What to Do When Adult Children Won’t Leave Home



Print Friendly
Acting when adult children won't leave home

How To Handle It When Adult Children Won’t Leave Home

Readers Question:

My husband and I have always been good stewards of our money. Somehow, we raised a daughter that is not and it breaks my heart. She is now well into her 20?s and is in debt up to her eyeballs. She refuses to get a job in a restaurant or even her trade which is hair dressing. She basically lives on her child support and her dad and I have to help pay her bills as we are on one of her loans as co-signers.

How do we get her on the right track and help her start being responsible short of kicking her and our grandchild out of the house and turning our backs on her? I just don’t know how to motivate her to start taking responsibility… I’m hoping you have some suggestions.

 

Jill: First, we are imperfect parents raising imperfect kids in an imperfect world. In other words, we all struggle with something. I say this so you won’t think I am judging you or your situation. I am only trying to get you to look at things in a different way, to look at things honestly and to see what your options are.

Second, you are not alone wondering what to do when adult children won’t leave home. This is probably one of the top 5 questions I get asked. Adult kids staying at home is alarmingly on the rise. Just last night I was talking to a woman who was telling me about her 55 year old brother who still is not working and is living at home. This is more common than you think, but that doesn’t make it right.

None of my suggestions will be easy. When your daughter was young, you undoubtedly had to say no to her at times about something because you knew it was for her own good. In the same way, you may have to do some uncomfortable things for her own good now. It hurts to do that but you have to love her enough to be willing to endure that hurt unselfishly so she can learn to take care of herself.

Most likely, the hardest part about your situation is that you don’t want to see your grandchild suffer. Your daughter is an adult. Even though you don’t want your daughter to struggle, you probably would not have as many qualms about forcing her out on her own if she was alone. Grandbabies do complicate things and you will have to use your own judgement when reflecting on the things I will suggest. I do realize it will be hard.

Often, the only thing that will motivate someone when adult children won’t leave home is for them to be forced to make it on their own. Until they have the rug pulled out from under them, they will not change. Why would they? They know you will bail them out so, if it’s a little difficult to do something else, why should they bother to help themselves? She also knows that you wouldn’t want to throw out your grandchild or mess up your credit over the loan you co-signed. In a way, she has you over a barrel. She may not even consciously know that is what she is doing but that is what it boils down to.

Here are your choices for handling cases where adult children won’t leave home:

  1. Be responsible for the loan you co-signed and nothing more, if push comes to shove. From this point forward, never ever co-sign a loan with anyone, including your children–especially your children. The only time I would consider that is if I was prepared to pay the entire loan without complaining or getting upset. In rare cases where you know your kids are extremely responsible, you might consider giving them a loan, but you should be prepared to treat it as a gift if they don’t pay.

  2. You can tell her she can stay with you for a small monthly fee to cover some of the costs related to her living there. She also has to pay all of her other bills on her own. The monthly fee she pays you should be the first thing that comes out of her child support check, not something she pays you if there is any money left over after she pays her other bills. If her support check is small, it wouldn’t hurt for her to sign it all over to you. That way you can use it for her “rent” and then use what is left to buy clothes and provide for the needs of your grandchild. That way, her daughter is covered and both have a place to live, but your daughter gets nothing from it at all for her own personal needs or wants. The money is, after all, “child” support. Of course, this would also include the understanding that she is working towards getting a job and eventually moving out.

  3. Tell her she has 4-6 weeks to get a job and to be moved out (You can choose your own amount of time. Just don’t make it too long and make sure it has a specific deadline). At the end of that time, if she won’t move, you have her belongings sitting on the front porch and the doors locked. This will be the hardest thing of all to do but if the other things don’t work you may have to break down and do it. I know this would be awful to have to do and would take a lot of strength but this is the part where loving her more than your own hurt and pain comes in.

    After the deadline expires, if your daughter can’t take care of her child and herself, you can tell her you will keep your grandchild until she gets on her feet. If, after a week or two, the situation seems very bad and she hasn’t done anything to help herself you may have to file for some type of temporary custody. I personally wouldn’t do this right away and I would only do it as a last resort if I thought my grandchild was in serious danger.

If you don’t want to kick them out, I would at least make sure you don’t give her any more money at all. If you think you must, you can feed them and provide a roof for them but don’t pay any of her bills or give her a penny for anything, except what you need to pay on the co-signed loan to keep your credit ok.

I’m afraid this is one of those life lessons with consequences. You will have to pay the loan you co-signed. You know your situation better than I do so you will have to consider all of these options and decide for yourself what you should do. You might want to start at step 1 or, if it is bad enough, you might have to start at step 3.

Whatever you decide, you and your husband must both stand firm together no matter what. Don’t take this lightly and don’t be a party to emotional blackmail. That is exactly what is happening here and, like any blackmail, it will drain you completely before long. I’m not saying that your daughter is an awful person. She probably isn’t at all. She is simply irresponsible but she won’t become responsible until someone does something to make her take responsibility. Unfortunately, it sounds like you and your husband will have to be the ones to do it.

Being responsible is hard and it is work. There is no getting around it so you’ll have to choose now what you are going to do. If you don’t act because you think it is too hard, realize that, in a way, it is the same thing your daughter is doing. She isn’t acting to change her situation because it is too difficult and uncomfortable for her to try to work. If you don’t act to correct your situation, it is because it is too hard and uncomfortable too.

Be careful. If you don’t act now, you may need to plan on supporting her, her children and someday maybe a husband for the rest of their lives, just like the parents of the 55 year old man I mentioned at first. Adult children living at home and chronically depending on mom and dad generally don’t change unless they’re forced to do so.

Like with so many relationship issues, solving this problem is a 2 way street. Both parties are afraid to do anything because it is uncomfortable and difficult to do. You, being the oldest and wisest adult here, need to be the one to do something– no matter how painful it is.

One last note: You and your husband must be on the same page about your decision about how to motivate your daughter to leave home. If you’re not in agreement, it will not work at all.

-Jill

Here are some related stories where parents are struggling with similar issues related to their grown children:

Adult Child Living at Home But Not Working

Daughters’ Financial Emergencies Cause Financial Strain

 

Photo By: stephen bowler

Comments

  1. says

    I ache for the parents of that child. It will not be easy, but they MUST follow your instructions. I made the mistake of co-signing for two of my adult children’s loans. It ruined our credit, and it failed to help our children become self-sufficient. It was only when I said “NO!” in no uncertain terms that they began to grow up.

    But I also had to tell my daughter that if she couldn’t meet her bills and lost her apartment as a result, I would get the children and keep them safe until she did get on her feet, but I would not have my grandchildren living out of a car.

    She has been more self-sufficient since then.

    Although much later she did complain to me that she wasn’t making enough money. By this time her children were grown and had their own places. So I reminded her that she made more than her younger sister who had two children still at home, and suggested that it was mismanagement not money that might be the problem. It was a much gentler “no” but by that time she knew I meant it.

  2. mom of adult children says

    We are going through the very same thing with our soon-to-be 21 year old son. He was staying up all night playing video games and sleeping all day. He moved out for about 6 months and realized he couldn’t make it. He moved back home but with a different arrangement. He did get a job, a low-paying job and only works about 10 hours a week, but it is something. He now pays rent and his cell phone. I do not buy any “special” food or drinks. His rent does cover being able to eat at home, but only what I have on hand or make for the family. He now rides his bike to and from work, no more rides. He does his own laundry, and many times just picks up his clothes off the bedroom floor to wear. I turn off my router at night so he’s not up all night playing video games. In other words, we are not making it comfortable for him to stay here and trying to make him responsible for his own life and choices. As parents, we had to step away and allow him to make mistakes and fail. We cannot keep covering him and protecting him any longer. That is not what you do to adults. He tries to guilt us but we don’t buy into it anymore. I would say tough love is the only answer in these cases. It’s not easy but in the long run it will produce what you desire for your child, to hopefully be a responsible mature adult. There are many tears, anger and many many prayers on your knees through this process. We as parents have to be 1 step above where our kids are and to win this battle, you have to be tough and don’t give an inch because they will take it and more. I truly believe they will thank us for being tough but will be kicking all the way there!!

  3. Diane says

    Such good advice. Thankfully, my husband and I have not had to face a situation like this with our own children. But I do have friends who have. Their son flunked out of college and came back home to live. Very quickly it came to light that he had a drug problem and he sank lower and lower, with no desire to climb out of his situation and become more responsible. Eventually, after many, many times of his flunking out of rehab, my friends had to resort to tough love. They locked him out of the house and had to call the police a couple of times when he banged on the door to get in late at night. Terribly heart wrenching to watch him sink to such a low level.

    There is a good end to this story: Today this young man has turned around, is a high school teacher with a young family of his own. He says he owes it all to the tough love stand his family took. He believes that he would still be using drugs if they had not forced him to become more responsible. There is hope. Every adult child still living at home deserves to be nudged (or forced) to become responsible.

  4. says

    I had a son that wouldn’t move, so I told him I was going to help him find an apartment and help pay his rent, so I found an apartment, paid the deposit and 1st months rent. Once he moved I told him he couldn’t come back. That was 7 years ago and he never came back.

  5. melissa says

    Giving your adult child a plan & a deadline is difficult. I know because I did with my son ten years ago. He was hurt and angry – for awhile. However, now that he is 35, married, and has a successful career, he has thanked me many times for having the courage & love to “kick him out”

  6. Lorie B. says

    As my minister tells people…God was the ultimate parent. And look what he had (Not Jesus). a bunch of back sliding, ungrateful, hethan Isrealites who made a national pastime out of breaking every rule god set out for them.

    You are not a failure for loving your daughter and wanting to do your best by her. But sometimes, the best thing to do is to kick them in the rump and be the “big meanie”. It stinks, but she will grow and improve for it. (((hugs)))

  7. Jen says

    This is such a timely article. I have 2 adult children who still live at home (early 20′s). My husband and I gave them a little leeway because where we live has few job openings. I tried giving them advice on things to try but in the end they did nothing to prepare themselves. We finally sat down with them last month and gave the oldest a deadline and told the younger one he could have a little more time but not much (a few months). The deadline is coming up in a few days and my oldest still does not have a job. I feel horrible but won’t back down. Reading this article and some of the replies has made me feel a bit better.

  8. says

    There may be another good solution in this particular situation: perhaps the way to handle this is for the parents to tell their daughter that she can stay there ONLY IF she is looking for a job or working.

    That still leaves the nuclear option of kicking her out as a later tool, and could provide a more supportive way of encouraging the adult child to learn responsibility.

    It doesn’t sound like the problem is her being there, and many families of multiple generations now equitably share one house. The problem actually is the adult child’s lack of work and responsibility, so saying that they can stay ONLY IF THE WORK situation is addressed helps to teach that adult child, while still maintaining a safety net, and future, tougher, options are still available.

  9. grizzly bear mom says

    It this daughter refuses to work or pay her parents for her and her children’s room and board, these parents should consider suing for custody and throwing their daughter out. It would be in their own, their grand children, and their daughter’s best interest.

    I believe in cohousing, but not exploiting your parents by refusing to pay expenses or doing your share of the home’s chores. My sister did that. Now THREE of her children and FOUR grandchildren are living at my mom’s house. Mom does the shoping, cooking, cleaning, dishwashing and child care.

  10. grizzly bear mom says

    Everyone else spends their time on their phone, computer games, going out to eat, and getting their and their 5 year old’s nails manicured. I ABHOR their badges of sloth and gluttony!) They can’t be bothered to take my mom anywhere. But my mom and dad created thier own mess. :(:(:(.

  11. Clay says

    Dear Jill, I am a single, 60 yr. old man living in the basement of my mothers house. I am forced to do this because my employer refuses to pay me a liveable wage and provide benefits. Is that my fault? Its only going to get worse during this Obama Depression because employers know that there are millions unemployed so they have reduced their pay. The majority of jobs lost during The Obama Depression were good paying jobs and the majority of jobs created during the last 4 years have been low paying jobs. 50% of Americans now employed make $10 per hour or less!!! In my area (West-Central Missouri) YOU CANNOT LIVE on $10 per hour! Clay.

    • says

      Clay I hate to be blunt but you are the perfect example why I wrote this article. I’m sorry but I have no sympathy for a grown man to whine, wallow and have a pity party spending his time thinking up excuses for why he is living with his mom. You are 60 years old what were you doing the 55 or so years before Obama came into office? Why weren’t you saving money and paying off a mortgage? By the time I was 40 and living on what was considered poverty level income I had a home paid for, car paid for and no debt. Obama wasn’t in office then so what is your excuse for that.

      You can’t live on $10 an hour? What is your problem. I live on way less then minimum wage even and am doing fine and not living with my mom. My son lost his job and for over a year and his family of four managed to live just fine on $11 an hour until he got another job. As far as where you live that is still another excuse. Your area is not any worse then any place else and even if it was then move. Don’t just sit and make one more excuse. I lived in Kansas for most of my life but at one point I up and moved to Idaho because it was cheaper for me to live there for awhile. I left most of my family here and had never even been to Idaho before but I did what I had too.

      And just for info your no I am not for Obama but I’m not going to use him or anything else as an excuse to have a pity party. In my eyes that makes a person even less of a man then what he is.

    • Fay says

      How long have you been living there? My guess is a number of years. If you are 60–then Mom is 80+? Who is going to take care of her when she needs it? If you are single why aren’t you working around the clock and earn money to support yourself? Where would you be if Mom passed 20 years ago? If you inherit the house–you won’t even be able to pay the taxes & utilities. You’d have to rent the upstairs & live in the basement. Let me tell you–you won’t get much for rent because its kinda creepy to rent from a 60 year old man living in the basement.

      • says

        Tawra mentioned the same thing. She said if a person can’t live off of $10 an hour then that just means he will have to work 2 jobs instead of one or even 3.

  12. tracy says

    Well i was put out on my own.My folk help me with having a rental and i was responsible for everything.However i did not make enough to care for my car insurance .So for my first year it was very difficult .And many times i wished i was able to be at my old home. But after a few years i was able gain more income,new car etc. But with many young adults who are not able to work ,might need some counseling and job training skills .Most school offer these classes ,some do not. But finding a job these days is much more difficult than 30 years ago.You must use a computer ,you must apply on line. You are not a person ,comming in to meet the employer ,you are just a number or another job application .It becomes who has more experience over the job requirements. I think if you
    want to have your son/daughter to be independent. They need to start young. Teach these skills and offer advice and perhaps getting help with them from other sources,through friends ,relatives ,church pastors ,grandparents .

  13. Halleycomet says

    Lets look at this from another perspective. I have three kids. None of them with drug or other “issues”. Two of them live here in their home.

    Now before anyone has a “Kick ‘em out” hissy fit this was not a “Last resort” for anyone. My daughter and her husband and now two kids moved in after they had been on their own for a few years due to circumstances beyond their control–and I will say these WERE well beyond their control–they weren’t even their own circumstances but mine. In addition to living in an extremely hard to find rental area of the country –the North East and the country to boot!–the rents are staggering if they can be found. No kids no pets no this and that–IF you can find a place. Around here $1000 and UP per month for a 1 bedroom dump is not unheard of–again IF you can locate one. So there was that. When their last “landlord” –who is a comedian you might have seen on your TV or in person who owns slums for profit–no I won’t mention his name—refused to have the electric services fixed and the place was cut off by the power co for unsafe conditions we decided–as a FAMILY–to have them move in with us. This came at the end of a lot of discussions and decisions and the apartment problems were only one factor. The biggest factor was–I became handicapped (leg amputation and partial foot amputation) due to an illness and I needed help.

    Do we all love this all the time? No. We do have our moments! Do I LOVE having my grandkids here? YES. I wouldn’t give that up for the world. Perhaps it was because I grew up with 5 generations IN ONE HOUSE that this is not a huge big deal to me.

    We could USE a bigger house now tho and ironically we are looking to move South–perhaps even to the area mentioned by the poster above in Missouri! My husbands job is portable; our house is paid for; we own another paid for house being lived in by an elderly relative.

    So here we have a WORKING family–both my daughter and her husband have jobs; the grandkids have a very stable and loving family; we all share raising them and feeding them and doing things together.

    Another irony–we have been talking about re-furbishing our fully finished but dated basement into an apartment for the adults in this family and giving the grandkids the bedrooms on the first floor. (We only have a one story with basement house–good for ME tho!!!) Fortunately the place is finished and only needs paint and cosmetics–there is even a full bath down there. So if they get to age 55 and are still living here–well I guess we will be very well cared for in our old age!

    So–I can certainly see the point and the problems if the people whose kids don’t or won’t uphold their end of the “bargain”. But not all circumstances are the same. And of course not all families are the same. What was it Tolstoy said? All happy families are alike—all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way.

    I hope that the families with these problems get help–maybe what they need is not always a swift kick to the rear–altho not discounting that!!!–but some outside perspective and an agreement to live up to for both sides.

    • says

      What you say is so true there are different circumstances and different family situations. What you mentioned is a little like comparing apples and oranges. Your kids are grown, have shown they are responsible and have lived on their own for awhile and due to things beyond their control have had to move back home. That is a totally different thing then kids “sponging” off of their parents. I would have my kids home and living with me in a heart beat if they needed to but they both know they would be out in a heart beat if they weren’t pulling their weight if physically able to and I wouldn’t stand for any woe is me and a daily list of excuses.

  14. Pamela O'Briant says

    I agree completely. The one thing you have to be careful about is to follow legal eviction proceedings for your jurisdiction or you may be liable for paying money to the very person who wasn’t paying rent! One phrase I found from parenting with love and logic that makes it a little easier is, “I love you too much to treat you like a little kid.”

  15. Kathleen in IL says

    Want to say, back when I lived in Florida, I was informed by local court system that in order to make my son and his girlfriend move out, I had to serve them with official eviction notices – following the “tenant protection” acts. Nope, they weren’t paying rent or even part of the utility bills like they were supposed to, but according to the courts, I had to follow the 60 day, 30 day, 15 day and 3 day laws. Only if they “failed” to follow the restrictions could I have them formally evicted. I “solved” that problem by selling the house – to them – and moving out myself.

    The poster name Clay above just makes me sick. Whine, whine. Clay, you need to get manly equipment (I’m being “clean” here) and stand on your own. Can’t make any money with one job? Then get TWO…or THREE. Cut back your spending…..learn to survive like the rest of us. You make me sick……You are the type that wants *somebody* to “take care of* you……waaaaa waaaaa. Uck. I have to hush now……

  16. Jim St.Louis says

    What an incredibly timely article! (Unfortunately!) Thank you very much for this article and its attachments/links.
    JStL.

  17. LE says

    I agree with Jill and the previous posters that each situation is different. I’m in my mid-thirties (single with no children) and living with my parents again after being on my own for more than 10 years. I moved back because of many factors, including health problems and job loss. I am now working full-time and covering all of my own expenses (including food) and helping as much as I can at home. I’m sure my parents may like to have their extra space back at times (I know I would) but they’ve told me many times that they like having me around and that it’s nice to have help with things.

    This is all to make the point that not all adults living at home are freeloaders, and sometimes families can work things out so that the situation benefits everyone.

  18. Tacy says

    Love your cookbook “Not Just Beans” I use it all the time! And I love everything you all write about! I wanted to tell you what has happened to me. I left my parents’s home to be married under bad circumstances. They never forgave me. I came from a family of 8 I’m the oldest oldest and 18 yrs older than the youngest. I have a mentally handicapped brother and sister that my dad worked hard to provide for, he and mom left them a house all paid for and a sizable trust fund. My parents didn’t want anything do do with me or my kids and we were very poor but never on welfare. I realized I had so much more than I thought. My kids had wants but all their needs were met, and our good and gracious God met ALL our needs. I’ve seen many miracles! Anyway, my sister moved back in with my parents and spent so much money on her and her kids that they have entitlement mentalities. My 60 yr old sister and her 30 something kids are huge sponges. But get this, my dh and I were asked to move in last year to take over for them ( other family members kicked them out) only to find our there is a big tax lein on the house and the house was covered in urine from feral cats. And the money is almost gone. I praise God, that I learned to trust Him and that my kids are wonderful responsible and loving people. Money meant everything to my parents, I’m glad they can’t see their lovely home, now.

  19. Tacy says

    PS I guess the point of all that, is I’m glad I had to stand on my own. My sister and her kids would have been better off, too.

  20. Veronica Tidd says

    I was very fortunate. Once my three children left for college they never lived at home. I really missed all the help they had given me during their teens. my youngest actually found a job when she reached 14 because the wanted ‘better” name brand clothes than I found at the thrift stores or made myself.
    I absolutely agree with everything you have written Jill, it is all about tough love and pointing the daughter in the right direction and help her find her feet.
    If the questioner can afford it pay off that loan and get that worry out of the way. She does not say what it is for or the remaining balence. Mother and father must provide a united front and not help her behind the others back. She does have a training so she does not need to “find’ a job, just hire a chair in someones salon or freelance from home. There are many shut ins who would like their hair done at home.
    The other thing is that she is not pulling her weight in the care of her child. Maybe her ex might take her back to court and have income asigned to her and thus reduce the child support he is paying. the money he pays is for the benefit of their child not spending money for his ex wife

  21. Terry says

    My husband & I are very fortunate. Our daughter & SIL have good jobs & a home. They are very frugal for 25 & 27. — When she was a teenager we told her regularly that her job was to prepare for earning a living and living on that amount of money. When she entered college (which we had saved & paid for) she was told that she was not an adult until she could pay for all her needs & wants. She worked for extra spending money in college & high school. We could have given her more cash to spend but her degree meant more to her because she earned some of the money. — She made money mistakes but had to live with the consequences. — She has thanked us many times for not rescuing her at every turn. — I recommend parents start money lessons when they are young. For most kids it works best that way.

  22. Rosemary says

    My children did well while they were in school. trouble came after they got out. Every time they got into a bind. they would come to my husband and I, so we could help them out. Finally my husband said no more. but me, I kept on trying to help. finally I was in so much debt for them, I just couldn’t help any more. When it came to the day that I had to so no, they got their act together and now is doing fine. Think, now they are helping me pay off the debt they put me into. You have to learn to say no, I can’t help any more because as long as you let them. they will take advantage of you. You love your children. but you have to treat them like grown ups.

  23. Rosemary says

    Clay, you say you are living in your mother’s basement. Do you pay her rent. If not you have it made. Thank God for the basement and thank God for mother.

  24. says

    As an attorney, I would also advise these parents to make sure they have wills, durable power of attorneys, and health care declarations. The will should be structured in such a way that the other children get their fair share (given what the parents have already spent on the deadbeat daughter), and that any share to Deadbeat Daughter is structured in such a way that she cannot squander the funds (a trust, for instance) Or they could disown her completely in favor of the poor grandbaby, who doesn’t have much of an example to follow. If they don’t know where to find a competent estate planning attorney, their local Bar Association should have a referral list. Thanks and God bless.

  25. hiddeninplainsight1 says

    I have a similar situation. My sister who is only 2 years younger lives with me. She is a college student and in her last year. She is training to be a teacher. Well, she asked to move in with me and my family( 2 kids and hubby) and pays us 300.00 to cover utilities and food etc…It has been a very trying time. She treats us like a hotel, almost never does any housework, and barely tidies up after herself. She is rude to my kids, constantly complains and has the master bedroom because anything else was too small. The worst thing is that she has requested we not disturb her by trying to make conversation with her, unless she initiates it first. What kind of nonsense is this? I am tempted to ask her to move out but I know our mom will not be happy if I do. Plus it will probably permanently fracture the relationship. She isn’t all bad, she can be sweet and nice if she feels like it, but mostly she doesn’t feel like it. Any advice?

    • says

      As always let me say I have no way of being able to know the whole story in a couple of paragraphs so I may be way off. This is just the way I see things and speak from things I have experienced and seen. I’m not judging anyone but only trying to show the facts here.

      I am a big believer in bending over backwards for extended family and turning the other cheek but there comes a point where you may have to rethink your situation. First you said you are worried it will cause fracture in the relationship – the fracture is already there, caused by your sister and your mom. There are more things going on in your relationship with your mom if you are afraid she would be mad at you for kicking out your sister and not understanding. That in and of itself throws up red flags that there is something that needs fixed.

      There are a few other things I could mention too but really don’t have the space but the thing I think that needs to be addressed the most is the fact you are worried you will hurt your sister and your mom and cause a problem in their relationship with you. As normal as that is and you should have concerns there is one thing you need to realize. Your husband and children should come first above all else (except God of course). She is hurting your kids with her words and actions.

      I have so many times said we would be all over someone if they were physically abusing our children. If I saw someone punching my kids I wouldn’t stand back and thinking to myself or saying “Hummm I really don’t want to punch them because it might hurt them and my mom would be mad at me if I did. Hummm you turn to your husband or friend and say what do you think I should do because I know if I punch them it will upset them and I don’t want to upset them.” All the while this person is pounding your children. There is no way I or you would do this we would fly into the person like a wild cat if they even started to raise their hand at our children.

      Now I know this sounds extreme and this isn’t exactly what your sister is doing but I use this for you to understand verbal abuse and bad attitudes can do permanent and awful damage to a family just as bad as a physical beating. Your first and foremost responsibility is to protect your children. Stop worrying about your sister and your mom and your relationship with them. You children come first. It will eventually cause problems in your marriage if it hasn’t already. You have one very understanding and loving husband if he was willing to give up his master bedroom for a younger sister in law. You don’t want to lose a husband like that.

      It’s hard to stand up to those we love sometimes but you need to be strong and brave enough to be willing to get hurt (by their anger) and jump in the fray and protect your kids. Love your children more then your sister or your mom in this case. God is so wise there is a reason He said we should leave our mother and father (and siblings) and cling to our spouse because He knew all the problems that would happen if we didn’t do that. Short periods of time to help them out is ok but many months and years are not so good.

      Practical things to do. These are if she stays.

      1. Take back your master bedroom. This may not seem important but it is. In the same way the top dog gets the best place in the den to show they are the top dog you need to do the same. This bedroom symbolizes who is in control of your home. This may seem like a silly thing but there is much power in words and the fact that one of the things you mentioned is the master bedroom then I think this is important for you and your husband so you will feel you have control.

      2. Write down ground rules in detail and have her sign them and agree to them. Usually I say give one or two chances when breaking rules but not in this case. Write on the agreement if she breaks any of the rules she must be out within 3 days (or what ever time you choose). This will help cover you legally.

      3. Assign chores and write them out just like the ground rules.

      4. Lovingly go to your mom and explain to her what is happening and what you will be doing and why. Of course all of these things should be done with a very loving but firm attitude. You mom may get mad. Your sister will get mad but remember that is their choice and there is nothing you can do about it. You can’t control another persons emotions. If they choose to have mean awful reactions that is between them and God. It is your reaction to them that is important and you need to have control over. Don’t react. Don’t get angry. Again just lovingly and firmly state the facts. They can agree to them or not that is their choice.

      Your sister maybe upset with these things enough she may voluntarily leave.

      Now that being said you don’t need to allow her to stay at all. I personally would tell her this is not working so she must leave. It is that simple. You may have to legally give her 30 day notice because she has been paying rent which is why I said earlier to get things in writing.

      I know these things aren’t easy but protect those kids and your husband.

      • hiddeninplainsight1 says

        Hi Jill,

        Thank you kindly for your response. I appreciate it. I also love your website. You seem like good people. God bless:)

        • says

          You are welcome. It is very easy for me to write an answer but if I were in your shoes I know it would be hard. I don’t know all of the facts either so I may be way off base but I hope one or two things will help or at least give you some ideas on where to get started.

  26. Fay says

    In response to the initial question–and thoughts to others in a similar situation. If a child/children are at home–perhaps they cannot make it on their own. Our job as parents is to teach them–take them by the hand if necessary, and give them the tools they need to stand on their own.
    Having said that–Do all things with patience and out of love–not anger. I feel that both parent(s)and the child(ren) need to come up with a plan (short & long term goals) that all can live with. Then sit down and hash out a plan. Together look at the plans and together make a decision on a plan that will work for all. Be honest and express your feelings/concerns (chair squirming is to be expected). Go over the plan daily and write an action list for the next day. Once things get better-go over the plan weekly. Never go more than a week without a sit down.
    We have many friends that have a child or two still at home–they never bothered to really discuss the situation. They just allowed the move in and grudgingly taken financial responsibility. This robs the child of dignity and in the long run perpetuates dependency.
    For the initial question: Set a date for you and your daughter to come up with a plan. Sit down on that day–even if she has not written a plan. Hash things out together. Write it all down– detail all expectations. Then assist your daughter as needed to execute the plan; follow up with have regular formal sit downs to discuss progress/pitfalls. I feel the grandchild should also be present for these meetings–it will teach the grown up way to tackle a problem. The written plan and regular meetings document all you have done (in case of legal action) and show progress (no matter how small) your daughter made.
    As for the co-signed loan you have 2 choices pay it or default. The choice is yours. You co-signed, you are the one on the hook. If paying the loan make sure you point out in the plan that you are taking responsibility for the decision you made when you co-signed. If it is an auto loan–take the car–if she refuses to give the keys–buy The Club. Allow limited use of car as she demonstrates responsibility.
    Bottom line–if she doesn’t stick to the plan you still have the other mentioned routes of recourse.

  27. Kathi says

    I have a situation that is wearing me out as well. I have a 31 year old son who up until last October lived at home. He got into some trouble and I let him stay in jail for two weeks. When it was time to get out I said fine but he is not coming home. He got in trouble for his own RX meds being used wrong and with really bad people. I took him to court which cost me money. I had him declared mentally incompetent and a danger to himself. He is diagnosed Bipolar and sever depression. He can not keep a job either because of his mental problems. I had him committed to our state mental hospital because he has no insurance and no job. While there he met an employee and after he got out they dated and now she is pregnant due in May and I am still supporting him. He is sucking the life right out of me. He has ruined my credit. He is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic with mental health issues. He sees a counselor but no one will treat him with his past history even though he is and has been clean since June of 2012. I am 55 years old with my own health problems working 2 jobs. In my line of work I should not be working more that 32 hours a week because of risk of carpal tunnel. I work over 40 to pay my bills and his medication, doctor appointments and groceries. I help them with gas money but they live in an apartment and fight constantly over money. His girlfriend works 2 jobs pregnant and was a full time college student before this semester. Baby is due in May so she sat out this semester to work. If it was just him being lazy I would crack the whip but he has other issues too. I don’t know what to do but he is killing me slowly. My husband has no problems detaching from the situation. I as a mother have a bigger problem doing it. We have 3 other sons who are married and have kids. They have good jobs. Not quite sure what happened with our 3rd oldest. I would like to run away really. He has tried to hurt himself twice so I know those are not empty threats. He was just in ICU on life support this last November. I spend a lot of time and energy keeping that boy alive. I do go to Alanon which is a good group.

    • says

      Kathi since you go to Alanon and from what you said about your husband, I think you probably already know the answer to what you need to do. I get so many e mails saying I am exhausted and so frustrated with my messy, filthy house – how do I clean it? I’m sorry but even my 3 year old grandchild knows how to get the broom out and sweep stuff up that is on the floor and how to put away his toys. You can even learn how to wash dishes from watching the TV commercials and though this may not seem to be the same topic from an emotional level it is. The point is these women know what needs to be done and in most cases how to do it but where the problem lies is they just don’t want to do what needs to be done or are desperately trying to find an answer which is easy and takes little or no effort and doesn’t hurt anyone.

      The problem is you think you are helping your son and are working so hard to keep him physically alive but in doing so your are emotionally and physically killing not only him but yourself and the rest of your family. Why I say the rest of your family is because I talked to a woman yesterday whose brother’s story is exactly like yours but he is 55 years old and still doing the same things as your son. The mom won’t let go and because she wouldn’t when the dad got yet another call from the son threatening to kill himself the dad hung up the phone and died of a heart attack. Now the brothers and sisters are spending all their spare time having to deal with the brother. But you have probably heard all of the stories like this.

      What upsets me in these cases is you have 3 other sons and their families and you spend all of your extra money and time on the one. You may not think it will happen but I have seen the “good” kids and grand kids over time start resenting the parent and you are at risk of if not totally losing them of at least damaging your relationship with them. Actually you and your son are in some ways very much alike in the fact that neither one of you are willing to give up a behavior and doing things which are harming you and others physically and emotionally. We live in a society that tends to show favoritism and bends over backwards to help those who are doing wrong (not those who are having hard times through no fault of their own)through their own choice and we kill ourselves helping them when those who are doing right get very little attention or reward. When we pat someone on the back for bad behavior by always helping them we may as well be doing drugs and all the things ourselves.

      There is a story in the Bible (where I find the wisest answers for anything) and it is called the Prodigal son. Most of us know and remember the part where the father opens his arms and welcomes the son back but what we sometimes over look is in the beginning the father released the son and let him go – he didn’t rush to his aid when he was drinking, living with the wrong people or laying starving and dying in a pig sty. He waited for the son to pick himself up and come to him.

      Stop making excuses for him and all of his illnesses. If he is able to have a girlfriend and make babies he probably is able to take care of himself. You should not be interfering in his life even if you think it is a good way. Listen to your husband and what Alanon has to say. Start putting your time and energy into those other boys and their families and rewarding them for being good instead of rewarding your son for being bad. As harsh as this seems if he takes his own life that is his choice and you are not responsible for it if he does. That is why you are so tired. You have decided to carry not only your responsibilities but another adult man’s and the burden will crush you unless you set his down.

      Here is something to think about too. Our pastor recently mentioned that the Bible never calls things like alcoholism a disease and he knows that because God never tells us to repent from illnesses only of sins and things we shouldn’t be doing. The Bible talks about repenting of drunkenness but never cancer. Later after he taught this a man came to him and thanked him for teaching that. The man said for years he had pretty much given up on trying to over come his drinking because he had been told time and again it was in his genes and an illness he just had to live with and when he heard the pastor teach this he said for the first time that he had hope. That he had control over his life where the other mind set told him it was something he had to live with.

      We have to be careful about excusing bad behavior and blaming it on an illness. I understand there are true cases of depression and all but we have gotten real good at calling weak character and irresponsibility an illness. Yes your son probably is depressed but what we often do is put the cart before the horse. If we are irresponsible and do bad things it will cause us to sink into a depression which then causes a cycle to happen and family members feed that cycle then using the excuse “they are depressed”. Instead of saying you need to stop what you are doing because it will cause depression and other bad things, we say of you are depressed so let me bail you out again so you can continue the wrong behavior.

      The bottom line is stop it. Stop “bailing” him out. Stop interfering in his and his family’s life. You aren’t responsible if something happens to your son – he is. You are responsible for your own life and being there for your husband, other sons and grand kids. Just like your son you are shirking your own responsibilities because have decided to take on your son’s. That may seem harsh and you may say well I don’t know you and your are taking care of your responsibilities but are you? Are you physically healthy enough to play with your grand kids, with lots of free time to spend with them? Do you have extra money to buy them treats and to take them to special places? Are you giving them a grandma who has peace, joy and lots of laughter when she is with them? How many things have you missed out on because of time spent bailing out your other son? Stop looking so much at your son’s life and start looking at yours.

      Don’t be like a mom who cared her son around for the first 10 years of his life because she didn’t want him to fall and hurt himself. Her son’s legs never grew properly and he was handicapped all of his life.

  28. Cristina says

    I have a sister-in-law that still lives in my mother in law home with 30 years old. She always told us, from the very first beginning, that though she had houses we would have to cover for our selfs and buy or rent a house and not live with her. That was 15 years ago. My sister-in-law never a a stable job, have drug problems and return to her mother’s with her boyfriend and both live there without paying anything. The house is a wreck,house needs urgent improvments or will fall off. No kidding. she bought a brand new car, have fashion clothes, he doesn’t work at all and still studies cinema. My mother in law in under pressure, already had a stroke and her health concerns me. Reading this helps but I know that the people who need to do the change are afraid to hurt her feelings and she returns to drugs again I personally think she never left, just try to pass unnoticed). sory for my crappy english, not my language. Thank you again for all advice

  29. Emily says

    Our problem right now is with extended family. My MIL who has health problems has her great-grandson living with her for the past several months. He graduated from highschool last year, is not in school, nor does he have a job. He has a bedroom but has it so junked up he sleeps on the couch. His grandmother buys food for him. He does nothing to help out at all no cleaning or yardwork except on very rare occasions. For the past couple of years I have been getting my MIL’s groceries and cleaning her house as she can not do it any more and my husband has been carring for the yard for the past several years.
    We ask the greatgrandson to do things like vaccuum the den, yard work etc. but he does not do it. He will go in the bathroom and stay until I leave so I have not been able to clean it in many weeks and told him he needed to clean it and told where the supplies are.
    Last time I was there he was gone and it took me three times as long to clean it.
    My husbands sisters think there is nothing wrong with his behavior. They will not clean the house eitheror do the yard work.
    So what can we do? We can not let our MIL live in such nasty conditions but we should not have to do all the work especially when there is an able bodied person living there and compounding the mess.

    • says

      You know Emily this is a hard one plus without knowing your financial situation or how much your MIL can do or not do I will be groping in the dark here a little but here are a couple of things.If your MIL is in that bad of condition and you have the money I would consider moving her to an assisted living place. Now I realize this may not even be possible at all. They have such nice places now and it really isn’t a nursing home.

      Another option is that if your MIL has a home with more then one bathroom keep maybe her bedroom, bathroom and the kitchen clean only. Also another thing is you can decide that in order to care properly for her you maybe will have to care for him too and accept it. The thing is if it really gets to you to do this (and it would me) then you may have to step back and let things take their course. As much as we would love to, we can’t always fix things for our loved ones as much as we would like and sometimes have to let go. It may take things getting really bad for awhile for for the other members to finally step up to the plate.

      If nothing else I would not bring them any more groceries or at least cut back and bring only things your MIL would like and not the grandson. You might have to work out a plan where you bring a meal to your MIL each evening and sit with her while she eats it or come pick her up and bring her to your place to eat and things like that. Now keep in mind that hopefully this would only be for awhile and if the grandson isn’t getting feed by you he may decide to go to greener pastures. See it is hard for me to come up with many ideas because I don’t know how far or close you live to her and things like that but maybe this will get the ball rolling for you to think of some things that might work too.

  30. Helena says

    My problem is I have a 33 year old daughter with two children living with me. She is supposed to pay half of the utilities each month but when she doesn’t feel like paying me, she doesn’t. She has left me hanging several times and I’ve had to make cuts or shortpay another bill. My credit is now ruined. I do all the housework, cooking, laundry etc. I pick her children up from daycare and go straight home to start dinner because they are usually very hungry by the time I pick them up. When my daughter gets home, she goes into her room to text or Facebook and does not come out until she knows dinner is ready. She never sits down to eat dinner with her children because she slips back into her bedroom.

    She has become verbally and physically abusive towards me and I am afraid of her. She calls me horrible names and doesn’t care that her children witness this kind of treatment towards me. I have told her numerous times that I am unhappy and I know she is too so I need her to move out of my house. She has told me that she has no intentions of moving out unless I evict her (this advice comes from her father, my ex). He has gone so far as to tell ME to just let her have my house and I find somewhere else to live! I am at my witt’s end and don’t know what to do because I worry about my grandchildren. I know they will suffer because my daughter puts herself and her wants before her children!

    Will I be a cad if I file an eviction notice against her? She is physically and mentally destroying me!

    • says

      No you won’t be a cad and you should do it immediately. I know when the grandchildren are involved it makes it so much harder but you have to realize that this situation is hurting them too but in different way. If you are truly concerned about them (which I am sure you are) then you need to make them leave and then call child protective services. You need to get help too because sometimes without realizing it you are feeding the problem by allowing it to happen and it sounds as if you are allowing yourself to be abused by not only your daughter but your ex husband so this tells me you need help getting over your fear and intimidation. Until you do your grandchildren will not have one stable person in their lives because you have unhealthy problems in a whole other direction. What are you afraid of exactly – that your daughter won’t love you anymore? It seems that is already happening. Or are you afraid your grandchildren will be hurt? Again that is already happening. I think you know what to do you just need to do it before it is too late. I don’t know if you are a Christian or not but if you are God says He doesn’t give us the spirit of fear but of love and sound mind. As you can tell there is only fear and no love or sound mind in your home which means Satan has total control over you and your family. If I was you I would fight for all I was worth to protect my grandchildren even if it means going against your ex and your daughter. Go to a pastor,women’s shelter (if not to stay there a least for advice) lawyer, child protective services, some where who can help you to get the ball rolling.

  31. ROB MCLENNAN says

    I have a fantastic Loving relationship with a WONDERFUL woman, and if it were just her and I living together with her 3 dogs, it would be HEAVEN. But she has a 46 year old DEAD BEAT son that thinks the world revolves around his mid section. He has been here for 14 months and worked maybe a total of 8 weeks? Got paid for maybe 5 or 6 of them. Now refuses to look for work because #1) Can’t drive as he lost his license in 1987 suspended. 2) can’t work with money as he has a felony, and did jail time. Takes employment and quits the same day saying he is too fat for this job. He has a truck that has no insurance, no current tags, and doesn’t run. It is taking a premium parking spot on the drive way, and he refuses to move it. He has burned every friendship, and if he is kicked out has no where to go! My Companion & I are both 64 and retired. We have purchased a motorhome with hope’s of travel 6 months out of the year. My GF does not have the Heart of evicting him. He plays video games daily, does NO work around the home, and refuses to find a job. I said it is time for “Tough Love” set a date and have him removed/evicted, but she says she can’t

    • says

      At the risk of sounding harsh (I know how hard it is to have to do these things being a parent and a grandparent) I still have to say it as kindly as I can – parents who allow this type of thing to happen and continue, especially for a man this old, are not kicking their kids out because they love them so much and don’t want to hurt their children but for the parent’s own selfish reasons. The parents love themselves more then their children. They are watching their children sitting there and hurting themselves daily but refuse to hold them accountable. The parents are more worried about how much it will hurt themselves, making the child angry at them or risk the child not loving them. The parents don’t want to feel the pain that will happen in kicking out their adult kids. Bottom line the parents love themselves and their own emotional comfort over doing what is best for their child.

      What they don’t realize is they are really hurting and crippling the child more by not making them be responsible for themselves especially a 46 year old man. Everyone is enabling the other to do the wrong thing – the thing that is hurting everyone involved.

  32. John says

    I have a worthless 30yo+ sister who has been mooching off my parents since she was 18. She always has a story, always an excuse. So why do my parents put up with it? Because my mother is so determined to protect her, she’s practically become an enabler. Also, it doesn’t help that my sister has three small kids and putting her on the street is also putting their grandkids on the street.

    So I offer this warning to any parents with adult children who DON’T want to grow up: cut the chord. You may think you are abandoning your child. But they are no longer children, they are adults. And just as you have worked years and years to better your life and make a good home, do you want to throw it away for someone who couldn’t care less about you? Cut the chord and stand by it.

    In the case of my sister, eviction would be the thing and my father wishes he had done it years ago. But my mother would always convince him my sister was on her way to bettering herself, even though NOTHING has ever changed. How do you get rid of an adult child who won’t move out? The homeowners need to stand as one and see the eviction process to the end. Simple as that.

  33. Deliah says

    I have a 21 yr old daughter still living at home. She does have a job, but pays for absolutely nothing. Any money she makes she spends freely on whatever she wants. All 3 of my daughters got a car (free) when they were 17. The idea of giving your children everything your own parents didnt give you is crap. So she has her own room, free cell service, wifi, net flicks car insurance ect… she still pays for nothing. My husband and I have sat her down many times with ultimatums, “if youre going to school then you have to get a job and pay rent”. In her case 200$ a month. Not because she is a financial burden but because I want her to learn responsibility and this would at least help with her car insurance. She paid it only a few time and thats it. She dosent clean up after herself, comes and goes as she pleases, including going out drinking and not coming home till the next day, then sleeping that whole day away. I’ve given her 30 days, if she doesnt change, by paying rent, or starts going to college, and doing her share of chores, then she has to leave. The thought of her being on her own is frightening, she so immature and can even microwave popcorn without burning it, but I want her to be better person. And I dont think its going to happen at home. Hope Im doing the right thing :/

    • says

      You are Deliah. It doesn’t mean it will be easy and even after she has left it will be hard watching the things she will have to learn but parents who don’t nudge their children out of the nest are crippling them. It is funny I got your comment today. Yesterday as I was leaving my house I saw the neighbors son outside. He has to go out to smoke and I see him all the time. He is living at home and not working or doing anything. But the thing that gets me is he looks so sad. He stands in his pjs hunched over and his whole appearance is one of dejection. I thought what a disservice his parents are dong to him by not forcing him out to live on his own. They are making his life physically easier but emotionally they are destroying any self confidence and the good feeling of a sense of achievement that we all need. He has no purpose except doing things to make himself feel good everyday and even that isn’t being accomplished because he is trying to do it in the wrong way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


+ 1 = two

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>