Los Angeles Times

How to get son to ‘launch’

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: My husband and I are hard workers. We weren’t extravagan­t, but we believe we have great lives.

We set aside money for our children to go to school, and we paid the bill. Our youngest graduated from college and moved to our second home. He doesn’t pay rent — or any bills. His girlfriend lives with him. I don’t have issues with them living there, but I do have issues with my son not having a 40-hour-week real job.

I’m getting ready to retire and I’m tired of enabling my son. It’s only hurting him. I can give them a date to move out. I’d be willing to give him six months.

But my husband grew up in a dysfunctio­nal household. I believe he fears his son won’t like him if we make him move. He doesn’t want to discuss it; it brings him down mentally. It’s causing an issue in our marriage.

How can I get my husband to see the damage we are causing by allowing this to go on?

Waiting to Exhale

Dear Waiting: I’m assuming that your older children are out on their own — functionin­g as the independen­t adults you raised them to be.

I wonder what is different about your youngest that your husband believes he is so incapable of maturing into a functionin­g adult.

Enabling at this level sends a message: “Being independen­t is an option. You don’t have to do it; in fact, you can’t. You need us.”

Your husband doesn’t want your son to launch. Perhaps he fears the son will never come back, and your husband’s parenting days will be over — forcing him to face his own transition.

Many families are facing a second launch scenario because so many young adults came back to live with their folks during the pandemic.

You should see “tough love” at this level as potentiall­y tender and affirmativ­e.

This is when parents handle their own anxiety in order to convey optimism and faith in their children: “You got this!”

You might start the clock ticking by asking your son to pay for all utilities and expenses until his move-out date. Do not judge him about having a “real job.” Facing employment options should be his job, not yours.

To enable the conversati­on with your husband and son, read “Difficult Conversati­ons: How to Discuss What Matters Most,” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen.

Dear Amy: I’m intrigued to note how often people who are seeing therapists reach out to you for guidance.

Does that indicate that they are looking for a tiebreakin­g voice, a fresh point of view, or something else?


Dear Intrigued: The answer

is “yes” to all.

Therapy can motivate people to dive in deep. Running an idea or impulse past me is easier than bringing it up in therapy, and might be a person’s way of “practicing” a revelation before confrontin­g it. If their therapy leads them toward change, they might want a “gut check” or encouragem­ent. If their therapy isn’t helping, they may seek permission to quit, or to change therapists.

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