Times-Call (Longmont)

Enabling parents rob adult son of growth

- Contact Amy Dickinson via email, askamy@ amydickins­on.com.

DEAR AMY >> My husband and I have always been hard workers.

We were never extravagan­t, but we believe we have led great lives.

We set aside money for our children to go to school — and we foot the whole bill. Our youngest graduated from college and moved to our second home.

He doesn’t pay rent — or any other bills, for that matter. His girlfriend lives there with him.

I don’t have issues with them living there, but I do have issues with my son not working in a real job.

What I mean is that he doesn’t put in 40 hours a week.he doesn’t have to, because he has no bills.

His girlfriend is a worker, so the issue is really my son.

I’m getting ready to retire and I’m tired of enabling my son.

In the long run, this is only hurting him. I am able to stand up and give them a date to move out. I’ll be generous. I’d be willing to give him six months.

My husband is the problem. He grew up in a dysfunctio­nal household.

I truly believe that he’s worried that his son won’t like him if we follow through on making him move.

He doesn’t want to talk about it, because it brings him down mentally.

It’s causing an issue in our marriage.

Do you have any ideas on how I can 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’ve 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 clear message: “Being independen­t is an option. You don’t have to do it; in fact, you can’t do it. You need us.”

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

Many families are facing an unexpected 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. You might have experience­d this when you sent your son to kindergart­en and then college.

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 also with your son — read, “Difficult Conversati­ons: How to Discuss What Matters Most,” by authors Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen (Penguin Books, 2010).

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