Failure To Launch

Dr. Darcy:

I’m writing about my 24 year old son who is still living at home.  He graduated college a few years ago (in this terrible economy) and has been unable to get a job in his chosen profession.  He planned to move out right after the summer but by the time he got his resume together and began interviewing it was almost August.  A few months later he started working with a neighbor’s father in his construction business making about $350.00 cash weekly.  The job keeps him very busy and my concern is that he’s not applying to jobs anymore.  My husband and I have been covering his student loan payments and the only thing my son pays for is his car and his cell phone.  I’m wondering what I can do to help propel him into his life (and out of mine).


In general, you need to stop enabling your son or he will never move out.  Specifically, you need to stop paying for his student loans and you need to work out a dollar amount that he should pay you for rent.  Since rent is typically 30% of someone’s salary, charge him (roughly) $450.  If the thought of taking money from your child causes you to break out in hives, you may put the money that he pays you in an account for him and when he moves out you may give him the money to help him start his life. Don’t tell him that you’re hording the money for him or it will defeat the purpose (to build his muscle of dishing out cash monthly to pay for housing).

Yes, it’s a bad economy. But you’re making things mighty comfy for Junior.  You’re cooking for him, right?  And doing his laundry?  I thought so.  And does he have any responsibilities to do in the home to maintain the home (cleaning, errands, repairs), or do you do that as well?  Keep it up and he’s never moving out.  In 2 years his girlfriend/boyfriend will move in and then you’ll have a real party on your hands.

For the record, Junior should have been applying for jobs before he graduated college, not just getting his shit together by August.  You think 6 months wouldn’t have made a difference? Do you remember what the economy was like in February 2008 vs. August 2008? There was a difference, and even if there wasn’t, we all knew we were in a recession.  Why would he wait until the summer to begin his job search?  Because he knew Mom would let him come home and would cover his expenses.  Look, this kid’s going to live with you indefinitely unless you give him a reason to get his shit together.  So take a deep breath, grab your ovaries and begin parenting your young adult son in a way that differs from how you parented him in high school.

Writer’s Stats: Female, heterosexual.