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37 Year Old Son with No Ambition
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37 Year Old Son with No Ambition

Hi,

Thanks for answering my questions!!  Our son is 37 years old, lives at home and does not seem to have any ambition at all - except for video games.  The only friends he has are people he meets through online video games.  He works at a local ice cream store and seems perfectly happy to scoop ice cream for the rest of his life.  My wife and I are concerned that he'll NEVER have a normal life.  Is there something we can do to motivate a seemingly unmotivated man?

Any help will be appreciated.

Michael
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Michael, thanks for the additional info.  I first want to note that I am not in any position to tell you whether or not your son will "ever have a normal life."  I'm not really sure what that means, and judging from your question, I get the sense that a "normal life" may mean something very different to you and your son.  With that said, if I may assume this, I think by "normal life," you may mean that you'd like your son to have a career of greater financial reward and prestige, a more independent life, and a greater social life.  

And while I can appreciate this wish for your son, at the same time, your son may not wish for that life for himself, I am not in a position to comment on what is going on in his mind.  What I can add, however, is that you seem aware of what you want for yourself, which appears to include wanting your son to be more independent.  If this is the case, you may be inadvertently undermining the very thing you would like, by supporting him financially.  For one, he does not have any incentive to change, because as far as he's concerned, he's got the ideal setup - unbelievably low rent (I live in New York City, $100 a month for rent is unheard of!), very few bills and  little responsibility (he mows the lawn and takes out the garbage, something that most kids can handle easily).  Second, in allowing him very little responsibility, you may be sending him the message without realizing it that you don't think he is capable of handling more.  If he feels on some level he cannot handle more, he won't handle more; in fact, he'll likely be terrified at the prospect of having to handle more.  This is not a judgment either - even when parents are proud of their kids for growing up, they don't give up being parents, and this can include worrying about letting their kids go out on their own with the potential of falling on their faces.

This is not to say that you should suddenly turn around and throw him out of the house.  Rather, the above is intended to help you figure out how you may be contributing to the situation, and to help you think more clearly about what you want for yourself and for/from your son.
4 Comments
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Hi Michael - thanks for your question regarding your son.   Before I respond to your question, I had some more questions, the answers to them will help me understand the situation more fully. Specifically,  I was wondering, how much responsibility does he have for taking care of himself?  Is he living at home with you and your wife?  Paying his own bills?  For his food, for his car if he has one?  Furthermore, has he always had "low ambition," or is this a recent development?

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Thanks for your reply!

He lives at home with my wife and me.  He is responsible for his room, his laundry, helping around the house with chores such as mowing the lawn once a week and taking out the garbage.  We charge him rent, but it is very low ($100 week). and he has a car payment that he is responsible for.  We still pay for a lot, including his car insurance. He has never had a lot of ambition.  He is perfectly happy to sit in front of his computer playing video games.

Michael
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You know a lot about your son having lived with him his whole life?  I just wonder whether his not having friends etc. is a more recent development, or whether this has been how he has always been.  If he has always found relationships difficult, you may wish to consider whether there is something in his personality which he cannot help, for example Aspergers.  But he is obviously able to work with the public in his job.  If his social contacts have been good before, but now declined, it may be that behind the apparent laziness there may be underlying issues of poor self esteem or even depression.  It does sound to me that he is content to retreat into a fantasy world of computer games and relationships, and it may be because there is something in himself or his world he is uncomfortable with.  Assuming he is healthy, as he lives with you there may come a point where as you age you will need to depend on him at some point.  To be harsh he needs a bit of a reality check.  Either to establish whether there is something that he needs ongoing support with, such as a mild personality disorder - please don't take offence- I know nothing of him or yourselves and cannot possibly judge this, or he may need counselling of some kind.  His lifestyle ultimately is not sustainable, you cannot look after him forever, and as a young man he needs help now.  No one can force him, but you may want to discuss options with him.  For example he could maybe rent a place near to you, increasing his independence but still close to you.  Of course you  love him, but as he is not a child you do not have a duty to care for him.  Ensure his mental health is okay, and then maybe some tough love may be called for.  I would not like the situation to develop where one of you as parents becomes sick and your son's world is broken.  It is very likely to happen.  We all age, you are likely to become dependant one day, horrible as is may be to think of now, and you have a child who needs to either become an adult or seek help for the reasons why he cannot.  I did see your post a while ago and was going to respond, but was not sure how you would take it.  I hope your are not offended by any of my suggestions.  I regrettably have seen families in similar situations and watched how things developed over the years.  I just would like to help, if this does not help, again I apologise.
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