Helping young adults who are underfunctioning

Is there such a thing as a slacker young adult? Yes there is and they may be part of your own family or even living with you. I have recently been asked by 2 mothers who have children in their 20s living at home, how to help launch these grown children. First of all, not every child who lives in a multi-generational household is a slacker. Some are busy as students or full-time employees and it may be that these young adults are living at home to save money for something important or avoid student debt. In these cases, the children pay some of the living expenses of the house and do chores in the home to acknowledge that they are not guests but family members who have to contribute to the household. They are living in the home as adults and are able to negotiate and have some say over communal issues that arise in every household (i.e. how long can dishes go unwashed in this house?).
The young adult I am referring to as under-functioning is not in a healthy situation like the above but is living off his/her family. This child may be working part-time and having a perpetual summer, sleeping late and primarily interested in hanging out with friends. There is not a sense of moving forward in this young person’s life but more of a sense of being stuck. If you are the parent of such a child, you may be distressed but you keep allowing yourself to be persuaded by your child’s compelling arguments to keep things the way they are. If you take a step back and look at the situation you might begin to see how this is doing your child a true disservice. If your child has no inner drive to leave, you will need to become the motivating force if you are not happy with the situation. All young adults should pay some money for their upkeep. You can use this money to create a savings account for your child and then use the savings to help your child move out. You can also use the money they contribute to buy your child a service instead of free rent. Some young adults need counseling to develop the confidence to leave home or to begin to see the benefit of leaving. Sometimes they need the services of a career counselor or a financial advisor to help them develop the skills of independent living. Having them be responsible for some of the cleaning and cooking tasks is another way to send the message that they need to be learning the skills of living as adults. Sometimes it helps to ask them (with compassion) if they are afraid for some reason to grow up?
Many young people may initially resist changes that ask more of them but over time they will notice an improvement in their feelings about themselves. It does not feel good to know that you are not developing your potential as a person but many young people do not realize how their feelings of well-being can be improved by becoming a more highly functioning person. Remind your child that he/she will feel better if they are moving ahead in life even if that means paying rent to you. In addition, be sure to look at yourself and your life. Is there some way that you may be lonely or trying to fill a void in your life by allowing your child to hang around the house? Do you need to develop more of a life? Remember that if you decide that you like your child’s presence, you can change to healthier patterns of living together in lieu of eviction but be sure that you are not keeping your child from growing up.