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Time for mom to treat son as adult

Hi, Carolyn:

My brother, 23, is a college grad living at home with my parents. He works the night shift at a mental health facility – a job he finds unfulfilling, though he has made no motions to improve his situation (he has even turned down a promotion opportunity). He has said he wants to move out, but he cannot afford his own place.

His girlfriend is unemployed (taking a few classes) and has a drug problem (marijuana), and a few months ago she decided she is now a resident of my parents’ household. She sleeps over every night, very rarely leaves, and sits in lil’ bro’s room, wearing his clothes, stoned, waiting for him to come home from work. Her mother has even started to leave food in our refrigerator for her (her parents live nearby). She has never asked my parents if this is OK. Really – who does that?

My mother is very uncomfortable with this unwanted, permanent houseguest. However, she is sympathetic to my brother’s plight as one of the many underpaid, overworked college grads living with parents. I feel this situation is inappropriate, uncomfortable and unhealthy – my mother agrees, but is at a loss as to how to confront my brother and this girl without stomping on his nascent adulthood and causing a huge fight. What on earth should she do?? – Baffled big sis

If your mom wants to respect your brother’s “nascent adulthood,” then she needs to treat him like an adult. As follows: “I’ve said nothing about your girlfriend’s staying here, hoping you would recognize for yourself that it is totally inappropriate for her to sit in your room full time, stoned. She’s a nice girl; this is no life for her. Please steer her out of your room, and ideally to some help, or else I will have to get involved.”

If he’s ready for the adult consideration your mother has granted him, then he won’t take these as fighting words.


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