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Adults Who Are Still Dependent On Their Parents

Updated on January 28, 2013
gmwilliams profile image

Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in its myriad forms.

It seems to be neverending.   At some point in one's life, one cuts the parental umbilical cord and become an adult.   However, there are some adult children WHO SIMPLY REFUSE to do so.
It seems to be neverending. At some point in one's life, one cuts the parental umbilical cord and become an adult. However, there are some adult children WHO SIMPLY REFUSE to do so.

Oh, Harriet, When Will IT Ever Be Over!

The job of parents are raising children with the ultimate purpose of making them independent adults, emotionally, intellectually, and financially. It is the job of children to become increasing autonomous as to achieve that goal. In fact, both parents and children anticipate the latter's independence as adults.

There is nothing more fulfilling to a parent whose adult child is totally independent of them. This parent knows that by having an adult child who can take care of himself/herself, he/she was a successful parent. The average child wants to be independent starting from childhood. When a child is two, he/she strongly asserts his/her personhood as to establish his/her own identity.

Children crave and seek independence whether it is learning to tie his/her shoes and/or mastering such tasks as riding a bicycle without any parental assistance. Children feel confidence when they master tasks. By mastering tasks, children develop a sense of competence and selfl-worth.

As children enter adolescence, they strongly assert their independence as a part of their individuation process. They are becoming adults and are exploring avenues which afford their increasing autonomy. This gradual separation from the parents is part of establishing independence and is expected. It is a rare adolescent who doesn't attempt to self-individuate.

Hopefully, when the child enters young adulthood, he/she has gained the prerequisite skills to be a fully functioning adults. The average young adult strongly anticipates being independent of his/her parents emotionally and financially. In fact, one is considered to be an adult when one graduates from either high school, college, and/or technical school, finds a job, and establish their own living arrangements sans parents.

Many young adults consider it a badge of honor to be financially independent and living on their own even if they are struggling. At least, in their estimation, they are independent adults who are learning the lessons of life. Even if they worry regarding paying bills and meeting certain financial obligations, they prefer to make their own way and refuse to ask their parents for assistance unless it is an extremely dire emergency.

Then there are adults who in other words..........refuse to mature and to accept their responsibilities. Even though they are chronological adults, emotionally they are children or adolescents. They prefer to remain in the psychological comforting womb of living and otherwise being financially dependent upon their parents although they are capable of obtaining a job and living on their own.

Okay, you ask how can young people find suitable jobs which could afford them to live independently of their parents. You assert that in these postindustrial, socioeconomic precarious times with the high unemployment rate, it is near to impossible for young people to obtain decent employment. You further add that apartment and other housing costs are prohibitively expensive.

Yes, it is difficult to find jobs; however, it does not mean that one cannot find a job. There are jobs out there, sometimes it may not be the young person's dream or even desired job at the moment. However, all of us have to start somewhere regarding jobs. There are enterprising young people who even start businesses. In other words, if there is a will, there is a way. It means that one have a game plan regarding looking for jobs.

Regarding, independent living arrangements. There are young people who room with each other in order to split expenses. Also, there is affordable housing around. Even in these precarious socioeconomic times, there are young people who do find jobs and independent living arrangements. In other words, there are some young adults who refuse to let these socioeconomic times deter them from taking responsibility with their lives. They want to be independent and refuse to depend upon their parents, they want to do it themselves!

Many young adults are quite fearful of becoming financially independent and living on their own. They are actually quite comfortable living with their parents. They see their friends and associates struggling with less than desired jobs and living on their own. They portend that this is not for them, often preferring to wait until the socioeconomic times are easier to pursue jobs and living arrangements.

There was one former co-worker who was still financially dependent upon her parents although she had a job. In addition to that she also lived with them. She portended that she wanted to live in a duplex and until then, she intended to live with her parents. She asserted that she was not going to get an ordinary apartment . However,she worked at a clerical job for seven years and she did make an implications that she wanted to advance careerwise.

On a clerical salary, she brought designer and expensive clothing. She also attended college, not establishing a marketable major. She took no core courses but studied a variety of subjects, unfortunately, none of those subjects were marketable towards a career. She also indicated that she did not pay any type of rent nor contributed in other ways to the familial household. In essence, she lived free of charge. To add insult to injury, she also took expensive vacations each year. She can indulge in frivolous luxuries but she contended that "she could not afford" to contribute financially towards the household.

There was another case where co-worker had an adult son living with her. She related that he told her that he wanted his own apartment. Well, that is fine and good. However, he wanted the mother to pay for the apartment. He was not about to pay for the apartment whatsoever. He further contended that his mother had the money to buy and pay for the apartment.

This co-worker did this willingly. She wanted to do this and saw nothing wrong with this. In her mind, whatever her adult son wanted, he got without any questions asked. However, this same co-worker stated that her son was quite immature for his age, had no life and/or career goals, and was totally irresponsible. This son had quite a sporadic school and job history to put it mildly. Almost every job he had, he was always asked to leave. In addition to that, the co-worker stated that she had to make him look for jobs as he often slept until the evening.

Yet a third case had another co-worker whose adult son was so dependent upon them both emotionally and financially that there was a rift in her relationship with her husband. The husband wanted the son to get a job and a place of his own. Conversely, the co-worker wanted her son to live with them until he was "comfortable enough" to get a job "to his liking" and to "get a very nice apartment." The son knew that he was causing a rift between his parents and used this to his advantage.

Why do some adults refuse to grow up and assume adult responsibilities such as obtaining a job and/or living independently. Many of them have been so overindulged and shielded from assuming responsibilities by their parents. Their often well-meaning parents maintain that their children should have a life as stressfree as possible. They portend that children should never experience any type of frustration ever. They do all that is possible to afford their children the easiest life possible.

There are still other parents who either were forced to be on their own before they were ready to so. Because they were on their own earlier than they expected, they endured extremely onerous situations which made them grow up fast, sometimes too fast. These parents do not want their children to go through what they went through. They feel that their children will obtain a job and an apartment when they are emotionally ready to so. They are not going to go into histrionics and force their children to do this before they are ready.

There are parents who are quite socioeconomically affluent and see no problem in financially supporting their children. It is their assertion why should their children struggle and endure "unnecessary" difficulties when the latter can have an easy life. These parents contend what is the big deal in totally supporting their children financially. They stated that they have the money, so why not- after all, that is what money is for!

Many adult children of overprotective and overindulgent parents develop risk aversive behavior. They do not have the prerequisite life skills needed to become totally self-sufficient. They believe that life should always be easy and crumble, when life presents its more negative aspects. They often refuse to realize that often adverse situations make them more resolute and resilient.

Some young adults are quite fearful of being totally independent because they have a fear of failure. They believe that life must be perfect and that there should be no rejections and failures. The process of ever evolving adulthood is often filled with small steps. In other words, one must metaphorically crawl before he/she can walk. And yes- rejections and failures are parts of the life process and there is no escaping this! Experiencing rejections and failures makes a person more mature and aware as to not what to do the next time. Furthermore, rejections and failures are learning and growth experiences. Success often comes with rejections and failures. Many people fail to realize this.

Lastly, there are young adults who have an entitlement mentality. They believe that they should never have to struggle in life and that everything should be handed to them without any effort on their part. They want the nice job now. They want to earn a lot of money now. They want the nice apartment now. Yes, there are some young adults who by their own efforts have a great job, earn a high salary, and have nice apartments, even nice houses. However, the average young adult starting out often must endure socioeconomic struggles for awhile before he/she is in a comfortable status. There are many young adults who prefer to depend on their parents and live comfortably than to live somewhat uncomfortably on their own. They fail to realize their parents had to struggle and make sacrifices to reach their present socioeconomic level.

What is the costs of young adults totally depending upon their parents? They remain infantilized regarding life and survival skills. They live such a euphoric life that when reality comes crashing in, they are quite unprepared as to how to deal with it! They do not mature as emotionally and psychologically as their counterparts who are totally self-sufficient and self-supporting. They also do not establish and own their lives but are often subjected to the rules, mores, and regulations of their parents, like it or not. In other words, young adults who are totally dependent on their parents will never discover who they actually are!

In summation, parents and children anticipate the day where the latter is totally independent and living their individual lives. It is accepted and expected that young adults eventually obtain a job and leave the parental home. In fact, this is the definition of true adulthood and maturity. However, there are young adults who are totally dependent upon their parents emotionally and financially for one reason or another. These reasons range from having a fear of failure to having a sense of entitlement. These young adults who are totally dependent upon their parents are paying an extremely high cost for their extended dependence and delayed adulthood and the cost is very expensive indeed!


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    • profile image

      Spiph 2 years ago

      I'm curious as to where the author of this article would place me on the mooch spectrum.

      I found this article on one of my worry wort web searching binges. I recently turned 23, something that caused me to question my financial dependence on my father. I wanted to better understand what causes a person to be financially dependent on their parents and the steps one might take to escape this cycle.

      I'm not the worst case that the author described. I recently obtained an associates degree with plans to go on to get a bachelors in mass communications. I have been living in a low-end apartment with room mates since I turned 18. However, my father pays many of my bills: health care, car insurance and maintenance, cell phone, even my internet.

      I would agree that financial dependence is something that can damage a young persons self esteem. I often wonder if I'm capable of becoming independent and worry about what will happen when my father is no longer around to support me. It doesn't help that I've been diagnosed with a particularly nasty and life-disrupting mental illness. I sometimes wonder if I'll wind up on welfare rather than achieve financial independence.

      Even so, I can't agree that those who are thrown into independence early on are always better off. I've seen these people forgo long term goals and work low paying jobs, living pay check to pay check without realizing how screwed they will be when it comes time to retire and they have no savings and no social security. Many of them are homeless for a time. Some turn to military service and wind up dying overseas or returning home with mental illnesses that keep them from functioning in civilian society. It's noble to serve ones country, but no one should have to risk their life out of financial desperation.

      In my part of the country, there are jobs, yes, but few of them have any chance of serving as or contributing to a career. A four year degree is almost mandatory for financial independence in most people's cases. Which means that young people have to work full time and go to school full time only to graduate with a mountain of debt. That is, if they want to be financially independent.

      So, maybe I just said all of that to make myself feel better about my financial situation. I crunch the numbers in my head at least three times a week, and that's not doing anything to relieve my worries.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you for stopping by and responding.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you for stopping by and responding.

    • keywc58 profile image

      keywc58 3 years ago

      These are really true comments. It is hard to believe the number of adult people still living with and depending on their parents.

    • profile image

      Emily 3 years ago

      Yes, thank your for speaking the truth, but how should the problem be solved? Specially for those who are old enough to be adults but sill dependent on their parents?

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Weren't taking about spouses, however, that would be an interesing hub topic for future refernces. I was referring to adult children who still depend upon their parents at a time when they should be independent and making their way in life.

    • profile image

      Thought 4 years ago

      Is it ok for a spouse to be dependent upon his or her partner?

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      I didn't mean to be so harsh, sorry about that...

      however, there is something else to consider---treatment for the intellectually disabled is so bad out there that sometimes it goes undiagnosed as the parent has to protect these children for as long as the parents are alive...the problem is the rift that that causes between parents and siblings. Then when the parents die the siblings completely destroy the sibling. I knew someone born that way who still struggles---the person went for a degree "that wouldn't pay the bills"---not b/c she is self indulgent as you put in another post, but because she couldn't really do much, and she really struggled in that major too. She finally got a degree, but has no recommendations to follow her. She has people who think she is talented, but she knows differently. Its very sad, and she constantly worries. Her father is always unpleased with how she does things, and she has tried to prove that she means to leave them alone, but when she gets sick or something happens its pretty dire and she doesn't have the reliable thinking skills for herself. She has tried her own apartment, but that was a disaster. Its actually pretty demoralizing too. Her older brothers have families and expect that she will just "snap out of it" and take care of the parents eventually by herself and have no children of her own. She has made a vow to have no children, because of her own experience. Pretty sad situation. She hates how much she has seemly hurt people, but there is no "secret answer". She is hiding and every time she tries to say I mean well but I have this great inability it is met with anger, hospitilization or the threat of a restraining order.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To J, of course there are exceptions. Everyone knows this but this article addresses the able-bodied and intelligent adult child who refuses to become a responsible and self-sufficient adult.

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      What about intellectual disability or Cognitive deficiency....who employs those children EVER! think about that when you spew an article with no statistics

    • profile image

      Cathy49 4 years ago

      I also feel that women don't mind taking lower paying jobs. Most men feel a sense of failure if they don't have a decent job so they can provide for their family. I do feel that men may feel more fearful if they can't fulfill these roles, especially if they were raised by middle class parents. That might explain some of reluctance to become independent of their parents. It does depend on the individual though.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you for your insightful comments. I personally know grown men who STILL live with their parents and they are 40 years of age and above.

    • profile image

      Meli 4 years ago

      I have been reading a ton of articles online regarding this subject matter and find this to be exceptionally informative and well written.

      Great comment Express10, couldn't agree more.

      Why does this seem to be more of a common trend with men (or boys I should say)? Are mothers so attached to their sons that they never want to see them grow up and want them to be latched home in the comfort of mommy forever?

      I feel like women are much more independent and self-suffient. Just an observation based on people I know.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      I'd just like to repeat a comment by Ken Blair. "It is economically helpful if a person matures at the proper age. Self-reliance is the key to growth." Times may change but self-reliance doesn't. No matter what your upbringing, practicing self-reliance becomes a choice. Preferably it becomes a habit sooner rather than later in life.

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      Mike 4 years ago

      This article is a complete waste! Doesn't really address the world in today's standards! Wake up, it's 2013 and sorry but the old way of looking at things doesn't help because after all it's the old way that put children in the places of relying on their parents during these economic downturns!

    • TheApril profile image

      April Wier 5 years ago

      justateacher - that is a travesty. Aren't you glad you don't have to live with him anymore?

    • Misseve profile image

      Misseve 5 years ago

      A good one!

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Wow @justateacher. That's a real lesson in raising self-reliant children!

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      My ex husband turned 50 this year...he has NEVER had to have a job to take care of himself...when we were married, he did have a job but he was gone so much he was fired...he then decided that he deserved state assistance because he had tried working and it just wasn't for him...when that didn't work we moved in with his parents...I always had a low paying job because I only had a high school education...I finally got my teaching degree and we were able to get our own home...he still refused to work...after our divorce I had to pray him alimony and he got to keep our daughters and I had to find our own home...he stayed in the house long enough to have it foreclosed on then he moved in with his years later he is still there...he doesn't pay any bills...he gets state assistance and uses that to go to the casino I said...he is 50 and has never had to grow up...

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Great hub to read. My relatives, a bachelor has this problem too. Still depending on his parents for money, support and living under the same roof at the age that is fit to be a father ! Parents do need some serious thinking. Voted useful

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Totally agree with you, TheApril. If an adult child is living with parents and attending college, fine. If an adult child is living with parents and is working, self-supporting, and is contributing towards the maintenance of the household, fine. However, if the adult child is living at home and not doing anything constructive whatsoever, it is time to lay some ground rules with an ultimatum of either becoming more self-sufficient within the household or being asked to leave.

    • TheApril profile image

      April Wier 5 years ago

      I believe that this type of situation is perpetrated by the parent, in most cases. It is one thing if you want your children to live with you while they go to college and build a career. I think it is great to let your children save money and have a firm foundation. It is another thing if your child is sleeping all day and doing drugs. The parent is actually harming the child by removing the consequences of their behavior. An adult that has to fend for themselves can't do drugs all the time without ending up in the street. That is the appropriate consequence.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To Chris and Express10: See, there you go. They think that they are cool but in actuality, they are quite afraid, very, very afraid. They have no life and/or survival skills whatsoever. If anything happens to their parents, what WOULD THEY do? Yes, exactly, many of them do sink into quite absymal depths! Thank you both for your input!

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      I can easily relate to you ChrisStyles. These types commonly put others down because they have a "cooler" or more expensive car. They might even live in a large or expensive home...with their parents and they are sure to omit that fact when meeting people.

      At closer look, they are being subsidized to their parents' detriment. Just as you said they freak out at any problem because they don't have any skills to handle them or cope due to mommy & daddy doing everything for them.

    • ChrisStyles profile image

      ChrisStyles 5 years ago from USA

      Reminds me of a friend of mine. 30, lives at home expense free, drives a cool car because he has to look cool at the bar and has no bills other than the car. Never paid a utility bill, a grocery bill, etc. Freaks out at the slightest "problem" in his life.

    • cianeko profile image

      Cianeko Abueva 5 years ago

      The problem that I see with this is that it would appear that parents, especially those who are successful enough is not helping their children to grow because they are not given the chances to reach or even surpass what their parents have achieved.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Totally agree, so many adult children do not try to be independent. They believe that it is too hard "out there" and feel more security and comfortable depending upon their parents. Many parents also encourage such behavior much to their detriment later on.

    • Esther  Strong profile image

      Esther Strong 5 years ago from UK

      I would say the ultimate aim of a parent is to raise a child to become a fully functioning and independent adult - an adult who is self sufficient and resilient. Whilst it is not necessarily an easy taks for an adult child to become financially independent they must persevere and be seen to be trying, make at least a proportionate contribution to household running costs, and complete household chores - all with a view to be being prepared for independent living.

      This would mean an elderly parent on their deathbed would not have to worry too much about what will happen to their adult child when they are dead. Such peace of mind would be priceless I would think.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you!

    • ErinElise profile image

      Erin 5 years ago from Near Sacramento, California

      Yes, another great hub!

    • TheLastBabyBoomer profile image

      Deborah Turner 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona

      Wonderful hub! True, true, and true.

    • ken blair profile image

      ken blair 5 years ago

      It is economically helpful if a person matures at the proper age. Self-reliance is the key to growth. Thanks for sharing your hub with us.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      I believe that children and adults are only going to do what they feel they can get away with. A prime example follows.

      I know of a parent that has an adult son of almost 40 years of age who has never lived without her or his brother. Never lived on his own, very rarely pays bills but always drinks and smokes. And he once got the entire family evicted because of his drug use (marijuana).

      This same woman also has an adult nephew of nearly 50 years of age living with her who also pays only $200 monthly, uses her husband to drive him back and forth to work at WalMart and he also drinks and smokes daily while spending the rest of his money on a woman he isn't married to and clearly doesn't live with.

      There are no priorities for these "men" and no one to push them out into the real world to even contemplate counting their blessings and paying their fair share in life.

      The woman cannot cut the cord but speaks ill of them as long as they are not in her presence, so often she changes the subject if they are at home. Both of these adults have had financial support all their lives and no consequences for bad behavior.

      The problem is the parents will have no support from them if her health fails. Her hubby is fed up but not fed up enough to leave or kick anyone out. The woman subsidizes them because she is too afraid to put her foot down and kick them out. This has been going on for years and there's no end in sight.

      The woman does not even have an income and has been living off of monies paid to her through a settlement passed on to her after her brothers death. She was a maid during her 20 year career. From what she says her savings are getting low.

      I also agree with Sophia Angelique in that there are low paying jobs that will earn you $1,000 - $1,800 monthly, however many people have children and they would spend exactly all of that income just to put their kids in daycare while they work, negating any earnings.

      In other cases, if one takes a low paying 9 - 5 job as a start, they are cutting off opportunity to find a better paying jobs as they will not have the time to go interview. Most new hires won't be allowed to take any time off or use a flex schedule to go applying for more jobs let alone any other reason.

      Getting a low paying or non-dream job is not an option for every single unemployed person. There are people who are homeless and will take anything but they are not being offered anything that they apply for even when they present themselves in the best possible light.

      I found this to be an interesting article that should be thought provoking for readers. Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 5 years ago

      gmwilliams, "There are jobs out there, sometimes it may not be the young person's dream or even desired job at the moment."

      This isn't actually true. For every one job that is available, there are five people unemployed. There are not enough jobs in the USA to have work for everybody. In addition, it's not about whether one likes the job or not, but another 20% of jobs don't provide enough working hours to pay. The companies that provide these jobs purposely don't provide 40 hours per week in order to avoid payroll taxes. In addition to that, again, it's not about having a nice job, it's about earning enough to pay the rent. The fact is that the poverty line is $2000 per month. Economists have worked out that one needs $2000 per month in the USA to live. If one works 40 hours per week at $8 per hour, that means one earns about $1200 per month. This is not enough money to pay the rent, food, medical, transport, electricity, phone, etc. It isn't enough to pay off university loans, etc.

      While it is true that there are some young adults exactly as you describe, these young adults tend to come from homes where they have been financially indulged for a greater part of their lives. In this case, the parents must take some of the responsibility (as you indicated).

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      ScottHough 5 years ago

      What is the basis for this article? I don't mean to sound negative, but the fact is, before about the 1940s, good parents DID NOT want their children to move away. I point to Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck and the television show The Waltons.

      Good parents would always have allowed their children to become independent. However, until quite recently, most parents wanted their children safely at home with them, even as adults.

      This ad-hoc, quasi-idea that parents are preparing children to be independent is based in spite. My son is welcome to live with me until I die.

    • profile image

      redlight923 5 years ago

      i agree people just don't know how to raise there kid in asian if we make a mistake we get a whoopin in america if child makes a mistake they get a whoopin and then the cop come to take away the parents lol