My son is choosing homelessness

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by KrisfromNJ, Apr 27, 2014.

  1. KrisfromNJ

    KrisfromNJ New Member

    I am glad I found this site and read some stories and finally can feel that I am not alone. I hope I am making the right decisions, they feel right but are very hard as my heart breaks almost daily.

    Some background, ever since my son was growing up there was something "off" about him and his behavior. Both his father and I work to support our household but my son has never had to want for much and we are very loving. He was constantly being kicked out of his aftercare and after school programs we placed him in. I always felt it was his way of getting back or to control the situation somehow because they would call work and I or my husband would have to leave and pick him up. He lies about anything and everything.

    As he became older, He began to steal money, cell phones and pretty much anything he could that wasn't locked down. We hung in there and when he was confronted for stealing those things (because no one else was there to do it) he would deny it and say terrible things and run away. It got so bad that we had locks on the doors and key locks on the exit doors to try and prevent him from running away. The local police knew him by name and we no longer had to file missing person reports. He never shows remorse or takes responsibility for what he has done.

    We got him help, but no matter how much therapy, medication or anything else he took he never improved. He was initially diagnosed with ODD and I fear he might be a social path. He eventually ended up in residential treatment centers from the age of 12-17 when we couldn't take it much longer, and two weeks before his 18th birthday he ran away from them. Every time he would run away from home he would check himself into the hospital saying he would hurt himself once his fun was over or when he became hungry and my husband would have to pick him up after driving all over town looking for him. I feel real bad but about the tenth time we stopped looking and just waited to be called by the hospital.

    The first thing he did when he ran away from his residential treatment center (several towns away) was to come home, break in and steal all my jewelry I collected for almost 20 years, my laptop and never touched my husbands things. I didn't understand why. I was usually the one who would catch him stealing and thing and figured he harbors anger for me. Well now that he is over 18 and is legally an adult he found some of his friends ( he always hangs out with just bad news type of people) they helped him yet again so he never hit "rock bottom". I was hoping him hitting rock bottom he would change.

    Well it didn't change him. I got strange calls for inmate collect calls one day, between my husband and I we figured out he was in jail. Now against my better judgement, I went to talk with him and he said all the right things, he was going to change and wanted help. Well when he was released I told him he was not going to stay with me, he stole from me and I do not want him at the house. I set him up with food stamps, welfare appointment for housing. All he had to do was go and he chose not to. Now he blames me and is calling for money and I feel bad.

    I am trying to stick to my guns, he asks for money constantly. I gave him clothes, a gift card instead of money and ID so he could apply for a job but he lost them all. I even gave him a job at my place of work and he stole from it and got fired in three weeks. I feel lost and bad about detaching myself but feel that I need to not have any contact with him until he does something for himself.

    Am I being to harsh? I feel so bad not doing more but also think if I keep doing it he will never do anything for himself. He told me that he prefers living in the streets instead of shelters and he has opportunity to get into halfway houses and independent living and won't.

    Sorry this was so long. Any advice? I am sure some might have dealt with this situation before.

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  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    That is the crux of all of it and your truth and the path you've chosen to walk. Welcome. Many of us have made the same choice. And, it still feels bad to make it, but, you know you have to. You've already made it, we can provide support to hold on to your guns.

    You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here.

    You may want to get in touch with NAMI the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They can be accessed online, they have chapters everywhere and they offer excellent course for parents dealing with difficult children who have these kinds of disorders.

    You may also want to look up Anti Social Disorder and the symptoms. That profile covers sociopath.

    I just read a pretty good book called When your adult children break your heart. It's helpful.

    The process of detachment from our adult children is filled with pot holes. Most of us walk in to most if not all of them. They are guilt, control, resentment, anger, rage, self doubt, fear, sorrow, what ifs, shoulds and probably more I can't think of now. This process is also very much like the stages of grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Not necessarily in that order. We go up and down and sideways, this is not easy. You'll need as much support as you can muster, from all the sources you can think of. This goes against everything we believe love and parenting to be. You will need to learn a lot about what the serenity prayer teaches........... how to accept what you can't to have the courage to change what you can and the wisdom to know the difference. A tall order. That's where the support comes in.

    Keep positing it helps.

    You're right, he won't need to do anything for himself if you continue. And, he is choosing to live on the streets. A number of our kids make that same choice, it is easier then living within a structured environment where they have to abide by rules.

    Don't suffer over his choices. Start to put the focus you've had on him, onto YOU. What is it you want? What are you willing to do? What are you not willing to do? Be clear about that and continue with your commitment to yourself. You're doing a good job. Stay the course. I'm glad you're here.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am tempted to ask if he had any chaos in his very early years, but you know what? By now it doesn't matter. He is of age and needs to get help on his own. You can't do it for him and you can't control his choices. If he has a mental illness, he needs to be the one to make appointments and get help for himself because you can't. If he is a substance abuser, he is the only one who can make himself quit. I also feel you should learn detachment and I think you should focus on your own life and making it a good one, in spite of having a struggling child. If substance abuse is an issue, I'd go to a Nar-Anon meeting to get real face time help and human concern. If he is just "off" I'd go to a Families Anonymous meeting. Take care of you. You earned it. We all have, if we are on this forum.

    Sorry about your hurting mommy heart.
  4. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Kris, my son is a lot like your son in that he has tossed away all the efforts we made at helping him, including ones I would have thought he would like like getting him lined up for foodstamps and social security. ONe important son is very gentle, very kind, demands nothing and asks for little.
    Still...he ends up in jail. He steals, from us and from others. He is 20, and has been living on the street for 2 years. Right now he lives under a bridge about 1/2 mile from where I live. He doesn't want to live with me...he likes the feeling of risk, of getting away with something, of being a rebel. He lost his SS and foodstamps by just...not showing up. He gets jobs for a few weeks and loses them. When he is sad or lonely he goes to emergency rooms with some exaggerated complaint. Sometimes he gets admitted to psychiatric hosptiatls. Sometimes he flames out and becomes roarlingly manic (he won't take his medications, although he smilingly tells me that he is going to start...sooon).
    That is my baby. My oldest son. I can't control him. I can't make him get a home, get a doctor, get a job. You can't either.
    I can tell you that when I stopped trying to get him to do those things it got better for me, much better, and guess didn't get worse for him! He just continues doing what he is doing.
    Others here have passed through a phase of letting go where their kids amped up the anger and the demands. Mine never did/ Sounds like yours will.
    I'm telling you this story just so you know that yes, others have been there. All you can do is let go with love. There is NOTHING you can do to make him do the things you think he should, or wish he would. Work on that part of you. Keep posting. We are all here for you, to think things through with you.
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  5. KrisfromNJ

    KrisfromNJ New Member

    Hey everyone,

    Thank you so much for the support. It was hard to relive that story and I will make sure I am stopping myself.

    Overtime it has been better. I think I just needed to hear from others that have walked a mile in my shoes it was ok.

    Some of my friends told me that Its too harsh but never dealt with this type of situation.

    And yes it was always problems from age five and up.

    Thank you all and I will stay in touch.
  6. Childofmine

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

    Hi Kris, I am sorry that you have to be on this forum, but welcome to the party. We get it. We are walking on a similar road.

    After rereading your post again tonight I started wondering if he is using drugs or alcohol. The lying that comes with that is astounding. They lie when really, the truth would be just fine. My son lies all the time, and mainly tells me what he thinks I want to hear.

    My son has stolen from me, his father, our neighbors, at least one employer (got caught that time) and who knows how many others? That is the hallmark of someone abusing drugs. They steal things and sell them to buy drugs.

    I have heard it said here many times that you can tell if things are changing by the people they are choosing to spend time with. A great signal.

    They always do. And maybe, even, they might believe some of what they are saying. I am really tired of talk. I want to see action. I have little patience for the talk anymore. Been there and done that. I have heard it all.

    This is a huge thing. My difficult child also did the same thing. He got food stamps the last time he was homeless, and a phone that they provided. Then he didn't get them renewed. Why not? Possibly because renewal involves a drug test. Just like a halfway house and more overnight shelters.

    Amazing how many things they can "lose." I think they sell a lot of things for cash, including ID.

    Absolutely. You feel lost and bad because it is a very sad situation. It is awful. But the fact is, your son and my son are choosing their own paths today. They choose homelessness. And nearly four weeks ago, my son chose to steal $90+ dollars of merchandise from Wal-mart and get arrested. Again. He is back in jail. Again. This time he might go to prison. He made these choices, Kris. Not me. Him. It is so sad and sometimes I still cry. That is okay. And then I pick myself up, shake myself off, and get my head back on straight.

    People make choices. Including me. I am choosing not to lose my own life because he is choosing to lose his.

    No, you are not being too harsh. Detaching with love from your son is the right thing. Stopping enabling is the right thing.

    Especially if he has told you he likes his life. Why in the world would you spend another minute trying to get him to do something he doesn't want to do. He will not work for change in his own life unless and until he is sick and tired of that life. And if he LIKES it, he sure won't work for change. And you will be just pouring your money, your energy and your emotions into a bottomless black hole.

    I am starting to think my own son likes the life he has been living for the past four years. It's living on the ragged edge. If this is true, this is a very important truth for me to learn and accept.

    Hugs to you Kris. Keep coming back. We can give you our experience and ideas but in the end, it's still your choice what you do and we will support you regardless. This is hard, hard stuff.
  7. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Hi Kris, sorry you are in this difficult position. Yes, exactly. Your friends have not been in this situation. They can't possibly understand. I'm in the middle of it and understanding comes in baby steps! What would be considered help in any other setting doesn't help at all with our difficult children.

    I don't know where that rock bottom is for a lot of our difficult children. That used to be what guided a lot of my help/not help decisions with difficult child, whether or not I was preventing him from "finding bottom." He hit MY idea of bottom time and again, but HIS idea of bottom was unfathomably deep to me, and he didn't care one whit about hitting it. We can't make them climb out of the hole, can't keep them safely on a ledge, can't soften their landing, can't light up the much as we may want to. They're adults. I don't think it's harsh at all to respect their decisions and allow them to learn from their choices. I don't think we have any choice.
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  8. KrisfromNJ

    KrisfromNJ New Member


    Thanks for everyone's responses. That post helped me so much to get my story out and understand I wasn't the only one with these problems, I no longer have to feel guilty wondering what I did wrong anymore.

    I chose a different course of action after reading your posts and really thought through how others handle things.

    Today my difficult child called me at work and I picked up the phone after him telling me who it was, he was rambling about what he needed, I calmly said, I love you but if you want me to understand your situation you have to stop calling me at work. When you call me at work and it's not an emergency, I appear irresponsible to my employer. What number would you like me to call back at when My shift is over?

    Silence! I think he went into shock, he said sorry, after about a minute of dead air - you can call me back at such and such number.

    Well I called him after work he was telling me how he was living in a friends RV and his big upcoming plans and I was waiting for the punch line of how I fit into helping him and just before he said it ( taking some advice I read in another post) I said your smart I am sure you will figure it out. Boom works like a charm.

    Then after some small talk, I explained the terms that he is able to call me in the future and what I was willing and unwilling to do from this point. For the first time he said, I know I always forget to tell you but Have a good Mother's Day.

    Just several days after finding this site I have some hope for a happier future for myself and some peace. I know it may seem like a small step but I feel a lot less stress and wanted to thank everybody.


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  9. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Kris, you done good. And it sounds like he heard you. What he will do with that info is up to him. You have done all you could today, and it was perfect.
    difficult child's aren't like others. They don't learn through our modelling, through our tolerance. He may have never figured out he shouldn't call you at work. You set clear boundaries. You set clear limits. You could not possibly have done better.
    Go do whatever it is you like to do when you feel GREAT.
  10. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Kris, you seem like some one who might be hanging out with us for a while...and welcome! maybe you can set up your signature so that we can remember the details of your can be hard to keep all those boy children straight sometimes...
  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Kris, you did a great job! Setting boundaries and keeping that 'mote' around us is how we stay sane and have a healthy and fulfilling life regardless of what choices our kids are making.

    It's in fact a huge step Kris, you made leaps of progress in a short time because you were ready. You were ready to hear a different way. You made a choice. And that choice changed your reality. You did that. It isn't small, we have to acknowledge our wins did a great job and if I were you I would celebrate in some manner that means something to you........

    And yes please write a signature for us to recall your story..........
  12. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Good job Kris! You set the boundaries. You didn't give him advice. Well done!
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