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At Home. Unproductive. Stuck in Room. Twenties.

April 21, 2022

That child, now well into their twenties remains living at home.

There has been a history of failed attempts with school and work.

Not spoken about until seriously probed are the bouts of depression and/or anxiety. There may have been some episodes of violence. Maybe suicidal behavior. There may have been hospitalizations.

That child takes refuge in their room and seems oppositional and full of excuses and blames issues outside of themselves for their situation. Try to get them help and they are argumentative.

The parent calling is looking for the kind of help that turns things around with the hope of this child, well into their twenties, getting on with life.

The sad part is, this now is this child’s life.

These situations often require difficult conversations starting with the parents.

The issue is coming to terms with a likely mental illness that is severe and disabling or alternatively, so much enabling with little accountability since early childhood that this person truly hasn’t learned to cope and manage independently.

The likelihood of going from here to being fully functional is remote.

We discuss options, none of which are palatable.

One can create the conditions necessitating the adult-child take care of themselves or prepare to provide for their long term care.

Creating the conditions to take care for themselves may mean having them leave the home. That can include taking them to a shelter or setting them up in a rooming house or apartment.

Also discussed is helping them apply for long term social supports. Here in Ontario there is ODSP – Ontario Disability Support Program.

This is a tremendous challenge for the parent at this point who would hope for someone else to have the sort of answer that provides for an easier solution. There is none.

No solution will be easy.

Seeking to follow through with anything is likely to result in an escalation of whatever this child has done before to push back on the expectations of the parent.

That may mean threats of violence, destruction of property, self-harm, suicidal behavior.

It is the parent who must plan for any eventuality if they want to enact a plan through to its conclusion. It will carry risks no matter what.

That means using police and possible involuntary hospitalization for management.

Change rarely comes easily in these situations and change isn’t about truly altering the person, but coming to terms with who they are and facitating a transition to a long term living arrangement, either independently or under the parent’s care.

Better outcomes have less to do with this person getting on with their life than realizing this is their life.

This is among the most challenging of situations and requires support for and fortitude on behalf of the parent.


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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

gary@yoursocialworker.com
www.yoursocialworker.com for counseling and support

www.garydirenfeld.com – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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