Couch Potato Kids

Dear Kathy,

I have three children, two of whom are young adults and the third of whom is an adolescent. They are great kids and I love them dearly.  The problem lies in the lifestyle my two older children lead – they live on my couch day and night, literally.

Both of them are college graduates. My daughter graduated two years ago and my son graduated three years ago. When they first moved back home they each spent a couple of months, respectively,  looking for work. Then, their efforts petered out and they reverted to their adolescent lives – hanging out with friends, up all night, sleeping all day.

An average day in our home is my husband and I leaving for work in the morning, our youngest leaving for high school, and our older two children fast asleep (often still in their day clothes!) until the afternoon. (It’s not an uncommon occurrence for our youngest to return from school in the late afternoon to find them still asleep). Once they rouse themselves, they inhale the contents of the refrigerator and kitchen cupboards (leaving a daily mess in our kitchen as well as glasses, plates, and bowls throughout our home) and complain that “there’s never anything good to eat” (i.e. enough junk food).  

They sprawl out on our sectional couch until the wee hours, glued to their laptops, and only leave the house to hang out with their friends. Any efforts to motivate them to get jobs are met with long stories about the terrible state of the economy,  punctuated with despairing tales of their peers who are in the same predicament.  I am sick and tired of their irresponsible behavior and adolescent attitudes. I am also concerned that they are poor role models for our youngest, who is currently a junior in high school. I would be heart-broken to see him follow in their  footsteps.  How do I address this situation? Please advise.

Mother of Two Couch Potato Kids


Dear Mom,

The Couch Potato Twins are way too comfortable. They are living in your home with free room and board as well as receiving money to entertain themselves with friends. In my opinion, they are behaving like adolescents because they are being treated like adolescents. Cut off the money pipeline, stop buying/ preparing foods they like, and give them a firm move-out date (60 – 90 days is more than fair).

It is imperative that you and your husband are on the same page and that you are equally firm with your two little darlings. Otherwise, your children will play you against each other and continue their freeloading ways ad infinitum. Additionally, you and your hubby must initiate a “secret” Plan B so that your older children do indeed leave home as anticipated.

Find them a small, inexpensive apartment or a room to let and put aside enough funds to float them for two months in the event that they don’t procure employment by “move out day.” Be crystal clear that this is your one and only “gift” and if they don’t support themselves, they will have to face the consequences on their own – your home is not a potential landing site and no additional funds will be provided in the future. My bet is on them getting whatever jobs they can find, even if it’s waiting tables, and becoming increasingly motivated to apply for jobs in their respective fields until they are successful.

Know that you are not alone. The poor economy has indeed contributed to producing a boomerang generation of young adults who are unable to obtain employment in the fields for which they have been educated. Some of those affected live off their parents interminably and others get jobs for which they are over-qualified. I wish you the best of luck in expeditiously moving your adult children from category one to category two.

All my best,