Rona Maynard Let's Talk

Letters from Rona

Wanted: online support group for parents with adult kids at home


Just after my most recent speech on dealing with difficult people, a 40-something woman approached me and confided in a desperate half-whisper, "My problem is my 22-year-old daughter who lives with me. She's a single mother with no job and no plans. She doesn't lift a finger to help around the house. I don't know how much more of this I can take. What should I do?"

Parents all over the continent are asking the same thorny question as downsized, recession-weary children shuffle back to their refuge of last resort: the family home. It's only natural for caring moms and dads to want to help their kids regroup. Yet it's equally natural for resentment to set in when "a few months" morph into a year or more, with no plan to move on or contribution to the family's well-being.

There ought to be an online support group where frustrated parents can learn from the real experts---other parents who have been there and survived to tell the tale. You'd think that somewhere in cyberspace, there'd be a virtual hearthside for parents who want to help their kids without coddling them (talk about a delicate balance). But I've been looking for that haven for months. And I haven't found it yet (if I've missed something, do speak up).

My search began last fall, when Canada's Best Health magazine asked me to find out how two generations of adults can share the family home with a sense of purpose and good will. I interviewed a therapist who knows a thing or two about setting limits and making them stick. I consulted a financial planner who has seen retirees compromise their future to support so-called "boomerang kids." Friends connected me with families who have actually grown closer while an adult child regrouped at home---although they did admit to some glitches along the way.

Meanwhile I put out a call on this website for stories from the front lines of multi-generational living. I expected that some of those stories would be cautionary tales from can't-cope, wit's-end parents worn out by the surly presence of a layabout son or daughter. When weeks went by and no one responded, I pressed on with my magazine piece.

I backed up my research with a wealth of personal experience. Unlike anyone else I knew, I had lived this topic from both the parent's and the child's point of view. When my son returned to the nest in his 20s and stayed around for a year, my husband and I found soon found ourselves itching to reclaim our privacy, yet unable to propose a firm move-out date. I used to complain about this at the office---to the point where one cheeky staffer, about the same age as my son, piped up that she knew the solution: "Why don't you and your husband start having wild sex on the kitchen table? That'll get rid of him!"

Perhaps history was repeating. When I was 23, temporarily estranged from my husband, I too returned home to my old room. I had no money, no plans and a toddler in tow. (Sound familiar?) I expected a well-stocked fridge, and occasionally deigned to sweep the kitchen floor. My mother never told me it was time to start living like a grownup, nor did she set a deadline on my presence in her home. She waited, seething, for the problem to solve itself, which it eventually did when I returned to my marriage. 

A literary scholar, my mother had been quoting poems all my life. Her favourite passages included this, from Robert Frost's"The Death of the Hired Man:"

Home is the place where, when you have to go there,

They have to take you in.

Maybe so. But that doesn't mean they have to let their daughter veg out in front of their TV, scattering granola crumbs, instead of looking for work.

My mother could have used some straight talk---and a good kick in the pants---from parents who understood her challenge. But none of her friends had seen a household like the one she and I were sharing so uneasily. Back then, more than 35 years ago, it was not considered cool for young people to live with their parents. I felt secretly ashamed of occupying a virginal room with flocked wallpaper and a child-size desk, instead of a funky flat where Chianti-swilling hipsters partied the night away. And I suspect that my normally take-charge mother felt ashamed of her inability to set any limits on my presence in her home, or impose any rules.

Now that I've walked in her shoes, I understand her hesitation. Mothers, especially, tend to want to shield their children from pain and disappointment. We can't bear the thought of our darlings camping out on a succession of couches, when we've got a perfectly good spare room. We don't want them slinging burgers when they dream of writing a screenplay. But some young adults need to rough it for a while in order to learn that they can cope without our nudging, controlling hand. Our task is not to keep them happy, but to prepare them for the world so that they can make their own happiness. And despite what we may fear, we will not lose their love for sticking to that all-important principle.

My article was published this month in the July/August issue of Best Health (if you live in the U.S., check the near-identical sister magazine, Best You). I stand behind everything I wrote but I'm convinced that some parentsn could use more intensive guidance than a magazine piece can provide. They may not be able to afford family therapy, and they may crave a sounding board daily, not just once a week. That's why they need a support group. And they just might be creating one right here.

I thought no one noticed my previous post Parents with adult children at home: do you have a story to share? Turns out I was mistaken. That page has attracted a steady trickle of visits from parents looking for advice (I know because I monitor the search terms that bring you here). More recently, questions and comments have popped up. If you're not sure how to handle an adult child's return to your home, I promise you'll learn from the real-life wisdom of Pamela, Lisa and Susan. Take a look and see for yourself.



Posted by Rona June 28, 2009 @ 3:00 AM. File in Family ties


Your comments

Number of Comments  23 responses to "Wanted: online support group for parents with adult kids at home"

Mrs. Tarquin Biscuitbarrel
June 29, 2009 at 12:12PM
Rona, you amaze me. You always have something just for me, tied up in a ribbon!

Our middle son (the former "Mr. Ringlet"!) is nineteen. He just graduated from high school, does not plan to go to college, and has no plans to leave home. He has agreed to look for a job after he undergoes a fairly major operation next month. This is far from his first surgery, and as always I'm full of empathy. I am also afraid it's going to be the longest recuperation on record, as he's scared to death to look for a paying job. He has a marvelous personality, and is by far the most outgoing member of the family, so once he gets going, he'll probably be fine. But the interim is difficult, and he can be very nasty to me. My husband has spoken firmly to our son about this (not to much effect), as well to our son's psychiatrist, whom I have never met. So any online, confidential help is more than welcome.

Thanks for the link! Better times ahead!
Rona Maynard
June 30, 2009 at 6:06 AM
Hmmm. Sounds as if the emotional heat will be on at your house for a good while yet. A few questions to think about: Do you and your husband have any plans for your son to achieve independence and move out? Can you present a united front? As for your husband's "speaking firmly" to your son, nothing will change if there are no consequences for his behavior.
Elaine Fogel
June 29, 2009 at 6:06PM
Rona, I found these U.S. stats very interesting:
According to the Census Bureau, 5.1 million Americans ages 25 to 34 were living in the home of a parent in 2008 ? a 20 percent increase from 2004. Even more surprising, a survey in January by AARP, the lobby for older Americans, found that 11 percent of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 were living with parents or in-laws.

No matter what the trends show and how the economy has affected our lifestyle, it's healthy for young adults to move out and grow up. They are stunted at home and will remain adult "children" until they develop their own life skills and independence. Remember the concept of room mates? :)

Rona Maynard
June 30, 2009 at 6:06 AM
Ah, but your roommate doesn't have a plasma TV and a fridge full of nibblies for the taking.
Mrs. Tarquin Biscuitbarrel
July 02, 2009 at 6:06AM
You hit the nail on the head, Rona. It is very difficult for the two of us to "present a united front," nor are there any significant consequences to our son's negative behavior toward me. He's become a real buddy to my husband, and spends more time with him (time awake, that is) than I do. Our son's lack of future direction and how he's dealing, or not dealing, with it is presents probably the biggest conflict in our marriage to date.

The plans will come, must come. As of today, the surgery may have to be postponed for medical reasons, and that postpones everything else, everything. Thanks for the ear... all best, Mrs. B
Rona Maynard
July 08, 2009 at 3:03 PM
Sorry to hear that your family will be in limbo for what sounds like a good while yet. And I'm not surprised that your marriage has never been so fraught. It's hard enough for a couple to deal with a child's serious health problem when they're in perfect harmony. I sense that you feel isolated in your family (two against one). You're taking care of a less than appreciative son, but who's taking care of you? Are you doing something for yourself--it could be small, short and free--every day, like talking to an understanding friend? I'd recommend family counseling if I thought you had the money. But with a chronic health problem in the family and surgery upcoming, I suspect that's a faint hope. So give yourself a break whenever and however you can. If you can't do it for yourself, then do it for the family. Stressful relationships can damage your health if the conflict drags on. And you clearly can't afford to get sick.
claudette sandecki
July 02, 2009 at 12:12PM
Hi Rona,rnrnYou hit the nub when you wrote:rnrn\" But some young adults need to rough it for a while in order to learn that they can cope without our nudging, controlling hand. Our task is not to keep them happy, but to prepare them for the world so that they can make their own happiness. And despite what we may fear, we will not lose their love for sticking to that all-important principle.\"rnrnOnly last week Dr. Phil did a show on this very topic. He told parents of a 25-year-old, \"You are hobbling your child as much as if you trussed his ankles together.\" Your child cannot grow up unless you allow him ( or her) the chance to test his limits, discover his own capabilities which are probably more than he realizes, and let him savour the satisfaction of being a self-sufficient adult.rnrnI\'m not for blogs, but this on-line support group I might join, not because I have the problem, but because I have lived through it.rnrn
Rona Maynard
June 30, 2009 at 6:06 AM
You seem to have lots of wisdom to share, Claudette. I've always thought the real experts are the ones who've been forced by life to solve a problem, not necessarily the folks with the diplomas on their walls.
Toni V
May 28, 2010 at 5:05AM
I am the 'meat in the sandwich" as i have both my 24 year old son and my 78 year old mother living with me. I am starting to wonder who will be here for me when I reach my dotage? It seems that my son will never be independent, due to a combination of a bad ecomony and bad money management skills. It's hard to reconcile my feelings of resentment as he works very hard and very long hours. He is still dependent on me to pay some of his essentials, like car insurance, and is not able to contribute financially. What concerns me most is that while he moans over his job and his situation, he does precious little to change it. He seems stuck and there is little I can or should do. And then, there is my mother ...whom I love, but who is also emotionally draining, I think I'd like to go back to the wild 80's when I had no responsibilities and no anxiety.
Rona Maynard
May 28, 2010 at 6:06 AM
Well, Toni, at least your son is working. He's a long way from launched but he's taken the first step---one that sets him apart from many so-called adults still living with mom and dad. What can you do to help him face the unwelcome reality that life is not something that happens to him but something he must actively shape? Does he have interests or talents that point in a more promising direction? Is there a career counselling program in your area that could offer some guidance?
October 26, 2010 at 10:10PM
My daughter moved back home once again. She has three kids by three diff. guys.. She has no job, no car, no savings. She's moved by several times and I feel very stressed with her and the grandkids who I love dearly. I want my home back. I feel bad that she's going to have a hard life because of poor choices she's made, but I just don't want to keep doing this. I raised my kids. It's suppose to be ME time. I want a clean quiet house. I think I deserve that. What can I do?
Rona Maynard
October 27, 2010 at 5:05 AM
Yes, Jackie, you deserve your "me time" and quiet home. But you're not going to have those things for a good while yet unless you set firm limits with your daughter. As you'll see from other comments posted here, she needs to know when she has to be out, and what you expect of her while she's under your roof. No excuses allowed.
November 11, 2010 at 5:05AM
I am living your life and empathize with everything you are going through.
My daughter married a real loser, had two children and was physically and mentally abused for 11 years without letting on to anyone her true situation. I knew there were problems, but not to the extent we know now. When she finally realized things in her marriage would never improve, after couneling and getting her husband medical help for his mental condition, she obtained a restraining order and had him physically removed from their home.
To make a long scenario short, she had to sell her home, paid off many debts and had nowhere to go, not a penny to her name with her children. My husband and I feared for their safety and took them in.
At the time, we thought she would go back to college and finish her degree which she put on hold to let her husband get his degree, get on her feet with a better job and be able support herself and two children. Well, it is now 4 years later and she still hasn't finished school, lives from paycheck to paycheck and devotes all her time to work and her children ages 11 and 13. As for paying any expenses to live here, she gave us $1,000 from her income tax check this past January, will pick up a loaf of bread and milk once in a while that's about it. So, our resources are being drained, my husband works 60-70 hours a week, I work part time and have all the household responsibilities. She works full time and runs the children to scouts, dance lessons, sporting practices etc. Her husband doesn't have a real job and only gives her support for the children to stay out of jail. We are nearing retirement soon and had plans to move to Florida to be near our son, as he is planning on starting a family and we would like to spend time with them as well. Our daughter cannot move with us because her husband will not allow it legally and the children do not want to relocate either. I have exhausted all my patience, I like things neat and clean, they are all extremely sloppy and leave a trail of what they use throughout the house. My daughter does not share my cleaning habits, her room and the childrens are constantly in dissaray and filthly. If it were just her, we would ask her to prepare to leave so we could sell our home and move, but because of our grandchildren, we feel guilty to just leave them, knowing they do not have the financial resources to survive. She cannot receive any government assistance, because she earns just a few thousand over the minimum, no food stamps because she lives with us. We wouldn't feel comfortable with them living in low income housing, as they are not very safe areas. Our relationships are good, there is minimal conflict in the household because I do not complain or nag. My daughter knows and feels awful how this is affecting our lives, but realizes without additional income, she cannot survive. I try to tolerate the situation because I love them, but I can't help wanting the empty nest we were supposed to have. My husband believes also that it is our responsibility to help them, not some government program and works so hard to make ends meet. We've pondered over many ways to make changes, but come up empty with an idea that would work. We are open to suggestions other than throwing them out.
January 02, 2011 at 8:08PM
What a great idea!!! I was looking for something like this :-) My story is similar to Jackie's only my 25 yr old daughter moved home 5 months ago with her baby (5 month old) and baby's 24 yr old daddy. Since then he has worked at 3 different jobs hasn't been able to last any longer than 5 months, now he is waiting for unemployment to kick in which in Canada takes 30+ days. They have been on social assistance but if he works and makes more than what is allowed then they have to pay it back which leaves them with literally nothing no baby formula, no diapers, no money for rent or food. In the meantime my husband and I are supporting them on his income from the sawmill where he works. We just turned 60 yrs and were quite comfy in our empty nest, when they need a place to stay we felt we could share our home for awhile as long as they contributed monetarily or by helping our around the house and farm. They do help sporadically but spend any time they have away from baby either playing video games or playing video games at someone else's house. Husband and I don't play video games so can't understand the need to waste precious time with such an occupation. If they got paid for playing those games they would be rich. They smoke cigarettes and pot, we don't so all that is done outside or off the property, they do drink occasionally when someone else buys. I can't understand how they think this is okay when they can't afford it. My daughter also suffers from depression, doctor says post partum and she is being treated with drugs to help her, I don't agree with this because those drugs can be highly addictive and I worry because of her already addictive nature (cigarettes, pot), sometimes I think she hasn't told her doctor everything. She is also very verbally abusive to me and no where near the person she used to be before 6 years ago when she got caught up in the drug culture. Now she is always angry and verbally takes it out on anyone who is around her except her child. I know from my own experience that this is a fine line and children can get hurt physically. I love my daughter and grandaughter and want the best for them and want to help them get back on their feet so they can find their own way, at first I wanted to shelter them and protect them, now my concern is for my grandaughter and the negativity she will be growing up in. I am a person of faith and go to church and want to take my grandaughter to play with the other kids her age but her daddy thinks that is prostheletizing (sp?) and won't let her go. I am worried about my grandaughter being around the company my daughter and partner keep, always gaming, sitting around with mostly men, not going outside except to the vehicle to take them wherever. We are so close to kicking them out because we can't keep going broke for them, yet I fear for what will happen to our beautiful grandaughter in the way of neglect and abuse. Both parents feel entitled and put their needs ahead of hers. I am praying constantly for her protection and wisdom in this. Also, that they would wake up to the huge responsibility of raising a child. Thankfully daughter had an IUD put in because he was ready to start having more children as soon as she was recovered from her first child.
I could go on and on the emotional pain is so strong, I never felt older then I do now. I try to keep fit and have been finally losing some weight after seeing a physiotherapist once a month for my pain in my legs and hips, he turns me into a pretzel, then accupunctures me, then sends me home with exercises to do and it has been working great. I also have horses who need feeding and watering daily which entails a lot of walking and lifting, right now through snow and ice. Sometimes grandaughter helps by keeping me company riding on my back in a back pack, unless it's time for a nap.
Anyway, here I go again......looking forward to hearing any tips or ideas other might have. Bless all of you and hang in there.
Rona Maynard
January 03, 2011 at 5:05 AM
Hi, Cindy. Like a number of parents leaving comments here, you are up against your child's addiction. While your daughter may indeed suffer from depression, its primary cause is her drug dependence. A doctor who simply doles out a prescription is simply enabling her addictive behaviour. And so are you and your husband if she continues to live under your roof. As a grandmother myself, I understand your deep concern and affection for your granddaughter. If your daughter and her partner are truly incapable of parenting this child, perhaps you and your husband should be raising her (not what you expected in your 60s, I know, but an increasingly common scenario these days). This will not be an easy decision and you'll want informed guidance. Ideal starting point (and it's free): a 12-step group for family members of people with drug addictions. Failing that, I recommend counselling from someone experienced with addictions.
January 26, 2011 at 10:10AM
I have been looking for a place to vent! My 34 year old son has lived with me most of his life. He moved out for a couple of years only to move back in when the recession hit and he was laid off. He does little or nothing around the house along with meger monetary contributions. When he does do anything or give me any money, he acts like he should be praised. He sulks around the house (we call him the ghost), sleeps all day, and hasn't looked for a job since laid off last year. He does get unemployment and has no bills other than car insurance. However, he is driving me and my husband insane!!
A little history; I married at 18, had a son and daughter, divorced at 26. I raised them alone, their father remarried, the new wife didn't want them around, he stopped all visitations with his own children when they were 12 & 8. I was on my own after that. My son being the oldest, was mistakenly told by my well-meaning father, that he was the "man of the house" now and had to take care of me and his little sister. This created a monster!
My son has never liked any man I've dated or married. I remarried in 1991, my son hated him so much, he wouldn't give him a chance. This destroyed the marriage, of course, because I was my son's only parent and could not abandon him. So, I divorced, again and remained single for 12 years. I had promised my son I wouldn't remarry until he graduated high school and didn't have to live with me any longer. Well, he graduated and didn't move out until 7 years later!!!! I remarred 6 years ago. My son was not living with me then. Two years later, he moved back home. He is still thinks he is "man of the house" and entitled to act anyway he pleases. I have many, many discussions wtih my son to make him understand this is temporary, we want our privacy, he's supposed to take of himself, etc.
My son has mental issues. He says and does crazy things sometimes, has severe depression issues, and claims he was abducted by aliens when he was a child. He won't seek help. To tell you the truth, I'm scared of him.
Am I supposed to "let" this crazy person loose on society? How can I help him yet get him out of my house? I'm so tired ot this situation. It's causing problems between me and my husband but mainly, I'm at my wits end and do not know what to do anymore. I've tired everything to make him grow up and leave for good. I'm so miserable and don't know where to turn. I want my life to be about what I want now. I'm 53 and have had a child in my home for 34 years and sick of it!!!!! HELP!!

January 29, 2011 at 8:08PM
Thanks for your reply Rona :-) Things are starting to look up a little, daughter's partner has found a job and it seems he likes it there and has worked there before, it's seasonal work at a tree nursery, just the right amount of physical labor and mental labor to stop him from getting bored. Also, daughter applied 3 months ago for low income housing and have finally got a date to move in to a lovely big 3 bedroom house 10 minutes away from us. I have mixed feelings because of their lifestyle and will be watching carefully, I am so close to calling social services it isn't funny or her counsellor. Anyway, for hubby and I it will be nice to have our peace and quiet back, although a little lonely without the little one. I agree about us raising her, but I'm not sure when is the best time to open those can of worms knowing how negative and angry both can get. We have something in this country called Joint Custody where we can share legal responsibility should something happen to the parents, it's usually used when couples divorce and children are involved but apparantly grandparents can also be part of it too. So, far I keep reminding myself "one step at a time, one foot in front of the other". So often I find myself thinking ahead trying to prepare myself for what is to come, increasingly I'm discovering that isn't fair to people, no matter how irrational they seem. It's not my job to control them.
Rona Maynard
January 31, 2011 at 2:02 PM
Cindy, I'm glad to hear your daughter is moving forward. And I expect other parents will be, too. Progress DOES happen, just not on your timetable. I like the saying "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
February 24, 2011 at 10:10AM
Hi everyone, just thought I would drop a line to share how things are going. Well the first week of February was spent helping daughter and her family move into low income housing. They are very happy, they don't have much but are gradually building things up although her hubby was layed off his job at the tree nursery, she found a job at Zellers and is very happy. Daddy gets to look after the little one and so far things are going well. I have offered to baby sit but they want to go their own way for now, which is natural, my hubby and I continue to visit bringing them items they forgot and left behind. The kids are hosting a first birthday party for the little one in 2 days, it will be their first organized gathering at their new house. As I sit back and observe I can see the progress they are making albeit tiny steps. Hubby and I have determined to be there for them but not so much financially anymore.....more emotional support. As praying people we continue to surround them with prayer. Thanks everyone for being there and Rona for this wonderful site.
Rona Maynard
February 27, 2011 at 6:06 AM
Three cheers for you and your family, Cindy! I like the distinction you've drawn between emotional and financial support. Other parents will take heart from your example.
May 18, 2011 at 8:08PM
Our son is turning 25 next month. He doesn't live at home right now but I'm anticipating a return soon as he just left his job. He moved away to go to school, which he didn't finish and shortly thereafter quit the job he had there. I went out there to help him move home because his dad couldn't get away from work to go. It was emotionally draining. He was home for about a month, got a job and moved out. He got overwhelmed with having to consistently work 9 to 12 days in a row with only one day off in between. He dealt with it by not showing up for work any more. He has done this in the past and I fear this will be an ongoing thing with him. My husband and I have good work ethic and have tried to teach him the same but he just has to do things his way. I'm afraid he has become accustomed to having us to fall back on for financial support. We have a hard time saying no because he does seem to realize that he needs to fend for himself and he usually won't ask for help until it's really bad. Anyway, I'm sad and very worried. I'm also a believer and pray for my family. I get some comfort in knowing that God cares too but I always go back to the worrying. I'm convinced that my son will eventually run out of job opportunities because he burns bridges and that we will be taking care of him for the rest of our lives.
Deborah Watkins
July 22, 2011 at 9:09PM
Hi - been divorced since 2000 and I have both sons ages 26 & 30 years living with me now, in a two bedroom duplex, for the past two years, both are unemployed (30 year old is still collecting unemployment), but my younger son's benefits ran out 6 weeks ago.

Both my 15 year old daughter and myself are literally pulling our hair out. Both men do absolutely nothing but sleep all day and stay up all night, we all argue about money constantly. They both think I should give them $ when they want it, but don't want to give anything back and complain constantly that I don't feed them or have food in the house (not the kind of food they want. , ie soda, junk food. I was married to their father for over 23 years and left him because he was a bully, emotionally abusive, financially abusive, etc and it seems like I'm getting paid twice. Neither one wants to work, I just want to run away, any help?

Rona Maynard
July 23, 2011 at 9:09 AM
Deb, your sons have to shape up or ship out. The time has come for you to take a stand and stick to it. As I've told many other parents like you, that means spelling out rights and obligations clearly, then giving them the boot when they cross the line. Expect them to bombard you with accusations and threats. Don't let these theatrics deter you from the only right course. What's at stake is not just your own sanity but your daughter's right to a secure home where rules are rules. If you feel your will start to waver, think of her and her future.
July 31, 2011 at 7:07AM
Dixie, Your situation reminds me of mine in some ways. I found this site when looking for answers and a support group. I am so depressed that sometimes I feel my only escape will be when I die. I need to talk to someone - just dont know where to start.

Rona, I really need to get some advice as to how to deal with my son and not feel guilty. I got married when I was 17 because I wanted to get away from home. I had my son 10 months later and from day 1 - he was a challange. My husband was not very helpful and had addiction problems. His Dads approach to parenting was with a belt. No matter how many times I tried to talk to his Dad about how he needed to balance discipline with love - he told me to stay out of it. He said I shouldnt coddle him. He said it would be my fault if he did not turn out right. My son cried each night because he said his Dad didnt love him. Long story short -- we divorced when my son was 14.

He is 38 now and I am still trying to protect him. He has been unemployed for a year. He quit a job because they didnt appreciate him - even though he was making over 100,000.00 a year! He has become very paranoid and is caught up in a lot of conspiracy theories. I walk on eggshells when I am around him because he is very argumentative and has a quick temper. He again wants to come home and stay with me until he gets his life back together but he frightens me. My current husband (his stepdad) doesnt want him to move back in. I feel gulity but I dont want him to move back either. We have tried that several times and it always makes our lives miserable.

The thought of him being homeless or suffering is so painful for me. I know I need to let go but it is so hard. I feel so sad - I cant stop seeing the little boy's face that wanted his dad to love him. I need help!!
Rona Maynard
July 31, 2011 at 9:09 AM
Mary, it sounds to me as if your son could be suffering from depression. So are you, I suspect. You both need help. Start with yourself, since the stronger you're feeling, the better prepared you'll be to let go as you know you must. If you can't afford professional help, know that Al-Anon can be a huge help to people like you. As the former spouse of an addict, you're eligible. Marriage to your ex has taught you dysfunctional habits and trapped you in the web of co-dependency. There's another way to live and the people at Al-Anon can help you find it.
debbie watkins
August 01, 2011 at 5:05PM
thanks Rona, I realize that I do have to let go of both of them, but with the economy the way it is right now there are no jobs to be had. I'm hoping they both will get employment & will be able to start to get the ambition to want to leave. It cannot be fun living with your mom and they really need to start getting out there and socializing and dating at least. That is really what is worrying me, they are both in the prime of their lives and should be interested in relationships, at least some times. thanks for listening again. Deb
November 17, 2011 at 4:04AM
I have a 20 year old daughter who lives two provinces away with her fiance. They are doing fine that is not the issue.

Here is my story: Back in 2003 she was going into grade 7...3 days in and had a severe panic attack...lots of thereapy later and meds...she never went back to school...we homeschooled. We spent a lot of time together and I guess I turned into an enabler. I never wanted her to be upset, felt sorry for her that she didn't get to have a normal teenage life. But she still managed to have a few close friends and boyfriends. Not a typical teenage life but we survived. She was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and anxiety in general and PSTD from being bullied in elementary school which is what caused the panic going into grade 7.

Fast Forward to 2011, she became engaged last year to a wonderful man in the military and he himself is an enable to her...he agrees to everything she wants or says. Again not the issue. The issue is our relationship, I am an enabler and allowed her to probably be disrespectful, or if she was upset tell her sisters to not upset her...we walk around on egg shells trying to not upset her. She is beautfiful...literally!! She has overcome the social anxiety, she is a charmer and people who meet her say what a wonderful person. Has stop taking her meds and deals with it by exercising. And I am proud she has overcome alot of her past. She still has anxiety but she manages to control it. Has low self esteem and that probably causes a lot of the issues.

But we fight all the time, if I dont say something with the excitement she feels is warranted or act interested or add !!! in texts...basically if I am nice she gets mad if I dont pay attention enough to her gets mad. She gives me no credit for the homeschooling at all...she has no empathy for all seems to be about her and if it isnt she gets mad. BUT she doesnt see that, she sees herself as this very nice, giving person and the rest of us just dont understand. She is so disrespectful to me and says I start all the fights it is never her and I end up saying sorry for things that I feel I did not do wrong to end the fight. I am so full of stress and anxiety myself.

We had a fight yesterday, or should I say she attacked me about something and deleted me from facebook and said she is not going to talk to me again. There is so much more this story and the things she says and does to me. My other two girls who I have no problems with (they are older) say mom you enable her...she gets mad says its your fault and then you cry and go on and get depressed and act like it is...when clearly she is the problem.

And there is my problem how to I stop this cycle of basically abuse she piles on me. Anyone will tell you I am a great mother and they dont know why I stand for this. But basically I am trapped and dont know how to stop it. I know what will happen she is home like nothing is wrong and in a a week or so will call like nothing is wrong. And I want to tell her that is unacceptable and that I won't tolerate that anymore. But at the same time it terrifies me to think she will close all contact...part of me knows she wont. I need help!! I know what needs to be done I just dont know how to do it...

Thanks for any insight
Rona Maynard
December 02, 2011 at 4:04 PM
Tami, my apologies for taking a while to get back to you and post this response. Your other children are right--you're enabling your problem daughter. You need professional counselling. If you can't access it for whatever reason, don't despair. Are you by any chance the daughter, spouse, close friend of an alcoholic? If so, you're eligible for Al-Anon, a wonderful organization that will help you deal constructively and hopefully with your habit of enabling. I've found it a lifeline.
June 28, 2012 at 12:12PM
My husband and I have 2 live in adult children. Our son 24, has a job, but only makes 10$/hour, has a truck payment, phone bill, and credit card payment. We pay his insurance. Our daughter 19, shares a room with her 3 year old daughter, we only have 3 bedrooms. Sometimes my son's girl friend stays over, which doesn't bother us, you don't even know they are there. My daughter on the other hand hangs out with friends we don't approve of. She will sneak her man of the week in her room. She has no income. Kicking her out probably is the answer, but we feel that is not an option because we are concerned for our granddaughter. Us having custody is not an option either. We would like our son to move out as well, but he can't afford rent payment. Not sure what to do with this situation, we should have practiced tough love 24 years ago.
October 01, 2012 at 5:05PM
any update on the online support group? I shure could use it and connections to other resources
Rona Maynard
October 08, 2012 at 6:06 AM
Hi, Susan. One of my visitors did attempt to launch a Yahoo group for parents like you but she didn't find many takers. The good news is that writer Sally Koslow addresses your concerns in a new book called Slouching Toward Adulthood. I haven't read it but it sounds like just what you're looking for.
Gayle General
January 30, 2013 at 5:05PM
Hi I am a 52 year old mother of a 19 year old daughter and I am attending college to earn my degree in Human Services from a local college and for a assignment need to find a on line group and would love to find one of parents of adult children so I can relate to them I am haveing a horriable time with my daughter and figured what a better subject to join a support group in. Hope to hear from you soon
Rona Maynard
February 04, 2013 at 9:09 AM
Hi, Gayle. As you see from the other comments posted here, there are lots of other parents in your situation. Yet I don't know of any support groups. Suggestion: a writer named Sally Koslow has written a book on the problem you're facing. It's called Slouching Towards Adulthood and it may contain a list of resources. I haven't read it but it sounds very helpful. Here's a link:
May 19, 2013 at 12:12PM
Nice post They may not be able to afford family therapy, and they may crave a sounding board daily, not just once a week. That's why they need a support group. And they just might be creating one right here. Thanks a lot for posting .
September 24, 2013 at 8:08PM
Hi! I am working on a show about adult children living with their parents. It's a docu-series for a respectable cable network. There is pay per episode. Would any of you be interested in sharing your story? Again, it is more of a documentary type of show. This is NOT reality TV. If you are interested, please email me at Thank you for reading this!
November 19, 2013 at 12:12PM
Please help me. I'm 25 living with my single mother that I've been desperate in my heart to leave since a teen. No one is supporting me to leave. If frustrated patents like you could help young adults like us become independent fro parents like ours , then you're child
will see why they should go out too.
January 13, 2014 at 4:04AM
I worked in the cafeteria of a private high school so that my son could attend that school--it was the only way we could afford it. He was a little shy but actually did very well there==had friends and participated in sports; He was offered a few very good scholarships at a few colleges. He expressed a preference for a large Big Ten school several hours away, He was not interested in the smaller schools closer to home. All I said to him one time was "Don't you think you might want to stay closer to home where we could help you more?"

He did. He hated it. Hated his roommates and came home every weekend. A required visit to an academic counselor resulted in the advise that my son "opt out" of school for a while to do some soul searching since he did not really know what he wanted to major in. I was a little disappointed but actually thought the advice was sound considering Joe was not sure what he wanted to do.

He got a job and worked long and hard. He banked money. He bought and paid cash for a truck. After 2 years he went back to college. He continued to live at home.

He is now 25. He still works full time and has a healthy bank account. Very little school debt and no credit card debt. He bought and paid cash for a motorcycle which he loves. He asks us for no money and we don't pay for any of his bills. We do not charge rent as he is still is going to college in the evenings and will graduate within the year.

I have always tried to keep our home life chaos free. My husband and I are married 35 years. No elaborate house but it was always filled with great food, pets, and friends.
We traveled some too because I always thought that was important .

If I had any big worry it was that Joe didn't date and spent more time than I preferred alone although he did still stay friends with a lot of guys from high school. He didn't make a lot of new friends at work (he worked landscaping and it was all guys) but he was and is well-liked at work. His work ethic is great.

Within the last few months he has begun seeing a few girls. But nothing has materialized into anything real. One girl in particular, he really liked and thought the feeling was mutual. It wasn't

Let me further state that the last few years, and even back in high school, there were girls who were interested in him. I saw it with my own eyes. He was kind of mean to them .
His younger sister's friends have actually asked him out and he would never go. His lack of a love life was self-imposed.

A few days ago he exploded in a rage at me over what he said was a negative comment. He brought up the comment I made years ago about staying closer to home and blames me for his not going to the school of his choice. (which I couldn't afford) During this outburst and ensuing argument/discussion that lasted three hours, he was incredibly hard on himself and hurtful to me. He called himself a loser, punched the couch pillows and told me living here was a prison. A prison! We ask (sometimes) where he is going and if he will be home. That's about it.

If I had to guess, I would say that (this being the holidays) a lot of old friends were home and all of them have moved on. But they also finished college 3 years ago. Most have steady girlfriends. It just underscored what is lacking in his life.

I have tried to talk to about options--take out a school loan to pay for an apartment on campus (he commutes). Or instead of going part time, go full time to school and get done sooner and then move out. He adamantly refuses to do either. The same stubborness that got him girlfriendless at 25.

Our family background is as boring as can be-we are married over 30 years, no alcoholism or drugs. We have been loving, albeit human and imperfect, parents. Our daughter is also in college, living at home, working and very happy. I had several miscarriages before being able to give birth so our children were indeed wanted and loved and nurtured. Or at least I thought so.

We are solidly middle class. Not a ton of money. But they have seen Disney World twice, camped in Maine, heard ghost stories in Gettysburg and fished in Canada every summer since they were babies. Their friends were welcome here.

I am so hurt and disturbed by the things he said. Watching your son smack a pillow yelling, "I'm a loser." was heart-breaking. Calling his home a prison was almost laughable. He eventually apologized but my daughter told me he has said the same things to her.

I gave up a career to be home with my kids. Working at the school cafeteria to pay for their tuition was embarrassing for me at first. But my husband and I thought we were putting the good of the family before the good of the individual.

Now to hear that he hates it and it is a prison is such a slap in the face. Do I ignore this or set a date for him to be out.? He has been talking about moving out for about a year. His friend broke up with his girlfriend and asked Joe to move in. He considered it and said no.
I don't want to look at him and see the son I thought I had and realize he hates it here.

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