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Adult son not paying his way or helping out. Really fed up with it. WWYD?

(104 Posts)
catweazle Sun 17-Aug-08 12:45:43

My DS1 dropped out of uni this year and came home in June. He didn't want to go back to his old job at McDs and wasn't going to but DS2 bullied him into it. He doesn't know what he wants to do. Every week since he's been back I've suggested the adult careers office in the town might help and every week he finds excuses not to go. He is only working 3 days (and not full days). The rest of the time he sits in his room on his laptop. He has started his driving lessons again as he thinks it will help to find him a job.

We sat him down several weeks ago and explained that he needed to be paying us for his keep. We have never taken money off him before, even when he was working FT in the last summer hols, because he was saving for uni. I don't want to make money off him but firstly we really can't afford to keep him as he eats like a locust, and secondly no-one gets a free ride in this life and it's time he got used to it. We suggested 1/3 of his take home pay but said if he thought that was too much we were open to discussion.

Several weeks have passed and no money. I have "reminded" him twice. He just grunts. It is embarrassing to have to beg for money. Our finances are quite bad and we could do with it, especially the amount of food we are having to buy for 3 teens at home all day... In the meantime he is buying books, toys, sweets, music, so it isn't as if he is really skint. It cost us over £300 to go and get him home from uni and although we don't expect him to be grateful it would be nice if he would acknowledge that we have actually put ourselves out for him.

If we ask him to tidy up it doesn't happen. if we ask him to watch the baby he won't. He doesn't do anything spontaneously- dishwasher, making meals etc and has to be nagged to do anything, so it's easier not to bother. He is almost 21 years old.

He wasn't like this before he went away. He was always anxious to work as much as possible and was quite helpful around the house. I'm sure the experience has knocked his confidence but he won't talk to us. I'm trying to help him but he won't co-operate. DH is now saying we should find him somewhere to live and ask him to leave because he is fed up with his attitude.


ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Sun 17-Aug-08 12:51:32

So he was more helpful/motivated before he went to uni? Was he more responsible with money as well? If he has undergone a personality change to some extent e may be depressed. If he has (honestly?) always been a bit lazy and demotivated then you need to lay down the bloody law!
Don't 'beg' for money, tell him the money is due, on the day he is paid. Suggest he sets up a standing order to you or whatever.
If he doesn't get the message about housework, stop doing anything for him. Don't wash his clothes, cook for him or tidy after him (or just dump his stuff outside his room)
He's behaving this way because you let him.

BoysAreLikeDogs Sun 17-Aug-08 12:52:02

Part of me acknowledges that your DH is right, and that DS should move out, and that by continuing to support him you are 'enabling' him to keep the status quo.

Have you stopped cooking/washing/ironing/cleaning his room?

savoycabbage Sun 17-Aug-08 12:57:28

Kat's hit the nail on the head as far as I can see!

TheHedgeWitch Sun 17-Aug-08 13:09:29

Message withdrawn

Heated Sun 17-Aug-08 13:10:19

My dh's grandmother used to stand at the front door every wage day and her boys used to hand over their wage packets unopened as they entered the house. She'd hand back what remained the next morning. Kat's idea of the equivalent standing order is an excellent idea. He should be paying you at least a third - probably a half - if you are proving meals, washing his clothes.

Tell him his holiday is over, he's now a contributing adult to the household and if he isn't employed he's working for you - decorating, gardening, whatever.

Then on his day off direct him here. He's lost his way a bit since dropping out of uni but there's loads he'd like here.

catweazle Sun 17-Aug-08 13:11:59

He was always very good with money (but always very tight).

He doesn't put his clothes out for wash so I'm not washing them. I haven't been in his room at all.

He's been avoiding me since I mentioned the money last- coming out of his room and nipping back in when I'm doing something else. We are still taking him backwards and forwards to work, and that journey eats fuel. DH took him last but "didn't get a chance" to say anything hmm He's leaving it to me to sort out- as usual.

maidamess Sun 17-Aug-08 13:14:02

Hedge, I think thats a bit harsh! They are his parents, not his landlords.

And whilst I think its only fair he contributes, I think trying to find out WHY he is acting like this could be part of the answer, rather than demanding cash.

Until he sees he needs to pay, and realises it, he won't, or will resent you more and more.
Cat, could you show him the bills you have to pay...make it concrete for him how much it costs you to have him free loading off you all this time.

Tell him you could set up a direct debit to your account if thats a good compromise...then he won't feel he's 'giving' you money, if thats a problem for him.

IllegallyBrunette Sun 17-Aug-08 13:14:19

Definatly set up a standing order.

My younger brother and my dad were constantly falling out over money until they set a standing order up.

PotPourri Sun 17-Aug-08 13:18:19

Dh needs to support you in this. aDN you need to explain ~(and mean it) that if he doesn't start pulling his weight and paying his way, the way an adult should, he cannot live in your house.

IMO he needs to grow up. The lifts to work should be one of the first things to stop. IF he can afford sweets etc he can afford taxis or a bus. And maybe you should get a local paper and circle some flat shares for him to show him the other option...

TheHedgeWitch Sun 17-Aug-08 13:19:31

Message withdrawn

Cappuccino Sun 17-Aug-08 13:22:40

how much room have you got for him? does he share a room?

I came back home after Uni and, because our house was fairly large, my mum converted a little landing into a kitchen. I mean it was tiny; I had a camping sink, a camping fridge, and a Baby Belling with 2 rings and a grill.

I came home but it was like a bedsit; so I did my own cooking, used the washing machine etc

she said I was too old to 'come home' like I had been before

I didn't pay any rent but I did buy all my own food, cleaning stuff etc

kind of like a halfway-stage

girlnextdoor Sun 17-Aug-08 13:41:10

I think you need to give him more TLC- both my DCs are at uni ao I do have kids roughly the same age.

he is probably very down after dropping out. Why did he do it? Is another shot this year at another uni or another subject possible?

It si very hard for kids to settle again at home when they have had a taste of freedom. Mine do nothing to help and it drives me nuts. You are not alone! I do lay down the law- although they are only here during the holidays.

I suggest that you treat him like an adult, and have an adult-to-adult discussion about finances. Show him your shopping bills. Ask how much he earns in a week, discuss a reasonable contribution. This is difficult- I'd leave him enough for fares, driving lessons and a bit of a social life, but then i would expect a reasonable amount for food etc- say £10 a day? How does that sound?£70 a week?

He needs a lot of support. Has he nay idea what he wants to work

nappyaddict Sun 17-Aug-08 14:39:43

how much are you asking him to pay? most of my friends pay about £50 a week.

purpleduck Sun 17-Aug-08 15:03:53

I think there are 2 issues here.
1) Why did he drop out?
Does he want to go back?
This needs sorting out ASAP
I do think that he probably needs support - in the form of helping him through this in a practical way - contacting the uni, looking for other training options, etc.
If he had planned to go to uni for a long while, and it didn't work out (or whatever), then uni has filled this space in his life in his imagination, and if hes not doing THAT, then maybe he doesn't yet know what will fill the space, and so he is doing nothing.
Its like grieving for the future you thought you had.

(Did that make sense..? grin )

2) At 21, he SHOULD be helping out, and trying to pay his way, even if it in the form of doing extra around the house.
I think giving him lifts, etc needs to stop.

So, bottom line: he NEEDS to either figure out what he wants to do, or decide to take a year out and work while he decides. Support him emotionally, but he needs to pull his weight. He probably is depressed, but if he does nothing, it is just digging a deeper hole for himself.

I really feel for him!
Good Luck

sarah293 Sun 17-Aug-08 15:10:30

Message withdrawn

girlnextdoor Sun 17-Aug-08 15:25:55

I think the key to this is finding out why he dropped out- do you know the real reasons? and dealing with that and his future.

Poor lad- I feel really sorry for him.

He might get on with some counselling- via your GP- or privately- find someone who is good with young people.

Cappuccino Sun 17-Aug-08 15:32:36

I agree with purpleduck

it must be difficult not to project your needs onto him as an adult

I remember my mum telling me it was no good me ever getting my own home because "I had no interest in property" hmm

looking back she was a widow, and she wanted someone else to share the responsibility of looking after the house, and I was 21 and couldn't give a fuck that the gutters were crumbling

I just wasn't old enough; he is your 'adult son' but also he is very young, and does need some guidance. You can be selfish at that age, and you need guiding through that, rather than being made to feel selfish by the people you ought to look to for support

catweazle Sun 17-Aug-08 15:55:34

It's difficult, because as I said he won't actually talk to us.

They started him in the 2nd year of uni (Scottish system) which we were told later is the hardest year. He was fine until Xmas. He went back after Xmas and we realised there was a problem in about February when we couldn't get hold of him. He said he was ill- and perhaps he was to start with- but he missed one class then another and it spiralled.

When we realised how bad it was DH drove up there to get him and brought him home. He made an appointment to see his tutor and they both went up to see him. It was all sorted out and he was allowed to defer and start the year again the next year. University put all sorts of counselling and other help in place for him, which he took up.

Back again in September to start again and it all just went wrong again. He didn't like the course and was struggling to keep up. He didn't like the other people on the course and generally just decided he didn't want to be there or carry on with engineering. He tried to transfer to history but they wouldn't let him.

He originally wanted to try another course but was in panic mode of just going for something without thinking about it. We told him to give himself a break, come home, go back to McDs, get some money together and take a year out to think about what he really wanted.

Now he's back he doesn't want to do anything at all. We have been supportive (not the least all these flaming trips to Scotland at £300 a time that we didn't have) and I've tried hard to help him sort out what he wants.

I can appreciate he probably feels a bit stupid and humiliated at having to give up, and I don't suppose he wants to be here. But it's hard for us too having him back! If he were just to pull his weight it wouldn't be so bad but when all he does is eat and use his laptop it just makes us very resentful. We both work full time but are still having to do 100% of the housework as well.

spicemonster Sun 17-Aug-08 16:09:40

I think you need to sit down and have an adult conversation with him. He's 21. He's not a child but you're allowing him to behave like one. Saying that you were happy to take whatever money he was prepared to give means that you're basically saying the money isn't that important to you and he might well think you're asking just out of principle. Thinking back to when I was his age, it never occurred to me that my parents might actually need the money I brought in. I think you need to make that clear. And agree what is going to happen, get some milestones in place. By X date he will have decided what he's going to do. By X date, he'll have a full time job. Otherwise this will just drift on and you'll get increasingly resentful and he'll slip further back into teenager-dom.

He might be depressed but that doesn't mean he can't pay his way.

girlnextdoor Sun 17-Aug-08 16:12:32

I do feel for you- and for him.
Maybe sort the money out a bit first?

I think it will take a while for him to adjust to being back home. Although this is the very last thing you feel like doing, trying to build up his self esteem make work wonders.

expatinscotland Sun 17-Aug-08 16:30:30

kay is right.

and this line is telling: 'has to be nagged to do anything, so it's easier not to bother. '

let me tell you where this will go if you don't stop in NOW.

i have a 32-year-old BIL who lives at home and does utter FA because MIL lets him get away with it.

this bloke will NEVER marry, have kids or leave home because no one will put up with him and his laziness around the house (he works FT, but since when is that an excuse to live at home and get maid service?).

i would never want that for my kid, so if i have to be tough in order that they learn something else in life, so be it.

no more excuses or find him a place ot live.

you don't cease being an adult just because things didn't go well at uni.

no more suggestions he get a standing order to pay you or that.

hte OP doesn't have the money to keep him, provide him with a taxi service, feed him and the like.

i wouldn't either with my adult children.

end of. can't magic it up. they either have to pony up or live someplace else.

tell him he's got till the end of the next month to find another place to live and LEAVE IT.

if he doesn't, chuck him out.

or you will end up with my BIL and not allowing yourself to enjoy your own home because

'Depression is not an excuse to treat your parents like your servants and their home like a squat.'

HedgeWitch, as someone who has been afflicted with depression for hte past 5 years, I couldn't agree more! Too right.

ManxMum Sun 17-Aug-08 16:33:50

My DS2 is the same, gets jobseekers as he and I quote, 'can't be arsed looking for a job' He gets £86 per week and grudgingl pays me £10. He costs me £25 per week to feed, plus electric. heating etc. When I complain he tells me that when my DH gets a job (which he doesn't seem to be trying very hard to do), then he will contribute, as why should he fund his stepfather to sit on his backside.

I am so tempted to throw them both out atm. I can easily manage by myself.

Out of this weeks money, DH has spent £50 on insurance excess for a new laptop which he is having (so he thinks!) and wanted £150 for new glasses, as he scratched his through carelessness. He sulked when I said I couldn't afford it

expatinscotland Sun 17-Aug-08 16:33:55

either that or tell him exactly what his share is and when he needs to hand you the money.

if he doesn't give it in, then he needs to move out.

and no more carting him to and from work.


that costs a bloody fortune.

i have to drive DD1 into SEN nursery 5 days/week it's 20 miles rt and with teh cost of diesel it racks up a good £40-£50/month extra. that's a lot of money to us!

expatinscotland Sun 17-Aug-08 16:36:02

MM, people can only take advantage of you if you let them.

I couldn't imagine treating my mother like that.

I really couldn't.

When people say, 'But they're family', well, that's a two way street when you're talking about adult family members. It works both ways.

We learned to have pride in ourselves through teamwork and partnership work.

Well, there's no 'I' in team - if you want to pull together as a family, everyone who's an adult needs to do his/her part.

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