20 year old son won't get a job - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

CHADD's ADHD Parents Together

19,036 members5,437 posts

20 year old son won't get a job

BBBwithADD profile image
14 Replies

Since my son has not returned to college, he has been working as a server and is in the process of taking one class at our local college. It is off-season so his serving job is not providing enough hours to maintain his earnings to pay back his college loans.

We have been adamant that he needs to get a second job, and he has been draggin his feet. My husband makes my son go to work with him to do various jobs such as sweeping, pressure washing, etc. without pay (though we feed him and he has a roof over his head) to try to motivate him to go get another job...all this to say..

He shared with me he is upset living here. He feels we are "ganging up on him" about getting a job but he hasn't found anything that interests him and is "waiting til something clicks". He said it makes him not want to be here and he wants to move out. Then he gets together with friends and uses marijuana to "relax". There has been no yelling, or stern talking, just suggestions, newspaper ads, and questions a couple times a week. We do see him searching indeed.com

I tried to explain to him that a second job is not about a life's decision or career, that he needs to do anything that brings in money. I made him promise that this week he would actually walk in to a building and talk to people about getting a job. I don't understand why he can't understand that he needs a second job! I do understand that he is lost about a career direction but I do not get how he can keep going on day in and day out without making any progress.

On a good note, he is passing College Algebra this semester. He got a 91% on his first exam.

Just sharing because when he hurts and I hurt. If anyone has any ideas on how I can better deal with this situation, please share.

14 Replies
Onthemove1971 profile image

I think I would find out if he needs help applying and help him get the job. I know this might sound painful. But he is showing you that he is more than willing to work and is doing well in his class. Maybe he could work at the college he attends. I think it might be the steps to really getting the job that is hard for him. He could find a better job so he would not have to have 2 jobs. Maybe ask about his "dream job" then help him get it.

BBBwithADD profile image
BBBwithADD in reply to Onthemove1971

I started sending him messages today with possible jobs. He actually did fill out an application today and stopped at one place to inquire if they were hiring. I have considered putting him in my car and driving him to places...

"Dream job" - that's the problem. He doesn't have a dream job in mind.

Onthemove1971 profile image
Onthemove1971 in reply to BBBwithADD

So maybe the COIN assessment? It is a paper question and answer about careers. He college has a career office, bring him in there and ask if they can give him a career assessment. It's simple and fun to think about, when I was younger it told me I should be a butcher.. they you guys could look in an area he is interested in.

I hope this ends up good for him.

Best of luck,

anirush profile image

He may be 20 years old but you know ADHD kids are way behind in development so he's probably actually about 16. Boys mature much slower than girls, too.

My daughter at that age was into drugs and living on the street. She now has a college degree and a good job but it was rough late teens, early twenties.

You have a kid who is at least working. But nagging him all the time is probably getting to be a pain for both of you. Hopefully you didn't sign on his college loans so that's not your problem. My daughter eventually paid hers off but not until into her thirties. It is hard to let them make their own mistakes when you can see what they're doing and how it can be fixed.

Having a young adult that isn't into drugs or drinking is my goal for my grandsons. Hopefully maturity will take care of the rest

BBBwithADD profile image
BBBwithADD in reply to anirush

I do have a lot to be thankful for (compared to problems other parents have) His loans are his.

MunchkinMommy537 profile image

My niece was this way, always only applying to retail places that have stuff she’s interested in (makeup, clothes) etc) instead of finding any job just to get some money coming in. She finally got a job at Ulta beauty, but got so few hours that she ended up at a restaurant to make more money. Since he seems to have a head for math, maybe he could tutor, either high school kids or young college. Schools have different “labs” that offer tutoring (I worked at my school’s writing lab in college), but sometimes it’s limited to upper classmen. But he could also contact Any of the tutoring services in your area (we have one called “Mathnasium” that tutors math). I needs to understand that college is about figuring out what he wants to do, and until he graduates and gets that job that “clicks”, he can work other places.

seller profile image

I understand completely.....my son is now 24 and I can finally see some maturity, but it's been a really long and sometimes very painful road! I agree that our ADHD boys are behind their peers by several years. If you can stand him in your house, I would allow him to stay as long as he follows your basic rules, but don't expect much right now. The fact that he's actually going to one class is good and having one part-time job also shows that he needs at least some money. I know this sounds enabling, but I filled out on-line applications for my son for several years. He just could not seem to get the paper forms completed - too many little details that he either didn't know or didn't want to find out. He worked at several fast food places, the movie theater, etc. And the money and hours were very inconsistent, but it was all he could manage at the time, I think. My son was in and out of college for about 4 years too. Fortunately, he had no loans, but when he finally decided to return to community college, we made him pay for the first 2 semesters. I wish I could say I had really good insight into our boys, but all I can tell you is that they seem to be extremely immature, as well as having very little motivation and no organizational skills! I assume you pay for his car and medical insurance? And all the food, clothing, etc. This will continue for a few more years......just try not to get too upset. We could not stand to have our son living with us, so we have paid the rent for a small apt in our town. Our son has to pay his cell phone, internet service, gas, food, and entertainment. He finally decided he wanted to pursue a 2 year degree in criminal justice and seems to be doing well, with graduation actually in sight! But I do not get too excited - our boys can and do disappoint on a regular basis. There have so many "2 steps forward, 1 step back" over the years. Based on my experience, you probably have about 2-4 more years before your son really shows some maturity, and it's a slow process. But if he's not heavily into drugs/alcohol and is not getting arrested, then I think you have to count yourselves lucky! When our son either got another speeding ticket, or quit another job, or was acting like a lazy ass, I reminded myself that it could be worse! A final note: my son also decided that he needed his ADHD medication for college, so he's back on his Vyvanse, which helps with organization and focus for things besides school.

RedSoxGirl profile image

He’s 20. You don’t Need to be driving him to job interviews or filling out applications for him. Set some boundaries for him about living in your home and being able to provide for himself. If you don’t, he will continue to take a advantage of you. Not intentionally, but it will happen. If he has a roof over his head and meals provided then he has no reason to change. And if nothing changes, nothing changes.

I am 42 and have ADD. I didn’t find my “dream job,” until I was 37. Plus, is there really such a thing as a dream job? 🙈😂

He needs to get a job waiting tables that can provide him with 40 hours a week. I waited tables for 15 years. Slow season or not, people still go to restaurants. If the job he’s working at now is in providing him with enough hours Maybe he just needs to quit and get a new restaurant job that does. I would not suggest a second job on top of college as A good alternative. Maybe just a good first job. Good luck!

BBBwithADD profile image
BBBwithADD in reply to RedSoxGirl

I gave him three options: go live with his dad, get a job or join the coast guard. He went job hunting the next day and has a possible job as a lot porter at a car dealership. Waiting for call back. Meanwhile the restaurant where he works is short a dishwasher and he said he would pick up some extra shift time there. Progress

BBBwithADD profile image

I can't settle for accepting he is different and allow that to be an excuse to live with me forever. I gave him three options: go live with his dad, get a job or join the coast guard. He went job hunting the next day and has a possible job as a lot porter at a car dealership. Waiting for call back. Meanwhile the restaurant where he works is short a dishwasher and he said he would pick up some extra shift time there. Progress.

anirush profile image

Sounds good!

Gunner1966 profile image

My son has ADHD & will not get a job. Your story of your son sounds identical to mine.

He stays up all night smoking weed in my garage then sleeps all day & then the cycle starts again.

We have had so many nose to nose arguments where my wife has to get between us. I have tried the nice approach like telling him any advice, help he needs, I’m here to support, no reaction. I tried stopping him smoking in my garage then he says why should I get a job when you treat me like this. Whatever I do or say gets thrown back in my face, I now refuse to acknowledge him in my house which I know does help but at least we don’t argue.

His old brother & him fell out at Christmas & don’t speak. I feel sorry for my wife & daughter who try to keep it all together but he even argues with them.

I know it’s not right but I just want him out so he hopefully realises what a good life he has at home.

Thanks for listening


BBBwithADD profile image
BBBwithADD in reply to Gunner1966

I hope you have found some support and hope through this site. I did. Everyone has suggestions with which you may agree or disagree but mostly I found refuge in hearing others' stories to know I was not alone. I also found some hope when reading others.

Some say say tough love like telling them to move out may be what you need to consider.

As one reply to my initial letter said - if he has a roof over his head and food, why would he want to change anything about what he is doing?

I have a friend who has allowed her son to stay at her house as long as he does not smoke. It took a few horrible happenings, being kicked out, sleeping in his car, and getting arrested for him to agree but he is now home. Not working. But not smoking either.

What about counseling by a professional?

BBBwithADD profile image

(2020) It's been a while since I have been on this site and here is my update...In 2019 my son moved out to a duplex 2 blocks from us with 2 other guys. That lasted about 4-5 months and then he moved into a house with a female roommate north of us a couple of miles. He was paying for all his expenses and even started paying off his school loan while working at a restaurant full time - no more school. He finished that one class and said - that's it, I'm done and never want to step in a classroom again. Which is another reason he had to move out. My rule was school and live here or move out. I still pay for health insurance, car insurance and cell phone (cell phone is part of family plan).

About 6 months later he moved into his girlfriend's family's house! Ugh! When all are home there are 10 people, the house is unkept, but they have their own room and bath. Christmas night we had a long talk - ugly- ruined Christmas, sorry! In February another falling out where I told him if he wants to be Mr. Big and independent he could start paying for health and car insurance and phone. Then Covid hit. No job.

He went back to work when restaurants opened up. But I found out from a text to my husband he quit his job last week with no new job lined up. He said he has been filling out applications and he and his girlfriend are making soy candles with essential oils to sell.

My part in all of this has been to stay out of all decision making. Remove myself from all advising, counseling, approving and disapproving. THE HARDEST THING EVER for me to do. I stay busy in my life and hear from him when he contacts me. I have been able to see him for lunch this week. He is my heart and soul and this is really hard for me. But removing myself is the healthiest thing to do for me. I have bad days on occasion when I hear things like he quit his job or going weeks without hearing from him. He is now 22 and still makes plans but sleeps through his alarm and misses the planned activity.

We took a trip to Puerto Rico for his 21st birthday and he overslept the morning we were to leave for the airport.

He is underweight and out of shape. Sad for a state qualifying swimmer and life guard. But he seems happy, and is not sickly. This is all I can ask for I guess. He has admitted he likes making things and talking to people - hence the candle making and may have a lead to a cabinetry apprenticeship. I will not get excited though until I see it to believe it.

I know my stories are long - sorry

All to say - it all takes time. I am not saying it is easy and I am impatient to see him settled and self-sufficient and happy doing so.

I have read many stories on this site and talked with others and it seems as though it could still be years before this happens. I also believe it is in God's hands...so I rely on my faith and His plan. Still hard to do.

Here's to all of us sticking together.

You may also like...