Adult siblings mooching off of our folks


New Member
Alright, goodness.... where to begin here? I guess I'll just lay it all out. I hope this makes sense, because I struggle to make sense of it all myself. My parents are senior citizens. My dad is 70 and my mom is 66. My father is a scientist, is fairly emotionally detached from people, is a very conscientious, studious, somewhat stubborn and overall kindly person. I characterize him as the kind of guy you would ask for help on the most difficult college physics exam you've ever taken, and you could expect him to give you the right information. On the other hand, my mother is quite the opposite in many respects. She is a little emotionally detached herself. She strikes me as having an underlying fear of intimacy. I've never seen my parents acting overly sentimental towards one another. I rarely saw them in a romantic setting while growing up, and these days it really seems more like they cohabit than have a deeply enriching and rewarding relationship. Sometimes I wonder if my father really even knows how to nurture a relationship with another human being. The worst part is I don't feel much of a relationship with my parents, because when we get together none of our chitchat or attempts at familial bonding ever really feel like they pay off. I mean, sure there is the usual bland conversation and the expected exchange of pleasantries, but otherwise it feels more like a greeting amongst associates rather than a close and intimate family setting. Sometimes I wonder if my father just got so used to working with fellow scientists that he sort of forgot how to be a human and how to have a family.

Then there's me. I'm 37, a computer software engineer, I have mild Asperger's syndrome, I'm on anti-anxiety medications, and I've suffered from severe depression for most of my life. I've been addicted to pornography for a long time, which has caused serious problems for my relationships. I've gone through intense periods of hermit-like isolation from people, due to anxiety problems. I've been through addiction counseling, 12 step groups, etc... I discovered vinyasa yoga as a new breath of life into my fight against what otherwise is a nearly all-consuming addiction. In sum, I've been through an intense battle for my sanity, which I finally feel like I'm beginning to make headway against.

You may be asking at this point what any of this has to do with anything of any relevance to this forum. Well, let me try to shed some light on this: My parents have six children. My oldest brother is 42, then I have an older brother who is 40, then there's me, then I have three younger siblings who are 34 (brother), 32 (sister) and 21(sister). Now here is where things really start to get interesting. The 42 year old, 34 year old and 21 year old are all still living at home with my parents. The 42 year old has Asperger's syndrome like I do, but likely also has other mental health problems. The same thing is probably mostly true of my younger brother, and I know he is also addicted to porn. My youngest sister graduated HS in '14, and has done pretty much nothing with her life since then other than play video games in her bedroom and over at my other sister's house. She has an eating disorder and is probably autistic. Oh, by the way, my 32 year old sister literally lives in the next house over from my parents. So, four of my five siblings live within yelling distance of my parents. All are obviously adults. Most have been heavily enabled by my parents to continue with the easy lifestyles they have chosen. My father has earned a generous salary throughout much of his career. He can usually grant many of the wants of my siblings. I am even ashamed to say that up until about 10 years ago I would still mooch off of my folks from time-to-time.

Well, let's bring this full circle now and repeat what I said earlier: my dad is now 70. Having three adult children living with he and my mother is clearly wearing on him, but he seems so detached half-the-time that it is difficult to engage him in rational conversation about how completely screwed up of a situation this actually is. Here is what kind of terrifies me: my dad may not have many years left, but who knows. If he were to die in, say, 1 year, and my brothers/sister were still living at home then I guess the burden of their support would fall on my mom. Well, that's not going to last long. Eventually things will trickle down to the point that someone is going to come knocking on my door asking for a place to stay (indefinitely?!) My wife and I talked about this possibility, and we're both pretty certain that such an arrangement would be nearly intolerable (we have young children). That and the fact my brothers are into porn is kind of scary considering we have daughters...

Well, ok... maybe that's a little absurd, but honestly weirder things have happened in this family of mine. I want to help my parents begin urging my siblings out of their comfort zones and into a more independent situation. I tried emailing my dad about this last night, but he never responded. I almost wonder if he has resigned himself to this fate of having three adult children living in his house. At least my younger brother recently found a somewhat decent job. That IS something. My older brother and youngest sister are unemployed.

I love my folks tremendously, but I am well aware that it's useless to try to steer a parked car. I mean, what can I do? If my dad won't even engage me in conversation over the topic (and I can tell it is enormously stressful on him to even bring it up) then what can I possibly do about this? I'm tried of seeing my folks get mooched by my siblings. Regardless of all of the mental illness that seems to plague my family, enough is enough!


Well-Known Member
Hmmm. I wonder if your dad is also on the spectrum im sure you know its hereditary.

At any rate, there is nothing YOU can do. You cant control anyone but yourself...not dad or mom or siblings. Let it go. Waste of time to try to change another person. Your parents allow the siblings to live with them and the siblings wont move out just because you want them to. Maybe encourage the autistic sibs who have trouble working to apply for social security disability and other services. But you cant make them do it.

Having said all that that, you do have 100% control over you and what you allow. Why dont you set a boundary and tell your siblings in advance that nobody can move in with you, then stick to it. Nobody is duty bound to house and support all his siblings or even one of them. If you chose to allow them to move in, that is on you. No is a complete sentence and you already have a family. You dont have to repeat your parents mistakes unless you wamt to.

At 70 your dad can still live another twenty years.

Good luck!!
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in a daze

Well-Known Member
You are in a really difficult position. Maybe seeing a family therapist would help you hold your boundaries and give you a guideline for dealing with your parents and the entrenched siblings.

We have dealt with some extreme enabling ourselves in my husbands family. It is so frustrating to watch the elderly parents give, and give, and give several hundred thousand dollars to one brother and his two children, and not being able to do anything about it...grandma and grampa think they are "helping" when they are really just fostering dependency. Unbeknownst to them and most of the family, one grandchild spent most of the money on cocaine and prostitutes.

Most of the mooching has stopped now that Grandpa is deceased and my husband is now in control of the estate (poor Grandpa died in an accident and there was a settlement). Now the siblings are fighting over the distributions and the one who is the most contentious is, of course, the enabled son. Who would have thought???

I don't know if there's much you can do except to set your boundaries about them moving in with you. It's kind of a fine line...when does support of adult children slide into the realm of financial manipulation/elder abuse? Many communities have Departments of Aging which will have a a social worker come out and do an evaluation.

I wish you the best in dealing with all of this...



Well-Known Member
Perhaps your parents are using their children, too, to avoid intimacy.

I am close to their age. I feel entirely competent to make decisions and to set boundaries.

My mother, now gone, was to a large extent used by my younger sister. Until the relationship got clearly abusive, I let them manage their relationship as they saw fit. I believe people have a right to make their own mistakes. As long as my mother was competent, I left it alone.

I agree with in a daze, make sure you know your limits and keep the boundaries that are important to you. You have a lot on your plate to deal with. You have no obligation to take in to your home (or even your life) adults who have sought to avoid responsibility for making their own lives.

There are all kinds of behavioral supports available for people who seek them, as you have availed yourself of some.

I would try to stay out of it.


Roll With It
It sounds to me as if your parents may also have aspergers or some form of autism/mental illness. You may want to get Social Services/Elder Care involved in an anonymous way (if this is possible) if you think your parents are being taken advantage of. Of course, I wonder how much your siblings are capable of caring for themselves. They may need the help of Social Services to get SSI set up to help them if they are disabled enough by their aspergers that they are not capable of working.

Other than reporting this as possible financial elder abuse, I don't think there is much you can do. MAYBE encouraging the family to have your siblings sign up for SSI? But otherwise, that is about it.

I think you need to be clear in your own mind about what you will be willing to do to help your siblings cope when your parents are gone. What you will be willing and able to give, and for how long you will be willing to give it, is something that you need to think about. You do NOT need to make a point of telling anyone about it You just need to be clear in your own mind about what you are going to do.

This is pretty much all you can do about this. I know it hurts to see your parents taken advantage of, but it is their choice. Unless they are not competent to manage their own money, there is truly nothing that you can do. Now if they are giving themselves into poverty, then the question of competency may be something that needs to be addressed by a court. But that doesn't sound like the case.


Well-Known Member
Susie, as usual you said what i meant, only better.

I do think the autistic siblings would do best to get services. If they need help accessing them due to the degree of their disability, then I feel taking snd helping them apply for Disability and the services that comes with it is compassionate. Some autistics get confused and overwhelmed snd sensory crazed with details and need assistance navigating how to get these services.

But disabled people can be independent with the right supports. It does not help to feel sorry for them and not teach them how to become independent. I think you would do them no service by making them feel helpless and shielding them from how they can become as independent as possible. Some mentally ill or other disabled adults need group homes to supervise their medications and keep an eye on them, but there is more independence there than being under parental/older sibling authority.

Adult kids and parents and even authority figure siblings tend to fall into the role of parent/cild if they live together.....
telling the younger what to do. It is hard for adult children to deal with that, even if they have challenges. And it is hard not to have high expectations of them that they maybe are unable to achieve if they live with us. So heartbreakake happens. Anger. Frustration. Chaos. They leave. They cone back. But they dony leRn to do for themselves at their highest level or where to get help in functioning if they need it. There are supports to help the disabled. And they are not as emotionally involved.

This is your beloved family, but helping them doesnt mean housing and paying their way. You have your own family.

I hope you can come to peace with this and lots of good luck!
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A dad

Active Member
I do not know how you can help your older siblings but your youngest you can encourage him to keep going on the right track. Sure he is 21 and still living with his parents you where 27 and still depending on them trying to do good is not easy but it will be easier if someone encourage this and enforced how good he is doing.

He has a job encourage him to keep working to gather money and keep going. I can not really help you with the other siblings in any way as I think there is none.

Chose the battles you have a chance to win.


Well-Known Member
trying to do good is not easy but it will be easier if someone encourage this and enforced how good he is doing.
I agree with this a dad. This is what I am trying with my own son.

He wants to be close to us but he does not want to work at a job. Nor does he want to stop using marijuana.

But we have kicked him out before. Over a four year period. There were gains: way less hostility and aggression; his basic gentleness and kindness reappeared; greater stability with his moods. But there will losses too: he suffered at the hands of the world; he began a pattern of lying and manipulating; he developed his marijuana habit; he was homeless and saw and experienced things I would never have wanted him to see.

We as parents have so few tools at our disposal to effect them. We have to pray and depend on what we have instilled in them, in prior years, to kick in at some point, if it does.

My son knows that his great power over us, is our great love.

Our logic is the same as yours--that near us we can reinforce the positive. But thus far, there is no way to curb the negative until he is motivated to do it.

Any ideas?

It is always good to find that you have posted, a dad. I very much value your wise perspective.


Well-Known Member
I would encourage your parents to have your oldest sibling move out immediately. Help to analyze what that would take and see what steps could be done to make that happen. See if you could have any other mentally healthy siblings support you in this endeavor. I would also tell your parents, when the second oldest sibling turns 35, time for him to go as well. This means your second sibling would likely have a little warning, so it wont be as difficult of a move. Let him know that he'll need to move out by his next birthday and that this is actually a good and positive thing.

Think about what types of support services have been of most help to you in your career and so forth and see if they would apply to your siblings.

If your older siblings truly have difficulties, it might not be a very bad idea for them to move relatively close by to your parents. But, it is abusive for adult men to live within the home of their elderly parents and to completely rely on them.

They should be as independent as possible. This should be their goal, intention and eventual outcome.

A Dad makes a good point re: concentrating your efforts on the youngest. Also, encouraging any of your siblings who are already working to continue working and to be self sufficient.
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100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
You told your dad how you feel and he has not responded to your email; maybe you should have this discussion with him in person also.

I would talk to those that live with your parents and mention to them that your parents are getting older and should be able to enjoy this time in their lives without having the majority of their "children" at home.

In some cultures families live this way and they like it. Not saying that no one works by the way!

Of course, there is nothing you can do to change any of this. You can just offer your advice and support and then you probably have to let it be. Obviously your home is for your wife and the family you created and you don't ever want to hint otherwise!

Good luck!