• I recently had a conversation with a therapist about a distraught couple, both in their late fifties, and each on their second marriage of five years.  He was relaying the story to me without using their names to maintain their privacy yet wanted to impart the experience/lesson.  This couple came in to see him about an “out of control” child who was living in their home.  This was the woman’s biological child, a man in his mid 30’s, who had not been working or attending any kind of formal schooling for the past three years. The so-called “child” was using marijuana on a daily basis, inviting random friends to come over at all hours of the day and night, and had practically taken over the couple’s home. He was still receiving an allowance from his biological father and came and went as he pleased. He did not contribute to the bills and had minimal contact with his mother and stepfather, though they lived together, other than casual encounters in the kitchen.

    At this point, the parents were at their wits end and wanted their son out. But he refused to leave.

    The mother and stepfather were fed up with his behavior.  Yet the mother’s concern and guilt about her divorce years earlier possibly contributing to her son’s current behavior complicated things. They tried family therapy as well as individual therapy for their son to try to motivate him to “move on with his life.” But nothing seemed to work and at this point it was adversely affecting the couple’s relationship and quality of life.  This son’s two younger siblings had already  moved out in their twenties and started families of their own. At this point, the parents were at their wits end and wanted their son out.  But he refused to leave. So now what?

    This couple did not need a therapist, they needed an attorney. And this is what the attorney advised: What they had to do was display a strong united front and evict their child.  If appealing to a child’s good nature and common sense fails, it’s time to take control and regain a normal life. If the adult child agrees to move out by a specific date, then a contract should be signed specifying the move out date, preferably in front of a non-family member witness (who should sign the document as well). Whether it is put into writing or not, if the child is not out when that date arrives, the next step is to go to the local courthouse (or go online) and complete eviction forms, which have to be served upon the adult child (preferably by someone other than the involved parties). There are processing fees and specific time sensitive deadlines (30 or 60-day notices).  One must be sure to follow them correctly or the clock starts all over again. Hopefully, the child leaves at this point.  If not, the final step is attending a formal court hearing, at which point the parents can represent themselves or seek legal counsel to assist.  Ultimately, the adult child will be forced to vacate the premises via law enforcement representatives. Of course, none of this is anyone’s ideal, yet the job gets done and the beleaguered parents reclaim both their house and their peace.

    If appealing to a child’s good nature and common sense fails, it’s time to take control and regain a normal life.

    The process can be cumbersome, requires a lot of paperwork and documentation, and can take several months to resolve. Also, it only applies to children over the age 18 (I hear the collective sigh from some of you). Ideally, it never gets to this, but unfortunately some people have to learn the hard way.  The entire situation intrigued me (in a reality TV kind of way).  It is always helpful to know your rights because no one should be held captive in his/her own home. Bottom line in my mind is that children must grow up and take on their own responsibilities.  Parents need to stop enabling (and disabling children) because of their own guilt over things in the past.  Most people experience disappointments and life traumas. How they deal with those lows dictate their success in life.

    Overcome or succumb?  I’ll be interested to see how this family’s conflict is resolved, and if the tough love happens and succeeds.

    Updates to follow!