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Advice Needed: Unmotivated Adult Children


A friend of mine has one her adult children living at home while attending college (like my twins are.) She recently confided in me some challenges she is having with him. And wanted my advice, I know, go figure!?!

The Situation

Her son seems to have little in the way of self-motivation or drive. But is taking a full load at college and doing well (As and Bs.) He is responsible as far as getting to class and so forth.

But he lost his job after the holidays and quickly burned through any savings he may have had. Like me, she has made him responsible for his own cell phone bill which includes the cost of his phone and his part of the plan (her contract,) his own car insurance (his own plan,) and his day to day expenses like gas, entertainment, etc. She essentially provides room and board, like I do.

Here’s her issue. Now that he has run out of money, he cannot afford his bills. She will have to pay his cell phone bill because it is tied to hers. But in the end she is not legally responsible for any other bills for him.

My Advice

She asked what I would do. I am not sure what I would do, but these are my thoughts:

  • Make him stop driving as soon as he couldn’t pay his insurance. I would assume he has some grace before its cancelled. But maybe this “kick in the butt” might inspire him to get a job. This would be a burden for her because she would have to drive him for a while, but it is doable. I don’t think I would pay this bill, but I would be tempted to because I know that a gap in insurance can hurt in the long run. But I still wouldn’t let him drive until he could pay the bill.
  • Take away his phone as soon as he is not able to pay it. Because it’s under contract and on her plan, I would pay this bill so as not to adversely affect her standing. But again, I would keep the phone until he can pay the bill.
  • Finally, I guess I would give him some sort of time frame to get on his feet. (Especially since he has not been self-motivated to get a job or earn money.) For instance, if you haven’t gotten a job by the end of this semester and caught up with your bills. You will have to leave school and work full time or move out?

Do I sound too harsh? I guess I’m coming at it from my “things are tight and hard” perspective.

My Young Adults

I’ve been very blessed that Sea Cadet especially has really taken ownership of the responsibilities I have given him and is working hard to make good decisions. And really talks alot about it and asks alot of questions.

History Buff is getting it, and during a conversation last night asked “if I got this job could I buy a truck and a house?” My response is it all comes down to how you manage your money. And that’s something you have to work on. His response “I’m just going to keep giving you my paycheck and you can handle that.” To which I replied “NO WAY!” But I had to laugh that he thought so much of my management skills. At least the knowledge I am teaching them makes it seem like I have it all together. (And yes, they are well aware of the struggles we have had.)

So what would you advise my friend? How would you handle an adult child at home would wasn’t self-motivated to make responsible decisions and work?

The Best Laid Plans…


We should be in Austin right now. Snuggled up in my mom’s upstairs rooms. Tomorrow morning my mom had arranged to have a family friend take photos of us so we could have some nice photos as a whole family. Afterward, the kids were going to stay the night with their Grandma (Chris’ mom). While with her, I was going to help my sister move my dad to a smaller room at his memory care facility and empty out some of his storage unit. We were going to celebrate my birthday. And my brothers’ kids’ birthday. I had plans to visit with a dear friend I’ve had since elementary school. First time I’d see her since the separation. First time I would’ve seen any of my family, for that matter.

Instead, we’re at home. Our trip has been cancelled. Or rather, postponed.

You see, I didn’t blog about it but about a week ago one of my kids came down with the flu. She spiked a scary high 104 degree fever and after calling her pediatrician, I was advised to take her to the ER. It was my first time to take either of the kids to the ER. Luckily, we got her fever under control. She was diagnosed with flu type A, but we’d caught it early so the dr. gave her a prescription of Tamiflu for treatment. He gave sister a prescription of Tamiflu for preventative measures. Both kids have been doing fine. I thought we were out of the woods with the whole flu snafu.

The girls stayed the night with their Dad last night and I picked them up this morning to head straight to the airport. Literally within 5 minutes of getting in the car, one of my daughters (the one who hadn’t had the flu) says she feels sick and needs a bag. Uh oh.

We had no bags, so she threw up in a coloring tote bin, as I was stuck on the highway and couldn’t exit due to road construction (several exits in a row were closed! Ugh!) As soon as possible, I got off the highway. Got her cleaned up and into a spare change of clothes. Stopped at a gas station to try to buy some medicine. They had absolutely NO children-dosed versions of anything. Nothing at all. We load back into the car and I get her a new puke bag. We keep driving toward the airport. Another 10 minutes down the road. She throws up again. I’m looking at her in the rear-view mirror and she’s pale as a ghost. Doesn’t feel warm or feverish, but clearly not doing well. I pull over and call my Mom. What do I do? We have a 6-hour travel day ahead of us! My mom suggests soldering on – that she’ll run out and buy meds and get everything ready so my kiddo can be comfy when we arrive. My daughter throws up again literally while I’m pulled over on the phone. A third time within about a 30-minute time span. My other daughter starts crying. She’s very sensitive, in general, and is having a really tough time watching her sister be ill. It’s upsetting her and she starts begging to go home. Sick daughter, with barely audible voice, peeps up – “please mom, can we go home?”


Poor sweet baby. After she’d thrown up in the coloring tote, I threw it away at the gas station and fished this gallon-sized ziplock out of a suitcase (it had contained toiletries). So here she is, clinging to her (used) puke-bag, passing out in the back seat. Bless her heart.

I turn around and head home. My mom had bought these flights for us for our Christmas present. It was on Southwest and, thankfully, they allow full credit to be used on future flights (no penalties or fees), so I resolve to look for flights leaving tomorrow or maybe Saturday.

We get home and sick kid falls into bed and sleeps basically the entire rest of the day.  I search flights. But, unfortunately, last minute fares over the holidays are totally unreasonable. Our original flights were about $350/each. The cheapest flights I can find for tomorrow or Saturday are running over $1,000/each. Nearly triple the cost. I just can’t justify the added expense, especially given the shortened timeframe of the trip. I can’t lengthen our stay because I already have work meetings planned for my return. It just doesn’t make sense to spend so much money to only visit for a couple short days.

And so, with family Christmas gifts still packed in our suitcases (and their gifts for us still nestled under their trees), we decide this is just not going to happen. We can use our flight credit for up to a year, so we may try to plan a trip back over the girl’s Spring Break or even over summer.

Bummed does not begin to describe the feeling. Not only were we all looking forward to then trip just for normal reasons (to see each other/exchange gifts/be together around the holidays), but in the wake of the separation I felt like I really needed that time with my family. Almost like it would have been a therapeutic experience.

But sometimes being an adult means making tough decisions. And I definitely think it was the right call. It would have been selfish (and insensitive and rude) to try to force my sick kid into making the trip – exposing other airline passengers to what I’m assuming is the flu virus. Plus, with my luck, I’d end up catching it while in Austin and then being forced to make the trip back while ill. And it wouldn’t be a very fun trip if my kid was stuck sick in bed the whole time.

So here we are in Tucson. Suddenly, I’m finding myself with the next week totally open (I’d thought we were gong to be out of town!) with no plans and no school and what can we do to occupy our time?

One thing is for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever been so ready to see the turn of a New Year. My birthday happens to be New Years Eve, so it’s perhaps even more a time of reflection and planning given the turning of the year AND the turning of my age at the same time. I remember last year at this time. It was a really tough time in my marital situation. I remember resolving myself to the fact that Christmas/New Years this year would look totally different (though I didn’t know at the time that would mean a separation). To my credit, my life this year DOES look totally different and I’m in a much better, happier place. But I still have a lot of metamorphosis to go through. I guess we never really stop growing and evolving. I’m looking forward to what 2019 will bring and where I might find myself on New Years Eve next year. 🙂