Having a child who is all grown up and not ready to leave the nest surely comes with its own set of challenges.
But when that child also refuses to get a job or to seek medical help for their described condition, that makes the situation even harder.
Redditor "StayHydratedSatan" wrote into the "Am I the A**hole" subReddit, asking if she was in the wrong for encouraging her daughter to get a job, despite her daughter's proclamations that she was suffering from depression.
The mother asked the thread:
"[Am I the A**hole] for telling my daughter to grow up and find a job because I don't believe she has depression?"
The mother confided how she knew the question sounded terrible, but asked the thread to hear her out first.
"This happened before quarantine and things at home have been very tense every since, so I've been wondering if perhaps I'm the one in the wrong. I also realise that the title sounds bad right off the bat, but hear me out."
"I do believe in depression and I know that each person experiences it differently, but it makes no sense given these circumstances."
She then shared the current lifestyle of her home, which includes her 23-year-old daughter.
"My daughter is 23 and lives at home. She didn't go to college (her own choice, we could have afforded to pay for it but she didn't want to go to pursue her art and music, which we supported). She has never had a job and doesn't help out much around the house, apart from cooking dinner once a week."
"She went out with different friends at least 5 nights a week before this current situation and apart from that sat at home and binge watched TV show after TV show. From what I could tell she didn't drink heavily when she went out, and she always came home before 12am even though we don't have a curfew set anymore, her being the age she is."
While the mother was comfortable with all this, she finally decided to bring up the J-O-B conversation.
"This is all fine, because she's never been a trouble maker we've let her just do her own thing for a while now."
"However a few months ago I decided to have a talk with her about how she'd probably be less bored and feel more productive if she got a job. I told her it could be part-time at first but it would be good for her to start taking steps towards becoming more independent and acting more like an adult."
Her daughter really wasn't into this idea.
"At this point she got incredibly defensive and shut down the idea almost immediately. She claimed that she can't get a job because she's severely depressed."
And the mother didn't see this reaction coming.
"This was a complete shock to me and so I asked if she wanted to talk about it to me or a professional and told her she didn't have to suffer in silence. She told me she didn't want to see anyone or talk about it to me and asked for me to just drop it, which I did."
The mother still wanted to help but kept her distance.
"From then on I started paying more attention to her behaviour to see if I'd missed anything obvious, but she's still going out with her friends as usual and doesn't show any of the symptoms of depression."
"Perhaps I'm being dense but when I went through depression after giving birth to my first child I basically completely shut down. I wasn't eating, could barely sleep and half of the time couldn't summon the motivation to shower."
Until her daughter asked for a new phone on her dime.
"I still wasn't going to bring it up until she asked me to buy her a new phone because she'd dropped and cracked hers."
"I told her that if she had a job she could buy one herself, which was probably a bit too passive aggressive but she immediately started shouting at me about how I don't understand anything and that I'm making jabs at her disability."
"At this point I told her she needs to grow up and that I've been nothing but patient and understanding with her when she refuses to even see a psychologist."
"At this point she stormed into her room and has been cold and avoidant towards me ever since."
She turned to the Reddit thread and asked for an outside opinion:
"AITA (Am I the A**hole)?"
Other Redditors replied to the OP's (Original Poster's) story, using the following scale:
- NTA: "Not the A**hole"
- YTA: "You're the A**hole"
- ESH: "Everybody Sucks"
- NAH: "No A**holes Here"
Some pointed out how frustrating it can be to live with a mentally ill person who doesn't want to help themselves.
"NTA. As someone who has it, and knows that it hits differently for everyone, I can understand how other people can get frustrated. Especially if the person doesn't want to help themself. Like what are you supposed to do, support her for the rest of your life? It's not fair to you." - bbybrii
"Seriously. My brother is like this and he's almost 30. He claims he can't keep a job (constantly getting fired for missing days) because he has stomach issues and mental health issues, but refuses to get help for either."
"Anytime someone needs him for help around the house he's suddenly all like 'ooooh I cant my stomach hurts, I didn't sleep well' but will proceed to stay up all night gaming and eating frozen dinners. I've told my parents a million times that once they're gone, it's sink or swim for him because I don't have the patience or energy to baby him." - pessimist_kitty
"So much this. I would be tempted to tell her 'I will treat you like you have a disability when you come home with a note from a qualified psychiatrist confirming the nature of your mental health problem. Here's the names of few and our insurance details. Let me know if you need a ride or someone to come with you' and then I would cut off all the perks."
"I went 10 years with undiagnosed bipolar disorder and spent most of that time begging Drs to tell me WTF was wrong with me. I have very little patience for people who won't help themselves long term." - stayathomesally
One Redditor wrote in to say that having these symptoms is totally possible, but that there are solutions, too.
"I struggle a lot with mental health issues and my parents were not supportive at best and very damaging at its worst. The only person I can change is me."
"It sucks going to therapy twice a week, it sucks having to have a bedtime because if you don't get enough sleep you feel like crap and that causes you to miss out, there's so many parts of me getting better that I don't want to do but I have no other choice."
"We don't choose our hand and it's so godd**n hard sometimes but if I don't work toward me getting better no one will."
"It's a difficult conversation to have with someone with depression or anxiety, because it's not 'just' do these things."
"Sometimes getting dressed and out the door is an achievement, and that should be celebrated. It looks like OP has offered help but at this point it also looks like they've been enabling. It's a hard journey and not all depression is the same."
"NTA and I came here [having] been raised by abusive parents who kept telling me I was lazy for not starting a lawn mowing business when I was 12." - JohnnnyRoyale
Others pointed out that the OP was still at fault for enabling her daughter for so long.
"If my kid turned out like that I'd be ashamed of myself."
"If you raise a child who is helpless and spoiled and has no problem solving skills [because] you made everything easy for them, you should be forced to take care of them forever. They did that s**t, they can pay for it" - FilthyThanksgiving
"I mean, OP has allowed her adult daughter to live at home and not contribute for over 5 years. Why wouldn't the daughter think they were going to continue to do so? ESH, the daughter for reasons you already said and OP for enabling her grown child to act like a teenager for so long." - Ketchupancakes
"OP is TA for enabling their child for this long. The daughter is 23 and not prepared for adulthood. Was she ever encouraged to excel at anything? Have career choices ever been encouraged or discussed?"
"I don't know where the OP lives or what the Cost Of Living is there, but the daughter will need a plan to be able to earn a good enough income to be independent and hopefully even be successful."
"While I can appreciate that you're trying to be sensitive to her possibly having depression, you're going to have to throw in some tough love and motivate her. Her depression might stem from a lack of accomplishment and I'm sure she's feeling even worse at this age watching her friends move into careers."
"Let her know you absolutely will not support her if she's not helping herself along. Take her to a counselor at a community college or vocational school and help her figure out her options. She can become a dental assistant, for example, in a fairly short amount of time and make decent pay. She can start a liberal arts, 2 year program, and maybe discover what direction she wants to take."
"She can work part time while doing so, and needs to, to develop a work ethic."
"OP is TA for enabling failure, laziness and excuses. Now the child is 5 years an adult and not prepared to support herself." - gimmesomewater
It's important to be mindful of others' needs and how they cope differently with something like depression.
Hopefully the mother and daughter will be able to talk about this openly at some point, so they can both move forward in a way that's best for everyone.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the AITA link below.*
The book Talking to Depression: Simple Ways To Connect When Someone In Your Life Is Depressed is available here.