Adult child's expectations


New Member
Hi all

I'm so glad I found this site as I'm at the point of needing to detach from my 34 year old son. I've realised that for about the last 20 years I've allowed him to take and take from me while also keeping me at arm's length and just throwing me a few crumbs now and then. I've allowed this to happen out of love and parental guilt (I was a struggling single mum, I was young, I was brought up by a violent alchoholic, I felt that I needed to compensate for what I perceived to be his disadvantages by doing everything for him and not expecting anything in return, grateful for any interaction with him). I always loved and adored him and he's by no means helpless, but he does struggle with anxiety and bouts of depression. However he has a job, has friends, has relationships (the last one ended a few months ago which he's still getting over), and is by no means helpless.

Last year I decided to invest in a property, and he became my tenant - he's bad with money and can never save it, so I, as usual thinking about him before myself, bought a lovely little place for him, at a rent that he can afford. Before settlement I bought everything he would need for the house, and moved it all in there - he did nothing, just moved his stuff in on moving day. I was sharing a house with a friend and paying rent, and on settlement day I had to swallow feelings of regret that I hadn't done this for myself. I found myself in a relationship at around that time which has since become serious, and we want to live together, in that house ideally for a number of reasons, mostly practical. I told my son that he can have a year to find his own place, and he became really upset and cried and said that he can never catch a break. The subtext of that conversation was that he assumed he would have that house forever. I tried to comfort him but he asked to be alone, so I sent him an email the next day explaining that I'm finally ready to allow myself to be happy and to enjoy the fruits of my labour, and that I hoped he understood that I can't, at 55, keep sharing a house and need to have my own place. I also said that I would help finance him into his own place, and that he has a year to find somewhere. He didn't respond, and yesterday I sent him a text asking to meet up this weekend to talk, and again no response.

I now feel angry and realise that I've allowed him to call the shots on our relationship since he became a stroppy teenager, and I really want to detach from him. I don't want to finance him into his own place now because he clearly has no concern for me. I just need to do it in a rational way that is not from anger, so I've desisted from contacting him while I calm down. I guess I'm writing all this here because it's like seeing something for the first time, and I can see how wrong I was for so many years just giving an giving to him. I haven't helped him or myself at all, and it's not his fault but I have to reclaim myself. At the moment I'd be quite happy never to set eyes on him again. I just want him out of my house and out of my life. Is this normal and what shall I do from here?


Well-Known Member
Hi there. I just answered "Losing Hope in CA" about money and you are welcome tor ead it and I'd say the same thing to you only...your son is a middle aged man now. You shouldn't support him at all. My 36 year old has anxiety, mood swings, and anger issues and he is way too old to expect me to support him in spite of that. He does have a job. We have tremendous issues together, however, I refuse to support my grown children. Your son should have no say in your relationship at all or if you live in your own house or not. Is he even paying rent? Does he work? Something doesn't add up here. He is like a child who is still expecting you to come to his rescue and support him. Why does he call ANY of the shots in your life? He doesn't even sound like he's very grateful. Most of our adult kids are actually grown up brats, like my 36 year old, and were overly pampered and spoiled, like my 36 year old is. He isn't a very nice man and your son doesn't sound nice either, by your description of how he treats you.

Are drugs involved? Even if not, do you feel it is healthy to take care of him like this? You and I will not live forever. Then what? My own 36 year is is too emotionally dependent on me...I'd worry even more if he were financially dependent on me.

Hugs for your hurting mommy heart, and hope you read the answer to the post I directed you to. Others will come along and may have a different take on things, however we are not much on enabling our adult children as a group. YOU have to take care of a very important person you seem to have forgotten about...YOURSELF! Your son is at an age where he needs to learn to take care of himself and it's time for you to finally enjoy your life, free of obligation to ANY children, grown or otherwise. I'm glad for your new relationship :) Hope you can take back your power!!!!


one day at a time
Hi Mum, I'm glad you are here and hope we can share with you some thoughts and our own experience.
I am sure there is a lot more to your story and your son's story, but with what you have written, I will share these thoughts. The good news, from what I am reading here, is that you have tried and tried. Buying a house for him to live in at age 34 because

he's bad with money and can never save it,

is quite an attempt to help your son. I know that I had to feel like I had tried everything I could think of---and more---before I was willing to do something different. I had to be completely sick and tired of being sick and tired.

My son's difficulties began when he entered middle school, but they were mild compared to the last four years. Does your son use drugs? You mention some anxiety and depression---is there more than these difficulties?

My son is a drug addict, and through his addiction, he has had complete failure to launch. Today he is 24.5 years old. Many of my son's friends have graduated from college, they are working at full time jobs and some are married with children.

You may be aware that a person's development basically stops when they are using drugs. My son's behavior has been at about the 15-year-old maturity level, if not a bit younger. That is the "age" from which he appears to make decisions.

It is my experience that the more I did for my son, the more he expected me to do and wanted me to do, and the less he did for himself. Finally (I am a very slow learner), I saw this in the clear light of day, and I began to work hard on myself so I could allow myself to stop doing the things he, as an adult, should be doing for himself.

To this day, he does not believe he needs help to stay off drugs. While I know that miracles do occur, the majority of people have to work a serious program of rehabilitation and recovery in order to stop taking drugs and to stay sober, one day at a time. And then, relapse still is a frequent occurrence.

Recovery is a choice. Getting help is a choice. Helping yourself, and stopping depending on other people, is a choice.

Since you asked, I will say that his behavior (and my son's behavior as well) is not normal. I would give him 30 days to leave the house. If he is not out within 30 days (under his own power and via his own arrangements and decisions) and refuses to leave, I would remove him from the house with the help of the proper authorities. I know that will be very hard to do, and it will hurt you to do it. But Mum, we don't do our adult children any favors when we protect them from the realities of life, and from growing up.

Hugs and prayers and blessings for you this night.

Today, Mum, I am standing back from my son. I see him about once a week for a very short period of time. I give him no money at all. He has been homeless for the past 40 days and he lives on the street in the town where I live. There is a shelter he can apply to stay at, and there are halfway houses he can apply to stay at. Of course, he will have to be drug-free in order to stay there. He is able to get three meals a day, take a shower, walk from place to place and wash his clothes. He has no money. He has no job. This is his choice.

If my son ever does make some progress (that is believable and consistent) toward change, there are many people who will encourage him, support him and even help him to dig out of the deep hole he has dug for himself. But Mum, we have been there and done that many, many times over the past four years, thinking that THIS TIME is the time he will take the hand we are extending to him, and then pull himself up with it. That hasn't happened, no matter how many times, and no matter what we have done.

So, today, Mum, we are done with that. We love him very much and we aren't mad at him. In fact, I have compassion for him, but I will admit I am frustrated to watch this waste of wonderful human potential, and I can't spend too much time close to it right now. If I see him in small doses, I can display my deep love for him and my encouragement.

But I do have frustration with people who just won't help themselves. That is hard for me, and I admit I do judge them, way more than I want to. I am working on that trait in myself, but I'm not there yet.

Today, I wish you some peace and some calm so you can decide what you will do next. I am sorry your son has not taken the hand you have extended to help him, and has not pulled himself up with that hand. Only you can decide what you will do.


Well-Known Member
Is this normal and what shall I do from here?

No it is not normal for a 34 year old to live off his mum and to claim he can't get a break when confronted with the fact that he can't do this forever.

It is totally reasonable to give him a deadline to move out. In the meantime you may have to figure out what to do to legally evict him if he doesn't move out. If you are worried he will act out or trash the place, you may need eviction and police.

You have the right thought in your head deserve to be happy, to live with some one you love as two adults and not two roommates, and your 34 year old deserves he same...under his own steam. Hold that thought...THIS IS THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS...and move forward one step at a time till you get there.

Keep posting. We will help.