‘My heartbroken son has moved back in but he is behaving like a brat’

Dear Coleen

I’m a woman in my 60s and my husband and I have been living on our own for some years since our children left home.

Now, though, our youngest son is back home with us after splitting up with his long-term girlfriend a couple of months ago and moving out of their shared flat.

At first, I was actually pleased to have him home because I usually don’t get to spend much time with him, but now it’s driving me mad.

He’s regressed to acting like a teenager – I’m doing everything for him, including making meals, doing laundry and tidying up his room, which he also works in during the day.

He’s made no attempt to help around the house or offer us any money (not that we’d take it), but instead just expects to be catered for.

My other children tell me I’m crazy and that I ought to kick him out, but I do feel bad for him. He really loved his ­girlfriend and I know he’s been heartbroken.

However, my husband and I are missing our old life! Can you advise?

Dear Coleen

Coleen says

I don’t think you have to kick him out, but I do think you need to set some boundaries and house rules, and make it clear you expect him to stick to them.

Naturally he’s heartbroken, but it doesn’t give him the right to treat your house like a hotel.

You’re doing a good thing supporting him when he needs you, but just tell him that if he wants to stay, then you’d appreciate it if he contributed more and cleared up after himself.

Getting him to cook for you all a couple of times a week or to go out for groceries might also help to ease him out of his rut.

I imagine it’s extra hard at the moment to distract himself from his heartbreak because, thanks to ­lockdown, he can’t even go out with his mates and have a beer.

Encourage him to go for a run or a cycle, as exercise will boost his mood. Maybe the two of you could go for a walk and it might be a good chance to talk to him about how he’s feeling.

He will get back to his old self, but as you know, it takes time to heal a broken heart.

Have patience but, at the same time, he’s not too old to be reminded that treating you and your home with more respect wouldn’t go amiss.

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