When it comes to raising your son, there is a fine line between nurturing him and enabling childish habits. Mothers who long to be needed have a tendency to want to do everything for their children rather than letting them fly on their own. In fact, sometimes a really close bond develops between a mother and her son that becomes a bit enabling of “Peter Pan Syndrome,” where a man stays in the adolescent stage a little too long.
What’s the problem with this? Well, besides never being able to get them out of your basement, raising a lazy man doesn’t do him any favors. Women don’t want to be dating a man child and employers aren’t looking to hire a man who acts like a baby either. Here are 21 signs that your son might be a manchild.
#1. They can never commit.
A man child isn’t used to making decisions, this leads to a state of total paralysis when faced with more than one choice. Decision making and committing to that decision are skills you need to learn through practice.
#2. They only worry about themselves.
A man-child by definition always gets taken care of. Since they’ve never had to worry about taking care of someone else, they simply never think about others.
#3. Manchildren lead unproductive lives.
A spoiled child often grows into a spoiled adult who feels entitled and yet has no desire to put in the work it takes to succeed. By default, they stay home and do nothing to advance their education or their careers.
#4. They suffer from a failure to launch into adulthood.
Fixing a manchild often has to do with forcing them to leave the nest. Failure to launch is the inability to take on the responsibility of having a job and a family.
#5. He can’t manage his own finances.
When mom and dad are the perpetual ATM, there’s no need for a boy to learn to pay bills or balance a budget. Unfortunately, these aren’t skills taught in many public schools so if the parents don’t step in and teach their son about finances, no one will.
#6. A spoiled man child has no desire to leave the house.
Why would he be in a hurry to leave when you do everything for him? Who won’t want a place to live for free with meals and laundry service provided? There is no incentive to go anywhere else.
#7. They have a lonely social life because no one wants to be around them.
Part of the failure to launch and evolve into adulthood is the inability to form new relationships. Their old friends will drift away as they move ahead in their own lives.
#8. A man child typically has a very poor diet.
Children are picky eaters and manchildren aren’t much better. Their diet typically doesn’t become more grownup with age alone. They tend to stick to their childhood favorite meals that you provide.
#9. He’s a bit of a drama queen.
A man child can become enraged when they suddenly don’t get their way. They aren’t used to disappointment and being told no. When they don’t get what they want from you they have a tendency to blow up and create a scene making for an uncomfortable living environment.
#10. He takes little responsibility in life.
Have you noticed when talking to your adult child that they still don’t take any responsibility and nothing is ever their own fault? They have an excuse for everything and a reason why their problems aren’t their own.
#11. Social media and video games take up the bulk of their lives.
When you don’t have bills to pay or a home to take care of then your life tends to revolve around entertainment options. It’s no surprise that manchild basement dwellers spend the majority of their time playing games. Due to their inability to socialize this might be the only connection they can make to other people as well.
#12. It’s hard to have a meaningful conversation with them.
As your children grow up one of the most enjoyable things is being able to talk to them as an adult with meaningful conversations about life and the world around them. Your manchild however is moody and unfocused, making it difficult to talk to them at all.
#13. All his friends are man-children as well.
If your manchild does have any friends left, they are all manchildren just like him. It’s not uncommon for Peter Pan to surround himself with a small gang of lost boys.
#14. His room is messy and disorganized.
A messy mind and a messy room go hand in hand. If you never stuck to your guns about keeping their room clean when they were kids, you’ll have little luck getting them to tidy up once they reach adulthood, even if they are still living in your house. You probably secretly hoped that their messiness was a childhood phase they would outgrow, sorry mom and dad.
#15. He has no respect for you or others.
When you never have to follow the rules it’s easy to lose respect for the rule-makers. They might also show a lack of respect for other people’s property, taking things without asking or breaking things without offering to fix or repay them.
#16. Often super competitive.
You would think that competitiveness always leads to success but that’s not always the case. We are talking about competitiveness out of a feeling of entitlement that children often feel such as wanting a trophy just because they showed up for the race.
#17. He expects you to do everything for him no matter how old he gets.
As your child gets older they should naturally want to takeover doing things for themselves as a sign of their independence. If they don’t, that could be the signal of a huge problem.
#18. You’re still taking care of him even though he is an adult.
No matter how old your child gets, you still keep doing their laundry and cooking their meals. This isn’t nurturing, this is enabling.
#19. You find it difficult not to give in to his demands.
If you’ve been a pushover in the past it’s hard to become a tough guy all of a sudden. If you find yourself being easily talked into doing things they should do for themselves then that’s a sign you’ve got a man child on your hands. This manchild, if they ever do find a partner, will probably become a lazy husband. No one is going to thank you for that.
#20. You don’t set expectations for him.
Every expectation you have for him is failed and along the way, you stop expecting great things.
#21. Neither of you has started taking steps towards change.
You’re both the problem. You are unwilling to grow up and the other is unwilling to force them to grow up.
I’ve Raised A Man Child, Now What?
So now that you’ve identified a man child, how do you get them to grow up and move on with their lives? First of all, don’t bother playing the blame game because there is plenty to go around. First, there’s the manchild himself, who needs to take responsibility and take an active role in becoming a useful member of society. Then, there are the parents that went a little overboard in the love and nurturing department to the point that it becomes a hindrance. Finally, you have the realities of today’s society where the cost of living is so high that many adult children are returning home. Student loan debt, high cost of rent, and other factors all contribute.
You might need to start with an intervention. It’s possible that their manchild brain will not allow them to see the predicament that they are in and how it’s contributing to the downfall of the family. Set some ground rules for living in your home that include clear boundaries about what you will and will not do for them and create a timeline with dates and goals towards them getting a job and moving out on their own.
If your man child continues to devolve into a spoiled and lazy adult, then you will need to practice some tough love by cutting off financial assistance or actually kicking them out of the house. Sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough. They need to practice life-skills that help them live on their own like grocery shopping, paying bills, doing their taxes, taking care of their own laundry or cooking, and about 100 other small things that we all do every day. They won’t get that practice living at home with you.
When all else fails, get a family therapist involved to help everyone resolve the emotional issues that are preventing them from moving on. It can be a lot of hard and emotional work, but your future successful son will thank you for it one day.