DEAR HARRIETTE: I have two adult children -- one who is already independent, and another who is struggling. I’m really worried about him. He seems to have a lack of confidence, even though my husband and I have provided him with everything so that he could succeed. He got a great education and did fairly well in school. But his motivation is limited. He has a job, but not in his area of interest, and he seems to be floundering. He doesn’t make enough money to be on his own fully, so my husband and I supplement his income. He still lives at home. I’m not sure if this is helping. Do you think that he would get his act together if he were more motivated? What can we do to help him grow up and accept responsibility for his life? -- Leaving the Nest
DEAR LEAVING THE NEST: The reason mama birds push their babies out of the nest is to prove to them that they can fly. Why would they leave the comfort and protection of their parents’ wings if they didn’t have to? Remember this when you think about your son. The more you coddle him in the name of being kind and supportive parents, the greater the risk that he never leaves.
It’s time to get tough. Set boundaries for how long he can live at home. While at home, require him to pay rent even if you put it away to give to him later. Hold him accountable for his responsibilities, and talk firmly with him about his future. Be willing to let him suffer a bit. In order for it to become real for him that he is in charge of his destiny, he has to experience the consequences of not taking action to reach his goals.