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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Is Desperate to Get Son Off Her Couch and on His Own

DEAR ABBY: I am a single mother with two young daughters and a 21-year-old son, "Billy," who dropped out of high school during his senior year. When it happened, I was very upset. I told him if he wanted to continue to live at home, he would have to get a full-time job and pay rent. Billy didn't like that idea, so he went to live with his girlfriend and her parents, who didn't seem to care that he had no job.

About a year ago, Billy's girlfriend broke up with him. Since he had no place to go, I told him he could stay with me temporarily. He has been sleeping on my couch ever since. Billy has only a part-time job. He says that's all he can find. I'm tired of supporting him and I think he should be out on his own by now, but if I kick him out, he'll have nowhere to go. His father is no help. Billy rarely sees him. I'm at my wit's end. Please tell me what I should do. -- FED-UP MOM IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR MOM: Your son may have trouble finding full-time employment because he lacks a high school diploma. His first priority should be to contact his high school and find out how to get his GED. Then he must start studying again and pick up where he left off when he dropped out.

I know it's frustrating, but be patient a little longer. I don't know what Billy's talents are, but if he isn't college material, he should consider going to a trade school and learning a marketable skill. The job market is difficult right now, so accept the fact that a part-time job and getting his equivalency diploma may be all Billy can manage for a while.

As long as your son is willing to work toward success, you should be willing to compromise. However, if he isn't willing to go to trade school or get a GED, he should get a full-time job. There are jobs at fast-food places, movie theaters, supermarkets, etc., that don't require skills and/or diplomas. At 21, your son is too old to be supported. Be prepared to be firm with him, because if you aren't, he may never learn to fly on his own.