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Young Adult Children and Boundaries

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persevere posted 12/31/2013 00:07 AM

My son is 19. He is not school inclined at this point. He tried community college for a year after HS grad (which he barely accomplished) but didn't do well, primarily due to lack of effort, and is not interested in continuing. I am also not interested in throwing away tuition money.

He now has moved back in with me, and works at some level (meaning not full time) delivering pizzas. I tend to give him gas money, but I'm working on dialing that back to develop some boundaries because, quite honestly, he's not trying all that hard.

It's not like he is incapable of self-motivation. Over the past six months when he moved in and scaled back on working, he works out almost daily and makes healthy smoothies for himself daily. This is especially surprising because he's never been into healthy eating, but is now using kale and spinach in his smoothies.

I am struggling with boundaries and how to implement them. He doesn't care for his car well, and it's older, so it's only a matter of time before he has car issues and needs help with that too.

I currently pay for his cell phone, car insurance, groceries and board. But I'm reaching my breaking point. Any suggestions?

Sad in AZ posted 12/31/2013 00:11 AM

Reach the breaking point now. Why will he ever put in any effort if you're paying for everything. If you can't go cold turkey, try something like the 2/3 rule; if he needs something, he has to pay 2/3 and you will foot the other third, but set a time limit and a schedule of diminishing handouts.

You're not doing him any favors, Mom...

GabyBaby posted 12/31/2013 00:13 AM

Ditto Sad.
I've got a 20.5yr old in college and an almost 18yr old about to enter college.
They're both on borrowed time (and borrowed bank rolling)....

persevere posted 12/31/2013 00:17 AM

You're not doing him any favors, Mom...

I completely agree SAZ, I'm struggling as to how to implement it. I keep thinking I need to "help him" and I can't just cut the cord, but in my head I KNOW that's not the way to go. But then I think "how will he get to work without gas?" DD21 is SO much more self sufficient so this has been new territory for me.

PLEASE 2x4 me - I truly need it. It's clear what I'm doing is not working.

GabyBaby posted 12/31/2013 00:21 AM

But then I think "how will he get to work without gas?"
Part of being an adult is figuring things like this out.
At this point your DS is an adult in name only. Time to cut the cord (especially since he isn't in school or moving toward something productive)!

persevere posted 12/31/2013 00:32 AM

Time to cut the cord (especially since he isn't in school or moving toward something productive)!

I agree, but please tell me how. Do I give him 30 days to do XYZ? I know I sound pathetic, and I feel that way. I am typically very self-sufficient, I've worked full-time since I was 15, so I don't understand this. I have a strong career in a field that typically requires a bachelors degree and I have no degree. I'm not trying to make excuses, though it's clear that's what I'm doing. Ugh...he is a good kid, very likeable, which has been difficult because it causes everyone to give him a pass - his teachers always did this. And I clearly do the same.

We have so many people in our circle, friends and family, who want to help him but he isn't helping himself. I don't seem to be able to explain to him clearly that no one can help him if he won't help himself. PLEASE do not hold back - slam me with specifics if you can. I really need it.

[This message edited by persevere at 12:34 AM, December 31st (Tuesday)]

persevere posted 12/31/2013 00:36 AM

A 20 something I recently met said that what kicked him into gear was his parents giving him 90 days to get a full time job or they would first cut off his phone, and then cut off his living situation.

It worked. And I agree, but I have a hard time even considering doing that. That is clearly MY weakness, and I have to figure out how to overcome that and quickly.

WakingFromADream posted 12/31/2013 00:46 AM

I would also add that since he is living with you, consider having him start to pay rent as well.

GabyBaby posted 12/31/2013 00:52 AM

I've been thinking through how I'm going to wean my 20yr old after she graduates college.

There will need to be milestones.
By the end of 3 months:
She needs to have at least a part time job with a minimum of 25hrs per week. She'll also have to get her cell phone moved to her own plan (and pay her own bill).

By the end of 6 months:
I expect that she'll have a full time job (even if it isn't within her field yet). She will then be require to pay for her own vehicle (or if she doesn't have a car yet, find her own way to work via public transportation). If she has her own vehicle, I'll keep her on my insurance for the remainder of the year, but I expect her to pay her portion. Also, if she's still living with me, she has to pay (discounted) rent.
The goal is to get her as independent as possible in reasonable stages. I also want her to be able to save some money while still at home.

Ideally, I want her independent within 9-12 months of graduating college. If she doesn't meet the milestones, but I see that she's busting her butt to try, I may make allowances, but I won't let her know that up front.

GabyBaby posted 12/31/2013 01:01 AM

I should add that DD20 and I have a rocky history (she's daddy's little girl and XWH laps it up).
If at any point she gets an entitled attitude with me, for the sake of my own personal boundaries, I'll have to cut her off.
I sacrificed a lot to help put her (and soon her brother) through 4 years of school so that they don't leave with a degree and a mountain of student loan debt. This is a choice I made/am making and I do it happily.
However, I don't owe her (or anyone else) anything. If she can't or won't leave the attitude at the door, she's on her own.

persevere posted 12/31/2013 01:02 AM

Gaby, that is a great plan, which I'm going to steal, lol, for my DD21 who will graduate from college at the end of 2014.

WHY am I having such a hard time developing a plan, which would be more NOW, for my DS19? I guess I need to go with similar but stronger timelines for him now.

ETA - I've done the same for DD21 with regard to debt - she will have very little debt for her degree - some was added after the unexpected divorce due to Dday, but it's far less than it could have been.

[This message edited by persevere at 1:17 AM, December 31st (Tuesday)]

GabyBaby posted 12/31/2013 01:20 AM

Now is a perfect time to do it.
2014 is days away. Your son is working PT already, so start with his cell phone and insurance. Then go from there.

You can do it!
Just keep reminding yourself that, ultimately, this is what's best for them. We do them NO favors by not kicking them out of the nest.
We won't be around forever.

authenticnow posted 12/31/2013 05:18 AM


I'm watching this thread closely because as the mom of two young adult children I constantly struggle with this. Very different scenarios with each of my kids but still never sure where to cut the cord/bankroll.

Sending strength and love to all of the parents (because we most certainly need it!!!)

k94ever posted 1/1/2014 10:39 AM

What if you figured out what your payoff is for allowing your adult child to sponge off you first? If you know this maybe it will be easier for you to stop enabling him.

Not being mean, but at this stage it's you getting something from this situation that's allowing it to continue.

Good Luck.


persevere posted 1/1/2014 11:46 AM

I'm not sure what you mean k94, but I'm interested to understand. I feel like I'm having a hard time figuring out how to let him function on his own two feet because he's shows little inclination to. So I'm enabling him because I don't want to see him dig himself into a hole, and fall, but I realize that's the wrong approach.

I read recently that we learn the most from our failures, which is so true, so I need to learn to let him fall.

k94ever posted 1/1/2014 13:26 PM

I'm not being mean about this.

You said you don't want to see him fail. Why? Do you feel that his failures will reflect poorly on you? Are you trying to protect him from life somehow? Why? Is this situation feeding your mothering need?

Failure is the best teacher in life. Failure teaches us and gives us the confidence to try again.

Look at it this way. You are doing your son a HUGE disservice by not allowing him to make his mistakes, and make his successes, and learn how to be an adult and cope in the adult world.



gardenparty posted 1/1/2014 15:06 PM

My DD's are 25 and 23. I paid for their first degree fully, tuition, books, rent, cars, the whole deal, however it was understood up front by them that within 3 months of university being over that they would no longer be receiving financial assistance from me. Sit down with your son and make a realistic plan to get him to achieve financial independence. It may be as simple as that he doesn't know how to start.

persevere posted 1/1/2014 17:32 PM

You are doing your son a HUGE disservice by not allowing him to make his mistakes, and make his successes, and learn how to be an adult and cope in the adult world.

I think you're right K94ever, and I'm not quite sure why it's so difficult for me to do this.

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