How do I empty the nest?
September 10, 2012 5:42 AM   Subscribe

I have seen some wonderful advice & help given over the years on the Green, so now I am asking for your input - about a nest that should be, but isn’t, empty.

In a nutshell: I have just invested 24 years to carefully raise my daughter, who is two years out of college now. Her father, a bright and funny / fearful and negative Irish chap, took off to the other side of the country when Daughter was 3 and has been sighted twice in 20 years.

Daughter has been nicely reared amidst hard working, well mannered, generous and loving extended family – the best people possible. I had a ton of help, right through to financial assistance getting her a college degree and the gift of a place to live while getting her through high school and college in one of America’s most expensive areas. (I work full time in public education technology; it does not pay.)

NOW TO THE PRESENT. She is living here with me, her 58 year old mother, in an 800-square foot condo in a down-at-heel seaside resort, with no plan to get a full time job (“not for me”), a diminishing roster of friends, no respect for my exhausting full-time job plus bartending for extra quid, or for the basic standards and practices of how people live together.

I come in at 6:30 each night to a sink full of dishes, crap and clothes everywhere, all the lights and televisions on, etc, etc. Dinner is somehow my responsibility. No amount of polite requests (or anger) on my part gets anything but the same response: some amount of shitty comment, brief sulky compliance and then .... noncompliance.

She seems scrappy and negative, enjoys arguing, and has alienated / eroded the interest of many of her friends and the people around us – including me, honestly. At my age and doing the work of three men at my job, I am just too burned out to prop this kid up anymore.

I have had a lot of wildly variable advice, from hard core, “throw the ungrateful wretch out,” to the wets, “she needs time, don’t guilt trip her, man.” Some have suggested psychiatry for her, others tell me it’s this generation and they don’t move out, or that she's just immature. One officious relative offered to come and do an intervention on my behalf - as I am known in the family for being passive and laid back. I dislike anger more than anything except bad manners.

If you can parse this little tale for something I might be doing wrong, or have done wrong in the past, please share? Or maybe you have a similar tale to tell?

When I was 24, I had my own apartment in Pacific Beach, was managing a restaurant, tripping in the desert or surfing on weekends, and had a boatload of funny friends. Ergo I cannot understand or relate to this-hiding from life in mommy's spare room-thing.

If you want to say something really sharp please e-mail me at

And thank you for any input. Sorry it's so long....ugh.

Oh, PS, she now has no car as she left it (a gift from my brother) in a flood zone last rainy weekend - it is totaled.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (60 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
When I was 24, I had my own apartment in Pacific Beach, was managing a restaurant, tripping in the desert or surfing on weekends, and had a boatload of funny friends. Ergo I cannot understand or relate to this-hiding from life in mommy's spare room-thing.

I think your daughter probably has issues beyond the macroeconomic situation, but please consider that the job market for young people/recent graduates was a lot better in 1978 than it is now.

A lack of jobs can feed hopelessness and inertia, which perversely makes it less likely to get a job in the first place.
posted by downing street memo at 5:47 AM on September 10, 2012 [13 favorites]

She is an adult. Kick her ass out. I know it'll be hard - it is your daughter after all. However, if you don't force her to learn to live on her own, she'll still be in your house when she is 40. Trust me, I've seen this up close in my own family. She is an adult - force her to start acting like one. Sit down with her, tell her she has 60 days to get her shit together because on day 61 the locks will be changed.
posted by COD at 5:47 AM on September 10, 2012 [13 favorites]


Give her a few months (maybe six?). Tell her that you love her and you can't stand by as she atrophies under your roof and that she needs to start her own life. The deadline should be enough time to (hopefully) find a full time job and maybe a roommate.

Then stick to the deadline.
posted by inturnaround at 5:48 AM on September 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Or as a more gentle alternative - charge her rent and expect her be as responsible as you would expect any other roommate to be. If she doesn't hold up her end of the bargain...treat her as you would a roommate that didn't pay rent.
posted by COD at 5:49 AM on September 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

"others tell me it’s this generation and they don’t move out, or that she's just immature."

Even in a difficult job market, plenty of people her age have managed to move out and find a job, or at least an interest. If not, most others at least have respect for their parents' hard work. This is not a generational thing.

What happens when you talk to her about her plans for the future?
posted by third word on a random page at 5:51 AM on September 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

I agree about setting deadlines, my mother made a similar deal with my sister and I. There's too much inertia at work there right now - why would she push to get a job and be responsible when everything is looked after by you right now?

A hard and fast deadline for her moving out of the house will light a fire under her. I wouldn't charge rent, because that's too easy for both her and you to renege on. Be prepared for some waterworks, as she realizes the deadline is a hard one, but it's for the best.
posted by LN at 5:52 AM on September 10, 2012

My parents did about the same thing that inturnaround suggests - or rather, a friend helped me find an internship (poorly paid, but it led to better work) and my parents confessed that that was great because they were about to give me deadlines for moving out and getting on my own feet.

It's Always demoralizing to be out of work. But if you can help her make a path forward, you'll be doing Both of you a favor. I was so much happier once I was out making my way, even if I still had to ask for parental help for awhile.
posted by ldthomps at 5:52 AM on September 10, 2012

She's been out of college for two years and, as you tell it, she is unemployed because she doesn't feel like working. In those circumstances, why should she work? Why should she pitch in at home? You take care of everything.

Kick her out.

I'm not suggesting you kick her out of the house out of anger. But she needs consequences for her actions, and she needs to be put in the position where she has to sink or swim on her own (i.e., grow up).

However, if she's depressed -- and she might be, as it does lead to hopelessness etc. -- then in that circumstance it might be worth giving therapy a shot first.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:54 AM on September 10, 2012

She sounds depressed. I'd tell her she needs to be in therapy (and that she has to give the therapist permission to tell you that she is showing up) or to be looking for a job, and you should be checking up on these. Probably she should start volunteering while looking for the job.

Whatever you do, do not give an ultimatum unless you actually will follow through on it. I wouldn't start with the nuclear strike option (kick her out!) first. Start with, for instance, cutting cable tv, or making only enough food for you instead of dinner for both of you. Something small and manageable.
posted by jeather at 6:00 AM on September 10, 2012 [12 favorites]

Maybe a cuckoo would help. Could you get a boyfriend to move in? Or a lodger?
posted by Segundus at 6:13 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Kick her out. Any inability to grow up and figure out how to either support herself and get her own place or contribute to your household duties in exchange for a place to stay while unemployed and looking for a job is on her by 24. She won't die if she has to sleep on some couches for a few weeks before realizing what she needs to do.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:13 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

We need more info. What was her college major? Does she want to work in that field, or not? How does she spend her days? Does she speak of how she'd like to be spending her time? Has she ever had a serious relationship? Any possibility of drug addiction? What kinds of music is she into? Maybe go on long walks together after dinner: what does she notice, what does she talk about?
posted by at at 6:14 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is hard, and I really feel for you. I have two brothers who have lived at home for an inappropriate amount of time, so I feel compelled to give you advice even though I may not have a clue at all.

I agree with the idea of deadlines, but I think that this should be moderated by effort put in. She needs to be looking for a job, seriously, and you need to see evidence of this. I would like to think that if I was in your situation I would have the ability to say to her:

1. She has two weeks more to fuck around like she's been doing.

2. After that two weeks, she's going to start looking for a job, and she's going to stop being rude about household things. She needs to send out x number of applications/resumes a week--maybe 10 or 15. She also has to do a, b, and c chores each day.

3. If she stops doing that, or won't do it at all, she has to be out of your house.

Basically, instead of paying rent, you insist that she get a job so she can support herself and move out, and that she make your life together more pleasant in the interim. I would insist on seeing evidence that she's applying for jobs. She needs to keep a spreadsheet to track it, or make copies of applications, or whatever.

If she gets a job, you can then start working on actually getting her out.

This is all hard, I know, because it's not like you have a lot of time to enforce these things or have difficult conversations with her, but it's probably best to think of it as another few months of parenting tacked on to the rest.
posted by hought20 at 6:16 AM on September 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm close to your daughter's age. The inability (or apathy) for work and general personal carelessness sound, unfortunately, very familiar.

You've probably heard this already, but my peers and I were brought up being told that all you need in life is a Good Education and you'll be set for a Good Job which Pays Well and allows you to be a Good Adult. Every moment of my waking life from elementary school onwards was about this goal. And now we're seeing it dragged out from under our feet by broken economies and cold-hearted governments. So many kids of my generation are stepping out of their hard-won Good Education and seeing nothing waiting for them except the end of a long, long line. I've been very lucky (ironically, the thing that got me out of my parents' house and into work was dropping out of school) but I see your daughter's experience reflected in many of my friends.

I know it's probably about as easy as pulling teeth, but have you tried talking to her about all of this? Have you asked her why she doesn't want a job? Why she is alienating her friends? Have you spoken to her about what she wants from her life, what she wants to be? Maybe, before you do anything else, try sitting down with her in a neutral moment and just talking to her. I'm willing to bet good money it will be what she's been waiting for.
posted by fight or flight at 6:26 AM on September 10, 2012 [21 favorites]

Forget about her boundaries ("a full time job isn't for me") and simply enforce your own. If she wants to live with you, she needs to pull her weight in the house. This means she does the dishes, cooks her own meals, keeps her shit tidy.

If she can't do that then there will be consequences - she doesn't eat dinner, her messy things go in a bin bag, the cabinets with pots and plates get locked. Lay out in a list what you need her to do, lay out the consequences. Get her to agree or at least acknowledge. Then enforce them without anger. Do you remember when she was very small and the "It makes me very sad you've broken your toy, we will have to throw it away now, so sad" routine? Like that.

It'll get old fast. Hopefully for her.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:37 AM on September 10, 2012 [7 favorites]

I would first try to figure out if she's depressed. If she is, therapy first, then medication if appropriate.

I don't think I would kick her out before she has a job, but I would start by telling her that she needs to be a contributing member of the household. That means she is jointly responsible for keeping common areas neat - you are not responsible for picking up her things. You two split the dinner-cooking responsibilities; she makes you both dinner certain nights per week, you do some nights. Since she's home during the day, she can also run your daytime errands if that's possible without a car (grocery shopping, anything that needs to be done during business hours).

I actually think that taking on some responsibilities like this might help improve her frame of mind and energy levels. I find that when I have nothing I need to do, I do nothing. When I have a couple tasks - clean this room & cook dinner, maybe two hours of work in the day, I get in a productive frame of mind and it's easier to be energetic and do more than I planned to. Perhaps after a couple weeks of helping out around the house she'll start to feel better about herself, and be more open to the idea of looking for a job.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:40 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree it sounds like she needs professional help (therapy, lifestyle changes and possibly medication) but that is not your responsibility. You taking that responsibility actually will retard any positive growth. Her acting like an angry, entitled parasite may not be her fault, but it is her responsibility to correct. Her behavior is not a problem for her as there are no consequences, you need to state expectations and enforce the consequences. That mean 50% rent money, her paying for her own food, and not having access to Internet/TV/phone unless she is paying half of ALL utilities. She doesn't want to work? She can go apply for welfare/food stamps. Are there any jobs in your town (you mention you are bartending?). Then she needs to move elsewhere, on her own dime (she can apply for welfare there too). I don't think she needs another two weeks of sponging off you, have the conversation as soon as you have devised the logistics. Decide what you think is a reasonable amount of time and if she doesn't comply with rent/chores then the locks get changed. You also need buy-in from your family that no one is going to "rescue" her from her mean old mummy (why on earth would your brother gift her a car? all this family enabling has to stop). I am sorry you are going through this, it sounds incredibly hard. It is good you are taking action now instead of having a miserable forty year old unemployed daughter.
posted by saucysault at 6:41 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite] plan to get a full time job (“not for me”), a diminishing roster of friends, no respect for my exhausting full-time job...

I come in at 6:30 each night to a sink full of dishes, crap and clothes everywhere, all the lights and televisions on, etc, etc. Dinner is somehow my responsibility. No amount of polite requests (or anger) on my part gets anything but the same response: some amount of shitty comment, brief sulky compliance and then .... noncompliance.

She seems scrappy and negative, enjoys arguing, and has alienated / eroded the interest of many of her friends and the people around us – including me, honestly.

It's possible that the kick-her-out caucus is right that she just needs a kick in the ass, but some of this screams adult-onset mental illness to me, particularly the mood changes towards negativity, the loss of her friendships, and her increased messiness. There are conditions that can cause these kinds of personality changes, ranging all the way from depression to schizophrenia, and if it were my daughter I'd definitely want to rule them out before taking a dramatic step like throwing her out of the house. Just a thought.
posted by gerryblog at 6:44 AM on September 10, 2012 [15 favorites]

Wo there, depression diagnosers. OP, please take a minute before you start considering your daughter may have a mental illness.

Sure, it sounds like she is in a very negative place right now. However: I moved out of my parents at 18 (had a relatively great upbringing) and in the 6 months before I moved, especially while I was trying to find the job that would allow me to move out, my father and I argued like cats and dogs and I behaved like a careless, lazy slob.

Don't get me wrong, he and I are very similar personalities and do know how to rub each other up the wrong way, but I am now appalled at how I behaved for some of those last 6 months. However, having seen the same thing happen to a sibling, I think I know at least partly why it is - it's the feeling of wanting independence, needing it, but not quite having it within your reach... this manifests in two things that also stoke each other, firstly a frustration and apathy that you take out on those closest to you, and secondly a need to push away and reject the people you feel you are still dependent on, as if to prove to both them and yourself that when the time DOES come, you will be totally ready to jump ship. It's fed by fear, frustration, and impatience, and it's horrid, and I'm SO glad I was lucky enough to find a job before it permanently damaged my relationship with my father.

Now I have chronic depression, and it has come and gone in phases for some years, but I know it well now, and I know that that is definitely not what was happening to me during this time.

There is some great advice above - talk to your daughter as much as you can, push her, give her deadlines, give her reasons to get moving on stuff, but don't jump straight into the mental illness camp. Sometimes telling a kid or young adult that they're mentally ill can give them a whole host of worries that they don't need on top of everything else. I don't think she necessarily needs that, and I doubt you do.

Please memail me if I could have been clearer about the above, I'm hurriedly writing this at work and probably haven't explained it the best I could! Good luck and keep being a great mum.
posted by greenish at 7:00 AM on September 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

I agree that she needs some help, but you can't make her get it. So you need to come up with a plan you can stick to (maybe that relative offering to intervene could help you with this?) with regard to consequences, and then drop the hammer: outline the plan, outline the consequences, and tell her the only deviation from this plan will be if she goes to either therapy and/or rehab (if that is the underlying issue), plus she has to get a physical with bloodwork (Planned Parenthood will do this on a sliding scale, there may be some other clinics for low-income women in your area) to see if she is physically ill.

Give her until Oct 1 to find a therapist and get the physical. Tell her that Oct 1 is the day you start placing ads for a roommate if she doesn't comply, and that she'll have to be out by the 15th, because you can no longer afford to live like this.

From my own experience, I would agree that it sure looks like she is depressed to the point of not functioning (it's the car, really, that sends up my flag - I was just about that incapable of taking care of even critical things during my worst depressive episode), and that booting her out is probably not going to suddenly make her get over it. It's also possible that she's just gotten all turned around, and the great thing is that a therapist can help with that too!

But you can't make her do anything except leave. You can only control your own behavior and boundaries, so you need to focus on those and let her do her own thing over or the other side of them. This may mean you, too, should find a therapist to help you navigate this.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:07 AM on September 10, 2012

Nthing 'Kick her out'.

Set a firm deadline, and stick to that deadline. Maybe even start putting her stuff in boxes closer to the deadline, to visually reinforce the deadline.

Do not accept rent. Rent creates the idea that she can continue to stay if she just keeps paying.

You've done your share. Fly free, little bird!
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:07 AM on September 10, 2012

While the job market isn't great, it sounds like that's not the problem. You say she says getting a job '"isn't for her". Sounds like for all your hard work, you've somehow raised an ungrateful brat. Based on your description, I don't think she is depressed but if she is, is your insurance situation such that she could go to the Dr about it and be treated? without telling you? She may not be comfortable talking about it and if she doesn't have insurance or doesn't have the money to pay for a dr visit, she may not be able to get help even if she wants to.

Kicking her out is impractical, you're throwing her in the deep end without swimming lessons, she can't get a job if she's homeless. Ditto making her pay rent - if she doesn't pay, what are you going to do, kick her out? See point #1.

I assume she doesn't qualify for any benefits? If you were in the UK you could kick her out, she would be eligible for job seekers allowance and housing benefit. So long as she showed up to "sign on" every 2 weeks and prove she's trying to find work she'd get her rent paid and a small amount of cash for other living expenses. I don't suppose there is anything like that where you are?

In this case I would recommend taking the role of the "state" in this case. If she proves she is looking for full time work (here its 2 applications per 2 weeks iirc), cleans up after herself (and any other conditions you want to set) she gets a small amount of cash to spend on food/clothes/makeup/going out.

Her immediate needs are food, drink and shelter. If the desired result is a productive member of society or at least that your daughter gets a job then you can't revoke shelter to begin with. I would begin by restricting food. Get a mini-fridge for her room and clear out one cupboard in the kitchen for her. Padlock the fridge all other food cupboards. Stock her cupboard with enough cutlery and crockery for 1 day, these are her dishes and her responsibility. Stock the mini-fridge with butter, eggs, milk, cheese - enough for 2 weeks and her cupboard with pulses, rice, pasta, cereal, enough for 1 month. The only drink she has access to is water. The only thing she should have free access to is fruit and veg.

If her dishes aren't cleaned then they get put in her room and she doesn't get access to your dishes. Clothes all over the house? throw them in her room (preferably on top of the dirty dishes!). Does your TV have parental controls? If so, restrict her access to TV. If she wants to act like a child she gets treated like a child, if she doesn't do her "chores" you take away her toys. If throwing all her stuff in her room doesn't work after a couple of weeks, anything left in the common areas goes in the bin. If you pay for a mobile phone can you drop down to the most basic plan? Or even better get her on a pay as you go plan that she has to pay for.

I would suggest a sliding scale:

She makes a basic effort to find a full time job - she gets her staples restocked
Tries really hard to find work - she gets a small amount of discretionary funds to spend however she likes.
Cleans her dishes and clothes - x hours of TV per day
Does other household chores - a larger cash sum to spend on "luxuries"

She will likely be very sulky and resistant at first. Do not give in. Restricting food may sounds really horrible and abusive but you make it so that it is within her ability to 'earn' enough food to live on, the only way she'd starve is if she made no effort at all to find paying work. If she would rather starve than get a job, she definitely needs psychiatric help

It sounds like you're paid by the hour so this trick probably isn't viable but if you have the kind of job you can book time off, I would consider playing a little trick on her. A taste of her own medicine. Book 2 weeks off work but don't tell her, just don't go in to work, slob around the house dirty all the dishes etc when she asks why you're not at work tell her you've decided "its not for you". Spend like you've got no income so basic food only. Turn off the AC/heat as appropriate to "save money". That TV is an energy sucker too so that's got to go (bonus points if you can have a friend 'buy' the TV and take it away for a while)
posted by missmagenta at 7:16 AM on September 10, 2012

Unless there are some health issues that require her to live off of you while she recovers she should be kicked from the nest.

If not plan on her living off of you until she finds someone else to live off of or you die. And if she does find someone else she will return home when that collapses. I have seen it. There are simply those individuals who don't like to work and are happy to be parasites. Unfortunately, sometimes they are the ones we love the most.
posted by incandissonance at 7:18 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Kicking her out is impractical, you're throwing her in the deep end without swimming lessons, she can't get a job if she's homeless. Ditto making her pay rent - if she doesn't pay, what are you going to do, kick her out? See point #1.

There's no such thing as swimming lessons for life. Get thrown out of nest, you have to fly. If you live in the nest...why bother with flying?

She'll succeed because she'll have no choice but to succeed.

And 6 months is plenty of time for her to plan. If she doesn't, it's really on her what happens to her, not mom.
posted by inturnaround at 7:24 AM on September 10, 2012

Having two little kids I consider the future and with the way things are now economically and socially I feel like they are just going to live at home until I pass away. That's not at all helpful but I've been in this situation with roommates before. My solution was to go find them a new place to live as they were incapable themselves. As the parent you may need to find a new living situation for her and even pay for the first months rent. Let her figure out how to feed herself, pay the utilities and peel her own underwear off the carpet. Kind of a push-start in lieu of simply kicking her out, otherwise...indeed...just kick her out to find her own way. Any mama bird in the wild would do the same thing.
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:26 AM on September 10, 2012

no plan to get a full time job (“not for me”)

I think this is the critical piece. It's a tough time to get a job, and if all she could find were minimum-wage/part time/temp type of jobs--but she had been working hard on applications and networking, taking what was available, and was just struggling because it's a crummy economy--then I think some gentle coaching and helpful strategizing would be appropriate, as well as prolonged support (if you could manage it). However, the "not for me" attitude is a big fat problem.

I'm sure there's more to her than a petulant, entitled attitude. Maybe she's depressed. Maybe she's so afraid of failing at adult life that she'd rather not try at all. But. I think it would be appropriate and kind for you to do something to give her a push.

Perhaps a conversation could start like this:

"I love you, and I think you're [good quality1], [good quality2], and [good quality3]. And because I love you, I can't keep supporting what you're doing. I want you to have a full, interesting, challenging life, and you're not going to get that while living in my spare room. Three months from now, it'll be December 10. By that date, you need to have found a new place to live." (Three months based on the assumption that it'll take her some time to get a job and save up for a deposit--longer may be appropriate, depending on your area.)

Depending on your personality/needs and your daughter's, it might make sense to stand completely firm and say, no matter what, she needs to be out by X date. Or, it might make sense to extend her move-out date provided certain criteria are met (i.e., she finds a job or two or three, she helps around the house, etc.), with an agreement that if she fails to meet those criteria, she's out. In either case, it would also make sense to encourage her to see her GP or a therapist to be evaluated for depression or some other issue that might interfere with motivation and action on these things.

Also, I do think you need to prepare for the possibility that she won't believe you and will refuse to make changes or move out. Consider talking to your local tenant resource organization to find out if they've dealt with similar situations and can offer advice.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:28 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure who is being helped by suggesting the OP treat her child like a five-year-old who won't put away her toys, or think of her as an "ungrateful brat" or a "parasite". That sort of attitude is precisely what she's rebelling against. Why should she try hard if the world has already written her off because she doesn't work? Ugh.

OP, I really want to emphasize that you need to try talking to your daughter before you take any drastic action. If you decide to do something, the deadlines suggested above sound like the best idea. I've seen what happens when parents kick their kids out for not living up to their ideals, and it's not pretty, it's not easy, and it sure as shit doesn't engender much good feeling between parent and child. Do you want your daughter to grow up resenting you for dropping her like a hot stone when she needed you most? Or do you want her respect and love, for showing her that not every problem needs to be handled alone?
posted by fight or flight at 7:28 AM on September 10, 2012 [9 favorites]

My comment was deleted by the mods for reasons unclear at the moment.... Let me try differently.

As hard as it might be (as it is for many parents), you have to put yourself in your daughter's shoes... i.e imagine out the 24 years of her life.

Environment and genetics: think of how her environment would have contributed to who she is now today. People just don't "become like that." Despite your best efforts, she grew up in a tough and challenging environment. That has some bearing on how stable the child turns out. This is for no fault of her own. Studies after studies show the powerful impact of a stress-free upbringing in the early stages of a child.

It would be at least worth one effort to begin talking to her about her life and mind, with no ultimatum. You can always kick her out later, but the former may give you rewards for the rest of both your shared lives.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:29 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

She'll succeed because she'll have no choice but to succeed.

Or she'll fail. If just kicking someone out of the house magically solved all their problems, that would be lovely, but it's not true.

It might turn out that the best move is in fact to kick her out of the house. But that shouldn't be the first move, and it appears you haven't done anything else yet, just got increasingly frustrated until you want to snap. That's normal, but it still doesn't make "kick her right out!" the next move. Maybe she isn't depressed, but it sounds like mental illness. Has she tried to get jobs and failed, and is just now saying "forget it, no job for me", or has she never tried to get a job?

These problems didn't appear overnight, and they're not going to solve themselves overnight either if you kick her out.
posted by jeather at 7:37 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Start charging room and board. She's been out of school 2 years, she is an adult, an adult pays their way. Tell her you are doing this because you want to stop treating her like a child. You said she had some bar work, so don't charge all her money but a fair rate. It's amazing how expenses can motivate people to find more work. Don't do her laundry, don't cook her food all her items left around the house just get dumped back in her room, dirty clothes left in the hamper. Treat her like you would any other adult living with you. Do NOT buy her a new car, do not put yourself out so she can borrow yours if you need it for work or whatever, that might just be the motivation she needs to get some work. If she says anything bitchy or hard, just smile sweetly and say I am treating you like an adult.

BTW my parents had to do this to me to get me kick started and this was 20 years or so ago during a recession in Australia, when unemployment in my age group, at that time, was around 18% . It was surprisingly successful. You don't have to be mean about it or yell, just calmly explain that she is 24 and well out of college so you are going to respect her by treating her like an adult. It's very hard to argue against, what is she going to say. No please keep treating me like a little kid?
posted by wwax at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2012 [9 favorites]

Or she'll fail. If just kicking someone out of the house magically solved all their problems, that would be lovely, but it's not true

But solving ALL of her problems is not the issue. She lives in the UK. There's a good social net there. If she truly fails then the net will catch her. She'll learn. She'll adapt. But she can't start learning how to live her own life until she starts living her own life.

And charging rent is a bad idea because it then becomes the charge to stay there which is not what the OP wants.

Look, life's hard. But at 24, the preseason's over and the games have to start counting. If you can't ever fail, then you can't succeed.
posted by inturnaround at 7:45 AM on September 10, 2012

(But solving ALL of her problems is not the issue. She lives in the UK. There's a good social net there. If she truly fails then the net will catch her. She'll learn. She'll adapt. But she can't start learning how to live her own life until she starts living her own life.

Just parenthetically - the "good social safety net" in the UK has been eroded so much in the past few years that it is much more on par with the US - and I would argue that for disabled people it's actually worse, as they have new "we're hiring for-profit foreign companies who get rewarded for kicking people off benefits to re-assess your fitness to work and kick you off benefits" policies (that apparently are kicking off huge percentages of people who are actually, obviously disabled). There's also a huge push to reduce unemployment/jobseekers' benefits - with the specific policy statement that unemployed youth should be living with their parents.)

That's not super germaine to the situation, but I hope no one is predicating their answers on the idea that the UK has a good social safety net.)
posted by Frowner at 7:53 AM on September 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

She lives in the UK.

She doesn't say where she lives but based on the evidence, that seems unlikely (ie condo + pacific beach + college)
posted by missmagenta at 7:54 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

That's not super germaine to the situation, but I hope no one is predicating their answers on the idea that the UK has a good social safety net.

It's also worth noting that the OP says she put her daughter "through high school and college in one of America’s most expensive areas". I doubt very much that they are located in the UK.
posted by fight or flight at 7:54 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

She lives in the UK.

Does she? The OP said she grew up in America; I assumed they had not since moved to the UK. Perhaps this is not the case. The social safety net is rather different in the US.

Again, I'm not saying "Never ever kick her out", I'm saying "Kicking her out isn't the first step to take". I am especially saying that because a lot of this sounds like mental illness to me, and -- well, mentally ill people who live on the street are, as a rule, prone to self-medicating. Failure at that point can happen, and it can mean things like disease or death. You aren't just going to succeed because your mother wants you to and has kicked you out.

OP, it would probably help you if you found someone to speak to -- someone neutral -- to help make a plan for your daughter (and a plan you can stick to -- tough love is hard hard to dispense, and failed ultimatums only make things worse), and to help you deal with your frustration and unhappiness about the situation.
posted by jeather at 7:59 AM on September 10, 2012

I'm with wwax. She ought to be paying rent, and you should not be cooking her dinner and doing her laundry. I'm confused as to why anyone thinks that she should be allowed to stay on rent-free. She doesn't seem to be under any extenuating circumstances right now that would prevent her from acting like a responsible adult.

It's not impossible that she's depressed, but I don't see proof of it in the post, other than her behavior being described as "negative and scrappy". She's not trying to get a full time job because she doesn't want to. There was no description of "hopelessness" on her part in the post.

You don't have to get angry - just decide what you want to happen and have there be consequences if it doesn't happen, you can express that in a calm way but you need to follow through. Just asking is not enough - you need to put it in terms that create an incentive. She thinks you are weak and she is taking advantage of you. That doesn't mean you need to be cruel, she may be going through some sort of challenge in her life that is not known about/conveyed here, but it does mean you need to get her to understand you are serious.

p.s. agreed that they're probably located in the U.S., but the poster did use the word "quid" which definitely confused me too.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:05 AM on September 10, 2012

You say she enjoys arguing. I think there's a fine line between refusing to argue with someone, and saying "because *I* say so." I don't think you should be arguing with her...whatever reasons she's giving for living the way she is, unless she is presenting lucid, compelling reasons for what she's doing, she is imposing on you. It sounds like the arguments are a way of preventing you from doing what you know you need to do -- and you're playing along.

I know how difficult this situation must be. The thought of her getting knocked around by The World, especially with yourself as the first smack, kicking her out of the nest, must be horrifying.

Are there any good times? During those times could you encourage her to think about what she feels she might be missing living off her Mom and not shifting for herself? What does she think she would do if you got hit by a bus tomorrow?

Are you certain she's not abusing drugs? My son is an addict -- he hid it pretty effectively and would still be living with us, warming up his bed and hitting not a lick on anything else, until we learned to not believe a single word out of his mouth.

Good luck and God bless.
posted by Infinity_8 at 8:16 AM on September 10, 2012

Is this new behavior? Was she previously helpful, self-directed, surrounded with friends, and goal-oriented? Or has she always been argumentative, non-compliant, lazy and disrespectful?

If it's the former, she needs help. Talk with her, not at her. Find out what's going on; is she frightened by growing up? Does she feel like everyone is better than her? Whatever it is, you can work it out.

If it's the latter, there are bigger things going on. You can't suddenly expect a previously unreliable person to be reliable. I know this from experience. My mother did everything for me while I was growing up, and I mean everything. I didn't even know how to do my own laundry once I got to college, let alone how to do dishes. I was a spoiled brat and it took losing friends and nearly losing a wonderful man (who eventually became my husband) to shake me out of my feeling of entitlement. I'm not saying that you've done something wrong; I've no way to know that. But if she's always been this way, kicking her out and making her fend for herself might be the best gift you've ever given her.
posted by cooker girl at 8:23 AM on September 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

+1 for charging her rent.

The problem your daughter is facing is she's completed unmotivated. My parents faced a similar issue with my sister, who still lived at home around this age, felt a job wasn't 'for her' and never seemed to have much use for money.

All of this changed when they started charging her rent. Nothing crazy, just $400 a month. But it was enough to force her to get a job, which got her out of the house. 4 months into her new position, she decided the commute was too much to handle and got an apartment downtown. Sometimes it just takes a gentle push.
posted by Muppetattack at 8:24 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Give her a hard-and-fast deadline. She's already been out of school for two years, so I think an additional six months is a bit much; on the other hand, a little time would be good --- make it three months. At the end of that three months, she has to either start paying rent, in advance each and every month, no excuses!, or get out: her choice. And yes, your relative who offered to do an intervention? Ask them to sit in, you'll feel stronger with backup. (Or get your brother who gave her that now-drowned car: he must be annoyed enough to help!)

No job? There ARE jobs out there, even if it's as a cashier at Target or flipping burgers at McDonald's --- either way, she can and MUST get a job: where it is, is up to her. No car? Again, this is HER problem, not yours. Do NOT give her another car or lend her your own. Stop making her dinner: when you come home, make just enough for YOU. Don't do her laundry, don't clean her room, don't lend (give!) her money. I'm sorry, but this is one of those cases where 'tough love' is required: you've already tried being nice and laid back; that hasn't worked, so go with tough.
posted by easily confused at 8:31 AM on September 10, 2012

You aren't always going to be around, your daughter needs to learn life skills and by letting her sponge off you she's not learning them and, as you well know it's damaging your relationship with her.

You can set boundaries and be loving at the same time. Tell her that you want the best for her and part of that is living an adult life and learning the skills necessary to be on her own. That means now that she has gone through school she needs to start paying for rent, utilities etc. and cooking meals and washing clothes. That is if you want her as roommate. If you don't then tell her she needs to find other living arrangements. Try to do this from a place of concern for her well being instead of anger. Be firm and follow through.

My husband's nephew went through this hard awakening at one point and he found another place to live without having a job because he *had* to. He was living with his grandmother at the time and she gave him a drop dead date to be out of the house and stuck to it.

Good luck! I know this is hard, but this is an important thing to do as a parent.
posted by Kimberly at 8:32 AM on September 10, 2012

Pretty sure she's in the US. Where even official youth unemployment is around 20%, most of the social safety net has been frozen-or-repealed over the past 40 years of imbecilic punish-the-poor social policy, people remain in bad jobs in order to remain able to go to doctors at all, and the official poverty rate is worse than it's been in 50 years.

This is not to say "don't kick her out"; 24 sounds like high time for that to me too. Or at least some serious adult-to-adult discussion about how she's going to get herself living-alone in the next 6 months. Just adjust your expectations about what she's likely to get when doing so, and how many times you may find her on your doorstep at 3am before it finally sticks. Expect some harder times than you had when leaving home in the past. The reality now is worse.
posted by ead at 9:37 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is a lot of advice above, I'm sure you will be able to select what is most appropriate to your situation. I'm also sure you haven't done anything wrong in raising her.

For the record, I feel young adult children at home should contribute basic costs, civility, self-care and some housework - in my experience this takes constant negotiation as everybody's circumstances keep changing. One job is more challenging than another, people get their young hearts broken - and mended again. People make unwise purchases, have accidents, owe money etc. It's a moveable feast.

The car incident would really worry me. Be on the lookout for other weird happenings, however minor. If anything else seems as jarring and strange I think you should at least talk things over with a healthcare professional.
posted by glasseyes at 9:40 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

If no one kicked out their 24 year old underemployed kids for fear of them being homeless...when would the 24 year old "adult" ever get the courage on their own to move out?

I'm sorry. I misinterpreted a mention of an Irish father and mention of quid as them currently living the the UK.
posted by inturnaround at 9:57 AM on September 10, 2012

When I graduated from college I went into a deep, terrible depression. I moved home and stayed with my mom. I eventually got a job, but things were comfortable. I had no real motivation to move out.

The best thing my mom did for me was to kick me out. She sat me down in a sort of "intervention" setting. In a very loving, tear-filled way, she told me that it was time for me to go. The statement that made the biggest impression on me was when she said, "By letting you stay I'm teaching you that I don't believe you can make it on your own. I believe in you. You can do this."

She gave me a month to move out. I wound up moving into a crappy room in a crappy mobile home with a crappy room-mate (on my birthday, just two days after Christmas) who ultimately got us all kicked out of the space because he was bringing prostitutes home.

You know what, though? I was fine, ultimately. I found another place to live after that. My mom helped me stay in therapy which helped me keep up with the depression. I continued to work crap jobs and live in crap places until other events in my life helped me broaden my horizions. The fact remains, though, that I knew my mom believed I could make it, and that helped me through even when times were difficult. Best of all, I did it all on my own. I had my mother's love and support, but I had my own space and made my own decisions.

Today (roughly 16 years later) I am happily married with my own kids, I have a solid job that provides good opportunities, I own my home. I got a Master's degree. In short, I became an adult. You can't do this for her. She has to find a way to do it on her own.

Even if your daughter is depressed, letting her stay home isn't necessarily helping her. It may be making the situation worse since you are tacitly telling her you don't believe in her or her ability to stand on her own two feet.

It's extremely hard. You love your daughter and want to help her. Sometimes, the difficult thing is the most loving, most helpful thing to do.
posted by omphale27 at 10:12 AM on September 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

You sound really frustrated with her. It seems from your description of the situation that you've already diagnosed the problem—she's a lazy ingrate. You compare her to yourself at her age and you find her lacking. You describe her side of the argument as "not interested" with no further context. You list everything you've done for her and conspicuously do not list any contributions she has made, suggesting that to your way of thinking, she has made none. You seem to judge her for not having many friends. You characterize her response to your requests for help as "noncompliance", which seems to indicate that you're looking for "compliance"—a strange thing to request from a 24 year-old woman.

All in all, this feels like a very one-sided portrait of the way things are. Which makes sense to a certain degree. Unless your daughter signs up for an account and explains her own perspective, we've only got your description to go on. But I will say that I am struck by your lack of attempt to empathize with anything your daughter might be going through.

I am not saying you should overlook her behavior. Any of it! She sounds very difficult to live with and she clearly needs to develop some adult life skills. But! You might try harder to understand her before condemning her. I agree with those who say she probably needs therapy. You might want to attend a session or two with her, so you guys can start speaking the same language and understanding each other.
posted by Lieber Frau at 10:18 AM on September 10, 2012 [11 favorites]

I agree with those who are suggesting a timeline to get her living on her own, independently. She might need some help coming up with a plan, but you should include benchmarks along the way. Baby steps, so to speak. Don't think of it as kicking her out, think of it as a crash course in adult living.

So, for example, the first phase might be that she does all the grocery shopping, house cleaning and laundry. If you're working two jobs to support her, she should be taking care of all the household duties. Then you can add that she should have a job by x date, a place to live by z date, etc. You can decide together what the consequences of missing the deadlines will be (for me it would be the termination of her residence in your home, but you may want to come up with something else). Having those goals should shake her up a little. Knowing that she has to find a place to live may re-kindle her ties to her friends, since she may be looking to them for housing/roommate options

It sounds from your post that she got to go to college for free, while others supported her. Your brother gave her a car (that she trashed). That's already more than what hundreds of thousands of people her age have been given. You've done enough.

Honestly, the only way she can learn to live like an adult is to begin living like an adult. The struggles of young adult life that we all go through are what gives us resilience. This kind of prolonged adolescence isn't doing either of you any favours and it sounds like it is encouraging a kind of false dependence which is almost certainly contributing to her unhappiness.

(And also, frankly, I'm worried that if you are 58 and working two jobs to make ends meet, you have nothing put away for retirement. She needs to start supporting herself so that you can take care of your own financial future.)
posted by looli at 1:47 PM on September 10, 2012

She starts paying rent if she wants to stay.

Dinner is somehow my responsibility.

You only cook dinner for yourself then. If you're doing anything else for her, stop.

She does sound depressed. The alienating the friends thing is the key here. There is not a one-size-fits-all way that depression manifests itself in people, so it's a possibility.

But, she can cook her own food and clean her own things etc. She can pay rent and buy her own groceries.

FWIW, generations are different. Things that your generation were able to do are not necessarily achievable now for a myriad of reasons. But there's also no reason that you daughter can't start moving forward in her life and there's no reason why you can't slow down. That you work two jobs could also be part of the problem - why should she have to do anything when you're doing it all for her? If you are working that second job largely for her, I'd stop.
posted by heyjude at 2:05 PM on September 10, 2012

It's not clear whether you've simply told her that you would like to live alone and asked her to move out. It seems to me that this would be the first step.
posted by bq at 2:35 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if I have an opinion as to how you should deal with your daughter but I don't really get the harsh responses a lot of people are giving in regard to your daughter, all based on one side of the story.

When I was in my late teens. I lived with my mother and I can see her writing a post like this saying she's been a great mom and raised me so well. But she really was pretty abusive and manipulative which made getting out of her house very hard despite her complaining I needed to get out. 

Living with an abusive parent for so long hinders how you view your immediate situation. I didn't know she was so crazypants at the time because I was so in it and, as a result, deeply depressed, that it was all I knew. It took a few years but I was so lucky to have a good family member to take me in and give me the resources to get my depression/undiagnosed ptsd under control, graduate uni, move out on my own and start thriving.

After all this I don't have a great relationship with my mother in the long run, but I have a great one with the relative who helped me.

For all I know you really could be a stellar mom who raised your daughter well and she has just turned into an ungrateful brat in the face of it all. Or she could be very depressed or have some other undiagnosed problem. There are really so many other factors that could be causing this dynamic that any advice given here will just be shots in the dark.

Maybe you both should go to family therapy and try to discuss your issues with a mediator before making any drastic decisions.
posted by side effect at 4:58 PM on September 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

you have my heartfelt sympathies. I raised two children to adulthood. One is in the final stages of taking her degree and has at least had one job. The other dropped out of uni, and is reluctant to do anything (housework, exercise). My solution, rather than kicking them out, was to move out myself - this left them with the choice of getting on with life or, (a solution not available to your nestling) moving in with their father.

I have tried to get my son to be assessed and treated for depression, but he "doesn't believe" in psychologists or antidepressants. He's now 21.5 and has nothing to show for it, whereas at the age, I'd been living out of home for 3 years, and was a low level manager in the public service. The difference between us, I guess, was that my boyfriend's parents put enormous pressure on me to get a job, driving me to public service tests and so on (and they don't have these anymore).

I've talked to my son about this stuff, over and over. He admits to anxiety, and agrees that he needs to support himself. This is about as far as it gets. Though lately, he has said that he will come and stay wtih me 4 weeks while I whip him into physical shape and teach him about nutrition (in order for him to join the army - I really can't see this happening, but exercise is good right?)

If you do manage to solve this situation, write a book.
posted by b33j at 5:15 PM on September 10, 2012

I hate to burst the bubbles of the "kick her out!" crowd, but if you are in the U.S. and in an expensive area, then the odds of her finding a job that can pay rent, even with a roommate, within one month or even three with little-to-no employment history, are close to nil. If she hustles she can probably find something stocking shelves at Target or flipping the proverbial burgers at McDonald's eventually, but good luck scrounging for the $600-$700 (at a minimum) per month she'll need to pay rent on an $8 an hour salary. I was working part-time straight out of college and had no trouble sending out boatloads of resumes, and it took me a year to find a regular, full-time job with decent pay and benefits. And this was before the economy really turned to shit.

Now, post-college me was by no means entirely a victim of circumstance, but still: It's different today. It really, really is. Jobs are scarce, housing's expensive, everything is massively competitive. The margin for error for today's young people is razor-thin, and, for many of us, our families are the only safety net we have.

Yet, the idea that a full-time job is "not for her" is complete and utter bullshit. It would be one thing if she were trying, but she's not; and she's being massively irresponsible to boot. I can't say whether she is depressed, but this obviously can't go on.

I suggest that you start by talking with her and finding out what's going on in her head. Then, come up with a plan - try to involve her in this, too, but make it clear that, as the one who holds the purse strings, you get final say. Just as a rough outline, I'd suggest something like this:

1. She has two weeks to begin doing a number of household chores. She also must find something to do (volunteering, whatever) that gets her out of the house at least a few hours per week.

2. You then say that after a certain amount of time - three months, say - you will begin charging her rent. The amount should be small enough that she could easily afford it on a crappy service-job salary, but large enough that she will have to figure out a way to make money. Maybe $200-$300/month, something like that. The idea is to motivate her to take that job at Target or wherever, and give her some sense of responsibility for her own life.

3. Once those two things are complete, and she is actually in a position to move forward, then you can help her form a career, and get a real job, and move out, and all that.

I suggest this because, yes, she needs a push, but if the push is too hard she might fall down. What she needs, more than anything, is to do things; doing something, anything, will probably improve both her attitude and yours. But, you don't go from being a mopey teenager (which is how she's acting) to being a fully-functioning adult on the basis of one ultimatum. Come up with some things that she can do now, hold her to it, and take it from there.
posted by breakin' the law at 5:23 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have known several people who just don't want to work. She may or may not be depressed, but if she refuses to look for work, in my experience that's a bad sign. I would vote to kick her out and see if she gets a job then or finds someone else to parasite off, as those folks usually manage to do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:00 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I haven't read all of the answers here, but heres how it happened with my me. Stick with me, the story is going somewhere useful (I hope).

When I was about 5, my brother and I used to play with the green army soldier figures. We had hundreds of those things and we would reenact wars with them in the lounge room, in the hall, anywhere basically. We would often "forget" to clean them up, leading to my Mum stepping on them, slipping on them, and often swearing. One day she'd had enough of cleaning them up for us or badgering us to do it. She pulled us together and said "this is it, last chance, next time you clean them up or I'll throw them out". "yeah yeah mum" was probably our response.

The next time we left them out they were gone. We cried. Our little faces pulling the most tortured expressions. "No-one loves us" and all the rest but my Mums tuck firm. 6 months later we got them back, and we ALWAYS cleaned them up after that.

Fast forward to when I was 19. I was at uni, not working, loved spending my time watching TV, mucking around on the computer, life was sweet! My Mum came to me and said that she'd seen an ad in the paper for someone stocking shelves in the supermarket at night, why don't I try to interview? I said "oh I'm busy, its not for me" and she said "you'll at least try or you'll be washing and ironing your own clothes and cooking your own food, your choice".

I called her bluff. Big mistake. I lasted two days until I went and took that interview, got that job, and have been employed without any substantial break ever since.

So my advice? Have behaviour you want to see, and set a deadline for it to happen, and consequences if it doesn't. Then follow through.
posted by Admira at 12:41 AM on September 11, 2012

She apparently needs a coach and a wee kick in the pants. Make her getting a job and moving out a positive project, not a negative action, not a punishment. It will mean even more work for you for now but it will more likely succeed and then you'll have a happy daughter living and working somewhere else, not eating snacks on your couch.

Help her write her CV, find job ads, send out CVs, get interview clothes, drive her to interviews or find a car she can borrow, etc. Let looking for a real job become her full-time job and get her into a part-time menial job in the meantime. You be her coach and get help from family members as needed. Be excited about new CVs going out and interviews coming up. Downplay the rejection letters. Always have more for her to look forward to.

After she's out, she'll likely be out forever, so you'll just need to do this once.
posted by pracowity at 2:15 AM on September 11, 2012

I'm 25. Its not that "this generation" doesn't move out. Its just your daughter (and the children of other parents who spoiled their kids rotten and don't want to take responsibility for it.)

"as I am known in the family for being passive and laid back. I dislike anger more than anything except bad manners. "

I read this as you never properly disciplined your daughter, and hoped she would learn by your example rather than actually be taught something. The only thing you dislike more than angrily disciplining her as you should have is saying something "ill mannered" that hurts her poor feelings.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but my cousin is your daughter, and its frustrating because the only person who can help her (her mom who she lives with) is totally complacent.

When she says a full time job is "not for her"... well, ask her if eating food out of dumpsters and living in the streets is for her, because money doesn't earn itself. But she knows 100% she is safe living with you and will never have to lift a finger to help herself as long as she has you to do it.

Internally, I bet she is depressed... she lost the respect of her peers who went on to get jobs and educations and move on with their lives, but its worth it to not have to work for anything and have a personal maid. I'm sure she has no direction and feels as such, as she truly is being nothing but a burden currently. She knows it, she may want to be independent, but may feel she's fallen so far behind or is still living in a fantasy world where you will always be there to take care of her.

I would bet you're paralyzed with fear at the thought of her struggling to figure out life on her own. You wish you could hold her hand and guide her through every caveat in life so she'll never have any bad experiences. Sorry, it doesn't work like that. She'll have to figure some things out on her own, and it sucks but you're just gonna have to hope that you've taught her enough that something sticks and she can support herself.
posted by el_yucateco at 11:08 AM on September 11, 2012

Oh, just to add, when I graduated from college I didn't think working 40 hours per week "was for me", yet here I am, 3 years later, at work.
posted by el_yucateco at 11:10 AM on September 11, 2012

Nthing talk to her, then setting realistic goals.

What fight or flight says about "Good Education = Good Job + Pays Well" rings true, at least for me. A whole generation was set up to watch all their hard work of developing their passion fail in an economy with few dream jobs and/or opportunities to realize one's passion in a work setting. It's really hard to want to try again when the lesson seems to be, if you care about what you do, prepare to be horribly disappointed. And if you cared before, be prepared to never care again because it's not going to happen. How does a young adult believe in themselves after an experience like that?

I do like what omphale27 recommends: "By letting you stay I'm teaching you that I don't believe you can make it on your own. I believe in you. You can do this."

Your daughter's first experience in preparing herself for a meaningful career bellyflopped, and she probably doesn't believe much in herself anymore because look at what that got her right off the bat. Please talk to her -- about what her education, career ambitions, and dreams meant to her. Mentor her in understanding what her limits are, and how to work within the real world's constraints. And do let her know you believe in her ability to be successful, as omphale27 describes... maybe help temper her expectations to more realistic goals so that this time around, she's not internalizing lack of real-world opportunity as personal failure. Just my two cents, as I really empathize with where your daughter is at. Best of luck!
posted by human ecologist at 1:36 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Practical ideas can go a long way when talking is failing.

1. If she leaves clothes/crap around, don't put it "away." Put it into a bin or garbage bag and put it either in the basement or attick, or drive it to the house of a mutual friend where she has to find a way to retrieve it.

2. You yourself keep a stash of paper plates and cups. (Yes, expensive, but just for a few months.) Anything plates/utensils/cups leaves out gets removed from the kitchen until she has nothing to eat on. As it all disappears, she will be more diligent about washing things and putting them away.

3. Warn her that if the sink is full of dishes x more times, where x is a number you choose, you will put a padlock on the fridge. Then put a padlock on the fridge. Possibly put a padlock on other cabinets where food is kept.

4. Move the TV to your bedroom and put a lock on your bedroom.

5. Come up with a finite and exact list of chores she has to do. Write it down somewhere visible to all. Possibly make it in exchange for food or dinner.

6. Um, don't make dinner. Her expectations be damned! Or make enough for yourself.

All the while, explain to her that you support her in finding a job. You can give her a finite number of "chances" before doing all of the above, which makes it more palatable since she'll know she got herself into the mess, with fair warning, instead of you springing it on her.

You should be kind, but remove access to what she is taking advantage of. Make it harder for her to disrupt your living space.

FWIW, having a daughter around is probably nice and not something you'll get to enjoy forever... but only if you are happy and workable roommates. My dad always asks for me to spend more time at his house, and I'm 32, because he likes my company. It might be that you actually like having her around if she can clean up her act a bit.
posted by kellybird at 2:17 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I come in at 6:30 each night to a sink full of dishes, crap and clothes everywhere, all the lights and televisions on, etc, etc.

A workable middle ground may be to ban her from the house during working hours. It will relieve you of the mess while still allowing you to support her and give her a home. At the same time it makes clear what your expectations are.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:20 PM on November 30, 2012

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