What do I do About the Adult Child Living In My Home?
A reader recently wrote asking:
What should you do when you have a 20 something person laying on your couch all day long, eating your food and not lifting a finger to do anything. The person is not working or looking for a job. (In this case, it was the daughter of a friend.)
It is very hard to answer a question like this because I don’t know all the details of the situation. Here’s what I would say based on the information I have. Maybe if it doesn’t work for you, it will help another reader.
When we are in a situation like this, many of us try to find solutions that will make everyone comfortable and happy. Most of the time, though, this isn’t possible, especially if one or more of the persons involved is not lifting a finger to try to help find a solution or make the situation better.
I don’t know why we think we need to make people like this happy and comfortable or find a solution that makes them happy. We all tend to fall into this trap at some time with someone in our lives.
In some situations, you only have two choices.
- You can either accept the situation as it stands, which means letting the person keep doing what they are doing and not allowing yourself to have even the least bit of resentment, anger or bitterness towards that person.
- You can break it off with the person and not have anything to do with them.
In your case, you can either keep allowing her to do what she is doing and not resent it or tell her, "You have two weeks (or some other reasonable amount of time to you) to find work, and this amount of time to find a place to live or pay me so much for room and board. If you don’t – by this date – your bags will be packed and sitting on the porch."
I know this sounds so awful to do but would doing this make you any more miserable than you are now? At least this way you would eventually have your home back and be out of your misery. As it stands now, you are stuck in the situation and the 28 year old is feeding on your food and on you emotionally.
This is plain and simple manipulation. Our kids do it, spouses do it, friends do it and it isn’t good for us or for them. Ignoring it or letting it continue is like giving a drug addict his daily supply of drugs. None of us would dream of doing something like that but we do it all the time in other ways.
As long as you let it continue, you are enabling the person to keep living the same way. Without realizing it, you are helping that person do the very thing that is hurting her, even when you think you’re helping. It is difficult and painful to stand up to someone who is manipulating you, but taking the easy way out and failing to stop it creates misery for you (and the other person, too) for the long term.
The choice is yours. You either choose to willingly live with the person as-is or ask her to leave.
Here are some signs that reveal if you are being manipulated or if the person truly needs help:
- If the need is legitimate, you shouldn’t feel the resentment of being "put upon".
- The person is usually trying her best to find work. If she is sincere, she will be off the couch looking for work.
- She will bend over backwards to help around your home – cleaning, cooking, doing yard work or helping with the younger children without being asked. They offer.
- She will make a great sacrifice on her part to help you. For example, she isn’t going out spending even a couple of dollars on things like a large drink, going to the movies or hanging out with friends. She should be using any extra money she gets to pay you to help with expenses like the cost of her food, even if she is trying save for something like rent. She can at least give a small token amount to you to show that she’s making some kind of effort.
- She will be ever so grateful and won’t be able to say enough or do enough to show you how grateful she is.
We should always have empathy for people but be careful with sympathy. It’s okay but there is a point when it can do more harm than good.
Photo By: opensourceway