20 yo still at home, no job - desperate mother!

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Hilli, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. Hilli

    Hilli Member

    I previously posted my situation under general parenting but was told this group is more appropriate for my situation so here goes again:

    My son will be 21 in February. He has had a few jobs but nothing long term or stable. He's been let go of at least one and has quit others. He suffers from anxiety and has been previously diagnosed with ADD. He struggled in school but graduated. Last February I gave him a deadline to get a job or he'd have to move out. He didn't get a job so left and moved in with my mother (a problem, I know.) A few months later he got a job so I let him move home. He has subsequently lost the job and has not worked for months. I told him he needed to see a doctor about the anxiety and go to a counselor or move out. He's done both and is on medications for anxiety. I loaned him money which Ihe understands has to be paid back by Dec 10 or move out. $170.

    Monday I discovered that he stole $15 off my nightstand. I confronted him and he admitted and said it was for gas money and he was going to tell me and pay me back. Later that night as I'm questioning his statement, I discovered he also stole $75 cash I had put in my change jar. Needless to say, I'm devastated.

    It'll be no surprise to you all that he is constantly lying about looking for a job, working, etc. I don't feel like I can believe what he says and now I don't trust him in my home. He's a regular pot smoker as well. All that being said, he's still my son and I want to do everything I can to help him be successful. So, here's my plan. Please let me know your thoughts or advice. Am I being too much of a push over/enabler or am I realistically trying to do what I can to help him?

    Must do these things or will need to move out:
    1. All assigned chores (regular stuff like take out garbage, clean his bathroom, etc). He's doing this stuff now but with a ton of reminders.
    2. Continue to take medications and see doctor.
    3. Continue to go to counseling.
    4. Never steal again! Immediate eviction.
    5. Do not plug in wifi unless approved. (I unplug the wifi when I leave for work so he can't play video games all day. Which he has snuck and plugged back in.)
    6. Pay money owed by Dec 10. $170

    Here's where it gets tough for me - I've already been told by several on the last forum that I'm being way to lenient so this plan has changed to me asking him to make a plan he can take ownership for and accomplish. I haven't had that conversation with him yet.
    7. Pay money stolen by Jan 7. $90
    8. Pay monthly rent of $50 starting in Feb due 10th of each month.
    9. By April 1 get own car insurance, probably $200/mo. My mother paid his car insurance for the year. Ends in March.
    10. Get full time job by July 1.
    11. Rent increases to $100/mo effective July 10.

    My mother, who has also enabled him, is now on board and will not give him money, pay for his car insurance, let him move back in, or otherwise enable him.

    Please give me advice! What am I missing? Thank you all in advance!! And, could someone please send me the link to the detachment paper I saw mentioned in other posts?

    Read more: http://www.conductdisorders.com/community/threads/20-yo-at-home-no-job.63092/#ixzz4RdPX51qk
  2. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Hilli,

    You have set forth some realistic guidelines and I do hope your son will adhere to them. I do urge you to be very careful here because the line of helping and enabling is very easily crossed and can become blurred.
    I suggest you go over your list again and after every expectation, counter it with a consequence. My husband and I tried "live by these rules" tactics more than a few times. Where we fell short was not having clearly defined consequences for each expectation. When our son did not do what he was supposed to we would tell him "here's the consequence" - we were making it up as we went along. Our son used that against us. He would start to debate with us that we had not been clear and to be quite honest, he was right.
    You do not want to leave any room for negotiation. Whatever the consequence you need to be strong and stick with it. If you give in even once and do not follow through, your son has won and will use it against you.

    I know you love your son and want to help him but you also need to realize that he is grown and will make his own choices. We cannot force our adult difficult children to change.

    ((HUGS)) to you.....................
  3. Hilli

    Hilli Member

    Great suggestion. Any advice on consequences. I feel like there's not much more I can take away or do to "punish" him.
  4. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Welcome Hilli

    Does your son use any other drugs or drink? I ask because his behavior sounds a lot like my sons (you can see info in my signature). I just don't think kids that only smoke pot steal but I could be wrong. It's just a certain mentality that makes them steal. It's not normal to steal from your parents.

    I think these kids are also very lazy because they know we will catch them if they fall. They take our love for granted and know that we have unconditional love.

    Do you have any other children in your home? Do you have a supportive spouse?

    I know that if you say something you HAVE TO follow through or they will not respect you or your rules. Does your son have anyplace to go now that he cannot go back to his grandmother's house?

    I'm seeing a therapist to help me set boundaries with my own son. It's been very hard for me. He is no longer in our home and doing better than when he was. We have had to push - and push hard - to get him to start "adulting". He still has a long way to go but we feel we are on the right track and that was all due to the advice and support I got from this forum. It is very hard to parent kids when they do not do what they are supposed to or what society expects as a normal progression into adulthood. They really have to accept that they are not children any longer.
  5. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Hilli, welcome.

    I'm sorry you're struggling with how to deal with your son, we parents suffer considerably when our kids go off the rails for whatever reason.

    Perhaps you might put your list in writing, like a contract, go over each issue separately and when you have negotiated it to your satisfaction, ask him to sign it. Then you have a document stating what you expect which you can point to if/when he balks on any of it. It is an agreement between the two of you and if he cannot keep his end of the agreement there must be consequences.

    I agree with Tanya that those consequences should be ironed out right away. Consequences for our behavior is a fact of life for all of us, you do him no favor by allowing him to get away with anything. If you make these rules, you must reconcile with yourself that you will follow through with each and every consequence, or your word will end up meaning nothing to him. Including not doing his chores without you having to nag him to do it. He is not 13, he is a grown man. Men his age are carrying guns and risking their lives in wars......many mothers here remind themselves of that, so they can see the reality of the situation more clearly.

    You also have a right to forbid him to smoke pot in your home if that is an issue for you.

    Our kids force us to become very, very clear on what we are willing to to and what we are not willing to do. With typical kids this is rarely an issue, but for us, we have to become experts in boundaries or else be dragged down the rabbit hole with them. Ask yourself that question, what exactly are YOU willing to do and what exactly are you NOT willing to do. Tell yourself the truth, this is about YOU too, you matter, your needs and wishes matter, make the negotiation about what YOU want. It is your home. He stole from you. He lied to you. You are doing him a favor by even considering any of this. Remember that.

    The article you are referring to on detachment can be found at the bottom of my post here. You might read the book, Codependent no more by Melodie Beatty, it is helpful.

    It is usually imperative that we parents seek out some kind of professional support, a therapist, counselor or parent group. Many parents find solace and support through the 12 step groups, Al Anon, CoDa, Families anonymous or Narc Anon. We have to learn how to parent very differently, and most of us need support to figure out how to do that. There is a vast difference between enabling and loving kindness and it takes us quite awhile to figure out the difference and to learn to NOT enable.

    You're on the right track. This is a process, it is not linear, it goes up and down and sideways until we get our footing and land on level ground. Get yourself support and keep posting, it helps. Hang in there, this is hard stuff. You're not alone, we all know how you feel. I'm glad you're here........
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  6. Hilli

    Hilli Member

    Your post is so helpful. It is hard to know the difference between enabling and loving kindness. I think I get these confused daily. And I've never been good about setting boundaries and sticking to them so this is something he has learned. I recently told him he couldn't use wifi during the day and constantly forget to turn it off before I leave for work! I can't figure out how to get to the detachment article you mention. Ive had a friend mention almond before but am concerned I'll feel like those there will have issues that don't apply to me and it won't be that helpful. Thoughts? Thanks so much. This forum has been immensely helpful already!
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hilli, I had no clue about the difference between enabling and loving kindness either, like you I was forced into learning because of my daughter's behavior. A therapist once told me that a way I could discern the difference was when I was offering loving help, I would feel good and when I was enabling, I would likely feel resentment. That helped me quite a bit. Reading Codependent no more will help you make the distinction as well.

    It takes a bit of time to change our own behavior, our kids get use to us caving and giving them whatever they want and when we start to change that patterning, our kids usually react pretty badly and do everything in their power to try to make us go back to how we were before. We have to be strong in our resolve to change, hence my suggestion that you seek counseling because it's already difficult enough and when you add the fact that our kids are determined to keep us stuck in enabling them, it becomes extremely challenging to make those changes.

    Many parents here attend Al Anon and even if others issues are different, you will still benefit from the support. I would strongly invite you to get some kind of support, it is very difficult to do any of this without it. Often we enable so we don't have to face the consequences that our kids set up for themselves.......we have to develop strength to allow them to struggle, to suffer, to work things out for themselves. It is in no way easy, in fact, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. We have to go against our instincts to protect, love and keep our kids safe, it goes against our natural tendencies to parent, so learning how to detach and not enable is made more tolerable when you have the support to make the necessary changes.

    Hilli, what is usually the case is that we are the ones who do the changing, we change our responses, we change our demands on them, we develop boundaries and a willingness to say no and not only mean it, but enforce appropriate consequences as well. I entered a 2 year course on Codependency recovery lead by therapists where I met with a private therapist and then had a weekly support group facilitated by therapists. In that 2 years I learned how to effectively shift my pattern of enabling to one of loving detachment. Interestingly, my daughter changed as I changed. As I let go of enabling, she stepped up to the plate. That does not happen all the time, but the therapists I worked with told me it happens A LOT. We parents have the power here, the kids don't .....unless we give it to them.

    Here is the article on detachment......hang in there Hilli......we're all in the same boat around here......

    What is detachment?
    Detachment is the:
    * Ability to allow people, places or things the freedom to be themselves.
    * Holding back from the need to rescue, save or fix another person from being sick, dysfunctional or irrational.
    * Giving another person "the space" to be herself.
    * Disengaging from an over-enmeshed or dependent relationship with people.
    * Willingness to accept that you cannot change or control a person, place or thing.
    * Developing and maintaining of a safe, emotional distance from someone whom you have previously given a lot of power to affect your emotional outlook on life.
    * Establishing of emotional boundaries between you and those people you have become overly enmeshed or dependent with in order that all of you might be able to develop your own sense of autonomy and independence.
    * Process by which you are free to feel your own feelings when you see another person falter and fail and not be led by guilt to feel responsible for their failure or faltering.
    * Ability to maintain an emotional bond of love, concern and caring without the negative results of rescuing, enabling, fixing or controlling.
    * Placing of all things in life into a healthy, rational perspective and recognizing that there is a need to back away from the uncontrollable and unchangeable realities of life.
    * Ability to exercise emotional self-protection and prevention so as not to experience greater emotional devastation from having hung on beyond a reasonable and rational point.
    * Ability to let people you love and care for accept personal responsibility for their own actions and to practice tough love and not give in when they come to you to bail them out when their actions lead to failure or trouble for them.
    * Ability to allow people to be who they "really are" rather than who you "want them to be."
    * Ability to avoid being hurt, abused, taken advantage of by people who in the past have been overly dependent or enmeshed with you.

    What are the negative effects not detaching?
    If you are unable to detach from people, places or things, then you:
    * Will have people, places or things which become over-dependent on you.
    * Run the risk of being manipulated to do things for people, at places or with things which you do not really want to do.
    * Can become an obsessive "fix it" who needs to fix everything you perceive to be imperfect.
    * Run the risk of performing tasks because of the intimidation you experience from people, places or things.
    * Will most probably become powerless in the face of the demands of the people, places or things whom you have given the power to control you.
    * Will be blind to the reality that the people, places or things which control you are the uncontrollables and unchangeables you need to let go of if you are to become a fully healthy, coping individual.
    * Will be easily influenced by the perception of helplessness which these people, places or things project.
    * Might become caught up with your idealistic need to make everything perfect for people, places or things important to you even if it means your own life becomes unhealthy.
    * Run the risk of becoming out of control of yourself and experience greater low self-esteem as a result.
    * Will most probably put off making a decision and following through on it, if you rationally recognize your relationship with a person, place or thing is unhealthy and the only recourse left is to get out of the relationship.
    * Will be so driven by guilt and emotional dependence that the sickness in the relationship will worsen.
    * Run the risk of losing your autonomy and independence and derive your value or worth solely from the unhealthy relationship you continue in with the unhealthy person, place or thing.

    How is detachment a control issue?
    Detachment is a control issue because:
    * It is a way of de-powering the external "locus of control" issues in your life and a way to strengthen your internal "locus of control."
    * If you are not able to detach emotionally or physically from a person, place or thing, then you are either profoundly under its control or it is under your control.
    * The ability to "keep distance" emotionally or physically requires self-control and the inability to do so is a sign that you are "out of control."
    * If you are not able to detach from another person, place or thing, you might be powerless over this behavior which is beyond your personal control.
    * You might be mesmerized, brainwashed or psychically in a trance when you are in the presence of someone from whom you cannot detach.
    * You might feel intimidated or coerced to stay deeply attached with someone for fear of great harm to yourself or that person if you don't remain so deeply involved.
    * You might be an addicted caretaker, fixer or rescuer who cannot let go of a person, place or thing you believe cannot care for itself.
    * You might be so manipulated by another's con, "helplessness," overdependency or "hooks" that you cannot leave them to solve their own problems.
    * If you do not detach from people, places or things, you could be so busy trying to "control" them that you completely divert your attention from yourself and your own needs.
    * By being "selfless" and "centered" on other people, you are really a controller trying to fix them to meet the image of your ideal for them.
    * Although you will still have feelings for those persons, places and things from which you have become detached, you will have given them the freedom to become what they will be on their own merit, power, control and responsibility.
    * It allows every person, place or thing with which you become involved to feel the sense of personal responsibility to become a unique, independent and autonomous being with no fear of retribution or rebuke if they don't please you by what they become.

    What irrational thinking leads to an inability to detach?
    * If you should stop being involved, what will they do without you?
    * They need you and that is enough to justify your continued involvement.
    * What if they commit suicide because of your detachment? You must stay involved to avoid this.
    * You would feel so guilty if anything bad should happen to them after you reduced your involvement with them.
    * They are absolutely dependent on you at this point and to back off now would be a crime.
    * You need them as much as they need you.
    * You can't control yourself because everyday you promise yourself "today is the day" you will detach your feelings but you feel driven to them and their needs.
    * They have so many problems, they need you.
    * Being detached seems so cold and aloof. You can't be that way when you love and care for a person. It's either 100 percent all the way or no way at all.
    * If you should let go of this relationship too soon, the other might change to be like the fantasy or dream you want them to be.
    * How can being detached from them help them? It seems like you should do more to help them.
    * Detachment sounds so final. It sounds so distant and non-reachable. You could never allow yourself to have a relationship where there is so much emotional distance between you and others. It seems so unnatural.
    * You never want anybody in a relationship to be emotionally detached from you so why would you think it a good thing to do for others?
    * The family that plays together stays together. It's all for one and one for all. Never do anything without including the significant others in your life.
    * If one hurts in the system, we all hurt. You do not have a good relationship with others unless you share in their pain, hurt, suffering, problems and troubles.
    * When they are in "trouble," how can you ignore their "pleas" for help? It seems cruel and inhuman.
    * When you see people in trouble, confused and hurting, you must always get involved and try to help them solve the problems.
    * When you meet people who are "helpless," you must step in to give them assistance, advice, support and direction.
    * You should never question the costs, be they material, emotional or physical, when another is in dire need of help.
    * You would rather forgo all the pleasures of this world in order to assist others to be happy and successful.
    * You can never "give too much" when it comes to providing emotional support, comforting and care of those whom you love and cherish.
    * No matter how badly your loved ones hurt and abuse you, you must always be forgiving and continue to extend your hand in help and support.
    * Tough love is a cruel, inhuman and anti-loving philosophy of dealing with the troubled people in our lives and you should instead love them more when they are in trouble since "love" is the answer to all problems.
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Well said RE!!

    watch this video, it's about the difference between helping and enabling.
    The Difference Between Helping and Enabling - 6 Steps to SANITY by Allison Bottke
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  9. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Hilli, first of all, welcome. Sorry you had to find us.

    I think the contract idea is a good one to prevent misunderstandings and claims of "you never said that" later on, but honestly the detailed ones never worked for us. That's just my experience, though.

    I do think it is great that he is taking his medication and seeing the counselor.

    I worry about his pot use though. It's hard to get rid of his anxiety long-term if he is smoking. Maybe as the medications and counseling continue to help, he will have less of a need to self-medicate.

    That's a lot of "gas money." How did you discover the $75, Hilli? Did he tell you or did you find out on your own?

    This is the biggest worry I have, honestly. To me, losing that trust is a deal-breaker. But your son is very young. Hopefully he can get on the right path with the chance you are giving him.

    This is just my opinion, but why does he have until July to find a full-time job? I would make that a top priority. He should be either at work or applying in person to find work. He doesn't need to be home alone all day with the temptation of wifi and nothing to do.
  10. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    This was my question also. Why so long a wait to get a job and pay a reasonable rent?

    He can find full time work / or 2 part time jobs (doing anything actually at this point, just to get working at something.) At least he should be diligently looking and doing anything in the meantime (starting now). It doesn't matter what kind of job it is ... as long as it's legal.

    If he is really job searching and really cannot find full time equivalent job(s), then possibly require he do volunteer work for the same amount of hours / week. At least with volunteering, he will be getting work experience, which then may enhance the prospects of him getting work, or it might lead to a job. And he should then realize that If he must work at something (even volunteeing), surely (hopefully) he would choose to ramp up the efforts to get a job that he is paid for, so he has $$. (?)

    If he is given so long a time to wait ~ til July (?), why should he even bother looking sooner? That is 6 months down the road ~ a lot of time to engrain a bad habit of not working.
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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  11. Hilli

    Hilli Member

    Thank you for this information. I can see myself all over this document as I'm sure many who read my story can see as well. I'll read it again and again! Knowledge is strength and this is a good start!!
  12. Hilli

    Hilli Member

    You are correct. I've since rethought this plan as I realize, like you said that it gives him 6 more months to do nothing. This plan was written out of fear of him failing and my inability to believe I could do what needs to be done and stick to my consequences. I still have those same concerns but will be shortening that timeframe substantially. Thank you!
  13. Hilli

    Hilli Member

    I sat down with him this weekend and told him he had until February 1 to get a job and start paying rent in March. He has until 12/10 to pay some money he owes, until 1/10 to pay the $90 he stole and has to pay for his own car insurance stating end of March. I feel both empowered and scared. He knows that failure to meet these expectations is eviction. Thank you all for your help. I know this is just the beginning...
  14. bluebell

    bluebell Active Member

    This is just me and you may not be in a jurisdiction that matters, but I've been advised NOT to charge my adult child (21 in September) rent. It will be more difficult to evict if my husband ever grows the balls necessary to get on the same page with me and kick him out. There are legalities involved. That's not saying he can't pay his portion of the phone bill, utilities or something of that nature. Just get it in writing that clarifies it is NOT rent. Good luck and I'm in the same spot, but without my spouse backing me up. This is so difficult!
  15. Hilli

    Hilli Member

    So sorry to hear this! A supportive partner is extremely important and being in the same page helps so much! I didn't think about the rent part. I can't imagine him trying to stay and fighting it legally if it comes to that but it's good to know. I did have him sign a document outlining what he had to do which indicated "rent." Maybe I should go back and change it. I'll be thinking of you!
  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hilli, depending on the state you reside in, eviction laws may be in place. Here in CA. where I live, you have to give a renter, including a child who lives with you, a 30 day notice. You might check to see what the eviction laws are in your state. If you don't think your son will fight it, it may be a moot point. However, there are parents here who have gone the legal eviction route and have had to have their offspring escorted off the property by a sheriff. This was not an issue for me either, whenever I asked my daughter to leave, she left, there were no legal ramifications.
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member


    You have gotten excellent feedback and I really cannot add much more except to tell you a little bit about our own experience in this realm.

    85 percent of what you write could apply to us.

    I am the champion list of conditions writers. I have gotten close to achieving a law degree by the specificity and the consequences. Like the State Legal Code.

    Based upon my experience, understand this: you are writing the contract for you; for you to see clearly where you stand, what you need, and the seriousness and motivation your son will bring to this.

    In our history, my son blows it off for the most part. He does the little bit of it, that he chooses to do, and then defines the situation to me as "handled. I've made a great deal of progress." When the reality is anything but this.

    My son violates the spirit and conditions of every single agreement we have made, even though I have thrown him out consistently when he dos not adhere to his commitments.

    Even when it is all spelled out, he still blames me for his non-compliance.

    You see, he never wanted the contracts. They were all forced by me. He had no will to change based upon my conditions, my priorities, my timetable.

    I totally can see his point of view, but he cannot see my own. He wants what I have. He wants the security, the housing, the support I have to offer. He wants to control the nature of the exchange. He wants to set the terms on both sides.

    He views my conditions as forced on him. Which he resists. Through lies, manipulation, obfuscation and any other tactic he can devise to thwart and delay and dissemble.

    He has his own view of the desired terms on which he wants to contract: He gets what I have to offer. In exchange, he will define how he lives. He does defer to us a whole lot more than before. But the whole thing really is a giant f/u. He does not feel we have the right to impose conditions on his life. Even though each condition is for his own welfare.

    There is no buy in. Really. There is occasional compliance. The whole arrangement is wearing and it is sad.

    Most parents here believe that detachment is the answer, that we cannot make them want anything. That we cannot make them love us or love themselves. We cannot help them stay alive or safe. And these parents believe that detachment is the preferred goal, so as to extricate ourselves from an impossible situation, and give them the respect and the autonomy to live their own lives, as they choose. Without expectations or conditions.

    I am one parent here who struggles with this. Not because I cannot do it. I have. But, I do feel there may be other options, a continuum of possibilities rather than one or another.

    The contract will help you stay clear about your own needs, and it will help you monitor and evaluate his buy in, his integrity, his motivation--by results.

    I cannot speak to success. In my experience the contracts engender more resistance than anything else.

    When I think about it, I think that makes sense. Do we really want compliant adult sons?
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
  18. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    All great advice.

    The bottom line for me was: I do not want my son living in my home to DEFINE ME or MY life.

    That is what happened to us. Everything revolving around HIM. What he's doing. What he's NOT doing.

    Is he going to follow the rules? Is he not going to follow the rules?

    When's the other shoe going to drop??

    I could not live like that any longer. I don't think we were doing our son any favors by letting him live like that either. There was NO GROWTH.

    They won't ever see themselves as adults if WE DO NOT see them as adults. How can they?

    We have pushed and pushed and will continue to push him. It's not easy. I hope your son does what he needs to do so you can keep him in your home. We would have done it that way too but it just was not possible in our case and before you know it years have gone by.....
  19. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Bluebell brings up a very good point. Once you start charging rent they are considered a tenant even if they are your child. In order to get him out you may very well have to file eviction papers and that can get ugly.
    You may want to check your local laws on this.
  20. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Where I live charging rent has nothing to do with it. If anyone lives in your home for a specified period (I think it's six months) they are considered a resident and have to be legally evicted - unless they are willing to leave on their own.