I am a single mom and my son is 30 and living at home. He does not pay rent. He has a bad case of social anxiety and lack of motivation. Unfortunatly his dad was a narcissist and emotionally abusive and probably contributed to his lack of motivation and self esteem. He recently got laid off from his job (that I helped him to find) although from no fault of his own, and since this COVID19 pandemic is having a hard time finding a new job. He spends a good amount of time on video games/youtube. I feel like he can't continue doing minimal with his life like this.

What are some steps to help him? Start charging him rent? Kick him out of the house? Talking to him or make him go to therapy? He does have money saved up but we live in a high cost area.

  • What's the end goal here? You say you want to help him, but that's very broad. Do you want him to get another job and move out? Just become a more independent person? Spend more time on self-improvement rather than entertainment?
    – Becuzz
    Apr 16, 2020 at 13:55
  • 2
    Fundamentally, your job is a parent is to get your kids to a point where they are capable of living independently. If he's 30 and unable to do this that's something you need to decide if you still want to take ownership of. Either you continue to help him live independently, or not.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Apr 16, 2020 at 15:16
  • Do you think he'd pay rent if you asked him to? Would you be willing to involve the police to have him forcibly removed if not? Given the pandemic, are you legally allowed to kick him out right now? Are you willing to kick him out even if it means he'd be homeless, even temporarily? There's no right or wrong answers, just trying to get a feel for what you're willing to do.
    – Kat
    Apr 17, 2020 at 19:57
  • What do you think he should be doing during this Global Pandemic? Do you seriously expect him to get a new job? And with social distancing being the new normal, his social anxiety might need to be reclassified as a feature.. as opposed to a flaw. What he should do.. is not just a function of his gender and his age. If he needs your support, give it to him. That's what family is for. And in this time, we all need as much support as we can find.
    – JJones-Jr.
    May 2, 2020 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


Failure to launch is a crisis of agency. He needs to feel that he is in control of his life through his own action. Maybe reverse roles by giving him all household responsibilities, and then truly let go and focus elsewhere. Let him pay utilities, buy food, cook for you, and clean the house. You should be happy with the deal. Read “Green and Clean” by Stephen Covey.

The other possibility is that he’s doing something really important. I know several great entrepreneurs like this. Help him write a business plan and incorporate. Take equity and a director seat for rent. Have board meetings. Appoint an older adult he respects and have them join you. Write monthly investor emails on the progress.

What I’m saying is to take action to put him on the path to the type of person he wants to be. Nagging won’t help.


Don't force him anything - paying rent or leave the house, for example. That could end really bad. According to one great podcast I heard, "if you want to help somebody, ask them what they need". So making him paying rent (etc.) is good solution from your point of you, but I think there is underlying problem. His motivation. I've experienced it myself. The right motivation makes you do amazing things and fills you with energy. And the urge to leave the house should come mainly from himself.

It's a long journey, but independent one, where your input won't be required in the end. I think, correct me if I am wrong, that if he would be advancing in life you would be fine to have him with you. The two reasons people leave nest on their own:

  1. finding a buddy they want to have privacy with and potentially start family
  2. home environment isn't sufficient anymore

ad 1) finding boyfriend / girlfriend is hard if you have no self-esteem, if you are not satisfied with yourself - basically the Maslow's hierarchy of needs . Also I find it easier to find people to increase their proficiency in whatever hobby they have. There are similar minded people for everything. That brings me to point 2.

ad 2) Find his points of interests, his dreams. He might not talk to you at first, he might not even know them. Get to know him more, encourage him to go after the dreams. Maybe try different hobbies with him. Also, if he plays video games, they can be just a runaway from harsh reality OR the hobby he likes. If it is his hobby, that's great, you found it and he can even make money with that.

If it is a runaway, I would give him more house chores and show him appreciation even for the smallest things - to show life doesn't suck (source for this and many other relationship hacks is this pastor's video , also I recommend the long version).

Myself, I have a hobby I wanna give every minute to, but know I have to do some adult things (like work, chores, etc...) first. So if they are not too big, I know I can finish them and still have time for my hobby. That's what really drives me - the passion for something. Find it and you will see him outgrow the house. And almost every passion is better than none. Gradually he will want to make things you don't allow him at home, things he wants to do differently - that makes him leave. Or he stays with you glowing with enthusiasm. Possibly also finds a soulmate in the hobby group around.

Lastly, stay kind with him, it might be beyond him.


As the saying goes you don't let a good recession get you down.

It helps in this situation to give him options that are all acceptable to you. An ultimatum can be a last ditch effort but is far from ideal. Maybe he should take this extra time he has avialable and learn a valuable skill.

You know what you should do when you loose your job work on sharpening your skills and and honing your talents. Loosing your job is not an excuse to stop working.

Maybe his career was at a dead-end, these things happen. Then you pick something that is clearly not a dead-end and you make it your life's mission to be great at that work.

I myself taught music basically my whole life and believe you me I was wonderful at it. The fact remains still that the arts where I live is poorly supported. If I wanted a child similar to the ones I taught, then I was going to have to do something else for a living.

If I tell you there is no future in the education, it is with a tear in this 3rd generation teacher's eye, but I did it and I will continue to do it. It was not easy coming from an arts background and having to learn a science mentality, but I did and with a little love and a little support, your son can do it as well.

Sites like Udemy, Pluralsight and lynda.com has wonderful teaching resources. The coding courses are wonderful. He can learn life changing skills on those sites for entirely reasonable prices. If coding is not his thing he learn photoshop or he can take English courses. I cannot really think that among the hundreds if not thousands of courses on those sites there is not going to be something he finds interesting that he can learn.

The nice thing about coding is that even if he cannot find gainful employment he can be self-employed and do freelancing work with upwork or freelancer.com. So there really is no excuse.

Remember you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I know you are getting desperate because your son is a burden to you long after he should be but try to approach this in a constructive manner.

If you tell him that you think that this relationship is unhealthy and you want it to change then you his response may surprise you. Tell him that he may not believe it now but you think the self-respect and the confidence he will gain from being the king of his own castle will be well worth the hard work he puts in now to gain independence.

You may find that the situation he is in now makes him unhappy in ways he cannot express to you.

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