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I am a mother, I need to talk with my son, let's call him Jay, about moving out. He is 28 and has had severe depression over the years. He left college after the 1st year and has had several jobs. To make a long story short, he was living with his father and his father's girlfriend. Apparently his father won't stand up to his girlfriend, and she treats Jay like garbage. They are both alcoholic. I agreed that Jay can stay with me temporarily because I have a 1 bedroom apartment. I tried hard to stick with a 6-month limit but with his depression and suicide thoughts, I can't just kick him out. He works overnight and has a car now but I don't.

Jay's part time salary will allow him to afford his own place. I'm going insane. Stuck in my room. I try to talk to him and he clams up. I told Jay that I may want to move in with my boyfriend and he just ignores me. He knows I can't bring him. Any suggestions?

  • Could you elaborate with the reasons he can't come with you and your boyfriend ? It seems his ability to be independant is a bit fragile. Legally speaking, in my location, because he's still dependant whoever is responsible for him (you or his father) owe him assistance. But if you believe he is ready, then maybe you could help him find a place ? – Arthur Hv Feb 14 at 6:58
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    @ArthurHavlicek 28 year olds are legally dependents? Is that normal or a consequence of depression (medically dependent)? – gerrit Feb 14 at 9:26
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    It sounds like he's fairly independent given that he's able to hold down a job and has his own car. Have you tried actually setting and enforcing a deadline? – DaveG Feb 14 at 16:56
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    I don't think this is the place where you should get advice. I don't know where you are from, but in many countries, there are people that do this sort of thing professionally. They come to your house even and give you advice in some places. Some countries have institutions that help people like your son living on their own. Some don't though. Before you turn to strangers on the net that don't have any education or training handling a situation like that, please make sure that this is your last resort – Raditz_35 Feb 15 at 8:53
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    Thank you everyone. I'm pretty sure he's not a dependent adult child. He works, although part time overnight. His move to my small 1 bedroom apartment was supposed to temporary. It's been a year and I'm getting frustrated. He has depression issues but he can work. He's not good with money either. As for coming with me if I move in with my boyfriend, I would not ask him to do that. My BF has a small 2 bedroom be rents. The 2nd bedroom is for his young daughter that he has partial custody of. What I need is suggestions on how to talk to Jay without him freaking out. Thank you 😊 – Kay Feb 16 at 20:58
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I am 23 and I live with my parents and work with my dad. Both my living and work situations are temporary favours and if for whatever reason it stops being okay with my them then they would tell me respectfully and with warning. And I would just have to deal with it. Much like your son, its not like I wouldn't survive without my parents support. I have savings and I have other job opportunities that I would be able to find. But living and working with them is my best option 10 times over.

That being said, I think you might be miss understanding your son's "ignoring" you and I personally think you might already be communicating the right way with your son in that you are letting him know what is going on as early as possible and you understand its not joyous news and especially asking a question on this stack I am sure that you are talking with more than enough care and sympathy.

It is ultimately your decision how long you let him stay, as it is my parents. If they tell me that I might have to move out soon, what am I going to say? There is nothing to say, I wouldn't be bitter or argumentative since they did me a favour in the first place... but I am also not about to congratulate them and as you are only sharing thoughts and nothing is final yet, there are no organisation plans I need to discuss. In the end it is the way it is, and much like your son, staying silent would just be how I would deal with it.

When the time comes that I have to move out, the only real hopes I have for that conversation is that I don't get blindsided. Maybe keeping the hard conversation short and to the point, but making yourself available to discuss or plan afterwards if he wants that could be nice too.

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Several members of my closest family have experienced depressions and/or anxiety disorder. What they need most is a feeling of being accepted and supported despite their shortcommings.


First let me tell you about possible reasons why your son avoids talking about moving out.

Telling your son that he needs to move out can triger a feeling of being abandoned or cast out. That might be one reason why he reacts so strongly to your request. One of my family member has a similar anxiety of losing their job. Objectively they know their boss respects and supports them and that they are qualified enough to find a new job. But any small problem at work, any sick day they have to take due to their mental illness triggers an irrational panic of not being good enough.

A second reason can be what I call "energy leeching". Another of my family members was going through therapy a few years back and found the process extremely draining. We live in different cities, but close enough that I visited every other weekend. Once they told me that they felt like every time I visited I brought all my energy to them and that they would feel more optimistic and energized when I was visiting. Your son may feel a similar dependency to you and fear he might fall back into depression when you leave.

And last but not least, moving out takes energy. Huge amounts of energy that your son might not feel he has. To a depressed person the prospect of moving out can feel like building the Tower of Babel. One of my family members said that they know it's possible to accomplish such a task, they see other people accomplishing it, but to them it may as well be a biblical miracle that they simply don't receive. Their own lack of energy leads them to a spiral of procrastination (doing other, useless things to avoid the task at hand), followed by shame and regret, which makes them feel even more powerless and drained. The result is that it commonly takes them 3 or more weeks to make an urgent phone call.


How does this help you talking to your son?

First of all, there is not one single reason why he avoids the topic. It would help you tremendously to first talk about his feelings and motivations - or lack thereof - to understand why he blocks you.

What I found exceptionally helpfull was talking about your general state of mind without talking directly about the problem at hand. In case of the "energy leeching" incident I asked the other person how my presence makes a difference to them and told them how my frequent visits felt draining to me.

Try asking your son how he's doing, how he feels about his job, how he feels after a few free days. Then tell him the same things about you. How you feel restrained to one room inside your own home and how that is stressful to you. The goal here is to understand your son and help him understand you by comparing how you experience the current living arrangements.

Keep in mind that people with depression tend to perceive things more negatively than healthy people. So don't hesitate to assure him that you still love him and support him and want to be close to him, but that the current situation is becomming unbearable to you.

Then you should propose a solution to the problem. How exactly this looks like depends on why exactly he doesn't want to move out (see examples above).

If he's afraid to be abandoned, propose to move close by and visit each other often. Tell him he's always welcome to visit you.

Same for the "energy leeching". If you understand his needs, you can incorporate a ways to fulfill these needs into your proposed plan.

If he feels overwhelmed with the prospect of finding a new place and moving there, present him with a step-by-step plan and work on every step together with him.

A good way to overcome his anxieties that worked well in my family was to "just try things out for a while". You present your plan of moving out, but instead of a sudden change, you introduce the changes in little steps. Make it clear that this is a test run and if anything goes wrong, you can change the plan and adapt the approach.

  • First talk about moving out (you already did that, but it's important to let the other person think about such drastic changes for a while).
  • Stay somewhere else for a few days. Maybe you can stay with your boyfriend at the weekends but at your place during the week. This gives him time to experience living alone without the preassure that he has to master it right now.
  • Slowly increase the time you stay away, maybe staying all week with your boyfriend and only at your place for 2 nights.
  • Move out, but take your time with it. Take only the most important things with you, then come and grab more of your stuff each weekend.
  • Call and visit your son often, even after you moved out for good.

Just knowing that there's still a chance of reverting to the old ways if anything does go wrong made my family member feel much more comfortable with the plan. There were some hard days, but in the end they didn't actually need to go back.

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