Dear Barb – Son Deserves to Build a Life of His Own

Dear Barb:

I am 23 years old and in my final year of university. My problem is my mother. I want to move out when I’m finished school, but my mom wants me to stay with her.

My father died five years ago and I didn’t mind living at home for a while since it was helping both of us. Now she is making me feel guilty because I want to move out. I don’t want to hurt my mother but I think It’s time for me to be on my own. I would appreciate any advice on how to handle this situation without hurting my mom.


Hi, Larry. Thanks for writing. Sorry to hear of the loss of your father. It seems you have filled the gap left in your mother’s life after his death. I’m sure you initially stepped into this role willingly as you stated it worked out well for both of you at the time. Although you obviously viewed this as a temporary situation, your mother may have chosen not to look ahead to the day when you would move out.

This scenario often occurs after the death of a father, and a son finds himself in a role he wasn’t prepared to undertake. You are at a transition point in your life. Sometimes a son will readily forfeit having a wife and family of his own in order to care for an aging mother. If this isn’t the life you want, you need to make a break from your mother now, before it is too late.

Before you move out, it would be helpful if you could find ways to fill some of your mother’s time with different activities. Perhaps investigate local widow and widowers groups that your mother could attend and become acquainted with others in a similar situation. Discuss your desire to begin a life for yourself while reassuring her that you will visit regularly. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty; you are entitled to live your own life and have your own family. Besides, remind your mother that if you marry and have children, that will expand her family and provide her with grandchildren to love.

If you have other siblings, talk to them about perhaps visiting your mother more often, at least while she is adjusting to your absence. It is important that you make this break as soon as possible, because the longer you put it off the harder it will be. You don’t want to reach the point where it becomes easier to stay with your mother than to leave. This is a difficult situation, but workable.

Good luck, Larry. Enjoy your life.

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