Posted by: Mother | 2009/07/14

Frustrated by young adult child behaviour

We have a 22 year old son living in a bachelor' s flat attached to our house. He is currently working as a clerk but still insisting he is a financial degree student. After 5 years of studies (one at a varsity and 4 at a correspondance varsity) he still only passed his first 2nd year subject recently (his peers are busy with there Masters or Honours). He pays us rent (half of market price), does his own laundry and make his own food. We cover his medical aid and he is currently paying us back for a car we bought him. He pays his own insurance on the car. There was a lot of conflict between us because of his failed studies and because we started insisting that he become self sufficient. Question is this: After he only passed 1 subject again, he only notified us of this via correspondence and since then has not entered our house to greet us once in 3 weeks. We tried to remain neutral in our response. Is this acceptable behaviour? Although I feel he can be independant and come and go as he pleases, I feel used e.g. that he is only staying with us because it is cheap and convenient - surely not because he is trying to have a good relationship with us. He is not saving at all and often goes out to upmarket restaurants. At this rate, he will take another 3 years minimum to complete his degree? Do we accept him living attached to our house and practically ignoring us or is it time to send him off into the real world? I feel quite a lot of resentment towards him at present. Also, despite threats that he will have to leave the house by the end of the year if his studies does not progress at a reasonable pace, he still only passed 1 exam and got a rewrite for one this semester. He still sometimes takes small things from our home e.g. consumables despite the fact that we had many arguments about this in the past. It' s small things but when will he get the message that he must respect our wishes/rules re him not taking stuff .His behaviour did improve greatly but the studies and lack of communication with us is still there - again after many request/fights/pleads to change

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Our expert says:
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If he has taken 5 years to reach year 2 of the program, he's either not much of a student, or not really trying, and I'm surprised any reputable college would keep someone on in these circumstances. And at a rate of passing one subject per year, how many decades would it take for him to get the degree ? And what are his plans as to what to do once he has the degree ?
Whether his behaviour is acceptable, is for you to decide. It would be very understandable if you found it unacceptable. Through his low rent, and perhaps an interest-free loan for his car, you are subsidizing the lifestyle he chooses to lead. If he is wasting his money on going to expensive restaurants, etc., then he is not serious about financial and other forms of responsibility. And for him to take ANYTHING from your home without your permission, is theft, and he should be left in no doubt about that. Maybe, if the re-write is soon, you may want him to complete that. But then isn't it time to be firm and insist that he move out and become independent ? If he can afford the fancy restaurants ( and probably other extravagant spending ) he can afford to repay the loan more quickly and to pay market rent elsewhere. ANd also make it clear that if he takes ANYTHING from your home without your consent ---you will call the police and lay charges of theft.
Maybe do some web-seaching and read up about Tough Love, as he sounds as though he needs some serious lessons in the realities of life.

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