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Are You Enabling Your Adult Kid By Letting Him Live At Home Rent Free?

I just hung up the phone with one of my girlfriends and I’m having one of those moments where you thought things were black and white, but then pops in that grey. We were talking about her son and I was asking her for the 1,000th time if he had moved out yet. He’s a 27-year-old musician who still lives at home, and has no responsibilities other than his music. Sometimes I don’t even know what to say because she’s also married. And they live in this small apartment. I love this young man, but enough already. If only to let your mom have a life, get a job, and MOVE OUT.

So I’m asking her if she gave him the 3-month deadline that we talked about some months ago, and she said, “The truth is, he don’t ever have to leave my house. The door is always open.”


Never have to leave?!  That’s not what she was saying when his ex-girlfriend was always at their spot, shacked up like it was a love nest.


“Don’t you feel like you’re enabling him?” I asked.


“Not at all,” she replied.


“What about your husband?”


“I’m not saying it’s always easy. We both get frustrated sometimes, but overall, he supports him too. It’s hard out there. The least we can do is give him a stable home and food while he works on his career. I wish I would have had that when I was younger.”


Oh. That’s when I started putting two-and-two together and it made four. The reason she’s so hellbent on helping him so far past the ‘cut-off’ date (for most of us that’s 18 years old) is because she never got her mom’s support when she was working on her music. In fact, when she left home for New York City at 18 years old with dreams of becoming an R&B star, her mom pretty much stopped talking to her. That was 25 years ago and it’s only now that they’ve begun to heal their relationship. 

Okay, for some people support is sending their kid to school, buying them their first car, or paying for their apartment…for my friend, it’s giving her son a home with no expiration date.

Funny enough, we call it enabling when a person gives too openly to their kids. We worry that they are taking advantage or may never grow up to be independent. But, really, who sets the limits? Who says that 18 years old is the time that you must go, even if you’re not going to college, and even if you’re not ready? Some people have other plans. This kid happens to be a musician, and he’s working on it. Best case scenario, he’ll do it. Who am I to judge?

Especially, when I start looking at my own life and how much I’ve leaned on my mama. She’s been there for me, and my family, during some real tough times. Thank God she didn’t have an expiration date, or set a limit on what she would give. Was she enabling me? I don’t think so, but if so, I’m glad she did because sometimes we all need a helping hand.

It’s interesting because I’ve been judging him extra-hard because he never left home, but in reality, more Millennials are now living with their parents than during the Great Recession. Student loan debt is one reason, but even those with no debt are living at home. Maybe they’re the smart ones. Imagine the moves you could make with no rent. Vacation anyone? Finally start that business? The possibilities are endless.



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