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Help with 23 Year Old Still Living at Home and Not Working

I have two sons ages 23 and 21. The 21 year old has moved out and is in school. The 23 year old doesn't hold a job and currently unemployed. He stays up until 3 to 5 am and spends most of his time on the computer or games. He usually leaves the house around 3 pm to find a job and returns about 7 pm. He is a very strong willed child so does not receive instruction well at all. We have tried the tough love program to no avail. Just made me miserable. I would like to hear from other Moms who are in this situation or have dealt with this. He has only one friend local and lacks in social skills. He will not do counseling or talk with us about things. We worry that if we just let him live here we are not helping him grow up.

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I strongly suggest that, even it isn't full time work, encourage him to take a part-time job and charge him rent. $50.00 per month (something low) to start so that he can learn responsibilities.

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By letting him live in your home, you are enabling his behavior. I can understand not wanting to kick him out, but I would cut off all "luxuries" that he does not pay for himself; that includes internet access, car insurance, gas money, etc. If you make it not fun to live there, maybe that will motivate him to get a job. Wal-Mart is almost always hiring.

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It sounds like you have tried / or are willing to try just about anything. My kids are not as old as yours, but I would hate the "tough love" approach also if it didn't work the first time. That must be horrible having to do that when they are that age!

Since he is at home already, with no signs of moving out, I think it is time you help him realize that he does not have to have a crappy job. Obviously, he is a night owl. There MUST be something he can do - that will fit into his lifestyle and likes - that will turn him a profit.

It sounds like if he were to start a website, based around the things he loves (whatever he does online and/or gaming) he would be able to do what he loves, make money, and not have to change his "night owl" status...

I am more than willing to help him discover what this is - I only ask that you sit down and talk with him a bit about it. Tell him *why* I am doing this...

My email is ____@____.com him email me, then he won't need to worry about actually talking to me. Don't worry - I will do this free!


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My son was diagnosed with depression at a young age, and he did not make it out of my home until he was 22. Those times were very hard, because I did not allow any luxuries for him,, he always had food and a place to sleep (and play cumputer / video games)but there was nothing else... no money, no new anything. I explained that I would not be around forever to care for him and it would break my heart to know that I did not teach him to live for himself.. the world will not hand him anything he does not work for..eventually he realized it was true. Today he is a functioning member of society and will be married next spring. I do think its kind of harsh to just put him out as so many have suggested. Care for him, but don't carry him.

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I really have to agree with most everyone. But I was trying to put myself in your shoes. Your his mother and love him and you see he has social issues. So I was thinking since he likes to stay in his room on the computer maybe he could enroll in online college courses. Maybe he could find a career path that will make him feel good about himself and once he has a successful semester he may start breaking out of his shell! But you really do need to start setting some tough boundaries, you are doing him no favors by enabling him to continue to live this lazy, unproductive lifestyle! Good Luck!

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I hate to sound harsh, but why would he try harder? He is 23 and gets to act like he's 12 as far as responsibility and an adult as far as freedoms and privileges. He's got a great life! I watched my parents-in-law do this with a son and they had him on their couch until he was almost 30 and he found a woman to take care of him. Bottom line, he will likely live there w/o a job as long as you let him, period. If he HAD to, he would figure out a way to make a living on his own. Most of us would like to have someone take care of us while we did what we wanted but we don't have that luxury. My advice--give him a specific date that he needs to be out of the house. Make him accountable for specific steps in getting a job--just the like unemployment office. There may be information you are not saying, like mental health issues, but to me, he sounds unmotivated and just lazy. Sorry to be so direct but at this point it will continue because you allow it to continue. Good luck.

I have to agree with everyone else. I wouldn't buy this boy a thing. He would have no cell phone, no car. I might take all the computer games to the pawn shop unless they are actually his own. Don't even buy him a pair of socks. I don't know that I would kick him out, but he would live bare bones, with only the roof over his head and nothing but balogna and koolaid in the fridge until I saw some progress. He should be ashamed!

T. you are NOT letting him grow up. He has y'all right where he wants you, and he as no respect for his parents. By you & your husband not putting your foot down it will only get worse.

The best thing you can do is give him a deadline to move out of the house & stick to your guns. You will be doing him a favor & your younger son as well. Don't let this happen to the younger son by setting this example.

Good luck to you & be strong.

How's he drive places? Eat? Get his oil changed? Get on the Internet?

Sounds like it is time for some tough love.
1)Start charging rent
2)No internet access, unless he pays for it
3)As long as you live in my house you have a rules.
A)You are up, dressed and ready to walk out the door by 7am.
B) You will get a job
C) Rent is due on (insert date).
4) Tell him that you love him very much and because you love him you want to see him become a functioning adult. These rules will help him to do that. However, if he cannot follow these rules then he will need to find other arrangements.

Sometimes it take someone a little bit of treading water before they learn to swim. As long as you keep being his life raft, he will never get into the water.

SAHM of three: 19(on her own),18, and 5. Home baker and candy maker(business). Married to the same wonderful man for almost 12 years.

have you read "boundaries" by john townshend and henry cloud (i dont know if those are the right authors or not). it is a great book for anyone and everyone, but it specifically talks about this issue. i have a copy if you want it!

Ya'll are SUCH enablers. You are hurting this man and he will NEVER grow up unless you lrt(make) him. Give hima time,eg. 1 month. Then if he's not out ...THROW him out. Put everything he owns out on the lawn and change the door locks. He will be furious but one day he will thank you. Any counselor will tell you this same thing.

at 23 he should either be in school full time or working full time, if not then you cannot allow this to go on, give him 6months if he's not working or in school then he has to move out. it's tough love but you have to do it. i would just sit him down & tell him it's either work or school or he's out & set a date. don't hound him just give him a monthly reminder & then if he doesn't do it you have to actually kick him out otherwise he'll be living off of you forever.

I have not been in your situation, however I do have an opinion. I have a son who went thru all his 'stuff' at an early age (drug rehab at age 12), so I went to a support group for parents (Parents Helping Parents in Tyler). The thing that I have kept from that group is that your home is your home and you have the right to live without chaos and drama. Sit down with your son, list the rules of the house and give him a timeframe. Make the choice HIS. Say something like, your father and I have talked and decided that this is our home. You are welcome to live here under our rules. You can either go to school or you can get a job. If you choose to go to school, then you can live here rent free. If you choose to work, then you will contribute X amount of dollars to the household budget. And, you have until (date) to do either. If, at that time, you have not chosen to do either, then you have chosen to not live in our home. The decision is entirely yours.

Now - I know that's easier said than done...and it may not be the right choice for you, but I heard that over and over in my group. You have to make a decision that is right for you and your husband and as well-intentioned as everybody is with their opinions, don't feel bullied or take the silver platter of guilt if none of the opinions is in your comfort zone. (I haven't read any of the other responses, so I don't know what everyone else is saying.)

You and your husband need to be united in your decision - whatever that may be - and your son needs to see that. It may take you one or two (or three or more) times to find the strength to hold to whatever decision you make, just know that you can do it. You also may want to find a support group - I don't know where you are, but PHP is a wonderful group founded by Dwayne Cox here in Tyler MANY years ago and I still return (my son will be 23 this year) from time to time.

God Bless you and keep you.

My mother in law had to deal with a similar situation with my husband when he was in his late 20's - and considered himself "a social misfit".. this is what she did.

She turned off the internet (cancel, with the service provider - or take the modem with you to bed) and the cable television, and locked the video game controllers in her trunk. She told him he was grounded from electronics until he got a job capable of paying his child support (to the ex) and half of the electric bill as well as buying his own groceries. She was not putting any more gas in his truck and would not make another payment on his auto insurance (he had 2 months left until it was due). She also told him that from now on bed time was 10 pm like normal people unless he worked the night shift, for as long as he lived in her house. She would never deprive him of food or a place to live, but she would no longer enable him to live a lifestyle he could not afford.

My husband is now 8 years (thank you GOD! - and MIL) away from being able to retire (before his 50th birthday). He has worked as a detention officer since two weeks after this confrontation, and has always preferred the night shift. I've had to use her 'draconian' tactics from time to time - when he forgets that he is an equal partner here, not my kid - and because he is an electronics addict, it works like a charm. He is also now working on a computer graphics design degree - so that when he retires he can open his own business.

Good luck

Well, you have received a lot of advice. My son was 20 and had decided to join the Army; however, he decided at the last minute that he didn't want to go. I contacted the recruiter about the situation and he said he would come and get him. I was recovering from surgery I had had and had prepared myself for his leaving home to join the service and be on his own. He complained and wanted to change things. I told him that he had signed papers to go into the service and that he would be AWOL if he didn't go (found out later this is another set of paeprs to sign) and that he HAD to leave that day. I didn't care where BUT he WAS leaving that day. At the appropriate time the doorbell rang and he HAD to go because the recruiter was there. It took me a year to realize that I THREW him out of the house. My daughter who was home at the time this happened told me, "Yes, mom, you did throw him out that day." Boy was the house peaceful. I never knew how nice it could be until he left. Yes, would leave the house as if to go to work but not going to work. Don't know if he quit or was fired. He told a tale or two to me and then the bank came to repossess the pickup truck which was not at the house. I wanted to let the bank take it and hubby said no. So that was a sore spot for a bit as I did make arrangments to pay the loan with him sending me the money - not out of my pocket. Did I miss? A little but not enough to have him come home again to live with me.

I had always informed me children from little that there were no freeloaders at my house. You would go to school, work or go into the military to take care of yourself; end of story. No work out you go. Once he told me I "OWED" him and I said, "Yes, I did until you were 18. I owed you a place to live, clothes on your back, food in your stomach and a way to learn. If you do not go to school, I owed you no more." The other thing I told my son is about sex if you have do have it make sure the person you have it with is someone you would want to spend the rest of your life with. Because if you play you have to pay as in child care or support and such. We have a grandson who is 11 and he is in his son's life 365, 24/5.

Give you son a time frame and stick to it. If it means changing the locks on the doors and putting his clothes in a bag on the front porch he HAS to take responsibility for himself. DO NOT FEEL guilty about your decision. You and your husband need your own personal space and that does not include him. Your job is done. It is apparent that your other son has seen what has happened and does not want to be anywhere near him as to why he moved out. Don't help him. He will figure it out. There are reasons why mother nature made mother birds push their young out of the nest.

I, too, had a cousin and his mother did everything in her power to "help" him and in the end it caused much unnecessary grief for all family members. The other S. PS My son is getting married in June to a wonderful person. So there is hope.

Are you me? Same situation exactly, hoping he'll grow up soon. Worried I'm doing something wrong, have tried everything. I am concentrating on communication, even though I have to put up with anger sometimes. I give him lots of chores around the house, and he is very willing to contribute. He's a good guy. But I sure was long gone from home at his age, and educated. It worries me that he is up all nite on the computer. He's probably having a blast playing online computer games with your son. My daughters, 20 and 26 are both working and in school and peeved at him. And probably peeved at me to. I just keep focusing on the love and letting what I can't control go. But it is hard.

I agree about cutting off the luxuries. That includes pop, chips, any grazing goodies. You and your spouse can eat out almost as cheap as you can make it for a while. No food around and no entertainment. This period will last longer than you want even with the plug pulled. But his friends will all be moving on and getting jobs, etc and he'll start to feel stupid. Nobody wants to feel stupid at that age. In your conversations start talking about what some "smart" things are that he did or could do, never using the word stupid in conjunction with his behavior. Good luck.

I have an older brother and no other siblings. With both of us, my parents said that we could live with them until we finished college (not for "free" - we had to help around the house when asked). Once we graduated, if we wanted to keep living there, then we would have to pay rent (including helping pay for internet access, since we were the primary users).

You should tell your son that he needs to get a job and start paying rent or move out. I'd set a deadline of 4-5 months (since job hunting is really difficult right now). If you don't set any deadlines, he'll end up like my husband's 27 year old friend - who still lives off mom & dad (including having a credit card on their account), has never held down a job for longer than 6 months, and expects his parents to buy him anything he needs or wants.

In addition to all of the great suggestions below, make it a part of the deal (if he wants to stay there the next 3-6 months) that he be evaluated for depression. I seem to get one male student in this situation almost every semester (I teach college, and the fellow will barely show up and fail to do much work until he starts getting treated for depression).

If he has depression, this should not let him off the hook for becoming a responsible, self-supporting individual. However, if he has depression, being treated will help him find his own self-motivation and use his capabilities. Part of being responsible is taking care of yourself physically AND mentally.



I don't have much advice, because I am in the same boat as you. My 23 y/o son would not get a job, go to school or move out either. I was paying for college, but he would cut class. I refused to pay for car, expenses, etc., but he didn't care. He finally met a girl who was older (29)and her father was paying her rent for her, so he moved in with her. Needless to say, her dad finally stopped paying the rent, but not before she was already pregnant. They were evicted, she moved home (New York) with her parents and I let him move back in with me. After the baby was born, she ran away from home and came back here, they stole money from me(savings bonds, so I didn't find out for 8 months)to get an apartment and told everyone they both were working (lies, of course). Now child #2 was on the way, and they were evicted again! She once again went home to her parents. I told him he would have to live in the homeless shelter because he refused to be responsible and I didn't want him to steal from me again - but my mother let him move in with her. She told him he could stay only long enough to get a job and move into his own place, but even though she took him downtown each day while she worked, he never really looked job. He thinks that looking online for jobs is a diligent job hunt. He hung out at the library on their computers all day. After almost a year, he got a job, saved enough to move out, and lost his job within 6 weeks. He says he's looking for a job, but I don't believe it. It is just a matter of time before he's evicted again. He'll just never learn.

I'm telling you all this because you got so many replies from people who've never been in this situation telling you you're bringing all this on yourself. Tough love doesn't always work as I have found out, and you can't MAKE an adult work that refuses to work. I have worked since I was 14 years old, sometimes two jobs at a time and he has witnessed this and knows that is what it takes to survive, he just doesn't care. I have two grandsons that I never see and will probably not know me because their maternal grandfather thinks their birth is only my son's fault (it takes to to tango, so to speak) so he talks bad about our family to the boys. My son was taught and witnessed the value of hard work, paying bills, courtesy, love, responsibility and yet he chose to do differently. I have taken him to psychologists, counseling, social workers, and noone was able to help him. My daughter is completely the opposite of him, and she refuses to initiate any contact with him because of how he acts.

I wish I could tell you what to do. I can only tell you that I completely understand the helplessness and heartbreak you feel. I'd be happy to lend a sympathetic ear anytime you need.

Hi T., I have no experience with this because my kids are still young, but here's what I think I would do...

Give him notice that in 30 days he will be required to pay a set amount for rent and utilities. If he doesn't pay in cash he will have to pay it out by doing ALL household chores including cooking, dishes, laundry, cleaning house, cleaning cars, etc. Be firm but loving, tell him you don't mind him living at home but he must pay his own way. Then, when the 30 days is up, don't take any excuses. Make him pay up or get out!

Sit him down and have a rational talk about what age a person starts to be responsible. And that you are no longer doing him a favor or letting him grow up, if he doesn't learn it is way past time. I don't know if you still wash his clothes etc. but if so stop. Make him clean up after himself, wash his own clothes, pick up after himself etc. He is way past needing to be responsible, and he needs to learn to be responsible for his own actions. If he doesn't wash clothes, he has no clean ones to wear, boo hoo. If he has no money to go out and do things or buy things, well maybe he will wake up to the fact that he has to get a job. don't give him money , gas money etc. You cold say if he doesn't contribute to the house hold and for himself, he will have to find another place to live, but it doesn't sound like you could tell him that.But you could explain to him that at his age if he has free room and board, you at least should not ever have to contribute ANY money to him for anything.

YIKES give him 3 months to find a stable job/re-enroll in college or 3 more months to GET OUT... he has NO motivation to do anything if you are not consistant and mean what you say... He needs to be scared a little or he will NEVER change....
If he is not working/going to school at least put him to work around the house cleaning etc...no computer/tv/electricity unless he helps out....

Is he REALLY searching for a job? You are "finished raising him" Tell him that it IS up to him to find himself and move on.... with his life and be independent.... good luck...

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