How can I get my 25 year old daughter to be motivated to finish her degree, get a job and start looking after her appearance? She still behaves as if she is 15 years old. All she wants to do is watch tv series and sports all night long get up at 16h00, most days doesn't even wash her face or brush her teeth except if she is going out and even if she is going out she still wants to dress in jeans tshirts and sneakers and gets all upset when I tell her she should look after herself and have proud in herself ....

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    Have you considered depression? Have you asked why she doesn't want to do more (she might not know...) ?
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 17, 2015 at 16:17
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    Welcome to Parenting.SE! Does she still live at home with you? How long has this been a problem, has it gotten worse over time, why didn't she finish her degree, has she ever had a job... If you provide a bit more history and context, you will get more helpful answers.
    – Acire
    Nov 17, 2015 at 16:23
  • She sounds depressed, get her to see a doctor about it. Nov 17, 2015 at 16:48
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    You are a carer (you provide unpaid care support to a person with an illness) - you are a parent carer. You may want to find carer support organisations in your region. In England your GP should register you as a carer and there should be a carer support group in your county; medical professionals should be including you in some aspects of her care (see also triangle of care); your needs should be assessed, etc. A carer support group will be able to provide useful support and information to you.
    – DanBeale
    Nov 18, 2015 at 23:02
  • Are there other family members? If so, what do they think about your daughter? Does your daughter have friends? What motivates her to go outside? Has your daughter always been like this or was there a precipitating incident? In any case, let us know what you try and how it works. Nov 25, 2015 at 13:34

3 Answers 3


I am sorry, this is a tough situation.

Many people have mentioned the possibility of depression. Now, I am not going to diagnose over the internet, but your daughter is showing some signs of it (not getting up, not being interested in personal hygiene); however, other things you mention, like wearing jeans and sneakers are not a sign of depression and make me think there might be something else going on, at least in addition to depression.

The thing with depression is, you can't just casually talk someone out of it. If she is depressed, you telling her to dress more nicely and take pride in herself is not going to shake her out of it. A depressive episode makes a person not have pride in themselves. And it's likely what she's hearing isn't "you are awesome, dress like it", but "you are a slob who can't even manage to dress up to my standards". I am not saying that is what you are saying, I am saying this is what she might be hearing/thinking.

Dealing with depression sucks. The depressed brain lies to its owner. It's a long way out, and parents, partners and friends are often overwhelmed, and that's not their fault. Some ideas that I have that could gently help her are:

  • help her get into a daily routine: knock on her door at a certain time, maybe have breakfast ready. Ask what she's planning to do that day, make note if the weather is nice enough for going outside, or that there's a festival in town she may be interested in, etc.
  • talk about what she is good at, what positive things might be in the future for her. I am reading that she hasn't yet finished her degree - talk about what she'd like to do with it, why she chose that sibject
  • don't bother her about what she is wearing - getting up and dressed is good! Getting out and meeting with friends is also good.

Also, be honest with yourself on why you are criticising her: Does it come from a place of worrying about her or are you disappointed in her? If you are disappointed, she will pick up on it. If this has been going on for some time, she may have internalized this way of thinking.

It would be good if she saw a doctor/counselor about this. How this works depends on your country, you might for example need a referral from a GP/family doctor. However, suggesting therapy or medical treatment is tricky, because it's easy for the depressed person to hear "you are a problem" instead of "you have a problem, let's solve it!" Also, therapy has to be wanted, it can't be forced because the patient has to do work. So just saying "talk to someone" isn't going to be the solution.

There are some good resources on the internet I can recommend:

Supporting a family member or friend

Captain Awkward post in dealing with a friend having depression (CA usually has an excellent comment section for these issues)

An important note: if this gets too much for you, if you get rejected, if you yourself find the situation too much to deal with: it's not your fault. You are allowed to be sad or angry about this as well. You are also allowed to get help (you have taken a good first step by posting here), in whatever form you need, including talking to a professional. And you are even allowed to say that having your 25 year old daughter at home, not helping in any way (I presume from the other issues you mentioned that she is not doing chores or paying rent) is not acceptable.

Depression is one possibility, based on the limited amount of information in the question. It might be something else. Important questions are, for example:

  1. When did she start showing these behaviors?
  2. How does she say she feels? Is she happy with the way she is living her everyday life?
  3. Was there any kind of event that started a break in her routine? Did she fail a class, did her life circumstances change?
  • Thank you very much for your words yes she started suffering from anxiety/panic attacks +-4 years ago &has been on medication since then I really do try not to criticize& try help her to become motivated about life but its not easy I have to admit though that last couple weeks she seems a little better she's been going out to her friends a bit more & seems more interested in her hygene.I don't have a problem with jeans &a tshirt for everyday wear but you have no idea how I battle to get her to choose something to wear when its something more formal like a wedding its an absolute nightmare ! Nov 18, 2015 at 15:10
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    @Worriedmother this information (anxiety, taking medication) really should be in the original post.
    – YviDe
    Nov 18, 2015 at 17:07

From your question, I assume that your daughter is emotionally and mentally capable of attending school and/or working. I also infer from the question that she's never left home, has never had a job, and still acts like a teenager.

If my inferences are correct, the issue may be that she has never emotionally matured because she never has had to do so.

The solution will require you to take some bold steps, so I need to give you some powerful reasons to do so.

  1. You won't be around forever to care for her. Eventually, she'll have to fend for herself. The longer she goes without having to care for herself, the harder it will be when you pass. Some of the saddest people I've met are the fifty-somethings who have never left home, never taken care of themselves, and are suddenly thrust into adulthood quite unprepared. I had a neighbor who was so unprepared to care for himself that he committed suicide after his father died.
  2. Living like Peter Pan (e.g. never growing up) robs her of dignity, self-respect, self-confidence, and self-reliance. It is hurting her!
  3. If she never leaves home, never holds a job, and never goes to school, she may never find someone with which to share her life. Even if she met the perfect person, dependence is quite unattractive. In fact, dependence attracts dependence. I have a cousin, who never left home, who married a woman exactly like himself. It didn't end well and caused great harm and pain to the family.
  4. As long as she lives as a dependent, she will never achieve her full potential.

So, what is the solution? Gently push the bird out of the nest. This is like surgery. It will cause pain now, to create healing later.

  1. Tell her that she now has to pay rent to live with you. Keep the amount small and reasonable (say $100 a month at first.) If she doesn't, she will have to move. Write down the amount, date due, and the details on a paper, and both of you sign. Then, if she does not pay, evict her.
  2. Once she gets used to paying rent, let her know that she has a limited amount of time to live with you. Let her know that going to school will allow her to stay longer, as long as her grades are good.
  3. Help her dream. Talk about the joys of living on her own. Have her envision her future. Set goals together, and show her how to meet them.
  4. Teach her the skills she's going to need on her own. Help her budget (Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University is a good tool for this.) Teach her to cook and clean (if she doesn't know already.) Make her do the shopping.
  5. Help her to save for her security deposit on an apartment by matching what she saves.
  6. Never confuse enabling with helping. She is not going to like doing a lot of this at first. She may cry, accuse, beg, or yell. If your intent is to help her, she has to learn to live on her own and fly. As time progresses, she will feel better about herself and her newfound independence. Remember, nobody ever builds a muscle unless they use it, and sometimes building muscles causes us to be sore. Don't go weak on her, because you would be doing her a great injustice.

Finally, other posters suggested the issue may be linked to depression. While depression could be a contributing factor, inactivity and purposelessness contributes to the depression. If you suspect depression, get her some help, and give her the dignity she deserves..


Perhaps you too often tell your daughter what is wrong with her. Stop giving her assessments. It is better to talk to her about what she wants from life, and not about what you want from her daughter. Perhaps you control too much and hence she does not control herself and makes you out of spite. This suppresses it. Imagine that you still control your mother. Would you like it? I think not. Cease to be an overseer, instead be a friend of your daughter. Perhaps this will enable her to be sufficiently motivated and take control of her life in her hands.

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