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Adult son - unemployed, no friends, no prospects

(52 Posts)
janman60 Tue 18-Sep-18 14:56:59

My adult son (26) is living at home with us and I'm always worried about him. He dropped out of uni as he had a nervous breakdown but didn't want to go back. He's clearly intelligent but has nothing to show for it.

He spends almost his whole time shut away in his room, reading, and he occasionally goes for a walk. He's had a couple of jobs in the past few years but hasn't particularly enjoyed them - he's not a sociable person and finds that aspect very difficult! He doesn't seem keen on any of he local volunteering places.

In addition, he got into a bit of trouble with the police a few years back - and left a mark on his DBS to do with children.

I'm at a loss as to how to help him. His family loves him, but he has no friends. He's also no longer that young - most people his age have some kind of career by now, even if they don't intend to stick with it permanently.

Does anybody know what I can do? I would really appreciate some help!!

BritInUS1 Tue 18-Sep-18 14:58:24

Is he claiming job seekers allowance?

janman60 Tue 18-Sep-18 15:01:50

No he's not. We're happy to support him financially (ie. food) as he has a huge university debt and there's no way hell be able to move out anytime soon.

jellymaker Tue 18-Sep-18 15:03:20

sorry to sound harsh but are you still paying his monthly phone contract? Refusing to pay this may be the one impetus he needs to get a job. The rest of us in the adult world don't get the option of not liking jobs. In fact a lot of us have to do jobs that do our head in but stuff still needs paying for. Sounds like you might need to cut a few apron strings and stop enabling an adult man to be sat in his bedroom all day.

ifiwasabutterfly Tue 18-Sep-18 15:05:53

Any kind of 'mark' on his dbs will be a no no for volunteering.

Kemer2018 Tue 18-Sep-18 15:08:56

Has he got Aspergers? It can stop people achieving anywhere near their potential and it sounds like he's struggling socially and is rather isolated. You said he's intelligent and Aspergers sufferers often are.

Angharad07 Tue 18-Sep-18 15:13:25

“Huge university debt so no way he’d be able to move out”

You don’t start paying back your student loan until you earn over £25k a year, it doesn’t effect your life otherwise. Does he have other debt?

Just enquiring in case he’s tried to pull the wool over your eyes re the effect of student debt.

A580Hojas Tue 18-Sep-18 15:14:14

What sort of a mark on his DBS "to do with children?". Actually I don't know what a DBS is either.

janman60 Tue 18-Sep-18 15:14:21

No, he pays his phone contract! Besides, he doesn't call/message anyone.

I don't think he has aspergers, but he wouldn't get a proper diagnoses anyway. It leaves the same problem though. I'm afraid he's lonely. He's never had a relationship of any sort and he's just not seeing the point of life (he had a couple of suicide attempts a few years back)

MinaPaws Tue 18-Sep-18 15:16:36

He's lucky to have a caring mum like you. Please don't think (and don;t tell him either) that most people have a career by now. It's not necessarily true. People spend their twenties making mistakes - being with the wrong person or in the wrong job or with no proper job. It's a time of flux.

But for him to figure out what he wants in life, he needs to become involved with the world again.

I'd start by coaxing him to talk and really listening to him.

Drag him out on a walk with you or ask him to help you tidy the garage/dig the garden or any other longish job you've actually dreamed up just so the two of you can be together, with the focus of an activity. Chat generally at first, don't seem to be prying or sorting him out.

Once he's opened up a bit, you could say that you think he deserves a more interesting and fulfilling life than he currently has. (That's a way of saying things need to change without any judgement in it.)

When I was in my twenties and a real mess, a lovely man I knew a bit got me to draw a square on a piece of paper, then divide it into nine and put an aspect of life that is important for happiness into each box e.g. health, family, money, friends, romance, etc. The only rule is, one of the boxes must be about serving the community/charity work. The other eight are whatever matters to him (music, fashion, travel.)

Then you do something every day - however small towards improving each of those areas of your life. It can be a tiny tiny thing, buit you do one each day for each box. So for health, he could just walk the dog to get fresh air, or drink a litre of water. For charity he could take some clutter to the charity shop for you or pick up some shopping for someone nearby who is housebound. Every day, you write down what you did. Every week you review it and get a bit bolder next week.

He'll see from this that the most amazing changes in life can occur from the tiniest actions. DS2 was a real introvert, stuck at home all the time. But I got him to really stick at a hobby he loved until he got good at it. Then he started chatting online with people interested in the same hobby. Then they met up in a public place. Now they go to gigs together, for BBQs - they have a good life, all from online chat about a shared interest.

It's possible he's depressed, but I'd try a bit of a life overhaul first before getting him dependant on ADs as they have so many side effects. It would be worth getting some counselling though. He may have got past the initial breakdown but a short course of online counselling or a CBT moodgym might really help him.

janman60 Tue 18-Sep-18 15:17:19

Dbs is a criminal record check. My son got a police caution regarding safeguarding children - so it rules out many prospects.

MinaPaws Tue 18-Sep-18 15:18:27

Sorry - that;s an essay. Thought I'd just put down a few ideas. Didn't mean to ramble on.

janman60 Tue 18-Sep-18 15:22:07

No, thank you. My son is on ADs but he is like a clam! He tried counselling for a year but he found it hard to open up I think. He keeps his cards very close to his chest.

When I suggest volunteering opportunities (he has had a look) he just says What's the point?

I think he's just so sad

MinaPaws Tue 18-Sep-18 15:46:58

I feel for him. I have MH issues. I foudn online counselling so much easier to do than face to face. The most useful counselling ever. I coudl never stand it before, But you just type questions and answers to each other. It fel very safe and no exposing. Would he consider it.

The 'What's the point?' look on his face deserves answering. The point is:
1. it gets you out the house
2. you are helping others and even though that may not matter to you, it matters to them
3. if a job does come up that you want to go for, your CV looks better with some recent experience on it than an unexplained gap
4. most of the best things in life happen by chance and chances occur when you are out in the world, doing stuff
5. your depressed brain is nudged out of its rut whenever you do something new
6. you can feel good about yourself for helping others and you deserve to have something to feel good and proud about.

MinaPaws Tue 18-Sep-18 15:53:46

Some ADs can really physiclaly demotivate you. It's like wading through treacle. Almost as hard as motivating yourself when you're depressed. Might it help to slowly start to wean himself off them and gradually introduce lots of sunlight and exercise which so many studies show are of equal benefit but without the side effects.

Deadringer Tue 18-Sep-18 16:05:06

My son is a year younger and similar, he dropped out of college, no friends or social life at all, (he used to have friends but lost touch with all of them) intelligent but lacks motivation, etc but he got a job a year ago and it has done him so much good. It's just data entry but he likes the anonymity of it, he goes in and gets his work done and no one bothers him. He has even started going out occasionally, a miracle! Help him to look for a job that will suit him, or possibly there might be a course that he could do? Anyway hang in there, keep supporting him, keep loving him, some day he will have the life he deserves.

DorasBob Tue 18-Sep-18 16:09:44

What happened with his trouble with the police, if you don’t mind sharing?

Did his problems start after this? What was he like at school? Realistically volunteering Is going to be difficult - most require a CRB check, and if his conviction is related to sexual abuse of children many opportunities for working with people won’t be appropriate.

Is there anything he likes? What does he like reading? Could he try and get a job in a book shop?

DorasBob Tue 18-Sep-18 16:11:33

Also if he was diagnosed with ASD that might help him get access to benefits, PIP etc that could help him live independently

Ohmyinneedofadvice Tue 18-Sep-18 16:11:45

What do you mean to do with safeguarding children ? What was he cautioned for?

Timeforabiscuit Tue 18-Sep-18 16:17:30

Would the princes trust be an option for him? They go up to the age of 30.

Is there any adult sport like a running club or 5 a side he can get into a routine of going to, does he have any routine or responsibilities at home?

Any sort of Temp work, deliveroo? The aim is not well paid work, just the experience and routine.

Has he any anger issues? Substance use? Depression?

MinaPaws Tue 18-Sep-18 16:20:39

Will all volunteering require a DBS that prevents him from working due to a safeguarding caution? Surely that woudl only be an issue if he was trying to volunteer with children?

A caution is for a minor offence. It can be given to a 15 year old for sending another 15 yr old a dickpic, even by mutual consent. That's a sexual offense against children by law. But in reality, the sender doesn't necessarily pose any threat to any child. The act for which he is cautioned will be taken into account by prospective employers and by any voluntary services which are not involved with children.

If it was just a teenage mistake, he may need some help facing up to it and learning how to admit it but also put it in correct context - a mistake, and everyone makes those. If it was a small issue such as described above which didn't involve coercion or manipulation or anyone considerably younger than him, then he needs to forgive himself and move on. A caution suggests it was.

Ohmyinneedofadvice Tue 18-Sep-18 16:21:46

The princes trust also take children , if he is a safeguarding risk he won't be allowed on.

Op has said he got in a "bit of trouble" but hasny said what that trouble is.

Synecdoche Tue 18-Sep-18 16:22:34

Does he like animals? Caring for a pet can instil a really important sense of worth and responsibility into some people and they can bring so much joy. It also means you have to research how to look after it, what it needs etc and for most animals there will be forums etc online you can join. It gives me such a sense of purpose and can be a source of silent and undemanding companionship and company. For most pets as well it means having to leave your room/get out of the house. Just having something which 'needs me' has been so important.

imip Tue 18-Sep-18 16:23:55

I second queries regarding ASD, and if this was the case he would be able to access support - financial and otherwise.

TerfsUp Tue 18-Sep-18 16:28:56

if this was the case he would be able to access support - financial and otherwise.

Not necessarily. I have Asperger's (diagnosed in 2011) and have never received any kind of support as there isn't much out there if you are able to live independently.

janman60 Tue 18-Sep-18 16:33:45

The caution was to do with an offence he committed with someone much younger. It was only a caution, but by its nature a safeguarding concern - and it won't be filtered from his DBS

Blessthekids Tue 18-Sep-18 16:46:55

He tried counselling for a year but he found it hard to open up I think. He keeps his cards very close to his chest.

I remember a person who is in therapy for depression saying that if you find that counselling is not working for you, its because you haven't found the right therapist/counsellor. I would see if he is open to trying a different therapy or counsellor. I think this has to be the first step.

Would he consider doing an OU course? Start slowly and build up. They often get students to get together online which might help him feel less isolated.

Finally, does he have any siblings or other relatives who could help by taking him out of the house

MadisonMontgomery Tue 18-Sep-18 16:54:28

I think you need to be a bit stricter with him - having a job isn’t really optional, he needs to sort himself out otherwise you are going to be supporting him forever - what happens when you are dead?

thenightsky Tue 18-Sep-18 17:18:41

I could have written the OP about my son too (now age 27). Same pattern of uni, mental health breakdown x 2, suicide risk in the past too. Sits in room all day on computer or drawing and sketching. Goes out running two or three times a week but won't join a club. Goes to karate twice a week (has to as the club relies on him to teach).

But he has no friends of the type that will ring him up and say 'hey come out'.

He sits drawing and sketching all the day, but nobody is ever allowed to look at his work, never mind critique it.

He did get a short term data entry job a couple of years ago (actually I got it for him). Not worked since that finished apart from gardening for an elderly neighbour every couple of weeks (cash in hand).

The Japanese have a word for our sons: Hikikomori - google it.

imip Tue 18-Sep-18 17:20:23

Unfortunately terf, he is not able to live independantly, so may be eligible for more assistance. I know ASD support is sketchy for adults, but may be eligible to do more courses etc. Potentially PIP.

I have a brother with ASD who is as you describe. Unfortunately he has very poor social communication skills, which hinder him forming friendships/relationships (different country).

aperolspritzplease Tue 18-Sep-18 17:56:55

My first thought is that out of your (understandable!) concern, is that you are enabling him to carry on like this. Not enjoying a job isn't reason to give it up if you have to support yourself.

DorasBob Tue 18-Sep-18 18:34:29

Thenightsky - in japan the reason there are so many hikkikomori is it’s an affluent society, and middle class families can afford to fund a non working adult indefinitely. It’s rarer amongst working class Japanese families as the sons have to bring money in.

madyogafan Tue 18-Sep-18 19:05:23

How does he pay for his own phone contract if he doesn't claim benefits and doesn't work?
If he did claim benefits he would have to search for a job but it's going to be difficult to suggest this now if you have been supporting him all this time.
If it was me I might say something like you are looking to your own retirement and you can't afford to support him forever so he will need to look for a job or claim benefits.
Perhaps then eventually he will be forced into some kind of work.

Ohmyinneedofadvice Tue 18-Sep-18 19:09:50

I think your pandering a bit to him , he's in his 20s not a child. I don't enjoy work either but it's essential to fund my life , not everyone finds a job they enjoy. Was his offence widely known within the local community ? Do you think he is scared of people's perception of him ? Has he always been this way?

I'd get strict and say your an adult now , start behaving like one, get a job and your not festering in this house day after day. Maybe that sounds cruel but he's not doing himself any favours and needs to break this pattern.

Aozora13 Tue 18-Sep-18 19:53:07

OP your son sounds exactly like my brother. He has never managed to find his place in the world. He’s highly intelligent but incredibly shy and hugely anxious, has taken ADs before (after a suicide attempt) but refuses to now. In fact he refuses to seek any help despite varying degrees of gentle persuasion, stern talking-tos etc from my infinitely patient parents. He’s in his mid-30s now and they’ve given up trying and just let him be. He seems to be on a relatively even keel now - volunteers 2 days a week in conservation and has his hobbies, but no friends and no inclination to live independently (he struggles with self-care and previous attempts to move out ended very badly).

I’m sorry this is probably not what you wanted to hear and I wish I had a positive story to share. No advice from me really, just that your DS is an adult now and ultimately it’s up to him how to lead his life, however much you’re there to support him. You sound like a fab mum.

Blessthekids Tue 18-Sep-18 22:04:47

I know some of you mention tough love but OP's son clearly has MH issues - nervous breakdown and suicide attempts - so I don't think this is the solution. I honestly believe he needs therapeutic help to guide him to find his own way.

With the hikkikomori, although a lot of Japanese society say they are slackers, the cause is often deep rooted in bullying at school or in the home combined with the immense pressure to succeed academically and conform to societal norms. These hikkikomori are literally broken people. I think things are changing, I recently saw a programme about one professor in Japan who set up support groups and talking therapies which are having success in bringing them back into society.

@janman60 I wish you and your DS all the best

campion Tue 18-Sep-18 22:32:15

I wouldn't have too much faith in him getting PIP. My DS has aspergers and was awarded DLA aged 14. He's just been refused PIP as his cognitive abilities are too advanced to qualify because he can drive!(explicitly stated) and he can prepare a simple meal.
It's a convenient way for the government to save some money whilst claiming that there is much more help for people with asd. Total bollocks.

I don't know if your son has asd OP but it sounds familiar. You have my sympathy but what to do about it has no easy answer. People advising that you should be harder on him possibly don't know how difficult it is to deal with. There's not much support out there for caring,mentally exhausted parents.

madyogafan Wed 19-Sep-18 09:00:50

I do agree with those saying he needs therapeutic help but this is hard with somebody who won't engage. My daughter has a severe mental illness and I get so frustrated when she won't access the help she needs.

One thing I do know with my daughter is that her mental health really deteriorates when she is not in a routine with nothing to occupy her. She is at Uni but refuses to do anything in the holidays and I see her going downhill every summer.

I'm terrified this might happen when she leaves Uni and I will do everything I can to try to get her to do some kind of job. At the moment the plan is that she doesn't move back home (best for both of us) so she will need to claim benefits if she doesn't get a job. Hopefully that way she will at least then understand that she is expected to work at something.

For those talking about PIP my daughter also had her claim turned down at a recent renewal. She has a serious diagnosis and lots of issues but has been discharged from the overstretched mental health services and we couldn't provide enough evidence to make it worth going to tribunal (and she wouldn't have engaged with that anyway)

I do sympathise with the OP.

LardLizard Tue 23-Oct-18 09:14:52

Why has he been in trouble with the police regarding children ?

Also that won’t rule him out of other voluntary roles
He’s gotta start somewhere xxx

MangoPorridge Tue 05-Mar-19 01:31:09

I have an adult sibling with mh issues. It's been a long road, IMO these are pillars of recovery:

Something productive to do (could also be creative or spiritual)
Financial stability
Family support
Right medication
Professional support network

Also to be accepted by people around you, to be seen as a person not the illness, treated like an adult, able to articulate yourself, have hope for the future.

What about CBT? Is there Recovery College in your area? Does he express himself creatively at all? Work in the library? Book clubs? Conservation? Groundwork?

Misschipmunk Tue 05-Mar-19 01:45:02

Don’t know why everyone’s pondering around the fact he may have something wrong with him and to claim DLA and benifits. Sounds like a lazy 26 year old to me. Tell him get up off his backside and get a job. Sounds like your wrapping him up in cotton wool and he’s cushty at home. If he had something wrong with him school and university would of picked up on it and offered help. Honest opinion.... you need to tell him he’s lazy and your not feeding him anymore! He needs to get a job and be a man. More fool you for letting him become like this!

MangoPorridge Tue 05-Mar-19 12:12:56

Mental illness is just like any other physical illness. Same with ASD. The more insight the person has into it, and the more that family try to understand the condition and how it affects that person, the better they will do.

When someone is young it's hard to know whether or not they have a mental illness, is it something they will grow out of / fully recover from. Professionals are reluctant to give it a label at a young age. Labels are stigmatising.

That's who love and acceptance are so important. Honestly the world is incredibly diverse, millions of people have mental illnesses and function in the workplace, have understanding employers etc.

You are pretty well formed at 26. He really needs to either go back to college and do a course (and many people in their 20s do this - take him to an open day), go to the job centre, or be on incapacity benefit. There are lots of adult mh support groups (anxiety etc.).

BlankTimes Tue 05-Mar-19 12:53:08


If he had something wrong with him school and university would of picked up on it and offered help.

Load of bollocks.

Google Masking. Plenty people who need support fall through the system and end up like the OP's son, some don't make it as their needs haven't been recognised or supported and they fall apart.

PIP is not diagnosis based, but based on someone's ability to do or not do certain tasks for which a face to face assessor will award points. Lots of threads on MN about this.

If you don't agree with the points awarded, you apply for Mandatory Reconsideration then if they don't award enough and you feel they should, you go to Tribunal.

If applying, please use all the online guides and provide enough medical evidence to satisfy the DWP. It's no stroll in the park, but as long as you present a good case, then you should have a fair hearing at Tribunal.

Being able to drive does not prove that you do not need support or are "able" in other areas. I'd re-apply if that was used as an excuse to deny PIP.

PIP is awarded to some disabled people who work and drive themselves there and back. PIP enhanced rate mobility component is a requirement for a Blue Badge in many areas.

Misschipmunk Tue 05-Mar-19 12:58:45

This is he problem these days too many excuses!!!

BlankTimes Tue 05-Mar-19 13:04:30

The problem these days is pig-ignorance of 'invisible disabilities.'

Misschipmunk Tue 05-Mar-19 13:07:33

No the problem is people making excuses for lazy kids these days . 26 no job and can’t be bothered to do anything? There we go then. If you keep making excuses for every kid these days and adults no one will be working and every one will be on benifits !!!!

Stuckforthefourthtime Tue 05-Mar-19 13:07:45

Do you have enough money to allow him to live like this until he is 80, without risking your own health and care? Do you have other dcs?

I agree that he clearly has mental health issues that have made all this much harder, but unless you are absolutely loaded this is not a sustainable situation and he is running out of time to turn it around. My uncle was like this - it was left too late, so by the time my grandparents realised that their own care needs were increasing he was in his 40s and totally unemployable. My grandmother's house had to be sold to fund her care, his siblings cannot take him in as they have their own families and he is very tricky to live with and expensive to fund an extra adult (my mum tried, but it was impossible). He is now in and out of sheltered accommodation and on the streets.

Is there some gentle tough love you could try - could his living with you be contingent on him engaging with counselling, or undertaking an OU course, or if that is too far, even just being responsible for doing the shopping and cooking for you once a week?
Could you see a counsellor on your own who may be able to give you some pointers?

BlankTimes Tue 05-Mar-19 13:08:46

For the ignorant.

Misschipmunk Tue 05-Mar-19 13:27:26

Blanktimes give it a rest. I’m aware all disabilities are not physical. This adults just pure lazy

paap1975 Tue 05-Mar-19 13:34:15

Has he been tested for AD(H)D? Sounds like my adult stepson, who the doctors suspect has it, but who won't go in for testing

BlankTimes Tue 05-Mar-19 13:43:10


How fortunate you are to be able to medically diagnose the OP's son from your keyboard. I'm sure the NHS would be interested in your talents, no need to pay a doctor, just ask you.

MaybeDoctor Tue 05-Mar-19 13:44:43

I agree that now is the time to try to turn it around.

While young people often do take a while to find their feet, every passing year does increase the risk of something happening to your own health and also makes him less employable. sad

Living with you needs to be contingent on him doing something else each day other than sitting in his bedroom.

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