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Dear Amy: Our adult son, who struggles with depression, was laid off because of the pandemic. My husband and I invited him to move back in with us to help him get on his feet again. It took him a while to get a part-time job, and now he was finally hired full time. We are very happy for him.

However, he gets upset when the subject of having him move out and be on his own comes up. He tells us that because of his depression, he is afraid to live on his own and needs to have family around.

He is on antidepressants, but he doesn't follow through with seeking counseling.

We also have a younger son who is living with us and attending college. We are fine with helping him out until he graduates. But we are getting close to retirement, and we don't want to have children living with us when we retire.

We don't know how to help our older son get to a place where he can live independently. What would you suggest?

Amy says: You should take this in careful stages. The message to your elder son should be, "Our goal is for both of our sons to live independently and to develop rewarding pursuits and relationships. We'll help you get there."

Your elder son appears to already have made great strides in terms of getting another job. He is being honest regarding the impact of his depression, but he also might be using his depression as a crutch.

The pandemic was a serious setback for many young adults. According to a study published by the Pew Research Center, "At the height of the pandemic, more people under 30 were living with their parents than were living on their own ... the highest percentage since the Great Depression." Many of these young adults are now struggling to relaunch.

My point is that your son is not alone. His depression is certainly a factor, but he's also nervous about undertaking a big change that seems lonelier than that first big step into adulthood was.

Your son should be seeing a therapist. You could start with therapy on your own and invite him to join you and your husband, with the goal to discuss how he is managing his disease, including the fears and challenges he anticipates, and ways you can be helpful (perhaps with him living nearby or cohabiting with his brother, for instance).

The National Alliance on Mental Illness ( is an invaluable resource. Check their "family members and caregivers" page for ideas and professional and peer support.

Ways to help

Dear Amy: We have a growing homeless population in our city. I understand the causes and feel a great deal of compassion for the difficulties that these people face.

Where I struggle is how to respond when asked for money. Often it is very uncomfortable. I can afford to give out a few dollars, but is this the right thing to do? What is the best way we can help as individuals?

Amy says: I don't believe there is any definitive answer to this. Because you are both aware and concerned (good for you!), you could do a lot of good by helping organizations that help the homeless through financial support and/or volunteering.

Instead of cash, some people give out socks, gloves or gift cards for small amounts to be redeemed for food.

I think the one important thing is to look someone in the eye and at least recognize their humanity, even if you choose not to give to them that day.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson at