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Ask Amy

Parents need to wake up, give son a timetable

Q. Our child, a 26-year-old son, lives at home. He works part time and can afford gas, car insurance and outings with his friends. We pay for all of his living expenses.

He sleeps until 11 a.m., when I knock on his door to wake him. He claims to have issues sleeping at night and says he can’t get going in the morning, but his dad and I feel he will ruin his life if he does not start getting up and living during the daytime.

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He is pleasant but will only do chores he likes. If he got a full-time job, or worked two or even three part-time jobs to become independent enough to pay a fair share (or even better for his sake, be able to move out), we would feel easier about his ability to exist without us taking care of him.

How can I make him hear me? He tries to walk away when we discuss anything serious. He says he can’t deal with it, and the subject depresses him.

He got a college degree at the time they became useless and now plans to get a two-year degree or certificate that will get him a career, but we think he has to push himself to change habits so he can sleep at night; he stays up late online and talking with his friends. Can you add your voice to ours?

A. Well, I’m shouting pretty loudly on my end, but not at your son. My voice is directed toward his parents. You refer to and treat your son as a “child.” He is 26 years old.

I suggest that you and your husband wake up and finally treat your son like the adult he is. You owe him an apology: You did not help to prepare him for life when he was younger and now he needs his mommy to knock on his door at 11 a.m. to roust him out of bed.

He needs a plan — but you should not provide this for him. All you need to do is give him a timetable for moving out or actual consequences for staying home. Tell him, “You’re a grown man. You have two months to move out. We will give you the car but not pay any other expenses. You can make it.”

If you can’t bear to part with him, present a non-negotiable of working 40 hours a week (he can do this with part-time jobs) while living at home. Non-negotiables only work when attached to consequences.

Cheer him on from the sidelines. He may flounder. But he will have to figure things out. And he will.

Q. I’m a male senior citizen. Recently a hypothetical question was raised among three family members, from their mid-20s to my age: If we went to Las Vegas with our sister’s fiance and this fiance had sex with strange women, would we tell our sister when we got back home?

I was the only one who said I would tell my sister what her fiance was capable of doing behind her back. The other three said that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Really? This is the new morality?

They all said I’m out of touch and too old-fashioned. I thought I’d get your opinion.

A. I wish I’d come up with that Vegas slogan. It has become the official catchphrase for subterfuge.

I assure you, as the only person capable of being the hypothetical “sister” in your control group, I would want to know about this. Putting aside the (significant) risk of contracting an STD (which is reason enough to tell), I believe that sibling-code trumps bro-code.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@tribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.

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