Contact with homeless son. Wants to visit and stay for couple of nights.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LucyJ, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I had a text from my 26 year old son today, asking me to phone him. He's been living rough in a farm squat since last October. I haven't seen him since Christmas. I phoned. He sounds OK, quite upbeat. He wants me to drive and pick him up from the forest, he wants to come and stay for a couple of days. It's Mothers' day here at the end of March (do you have Mothers' Day in the States?). He suggested coming near to that date. I ran it by my husband (his step-father). He doesn't say much but I know he's not keen on having my son here. He pointed out that it's never been successful in the past (I'm well aware of that). My son always gets agitated after a few hours and either sulks or get wound up about something and creates a really uncomfortable atmosphere in our house. Also, when he turned up for a couple of days at Christmas he was absolutely filthy and smelled really badly. So, I'm really torn. I would like to see him obviously, but I know it will be stressful. Ideally I'd like my husband to have a few days holiday somewhere with our youngest daughter so that I could have my son here for a couple of days and not worry about the effect he was having on everyone else. But that's ridiculous. Why should my husband not be here just because my son wants to visit? I'm so sad and torn in two about the situation, even though I've definitely detached from my son as his 'mummy' and as his source of financial handouts. I miss him.
  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    How about cheap motel room for two or three nights for him as a compromise? And just having him over for dinner and do some outing with him?

    Mention him how you always seem to get onto each others hair if you have to share the quarters but that you would really like to see him and have him for a dinner and go and do something with him.
  3. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Thanks Suzir
    I did consider that, but my son looks and smells like a hobo and I think he would be refused access to anywhere. His appearance is pretty extreme. Stinking ragged clothes, filthy body, massive overgrown beard and mangled hair. It's a scary sight!
  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Given the situation with your son, asking the stepfather and sister to make a special trip of their own together while you see your son makes sense to me.

    They will enjoy a special time together, and their date and time of return would be a deadline for the son to return to his former lifestyle.

    You would need to make the date of return, and that he will be returning to the farm, very clear.

    I hope you get to see him.

    I miss my son, too.

  5. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you do want to see him. That being the case, can you talk about ways to make it the least stressful and most likely to be successful with your husband? Suggest the trip with daughter and see how he feels...maybe he'll be relieved you don't expect him to be around. Maybe he'll feel like he is being shoved out in favor of your son. But I would think a healthy airing of the issues might open some pathways for you to be able to see your son if that is what you want.


    And yes, we do celebrate Mother's Day here is the second Sunday in May.
  6. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Since you want to see him and he wants to see you, and you are okay with him coming there for a couple of days, it seems that the only thing left to decide here is who is there with you? It sounds like you are strong enough to do this right now as well.

    I would suggest the option of staying or going to the others.

    State clearly that you want to see your son, you know it will be "messy", but you are ready to do it for a very limited time (whatever that is). You want it to go as well as it can go. They can either be part of the solution---or if they don't like any of this---they can choose not to be there and not create a further problem.

    Make sure your son knows all as well so he is clear about the boundaries.

    Here is my reasoning: If our difficult child adult kids are going to live an alternative lifestyle (nice choice of words) and we are trying to accept that, however ugly it is, and we still want to see them and they want to see us, then we have to figure out how to do that and what that looks like.

    You could try this, see if it works. It's a pilot program. If it doesn't you can adjust the next time to an offsite visit (shorter, longer, etc.).

    I like that you posted this question because it helps me think through my own situation with my son. If he manages to stay out of jail (or other), and we want to see each other at times, what will that look like?

    Thanks LucyJ. Please keep us posted on what you decide and how it goes. That will really help me as well.
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  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have a slightly different take on it Lucy. Your son has made a lifestyle choice which is quite different then the 'norm' which is certainly fine for him. However, that choice and his lack of hygiene impacts others. That is the natural consequence of his choices. To ask your husband to check out seems inconsiderate to me, your son gets to do what he desires at the possible inconvenience of someone who is not making choices that impact others negatively.

    I would bring it up as an option to your husband without making him feel as if this is the ONLY option so he actually feels as if he has a choice. And, then discuss your desire to see your son, without putting the onus on your husband as that is the only way it will work if he exits.

    In my opinion, your sons desire to see you shouldn't disrupt the entire family, the family should pull together as a unit and discuss the options for you to see your son. Accommodating him at the expense of others doesn't feel right to me. However, using it as an opportunity for the family to create options which work for EVERYBODY feels better. And, the option may be that your son has to deal with where he stays and you see him outside of your home.........or he can come for one day without staying over, I don't really have an answer, but if you and your husband and your daughter all open a dialogue for options, you may come up with some creative ideas.

    I believe that since your son is an adult and he has made clear choices in his lifestyle, he has to be responsible for the consequences of that choice. Good luck! Let us know how it turns out........
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think that you could require that he shower and wear clean clothes in your home, without criticizing his questionable lifestyle choice that seems fine to him and is ok as far as he isn't asking you to support him through it. But I am really dead set on: Your house, your rules. My house, my rules. Nobody smokes in my house. Period. You can't. Doesn't matter who you are. In fact, you don't smoke on my property. You can go to the sidewalk in front of my house. Now if I go to your house and know you smoke and it is allowed, I have no right whatsoever to act offended or to try to get anyone to stop smoking. I make a decision to visit you, I have decided to live with that smoke. Since that is not a decision I would ever make, a good neutral meeting place maybe outside where, if there is smoking at least it is not as suffocating is available to us.

    There are ways to compromise and find solutions to tough problems if people are really interested in coming together. No relationship works if one gives 100% and the other gives nothing. That causes resentment.

    You have to expect your grown son to meet you halfway and you and your family can maybe meet him halfway too. But...if he is in your house, he follows your rules. There is no compromising your values in your own home. It has to be elsewhere.

    As always, and especially because I have been hardhanded here, I want to remind all readers that this is my own opinion and thoughts and ideas that nobody has to follow. Take what you like and leave the rest or leave it all. But this is how we usually handle things here. We also don't encourage drinking, have no alcohol, and will not be too tolerant of a drinker who is getting drunk on our property. But if we go to their house, we have decided we are going to handle the drunkenness. Not our house/not our rules/not our place to sit in judgment in a vocal way...
  9. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Hello All
    Thanks so much for all your replies.
    It is really helpful to read different points of view and different suggestions for dealing with this situation. As his mother, I tend to only see things from that angle, so thanks for the differing insights and possibilites.

    Two things are clear I think:
    1. I need to speak to my husband openly and honestly about this whole situation.
    2. If my son visits then there need to be clear ground rules. Any visit will be conditional on him using a liberal amount of hot water, soap and deodorant as soon as he gets here, and wearing clean clothes (which I will have to buy). There also needs to be a definite deadline for me taking him back and an understanding that, if he starts acting-up or upsets his young sister in any way, then he'll be going back straight away.

    One thing I tend to ignore, is the effect on his siblings, especially the youngest, both in worrying about him and being sad about the way he is, and having to deal with the upset to the household whenever he is around. We all need to talk more and decide things, and then let my son know what can or might happen.

    Isn't it sad that a visit from a son, which should be a natural everyday happy event, should be such a big deal.

    I'll let you know what we decide and what happens.

    Hope you are all having a nice weekend. The sun is shining here in the UK for the first time in months!
  10. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you have a few variables to consider in framing this visit. The best part is that you want to see each other!!! If he wants to make this work, certainly he will agree to the parameters upon which you and husband agree.

    Please keep us posted. I hope you have a wonderful visit.
  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think that is one of the many positives we experience here Lucy. We can look at the various offerings of others and sift through some new thoughts, some ideas that may not have occurred to us, particularly, as you said, because as their mothers we tend to get stuck in our limited perceptions.

    I'm glad you've come up with options for your family. It all sounds good. Keep us posted!
  12. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Just to let you know that we (me and H) have had a long chat and decided what to do about my son wanting to be picked up and come and stay for a couple of days. –

    My husband has a long-standing work commitment which means being away overnight, so he has arranged this for one day in early April. I’m going to pick my son up the day before he goes so that we will have one night with my husband there and then another night with my husband away. Our youngest daughter will be in school during the day and she says that she wants to see her brother in the evenings so doesn’t want to go away with her dad while he’s here. It seems like a compromise on terms decided by US not him. I’m going to take a few days away from work. Son and I will have 3 days on our own, including the time spent travelling back and fore. I sometimes find that we talk more in the car with me concentrating on driving and not getting stressed by taking too much notice of what he says.

    My husband’s thinking is that, if my son is a nightmare on the first day, then he can be there to take him back to the squat with me. If he’s ok on the first day, then hopefully he’ll be ok on the second day when my husband’s away. (A bit of wishful thinking I know!) My son will be back at the squat by the time my husband gets home.

    The visit is conditional on him going straight in the shower when he gets here and using deodorant and clean clothes. I’ve bought some cheap basic stuff for him to wear, which he won’t like, but ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ quite literally in my son’s case. It's also conditional on him being absolutely clear about when I'm taking him back. We'll have to leave early so that I can ensure that I'm back in time for school finishing. I'm not hanging around at the squat and don't want to have to see how he's living or the people he's living with.

    My daughter will only be here with him for one evening without her dad here, and I’ll plan to go out with them both, maybe to the beach, and hope that they can have a bit of fun together or at least that he’ll behave and not get mega-moody and suck up all the energy in the vicinity like he normally does. I'll see if one or more of the other kids can come with us.

    I just have to relay all this to my son now somehow. His cell phone’s off and there’s no other way to contact him.

    I’ll be a bit anxious for the next 3 weeks now, until this experiment in having a son to stay for 2 nights is over. I wish life was more normal, what ever 'normal’ is. I didn’t sleep much last night, but, as I was wandering around downstairs I realised that one of the main emotions that I have with all this now is utter boredom with it all. That’s new! A side-effect of detachment?

    I’ll let you know what happens.
  13. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Lucy, what a wonderful plan! You have created the most optimum conditions possible given the amount of "control" (I put that word in quotes advisedly, lol) you have over your son.

    What more can anybody do?

    Something I am wondering---

    If you need to take him back earlier, will that go well? I mean, will he go willingly? If not, would you have help convincing him from someone so you don't get into a confrontation with him?

    Yes! That happens with me too. It's good for me when I'm not focusing to hopefully or stridently on HIM. Also, not having constant eye contact gives me a break so I can think more clearly and not react.

    I hope you can relax into the time between now and then. Lucy, you have carefully thought about what you want (seeing your precious son) and how to go about it as best you can so it works for all.

    I hope you can talk with him before the visit so you can clearly state how glad you are he is coming and how things need to be. A suggestion---write it down and have it ready so you can pull out your notes and cover all that you need to.

    That is respectful to him and to you in these types of situations and can head off problems before they occur.

    I am pulling for you all, Lucy! You are trying to learn how to accept what is and how to create a relationship with your son within that reality. That is my hope for my own relationship with my son as time goes by.

    Be kind to yourself in these next days and weeks. Do nice things for YOU. Relax into what you have done---which is the best you can do. Turn it over to God's care. Keep us posted on YOU. We care.
  14. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    These sound like workable plans with appropriate safeguards built in, Lucy. I am happy for you that you will see your son, and pray that his visit is a happy, positive one.

    Though I don't usually acknowledge it to myself, somewhere in my psyche I am on high alert when either of my children are home, too.

  15. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Thanks COM and Cedar for the vote of confidence in our plans.

    That's a good idea to write down everything I want to say, ready for when I next speak to him and I like the suggestion of telling him how glad I am that he is coming.

    It is an issue about what I will do if his behaviour is appalling and I have to take him back early. If my husband is away that will be very difficult on a practical level. I really hope that this doesn't happen as I think it would create such a chasm between us that I'm not sure how we would build another bridge across it in the future. Previously I have put up with so much and 'bent over backwards' to pacify him, but, since finding this site, I no longer have any inclination to do this.

    I'm also not sure how I'm going to react if/when he starts emptying the fridge and cupboards to take back 'supplies' to the farm squat. He did this at Christmas and I helped him! (despite glares and grunts from my husband).

    I met a friend for lunch today. That was pleasant. I'm being nice to myself as per the advice!
  16. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It's really good that all of you talked it through so that everyone is on board with how it will go.

    One thing to bear in mind is that when we start setting boundaries around our adult kids, they usually don't react well. If you've made no demands on your son and accommodated him in the past, then he will be expecting that same behavior from you. You are already making the condition that he bathe and clean up. Along with that, you may want to let him know that shopping in your kitchen is no longer available as well. You have to make the boundaries, because he won't. If you want him clean and you want him to leave your house with what he came with then it may be prudent for you to let him know all of this BEFORE you pick him up. Otherwise you may be looking at one angry, dirty guy in your kitchen!

    What may help you is to write down what you realistically expect, what your boundaries are, what you want, what you don't want, what you are willing to do, what you are NOT willing to do. It helps to be clear like that.

    It may go really well, I don't know, but I think you would be well served to be prepared for different reactions from him since you are setting different boundaries. You are changing, that doesn't mean he will, or even that he wants to.

    As far as him acting badly when your husband is not there. I would be proactive and let him know, along with all the other changes, that if his behavior is "appalling" your intention is to ask him to leave............remember, there is no rule that says you have to drive him home. There are buses, trains, bikes, whatever, but if he acts badly, you shouldn't have to be in the car with him doing him a favor. Behaving badly has consequences, not rewards.

    I have found when dealing with difficult child's we have to get really good at closing all the possible loopholes because more often then not, they are not thinking about your needs at all, only what they need in that present moment............and then when things don't go their way, they have a meltdown. I've found it best to contain that energy behind very strict boundaries.

    I hope you sleep better tonight Lucy and I'm glad you had lunch with your friend, keep that up!! Wishing you peace of mind and comfort on this crazy journey we're on........
  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Recovering's comments were right on, Lucy. It is frightening to think about changing our behaviors. Once we see a better way, it is hard to go back.
    But our difficult child's are still firmly embedded in the old ways of thinking. Everything about that old way of thinking worked to keep them where they are ~ dominant. Though a suggestion may seem harmless enough to us, the difficult child may feel targeted, trapped, and attacked.

    As you are making some changes Lucy, I agree with Recovering that you will feel better if you prepare for the parts of this visit that may not go well. For instance, are you willing to call the police if your difficult child becomes violent during his visit? Thinking about this possibility will change how you think about yourself, Lucy. You will begin to see how frightened some hidden part of yourself has been. As you make decisions to protect and cherish yourself, the relationship with your difficult child will change further. Your difficult child is not going to be happy about that.

    My difficult child son hates this site.

    Are you willing to send difficult child home with anything from the kitchen? I always do/did that. It seemed like a harmless enough way to love them. Maybe, if you don't want him raiding the kitchen, you could stock up on things he likes and make a special package for him ahead of time? Maybe, the sister can be part of putting that together. You could include a letter, maybe a book ~ whatever strikes you as valuable. When difficult child daughter was homeless, I learned they like things like wet wipes, moisturizer, toothbrush and paste (they are always losing those things). Socks, really important. They need to walk all the time, when they are homeless. A bottle for water. They cannot just go get water. Isn't that strange.... It would add a sort of joy to the anticipation of seeing him, instead of only dread about what could go wrong.

    Maybe, nothing bad will happen.

    You could tell difficult child you are setting new boundaries and don't want him going through the cupboards this time, but that you did get some special things for him to take with him when he goes. I know that is going to sound like being a weakling in the detachment department. But we have so little pleasure out of our difficult child kids. Buying food or toiletries especially for them, making and sending whatever it is they like to eat...that is such a pleasure to me, both as I am preparing it and later, when I think about the difficult child enjoying it.

    Mom's home cooking is one of the few things they cannot sell for drugs.

    Not my home cooking, anyway.


    Lucy, it's time for difficult child to share equal responsibility for protecting and cherishing his relationship to you.

    That is just my belief at this point. As you continue to heal from the trauma of raising a difficult child, as you come back to yourself, you will believe it, too.

    That is what happened, to me.

    I am still getting free of those chains. And the funny part is? When I was most firmly chained, I could not see the chains, at all.

    It has less to do with the difficult child than it does with reclaiming our self respect. As you begin to heal, your process will come to have nothing at all to do with your difficult child. Getting healthier feels so good that you will begin to pursue rebalancing yourself for the simple joy of it.


    I am glad you met the friend for lunch, Lucy. The only real counter we have to the one-sided lurch that is loving a difficult child child is the normal, every day life where people are happy to see us, believing we are competent or attractive or witty or just plain worth it for no particular reason at all.

    Loving a difficult child child changes who we think we are. It is really difficult not to slip into depression. Changing the rules of the game feels like a betrayal of the difficult child to us. Worse yet, the difficult child senses betrayal on the wind and escalates manipulative behaviors.

    But you are here with us, now.


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  18. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    the fridge raiding seems like something you should address up front, even before his arrival. He did it last time, it seems likely that he will assume he can do it this time. RAther than wait till you are face to face for a potentially uncomfortable event, I would be tempted to address it by text or email or however you are communicating with him now. Let him know that you will (or won't) put together a bag of groceries for him if you feel like it, but that he is not to take anything from the house on his own. I just feel like if that makes him mad or makes him not want to come you should know that ahead of time.

    Hoping for a good visit!

    I saw my difficult child twice in the last two weeks...once at lunch, and once he came to work. Its been OK, but boy does it bring out old behaviors and responses in me that I wish I knew better how to manage.

    Good luck!

  19. Childofmine

    Childofmine trying to do this thing one day at a time Staff Member

    Lucy, when my son needed to get back here (four hours from where he was) for a court date, and at the time I said I would help him because he was in rehab, I had a lot of stress about how I was going to get him back to rehab after the court date.

    My best friend lives in the city where he was in rehab, and she and I talked about her coming here and staying for a few days to support me. I thought about asking her to drive him back. I thought about driving him back myself.

    I do know that I had a great deal of pre-stress about the very idea that I would be in the car with him for four hours.

    In the end, he was homeless (kicked out of rehab again) when the time came to get him here. I could (maybe should) have handled it differently and said, I'm not going to help you get back here since you're not in rehab now, but I didn't.

    I bought him a bus ticket with the $100 his grandparents gave him for Christmas (gave to me, ugh!). The ticket was $89 with tax. His uncle (whom he hadn't seen in years) picked him up from the McDonald's where he had been living for about 12 days, and took him to the bus station. (I arranged that, ugh.)

    I also called the police to meet the bus here, and he went to jail overnight for his court appearance the next day.

    Did I handle that as I would have liked, looking back? No. The best thing I did was call the police to meet the bus. That way, he wasn't once again homeless here in below-freezing temperatures, and he wasn't knocking on my front door to get in.

    I am trying to listen to myself when I feel a lot of stress and anxiety about something. Do I need to find another solution? Do I need to at least have a Plan B, in case I can't or don't want to do Plan A.

    Having multiple plans, and writing things down, are two tools that have really helped me navigate this highly emotional minefield that is my son's life and our relationship right now.

    Those two things help me stick with what I decide to do. Not always, and I can always change my mind at any time.

    But it helps. I'm wishing and hoping and praying for the best outcome for this visit for you and your precious son, Lucy!
  20. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    It is endlessly interesting to me how we all seem to feel --or certainly I feel--that I have to keep my promises to difficult child, or stick to my commitments, regardless of what he does or how he shifts the sands of the situation. I see that over and over on the board too. I am not sure if I have the endless and fruitless hope that if I model honor and reliability he will learn from it (hahahahahah now I laugh myself sick), or if I can't deal with the confrontation if I go back on something when the situation changes (or even if the situation doesn't change but I think better of it) or if I just get so tired it is easier to keep my feet on the path because that is easier than rethinking...regardless...I see how this pattern leads all of us to strange, unreciprocated, one way behaviors that are frankly...odd! they are so little deserved, appreciated, or acknowledge...and so often actually do not provide any benefit...isn't it weird?

    but it is good to know I am not alone in that particular version of difficult child-mom crazy.

    Reading along, Lucy, and cheering for you.