Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships
I am writing because I know I need to say something to my son, I’m just collecting ideas about how to say it. Long story short, I am still paying for my 30-year-old son’s car insurance and he has an emergency credit card that comes out of my account. He has a job, but it’s not a great one, and living the city is expensive. I have helped my other children “launch” in this way, I just don’t know why it doesn’t seem to be working with him. After losing my husband last year, my own budget is tighter and I really could use the money. The few times I have asked him about a charge he has made on the credit card, he doesn’t even look embarrassed about letting me pay for his things. I’m not sure how to get out of this burden without hurting him.
– Failing to Launch
I'm a little confused about what "doesn't seem to be working with him"? Is your launch plan common knowledge in the household, with clear limits and expectations spelled out for all, or is it implied? If it's the latter, it sounds like Adult Son has a sweet deal going, and it's unlikely he's going to end it voluntarily.
Long story short, you need to stop paying his car insurance and cancel the shared credit card. Period. But you knew that part already. The interesting part, at least to me, is that you don’t seem to know why you should stop paying for these things. You are frustrated that he “doesn’t even look embarrassed,” but there is no reason he should be embarrassed – you haven’t given him any actual boundaries, so why would be worried about trampling the ones known to you alone?
It sounds like you are a very kind person who has offered Adult Son the same benefits provided to Unnamed Siblings, but he hasn’t gotten the hint that there are limits to those benefits. Accept it. He hasn’t gotten the hint. He’s not going to get a hint. He’s going to provide you more excuses – or just coast on the ones you make for him – and wait this one out. It’s up to you to be gentle (easy) but firm (non-negotiable). If you can’t afford to keep him on your payroll, you have to downsize. And breathe easy, this is a lesson he needs to learn. Better now (as in, right now, as soon as you are done reading this, just go) than any later.
Stacy Notaras Murphy (www.stacymurphyLPC.com) is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. This column is meant for entertainment only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to firstname.lastname@example.org.