Dear Dr. Norquist:
We have a 24 year old who is still living at home. He tries to find a job (pretty half-heartedly) sometimes but mostly he sleeps in, watches TV then goes out with his friends. He graduated from community college a few years ago and wasn’t interested in pursuing his education any further thn that. That’s OK with me as long as he does something. My husband and I have always worked hard. His example was one of hard work, not sitting home all day watching TV. So how is it he is fine with doing nothing? He is an only child, maybe we coddled him too much? What can we do to help him?
Dr. Norquist responds:
It sounds like your son needs more of a reason to work. If his needs are being met currently, then he has no incentive to do anything differently. He has a warm bed, food, entertainment, and a social life. This obviates the need to provide for himself. If he is to live at home, he needs to take on the responsibility of contributing to the household. He will not learn responsibility if it is not expected of him.
There is a natural giving and receiving balance in life. When this balance is disrupted – too much receiving, or too much giving, dis-ease sets in (emotionally, physically or spiritually). Neither overworking or underworking supports an overall sense of wellness and contentment. There is a sense of satisfaction and self-esteem that comes from being able to contribute to life; in the home, in the world and in relationships. A life mostly focused on one’s own needs is not a happy one. We are a part of life, not separate islands unto ourselves.
My suggestion is that you and your husband delineate expectations that must be met if he is to continue to live at home. This could include household chores, cooking, outdoor chores, helping others (either family members or volunteer work), and of course applying to a certain number of jobs per week. If he does not want to comply with these expectations, then he can move in with a friend. He needs to be in a situation where he has to be responsible for himself and responsible to others. I hope this helps.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2014 Chaitanya Counseling Services