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I am 53 years old and my wife is 47 years old and we have a 22-year-old son. We have huge problems with him. He has changed universities three times and now he is in a college. He drops his courses, he is not interested in working, and he makes a lot of stress for us every day. We have offered him the opportunity to see a consultant and psychologist, but he has refused. We want to ask him to leave our home. Kindly help us and let me know how we can ask him? We tried one time previously but he broke some glasses and made a big problem for us.

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While I don't want to prey, it's hard to know the extent of the problem from "a lot of stress" and "a big problem". Can you give more details, as it may help to know how much trouble there might be, if any, and what reactions to expect. –  haylem Mar 25 at 21:31
    
Also, that makes me thing like there either was a problem before that wasn't addressed. Did he see a professional before, at any time? In middle-school or high-school? Or at these 3 universities when he was in trouble? Did he also have trouble in high-school or earlier? If not, when did that behavior start? What triggered it? –  haylem Mar 25 at 21:43
    
i see the conversation going like this.... parent :"son leave", son: "ok" –  best dad ever Mar 28 at 14:23
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I've known parents to actually sell their houses and move to smaller homes in order to eject their children from home. Sometimes those kids take a long time to get their lives together, but they do figure it out eventually. The longer they stay in the comfort of a providing home, the more they will come to think of it as the norm. Perhaps staying at a university dorm would suit him? –  null Jun 7 at 4:52

10 Answers 10

up vote -4 down vote accepted

I consider that he has not an abnormal child and understands everything. He goes to college and does whatever he wants. I also consider that you have already tried zillions of ways to make him understand and responsible. And I consider that all has ended in vain. Am I right?

Well, if I'm right, there's only one way - separate him legally. Give him some amount of money and buy him a place asking to live on his own. That's the way he'll understand how it takes to take on responsibilities.

You and your wife are at tender age where you need care and not tension. Many progeny unfortunately don't understand that. The only thing bring them 'on track' is when they start living alone and there's no one to help them.

I don't suggest to be harsh but rather separate him politely offering him money, place or whatever he wants. Remember, if you can buy peace it's worth spending any amount! That's what both you need to do. Ask for some legal settlement and tell them that you are still his parents and he can come visit you anytime. Your feelings are always there but just, you want your life to be peaceful and worry free. I hope, one day he'll realize and things will settle.

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Hi Maulik, Thanks for your time and writing this answer, you are right, actually I have offered him as you suggested, I told him "If you go another city or country , I can pay rent , college and food for three years" , apparently he agrees however we don't see any action from him, I am tired to ask him everyday :( one year ago , he punched my nose , and police asked him to leave home , after two months , he said I wanna back , because I don't have anybody and work and I could be homeless . His mom accepted ..... –  Bruce K. Mar 27 at 15:11
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If he's being violent, then you're in a different kettle of fish. Frankly, if he does it again, you let the cops take him away as a valuable life lesson. –  Allen Gould Mar 28 at 16:12
    
I think this is a terrible answer. Buy him off? No. It is time to kick him out. –  Kevin Jun 6 at 15:54
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I'm surprised to see that this is the accepted answer. Parenting is a life long commitment. You can't buy your way out. Don't give up on your son! –  null Jun 7 at 4:52
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@Maulik V - I would respond that the repercussions of the actions you suggest would not lead to long term peace. 53 / 47 is not that old. When they really need the help of a loving child, in say 20 years, it is going to make a big difference whether they helped him through this stage in his life, or just kicked him out to deal with his problems on his own. –  null Jun 7 at 7:41

I can understand that you want your son to leave, because he is not contributing to his own life or to your household. It sounds like he needs to grow up and accept some responsibilities!

But I also think that your wanting him to leave seems to be only the tip of the iceberg. If he behaves as poorly as you suggest then I would guess that there are other behavioral problems that started a long, long time ago. This means that I would not expect any "quick fix" to work. There are deep(er) problems you must address first.

The following might be my wrong assumptions, but perhaps it can help you:

Does he have any responsibilities in your household? Do you expect anything from him, and does he fulfill those expectations? Think about this from the smallest scale first, the smallest tasks, the smallest expectations. If he already fails on the smallest scale then you can't expect success on higher levels, and each level builds on the one before it.

That is of course what raising responsible children is all about, and it starts at a very early age, even at age 1 for the smallest things. Have you neglected some of this raising in the past? How many years worked "well" and at what age did things start to go "bad"?

This "mental age" is what you should focus on for now: if he acts like a 14-year-old, then treat him like one! Make it clear to him that he can only demand things on the same level as his maturity. If he wants higher-level things then he must first show that he can behave himself on that level.

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Hi Torben, Thanks very much for your answer. we have encouraged him to look for part-time , full-time or volunteer job, but he is not interested, he doesn't accept any responsibilities at home, he is can not manage his time and money , he has filled his credit card and ask us to pay. this semester he has dropped all courses , we have offered him to move another city or country to continue his education, of course we will support him, but he has not done any action. –  Bruce K. Mar 27 at 14:54
    
@BruceK., you say he was smoking pot since the age of FIVE?!! Whatever your problems are today, they started at or even before that age! Stop trying to make him move out and start treating him like a ten-year old. No responsibility from him => no privileges from you, not even TV. Confiscate his credit card. Stop accepting his behavior. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Mar 27 at 16:08
    
Correction : he has started smoking since 5 years ago. –  Bruce K. Mar 27 at 16:13
    
I think this is great answer. Unlike the accepted answer, it encourages you to look for a deeper cause of your son's behaviour. –  null Jun 7 at 7:45

Right now, your son doesn't have the life skills to succeed in the world, and you know that. That's why you can't tell him to leave. You know he'll be homeless on a street corner in a week, so what you need to do is get him ready.

  • Cancel his credit card
  • Make him get his own prepay cell phone plan
  • Do not pay for anything he wants
  • Drop him off at the psychologist, and return in an hour to pick him up

Your son is leeching off of you, and he thinks he can just keep doing that for the rest of his life. You need to shut off the money flow. He'll feel the pressure, and try to get a job or aquire a way of getting funds. Also, you know he needs help, and as his parent, it's your responsibility to make sure he gets it, so drop him off at the psychologist, and pick him up in an hour. You can have the psychologist contact you if he doesn't go into the office, and express your disappointment. If he does go in, get dinner someplace you all like to incentivize him to go.

After you implement these, you can start charging him for internet, rent, and anything else he can afford, and you can deny him. Eventually, it'll be cheaper and easier for him to live in an apartment, and he'll leave, with the skills to stay out.

Also, I recommend seeing a psychologist yourself. This can't be easy on you or your wife, and psychologists aren't just for people who have disorders. They're a great way to work through stress, and figure out positive ways to communicate with your son.

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My guess the core issue is you are unwilling to accept him failing. This allows him to manipulate you into taking over his responsibility to make healthy choices. However since they were your choices, not his, he feels no obligation to fulfill these choices.

I do not recommend an abrupt change*, since I suspect the son does not have the life skills right now to make good choices. Put together a plan to transfer responsibility to the son -- it should have specific goals & specific deadlines. I suggest starting with a minimum GPA & course load at school, and specific chores at home -- and his access to his favorite toys (typically car & phone) will be forfeit if not done. Review the plan with an outside adviser to ensure your plan has a good balance between increasing his responsibility level at a pace he can learn at and which has a minimum of coddling.

He will fail along the way. This needs to be acceptable to you! When it does happen give him emotional support, but let he must deal with the consequences. Along the way he'll learn to make good choices.

I wish you all the best of luck.

* The exception is violence of any sort will not be tolerated. Any further incidents means he moves out, immediately (as in same day). You will give him a few months rent, and beyond that there will be no money provided.

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Some of these are slightly tongue-in-cheek but I suspect the essence of your problem is that he just doesn't want to leave because he is comfortable at home. So - obviously - you must make staying less attractive.

Pick any or all of the following:

  1. Stop feeding him - let him get his own meals.
  2. Buy food he doesn't like - in case he decides not to buy his own.
  3. Stop cleaning house - he will very quickly stop bringing friends home.
  4. Do not wash his clothes or dishes.
  5. Prop your bedroom door open at night - this one worked like a charm for us. :)
  6. Wander around the house naked - almost as good as the bedroom door trick.
  7. Take a holiday without him - leave almost no food in the fridge/larder and definitely leave no alcohol.

Remember that this must not be allowed to break your friendships. You are aiming for him to leave but to still remain friends. You must be kind, considerate and supportive of all of his ideas but you must remain firm in your conviction to run your own life in your own way.

If he makes demands such as that you clean-house, explain that this is how you want your house to be right now.

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You face a really difficult situation. None of us can solve it for you, but we can perhaps make you some suggestions. Are you familiar with a technique called Ask Why Five Times? You start with a problem, like "my son won't leave" and you ask yourself "why?". You talk yourself through it and conclude something like "he is afraid" or "he doesn't know how" or "it's nicer here than on his own." Then, you ask why again. Why is he afraid? or Why doesn't he know how to live alone? or Why is it nicer? Whatever answer you come to from that, you ask why again. Keep going.

My guess is that you will conclude something like this:

  • he doesn't know how to handle many tasks of daily life, whether it's cooking, cleaning, preparing for tests at college, shopping, or hundreds of other things
  • he doesn't have a group of friends who live alone who he can learn from, or strive to be like
  • you don't ask a lot of him, such as doing chores, or contributing money

This will probably be a sad process for you. You may feel regret. Pushing that regret away by kicking him out is a quick solution, but for long term happiness, face it, keep asking why, and accept the role both parents have played in getting here. He has a lot to learn and he hasn't learned it yet, right?

Now, what to do about it? You'll need to tweak this advice a little to match what you learned when you asked why. But start by asking more of him. Every day. Every hour. Constantly. While you're finishing dinner, "can you set the table for us please?" After dinner "can you put your plate in the dishwasher please?" When you see him headed to another floor of the house, "can you take [thing] to where it belongs please?" Constantly. If he says no or ignores you, ignore him. If he does it, thank him. If he does it wrong, show him how to do it right.

When he asks you to do something, like laundry or a particular food prep, offer to show him how to do it. If he declines, reply something like "ok, I'll do that in an hour or so when I'm finished this." Don't connect the dots and say "if you do it, you'll get it faster." He's not a toddler. And do it! Model the behavior you want to see from him, give what you want to get.

Keep asking him to do things (nicely) and offering to teach him things (nicely) and I predict he will gain more skills and at the same time, more motivation to go somewhere where people don't ask him to do things. He may get angry. He may yell at you to leave him alone and stop asking him to do things. You can explain that everyone needs to do these things, including those who live with others. And you can just calmly keep asking more of him.

Encourage him to broaden his horizons: learn new things, meet new people, try new activities. The more time he spends with people who live independently, the more likely he is to want the same thing. Sitting in the basement smoking pot and playing video games is easy, but not as rewarding as some scarier things. And when he's out with his new friends, he's not stressing up your home life.

This may take a lot longer than a few weeks. It may even take years. Ideally he would start to make some longer term plans, start thinking about what kind of work he likes and doesn't like, and what it takes to get that work. In the meantime your existence should get more pleasant, because he should be helping at least a little. Maybe even a lot. You might even start to work on a plan for what he will need before he can leave: a particular income level, for example. Knowing that leaving isn't about being kicked out of the nest, but about being able to fly, may make it something that all three of you can happily work towards.

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This sounds like a difficult situation, and indeed getting a psychologist (or similar) on board would help. However, I would suggest that you go yourself, instead of sending your son - and ask them the same question you asked here. A lot of counselling centers around how to assertively state your wishes and stay by them in a situation of disrupted family dynamics.

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Used marijuana since 5?? How was that possible without parental approval? –  Alex In Paris Mar 27 at 16:07
    
No , he has started smoking marijuana since 5 years ago, he is saying that he doesn't do that again... –  Bruce K. Mar 27 at 18:31

I am a mother of 22 years old child , very nice guy and doing more that great in school but still ignoring me little, learned the method isn't ignoring him back or making his life miserable the right thing to do, or telling him leave house, but showing love and having great conversations about what I feel, expressing I don't need him because have friends and family and work and myself but I miss him and want to spend more time with him. I believe pushing our children, walking naked or using things ( actions) to show him family don't want him or cant take him more is teaching you child when you don't like you wife or own children behave bad and the person will go away noooooooooot good. Love produce love, rejection produce bad relations

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Failing all of the other good advice listed above, that there are always the time-honored passive aggressive methods. You could take up the habit of being around the house completely naked, playing music you love that he hates loudly, instituting internet black-out hours via taking the modem with you to work (make sure you have an excuse for this "a coworker wanted to borrow it during his lunch break"), kissing your wife a little too passionately with him around, etc. It is your house, you don't need to always make it operate a way he likes it. If he feels too uncomfortable he'll be motivated to change something.

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Fairly clearly, your son does not believe there will be any repercussions if he ignores you and stays. You need, therefore, to both let him know that you want him to leave, and make it clear that ignoring you will not make that go away.

For example, you can invite a physically strong friend around (know any policemen, security guards or bouncers?), sit down with your son and explain that you cannot tolerate his behaviour, and you need him to leave by tomorrow. The friend is there to both prevent him using violence to intimidate you (like he did with smashing glasses), and to assist you if he did try.

If he is reasonable, he will leave. If he is rational, he will talk to you about it, and you may be able to agree a sensible way for him to have a positive relationship after he leaves. If neither, then you are best placed to ask the police to remove him from your house. You must not let yourselves be intimidated by anyone who threatens violence, even if they are part of your family.

At some point he needs to learn that actions have consequences, that you are not willing to put up with his behaviour. When he was 5 you could enforce discipline physically, but now he is too old for that, and you must make use of the physical force society makes available to you.

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