19 year old homeless son


New Member
My husband and I made the decision to kick out my stepson last May. We spent years trying to get him help. He is a smart child that just refuses to grow up. Doesn't want to work, stay out all night smoking pot with friends....the worse thing is he stole from us over and over. He stole family jewelry that I never got back, he stole money, anything he could. He did not finish high school. He was taken in by a gentleman that tried to help him, but he kept doing the same things and got kicked out of there. Just the other day, he was caught stealing at the shelter he was staying in. He got into a terrible fight and ended up in the hospital overnight.
Today one of his friends called me to try to guilt me into helping my son. I told him,he had no idea what my son had done to us! I informed him not only did he steal from us, we found a knife under his seat in the basement and once I came home to knife marks in my cabinets and when I confronted him about what he had done, he said he was practicing his "skills"!! I was afraid of him. I have no door on my bedroom and many nights I would not sleep if he was mad at us.
His friend apologized to me. I don't think he expected to hear everything I told him.
So why do I feel so guilty? I know I'm doing the right thing....I can't live locking everything up and in fear, but I also don't want anything to happen to my kid....this is really tough! Especially with the awful winter we are having!


Active Member
I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I am dealing with my 23 year old son and all the crap he has put me through. Let me tell you this - you have come to the right place to get support. These people on this forum are incredible. Many going through similar challenges and I kid you not, these people have saved me from crumbling into a sobbing mess. Nothing is more excrutiatingly painful than watching a child you love, self destruct. You came to the right place - sit tight and watch - you will get many helpful responses - these folks are lifesavers. Hugs to you - you are not alone! Its a club no one wants to be in but you cant ask for better support!


Well-Known Member

Welcome to our club...I'm sorry you had to find us, but I'm glad that we are here for you and for each other.

Your son sounds like a lot of our adult children. Stealing from family is common here, Peter Pan desire to not grow up, fighting, getting kicked out of places, even having friends or girl/boyfriends call...we see all these things.

Why do you feel guilty? I can't really know, since your story is so new to us. Did you feel guilty before the friend called? What did he say that made you react this way?

Sometimes I think there is an element of out of sight out of mind...not completely of course, but still, it is easier not to consume ourselves in the flames of their lives if they are not happening right under our noses. But just cause we are not consumeed doesn't mean we are healing...if you just ignore the issues, then you yourself don't get better from this trauma, you just sort of get a break from it because he is away. But having some one bring it up, especially in any kind of accusatory "why won't you help your own child" way, opens the wounds.

You have no need to feel guilty, CB. You have reacted appropriately to an adult who steals from you and makes you feel unsafe. There is nothing else a sane person could have done. So why do you feel guilty? Because you, and we all, need support to get through this stuff, to come to terms with who are kids are, their choices, who we are, our choices. Do you have a therapist? A support group? If not I strongly suggest you find one. You need care and help. Having a child treat you this way, and the positions that it forces you into, is devastating, beyond terrible. It is a trauma. A lot of us joke (or maybe not a joke) about having PTSD. All of us grope and struggle towards being whole and well, whatever our kids our doing. That is a journey for the brave at heart (we call each other warriors). And it is a journey that needs the help of experts and friends.

Try not to feel guilty tonight. Try to let the other, purer emotions be as they are...your fear, your grief, your love for your son, or for the son that was, or the son you hoped would be. Let yourself feel those emotions.

Your boy is still quite young. Does he have a diagnosis? We can hope at that age, before he becomes really entrenched, that he may still figure things out. I don't know, but we would be glad to hear more about him.

I'm rambling a bit, I'm sorrry. But I wanted you to know that we are here, and we are listening.



Well-Known Member
Your story is very common here and it has one meaning: Drugs. The stealing is for drug money. You assume your son is just using pot, but that's unlikely if he is stealing. I lived with this too. I have a daughter who used drugs and I also thought it was just pot. After she quit, she gave me the list: alcohol (lots), pot, meth, psychodelics, ADHD drugs crushed in a pillcrusher and snorted alone or with cocaine, a few tries of heroin (luckily she did not get addicted to THAT), and the fun goes on. I had no idea it had been that bad. She also stole from us, but in our case it was a little here, a little there. We don't have much to steal.

She was nineteen when we made her leave. My two younger kids were starting to be afraid of her and especially when the cops came calling. She was lucky that her brother, who is kind of a jerk but very straight, allowed her to live in his basement, but his rules were stricter than ours and he had a one strike you're out rule and that included cigarettes. Since she was sure he'd abide by his own rigid morals she actually quit in his basement, bo there is hope but it requires being tough.

None of us decided, "I think I'll make my child leave today." We told our adult kids, "We have rules here and to live here, which you are free to do, you have to follow our rules. These rules are not hard to follow. Just don't do anything illegal or endanger yourself or others (stealing is illegal and so is drug use and it's disrespectful to the max to do it in YOUR home). Son or Daugher, we expect you to work full time if you don't go to school as well. We don't feel we should support you anymore if you are not in college and passing your classes. We expect you to help with chores in a reasonable way and we expect you to treat us the same way we treat you. That's it! If you can follow those rules, you can live here."

The way I look at it, they made a decision not to live in our home. They decided their illegal activities, drugs, criminal peers and other issues like following the law was too restrictive for their taste and they reneged on the few and sensible rules we set down that would allow them to live in our home. Then they have the ungodly gall to blame us for being bad parents because we don't want them to do illegal things in our house, swear at us, sometimes assault us, steal from us, quit drugs or get a job. How dare us! Yet most young adults seem to be able to follow those rules without any problem.

Our adult children are different. They are defiant. They feel entittled. They do not want to follow societal rules so they get into trouble, not just with us, but often with the law. They feel they should be financially supported by us for life. And while we pay for all their toys, food, housing, etc. theys hould be allowed to live however they like, without rules. We have some adult kids who shoot drugs in their arms in our homes. But our home is OUR home, OUR place of peace, OUR sanctuary.

Your son is cold? I doubt it as there is a strong community for the homeless with others who refuse to follow rules...that is why most of them end up on the streets. They wore out their parents, their other relatives, their friends...so they bond together and help one another. They know where to go for food. Trust me, they are not hungry, although they often say it so that we will send them money, which they use for drugs. There are shelters for sleeping IF they are willing to be sober while they are there. I worked in a homeless shelter long ago as a volunteer. They ate a home cooked, church lady type meal and had a mattress and covers, free winter clothing, people to talk to and services they could use to get on their feet, but most of them didn't utitlize them. Again, they didn't want to follow rules so they didn't.

During the day there are places to stay warm. There are libraries, 24 hr. laundromats, gas stations, Walmart, etc...and most of them find out how to couch surf. Yes, they have drug parties non-stop. That is why they chose to leave our house, and they DID make that choice. Think of it this way:

"Can you follow our rules and stay? You will get, in return, our warm house, your bed, food, and our company. But you do have to follow normal societal rules, like your sister does. If you steal, that is breaking the law and we will never put up with that again."

"You're a HORRIBLE parent. How can you put your own son in the street, even though I'm 24 and never worked a day in my life and spend all my money (and your stolen money) on drugs, and have no interest in changing. What kind of heartless person are you? I'll starve! I'll freeze to death! I HATE YOU. I DO DRUGS BECASE OF YOU."

Sound familiar? If so, it's because it's very typical.

These grown men and women are making their own life choices. Even if they are 18, they are legally responsible for themselves and most young men and woman that age are either in college, serving our country, or working full time, maybe even paying rent to the parents to help out. When we hear from our normal adult kids, they ask how we are doing and share with us, adult-to-adult with a touch of mom-kid in it, but not "I want you to continue taking care of me forever" in it.

Our troubled darlings never call to ask, "How are you?"

They are more apt to call and say, "Yeah, so, Im broke and I need rent money or I'll be in the streets plus I haven't eaten for a few weeks and I think I'm getting sick (cough, cough). Can you gimme some money?"

Gimme, gimme, gimme.

"Have you looked for a job, Son/Daughter?"

"Yes, but you know nobody is hiring."

"Where do you look?"


Of course, before they decided to breach our home rules, we did all we could to help them, but they wouldn't cooperate and we couldn't make them. They were probably given many life opportunities that they are choosing to blow away.

Suggestions: Don't always read your texts. Do it if you feel strong enough to keep saying "no."

"Less is more." Do not argue. The less you respond to nonsense and abuse, the less you throw oil on the fire. In fact, I have learned to hang up on abuse. As for son's friends, I would have simply cut in and said, "This is not really any of your business." *click* Do not sound angry. Stay calm. Do not let your son bring in third parties...friends or girlfriends or neighbors who have no idea what you have gone throw to help this young man. Just don't talk.

I recommend highly not checking FB as they often use FB to look very high to upset us and also to leave nasty posts about us or to us.

Finally, go on with your own life because you truly can not do anything to change your son. You must have other loved ones who need you to be strong, healthy and would LOVE to hear you laughing again. Hang around with non-toxic people more, your son less. Maybe you need a break from him. That's up to you. Go back to making sure YOU are eating well, sleeping well, exercising, learning how to cope, and I highly recommend Al-Anon. If it's not your cuppa tea then I suggest private therapy for yourself to learn how to make YOUR life a wonderful rest of you life. Most of us here are learning how to live life to the fullest and most peaceful, happy degree in spite of our troubled adult children and many of us have come very far. The longer it goes on, the more immune you get to the whining and childish, abusive behavior. But it is a process and that's why most of us need outside help and support.

I hope some of this helped. Take what helped; leave the rest. Keep posting. We are here 24/7 and even on Christmas so somebody is always around to respond to you if a crisis arises or just if you want to vent.

Sending you good wishes and hoping you do something outrageously great for yourself tonight, like a bubble bath with a glass of wine, soft music, and peaceful imagery. Remember, you are yourself. Your son is himself. You are not him. He is writing his own life story which you can't change. But you CAN change your story and make the rest of it incredibly wonderful.

"Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life."

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Active Member
Wow MidwestMom - that post hit home and the "how can you put your own son in the street"...and the other quotes you wrote.... these were almost verbatim of what my son has said. Boy I was played! Almost exact comversations Ive had with my son. Your post is dead on!

I think for me its harder because I have to detach. Its been me and my son for all these years and now poof - I am alone. Its not easy. I went out to eat last night alone. I sat next to a family with a little boy, who looked about 4 or 5. The mom was asking him about his day and he was all happy and sweet. I wanted to tell her "Just wait lady, when he hits 20, he is going to turn in to Damian (The Omen) and then at about age 23 (The Omen Pt. 2). LOL.


New Member
Thank you all! I regret that this sight has to exist, but I am so glad it does! I just received a call from a family member that my son is back in the hospital from the fight he had the other day. He passed out in a bathroom in a store. They are keeping him overnight. The family member went to sit with him for a while and she said he was lying through his teeth when the hospital staff was asking him questions. Her and her husband found another shelter with a six month program that will take him. All he has to do is make a phone call in the morning, submit to a drug test each week, and work in a factory during the day. They have councillors.
She gave him the phone number and said "this is your last chance!" You have to grow up and fix your life. I hope he takes the opportunity. But I doubt he will.
I guess the guilt comes from "did I do enough?" I believe we did do enough. We had him in counciling for many years. Gave him many chances to turn his life around and gave him many consequences when he screwed up.
I think there is always a part of you that says "did I do enough?"
I know he can not live with anymore. I have and will continue to maintain my strength there. I simply can not live with him in the house.....
Thank you all again....it has been a great help knowing we are not alone going through this!


Active Member
I am sorry to hear he is back in the hospital but at least he is safe and you know where he is at. The guilt is the killer - I struggle with that too. Stay strong, its hard when deep down we just want to rescue them and help but that isbthe worst thing we can do. Keep reading and posting here - everyone is so supportive and understanding. People here will back you and give you great advice. Dont let outsiders try to guilt you into helping your son. They dont realize what enabling is. They are clueless to what you are going through. And do not let him in the house - the knife thing -he is out of control and your safety is at risk. Keep him out!


Well-Known Member
I know he can not live with anymore. I have and will continue to maintain my strength there. I simply can not live with him in the house.....
This is exactly right, you can not continue to allow him to live with you in your home because A. he steals everything he can get his hands on (financial abuse) and B. He frightens you with his manipulative and controlling behavior (abuses you mentally and nationally) playing with the knife and evilly implying that he may use it on you or the family some day. No, it is not your fault that your son has to leave, it is the fact that he is an adult man that is also an abuser as in Domestic Violence Abuser. He just happens to be your son instead of a spouse/partner. Your local Domestic Violence center can help you with counseling for the issues of abuse you are dealing with your son (family abuse). You deserve better than you have been getting from your son. Frankly, if all he intends to do when he lives with you, you are better off having him out of the house.
Of course you are going to go through some pretty intense emotional trauma as you try to detach from your son. It is natural that you would. No one expects to raise a child that turns on them and becomes abusive to them. When we became mothers, that is not what we signed up for. Please read the article on the board here on detachment: http://www.conductdisorders.com/community/threads/article-on-detachment.53639/#axzz3RWzDY0MN
Keep posting and with the support of the board members you will get through this. We don't mind or judge you on anything you feel like posting. Most of us have been there - done that and more so we understand what you are going through.


Well-Known Member
Logically, we can't do anything for our grown kids. We can offer than opportunities to get well or do better. Most of us have gone overboard giving them opportunities all of their lives, even after they turned eighteen. But they have to do the work, so there is really nothing to feel guilty about. You can't get inside your kid's skin and force him or her to make his/her life better. So there is really nothing to feel guilty about. More? What more can you do?

There comes a point when it is best to back off and let your adult child do it himself/herself, no matter where that takes him. All your money thrown to help the little honey has not done any good. It has made us broke and sad and when we attach our children's achievements to our own self esteem, we feel badly. The fact is, they are separate people from us and their achievements and failures are only on them. It's not like our kids lived in poverty, had poor schools, didn't have a chance to play team sports or have dancing lessons or lived in dangerous environments. They chose to find the clutter in the gold. There are bad people everywhere an d they tend to find them. How is this something we can control? What more can we do?

If anything we do too much, they don't evaluate their lives because we are always there to rescue them and nothing changes until we change. The majority of our troubled darlings are using drugs...more than pot, although they will only cop to pot and we will often not even consider it is possible that there is more going on. I just read a memoir about a woman whose two middle class, beloved children were using heroin and she and her husband, who worked with them daily, did not know it. They can be very high functioning addicts or they can be secretive and shut us out. We think they are only smoking pot. Surprise. It is gutwrenching to find out our child who "never leaves the house" is actually an addict.

At any rate, whatever is going on with our grown kids, we didn't cause it and we can't do anything to cure it. It is 100% on them. Guilt is a wasted emotion. My own reaction to hearing about how my son is a mess because of something I did when he was six was to finally disallow that kind of talk. If he brings up that I got a divorce and that's why blah, blah, blah, I gently disconnect the phone and will not pick it up again for three days. I won't read nasty texts either. Enough is enough.

You are at least eighteen. You could be in college or working full time...clean and sober. You could be fighting for our country. You constantly tell us, "I'm eighteen so I can do what I want." That's right, you can. What happened when you were six is in the past. You need help getting over it? Contact your free/low cost mental health center and live your life anyway. You didn't have it so bad. You had it pretty good. Nobody has a perfect childhood. Grow up and deal with it. Kids have it much worse than you did and do much better. It is a choice.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
None of us decided, "I think I'll make my child leave today."

The way I look at it, they made a decision not to live in our home. They decided their illegal activities, drugs, criminal peers and other issues like following the law was too restrictive for their taste and they reneged on the few and sensible rules we set down that would allow them to live in our home. Then they have the ungodly gall to blame us for being bad parents because we don't want them to do illegal things in our house, swear at us, sometimes assault us, steal from us, quit drugs or get a job. How dare us! Yet most young adults seem to be able to follow those rules without any problem.

Of course you are going to go through some pretty intense emotional trauma as you try to detach from your son. It is natural that you would. No one expects to raise a child that turns on them and becomes abusive to them.

I love this site.



Pursuit of peace
Midwest mom, you don't know me, but you just spoke to me so deeply, I am crying. It's been so long since I even relaxed enough to feel happiness and be mellow. My 18 yo son just disowned me last night,, and I decided to take his word for it. His first adult decision after years of biting the hand that feeds him and burning every bridge both real and imaginary. Like a weight has just lifted knowing I am not alone.


Well-Known Member
Nikito, I'm glad. I've had many years to think about it.

Please post whenever you need to. Somebody is always here and we DO understand.

I'm so sorry your son pulled that "I'm disowning you" ploy. Of course, if you offered him $1000 he wouldn't disown you, not yet.

The thing that is so mind boggling is...THEY are the ones breaking the law, THEY are the ones hurting those who love them, THEY are the ones doing the bad stuff...and they disown us because we won't help them self-destruct??? I don't think our troubled adult children think right. And they don't WANT to get help to do better. At least not now.

You've hit a home run giving him your all. Now have a great life and focus on your other loved ones who know how wonderful you really are, yourself (you need to be very good to YOU), and start doing those things you've been putting off while trying to save your difficult child. Try to accept your son as he is...no matter how awful. It is what it is and you have no control over his choices.

"Tomorrow is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life." Make it a great rest-of-your-life. It takes some practice, but you CAN have a good life even with a struggling adult child in the background.



Well-Known Member

I am so sorry you feel the guilt, and completely get it. Boy, howdee, do I.

We feel the guilt until we decided not to. Our difficult children often want us to feel guilt. That is exactly where they want us. (This is totally based on our experience).

I cannot even remember how long husband and I volleyed guilt around about our oldest son (now 33). It was at least ten years. We did not begin the process of ditching the guilt until I stumbled (?) onto this forum. We never dreamed it was okay (even that perhaps it would be a blessing for difficult child) until I found this place. We thought we deserved it. Who else's fault could our son's problems possibly be? Of course, it was on us. We did not do enough, try enough, demand enough, see the signs clearly enough. Gee whiz....it overwhelms me just to think back on the agony husband and I put ourselves through.

And, you know? You can slowly work your away from THE. GUILT. We very slowly started seeing it was not our fault.

Are we still sad for how things turned out for our son? Absolutely. But, we did not cause this. We tried everything we knew to help him turn his ship around.

Today, as far as we know, that has not happened. But, our lives are better. We pray for him every day and love him.

At the beginning of each new day, it his choice how his life goes.


New Member
Thank you all for your responses! I will continue to pray that my step son turns his life around. He has lived with us since he was two. I never had children of my own, but he could not have been more my child if I gave birth to him. I can't help but think if we pursued keeping his birth mother out of his life, things would not have turned out as they have. Her influence in his life has not helped him at all.
But even I can not blame her for decisions he makes today. He is an adult. He creates his own baggage now.
For so long I have thought "I must have done something for him to be this way!", "I was too hard on him, or I wasn't hard enough!"
Thanks to this site I am beginning to realize there are many loving families out there with the same problem...they did their best, as did I, and they are going through the exact same thing
I'm starting to realize.... It may not be me...
Thank you all!


Well-Known Member
Even if you had been able to keep his birth mother out of the picture - he still HAS issues BECAUSE of HER DNA ............I think that's what Chilfofmine was saying.


Well-Known Member
And he'd blame you for keeping his mother out of his life. Trust me, that is the way our differently wired adult kids think. But there's more to it there. They love their parents, even if they also hate them, and keeping them from one would have made things worse, not better, unless she was physically abusing him and neglecting him. As a former foster mom, i was amazed at how the kids missed the mothers who sometimes really hurt them badly.