My son left. I asked him to.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, May 11, 2016.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son had a good deal. We were hopeful. We tried hard. He, not so much. We put him up in a housewhich we are remodeling. It has two separate houses. The idea was he live in one. He had all the autonomy in the world. He knew he had to pay rent, did not dispute it. I have not collected rent from him because the house is not fully functional, and he has been (in theory) working with us full time for no pay.

    The issues were various, but up front was his use of marijuana as the most important thing in his life. (He has a medical marijuana card, but mostly buys the stuff on the street.)

    I tried to suffer through the marijuana (and so did M) but his personality changes as soon as the effects wear off. He is depressed, sullen. His appearance changes. He also uses caffeine pills to self-medicate. Almost as bad a disproportionate part of his SSI check goes to buy this drug. It would be his business but he mooches off of us, and more importantly, the whole point of our willingness to have him involved with us (is because we love him) and so that his life improves.

    I have no interest in maintaining him to maintain his poor choices. (I do not know how I would feel 10 years down the road. But he is changing--so I do not have to go to this dire place.)

    So the rules were: No marijuana. Keep the space clean. For now, do not invite in other people. (He wanted to). Work with us like a job. And pick one thing constructive to do.

    To his credit he is keeping the place cleaner. We do not think he has invited in other people although we did find somebody's backpack in the closet. He did work with us, maybe 2/3 of the time. He would go through periods of leaving (to go to the store, to go study--lie) and not come back; frequently he needed pretty constant feedback to remain on task; but he did work. And some days he said loved working and worked hard. As hard as anybody.

    I have told you guys a number of times: his attitude is leaps and bounds better. He is not hostile anymore. He is sometimes cheerful and funny. He is often kind to us and loving. He is invested in us as people.

    But he lies. He believes he can trick us. He acts as if we are fools to whom he can pay lip service and go on his merry way.

    As I re-read this, I am wondering what it was specifically that pushed me over the edge. It does not seem clear enough. I think it was partly M. M was exhausted. He was working all the time supervising 2 good workers, and my son, who needed constant re-direction. I thin M got burnt out. And this was not my son;s fault. But he was a victim of it. Then there was the lying. He would tell me stories made of whole cloth. and then more lies to prevent the original lies from unraveling. M was put upon when over and over agin he would find glue on our floor. M cannot handle the filth. (But my son is getting better, with the filth.)

    But the lying and not following through were constant and without end. The moodiness with the marijuana troubled me.

    I think I seized on the marijuana as one thing I could control. I cannot control the lying. Or the following through. (As I write this, I wonder how one can deal with accountability and enforce veracity. M believes we have to continually call him on it--it can change, but after a long time, if he wants to change it)

    I said: Use marijuana and you are out. He smoked. He is out. He left today. He was supposed to bring the keys. He did not. He took his stuff, locked the place and left.

    A number of us seem to be dealing with this same thing with variations. How to handle an adult child who is not doing his part, in leaving behind substances, taking responsibility to work or go to school or find a place to stay. They seem to want to drag us along with them, to take responsibility for them, and seem unwilling or unable to not keep involving us in their messes. I can count 6 or 8 threads, at least, in the past week dealing with this same thing. We question ourselves for wanting to continue our part of it, and we question ourselves when we want to leave it behind.

    I kicked my son out 4 and a half years ago. He was homeless in 4 counties for more than half that time. He never got his own place. He couch surfed, etc. He got himself on SSI. He could not stay here for more than a couple of nights because his desire to dominate us, and his anger were intolerable. I was always sick when he was near me.

    That he has curbed. I believe it changed, in part, because of my attitude. I would not speak to him, with that attitude. He could not come home, either.

    I am asking myself, why I am writing this thread, really. What is it that I want from you? What is it I want to learn about myself or my son?

    I want you to know he is out. I want you to know I feel OK. Although I am sad, I am not as sad as I was this morning. I believe I did the right thing. I believe he will come back. Actually I think he is still nearby (and may even try to fool us by entering the house at night with the key.)

    I believe he will think about all of this. I believe he will call. I hope soon.

    I want you to know, too, that I believe it is my proper role to set limits about what my son does or does not do with me, or in property that I control. (I checked online, and any landlord has the legal right to curtain the use of medical marijuana by tenants.) Broadly speaking he is a tenant, even though I have not accepted money. But of course, he is my son.

    I want you to know that after some vacillation (I got wobbly) I do believe that I have the right to impose conditions on my son if he chooses to accept support from me. Some people on the board believe it is wrong for a parent to impose their own values on an adult child. Some parents believe putting conditions that will motivate an adult child to change, is self-deceptive. That we do it for ourselves, not them.

    I have thought about it and spoken with M and I believe that it is not wrong to impose my values on my adult child, if he enters into an agreement of exchange voluntarily and receives something from me. M told me yesterday that his mother when her elderly father came to live with the family, told him he could not live there and be under the influence of marijuana or use it. And he stopped. He wanted to live with the family, he set aside the marijuana. He would leave every now and then for a few days, but he returned, without marijuana. This seems reasonable to me and correct.

    I have a profession. When I get that license and maintain it, I have to conform to behavioral expectations and I have to agree to acquire 36 hours of profession related education every two years. I am much, much older than my son, and I achieved my profession when I was well older than he is. By adhering to that profession, its rules and obligations, its ethics--I changed. I may not have wanted to conform in each of those specific ways but I accepted that obligation because I wanted the right to work in a profession that is monitored by my state. I paid to play.

    It was a trade, just like I am asking of my son.

    He has every right to decide he wants to live in other conditions or places. But if he lives with me, with my support or somewhere I control, he accepts my values with respect to certain specified things. Or he refuse the deal. He does not have to live with me. There is the expectation that he change, and it is manifest, and I believe correct.

    I seem to have worked through my wobbliness. I welcome your feedback. (I do hope he calls soon.)
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  2. DarkwingPsyduck

    DarkwingPsyduck Active Member

    You went above and beyond, you know that, right? You did SO much more for him than he rightfully deserved. You set conditions, and he violated those conditions. To ignore it would be detrimental to his development. You did the right thing.
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  3. DarkwingPsyduck

    DarkwingPsyduck Active Member

    And it certainly wasn't wrong that you expected him to follow guidelines while he was in YOUR property. I have yet to meet a landlord who told me, ":censored2: it, have at it. Do whatever you want.". There is ALWAYS conditions. And, if you think the conditions are out of line, you do not rent the property. If you do go ahead and take it, you submit to those conditions. Violating them is not acceptable in the real world, and shouldn't be acceptable in this scenario. He is getting a dose of the real world, and that is ultimately more beneficial to him in the long wrong. I hope you aren't looking for affirmation, as you do not need it. You did it right. You did more for him than is done for many, and he made the decisions that resulted in his eviction.
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  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    And so it goes............
    I have been where you are, the going back and forth, helping, getting fed up, stopping, starting.
    I went through so much of this with my son. I always had hope that "this time" he'll get it, he'll start getting his act together, he'll start being respectful, he'll get a job, he'll..................................etc.......................
    The day came that I realized the "this time" was never going to happen.
    I know I did all I could. Sure, I could have continued on but at what cost? I cannot live my sons life for him and that is what I was trying to do. It's like I was teaching him how to ride a bike and I ran behind him holding onto the bike but never letting go. I just so desperately wanted him to succeed but my idea of "success" isn't the same as his.
    I think we each have to get the "done" point on our own time. I have often wondered if I had found this site sooner if I would have been able to detach sooner.
    Copa, you and M have gone above and beyond. Only you know how much you can put up with. You set some clear boundaries with him and he was unwilling to oblige and now he's gone. He made the choice for himself by not respecting you.
    I'm sure you will hear from him soon but until then you will go on living your life.
    Hang in there Copa.
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  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you Darkwing. No, I am not looking for affirmation. Except maybe I am a little bit.

    Some people say when we help our kids we do it for ourselves. That part.

    I kicked my son out and did not do anything for him because he acted badly to us. I mean sometimes violent, betrayals, etc. It was not retribution, it was more--you cannot engage a wild animal. There has to be some receptivity to a relationship.

    I was questioned here on the board because I did not help my son then. Because my son does receive SSI. There was a question about his capacity. Not by me, although I came to doubt myself, my own perceptions.

    And some parents question whether the help we give, is to assuage our own guilt, or to minimize our own fear. And that we need to recognize that we are helping ourselves, not our kids, when we help.

    So I get wobbly sometimes on both of these things.

    And the other thing I get wobbly about it that you cannot make somebody want something. I know that.
    But many psychological theorists believe that we change by walking the walk, not by any ideas we have about what we want or like. We do it, and because we do it, the wiring changes in our brain, and we come to want what we do. Like, the liking comes after the doing.

    So, I guess I do disagree with what I wrote. That by modeling something to somebody, there can be achieved some buy in eventually. Actually, that is how we raise kids, is it not?

    I do love my son. You know by reading here how much it costs us to deny them. It is OK. It is worth it. I know where I am going. I just sometimes need to remind myself.

    Thank you, Darkwing.
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Tanya. Your analogy about running behind him with the training wheels is apt.

    I know I cannot make him live in a certain way. If he had not changed some pretty important things, I would not be open to what we are doing now. I do not know what will come. I do not know how much trying I have left, nor can I say for M. It will all come out in the wash.

    Thank you, Tanya.
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  7. DarkwingPsyduck

    DarkwingPsyduck Active Member

    Well, I dunno about all of that. It makes sense to me, in a way. I think I agree with your overall assessment, though I think you made it sound a bit worse than it really is. As a parent, it is your duty to raise your child in the best manner possible, and to provide them the most opportunities possible. I think this is completely selfless. Like it is hardwired for most people. So, you feel good when you do just that. That doesn't mean that you did it TO feel good, just that it does make you feel good. See what I mean?

    No, you don't need validation, or affirmation on this decision. It was the right decision, but a painful one. As a parent, you are going to feel negative emotions when you see your child struggle. That is also natural. But you accept the fact that there are times that struggling is more beneficial than shielding from all consequences, and responsibilities. He made the decisions that lead to your decision. If he doesn't understand that, he still has a long way to go in regards to recovery.

    I hope it gets easier for you. I can only imagine how hard a decision like that is, and I feel for you.
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you Darkwing.
    Do you mean here, his conduct or my own? Am I exaggerating the complexity and nuance of my decision? I mean, I get that. I am complicating it, because of my angst? And because we spend 15 hours a day here in agony trying to figure this out!!! I mean, am I making something simple into something complex?

    Like, your kid runs in the street--you grab his hand and check him?
    Yes. That is my thinking, too.

    There is not necessarily consensus here on the board. And because we agonize about it all, the decision process becomes almost Talmudic.

    Thank you for sticking with us, Darkwing. I am grateful.
    Yes. Absolutely.

    But the thing is, although in important ways he has changed, in lots of ways he thinks like a child. When he blows us, he says, give me a consequence. Like if he takes the punishment, he gets a do over. I worry about this. It seems a serious deficit to have, for an adult man.

    Instead of the adult way of thinking--there are consequences for everything. I will weigh my decisions accordingly. This happened because I did that. I may or may not continue doing it, depending upon how I assess the situation. For adults, there is no longer a parent involved to assess consequences.

    I know I have put myself in this role. Which is a major downside to this arrangement.
    Darkwing, thank you. The part of kicking him out, is not the hardest (but it is hard) because I know it is injurious to him to continue this dance. It was something I had to do. I always come to that point when the weight or preponderance of my thinking/feeling brings me to this. It is not guilt or responsibility that hurts. Or even indecision.

    The pain is more from worry and concern. And really, from love. There were months and months, even years, where my heart was closed--not cold--but closed off. I have opened it so far these last few months. How much I love him. I miss him. He has a chronic illness-Hep B-that he acquired at birth. I worry so much about that. I try to not think about it, but I do. It is there. All of that is the hard part.

    Thank you Darkwing.
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  9. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    Oh, Copa - there doesn't have to be "one" thing. Sometimes the weight of many things is just too much, and there were many little things. It doesn't matter how large or small, combined they were too much. It is good that you know your limits, probably even went beyond them.

    Relationships, of any kind, are two way. Give and take, compromises, trust, respect, validation, honesty, etc...when that is one sided or even lopsided, it is not a relationship. I would not accept the treatment my child has given me from my husband, a friend, a co-worker. We tend to bend more, work harder, continue longer than we would with anyone else when it is our children. Do they know this? Do they take advantage of this? Of our innate nature to nurture? Possibly. Probably.

    You know what you can and cannot live with. I made the decision to not lose my husband, my family, my friends in order to save a child who is unwilling to participate in saving herself. And I would have destroyed myself and so many other good things and relationships if I had not stopped. None of us have to explain or defend when we have reached our limit. It was time to step away, you recognized that - that is a very good thing.
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  10. DarkwingPsyduck

    DarkwingPsyduck Active Member

    He has been physically violent with you? That is troubling. Do you fear for your safety when you are around him? Or the safety of any family member?
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Yes to both. He broke my foot (denies it) about 10 years ago. He gave M a black eye about a year ago.

    Both times he believed he was responding defensively. I was angry at him and later, so was M. I do not fear him. He has no history of violence with anybody else.

    He is no longer even argumentative with us. I am not sure what changed.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Walrus, our children, though adults are not. They may never be able to have relationships with us -- the kind we would want.

    I know my son loves me and needs me. I know he trusts me and respects me. I know that at the heart of him, he sometimes shows me his heart. (He cried last week when he realized he had done he felt was evil--he pressed charges against a young woman who had broken a window to enter our house. He later withdrew then.)

    Give and take?

    Not so much.

    Truth: Taking, lying, manipulating to give the impression of compromising.
    I wince at the words step away.

    Almost, I cannot bear it.

    I see it as I could not take anymore. I could not let him hurt me or treat me badly. I drew a line that he could not cross again.

    Walk away? I can never turn away from him. I can only stop him from coming close to me. (I do not know why that distinction is so important to me.) That is why all of this hurts so bad.

    Thank you Walrus.
  13. Carri

    Carri Active Member

  14. Carri

    Carri Active Member

    I love this Tanya.
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  15. so ready to live

    so ready to live Active Member

    Copa-so very hard-my heart goes out to you this day. In another post you said you were in bed after he did not bring key back-I get this, sometimes I just need to hide as sleep is the only relief from my thoughts. But then sleep eludes me as a final "kick in the head". Such torment.
    I do believe this is the hardest part- the deceit. Like your son, mine has some real, recognized deficits, but don't we all to some extent? It's the "playing us" that kills me. I think just tell me to my face the truth, then I realize he doesn't even differentiate lying from truth anymore. Personality disorder, character flaw or just drugs talking, who knows?

    Walrus said "it was time to step away..." not walk away. I feel the difference greatly. We take a step away to see more clearly, to adjust our focus. You did not walk away with your back to him at all, you evaluated the situation seeing that it was not benefitting anyone. You have gone over and above on your end. No parent could have done more...
    I don't think the questioning ever stops, it is obvious many of us are deliberate decision makers, if we had moved in haste and "caution to the wind" we wouldn't be here hashing it out. In another post I mentioned an old journal we found from 2004. Same concerns, same problems but gave us such a realization for how long we had been "in this". We should be an al-anon example of doing the same thing and expecting different results.
    I'll never stop hoping for different results but I have to the best of my ability got on my own ladder to simply watch.
    A step away.
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  16. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    For so many of our difficult kids there seems to be a disconnect between their actions and the fact that the consequences are a direct result. My son's argument has always been that I did not have to give him consequences. I just gave them because I was mad. :not_fair:This is his battle cry.
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  17. TheWalrus

    TheWalrus I Am The Walrus

    SRTL - That is exactly what I meant. Sometimes we have to take a step back because when we are too close, we can't see things clearly. It takes that stepping back to readjust our perspective and focus, determine what we can and cannot do, and move forward. Nothing says that at some point we cannot step back in when something changes.
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  18. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Copa, this stuff is hard, I'm so sorry you have had to make this difficult choice.

    I agree.

    It all gets "wobbly" because we love our kids and we don't want their choices, which often put them in danger (from our point of view), to harm them..... we want to protect them.

    Each of us is different and has a different adult child, we all have to meet our eyes in the mirror and feel okay about our choices. I don't believe there is a one size fits all in regard to our kids. Comparing our choice to another is not productive, what is right for you may not be right for another. I agree with the choice you made. Under the circumstances you've described, I believe the choice you made is the right choice for you AND for your son. We all have to deal with the consequences of our behavior, your son is not an exception. Lying is not acceptable. Not keeping his word is not acceptable.

    He has not returned the key to your home. That would concern me. If his intention is to return tonight, then that is simply more of the same, lying and doing what he wants, regardless of what you asked of him. I think if it were me, I would change the locks. If it were a tenant who did not return the keys, changing the locks would be the standard response. He did not keep his word.

    For me, each step of the way that I demanded my daughter to show up and respect my wishes when it came to her connection to MY life, she rose to the occasion, she improved and our relationship got better. It got better in equal proportion to the demands I made for her to show up in a way that was respectful to me. She may be the same out in the world with others, and that is HER choice. But in dealings with me, it had to be my way. I demand that level of respect from everyone around me, I don't accept lying or manipulation, or not keeping agreements, why would I except that from her?

    None of this is easy Copa, we all question ourselves, our motives, our choices, our thinking. We're put in situations other parents with typical kids never have to deal with. You always do your best and your love for your son is apparent. He knows how much you love him. He has to love himself enough to make choices that reflect that self love. In my opinion, you are helping him do that. No one feels good about lying and not keeping our word.......not allowing him to respond that way with you, is healthy.
  19. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Copa, you are amazing to me really. You've come so much farther in the path toward detaching than I have, in less time. Of course if he was not following your agreement, it was time to change things.

    You know more about what he can and can't do than anyone else Copa. You know if he has the capacity to do what you asked. Clearly, you'd never ask more than he was capable of. I don't recall what he receives SSI for, or why he has a medical marijuana card? Feel free to ignore the question, curiosity mostly.

    When you first started posting here, you were so afraid for him. I think that you've actually paid your son a great compliment, though he won't see it that way, by putting him out. You're holding him to the same standard you would any other adult. That's a big thing.

    by the way, I would change the locks. We've done more than once, even when our son gave a key back, because he might have made a copy. Any other landlord would do so. Just saying....
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  20. so ready to live

    so ready to live Active Member

    Great way to see it- a compliment-you expressing your faith in him that, as he wants to do it his way, he may. He is capable of handling adult problems-ie. where will I live, what will I do? In his case, as in my son's-there is a little net under them in the form of ssi type support. My son is native american and receives services there if he would avail himself. Feel good about this net-he has done much to prove he has capabilities. Hugs. (I'd tuck you in if I could) .
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