Adult son moved home, parenting advice from Care and Feeding. | #parenting

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My 20-year-old son “Jake” recently moved in with me while he finishes college. Prior to living with me, he was living with his dad, and he also shared an apartment for about a year with three roommates. Times are tough out there, and I’m more than happy to have him living here while he’s working on his degree. He doesn’t pay rent or anything.

My husband and I have a blended family, so we have a lot of younger kids still living at home, six to be exact. We moved our two youngest (both 9-year-old boys) out of their shared bedroom so that Jake could have his own space. They are now sleeping in our upstairs loft with no door, no closet or storage for clothes and toys, and no privacy. It’s not the worst situation in the world, but not ideal for kids who already go back and forth between two homes. We want them to feel like they have a place here and that this is their home too, and not like they’re displaced and shoved in the corner.

The problem is, Jake never sets foot in this house. He initially moved in to the room, set up his TV, his queen-sized bed, unloaded all his belongings, and has slept here a total of four nights in the past two months. He will disappear for weeks at a time, without answering his phone or responding to repeated text messages from anyone, and then he’ll show up randomly to grab some food, play his PlayStation for a few hours, and then disappear again. I’m 100 percent sure that he’s staying at his girlfriend’s house. She also lives with her parents, and the humiliating part is that they live literally three minutes away. So it’s hurtful to me that he never responds when I invite him for dinner, or shows up when we’re celebrating someone’s birthday, or having any special family event.

On the rare occasion that he does come around, he’s delightful. He’s super fun, all the kids adore him, he’s nice to everyone and helpful around the house, he’ll sit and talk to me for hours, play board games with the kids, and just when you think all is right with the world, poof, he vanishes and his room sits empty for weeks again. It’s extra hard on my youngest who already has abandonment issues from the divorce and doesn’t understand why his brother won’t stick around and hang out with him.

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