My Adult Child Won't Leave Home
My son is twenty-six and still lives at home. Why doesn’t he want to have his own life?
There are numerous frustrated parents who are scratching their heads with the same dilemma these days.
While I don’t know every detail of your son’s world or yours, after decades of ministry and close-observation of family dynamics, I’ll share what I know.
To be clear, yours is not a case of a young adult who, by means of a job-loss, business failure (Covid) or other catastrophic circumstance like divorce or death of a spouse, returned to the homestead to recover and begin again. It’s important to identify these two very different scenarios: one person is seeking temporary shelter from a storm, the other is simply refusing to grow up.
Most of the time, a grown man or woman doesn’t leave the nest because someone in that nest makes it too comfortable. Why would they leave when their food, car, housing, utilities, insurance…all the luxuries of adulthood that most people work hard to attain and maintain, are provided for them? Confused momma-birds often call this “parenting.” After all, we are supposed to provide for our children as best we can, right? Yes, but after a certain age, enablement sets in. Enablement spawns a vulnerable, weak individual who is missing vital tools with which to build a good life on their own.
Enablement stunts the growth of a person and stands in the way of God. It also stifles a person’s understanding of the world; what is expected of them and how they must contribute. Plainly put, we would all love for someone to take care of everything we need; hand us money to shop and entertain ourselves; never require participation in our own existence while providing us with comfortable room and board. Yet most people would quickly tire of the boredom, lack of accomplishment and the aching omission an identity. The “what am I here for,” “what am I good for” questions fog-horn out of the confusing haze of a worthless life on easy-street. Grandmothers of another generation agreed, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece” (Proverbs 16:27, TLB.) In other words, we get ourselves into trouble when we don’t have a purpose. Human beings were designed by God to work, to accomplish, to build and create. How do we know? Because we are all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and this is what our heavenly Father is like—it’s what he does. He’s The Creator. A spoiled, selfish person has a difficult time embracing Christ-like living.
Years ago, a woman came to me with your same question. After a bit of digging and attempts to counsel her, it was discovered that her only child was a miracle baby. She had experienced traumatic female problems and suffered through several miscarriages prior to finally carrying the boy to full-term. Problem was, he had become so treasured by her, so valuable and precious, that she coddled and babied him mercilessly from birth into adulthood. Sadly, at age twenty-six, he wasn’t expected to hold down a job, help around the house or even make his own bed. He used the money Momma gave him for beer, expensive vehicles and illicit relationships with like-minded, teenage girls. Her parenting was seriously misguided, but that wasn’t the root of this family’s problem. Her unbridled fear of losing her son set up a guard-dog hedge of protection not even the boy’s hard-working father was allowed to go near. Jesus warns: “You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life. You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me” (Luke 14:26, 27, CEV.)
When Jesus challenged us to pick up our cross and follow him, he asked us to walk away from all other gods. Idolizing a child into utter dependence upon you, robs that person of their own dependence on Christ. Give the boy to God, trust Christ with your son, and he will be free to seek God and leave the nest.
Do you have a question or comment for Pastor Adrienne? Send your inquiries to: email@example.com or write to P.O. Box 214, Harrison, OH 45030. For more information and resources, please visit www.askpastoradrienne.com or the “Ask Pastor Adrienne” YouTube channel for sermons and insights.