Question: Dear Luise: my son who is 23 and still lives at home wants to quit his job as a trainee accountant to become a singer/songwriter. We have tried to persuade him to finish the training ( another 2 years) and continue with his music on weekends etc. He has spoken to many people (including musicians) who have all tried to persuade him to not give up the day job. He has never sung or played in public and I find it hard to believe he is naive enough to think he can make a living out of writing. He is a bright young man who did exceptionally well at university and we dont want to see him throw everything away. I cant see myself making him leave home but I have said that we cant support him and although he can live here he has to do and pay for everything else. We have even suggested that he looks for another job before quitting this one but all he says is that he now wants to go to full time music college so would not have time to work! I think possibly the music is an excuse for not moving on in life and taking on responsibilty but I have suggested he talks to a counsellor/career guidance specialist, but again he refuses. The words ” tough love ” spring to mind but I am finding it very hard. He has been very difficult and moody since about 16 and I always put it down to teenage mood swings. He appears to quite shy and quiet but supprised us by getting this job and having to go to countless interviews and do presentations etc. He claims he has been depressed for years but will not do anything about it. He went to a CBT consultant in his last year at uni when he felt really under stress but will not go back to see him for guidance. I know he is still young and wonder whether we should just let him do this for a year but it is so difficult to get work at the moment and no employer will take him on knowing he just dropped out of a contract to compose music and play his guitar. Sorry about the long rant, I know I should step back and let him make his own mistakes but I have probably indulged him too much previously and just dont want to do it anymore. Hope you can give me some guidance. Many thanks, M.
Answer: Dear M.: I would suggest you go to counseling. I know that may sound off the wall but my guess is that you are going to need support in letting your son deal with life. You raised him and put him through school. What he does with that is up to him, not you. He wants to remain a dependent child, and if you back him in that it is only going to cause him more grief. He needs to move toward maturity and self-respect.
Most of us didn’t find the transition between childhood and adulthood easy. However, when someone supports us in putting off making our own choices and learning from the consequences of our actions, it is damaging. Your job is done. Your son’s independence is beginning. Let him go, let him fall, let him fight depression or whatever else he has to deal with…and let it turn out however it does. You can’t carry him and he can’t grow up or respect himself when he wants you to. If you would like additional input, please come over to my Web-forum. It deals with the issues surrounding adult children and extended families and offers shared support and caring. www.WiseWomenUnite.Com Blessings, Luise