Ask Amy: My adult son won’t move out now that his life is back on track

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dear Amy: At the start of the pandemic, my husband and I moved across the country. Our adult son was laid off due to the pandemic and struggled with depression. We decided to invite him to move with us to help him get back on his feet.

It took him a while to get a part-time job, and now he’s finally been hired full-time. We are very happy for him. However, he gets upset when the subject of him moving out and being alone comes up. He tells us that because of his depression, he is afraid to live alone and that he needs to have family around him.

He is already taking antidepressants, but is not getting advice. We are nearing retirement and do not want children to live with us when we retire.

We also have a younger son who lives with us and attends a local university. We agree to help him until he graduates. We just don’t know how to help our eldest son find a place where he can live independently. What would you suggest?

Concerned: You should take this in careful steps. The message to your eldest son should be: “Our goal is for our two sons to live independently and develop meaningful activities and relationships. We’ll help you get there.

Your eldest son has already made great strides — he’s moved across the country and is now working full time. It is enormous. He is honest about the impact of his depression, but he can also use his depression as a crutch.

The pandemic has been a serious setback for many young adults.

According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, “At the height of the pandemic, more people under the age of 30 were living with their parents than alone… the highest percentage since the Great Depression. Many of these young adults are now struggling to revive themselves.

What I mean is your son is not alone. His depression is definitely a factor, but — he’s also nervous about undertaking a big change that feels lonelier than that first big step out of college and into adulthood.

Your son should see a therapist. You can start therapy on your own and invite him to join you and your husband to discuss how he is coping with his illness, including any fears and challenges he anticipates, and the ways you can be helpful (perhaps with him living nearby or rooming with his brother, for example).

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is an invaluable resource. Check out her “family members and caregivers” page for ideas and professional and peer support (

dear Amy: Unfortunately, we have a growing homeless population in our city. I understand the causes and feel a great deal of compassion for the difficulties they face as individuals.

Where I struggle is how to respond when asked for money – often it’s very uncomfortable. I can easily afford to donate a few dollars, but is it the right thing to do? What is the best way we can help as individuals?

John: I don’t believe there is a definitive answer to this. Because you are both aware and concerned (good for you!), you could do a lot of good by helping organizations that help the homeless through financial support and/or volunteering. Instead of cash, some people give out socks, gloves, or gift cards for small amounts to redeem for food.

I think the only important thing is to look someone in the eye and at least recognize their humanity, even if you choose not to give it to them that day.

dear Amy: “New job, new me” had previously worked for a well-known company, and did not know how to respond to the extreme curiosity of new colleagues about the previous job.

I worked for a prominent New York socialite who was married to a powerful man. After I left and looked for a job, everyone I met (from my doctor to friends, recruiters and potential employers) wanted to know what she looked like.

I avoided these questions by saying that I had signed a confidentiality agreement (which I had) and that I was not free to answer their questions.

That usually stopped the questions. “New Job, New Me” could try that excuse.

Do not speak: Good advice. (I’ve spent the last few days trying to guess the identity of your former employer.)

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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