21 Year Old Son Has No Ambition and Is a Nightmare to Live With

Updated on January 01, 2013
R.C. asks from Tampa, FL
25 answers

My son has never been interested in doing anything to achieve anything. For as long as I can remember if he didn't do something perfect the first time he quits. He can't hold a job, barely graduated from high school, and managed to finish 15 hours of college in 3 years.

We pushed, prodded and threatened just to get the college hours in so he would get accepted in to the Army. Now he is scheduled to start basic training next week and told us yesterday he is quitting as he has too many issues to deal with mentally.

He has no job, no friends, sleeps 12-15 hours a day and only wakes to eat and play video game from midnight to whenever. He does nothing around the house and must be the center of attention or he makes everyones life hell.

We told him today if he does not go to basic training next week, he is out - we don't care where he goes as it is not fair to us or his simblings who manage to perform well in school and treat others with respect.

What if he refuses to leave? Do we have anyway to make him leave our house?

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and support. My husband also agrees he is depressed. We had him in counseling for sevearl years during high school and it seemed to help.

He has been with an adult counselor now for the last year or so, but rarely goes to scheduled appointments saying the counselor is unqualified to help him. I think he just does not like what the man has to say.

Today, my husband insisted that they both go to the Phsy. Counselor today. They are there now - all my son had to say is that now we will hear how really bad he has it.

My thoughts are he has had it too good and thinks that if we will just throw more money at the problem it will be fixed.

I hate it that I love my son, but can't handle dealing with him.

UPDATE: Psychologist read him the riot act. Basically told him he had made a commitment and that he would be going to Basic Training on Monday. That the only thing wrong with him is that he was comfortable with no life and that it was time that he grew up - told him many people have clinical depression and that he just choses to be depressed as an excuse to avoid life. I think it was quite a suprise to him as he expected my husband to come away from the session siding with him that he had too many mental issues to join the military. The Psychologist told him he wants to see him everyday this week, instead of the normal once a week and that all electronics (gaming systems) where to be unplugged and stored. He is not too happy right now, but didn't like his manhood being challenged by the Psychologist - so it may have just been what he needed as my husband said he went home and unplugged and gave the gaming system to my husband.

I know we have a rough week ahead of us, but hopefully we will see him off to Basic Training on Monday.

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answers from Boston on

I'm going to guess that he has some mental health issues that haven't been dealt with. No one wants to actually live the way that he does. He sounds depressed to me, and possibly addicted to gaming (or who only knows what else). Did he get help in school? Was he evaluated for things like learning disabilities or attention problems? What did those tests reveal, if anything?

Normally I'm a proponent of tough love but he sounds like he needs help. Get him into see a doctor ASAP to assess his physical and mental health and get him therapy or medication if needed until he's got some control over his life. If he refuses to go to basic training (and it doesn't sound like he'll succeed in that and will wash out in the first few weeks or months anyway) AND refuses other help, then you can take away his house keys, lock up, and if he shows up trying to get in, you can refuse and call the police. That would be a pretty harsh first step though. If this isn't the first step and he's already done therapy, medication etc. and is truly just lazy and unmotivated, then go ahead and try tough love and see where he lands. Some people do land on their feet, wake up and start living and others, frankly, don't.

He says he's got mental issues...what are you doing about those? What have you already done? He doesn't sound like a lazy ingrate to me, he sounds like someone who desperately needs help and has needed help for years. I would start with that before throwing him out.

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answers from Detroit on

If he does not go the basic training, give him 1 week to get all his stuff together and find somewhere else to live - then change the locks and don't give him a key.

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answers from Kansas City on

If he does not go to Basic, you need to follow through and kick him out. You are allowing him to be this way--you may not want him to be, but you're paying his bills and letting him live there.

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answers from Austin on

Stick with your promise that if he does not go into the Army on that day, that is the day he needs to find a new place to live, because he will not be living at home any longer. Stick to this..

Change the locks.

He is a grown man and needs to either get mental help (he sounds depressed) or he needs to buckle down and start figuring out how to survive.

I had a cousin just like this and he too joined the Army..Boy was he a big baby.. He did not follow the directions they had given about do not bring anything with you like ipods, etc.. and they took it away and her never got it back. NEVER! He hated the food and refused to eat.. for 2 days, and then started eating everything they put on his plate.

Ended up on the front lines of war. He is now a responsible person. Living an amazing life. With a beautiful condo, great car, travels and has a good job with good benefits. .

His mother also told him, "You will no longer be allowed to lay around here and eat our food and not have a job. By such and such date, you are out.. Not my problem any more. "

Worked great.

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answers from Amarillo on

I did this with my son. He was signed up to go into the Army and at the last week didn't want to go. I had prepared myself for the separation and told him that he was going out of the house today. If he didn't go to the Army he was still leaving. He went in and has a very good life.

It took me a year to realize that I did throw him out. He was not really living at home but coming and going and it was time for him to go.

He didn't have the depression issue but he had a few. I never knew how calm a household could be until he was gone. Why what a relief!

So stick your plan and let him know that the count down is really true.

Good luck to you.

The other S.

PS Good for you guys. It may have takena pyschologist to show him the error or his ways and to turn him around. He got "shock" treatment of a different kind!

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answers from Richmond on

Good for you! Stay strong and stick by your guns!

He can't refuse to leave; legally, you can have him removed.

So he better start coming up with some kind of game plan, asap, because the bank of mom and dad is CLOSED.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it's for the best, really it is. Sounds like you've exhausted all other options, so HE IS THE ONE MAKING THIS CHOICE, he chose to slack off and do nothing, he chose not to go to school, he chose not to get a life... it's all on him, so don't you feel bad for a second!

You're doing the right thing :) Take it from someone who was kicked out herself... this is a good thing!!

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answers from Chicago on

What a tough deal. I am glad you are giving him one last thing--THE BOOT!! I can imagine this has been a hard decision for you to make.

I'm sure others here will help you with answers to your question.

Good luck!

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answers from Lakeland on

I think you are doing the right thing. He is an adult and will now have to take care of himself. It sounds like you did as much as you can to help him and now he needs to help himself.

Also, I would think if he has signed the papers to join the army then he has to go. I didn't think you could quit or say I made a mistake after signing, but I could be wrong.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think he can quit (unfortunately) but I think if he does, then you need to hold firm to what you said - that he has to be out. My SS was not so bad as this last year, but I told DH that if he is going to live here and work, he is going to also treat us like a family and not a dorm.

If he refuses to leave, then you might need to ask the cops to help and I'd definitely change the locks.

You say that he is seeing a counselor but doesn't take his therapy seriously. Well, he's 21. He can do that. But even so, he doesn't have to not treat whatever's going on with him in your home. How bad he has it? He has a roof over his head, food in his belly and video games to play at 1AM. Spare me. Don't let him emotionally blackmail you.

Edit to add: Sometimes you need a 3rd party to say it like it is. Hope everything works out in the end.

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answers from Houston on

With me being in the Army when I was much younger....when you sign up to join the Army and you take the entrance test and pass your physical and they give you a date that you are going to basic........if you DO NOT show up on this given date....you are risking being labeled as AWOL(absence without leave)...it is a serious offense...and could lead to a dishonorable discharge. Alot of new soldiers who arrive in basic training(especially real young ones that have never been away from home) are home sick and feel like they have made a mistake and just wanna go back home. But when you actually arrive there with the drill Sgts.....you do not have time to think about anything...they keep you so busy...everyday...disipline is top prority. It could be that he gets there and really can't handle it...in that case...at least he tried. But in my opinion.....it is the best route to go to jump start your life to be taught responsibility...lift your self esteem.....he will be so proud on graduation day....and he will stand tall and have the greatest feeling of accomplishment. Maybe a secret call to his recruiter is in order so that he will keep on him til the very last minute. You just can't say no now...I don't wanna go...the military is different.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I kind of thought once you enlisted they came and got you if you didn't show up...I didn't think a person had the choice to just not show up...am I wrong? He signed a contract correct?



answers from Charlotte on

R., is he on medication? If he isn't, maybe that would help him. If he is, he needs different medicine.

In basic, they will sleep deprive him big-time, and that can make the depression a whole lot worse. I don't have an answer for you, but I do think that you all need help. I would worry that throwing him out while he is sick would push him into something desperate, like a suicide attempt.

I don't know if you can manage to pay for an apartment for him for a certain amount of time, maybe a studio apartment, cheapest that you can find, and put Goodwill furniture in it, but for any extras other than water and heat, he would have to work to get it. When he has a job, then you could wean the help off. Meanwhile, he would be getting better with medication from the doctor.

Just some thoughts on it - I know there are no easy answers.



answers from Denver on

I am sorry you need to go through this as I imagine it's gut wrenching. But you are doing the right thing. Just give him the consequence. Go to basic or you are out. Get new locks and lock him out. Cut off his phone etc. Be sure to follow through. And be strong. I wish you the best and some peace.



answers from Seattle on

And....what ARE his perceived mental issues he needs to deal with?

That is a sad statement for someone so young to make?

He doesn't have friends...why? Does he choose his video games over connecting?

Get rid of the electronics now, like yesterday, and make him get a part time job flipping burgers so he STARTS somewhere in learning social skills.

What did you previous therapist recommend as a good future plan and option for him? I would think you would have walked away with some ideas on what his problems were back then.

And if the military accepted him into boot camp training, he clearly passed the mental tests enough to get in there. It's only 8-10 weeks of boot camp...he can set his mental stuff aside and go have some fun exercising.

Push him out of the nest mom, unless he truly does have some medical disorder.

And he sounds addicted to gaming. It's contributing to his sleep deprivation, which will contribute to depression...You've got to help him break the cycle.



answers from Portland on

Yes, he needs to move out and you need to make that clear. How to enforce that depends on your circumstances. It will be a process. You can't just say get out. And, as a retired police officer, I can tell you the police will not remove him just with your request. Contact your local police department and ask for suggestions.

I suggest that you start by making living there as unpleasant for him as it is for you. Unless he owns the video games put them away for now. Wake him up in the morning. Just wake him up. Do not try to make him get up. Don't get into a fight. Just wake him up and walk away.

Give him chores to do. Don't make him do them. Just set the boundary that to live with you he has to do chores. Make a list and let him choose which ones he'll do.

You've told him he's out. Now help him with a plan. Tell him that he's to be out in a month and in the meantime tell him about house rules and how he has to earn privileges. Help him find resources. Perhaps give him the want ads. Call the referral line (411 in our area) and ask for resources. Give him the information and ask that he make calls to them.

You've allowed him to live like this for many years. It does seem somewhat unfair to just kick him out without having taught him any life skills. I suggest that you and your husband decide on boundaries and enforce them without anger and hostility. Be matter of fact and calm. Difficult to do, I know, but I don't know of any way that you can just tell him to go. It might work to tell him you're changing the locks on such and such a date but I suspect it will be hard for you to stick with that plan. No one wants to see their child literally on the street.

One way to plan for him to move out is to make a condition of staying there for a short time is that he go with you to counseling. A counselor could help to negotiate the move. A counselor, even without him also going, can also help you make reasonable and workable plans.



answers from Washington DC on

The Navy saved my son.

Can you or dad start running, go to the Y and start working out. That alone might help the depression. If not start taking a mom and son walk with the dog.

Do not tell the Army that he has been in to see a psychologist within 12 months of his MEPs appt. He also must be 12 months medication free.

And you absolutely have reason and ways to get him to leave. BUt with his depression and that's what it sounds like, I would put him in inpatient first. At the hospital, in the mental ward.

And if he has been to a couselor before and this one is not clicking, try a different one. But do tell them that he has been couch trained, that is he knows what to say to a counselor to keep them off his back.



answers from Seattle on

Yup. Sounds like signs of depression.



answers from Denver on

First off, I would make your house and his living situation as bare bones as possible. Take the video controllers and put them where he can't get them: in a box at your or your dh's work, in a neighbor's closet, and don't tell him where they are. Taking just the controllers is the easiest way to take away video games. It doesn't require figuring out all the wires and cables and all. But it absolutely means you can't play the game. Take away the computer keyboard and mouse, too.

Then, if he eats a particular food (chips, sweets, ice cream, whatever), just toss it. Only have the bare basics of healthy foods around, similar to what the Army would serve a guy in basic training. No Twinkies. Just oatmeal and a square meal. No soda or beer.

And tell him he must speak to someone if he has issues to deal with mentally. Either a counselor, a priest, someone. Make that an absolute condition, because a person with no job, no friends, no ambition and no life is not going to be able to take the steps to become mentally strong without some kind of professional support.

Remove all comforts from his life. But offer him a plan, because he sounds like he is adrift on the open sea. Put it in writing, like "Go see Pastor so-and-so or this counselor that we made an appointment with for you" and be specific about the day and time. Post some rules in writing. "If you sleep here and eat here then ..." and tell him what chores he is expected to do. Give him a time limit. "You have one week to show us that you will be a productive member of this household".

Then if he chooses not to abide by those rules, you will have done your best and you pack his things and show him that you mean business. Drive him to a motel, pay for about 3 nights, and tell him you gave him every opportunity, but now he's on his own. Make sure he does not have a key to your house.

It is very hard. I have a family member who tossed his son out of the house, but did it the completely wrong way. He gave him no notice, and he bagged all his son's belongings in trash bags and threw them in the dumpster and gave his son no plan, and didn't point him in any direction. Just threw him out like a stray cat. The damage has been immeasurable. I have another family member who is faced with the same situation, but they are doing it the right way. They have removed the comforts and privileges, and are locating a group home where he can stay and they are telling him that on this date he can either take the plan they have set up for him or leave the house with no plan, but either way he's leaving. That way they know they have provided for him as best they can, and it is his decision whether to take the responsible route or wander the streets.



answers from Dallas on

At first I thought this was by best friend's message. But her son wouldn't even go to college no matter what. I know what a hard time she had with her son and it was terrible. If he will not leave you can call the athoritys and have him removed. Just be prepared to change all locks right away if he has a key. There for he can not get back in when ever he wants to.

Good luck and God Bless!!!


answers from Chicago on

If he has taken the oath then he is legally bound to go to basic, if not then you can change the locks and show him the door. You raised him to be this way, now it's time to allow him to deal with the consequences - personally I think he has been battling some form of depression if what you describe is correct and he should get help, at least the military will do evaluations and get him help if he goes. Either way you go about it you have helped him to be ill prepared for life, you are his parents. I am glad your other children are successful, makes me wonder what is different here.


answers from Santa Fe on

It sounds like he is depressed. Get him to a therapist immediately and I honestly would be very willing to try depression medication as well. Make a no screen time rule for after 10pm. He needs to break the cycle of being up at night and sleeping during the day. I agree that tough love and kicking him out may help him but it may not. My cousin struggles with depression (he's about 26 I believe). He lived just like your son at home (playing video games all night, no ambition) for years and made my aunt's life hell. He was kicked out last year but he has not shaped up at all. He shares a house with many other 20-somethings and sleeps on the couch and plays video games all night :(. Medication for depression AND the military might really help your son. A super qualified therapist will also help him. I'm so sorry.



answers from Albuquerque on

It sounds like he's depressed. Can you get him help for that? And yes, of course you can kick him out. Simply pack up his belongings and put them on the curb. Then change your locks. But before you do that, it sounds like he could use some professional help... the army might be a great place for him because they'll help whip him into shape. Or it might push him over the edge mentally. Good luck -



answers from Dallas on

My son was not interested in doing anything or achieve. All he would do is play games and sleep. He was the same way he could not hold a job. Same with school. Took him to doctors and was told he needed to grow up. He was to young to be depress. I was told it was time for me to let go. If I gave him a date that he had to leave home, he would have to get a job and so on. I gave him two months, He told me I did not care and asked why I hated him so much. I told him that I loved him very much but it was time for him to go on his own. I told him that life is a journey. So much for him to see then sitting in the house 24/7. I told him that I will not be far and enjoy life. He was 21 and was found hanging in his bedroom a week before he had to leave.



answers from Atlanta on

Yes, you can have him removed by the police. He shouldn't have been there this long! Tell him in no uncertain terms -you go to Basic or you're OUT and this is how that's going to work (talk to the police now and find out how this happens so you can explain it to him). Let him know that if he doesn't want to follow through with Basic, then he can get a job, go to school, whatever -but he will be doing it from his own apartment. You may want to suggest counseling for him -he sounds like he could use it.

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