Adult Children on the Dole: Parental Support With Strings Attached

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Dear Dr. Darcy:

I’m in my late 20’s and I’m writing because I think my parents are abusive.

I come from a lot of money. Both of my parents were born into money and my father has made millions. I believe they have used their money to control me, to make me feel as though I’m mentally ill and now I’m basically dependant on them not just for money but for management of my life.

I’ve been in therapy my entire life and have been diagnosed with a bunch of things from ADD to Bipolar. I don’t think I have either. The point is that my parents have spent so much money sending me to therapists that eventually, just to keep my parents happy they all agree with my parents about how fucked up I am.

I’ve tried living alone and every time I do, they [my parents] find a reason to bring me back to their home. The last time I lived alone everything was going well. I was on the verge of getting a job (it was when the bottom fell out of the economy so in my defense it wasn’t easy for a relatively new grad to find work) and of course when my lease was up, they refused to renew it and I had to come home.

How do I get away from their control? How do I build a life for myself so that I don’t live with them the rest of my life?

ANSWER

I’m taking you at your word that you don’t really have any disabilities (ADHD/Bipolar, etc), but you should know that my answer would change significantly if you did. I have ADHD and I can tell you first hand that it took me years to learn how to manage it and compensate for it.  Fixing your parental enmeshment without working out a treatment plan for any legit diagnoses you may have is a setup for failure.

You need to get out of their home. I’ve seen parents render adult children dependant on them for decades. Don’t let that happen to you. You are correct: They are controlling you and ultimately disabling you with their money. You MUST find a way to become independent.

Since the beginning of time, people have come to this country with nothing: no job, no skills, no money - and have made lives for themselves.  But even the land of opportunity can look bereft of opportunities if the lens through which you see the world is foggy. And it sounds to me as though your parents have been dirtying up your lens for years.  You’re now an adult. It’s your responsibility to clean that lens and challenge the beliefs that you were raised with.

You do not need millions to support yourself. You do not even need thousands. You can rent a room in a house or an apartment with other young adults for as little as a few hundred dollars a month. You’ll first have to get a job and save some money. But initially you only need enough money for the day or the week that you’re in. I suspect that your parents have made it look impossible to be self-sufficient.  That belief is harming you. Challenge it. It’s incorrect.

I recommend that you look into Debtor’s Anonymous, not because you’re necessarily in debt (other than the emotional kind that your parents have saddled you with), but because it is a fellowship of people who have learned how to manage their money and thus manage their lives in a sustainable way. They offer practical tools which I strongly suggest you begin using.

If you get a job and begin attending DA meetings regularly, I’d be willing to bet that in less than 6 months you’re able to get your own place.

Writer’s Stats: Male, Gay