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A Situation For Tough Love?

Question:

Is there a psychological problem with an adult in his 30’s still living with a parent? Can any advice be given to get him to move on with his life and move out? Should he seek therapy and what kind of therapy would be best?

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Answer:

A fair number of adult children live with their parents these days. There are many reasons for this arrangement (the high price of housing, for instance) and most of them probably don’t have to do with mental illness or psychological problems. The key to such an arrangement should be that both the child and the parent accept and feel reasonably good about living together. If the parent wants the child to move out, but the child doesn’t want this to happen, there will be a problem.

Talk honestly and directly with your child and tell him that you want him to move out (if that is what you’re wanting here). Explore the reasons why he can’t/won’t do this if that is the case. Unless he is severely disabled there will be few reasons he couldn’t move out that could not be fixed with a plan and some time. Help him to get a plan to become self-supporting (getting a job if he doesn’t have one, etc.) and set a deadline for him to be out of the house. Then keep to your end of the deal. So far as I know, you are not under any obligation to support your adult child or provide housing for him. You could kick him out if you wanted to do so (assuming you (and not he) owns the house). Ultimately you may wish to do that.

If your son is, in fact, dealing with a psychological problem, then mandate that he gets help for that problem as part of his plan. Help could come from psychiatrist prescribed medications, regularly scheduled psychotherapy, alcohol or drug recovery, AA or another 12-step program, etc. If he repeatedly doesn’t stick with his program, you won’t be doing him any favors by keeping him in house and home.

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