My 30 year old son doesn’t want to move out – Ask Evie

How do I get my 30+ -year-old son to take responsibility of supporting himself. He has always roomed with his sister or relied on assistance from his mother. His sister is now married and his mother lives in government assisted housing. He writes computer code and makes good money when he’s working. He complains his wrist hurt him and even though he’s sought medical attention and received prescriptions he doesn’t want to write code anymore yet the other vocations that he seems interested in are just as intensive on the wrist. He’s been living with me for almost 2 years now and does very little to contribute to the household. I hate to see him at a homeless camp, but I feel I’m just enabling him to live this dysfunctional lifestyle. What is he going to do with himself when his mother and I are gone? He’s living in a 14 ft travel trailer on the six acres of land that I live on I’ve told him he can put a larger travel trailer out here to live in if he wants but he hasn’t even replaced the vehicle that he totalled a year ago. He just uses one of the dilapidated vehicles I have out here, none of which are registered or insured.

 

Dear David,

Thank you for writing in and sharing this issue with me.

Parenting is always a struggle, and unsurprisingly the worry and concern we have for our children doesn’t end at 18 (as much some of us hope it would…)

From what you’ve described, I can sense the depth of your concerns for your son and your love and consideration for him is very evident, but I can sense that his current static state of life is the driving force behind your own worries about how his life is or isn’t progressing as it stands.

If you haven’t yet had an open conversation with your son about the life path that he chosen, this would be an ideal place to start. You don’t mention any discussions you’ve had with your son but I’m assuming the topic has been at points breached (or at least you’ve attempted to do so!)

If you haven’t yet attempted a direct heart-to-heart, find a quiet and comfortable space where you both can talk openly. Try to formulate the points you want to convey beforehand to avoid any emotional reactivity, and try to emphasize throughout that your primary goal is to see him lead a life of fulfilment and independence. Advise him that he is unlikely to reach his full potential if he stays as is – living in a trailer on your land – and that there is so much of the world he has yet to see and experience.

As a computer code writer, I’m sure he must be incredibly intelligent so even if he decides not to continue pursuing this line of work, there will be countless other opportunities in which he can excel.

But of course, balancing the fine line between doing what you think is best for your child, whilst also making sure they feel welcome and that they have a place in your home, is undeniably difficult.

Yet sometimes difficult decisions lead to better outcomes for all involved. Growth always happens beyond the comfort zone.

I’m certain that having housed him for over 2 years, your son knows that you love him dearly and are there to support him.

In terms of encouraging him to move beyond what is likely a safe and comfortable living situation to a more daunting form of independence, this message may well be taken badly or interpreted. ‘Flying the nest’ is difficult for teenagers and older children (or young adults!) alike, and the unpredictability and uncertainty this brings no doubt causes your son some stress which he may project onto you in this discussion.

Nonetheless, try to remain calm and echo how his eventual departure will be a good and beneficial outcome for all – once the initial hurdle of change is overcome!

Regarding his wrist and his current aversion to continuing to code, it will be important that you acknowledge the physical challenges he’s facing. Helping him to use his other interests and passions might help to uncover alternative career paths (that align with his skills and current wellbeing) will also likely bolster his confidence. If his wrist is affecting his ability to code and will continue to do so for the duration of his career (even with the aid of medical assistance and prescriptions), it may well be that he is experiencing a high level of self-doubt and low motivation – if his heart was set on coding as a large part of his future.

Reassurance and faith go a long way in instilling confidence, and I’m sure that with your emotional support and assurance he can overcome what is no doubt a challenging (yet equally comfortable) time. This will be invaluable in helping him to believe himself capable.

Because if dad says he can do it, he can – right?

These larger changes won’t be immediate, but consider setting deadlines or time limits on how much longer he can continue staying on your property (which may also help to motivate him to consider his next steps independently).

For the time being, transition into setting clear expectations regarding how he can contribute to the household at present. Outline specific responsibilities related to chores, bills, and other forms of property maintenance. Emphasize that this isn’t about you exerting control over him, nor about him being unwanted by you, but about fostering a sense of responsibility and accountability – both crucial elements for personal growth and for him eventually finding his feet.

Financial independence is a significant aspect of adulthood. If he has the foundations of this knowledge, he’ll be far better equipped to navigate what comes next. Although you are not solely responsible for him at this point in his life, you can guide and assist him in creating a budget and savings for the future so he can organize this things for himself.

When discussing the future, gently broach the subject of life once you, his mother, and his sister are no longer able to provide support for him. Encourage him to envision his own narrative in all of this, prompting him to consider the importance of self-sufficiency and planning for the long term and allow him to feel in control of his decision making.

Change is a gradual process, and if your son has grown complacent with his current situation, patience and understanding will be your close allies on this journey to helping him make the next move for himself.

However, by weaving together suggestions, providing emotional support, and creating certain expectations, you’re providing your son with a solid and incredibly helpful roadmap towards independence.

 

You (and he) have this covered – together!

Evie

 

Do you have a question for Evie? If you would like advice from Evie, fill out the form here or send your problem to askevie@ideapod.com.

 

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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