30-Year-Old Son Won’t Get A Job

Dealing with an Unemployed 30-Year-Old Son: Evaluating Your Role and Setting Boundaries

Living with an unemployed 30-year-old son is not uncommon. According to 2012 research by Pew Research Center, 45% of 18-31 year adults living with their parents don’t have a job.

If your son won’t get a job, it may be time to make some changes. And despite your intentions, you may be part of the problem. Thus, evaluating your role and why you may be enabling your son is crucial. Here’s how you can do that.

What To Do When Your Son Won’t Get A Job

Here’s how you can go about your son who won’t get a job:

Evaluate Your Role

Look at the whole scenario to establish if you’re promoting your son to remain jobless. Are you offering a rent-free room, food, money, clothing, and extras like a car or cell phone? If yes, your son is probably not motivated to leave. Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute and co-author of “Parenting With Love and Logic,” writes on his website that when people are well taken care of, they are unlikely to change their ways.

Establish Your Emotional Buttons

Your emotions may lead you to enable your son. According to licensed master social workers Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner in their article on empowering parents website, emotions that move you into a caretaker mode are called “emotional buttons.”

Examples of emotional buttons include fear, anger, hope, exhaustion, sympathy, and guilt. For instance, if you fear your son will go out and use or sell drugs, if you don’t give her money, you’ll give him money. The same is valid if you are exhausted of him asking over and over again for something, you’ll eventually give up and give it to him.

In such a case, Abraham and Studaker-Cordner recommend strengthening your emotional buttons by deciding what you can and cannot live without regarding boundaries and limits for your son. If you fear him living on the streets, you may consider not giving him money for extras but allowing him to live at home.

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries is the first step to help your son (who lives with you) be motivated. Decide with your partner what you will and will not offer. You may offer a room and food, but no additional money.

Encourage your son to take advantage of local resources like church programs that donate clothing or food to those in need or thrift stores to cater to his needs. Outline areas where your son is expected to contribute, like housework, bills, and groceries, provided he’s living at home.

Formulate A Plan

Formulate a plan for how long your son can expect your assistance. You can pick a length of time he can live at home or provide him the opportunity while paying low rent. If you prefer him to move out, you can offer to finance a storage unit for a couple of months to aid with the transition. You can tell your son you can help him, provided he’s actively looking for a job.

However, it’s crucial to set limits to anything you decide. Setting a guide and time limit offers your son motivation.

Seek Professional Counseling

Psychologist Kenneth Condrell warns that if you and your spouse disagree on the way forward when handling the situation, your son will probably play the two of you against one another. Condrell suggests seeking a family therapist in such a case or anytime you feel overwhelmed by your son. A therapist can provide professional help in working through both these situations.

What To Consider When Your Son Won’t Get A Job

Job Availability

If you live in an area with a lack of available jobs, you may have to understand that your son is looking for work but is having difficulty finding one. In such a case, you may come up with ideas for how to find work, like whether he has access to a vehicle he can use to commute to a job far away or even change careers.

Job Searching Plan

If your son doesn’t have a plan, now may be the ideal time to create a plan to look for work. If you are willing and available, you can help him create one. Once he has a plan, the next thing will be whether he’s following it through.

Is he actively looking for work various times a week? Does he often check for new job opportunities? Or does he follow up on emails and interview requests?

Mental And Health Disability

If your son has a physical disability or mental health issues that make it difficult for him to sustain work, you may want to consider this when deciding what next. Your son may not feel like he can find a good job that will cater to his needs, making job searching more difficult. Your son may also become depressed when he doesn’t find suitable offers. In this case, it’s best to plug in with a caseworker or therapist who can help him take steps he finds difficult.

What To Do When Your Son Refuses To Look For Work

  1. Consider how long you’re willing to let your son live financially free in your home and whether that makes it challenging to support yourself.
  2. If you find supporting yourself because of him difficult, decide what expenses you want him to pay and when. Establish a plan detailing expectations and boundaries you have for your son to continue living at home.
  3. Give your son time (according to your agreement) to look for work and pay the expenses he owes. It may take, but with time and consistency, you’ll reach there.
  4. Draft a rental agreement signed by both parties. The deal protects you when your son decides not to look for work. It will also show your son you’re serious about him paying for his expenses.
  5. If your son refuses to commit to his portion, consider eviction a last resort.


If your 30-year-old son won’t find a job, try and find the cause for that. Once done, do your best to help him overcome the challenges setting him back from securing a job. If that’s not working and your son refuses to look for work, come up with an agreement on the bills he’s expected to cover. If he fails to take his part, consider eviction.