Los Angeles Times
Fixing failure to launch
Dear Amy: At the beginning of the pandemic, my husband and I moved across the country.
Our adult son was laid off because of the pandemic and struggled with depression. We decided to invite him to move with us to help him get on his feet again.
It took him a while to get a part-time job, and now he is finally working full-time. We are very happy for him.
However, he gets upset when the subject of having him move out and be on his own comes up.
He tells us that because of his depression he is afraid to live on his own and needs to have family around.
He is on antidepressants but doesn’t follow through with seeking counseling.
We are getting close to retirement and don’t want to have children living with us when we retire.
We also have a younger son living with us and attending a local university. We are fine with helping him out until he graduates.
We don’t know how to help our oldest son get to a place where he can live independently. Your suggestion?
Dear Concerned: Take this in careful stages. Tell your elder son, “Our goal is for both of our sons to live independently and to develop rewarding pursuits and relationships. We’ll help you get there.”
Your elder son has already made great strides; he moved across the country and is now working full-time. That’s huge. He is being honest regarding the impact of his depression, but he may also be using it as a crutch.
According to a Pew Research Center study, “At the height of the pandemic, more people under 30 were living with their parents than were living on their own — the highest percentage since the great depression.” Many of these young adults are struggling to relaunch.
Your son is not alone. His depression is a factor, but he’s also nervous about undertaking a big change that seems lonelier than that first big step out of college and into adulthood was.
He should see a therapist. You could start with therapy on your own and invite him to join you and your husband, with the goal to discuss how he is managing his disease, including fears and challenges he anticipates, and ways you can help (perhaps with him living nearby or cohabiting with his brother, for instance).
Check the “family members and caregivers” page of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ website (nami.org) for professional and peer support.
Dear Amy: We have a growing homeless population in our city. I understand the causes and feel a great deal of compassion for the difficulties that they face as individuals. Where I struggle is how to respond when asked for money — often it is very uncomfortable.
I can easily afford to give out a few dollars, but is this the right thing to do? What is the best way we can help?
Dear John: I don’t believe there is a definitive answer. Because you are both aware and concerned (good for you!), you could help organizations that help the homeless through financial support and/or volunteering.
Instead of cash, some people give socks, gloves or gift cards for small amounts to be redeemed for food.
I think the one important thing is to look someone in the eye and recognize their humanity, even if you choose not to give to them that day.