Enabling... Helicopter?


Active Member
I've posted before about my 20 year old who almost didn't complete community service, my parents overstepped, told me I was signing his death certificate because I was making him leave our home, but in the end he's out of the court system. He asked and we let him move back home after he finished, and started a new job this past weekend. He didn't do enough research into the job and won't get nearly enough hours to be independent any time soon. Here's my question .. While he's living at home, is it enabling to help do his laundry or make him meals? As a mom I want to help, and when he's not doing things on his own I want to step in and help. But I know I really shouldn't. Is it totally enabling and/or helicoptoring doing these things for him? by the way, we don't give him money, just room and food. Thanks for your thoughts.


Well-Known Member
My personal opinion is if you do his laundry and cooking he should contribute in other ways. Mow the lawn, take out garbage, easy repairs whatever as long as he takes some rsponsibility.


Well-Known Member
I will only say what I think. It does not make it right or wrong.

It seems you want to do his laundry and make meals. I think this is kind and caring. It is also a way to be close and supportive. But that is only if son is acting entitled, lazy, and demanding.

I am assuming that you do the family laundry and you prepare family meals, or food for yourself. To include your son is part of being a family.

If you feel it might be enabling, to do for him things he could and should be doing himself, perhaps you may consider the following:

You might want to sit down with him and to determine what household chores could be his responsibility. Yard work, house work, windows, caring for pets, shopping, etc. Maybe he will want to cook 1 or 2 dinners a week. I think that would be encouraging both responsibility and reciprocity.

I also think it might be a reasonable idea to consider a monthly rent. And I think if you are preparing most of the food, it is not out of line that he purchase some groceries. Maybe you can set it up that he buys groceries for the meals he prepares. I think this would be lovely if he were to cook for you. I just bought an Instant pot and I am having loads of fun, except I have not figured out how to use it. The concept itself is fun.

Each of these things would convey to him that you consider him a responsible adult.

Good luck.

PS I just read Tired Mama's post. I agree with her.

Am I understanding correctly that son complied with the court, completed his requirements, and discharged his responsibilities? And that all is well? And that he is working, too? And that he asked to come home, and you agreed? And then on top of it all, he is working?

All of this is wonderful. I am so happy for you.


Active Member
So I'm not sure I gave enough information. If you he ate dinner /meals with us I wouldnt even hesitate to make food for him. I'm more talking about when he's upstairs on his computer which is essentially what he does when he's not working and is too invested /lazy to stop and get food for himself. And yes, I do my and my husband's laundry, and wouldn't mind doing his if it were in the the laundry room, but again he has almost all day every day free. (Works at night.)


Well-Known Member
I come from a different perspective

While I dont find it right or wrong to do nice motherly things for Son, I always wanted my kids to one day be totally independent and one even had autism.

By age 12 all could and often did their own laundry and didnt complain about it. My girls wanted their clothes done THEIR way anyhow. The kids could eat with us or cook themselves. Since often they had other things to do, they all learned to cook too. And mowing the lawn? My kids did that as well as shovel snow....we are talking high school. We paid them a little and they liked that but I would expect an adult to do it. No favors for being considerate.

Our adult kids have to know how to take care of themselves. I would not cook for a kid who is on the computer. He needs to learn to make his own meals anyway. Few women will baby our adult kids like we do. I feel it is good for them to learn life skills. Women these days get very angry at men who wont do anything. Women usually work full time too and expect help.
Last edited:

Deni D

Well-Known Member
If it were me I wouldn't be making him separate meals, even with his different work schedule. I might be sure to cook more at times so he has some healthy leftovers to heat up. And the laundry, if you are willing to do it for him if it makes it's way to the laundry room then I'd figure he doesn't want it done if it doesn't get to the laundry room.
But with that I think it would be considered appropriate for him to have other things around the house to be responsible for, like cleaning, mowing and such.


Well-Known Member
It sounds like you may think he is lazy. It sounds like you may feel he is making poor choices with his time staying in his room on his computer.

I will be blunt here. To work FOR him, to cook for him and to do his laundry, while you may harbor critical feelings, or even resentment, would not be the ideal situation for you or for him.

In my house my son prepared his own meals and did his own laundry. I never thought about doing it for him. Ever. That does not make it right or wrong. I just never wanted to do those things, and did not want the responsibility. It was his. And he did not want me too either.

But even if you do not cook for him and do his laundry, I think it might be good for both of you that he contributed and worked around the house, while he is there. Also. Is there a date in mind, by which he will move out? That might give him incentive to work more hours.

I think it may work against your interests to make him comfortable in the house. I think also that enabling is less to do with specific enabling things, and more to do with an underlying dynamic at work in a relationship and in a family. I don't remember if you are attending Al Anon or in personal therapy. Therapy is helping me. I think Al Anon would too.


Well-Known Member
Hi Care,

I think you need to look at this differently.

Most of our difficult adults don’t want to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. So, when we do any of these ‘responsible adult everyday life chores’ for them, they think they are entitled to having someone else do them. That they are already doing more than enough, just by working a job.

This doesn’t help them to learn to become responsible adults. This sets them back in their development.

It sounds like he is already getting into a rut. He is not looking for another job, even though he is not getting enough hours at his current one, and he is probably not doing any of the household maintenance chores around the home.

The least he should be doing is feeding and clothing himself.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Like SWOT, I made my kids responsible for their own laundry early on - I think it was around age 13 (my mom did the same to me!). That doesn't mean I didn't ocasionally throw something in for them form tine to time. The way I look at it is this: Saying, "hey I'm doing a load of darks, do you have anyting you want me to throw in with it?" is being kind/helpful. Going into his room and collecting all his laundry and washing it, is more along the lines of "enabling."

I also agree that there's no need to fix him special meals .. but if you're cooking for yourself/SO, no problem with inviting him to join in.

Good luck!


Active Member
Thank you everyone for your thoughts. What I've gained in reading everyone's opinions. I am going to wash clothes IF they make it down to the laundry room. He is welcome to rat with us any time, but I will not makes extra meals when he is totally capable and has so much extra time. (A little extra background .. He was born skinny and then got even skinnier after starting adhd medications when Younger. He is still way too skinny and I know he would feel better all the way around if he chooses to eat more. He's bern off of all medications for several years now.) I will also ask for him to do more around the house with expectations it will be done and with no attitude. I have been going to a wonderful therapist but lots has happened lately and I'm not in as healthy of a place and am questioning everything I'm doing.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Here's my take on it.

He's an adult and should be doing his own laundry.
As for meals, if he isn't paying rent or somehow contributing to the food budget, then I say, okay, you can eat with us but you will clean up after the meals.
Does he know how to cook? How about one night a week you will help him cook a meal for the family.

I'm assuming the ultimate goal here is to have him move out someday and be able to take care of himself. Now is the time and place to help him learn those life skills.


Well-Known Member
Most of our difficult adults
I like this. They ARE adults. Yes. They are Difficult Adult Children, yes. But we are not served by that child word in there. It is regressive for US. When I began to see my son as an ADULT it became really, really hard for ME. Because I really had to accept that his actions made him a BAD person. And it made me have to face how really, really problematic were his behaviors, his conduct, his choices, and that he could well never ever change. After all. I was trying EVERYTHING to get him to change. And there, lies the problem and the kernel of truth. Why would we treat them as our children when their hair is getting gray? I do not know why I had such a hard time with this. Except for that word: child.
So, when we do any of these ‘responsible adult everyday life chores’ for them, they think they are entitled to having someone else do them.
My son could not see the logic of paying rent, because, why should he? So much more money for marijuana and other crap? Why should SHE want or need the money? She's not entitled to it. Better it stay in MY pocket, not hers.

I learned (painfully) that there was NOT ONE THING I could do for my son, or with him. Because EVERY SINGLE THING was coming from a place of either entitlement on his part, or wanting control (my part) to effect a result (his betterment.) I had to accept that I had no right to think, feel, or want anything with respect to his persona or life, let alone betterment. My only proper role was in effecting my own betterment. Duh.
That they are already doing more than enough, just by working a job.
Give me a break. My son seems to believe he is doing more than enough, breathing. By his actions and attitudes he demonstrates that he is a puppeteer--and I am the puppet. Jerk my chain, and I perform. It took years for this to reveal itself to me, in its truth. As long as my son believed that his life mattered so much, as in life and death, to me, he was not ultimately responsible for his own life. I was. In his mind he was not responsible.

I had to get myself completely out of it. Because I could no longer let myself be a puppet. For my own self.

I am coming to see this as a form of stealing a person's life force, the illusion that I have responsibility in another adult's life. He deserves his own life and life story. As a street person druggie, or a dead person, if that is his choice. He is no longer my child.

If I have to severe the relationship completely, in order to give him his life, and me my own, I will do it.

Recently I see that ANY contact at all is destructive. Because in his relationship to me he believes it is OKAY to destroy me. Apparently, this is the case. Because that is the result. But, see. I am viewing this wrongly. It is me who believed it was okay that the result be that I be destroyed. In order that he live. Who would do that? A mother. See how destructive is that c word, child?

I am writing these things because I seem to need to write them. But I also think this could apply to others. Your son is a man. Let him live a man's life. Learn from my mistakes.

I really, really liked Apple's post.
Last edited:

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Chiming in here. My 17 year old does his own laundry. Sometimes he adds mine of he has a small load. I want him to know how to do it. He cooks, rakes, takes out the garbage and helps clean the house. He will be a senior this year and needs to know how to take care of himself.
When my two were in and out the revolving door, it was hard to get them to do anything. Time was spent watching tv, or on the computer while we were working. It was super frustrating. So yes, they were not appreciative of the "help" and felt entitled.
I would suggest your son contribute to household expenses, as well as doing his own laundry, and eating the meals you cook. I would not make him too comfortable. I agree with Apple that our difficult kids feel entitled.
It is a hard place to be questioning yourself and everything you are doing. I hope you are feeling better!


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
I agree that the less you do for your son the better.

You don't want to make it so good that he never leaves home right? You don't want his someday wife have to treat him like she's his mother either.

My son is coming home in November after a 13 month faith based program. He will be 23.

I have told him that we want him to be independent. This is a stop for him. Not his final journey. We will not treat him like a child but like our equal and he will be expected to carry his own weight. I cannot go back to that. Years missed but it's over.


Well-Known Member
He has to learn essential life skills. Laundry and cooking are things we have to learn to do. People think cooking is harder than it actually is. Anybody can put frozen fish fillets in the oven. Throw a bag of frozen vegetables in the microwave. He will see how easy it is after once or twice. Keep lunch meat and sliced cheese and bread in the house. He can make a sandwich. It's easy to make a salad or heat up a Stouffer's frozen meal in the microwave. I love the frozen Tyson Anytizers. Anybody could put those in the oven, even if they've never seen an oven!


Well-Known Member
I don't think it is about the DIFFICULTY of these (simple) tasks It is the will to do it, the motivation.

And our own motivation to allow them to.
Last edited:


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
My son said I will be very surprised when he comes home. He said he even cleans toilets!! Amen to that I say!


Well-Known Member
If my son with autism can easily learn at a young age to slice meat and cheese, an adult can. I wouldnt make it easy for Son to make a sandwich. He is a man. He'd better learn to do things on his own. Nobody is going to make his life easy.

I also had my kids working part time after classes in high school. They paid for much of their stuff and had to use OUR cars...we wanted them to work for what they had. No cars for them on our dime...teaches them entitlement and Dad and Mom are Christmas!!

All four of my grown kids have great work ethics. None whine for our money. All do chores at their homes. Even my kids that were difficult
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
I wouldn’t buy any special foods for your son, either. If you keep lunch meat in your house then continue, but if you don’t, don’t start buying it for him.

And don’t buy frozen items for him. He will be even less likely to eat family meals if he has quick, easy (and expensive) convenience food available.

If he wants junk food/convenience food, he will need to work more to buy it himself. Plus, the more you do for him, the more entitled he will feel.


Roll With It
I have 2 adult children living with us. Now that they are adults, they need to be good roommates as well as my children. I do have rules about having people spend the night, etc.... but my kids are adults now. They are expected to work and go to school. They are to clean up and not just after themselves. One does most of the cooking, one does the kitchen cleaning. They do most of the laundry. I do what I can, but I am not physically able to do much.

I WANT my kids to think of their behavior in the terms of "good roommate" so that when they leave my home, they won't have huge roommate problems. Plus they can take care of themselves. If one of my kids is so involved in the computer, clearly they don't NEED food. Or laundry. If they need laundry, they will get it done in a way that won't be a problem for me. It is what it is.

You know in your heart what the best thing to do is. You said it in your first post "I want to step in and help. But I know I really shouldn't." That is your answer right there, loud and clear.

Let your son be a man and take care of himself. Teach him to be an adult, not a child who has to have his mother take care of him. Have faith that if you insist on it, he will actually grow up.