Failure to Launch: Why Won't My Adult Children Leave the Nest?

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Now with three adult children I am still finding that I continue to learn my job as a parent is not finished and I still have things to learn. How I interact with my adult children and what I both expect and tolerate from them continues to evolve -- and in some cases needs to evolve.

I also have found in my wise older age that sometimes as I try to help my adult children it results in holding them back. I have a 21- and 23-year-old that seem to be in a holding pattern because we keep helping them out when they lose their jobs and have no place to stay. Then they don't look for new jobs very aggressively and they allow the rest of us to pay their bills, etc.

What's worse is that one of them is even nasty, combative and very difficult to live with. Then when she gets work she goes and spends her money going out or whatever and doesn't contribute to her bills or the household when I'm on a disability income and have to ask my family and friends for money every month just to keep the minor kids fed, etc.

find a jobSome people tell me the 21-23 age range is a Gen-X that is very selfish, unmotivated and entitled generation. I know they weren't raised to be this way. I don't know what is going on with them. It's very difficult to refrain from giving your kids a warm place to sleep and food to eat though when they have no place else to go. But at the same time, at the risk of putting myself and the minor children out on the street as well, I'm not sure what to do anymore.

No amount of talking, pleading or rationalizing seems to matter. Nothing matters but the immediate gratification of whatever they (the one mostly) want to do at that moment.

Is tough love the answer?

I also find that my ex and I have different perspectives. He thinks the other one is worse than the one I struggle with. I think it's our perspectives and genders. Dads are harder on boys, Moms are harder on girls. Of course its harder for me with the one living with me. Dad cares more about the one that's affecting him the most; the one whose car payment he's paying which is affecting his income right now. His brother is actually the one supporting him while I'm supporting the daughter.

So I don't know if its my perspective or what. My son enjoys his brother's company, other than the financial impact being difficult. My daughter on the other hand makes things very difficult in the house being nasty, mean and combative most of the time. So of course I think she is worse.

My oldest is nothing like them though. He was out on his own at 18 and has never been back. If he has wound up unemployed, he has always found a new job immediately. He put himself through college and paid for it himself -- without student loans even. He works relentlessly and now even supports his brother. He puts tremendous pressure on himself to do more and accomplish more all the time.

My younger children are also more like my oldest. They are self-motivators that do very well in school and take on extra activities, and I never even have to get them up in the morning. They also put pressure on themselves about not achieving perfection.

So I just don't quite get what is going on with the two middle ones. Generational or middle child or something else?


"Find a Job" post it in middle of other post it photo via Shutterstock.


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