of help she will need is a good therapist. If she has done drugs and abused alcohol in the past, then I would caution you about the type of help you give her. You can pay to have her drug tested. If she refuses to do it, I would say she is still using. At that point, the help should be rehab and counseling.

Question: I have been supporting my son for the last ten years. He is 30 years old, cannot hold down a job, does not have a driver's license, does not have money, etc. Deep down I know it is hurting both of us to continue to give him money but for some reason, I cannot shake the "what if he kills himself" feeling. I know it is extreme but for me it is real?

Answer: Take a moment and step back. What life skills is he missing? Once you have established the gaps, you can teach him the life skills he's missing. What is passionate about? Is he just fearful of being out on his own? These are conversations you can have with him. Explain to him that you aren't always going to be there and he has to be able to survive without you. This isn't about being mean and leaving him on a street corner with a backpack, it's about him being independent and taking control of his own life.

Question: My 35 year old son is on meth. When I found out he was still hanging out with druggies I kicked him out. His van broke so he lost his job. Recently I started letting him come by to shower, eat & plug in his phone. Am I enabling him?

Answer: Enabling is encouraging a behavior by removing the consequences of ones actions. What were the consequences of you kicking him out? Does he still have the consequences? It sounds like enabling was going on way before this incident if he's 35 and still living with you. What is the right thing to do? Get him help for his addiction or continue to support a man who should be supporting himself? There are choices. Is the choice you are making helping him get his life together? If not, then it may be time to rethink it.

Question: My 40 year old son in law is a sluggard how can I help?

Answer: We can't fix other people. We can only change our behavior toward those people. If you have been on his back about getting a job or getting his life together, change your tune. Don't say anything about it for a while. If he mentions it say "I know how smart you are, you will figure this out". Continue the positive reinforcement until he tells you he did something, then reinforce the positive actions "see I knew you would get it together, you have always been smart". We all need someone to believe in us.

Question: I have an eighteen-year-old son who has been in and out of jail since age 15. Our son was adopted from foster care at age two and diagnosed with fetal alcohol effects. He is now in jail again and is looking at a 2-7 year prison sentence. How do you help the kid who doesn't learn from his mistakes? We have never bailed him out before, but this time I want to. How do I help him get a fair trial?

Answer: Ask yourself what he is going to do when you bail him out of this mess? Is he going to walk the line or do drugs again? You can get him an attorney but chances are he will end up back in prison, and you will have wasted your money. Love your son, but realize that this is who he is. This is the life he has chosen for himself. You can be supportive without monetary compensation. Unless you believe he is completely innocent, I would leave it alone.

Question: How do we help our grand-kids? We don’t want them to be hurt by mom's bad decisions.

Answer: It depends on the situation. If a child's basic needs are not being met or there is clear abuse, then I would step in. Outside of that, you need to leave them alone. In most situations it is better to keep the family unit together.

Question: My 27 year young son doesn’t want me to give him any advice. What can I say to let him know that I understand but I’m here for him?

Answer: Tell him exactly what you told me. Then be prepared when he screws up because he never came to you.

Question: My son moved into my rental house, but will not pay rent. If I ask for the rent money, he gets mad and says he will just move away from us. He won’t pay his bills. He buys stuff to play around with like 5-wheelers and has often had utilities cut off. He is divorced, so I have had to help him several times, but I’m ready to stop doing that. Should I make him move out, even if it would cause my grandkids to be displaced again?

Answer: That’s a tough position; emotional blackmail is not fun. If he can afford toys, he can afford rent. He is obviously not saving to move out. I would call his bluff. In most states, you have to file an eviction. If you had an agreement, then he needs to hold up his end. A good bluff on your part would be to bring a realtor by to tell you what you can sell the place for, then maybe he will get that you are not going to let him skate. However, at this point, I would give him the option of leaving or doing a direct pay into an account you set up. If you want to be nice and split it between his paychecks, do that. But yes, it is a pay" or get out" situation unless you are ok with paying his way for life.

Question: My daughter is going through a divorce. She does not love the narcissist she married but, is not being proactive in getting it done. We have offered legal help,counseling, and financial help. It has not motivated her much to resolve this issue. How can we help her or do we step back?

Answer: Let your daughter know you are there if she needs you and step back. One of the difficulties parents have is failing to allow their adult children to handle their own problems. Parents know it's easier to rip the band aid off. She's dragging her feet for a reason. Let it go. If she has issues later because they are legally married, she will learn a lesson the hard way. Also she may cling to that relationship just to spite you. Let her figure it out.

Question: I am the Adult child that is homeless and my parents live 8 miles from me. I know what I did wrong and have stopped, but my parents have let me and my mental state of mind stayed on the streets they can't move past my problems and keep bringing them up. Is there a list of how my parents could help me out of homelessness?

Answer: The first thing is I appreciate you making the statement that you are aware of your mistakes. The next thing you need to do is help yourself as much as possible. Use the resources you have to integrate yourself back into society. I think your parents will be more likely to help you if you are showing the effort. If you can get to the local library you can apply for jobs (most of them are online applications). If you can get a few interviews, then ask your parents for assistance with things like a place to shower and clean your clothes so that you can get to the interview. This shows you are making an effort to support yourself and be productive. If you can do these things without them, through a local shelter then I would recommend that. Your parents need to see you are progressing before your apology is going to mean something.

Question: My 42-year-old son is homeless living on my property in a tent. I've tried to help him many times but can't. Should I just let all the worry and anxiety go?

Answer: Is having anxiety and worrying fixing the problem? If it's fixing the problem then by all means continue to feel that way. If it's not fixing the problem then it may be time to get a new perspective. Your son is 42, tent living is his choice. Maybe you should just accept his choice, let him know that you accept his choice. Then stop worrying, let him do his own thing.

Question: Recently for the 4th time in 8 years, my son was arrested for DWI. My husband wants to discontinue financial support and limit or perhaps eliminate contact with him until he "gets his life together" to avoid future financial and emotional drain. But we're all he has. Any chance this "tough love" will work?

Answer: Your son needs counseling and rehabilitative help. Too often people get in the mode of putting out a fire when they should be investing in means to keep the fire from happening in the first place. Alcoholism is a disease. Invest in getting help rather than bailing him out. If he won't do the treatments then let him live out the consequences. However, we should never stop telling our children we love them, we should never forget that love can move mountains anger cannot move. Emotional support for alcoholics/drug abusers is so important. They need to feel like there are people who care about them even when they don't deserve it. That doesn't mean you hock your car to save him from the consequences. Those are two different things.

Question: I decided to do the tough love thing and not enable my son by giving him money when he asks. We have been trying to place him on the right path for too many years. I know it’s time to step back and let him fail and hope he finally finds the right path. How do we stop the worry that he will do something terrible to himself or others?

Answer: As parents, worrying is probably one of the toughest things to overcome. I will tell you this, if you raised your child to be self-sufficient and strong, they will be ok. It doesn't mean that they won't have hardship. Hardships teach us empathy. When a person has never had hardships, they tend to have a very one-sided view of the world. Hardships build character and strength. What I want you to remember as a mom is that you want your child to experience life, part of that is hardships. The greatest people throughout history were built on hardships they overcame. While it doesn't make it any easier, maybe realizing that this is part of molding people into empathetic human beings will help you to think about this differently.

Question: What should I do when an adult child won't take responsibility?

Answer: This is vague, so my answer may be vague. Responsibility is a mental attitude about our actions. When people don't take responsibility, it is often because they do not want to confront the part of them that makes mistakes and is wrong. We teach kids as they grow up that making mistakes is bad, yet many of us grow from our mistakes. Teaching someone that mistakes are an opportunity for growth can change their perspective. Since we all make mistakes, we can empathize rather than accuse and teach rather than preach.

Question: My daughter is nineteen. Since her boyfriend came home from school, she is sleeping at his house five days a week. I have asked her to spend more time at home, and to sleep here at least half the time. I still support her financially, and she is attending school in the fall. How do I explain to her why it's still important to be respectful enough to stay home to sleep more often?

Answer: Let us address the more important issue first. Hopefully, she is on birth control because, I think the real problem with her "sleeping over" is that she isn't sleeping. If the boyfriend is leaving after the summer, then this situation will run its course. If he is back permanently, then it may be time for her to get her own place. 18-24 is the age when the waters of independence are tested. If you try to hold her back, she will rebel. She is not going to spend her days hanging out with you when she can be with a boyfriend who makes her feel like she is on a cloud. You can't compete with that emotion. Just make sure she doesn't prematurely start a family. Letting go of your child is tough. You are in the beginning stages of her leaving for good. My advice is to take her to lunch, and start working on your adult relationship with her. Your time with her home is short.

Question: My 28-year-old son moved back home nine months ago, the goal being to get on his feet so he could move back out. He now says that I don't really understand modern day economics, and that it's almost impossible for his generation to ever own a home or even qualify for rent. How out of touch am I?

Answer: If we are talking about living in a big city, then he might be right. However, if his goal is to own a home, he should look into rural areas where the real estate is less expensive. Our oldest son just bought a house. My middle (22-years-old) son has had several jobs that paid over $7,000 a month. This is because he takes jobs no one wants, working the oil fields, tow truck driver, and now machinists with Panasonic. Youth today are looking for the cushy management position. Those positions are few and far between for people without experience. Here is the mistake people make about jobs: they only look in one area. When you want s good paying job you have to be willing to move. If he isn’t tied down with kids or a wife, now is the time when he can travel to make money. The opportunities are there; he just has to open his mind up to the possibility of moving. (No you are not out of touch).

Question: I have fallen down the rabbit hole. I pay my sons and daughter in laws' bills. I am terrified if I don't pay, they will end up homeless and live in a vehicle. She is twenty-four; he is twenty-five. Neither will hold a job. They have a four-year-old and a two-year-old. I'm terrified those babies will end up homeless if I don't keep paying. How do I get out without the grandkids being the losers?

Answer: It depends on if they are living with you or not. If you are just paying your kids bills, then you need to sit down with them and discuss how they are going to start paying their bills. I would be willing to bet that if you watch their spending, they are causing their problems.

If they live with you, they get six months to get the money together to move out. The main thing is, stop paying their way. There isn’t a way for your grandchildren to not be affected by this. The problem is that if you continue to support them, they will never learn to survive.

Question: I have enabled my 20-year-old son for years: bailed him out, paid rent for him, bought him cars, everything. He is addicted to marijuana. He is now married and I helped them get their own place, but once again, they don't have jobs and can't pay their rent. I know he and she are not being responsible and just think I am going to pay it, but I'm not. Am I doing the right thing?

Answer: Stop giving him money. You are enabling him and not teaching him how to support himself.

Question: My 28-year-old son has no manners, is rude, and made my life hell while staying at home. He has now asked me for a place to stay as he wants to divorce his wife. I have told him that I do not have a place for him, but on the other hand, I feel guilty for not helping him. He says it's only for a short while, but I know the minute he's in, he won't leave. It's caused so much anger between my husband and myself, and I am still suffering. I also suffer from anxiety issues. Please help, I don't know what to do. Do you have any advice?

Answer: Is he being abused? Probably not. Your son's desire to leave his wife is not your problem. If you suspect this will turn into a “roommate for life” situation, then you are better off not moving him in. Guilt? His love life is not under your area of responsibility. Maybe he needs a better separation plan. He’s an adult man, let him handle his own business.

Question: My 21yr son is living with his 17yr old girlfriend but she has a high dependent disorder amongst a few other mental health issues. When she has a bad day he doesn't go to work which is affecting his apprenticeship and work ethic. He is close to losing his job. How do we get him to see that she is damaging his future?

Answer: The truth is he is not going to get rid of her because you tell him to. She is 17 and therefore a child. She’s acting like a child, and he is treating her like a child. Unfortunately, you cannot interfere because he is not going to listen to you. What’s worse is that he will resent your involvement. Stay out of it. Is he going to blow his apprenticeship? Probably. He has to decide when he is going to stop dealing with her and get a girl friend his own age.

Question: Two of my four sons smoke marijuana and are doing nothing with themselves. When they were young, I was very strict and am feeling like maybe I overparented them. I need some ways to get them motivated, because I have two more that are looking up to them, and there were many goals that we set together that are out the window now that they are "adults.” Only the eighteen-year-old is still in our home. I don’t want them to be failures. What should I do?

Answer: You can't stop your sons from smoking marijuana. You can keep it out of your home. Unfortunately, this is becoming a common problem for parents. The eighteen-year-old doesn't need to bring that into your house. Hopefully he has an exit plan in place. If not, it's time to have the pay rent or move out talk. No one should be smoking weed in front of your younger kids. My advice, be mean. Let your eighteen-year-old know that you are not going to have marijuana in your home. Period. Legal or not, it's your house. At least that way the eighteen-year-old will have to go somewhere else to do it, not in front of your younger kids. Also, having an older sibling do drugs is not a predictor of behavior. Your children are watching you. Be the example and keep the weed out of your house. As for fixing the kids who are smoking, if they are not in your home and they support themselves, in some states, it's legal to smoke Marijuana so as adults there isn't anything you can do. I wouldn't blame yourself for being a good parent. Doing drugs is on them. They may stop doing it after a while. Sometimes it takes a good influence outside of the home to end these behaviors.

Question: my adult son called from jail this morning. What do I do? I am so scared for him.

Answer: Jail is a little scary, but depending on why he is there, its good that it's scary. If you can go see him, go see him. It's the middle of the week, so he will most likely be released today. I would find out what happened. Jail isn't the same as prison. Although it's not a good place, the county jail isn't going to be the cause of any physical damage (Don't tell him I said that.) Let him be scared, and let it sink in that not obeying laws puts you in awful places. Going to see him doesn't mean you bail him out. As I said, he will most likely be released today anyway. It just depends on the charge.

Question: My adult daughter, her husband, and my granddaughter are traveling to TN after losing their low rent house in OR. My son-in-law texted me for money to complete the transaction. I sent him $300. This is an ongoing thing with them. How can I help them stop this without hurting my ten-year-old granddaughter? I'm sixty-two, and not wealthy.

Answer: Identify the skill set your daughter is missing regarding her inability to support her family. Is it because she won't get a job? Is it because she doesn't have marketable skills. The thing is that low-income families have tons of vocational options through state programs. Determining her deficiency may help her onto the path of self-sufficiency.

Unfortunately, Your granddaughter is going to be front row to the hardships created by her parents. Here is the great thing about hardship, it makes us strong. Hopefully, your granddaughter will make better choices seeing the mistakes of her parents. If you are in Tennessee, then you can lend moral support to your granddaughter and be the stabling influence in her life.

Question: when do you know when it is time to let your child go to jail for a extended period of time and be able to live with this decision?

Answer: I’m not sure I understand this question. If you have been bailing your child out of jail and paying attorneys fees repeatedly, then yes it is time to stop helping them stay out of jail. Here is how you keep from feeling guilty; has you helping them worked to keep that person from doing what they were doing to go to jail? If not then, in reality, you are not helping them. You have been reinforcing their bad behavior by letting them out of the consequences. In reality, you should feel guilty for getting them out of jail when it might have helped for them to feel the full force of the punishment.

Question: My 30-something is threatening to take her own life, my question is, what do I do?

Answer: Get her psychiatric help. Don't wait for the suicide attempt.

Question: My son is twenty-years-old. He lives with my husband and I, and goes to college part-time. He does not work, and sleeps in very late. Is this ok? I want him to get an education, so I don't mind if he does not work, but my mother-in-law says I am hurting him not helping.

Answer: Although your mother means well, it's none of her business. I would have him pull down a full class load if he isn't going to work. That's just my opinion. College will go by faster, and that way and he will be on his own sooner as well. However, this is up to you.

Question: My 26yo daughter (employed) and her 30 yo husband (unemployed) live in a van with their dog b/c they haven’t been able to save and want to try van life for a year during the summer in FL. Her father and I live here too. They want us to watch their dog during the day, and we refused. They said we are the only parents who would ever refuse to help. My husband is about to disown her (we just paid for $30000 wedding last month and put her through college debt free) I feel guilty. Thoughts? Advice?

Answer: You payed $30,000 for your daughter to marry a guy who’s life plan was living in a van? Ok, well we won’t get into that too deep. It’s their dog, if you want a dog, you have to take care of it. In this case the dog is theirs so they need to take care of it. You should feel more guilty about paying for the wedding. Your daughter is taking advantage of you. Tell her to grow up and get a house if she wants pets. The dog is not choosing to live “van life” aka being homeless. Please stop giving this girl everything she wants, that’s not a relationship. You are not bank of mom.

Question: We have given our daughter and son-in-law $36,000 in the past six months, so they don't lose their home. My daughter does not care that we have helped them save their home. They have two small kids. How do we tell her and her husband there is no more money?

Answer: Simply tell her. It was noble of you to help them save their house, however, losing a house is not the worst thing that ever happens to someone. $36,000 is a lot of money. It is up to each parent to decide what they are willing to give. People miss judge the article and think it's about disowning your kid. If you don't have the money to give, there is no choice anymore. Tell her you don't have the money. If this is still about the =house, then maybe she should sell it, pay you back and get something she can afford. It's just a house.

Question: My son is 21-years-old, and not helpful or respectful. He is living with me, not going to college, feeling indifferent and not conversing with me. Should I provide him with food and car insurance?

Answer: Something is holding your son from moving forward. I'm finding more and more that this next generation coming up is afraid of the world. This may be the result of 24/7 media and information. Either way, there seems to be a disconnect. I have found in the past that whenever I have an issue with one of my kids, it helps to pull them closer and find out what's going on. The reality is that you do not know why he isn't progressing. Start by taking him somewhere that is a neutral zone. If there was something, he liked to do as a kid, like go to the lake, drag him to the lake for the day. Have a good time. Then casually open the dialog. Tell him you noticed he hasn't been himself and doesn't seem motivated; did something happen? Let him guide the conversation and listen. Is he dealing with fear, is he angry or frustrated, does he have unrealistic ideas about life? Find the problem first, then empower him to solve it. You can remove all the help you want; it's not going to fix what's broken.

Question: my twenty-five-year-old daughter disowned her family. What should I do?

Answer: You can't do anything. There isn't a law that says she has to speak to the family. Leave her alone. Sometimes it takes years and a lot of life experience for a person to realize they were wrong. All you can do is wait it out. Constantly trying to contact that person usually exacerbates the situation. Besides, it is her right not to have contact with people she doesn't like. None of us should be forced to interact with people. Respect her privacy.

Question: My son recently graduated college, and he's moving to Ohio. Should I go with him to show support, or let him go it alone? I feel guilty for not going with him to a new place.

Answer: You should go only if he asks you to go. Otherwise just tell him how proud you are and move on.

Question: My son has depression and anxiety worsened by pot use. He is not working at the moment but expects me to pay for his phone, car, pot, and cigarettes, and I just can't. Is it ok for me to say no? I'm scared what his reaction will be, but I can't carry on like this.

Answer: It's absolutely OK for you to say no. I wouldn't fund any of those things. Nothing you mentioned is a necessity. Physical exercise best treats depression and anxiety. It's time to sit down and have a real-world discussion with him before this gets any worse. If he wants a cell phone and car he needs to work. Unless you are prepared to pay for his addictions his whole life, it's time to end this enabling behavior. If he wants real treatment for anxiety and depression, then pay for that.

Question: My son was adopted at the age of six due to my addiction. He is 19. He relapsed and got caught. Well, he posted something on Snapchat about an ecstasy dealer, and I told his adopted mom. He then texted me verbally abusing me and calling me names. My question is, he is graduating Sunday, and I thought that I do not want to go. I feel it's important to set that boundary that he cannot treat me like that. Am I wrong for not going?

Answer: This question is more about what you will regret more. Will you regret not being at the graduation? Kids say things to their parents in anger. Considering your personal history with this child it’s not surprising. Even if you don’t talk to him, you should go to the graduation.

Question: I have four daughters, and one is adopted. They were all raised in the same environment, but my adopted daughter has never taken responsibility for her actions. She has lied since she was young, and stolen jewelry and money. We have given her chances, money and private schools. She cannot hold down a job. She is married, but they are homeless now and expecting a baby. I am torn. Do I simply walk away and let her deal with her decisions? My husband and her sisters say she will never change.

Answer: For some people, having a baby changes their perspective. You need to figure out what she is thinking. Does she think that she is going to raise that child living in a van? Ask questions without being judgemental. You and I both know she isn't going to be able to raise that baby in the woods. I'm assuming you love your daughter, if your other daughters were pregnant you would have a baby shower and celebrate. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't do that with this child. We NEVER walk away from our kids. We help them into self-sufficiency. That means you help them get on their feet instead of just giving them money. If her husband will get a job, then you help find them a studio apartment. The point is to get them to be self supporting. Child Protective Services can take her baby for neglect if she cannot provide for the basic needs. Even a travel trailer in a trailer park is considered housing. She needs a plan. Even if she is less than dependable, she's probably scared right now.

Question: I have a 28-year-old step son who lives out of the house but doesn't work. He expects my husband and I to pay his way. What should I do to relieve this situation?

Answer: You have choices, you can either continue to pay his way, which will result in his inability to support himself when you are both gone. Or, you can tell him it's over and he needs to get a job and be a productive citizen so that when you die, he doesn't end up destitute. Your choice.

Question: My adult daughter quit school and choose instead to work. She has recently been bringing people home with her when we're asleep and against our longstanding rules. She's even gone so far as to disable our security cameras to sneak someone in. She's had run-ins with the law over alcohol and drug possession. My wife is reluctant to kick our daughter out without a place to live, but I'm willing to rent a storage unit for her stuff and letting her 'figure it out.' Am I right?

Answer: If your daughter is an adult and working, she needs a plan for saving and moving out. I would sit down with her and inform her that she has until (pick a date) to save and move out. I would also let her know the next time she sneaks someone into the house or disables something, her stuff will be carried to the lawn. You are on the right track. If she has gotten involved with a bad crowd, then the last thing you want is them in your house. I would consider changing your security codes. Honestly, your best bet is letting her know she has to move out. These kids want to "play adult" without the responsibility.

Question: 19 yr old daughter with anxiety & ADHD moved in with a twenty-eight-year-old bipolar guy with anxiety. She doesn't make much money, and he doesn't have a job. We don't want her to end up in jail. She's very naive, and seems afraid to ask him too many questions. She doesn't want to move back home. I've only met him once, and now she says he doesn't like to socialize. My husband's never met him, and we're not allowed over to their place. We only get to see her when she visits. What can we do to keep her safe?

Answer: She has to keep herself safe. If she’s coming to your home alone to visit, ask her if there abuse happening. You know your daughter, you will know if she’s lying. Ask her questions, is she happy? People who have personality disorders often view themselves as not worthy of love and settle on whoever will have them. There is a difference between being happy and just settling. She may be fine other than she isn’t happy. Leave the door open for her. Tell her if things are bad she can come home.


MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on October 14, 2020:

Yes, first have a regular and trusted physician do a blood panel and check his hormone levels. I always want someone to rule out a physical issue first. He's under 25 and his brain is still growing. This is an impulsive time in a persons life. Music is great for PTSD. Although it is impossible to diagnose over a computer, it sounds more like he is suffering from a mild form of Autism. Autistic people have social anxiety and are easy targets for bullies. There are methods of learning socialization skills however, for an autistic person they tend to mimic what is presented as normal rather than naturally having reactions. One of the first indicators would be how he physically reacts to you or his other family members, does he easily hug or does that action always seem stiff and forced. Anyway it would be worth looking into. If that turns out to not be the case, send me an email.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on October 14, 2020:

Unfortunately your actions of "catching her when she falls" have proved to her that you do not think she is capable of handling her life on her own. It is time to cut off any and all financial support. Support her emotionally with empowerment, such as "well you seem to have gotten yourself into a bad situation, I raised you to handle this, so I know you will do the right thing". Then you get off the phone to cry. Let her FEEL the consequences of her actions. It's hard but you have to be emotionally stronger than you have been. The truth is that you cannot handle the consequences of her actions for her and if you continue to do so, she will never handle it herself. It's not tough love, it's personal accountability.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on October 14, 2020:

He's 21, maybe it's time for him to take his love life to a studio apartment he pays for himself?

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on October 14, 2020:

I read both your posts. The first thing is that adult kids think they are adults. They do not realize that even though they are of adult age, they are not adults until they can take care of themselves. There are a few issues you are dealing with, the first is that she is trying to break free of you as a parent. This is natural and normal. Second she is still living with you, that means "your house your rules". There is no reason to be easy on her right now, that leads to having her live with you until she is 45 or forever. The third issue is that until 25 her brain is still developing so things like mood swings will be prevalent. The goal is to get her educated and able to survive on her own. As for the weed, I personally think it is demotivating an entire generation. I'm with you on the "no weed in the house". Best wishes!

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on October 14, 2020:

You are going through a normal distancing period that happens between adult children and their parents. You best bet is to get a hobby. He will eventually start coming back around. One more thing, the more you push that girl away the harder he will hold on. Instead embrace the relationship and get to know her, include her. Trust me it will serve you better in the long run. see my other article about in laws.

aldoBB on August 15, 2020:

I have a 21yr old son in college that lives on his own and his only dedication has been school and work. He let his girlfriend move in to live with him and ever since he has been very distant from his family and his grades are failing. I have voiced my opinion to him but it pushes more away and he is blinded by love. does anyone have any advice? Im afraid he is going to let his goals and dreams go to do what she wants. He has always been my best friend since my wife and I had him at 20 yrs old. Im lost.. I wish every baby born came with a manual. :)

Kristieschultz on August 12, 2020:

A couple more things about my 20 year old, she stays out until 3 am many nights and initially I told her I that I don’t care what time she comes home I just want a heads up so I don’t get worried, just a text to say when and she had a hard time doing that so for the past month she pretty much just comes home whenever. She also smokes a lot of weed but we don’t allow it in the house and we told her we don’t want her smoking it so much but it’s her decision. She dosent do chores but cleans up after herself if asked

Kristieschultz on August 12, 2020:

My 20 year old daughter is intelligent, got good grades in HS and got in to a good college. She went through a period of what appeared to be low level depression around 14-15 and has been in therapy off and on since then. Around age 17 she became very defiant and now at 20 is extremely rude and very moody. Her grades are good. She came home from school early due to Covid and after school ended we reminded her that she needed a summer job and had to start taking on more adult responsibility and paying her own phone bill, gas, meals, etc. She was very defiant and initially refused to get a job we had to practically ride her ass but she finally stepped up and worked almost full time making over 3k for the summer and we have told her that she needs to keep working from now on just much less which in school, maybe 8 hours a week. She is just super rude and mean and talks terribly to me, says I’m too controlling, I ruin everything, etc, but when she’s in a good mood, everything seems to be fine between us. Please tell me I’m on the right track and this bratty rude attitude will eventually pass. I don’t have much more patience.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on August 06, 2020:

The same way you would with any other adult. Serve her with a notice of eviction. you will have to look at your states laws (Revised Statutes) to see what your time frame should be.

Linda Mannone on August 02, 2020:

my daughter is 45, lives with me and her son 14 I pay the rent because she does not work. lives off child support and food stamps. How do I relieve myself from this liability?

Vicky on July 17, 2020:

7 year old daughter who doesn't pay me rent she has a job she has a boyfriend she used to sneak them in all the time and she hasn't slept in her room in a month can I tell her to pack up your stuff and go because she's obviously not here and she bad-mouths me and she lets her boyfriend talk s*** about me he's just a control freak he's a homewrecker

John Doe on July 13, 2020:

I have 21year old foster son like to keep up drama between two girl his new girl and his old girl and I’m tired of the drama

Scotty254 on June 29, 2020:

This site is helping me a lot. I have a pretty sad story, like many here. I have an adult child (30) who I fear will end up dead if she does not make better choices but my continually saving her does not seem to help. Sure, I hope that she eventually gets it and starts to make some positive changes but this story is now 10 years old (and I am tired of it). I think the answer is that emotional support is available, though not financial, unless there is some clear signal (involving action) that she want to get her life back on track. Does that sound right?

Avril mum on June 26, 2020:

My 20 year old son has suffered from ptsd from being bullied at school.He also has anxiety and adhd. He has made several attempts at his life between the age of 16-18. At 18 he moved into supported living- as parents, we felt we couldn’t help him and he needed external help. He has stopped trying to kill himself however does little else. He has started to play the guitar which is the only positive thing in his life. We pay for guitar lessons and we pay for his phone and some food. He also received benefits. He never asks for support (financial or otherwise) however is always appreciative.

Whilst in supported living he has started college and dropped out. He has been for job interviews, however when nerves get the better of him he deflects with jokes (usually inappropriate) - he has never worked

His personal hygiene is poor and he smokes marijuana.

The supported living are starting eviction proceeding due to his smoking and inability to except or engage with help. He also struggles with following rules, he has an exceptionally high IQ and routinely questions authority.

I believe he is vulnerable, however will not be rehoused and is due to become homeless.

I dread the implications of him living with us again as I think he may deteriorate-the alternative is he is made homeless.

Any advice?

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on June 26, 2020:

Hello Elbsr,

Your 30 year old is more than capable of taking care of himself. Cut the cord. Be there for your child emotionally not monetarily. You went way further in helping than was needed. As an adult he needs to own his decisions and mistakes. Let him grow up and stop bailing him out.

elbsr on June 13, 2020:

Hello, i have a 29yo son. His mother and i divorced when he was 7. I received custody of both my kids. He moved out to his mothers when he was 17. he moved back when he was 19. I set him up in his own apartment. From there he kept jobs and moved every few years from apartment to apartment. When he was 24 i let him move into one of my rentals on the condition he went to school. I charged only $200mo rent to cover taxes and insurance. When his old car died, i bought him a car and kept his car payments to less than $200mo. He went to school about 3 semesters taking like a class or two per semester, He decided to not go to school and quit his job but didnt tell me. He then driving drunk totaled his car into a tree. So i went out bought another car and then he had no car payment. Said he was not going to drink anymore. Few months later he was arrested for DUI. I increased his rent to $400 hoping he would go back to school and then i would reduce to $200 again. Never happened. Last year i increased to $500. So now at almost 30 years old, still only working. No school. We had some words, and he has elected to move out. I feel really guilty. But i feel it's best, since the original agreement was for him to live there cheap as long as he went to school. He hasnt been in school for almost 4 years now. Should i feel so guilty? Do i just continue to let him live there indefinitely? Please advise.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on June 09, 2020:

First thing is that I help my kids when they are doing everything they can to help themselves. If she is working or truly seeking employment that is one thing. If shes just sitting around then I would be cautious about helping her. You can find a standard repayment contract online.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on June 09, 2020:

Your son should be supporting himself. The last thing you want to do is create an enabler relationship with him. Teach him life skills instead.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on June 09, 2020:

This is your house which means your rules. If your son cannot/will not treat you with respect then he needs to move out. He is being disrespectful because you let him. He is an adult and if he doesn't want to be respectful then he needs to go find somewhere else to live. Abuse is abuse. Let him know he's got a week to find somewhere else to go. It's not your problem where he goes. At the end of the week if he hasn't packed, pack for him. You need to be strong and stand up to him. .

Cat on June 01, 2020:

My 21 yrs old very disrespectful I prayed everyday for him to get out of my house finally be God answered my prayer him and be his girlfriend moved out than 6 months they experienced be hardship due to the lost of their job he moved back to in im back in the same boat for being a mother I can't make him see be reasons be without him cursing me out it's so bad I don t know what to do anymore there's lot more I can write a book.

James Ochoa on May 17, 2020:

My son lived with his Mother , my ex wife, . She recently died and he is left to deal with his mother’s estate and expects me to help him financially meanwhile ! In other words pick up where his mother left off ! What should I do ?

TinyDancer5 on January 30, 2020:

My 30 year old child has asked for money. She’s looking for a job and has been working with a friend but the money is not steady.

A bit of background.

She’s worked since she was 16 and made very good grades.

He father is not and never has been supportive or even nice to her. He is loud and hateful. They don’t speak.

Her only sibling, that she was very close to, died 10 years ago.

She dropped out of college with only a year left.

She quit her job.

She went back to work and said she’d get back to school.

She goes to counseling (I don’t know about right now since she’s not steadily employed)

My husband (Not her father) and I have helped her wth money (loans) over the past several years.

I’ve told her I would help her out after my next paycheck. Is it wrong of me to not want to help her past that? 
I understand she’s had a tough life. So have I. I was married to her screaming dad. Her sibling was also my child. I want her to move forward and learn to take care of herself. 
Can you suggest a contract that will help? She says she’ll pay me back but I just want her to get a real job and go back to school.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on January 21, 2020:

The reality is that you cannot protect your granddaughter unless you take her away from your daughter. I'm not telling you to do that. I'm telling you that your granddaughter is always going to feel a measure of her mothers mistakes. this is true for all children. You cannot save your grandchild from her mother.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on January 21, 2020:

Unless you think she is in danger, I would leave her alone. She is breaking away from you. As long as you are not paying her bills it is time to let her be her own person. Be strong. You can still love her even though she doesn't live with you.

Tina on January 21, 2020:

I have a 24 year old daughter who has a 7 year old daughter they live with me and her dad she doesn't help with bills or anything around the house she blames it on her 3 rd shift job i do everything including taking care of her child she has a boyfriend that we do not approve of but every time we are gone she sneaks him over now I'm married to a different man that lives in another state because i feel i have to stay here to protect my grand daughter because the last time i wanted my own life she moved him in without asking her dad if he could live there he didn't pay or do anything either now i have let my daughter go but i can't seem to let my grand daughter go i feel like I'm the only one that will protect her from my daughters bad decisions I'm very unhappy cause this is not fair to me at all and not fair to my grand daughter please help me this guy is a bad person but has my daughter brained washed and controlled my oldest daughter was murdered by her ex so how do i let go of the only daughter i have left

Chris on January 17, 2020:

I have a 17year old daughter that doesn't want to live at home anymore and I don't know what to do she is paying her own bills and already has a place with my adult sister

Joyce Dore on January 04, 2020:

My 38 yr old daughter has asked me to help her with car payment She bring up past where i constantly apologized She calls me out my name n admitted she hates my husband n is angry because i didnit invite her or anyone to my wedding She came to visit us on three ocasions n it was a disaster the last time she was rude n verbally n physically abusive When i visit her She was verbally abusive packed my bags n dropped me at bus station Should i now stop helpin with car payments I am tired n heartbroken

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on November 20, 2019:

The first thing is that you already established that if he was going to school you were not going to charge him rent. He is telling you that he is intentionally not going to finish school. This means it is time you let him know that you are going to charge him the going rate for the space he is now "Renting" plus his cell payment. If your guest house is 600sft, find an apartment that size and figure out his rent from that. Rent is due on the first of every month. The reason you are doing this is that he needs to be responsible for himself. If he wants to quit school that is up to him but this is the consequence. You are not here to tell him what to do. He has the choice to quit or continue. If he quits, he has to pay rent starting this month. You can love your son and not enable him.

Christina on November 20, 2019:

My son is 19. He has moved out at 17 to his dads because he stated he needed to get out of this city and the people in them, and he also was failing school. He had like 1 month of school left in which he did go to an adult school and finish. I moved and ended up with a guest house in back. He moved back but I said he could live here with no rent if he went to school and work. He is now only 3 weeks away from finishing his fire academy prerequisites and is dropping out. He does work part time and he helps pay $50 for his cell phone bill which is never on time. I know I can’t tell him what to do but I don’t want him to drop out. I do understand that he doesn’t want to do school anymore but I said maybe he can finish his classes and then have that to fall back on if he needs. But he refuses. I don’t know what I should ask of him. He doesn’t open up to me I only found out he was dropping out because the teacher called me. I don’t know what to tell him or what I should expect from him at this point. Should I let him drop out and tell him that he has to start paying rent ?He also is a heavy weed smoker and a very bright kid, I think the weed is getting in the way but I don’t know how to get him to stop.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on November 13, 2019:

Leases have a time limit and you are only liable for that time period. The second that time is up, remove yourself from her lease. Limp the situation along until then. As for what she is doing with her money, who knows. Most of these kids have thousands of dollars in tattoos yet are behind on their car payments. You can sit down with her and teach her to budget. I see budgeting as the skill that most of us are not taught growing up. During her budget discussion let her know you are teaching her this because you are not taking her back in. Be honest with her about the reasons you won't let her move back in. I would wait to tell her about the lease situation until after you've done it. Hope this helps.

steven collins48 on November 12, 2019:


Co signed an apartment for my daughter. Shes an adult 33 years old. She doesn't pay her rent on time has gone to almost eviction notice. I ask her what she does with her money? Always the same. I have tried to give her groceries ect...turned on the light was they turned it off. But the question again where is her money going. I can't do this anymore. Please help I appreciate your imput. If she goes into eviction I will be liable for over twelve thousand dollars not to mention my credit. She only calls me when she needs money. And often says if she gets evicted she will move in with me and my wife and other two kids. I say no I will because she is extremely verbal and emotionally abusive toward her parents. Thanks for your help

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on November 11, 2019:

When you are in a relationship with someone who has kids there is a dynamic you will never be able to control. Your significant other needs to learn the difference between teaching a life skill and enabling. It's the old adage: give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for life. As to if you should issue an ultimatum , I guess that depends on what your goal is in this relationship. Even if your significant other agreed to your ultimatum, he would be miserable. He would feel like he abandoned his children. In this situation your can only attain happiness through teaching his children the life skills they need to survive. Then the pride of seeing his children self sufficient will bring happiness. There isn't a magic wand and if you serve an ultimatum you should be ready to pack. No one is perfect, if your significant other's worse flaw is loving his kids too much, maybe he's not such a bad guy.

MV on November 06, 2019:

My significant other of 2 years and I just moved in together. I have two young children and I work a good job full time. He works full time and has an exceptionally well paying career. We have talked about buying a house in the next 5 years however his adult children, all 3 roughly in their 30's, seem to continue to get themselves in financial binds in which they do not try to resolve it. They turn to him for loans and help and he seems to feel guilty and obligated to help them. This continues and now he is not sure if we will be able to buy a house in 5 years or even retire in the expected time he wanted to because of all of the reoccurring debt and loans. I want to tell him I am not ok with this and it needs to stop at some point, not because I want his money for myself, but because it's not right that he isn't able to live his life how he wishes due to his kid's poor financial management. I have nothing against his children just the fact that they are all working yet cant support themselves when it comes to buying a car, affording to move, or other critically related situations. Am I wrong to tell him this? Should I give him an ultimatum if it continues? It's really wearing on him which wares at our relationship in the background.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on October 22, 2019:

Your son has been given a plethora of chances to get his act together. You are well within your rights to refuse assistance to him. He can get a part time job and work for what he wants. My rule with my kids is that I will help them when they are doing everything they can to help themselves.

Susan Pearson on October 12, 2019:

I don't know if anyone will read this now but it might help me anyway just to type it out! I live in the UK so I know education etc is different. I raised my son alone more or less from him being born. He is now 21. I have no other family, he sees his father occasionally but he isn't involved. My son left school at 16 started a college course, dropped out, started another college course, just about passed it after nearly being thrown off a few times for poor attendance. He has had a couple of casual jobs but never made much effort. He started uni last year an hour away from home, he had to do a foundation year as his college results weren't good enough to go straight onto the degree. He failed the foundation year as he didn't go to uni or do the assignments. He had a student loan and a £1000 overdraft, all this was spent after 2 months on clothes and takeaways. I foolishly helped him out with money as I was worried sick about him, he also was homesick last year. He came home in April and uni said if he did all the work he had missed in 5 weeks and got an overall pass he could go onto year 1 of the degree. His girlfriend did most of the work for him and he passed! He is now back at uni, I have refused to help him financially this year, I set him up with basic food and toiletries then said that was it. So far I have stuck to this but I think he is running out of money again and although he hasn't asked me for any I'm worried sick. He has no respect for me whatsoever and can be very verbally abusive. I have always worked hard and still do so I don't understand why he has no work ethic. I'm wracked with guilt as I feel I have not taught him to be self sufficient and I feel I have failed as a parent. He has good qualities, he is intelligent, funny and can be very caring.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on August 12, 2019:

Our life lessons are best learned by living. Leave her alone. She may be in a relationship with this man and not willing to tell you. I've never heard of an arrangement with this type of age difference. Know that anything you say is just going to make her more defiant and hold on tighter to this man. Leave it alone. If they are in a relationship then she didn't trust you enough with her emotions to tell you the truth. Be a good mom, leave it alone.

Molly Straust on August 11, 2019:

I have a daughter who is 19 and she is going to college. Suddenly, she found a roommate with a daughter. She is happy to pay 400 rent and babysit whenever she is not going to school. why I am so worry about this?, First, roommate with a daughter (he is 35 yrs old), secondly, been around kids is not a good environment to study and do homework.

I just don't like the whole idea of this situation but since she is financially independent she doesn't listen to my concerns.

Am l bad parent because I am constantly bugging her with my concerns?

Kelly and Shawn 8216 on August 07, 2019:

I have a 24 yr old son still living at home. He's had three jobs in the past 5 years, all of which he's been fired. He lost his most recent job around June 1st this year and we told him he had 60 days to get another job. He's famous for "smoke screens". He tells us he's going into the military, waiting to hear back from the recruiter, waiting to have an interview, etc. But he's never had more than a part time gig and never with any benefits. At one time I considered putting him out of the house, but decided he needed more guidance and higher expectations before I go in that direction. Our biggest challenge is his grandparents. My parents (my mother) spoil and coddle him. I won't cook for him so he just goes to Grandma's to get fed or for money or for them to fill out his job applications. It's infuriating and undermines everything we're trying to teach him. But, alas, nothing ever changes. Aside from taking his laptop, tv, gaming consoles and such, do you have any advice on how I can better handle him, my parents and this situation? I'm so frustrated!

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 29, 2019:

If your name is on the house, have him served with eviction paperwork. Shut off any utilities that are in your name. Once he leaves the house, sell it and recoup some of your losses. Don’t give him money and don’t help him. When he asks for money tell him you know he is capable and smart enough to support himself. You don’t have to be mean, just don’t give in. You can’t buy love but, you can go broke trying.

Jmccollo on July 28, 2019:

My son is 42 and and hasn’t held a job for the last 9 months. He has addiction problems, both alcohol and drugs which landed him in jail repeatedly and finally prison for 18months. He was released 8 years ago and moved to our town. He got a pt job and rented an apt after living with us for a month. He refused the recommended mental health counseling (for B-P and addictions) but did start taking his meds regularly. All went well for a couple of years with only a few regressions. I decided to buy a house for him to rent from me and he faithfully paid the rent until 9 months ago when he quit his job. I had suspected he was using drugs again due to his moodiness and anger to everyone but I had no proof. He has only paid one month’s rent since Dec and has constantly been hounding me for money for food, utilities, gas and cigarettes. I have paid some of those bills directly or taken him to grocery but rarely give him cash as I think he spends it on drugs. He picked up a girlfriend along the way and she’s moved into the house. Neither of them work but I suspect sell drugs and I know she has stolen from stores resell items. My son denies this. For the last 10 days he has begged me constantly to pop 1000 to bail her out and I wont. I have asked him to stop calling me about it but he gets angry and sends horrible texts and messages to my phone. This has been his pattern for 20+ years. I know a lot of his behavior is my fault as I have enabled this pattern of behavior due to fear and guilt on my part. His older sister was killed in a car accident when he was 14. His father and I divorced within a year of the accident. His father was also physically abusive to me and emotionally abusive to my son. I just wanted to be sure my son didn’t suffer anymore so gave in to him and bailed him out for years whenever things got rough. I have remarried and my husband is done with my son. Husband gave him his job and a truck and had been super supportive and loving to him since release from prison. Son in return quit the job and totaled the truck. We also suspect that son was involved in break-in at our business but have no proof that he is the one who stole money and checks. I am done. I have been seeing a therapist who tells me to just not talk to him, answer his texts or phone calls. I tried that but it escalated his behavior and he threatened us in our home. Police were called and that charge is pending. Please tell me how to extricate myself and my husband from this nightmare. I need advice!

Sent from my iPad

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 26, 2019:


Good or bad the examples we set for our children often come back to haunt us. Be honest with your daughter about your negative experience with drugs and alcohol. Her behavior is a result of self esteem issues. People with low self esteem are easy targets for drug dealers and "party" friends. Right now your daughter feels important because she thinks she belongs with these people. It has not occurred to her that these people do not bring quality into her life. Truthfully, she is not likely to care. The question is how long are you prepared to support her current life style? Chances are good that your money is funding her drinking and partying. If she isn't going back in school, it may be time to cut support. The best option is to relocate her to another place and get her back in school. It sounds like she needs a good counselor or to attend a self esteem building retreat. Either way staying where she is, is a bad idea.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 26, 2019:


As you have probably suspected your wife is enabling her son. It sounds like the house is too expensive for him. Since this is the second year in a row where you are bailing him out, maybe he should consider a less expensive housing option. That said your wife is using money to make herself feel needed in her son's life. The more self sufficient he is, the higher his self esteem will be. Running to mommy is not going to make him feel good about himself. If he is not under care for the depression, get him help. Men need strong male relationships, mentor him. Take a more active roll in his life. It is the time we spend with people that helps with depression not the money we spend.

Claire3177 on July 24, 2019:

I have a 19 year old daughter who lives away from home. We live on an island and she lives in a city on the mainland 100s of miles away. She originally left home to study and we have supported her financially. She made the decision to leave her studies a few months ago. I have told her that if she wants to continue to live away she needs to find a job and support herself. I have given her a few months grace to get a job and get an income. I have given her the end of August as a cut off date.

She left home at 17 and for the first year was a model student, played lots of sports and worked as well. Since turning 18 she has taken to the party lifestyle, drinking, taking drugs, and left her studies. She has a part time job in a club at the moment but it is not enough to survive on. She says she is looking for jobs and had an interview for today. Only problem is she went out last night, got drunk, picked a fight with someone and lost her phone.

I have replaced her phone 3 times already but told her I am not doing it this time. She has a lovely black eye so is not going to the interview. I am at my wits end with her. I don't want to enable her and simply can't afford to continue supporting her financially.

I have tried to be fair and I feel she just throws it back in my face. I suppose my real worry is that she turns to illegal means to fund her lifestyle. I end up feeling responsible for her behaviour as I feel she didn't have the best upbringing by me. I myself was into drink and drugs and was a single parent until she was 9. I met a man who is now my husband and we have an 8 year old son. I am not who I was when my daughter was younger and we have a very stable life and have done for some time. I still carry a lot of guilt that she had such a different upbringing to her brother. Her real dad has never really been in her life or taken a genuine interest in her. None of his family bother with her either. She also had a bit of a shit time going through high school and didn't have great friends. She seems to have lots of friends now and they all have the shared interest of being gay. She came out last year and all her friends are gay.

I understand a lot of her acting out but how do I balance understanding and support without enabling her or causing more damage?

l7337 on July 10, 2019:

I have been married for about 20 years and my wife has a 32 year old adult child. He has a 9 month old child with a former girl friend, but does not take care of him. He is continuously getting in financial issues and cannot keep a decent job.

We currently buy diapers for his child & pay his medical insurance in case something goes wrong. A few times a year, he has emergencies because he either doesn't work or doesn't budget. Last year, we paid $1000 for car repairs and $2500 to catch his mortgage back up.

This year, we paid another $1000 for car issues and my wife now says we have to pay $4000 to keep is house from being sold due to foreclosure. He is constantly depressed and refuses to get help or follow advice.

When I tell my wife NOT to give him money, she says she is doing it to save his life. He will not have anywhere to go and might commit suicide due to his depression. She says she will spend ANY amount to keep him alive.

What do you think?

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on July 03, 2019:

It depends on the purpose of the trip. If you wanted to spend time with him, then by all means go on the trip. If the trip was a celebration of his responsibility or a reward, then you might want to cancel the trip.

Tyisha on July 02, 2019:

My son will be turning 21 this month. I had planned to take him on a trip. He moved out 3 months ago, still has not found or job or signed up for school. He is living off his savings. Which is practically at 0. He has not asked me for help. Should I continue with the trip?

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on June 25, 2019:


You have two options, you can either email me or post your question here.

Thank you,

M.D. Jackson MSIOP

sandra on June 18, 2019:

i have questions about my child

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on June 14, 2019:

Life skills should be taught to every person. Show him how to do the following:

1. Check his oil/water in a car and change a tire

2. Look for a job on indeed, have him apply to see what its like, how to match experience

3. Find an apartment (have him look up what it will cost for utilities ect.With this he should know the sates rental laws or at least where to find them.

4. Have him build a budget in excel

5. Teach him about debt contracts

6. He should be able to read a map without GPS

7. Teach him how credit works,Debt to income, credit scores ect.

8. how to use basic hand tools around the house (Screw driver, wrench, hammer)

9. Common sense training (Write down a list of things that happened to you in your life and ask him how he would handle it.

10. Street smarts; don't drink with people you don't know, lock your doors ect.

Its a lot but you can do this and get them ready for life.

StellarG on June 12, 2019:

I am not a parent, but I am an aunt looking for ways to best help prepare my nieces and nephews to be able to fend for themselves and be productive, responsible humans while they have adults around that can help them. At the base of things, they are homeschooled by their parents and that is the general rule of thumb when it comes to teaching them things, but I can see where there are gaps where teaching has slacked off and I feel that could lead to issues down the road if the basics are not learned as well. For example, my oldest nephew is now 17 and in speaking with him about life skills and basics he should know, I can clearly tell he does not and that makes me concerned for his future. I don't know everything that goes on in the household, but I know if he had to move out today on his own, it would be a disaster. He doesn't know how to look for a job, fill out a resume, conduct an interview etc and I recently found out that he stopped doing the Penn Foster HS program in Jan. because he stated "he could not focus". Luckily, I had several talks with him and convinced him to start back with this program and complete it because without these basics he would not be able to begin to get a job. I am looking for advice or resources on how I can best help him directly in my role as his aunt.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on June 02, 2019:

I'm not sure if this person is living with you or not. Here is the thing, if he makes good money yet never pays his bills, he has issues with budgeting. People with bipolar can learn budgeting. Sit down with him and teach him to budget and save. Then let him know that you are no longer going to pay his bills. If he screws up he won't have a cell phone. You can't learn his lessons for him. Also he needs to get involved with some form of physical activity to channel his energy. Teach him independence, not dependence. Lastly, his bipolar may be hormonal, have his testosterone levels checked. The brain keeps growing until 25 and he may just be experiencing brain growth.

Denise Cmar on June 01, 2019:

25 year old who is bi polar. Has had numerous acting out behavior episodes. Been on meds and had therapy

Works making good money but when gets paid no money many times to pay for his bills. Then have to help him out to pay car insurance , gas money etc. Pay for his car tolls and cell phone. I know enabling

What can my husband and i do? What ultimatum ? Send him out on street? Need help please!

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on May 31, 2019:

Hello Cindy,

Your best option is to stop bringing this up to your husband. Instead, start getting your lazy stepson to help around the house. Anytime you are doing anything ask him to come and help you. Floors, dishes, yard work, all of it. Continue to ask him to help in front of his dad. One of two things will happen, either the son will start helping in which case at least he is pulling his weight or the son won't help and your husband will see that the son is a lazy moocher. This constant asking him to do things will also bother the son. He is only there for a free ride, he doesn't want to do anything. Once he realizes the free ride is over, he will move on.

cindy on May 20, 2019:

I've been married for 25 years my husband has a 42 year old son that is living with us for 8 months now i told my husband i didn't want no one living with us he replied he has no were to go in the 8 months he's applied for disability he was turned down he is lazy we get paper in the mail that his lawer still trying to get it, he has lived with his mother, his brother, and friends this is taking a toll on are

Our marriage i told him he has 2 weeks to get out, he reck his car, will not look for work, what can i do to save my marriage?

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on May 13, 2019:

You are welcome!

C Lee on May 10, 2019:

I really like these comments here. I need help with my adult daughter and don't know where to turn. So glad I stumbled on this blog. Thank you!,

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on May 08, 2019:

If your children will not have a relationship with you when you are no longer funding them, they you do not have a relationship with your children. Being an ATM does not make a relationship, it creates codependency. If you are living paycheck to paycheck then you certainly should not be funding them. Start empowering your kids to handle their own business.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on May 08, 2019:

Your son is not ready to quit the behaviors that caused you to ask him to leave. As a mom I would worry as well. I would offer him food or put gas in his tank, instead of money. Paying you back is not the issue, it's what he is doing with the money. You may be funding his habit. Buy him things he needs to survive, things that he can't sell or return.

Christina76 on May 05, 2019:

Separate question: I also have a 22-year-old daughter. She moved out at the age of 19. After a year out of high school and still supporting her, she wasn’t going to school. She was working part time and not even saving. So I told her it’s been a year and I’m done supporting her. She needs to pay her own way. Half of everything. So she moved out. Over the course of 3 years, she’s moved back home 3 times. The first time she moved back, was for about 4-6 months. Then she and my son decided to roommate. After 9 months, she decided she didn’t like living with him. She told him she was moving with mom. He made arrangements for a friend to take her room and pay her half. When I was finally given the courtesy of knowing, I told her no, it’s not ok to just assume. So she moved in with a different roommates; a couple she found on Craigslist. I was terrified every night. She was there for 3 weeks, they told her they were moving to LA in a week. So she moved back home anyway. This time she brought a friend/coworker. Someone she had decided to roommate with. She asked if they could both stay for a month to save up for a deposit. So I said yes. It’s been almost a year and she’s back. At the beginning of April, I gave her $900 to help her buy a car. Her’s was broken and too expensive to repair. Two weeks later, she had dental surgery and asked if I could take her. So I took time off work to do so. When we got there, her share of cost was $1200. She asked if I could help pay. I told her no. I was highly upset. I live paycheck to paycheck. I make a decent living but live paycheck to paycheck because I’m always helping my adult children. But unlike my son, she doesn’t even pay back and expects it as well. We left the dental office and I asked her why she didn’t find out the cost before hand. She said “Well I didn’t think it would be that much. I have $300 and if it was more than that, I thought you could pay.” So again, she expects. Now she’s back paying nothing but only for a month again. I’m tired of feeling like a hotel, an open ATM and always being broke because of my children. I’m also afraid to lose them and I’m just afraid for them overall. It’s just us 3. We have zero family and their father has never been around. They have no where else to go. But at the same time, I know I’m enabling them.

Christina76 on May 05, 2019:

My 25-year-old son has/had a drinking and drug addiction. I tried helping by doing things HIS way. Meaning, he said he didn’t need professional help, just... It was always something different. Recently, he asked to move back home because being at home makes him happy and he wouldn’t need to drink or do drugs. He also asked if he could live rent free in order to get himself out of debt from this problem. So I said yes to both. But I wanted him to seek professional help. He still would not do it. But I was still willing to give him a chance. After 3 days, he said he was going to a baseball game with a friend. I casually told him “Don’t be drinking.” He asked “Why not?” We went back and forth for a few minutes until I finally told him “I’m sorry son, but this is not going to work.” So he left. He’s not mad and still comes around to visit. But I worry if I made the right choice. What if he only gets deeper? And he’s also always borrowing money. He always pays it back when he says he will and it’s never large amounts. Between $30-$60 at a time. But it’s all the time. At least 3-6 times a month. I continue to loan it to him but I also don’t know if I should be?

Barbara on May 04, 2019:

MY Husbands son is 46 and basically lives out of a suitcase. I am married to his father for 8 years , we have been involved for 21. I moved into his home when we married, it is the home his son grew up in. However he never had anything to do with this house all those years. I moved my belon tings from my apartment to the rooms upstairs.they were empty and neglected. I took care of this house , all of my clothing are in the room upstairs. I work full time, I am 62 . My children are grown and independent.

Without discussing anything with me his son now stays here at least once a week. I have to re arrange my things so as not to disturb him when I am up early to excessive and get ready for my day! I feel so resentful !

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on April 30, 2019:

The first thing I want to address is the enabling behavior. Unlike your previous situation, your fiance has a long history with her children. To have two people from the same home come out with chemical dependency you have to have either a genetic disposition or an environmental factor. It sounds like your fiance is holding onto guilt over a situation with her daughter. She needs to resolve the guilt. Also take your fiance to the Al-non meetings, let her see for herself that this is patterned behavior. When it's your child you tend to think that the situation is very specific to you and your relationship. Addicts all sound the same. She has to learn that for herself.

Stop fighting with her over the daughter. What has happened is that your fiance no longer feels she can trust you with her feelings and thoughts because you will disapprove, so now she's hiding things from you to avoid judgement. She is doing this to protect herself. Is it the right thing for her to do? No, it also is not fair for you to dictate her relationship with her children. Her daughter is using emotional blackmail to get what she wants. You can't combat that with arguing. Be calm and honest with your fiance about the fact that you do not like seeing what her kids put her through. Your not a bad guy in this, don't let yourself become the bad guy.

As for your decision to marry or not, I have another article about that decision. There are two times that I do not talk myself into things, one is when I am hiring an employee, and two is when I pick a spouse. If there is one decision that carries weight in your life it should be who you marry.

That said there is another option for you. Keep your money separate and have a prenuptial agreement. If she wants to use her money to bail out her kids, then that's her decision provided it does not impede on your households survival. Hopefully, the Al-non meetings will help her see that she is enabling and she will take corrective action. Hope this helps.

md202019 on April 21, 2019:

I hope you can share some guidance and insight.

My fiancé is enabling her daughter and it’s spilling into/affecting our relationship. Some background: We live together – have dated 4.5 years, both in our mid-50s, plan to get married in 3 months.

She has 2 adult children (both early 20s). Son is a recovering drug addict, lives with girlfriend and he’s clean/sober and in a 12 step. Daughter (reason I’m writing today) hasn’t worked in nearly 2 years, dropped out of college, smokes weed and drinks, got a DUI last summer/lost her car and has shacked up with abusive guys. She stopped talking to my fiancé last summer and then last month resurfaced looking for help….probably because the Sheriff came looking for her with a warrant because she didn’t finish her DUI classes. She is somewhere between homeless and couch surfing with various friends. She has no job, no money, and no visible means of obtaining food, etc., and isn’t highly motivated to find a job or make money and gives us lip service when we suggest how to get her life on track.

About me….I don’t have children. I did have a relationship 20 years ago with a “drinker” and I was her enabler…until I ended the relationship and got into Al-Anon and learned to take my power back.

My fiancé has enabled her children for many years, until I showed up and helped her understand how it only makes the problem worse. She followed my advice with her son (essentially: don’t do for someone what they can/should do for themselves) and he’s since done great! With her daughter she is resisting, continuing to enable her because she believes her daughter is not a strong/street-wise as the son.

Why is her enabling a problem for me/us?

1) Fiancé knows enabling is wrong (but “can’t help herself”), agreed to stop last month and also share with me her daughter’s many requests for assistance (so we can address it together as a team), and yet despite our “agreement” I learned that last week she paid off her daughter’s 6 month delinquent cell phone bill and bought her a new phone/plan ($600!)….so she could presumably look for work (which she hasn’t). The phone and the money are not the main issue…the issue is my fiancé hid this from me and in so doing broke our agreement / understanding and continues to enable…so, now I have some trust issues….not good 3 months before our wedding.

2) Her daughter hasn’t explicitly asked to live with us (she did live with us 3 years ago and we kicked her out for smoking pot in the house), but she does lay the guilt trip on her mom, e.g., “don’t worry about me, maybe I’ll find a place to sleep tonight,” “maybe I’ll eat today,” etc. So, my fiancé’s motherly instinct kicks in and she ends up doing for her daughter what she can/should do for herself. I’ve suggested she cut her off financially and remain in her life as a non-monetary support resource to which my fiancé responds with “I’m not going to let my daughter starve or live on the street” and so the enabling continues. This is causing a major issue for us and threatens to end our relationship.

We’ve discussed this many times and she fully agrees enabling her daughter is bad for her, us and her daughter as it doesn’t solve the problem it only prolongs it and in fact makes it worse. She said “after we’re married in 3 months I will cut my daughter off for good,” however, her track record and actions to date would lead me to believe otherwise. Saying she’ll cut her off in 3 months to me is simply pushing the goal posts further back to avoid the inevitable.

Because of the diminished trust in my fiancé (to follow our agreement/be transparent with me and not enable her daughter) I am now considering ending the relationship / marriage and moving out as the stress and drama and fighting with my fiancé is wearing me down and affecting my health and sanity. I’m at my wits end…..any advice would be gratefully welcomed. Thank you in advance.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on March 25, 2019:

Finishing something you start is part of having charecter. Some people simply do not have the fortitude to finish what they start, they never learned the value of hard work. The same is true in relationships, your daughter may not see the value in staying or working through tough situations. Along those lines there are people who always take the route that looks easy... in this case calling mom.

henry on March 21, 2019:

We have a 42 year old daughter that's been married twice, (divorced both times) with 2 children, one conceived while going thru divorce by one husband and 1 by the other, she's been and out of college since 17 never graduated but made good grades with no degree except an AA can't finish anything she starts including jobs and calls her mom with

every problem she has, what can her state of mind be or her problem b?

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on March 19, 2019:

I'm sorry you and your wife are having to deal with your son's addiction. Many people do not stop until they hit rock bottom. When a parent keeps bailing an adult child out, they never have to deal with their consequences. I hope your son gets help.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on March 19, 2019:

What is your question Rita? Do you want to know how to stop him from smoking weed? Or do you want to kick him out? The anger issues are probably not going away. Young men experiencing testosterone highs and lows while they are developing. He needs his testosterone checked. But also a lot of men outgrow these behaviors by 25 when their brain stops growing and things level out. If you don't want him living with you, then it's time to discuss his exit plan. You raised this child, you should not be afraid of him, if you are afraid that is another issue. Lastly, Marijuana does by itself does not cause violent outbursts. Marijuana laced with other drugs might.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on March 19, 2019:

The first thing is that you need to get your own car. Save, sell something, work a second job, but get your own car. It probably will not be the most reliable vehicle, but do it. Then once you have your own car, start saving to move out of their house. You don't need much starting out, a studio, a small trailer. But get out on your own. I cannot tell you what your mom was thinking. I can only tell you how to be more independent and take responsibility for yourself. I know it can be difficult, things don't always work out, that is part of life. Do what you have to, to be independent of your parents. You can do this.

Emma Grace on March 17, 2019:

Hi, my name is Emma I’m not a mother, but i am a 25 year old daughter and would appreciate for yours and anyone’s opinion on what I’ve been confused about towards my mom. I currently live at her house and working a part time job.

Here is my confusion, in June of 2017 I had turned 24 worked a full time job out of town so my mom took me to a car dealership because she was going to help me get a car. I was surprised because she had been annoyed with me in general for a while and was always so mad at me for anything and everything, but I still chose the car I wanted. At the dealer we test drove the car and she ended up being the only person on the contract because my credit was going to effect my car payments. On the way home I asked her “is this really my car?” She said yes. Then I asked “your not gunna one day get mad at me then take the car away cause you feel like it?” (The Honda I drove to work at that time gave her and her husband power over me when it came to drivin the car) so I had to make sure i wasn’t going to be dealing with anything like that anymore.. so Anyways she said “no, as long as u make ur payments to me on time that’s all that matters. This ur car!” Well I’m 25 now, i made payments on it religiously up until January of 2018. I lost my job so my mom took it from me. I got another job in February and so she gave it back to me. In May 2018 My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I became so depressed that I ended up getting fired from my job in July. The day the car payment was supposed to be paid to my mom, she took the car from me and has kept it ever since. I’m not sure if it’s the cancer that has her being so cold to me, but am i wrong for thinking and feeling so betrayed by her? I have a job again and still won’t let me make payments again. The rest of 2018 we had argued big arguments because I was confused as to why she wouldn’t give me back the payments I made for MY car. And she just laughs and says “sorry but this is my car, you owe me for getting it for you so that’s that!” I’m just hurt. I still live with her help her out with cleaning, buy my own stuff and she said I should feel ashamed for still living here at the age that I am.. as much as I want to move out, i can’t. She took the privilege I had to drive her husbands Honda to work away from me yesterday. I’m just so confused as to why?! What do you mothers think?

Thanks in advance to anyone who wants to give some advice.

Marty travis on March 13, 2019:

My son is 28 years old and on meth he was arrested again yesterday and called us last night to bail him out we said no he was arrested 3 years ago and we got him out and he went to rehab for 3 months we paid 2500 for that he didn’t stay sober long had a job for about 6 months and lost that we laid done rules to him if he was going to stay here and he didn’t listen so we made him leave I told him if he got arrested don’t call me his mother has Parkinson’s and is stresssed so much with him it is heartbreaking to think of him in jail but he is the one who has done this to hisself we have done so much to try and help him

Rita nang on March 13, 2019:

My 21 year old son has anger issues. Has broken items in my home, crashed cars, a week in mental health instution due to major depression from weed smooking, attacked family members due to anger.

Finished high school, bearly. Has a full time job after many different jobs. Smokes weed every day.

L on March 05, 2019:

I am living with my fiance who has a 40+ year old stepson living with us. He has never left home but works. He is happy as he is because he has no responsibility of rent or mortgage and other bills. Pays the gas and electric and the rest of the money is his. I have been told by my fiance that his step-son and I will be living in the house if anything happens to him. When I tell my fiance his step-son should be able to stand on his own two feet at 40+ I get accused of trying to make him make a choice between his step-son and me. I am concerned about my future as his step-son just is not responsible at all.

Crystal on March 03, 2019:

I have a 23 yr old son who was living at home until he started dating a young lady with a child who is separated from her husband. She has been separated for 4 weeks and my son has been seeing her for 3 wks. I woke up one morning to her in my son room and I asked him to take her home. He and I had an argument over the fact that she is still married and he has only known her for 3 wks. and there was a child involved in this mess and no one was thinking of the child. I said he could not bring her back to our home and if he wanted to continue living here he would have to stop seeing her. He chose to leave and continue to see this young woman and I am heart broken. We haven't spoken to each other in 3 wks now and I am at a loss on what to do or what to say. He was raised in a Christian home and knows that there are boundaries that should not be crossed but he chose to anyway. How do I move forward from here.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on February 20, 2019:

The first thing you have to decide is what your goal is as her parent. If the goal is to teach her to be sufficient then you need to do that. It starts with teaching her to budget. She should be saving money for her own place. If your goal is just for her to pay rent in your home, then you draw up a contract and go over her budget situation. Scary enough two rooms will run a person $200-500 a month depending on the area. you should look at the current craigslist ads to determine price. Here is the issue most parents have with their children, they are worried they will alienate their child because they are no longer supporting them financially. If you have a good relationship with your child, they will eventually see that your decision was for them. If you have always had a horrible relationship then obviously this is not going to mend a fence. Your daughter may not be able to afford life on her own, but she can contribute. It's up to you to show her the way.

MA USA from Midwest on February 16, 2019:

My 27 year old daughter still lives at home with her 5 year old daughter. She does not contribute to the house. She does work and buys her and her daughters personal stuff. However, we can’t get her to pay rent or anything. She always says she can’t afford it. She owes us money already for helping her previously. Every time we bring it up she says she can’t afford it, no she isn’t paying or you are kicking your granddaughter out on the street. She fights with her 21 year old brother who still lives at home. She can’t afford to pay rent, but she doesn’t have a problem spending money on things she doesn’t need and it upsets us. We give her 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and our family room to store her stuff. We have enabled her for so long, how do we stop without feeling guilty?

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on February 15, 2019:


Sit down with your son and look at his choices and options with him. What are his life goals? Does he just want to co-rent his entire life? What excites him? Young people get caught in the rat race and forget they have time to move toward a good future. Jobs that include travel may be a good option, working on a plane, cruise ship, ect. There is a lot of jobs that are great for single people. He needs a goal that he can move toward.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on February 15, 2019:

Parenting is tough, it's tougher when you are unsure of yourself and people are telling you that you are screwing up. Always approach advice from a place of love. We do not listen to people when they get in our face. Be loving toward the person and find out what they think about the issue first. Maybe the person is not focused on the situation at all.Discuss life skills and self-sufficiency. Tell your own struggles and see if that person can relate.

Susie on February 15, 2019:

As an outsider (not mom or kid) how do or can you even bring these points up? Is it a spouses place to inform the parties of the negative effect of moms actions of enabling, how it effects our relationship?

Salina166 on February 15, 2019:

My son is 24 and living on his own 5 years now,at home he was lazy but when he moved i was very impressed with the way he kept his place....over the years i have helped him out with rent a few times,he moved 2 years ago to share an apartment with another couple but that too has gone sour,same story not doing his share of work.Apart from that he has changed jobs a few times and did not leave on the best of terms,now he has to move and may lose his current job,I have no place here for him to stay and cant help him much financially,but I decided to pay of his debts and worked out a payment plan for him to pay me back.He is depressed over his situation as am I,and Iam not sure how to help or how to proceed

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on February 04, 2019:

This situation is a little vague. Therapy can be expensive. If you feel it is appropriate to pay for part of the cost, my suggestion is that you arrange the payment directly to the therapist. I would not begin a practice of handing money to your son.

gigi on February 03, 2019:

My son has asked that I pay for his therapy. He is going to be 26 this summer and says he can't afford to go unless I help out. Initially, I was happy to help with this, but he is asking for money for frequently and I feel like he should help pay if he is truly invested in the process.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on January 16, 2019:

What I can tell you is that if you pay his way he is not going to appreciate his education. You need to stand your ground. Make him earn it. He may resent you but he is never going to take it for granted.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on January 16, 2019:

Teach them to budget. I am finding that a lot of the younger generations have lost this skill despite having computer programs that will assist them.

Henry on January 08, 2019:

Our 20 year old son took a sem off to change career path (didn't do well on his 1st yr uni), took a FT job, pays his house share & spends $$ on entertainment. He's now back in uni, works PT. He resents us b/c we won't give in on his demands to pay his tuition 100% while he keeps his pay cheques all to himself. We told him he can live rent-free, but we keep his base pay net of his bills, & he can keep his $$ tips so that we set it aside towards his next tuition and whatever difference we will top it up and he does not need to work anymore. He threatens to move out.

miriam on January 05, 2019:

what can I do for not only my kids 29 ,32 and there friends to become better people for them selves and to raise more awareness to the community

Cathy on December 21, 2018:

Mt 40 year old son loss his job Last week. He is now facing losing his home to. He has as operation for kidney stone and stents and unfortunately missed to many days, He has a wife and two children. They are struggling. He is doing side jobs to make a little money. His wife is a pre k teacher, My question should I let then temporarily stay with me, Until they can get on their feet again

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on November 27, 2018:

Your actions depend on what you want out of this situation. If you want your son to be a decent human being and support himself then there are things you can do to make that happen. This man child is running your life. I'm not sure at what point he got control but, he did. Probably because you are not living on your own. He knows that technically you are not in charge, it is not your house.

If you son is threatening you, you can get a restraining order against him. However that will not solve your problem. You need to make him want to move out. You can evict someone in most states in 30 days. Start charging him rent, get him under contract. Put in writing that he will pay $300.00 a month and have a chore list.

If he doesn't agree, then pack up a bunch of his stuff and take over half his room. Throw a reading chair in there and hang out. Just because you can't evict him immediately, doesn't mean you have to provide "comfortable" accommodations. The other thing is that if he threatening to kill himself then he needs help. This may just be part of his manipulation tactics however, if he's threatening then you should be able to call the authorities and have him removed to a facility.

If your goal is to have your son become a productive citizen then you need to change how you deal with him. It's your house , your rules. If he can't follow the rules, pack his stuff. You are letting him get away with acting like a child when he is a grown man. Stop making it fun/easy for him to be there.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on November 27, 2018:

I would go see him and see what he is thinking now. You casually mentioned that he was arrested for drugs, when someone is using drugs you cannot trust them. He's been in jail for two weeks and this may have sobered him. My suggestion to you is that if you allow him to come home, it is contingent on employment and that he only stays temporarily until he can get enough money to get his own place.

AEH11 on November 24, 2018:

My 24 year old son will be released from jail in 2 weeks. His incarceration was due to violating parole and having some drugs on him. Prior to his arrest, he voluntarily went homeless and also quit his job. He said he was tired of working to pay his rent. We knew this was a bad choice, but it was his decision. The homelessness lasted a month before he was picked up. We didn't bail him out because he needed to know that it was his choice that led him to this and that he was entirely responsible for it. We have helped him out over the years sending him to rehabs, therapy and assisted with rent and/or food. But, now he's going to be released and he still doesn't have a plan,has nowhere to go and is 1800 miles away. We thought the time in jail would be a time for self reflection and figuring out what he wants to do with his life. There was none of that. So now I'm wondering if I should go out there on his release date and try to figure something out with him or should I just let him be released into the streets again. My gut is telling me to go ....should I?

Venusdmo on November 23, 2018:

I have a 20yo son. He smokes pot daily, sleeps all day, out all night, keeps losing his jobs, but keeping them long enough to pay his car insurance, gas and weed smoking habit, he doesn't pay anything to live in our home, he has unpaid fines from driving tickets and constables keep showing up at my house, his driver's license will be suspended at the end of the month if he doesn't pay $150 in fines, his car needs tires/oil change/tail light and basic mechanics, his bank account is in the negative and climbing, his bedroom is a disaster, he showers 1-2x week and only does his laundry every few months. He says he's depressed and threatened suicide so I had him involuntarily committed 2x, won't take any meds or talk to a professional. Has threatened me that he'll take his life if I kick him out. His dad and I haven't been together since my son was a year old. His dad has said to me, "it's your problem now, I have a family and I don't want the bullchit disrupting me, my wife, and 2 other kids' life anymore".

I am married also, no other kids, and we (me, my husband, my son, and mother in law) all live in my mother in laws house because there is no one else to take care of her declining health issues, all family has passed away or doesn't exist. I am freakin lost. I don't know what to do with my child. He has even threatened to deflate my tires if I make him leave our home. I don't give him money and I stopped buying food he likes to force him to feed himself. The only support he has from me is a bed to sleep in. He refuses to help around the house and is so lazy qnd irresponsible that he left the stove top on 2x because he was so high on marijuana that he forgot to turn off the cooktop burner. Of course he ONLY cooks food when everyone is asleep. ANY ADVICE on ANY of this? We've had the police at our house and we were told that I literally have to go through the landlord/tenant eviction process to have him removed legally, which could take years. I visited the local judge and that info was confirmed. I'm soooo out of options of what to do.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on November 16, 2018:

The first thing you and your husband need to realize is that your stepson is a MAN. He is not a child. You are correct it is time for him to move out on his own. He sounds spoiled and entitled. You and your husband need to come up with a plan. The two of you need to sit down with his grown son and give him three months to find a job and save the money to move out. During that time he will not bring his friends to your home and he will not smoke weed at your home. Once you have discussed this with the son, he is going to ignore everything you said, pack his stuff into boxes. when he asks what's going on, tell him, "we gave you the rules, you are not following them, so you can leave". This is an action, not words. You do not have to get angry in fact do not raise your voice. Speak in low tones. If he begs you to let him stay, then tell him he has whatever is remaining in the three months to get himself a job and get out, so he better get on it. Your husband needs to be strong and support the plan. If the son gets a job, then he can save for a couple of months to get a studio apartment or move in with his pot friends, either way at the end of threes months he's out. If he does nothing in that three months, have him pack clothes and drop him off at the homeless shelter. This man child has to learn to take care of himself. Your husband is not helping his son by being complacent.

JC on November 02, 2018:

Maybe a lot of people will hate me when I say this, but I don’t like my stepson, I cannot get along with him at all. He’s 20 years old now, 2 years ago, he moved in our house after got in a fight with his mom. Reason of the fight is, he didn’t help her to move to new house (he came my house and ignored helping his mom to move) so she given the biggest room in the house for the younger son, who now is 16 and helped her a lot to move and he got the smaller room, and he was mad at her and fight with her about that. Then he moved to our house, and then refuse to leave.

At first year, I tried to be nice, closer, and understanding to him. I cooked for him and his friends when they come over, let them have fun time (that’s our mistakes), and after that, he just keep taken advantage on us. He always party with like 10 friends everyday, smoke weeds in the house all the time even I kept say they need go back yard because I have 1 kid is 6 years old & 1 is 1 years old & I was pregnant at that time. But he ignored me. He and his friends came to my kitchen, steal all the food for their party in basement, even kid’s food. I just moved in the city at that time & was pregnant so I don’t have the job, only my husband is working to support for the family with 4 members (and 5 members now). So at that time like all our foods for a week always done for less 2 days because his friends. They even do laundry, shower at my house so you can imagine how the bills gone. We had the very bad time with our credit because cannot pay bills, mortgage & cover foods in our house for that much people (we now still deep in debt, even I give my husband like 10k to fix it, that’s all my saving money too). But he past my limit when we needed go the doctor to check for my pregnancy and we asked him look after my kids for me in 2 - 3 hours (we didn’t pay him babysitting fee, but we think that fair when he live in our house rent free, foods free, bills free) and then he locked my kids in the crib alone and let the house to go the party with his friends, even didn’t call or text us telling that he is leaving. So I decided enough is enough and put my feet down, put rules in the house and ban his friends from party and sleepover. And that time was a time our relationship went down.

When I told him that he cannot have 3 girls sleepover in the house, he was so mean to me, he called me mental woman and kind of that things, even saying he won’t respect me because I didn’t respect his “freedom”. We got in a fight and I asked him move out but he refuse because he doesn’t want to paying bills and rent and foods on his own. Well, maybe you are wonder “Where’s her husband when all this crazy happening?” My husband stand up for me, but in very weakly way and honestly, I don’t think he has any voice with his son. He wanted his son move out too, but too scare to tell him and he always feel bad because he said his son has nowhere to go. We fought and fought over his son’s problem a lot and never in same page. I want he must ask his son move out, he doesn’t want it before he find anyone accept for his son live there (and his ex is a BIG NO, she even told me kick her son out, because she know how ungrateful her son is, grandparents are a BIG NO NO too). He’s 20 now and refuse go to school, or go to work (I even asked my husband’s friends to take him for a job but after 1 week work, no one can handle him), and we still need clean up after him, we & his mom still need pay for his clothes even underwear, haircut, coffee, personal needs... He even wanted us to let his friend share room to him then the friends paying for the room and he will keep that money for himself, and ask us that he will apply welfare money and then of course still live at our house to get free rent and free foods, free bills. I said NO.

Today I & my husband is fighting again because I asked him to ask his son move out, I even told him we can help him find a cheap room to rent, buy furniture for him but that’s all. Enough is enough. He needs get a life and live on his own. And then my husband called me evil because want to put “a kid” has nowhere to go in the street. I just get enough with him and his son. I want to take my 3 kids move out for a while until my husband found out who is important to him, his son or us. But then I got scared. I have 3 kids, 1 just 4 months, jobless, I have a little save money but that will not enough to cover for us for couple months. I don’t know what to do. I left my family and friends hoping can have a happy life with the man I love. Now I realize he isn’t the man of his words (with his son problem), he promised and promised will solve a situation then when the deadline come in, he find more bs excuses to change or ignored it. I don’t feel I can trust him anymore.

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on October 29, 2018:

Sit down with her and go over her budget. You are right the fines are expensive. I would teach her to budget. You may find out that she doesn’t have extra money, or you may find out that she is just bad at having a budget. Also, getting angry isn’t helping. Keep that in mind. Negotiations have never been solved in anger. When you get angry you both loose. Work as team to solve the problem, be on the same side.

Rv65dvb1 on October 29, 2018:

Hello, I hope I can get some advice please . I have a 32 year old daughter who has been released from prison following a three and a half year sentence for intent to supply drugs.

She has two children who initially lived with me when she was sentenced who then moved to their dads at his request . I continued close contact with the children and weekly over night stays with me throughout her sentence and did what I could to help them through the situation.

When my daughter was arrested her and her sister , my other daughter, wanted me to put my whole house up as security to request bail. It’s a small house, not worth much , but all I have . I. A single mom who has always worked , still do and I’m in my late 50, s. I explained at the time I was too old to risk taking on another mortgage if I lost the house, which meant non of us would have a home .Both my daughters hold this against me to this day.

My daughter has now been released from prison and said she hD to stay at mine as she had nowhere to go where the kids could be with her. This is difficult, as she has been abusive re the refusal to bail throughout the sentence. However, I agreed as we all make mistakes and I do hope she gets back on her feet with the children.

She has now been here theee months. I have now asked if she could contribute something towards the rising utility bills as I’m semi retired and simply cannot afford this long term, she has refused saying I’ll struggle wehether she’s here or not. I’ve asked to help With house hood chores , she says she doesn’t have time due to going to work and looking after the kids. She does buy most of the food.

I know she is looking to get a place and I know buying is out of the question and renting so expensive , she’s saving a deposit and house items.

Due the bail refusal issue and other things mentioned, the tension and stress and arguments are hard to cope with. I do admit I get angry too, maybe too quickly at times ! I’m so exhausted and I guess she’s fed up too. I don’t know what to do as I want to help but feel she’s being unreasonable ? Opinions gratefully received please

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on September 26, 2018:

The first thing I want to do is give you a greater understanding of what your son is dealing with in terms of ADHD. His brain is working over time all the time. A good analogy would be like sitting down to watch a television show and the television channels change every three seconds. Just like the TV you sons brain is flitting from one thing to another. That is why he has a tough time completing tasks. On a brain scan your son's brain would show as overactive.His brain is not producing the Dopamine needed to function properly. Marijuana has been been loosely connected to dopamine production in the brain. Your assumption that he is self medicating may be right on. Personally I'm not an advocate of Marijuana. However, drugs such as Ritalin have dangerous side effects. Your son has five more years of brain growth (the brain stops growing around 25). There is a good chance since this seems to have onset during puberty that your son's issue is hormonal. We tend to think of girls as emotional teens, yet boys are the ones who will fist fight over something ridiculous. Since your son has the anger as well, chances are good he is experiencing hormones. My advice is to find a doctor that specializes in male hormonal development (Endocrinologist). Have his hormone levels tested. If that turns out to be the problem, hormone therapy should fix it. If his hormone levels are good, then I would look into medical options that do not involve Ritalin based drugs. It's been my experience that many young people outgrow ADHD by the age of 25. Contrary to popular belief ADHD in adults is only present in about 9% of the population. I hope this helps.

Nurse T on September 25, 2018:

Hi. My son who is now 20 years old was diagnosed with ADHD in high school. At first I thought he was just the typical forgetful, irresponsible, lazy teenager but when it started interfering with his grades, I sought help and discovered his diagnosis. He began taking meds, but soon stopped them because he didn't like the way they made him feel. He refused to take any other meds or began therapy. He barely made it across the stage. When he finished school, he did not want to attend college. He just wanted to get a job. I had no problem with that because it was a real struggle with high school and I don't believe college is for everyone and I did not want him to waste my money with him not being focused with his disability. Well since then, he has had about 8 jobs. Working one month, not the next. Willing to assist financially when he has brought in the income, but not too consistent because he is so quick to leave a job without the second on in place. His ADHD is really interfering with his adult life and the household. He has left the stove on, the grill still plugged in after use, the house doors open after he leaves. He loses his license and bank card every month, runs out of gas twice a month, locks his keys in the car once a month. He sometimes abruptly leaves the house in the middle of the night out of boredom. Falls asleep in his car in front of the house and I know he smokes weed. It's like he's self treating. He sometimes engages in risky behavior like driving too fast, running read lights (tickets proved this coming in mail). Hangs out with not the best company. Although he is very creative (art major), he is impulsive, argumentative, extremely disorganized, He has angry outburst, an addictive personality (smoking weed), gets bored easily, rebellious, trouble prioritizing and chronically late. . Every space he occupies is a complete mess. I don't think he has a pair of matching socks. When he washes, his clean clothes get mixed back in with his dirty clothes. His car recently broke and is parked in front of the house. He just can't seem to get ahead to get it fixed. i want to help him, but he's too unstable for me. If he had a consistent job, I would feel better about it but I am worn out. Here recently, he met a girl older and has been staying at her house every night because it's not far from the place he works. My concern is that she has 3 kids and lives in a not so good neighborhood. I am worried about him self destructing without my guidance. He has anger issues too. Although my house is peaceful without him being there, I am also worried. His ADHD seems to be more troublesome as life's responsibilities manifests. I want to let him go, but I am truly concerned about his disability that he will not address. I pray constantly! Help!

MD Jackson MSIOP (author) from Western United States on September 12, 2018:

At some point your adult kids have to get their own cell phone and insurance. This is a given. If she uses this as an excuse to not see your husband then that’s what she always planned to do. Relationships are not predicated on money, or at least they shouldn’t be. My advice to you is to not do these things all at once. Of the two the car insurance is the highest, so take her off the cell plan. Now a days the track phones are cheaper than having a plan and she can pay the $20 a month or whatever for the track phone. Once you take her off the cell plan you might no longer have an issue with her paying the insurance because she will see where this is going. Also I would actually make the statement to her that relationships are not about money. Her father is not a bank he’s her dad. We do not pay to keep people in our lives.

Teri on September 12, 2018:

My husbands adult daughter 27 with a college degree was put on our car insurance and our phone plan while she was in college since we paid her bills. She has now been out of college for over 2 years. Has not been gainfully employed since. I have told her when the bills are due and she always has an excuse why she cant pay them on time. However, the bills in her name such as her car payment or her credit cards (which she has maxed out) always get paid on time. I want to put her on her own phone plan and move her to her own car insurance policy which will obviously make them go up. I feel as long as she is on our plan she knows it will be paid on time even if she does not pay her portion on time. I feel like we were doing her a favor and saving her money so the least she can do is pay them on time. Once it is on her and she does not pay, the consequences will be all hers. Am I wrong for thinking this is what needs to happen? She is going to get mad and tells her father that she wont see him anymore. He actually thinks that will happen.

Mary on September 01, 2018:


I need advise. My 22 yrs old son in 2017 have eyes surgery to permanently change his eyes color. A type of lences was insicioned in his iris. Surgery didnt go well. He was performed other surgery to take off those contacts from his iris, leaving him the iris wide open. Now he suffers from light sensitivity. He went to college but he drop out. He came back home.afters 6 monts he brought a girl from Az who he said he was leaving to Tx and share an apt with her. They left same night she came home. Once in Tx, they coudnt find apt because my son have eviction from not paying rent for an apt he WANTED and rented outside of Indiana U. They came back home. My husband told then to work hard, save as much money they could to find a place to live. Give then 4 months. I tryed to help then find a place but was impossible with the eviction. Now he is very down. Low steame, dont want go back college, barely works. If works, he works 2 or 3 day a week for 3 or 5 hrs in Uber. The girl found a job as a teacher asst. He sleep lots. I found out heand her smokes marijuana

Blue on August 31, 2018:

I'm not sure if you remember our story. We love our only daughter very much and we'll do everything for her to be able to graduate in college, but at the same time want to instill responsibility as a young adult. When she was in Gr 12, age 17, she ran away twice (due to boyfriend) and moved out on the day of graduation. She ended up penniless, living at friend's place, and was forced to return home. On her 1st yr in uni, she was persistent to work full time despite of our encouragement that she just study and work max 2x/wk, then, she failed most of her courses. 2nd sem, we helped with her tuition, got better grades and all seemed to work out fine. 3rd sem, she started to lie, sneak and stay late outside, and have a new boyfriend. Since she works, she spends her money towards her boyfriend, eating out, giving gifts, etc. Her constant lying caused disagreements again at home. We told her if you don't communicate that you're coming home late, we'll lock the door, so she decided to move out. In Canada, when a young adult lives independently, they are eligible for a loan. We can't get a student loan because of our family income. When she received the lent money from the gov't and her wages, she was living like there's no tomorrow, eating out/treating friends/buying expensive gifts, using taxi for travel, pays gas for her bf's car, and did not pay rent for 5 months. She had 2 car accidents. She only have a learner's license and apparently she drove her friend's dads car and got into an accident. The other one was she was a passenger. Then, she failed all her courses. Now, she's changing career plans and took a semester break. She now owes 5 month's rent, car accident premium, and wasted over 9k tuition for the whole year. We asked her if she wants to come home and we'll find a better way to work this out. She said that the only way she can come home is if we pay her full tuition in full. We asked her, we can loan you tuition, and once she graduates, she pays us half and she keeps the rest. She also demanded that she will only work 5x a month. We asked her if she can at least contribute a little from her salary so that we don;t have to apply so much for loan. She said whatever she earns, she will deduct her phone and allowance, and whatever is left is for the tuition, AND she wants to keep her tips 100%. Her work as a server gets more tips than their base bay. Calculation wise, after she deducts the phone & allowance from her base pay, she will only end up contributing $50-100 a month while she gets $600. We asked if she can use her tips towards her allowance and she said no and would not compromise. She said that she wants to be able to buy stuff she wants and save money for car. We said how can you prioritize your wants when you can't even sustain your needs? Long story short, she's not happy and decided that she just stay with her friend. She also said that she can't commit with chores because she's busy with work during her semester off. We mentioend that we will not sign your loan if you have enough money to pay for your tuition next semester because we don't want you to end up in a mountain of debt. Is it right that as parents, we swallow finacing her tuition 100% and at the mercy of whatever she can give us? All we hope for is for her to acknowledge that we are doign this for her and if she can pool in her resources and we all decide how to best manage her needs. If she needs to replace her computer replace her broken guitar, we can understand that. We wish we can be united and she stays at home with a sense of shared responsibility, but it seems that no matter what we do, she likes to be away from us and do what she wants. Help.

o just study and only work 2x/wk, hencewhile in 1st yr uni, failed most of her courses in the 1st sem. 2Snd