Dilemma: my adult son is still living at home in his 50s

Katharine Whitehorn / 14 March 2016

A reader writes to agony aunt Katharine Whitehorn with concerns that her adult son, who is still living at home in his 50s, now wants to take early retirement.

Dilemma: I want my own space

I am 79 and I was widowed 30 years ago. My oldest son never married and has never left home except for three years at Cambridge University. He is 52 and works locally. 

He has just told me he intends to take early retirement now. My reaction is that it is much too soon; I cannot imagine what he will do to occupy himself other than watch TV and films, though he does play bridge. 

I value my freedom to listen to music, to take part in U3A activities in a quiet house. I am still very active, playing sport, walking, etc but there are days of enjoyable solitude. I feel aghast that he is likely to be here all day and every day.

Katharine Whitehorn's advice

I agree, it’s too early; but I wonder if he actually has a choice? It may be that he is being involuntarily retired. You don’t mention money, or what he proposes to live on, but I suppose suggesting he move out now is not an option, and I don’t see how you can make him suddenly start sprouting fresh involvements and concerns if he hasn’t already.

But you are plainly doing very well with your much older life. You must say firmly that if he’s going to be around all the time, you will each need your own space: either make him get a TV for his room, or convert the spare bedroom into a separate sitting room. 

If you once let him take over the house during the day, you’ll never shift him, and you’ve a right to protect your own life and sanity. And who knows – if he has to help redesign the house to divide it between you, he just might get hooked on DIY.

Find out how to stay active and social in retirement

Our readers say...

We also asked our Facebook followers for their advice...

"I suppose it depends on why he won't move out. Is it because he can't afford it or has he got it too easy at home with you? Have you tried discussing it and seeing if you can help him make the transition? Perhaps you'll have to move out and leave him to it."

"I will be quite happy if my kids are still at home by then love them loads they are welcome to stay forever."

"If he's going to be around using the facilities more then he will have to contribute more to the household finances and give him a large share of household chores now he has time to do them."

"If he can afford to retire, he can afford to rent or buy elsewhere. It would probably save your relationship in the long run."

"Either tell him you're selling up or split all the bills 50-50 so he pays more of his way."

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