Cynthia’s son, Daniel, has been at home for a year after dropping out of college. He refuses to help out around the house, works only a few hours a week at menial jobs, and is extremely belligerent toward his mother. Daniel’s therapist asked Cynthia to come in for joint counseling, and now she’s enduring hours of accusations that everything that’s gone wrong in Daniel’s life is her fault. It’s making her a nervous wreck.
--Should Cynthia sit there and take it in hopes it will help Daniel get well?
--Should she try to explain and defend her behavior during his childhood?
--Should she refuse to attend any more of these therapy sessions?
The Panel Weighs In
Thad: There are definitely boundary issues here. At home Cynthia has to set limits on Daniel’s behavior, and in therapy she has to start speaking up for herself. Letting him wallow in victimhood and playing on her guilt is getting neither of them anywhere.
Wendy: Cynthia should kick Daniel out of the house. It’s time for tough love or else he’ll be sponging off her into his fifties, milking all the perceived grievances of his childhood.
Nan: Cynthia should be in therapy with Daniel because it’s helpful to get his viewpoint, but he should be going to her therapist or at least someone they both see as their therapist.
Donley: Daniel has to pay rent and help out around the house, just as one would expect of any adult. The key word here is “expect.” Cynthia seems to expect nothing of her son and that’s exactly what she’s getting.
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