I have a 24 year old son who I believe needs behavioral therapy. He lives with us but avoids the rest of the family at all costs. He is currently enrolled in community college but takes as many online clases as possible. He is unemployed. He feels he would rather “sit in his room” than work a “crappy job at McDonalds.” He is rude, disrespectful and unappreciative. We have tried to have conversations with him about his life plans, getting a job, etc, and we end in a circular conversation where he makes everything OUR fault. I see him retreating further and further and am very concerned. He does not have any money so I am not especially suspectful that drugs are involved. He has a history of depression when he was 16. I feel strongly that he needs behavioral intervention but at his age I am not in a position to force it. He is not willing to consider counseling. What do I do??
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People who are 24 years of age are completing school and working. For some, completing school means finishing High School, while for others, it means finishing college or advanced graduate degrees. In all cases, these people are working. This is especially true today when the economy is so bad and everyone is having a hard time paying bills, including tuition. Yet, your son is not working. I am guessing that he does not have to pay you household expenses while he lives there. At the very same time he arrogantly rejects working at McDonald’s.
There comes a time when every parent of an adult child must draw a line beyond which adult children cannot go. In the case of your son that line should be that he pay household expenses or leave. If he has no money then he must get a job. If he refuses then it’s time for him to move out and live on his own.
In addition to working and paying home expenses by contributing to the household there must be house rules that he must live by. That means that he not be allowed to be rude or disrespectful. He is old enough to know better. He is old enough to know that, as an adult, he is a guest in your house.
You are correct when you say that you cannot force him to go to therapy. At his age it would not even be appropriate to do so. He’s an adult and that is his decision.
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If this sounds harsh to you it is not meant to. Every human being must face reality in coping with life. It is time your son faced those realities. You are not helping him by allowing him to stay in your house while he hides in a bedroom.
Best of Luck