37-year old and parents in bad shape

Discussion in 'Failure to Thrive' started by Jonbaldbg, Oct 3, 2016.


Should we kick him out?

  1. Yes

    7 vote(s)
  2. No

    0 vote(s)
  1. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    My wife and I are 61 and 62 years old and have a 37-year old son living with us. He has been in most ways dependent on us all his life, but things are really getting worse. He has suffered for 20+ years from strong depression, anxiety, social anxiety, ADD, and ODD. The last one is what causes us the most problem.

    He isn't defiant in the typical sense. He doesn't break down doors or do violent things, but he is passive, aggressively defiant. He, in general, will not do what is asked of him and he wants to do things his way except that they don't work and he isn't living on his own. We have house rules.

    He's an alcoholic and has been through 3 rehabs. Four years ago, he did a 6-month rehab and we allowed him to move in with us long enough to get his feet on the ground. That hasn't happened. He has gone from one job to another with the exception of one 2-year job that he liked. During this time he has had money for cigarettes, energy drinks, and constant fast food, but he hasn't paid us rent.

    There have been repeated unenforced boundaries that we've set, as in "if you drink again we'll kick you out." Instead we've favored rehab and counseling. His last rehab was about 5 weeks ago and we set house rules to which he'd have to adhere, or else move out. He has kept some of the house rules and some he hasn't. He has shown some effort, but he normally trys to see how little he can get by with . His AA sponsor fired him because he wouldn't listen and accept help, but had to do things his own way. He has now decided that AA doesn't address his particular combination of problems. AA was in our house rules.

    He is also supposed to pay his cell bill and his car insurance plus begin paying us back on a loan he got when he was trying to live independently.

    Some time back I suggested that he consider disability due to his mental issues and inability to keep a job. This hurt his pride, but he said "I think you may be right." He got a lawyer and is pursuing this, but it is a long process of denials, trials and paperwork. My wife and I have been trying to stand behind him until he can get that and move out. While applying or taking disability you are limited to about 25-30 hours of work each week, so he got a part-time job. They are only giving him sometimes 12 hours and other times more, but they will not commit.

    He is a very difficult type to deal with. In some ways we want to have compassion on him because he has the lowest self-esteem and the most mental issues I've seen. His mother was somewhat like this but by his age she'd decided to take action to do something about her life and went back to school to pursue a teaching career. That was a long road and had it's bumps, but she eventually made it and has done well.

    My son is difficult because he is in such bad shape emotionally, but he will not do what he is asked. He is starting with a new therapist at my suggestion, but in his words, "therapy has never really done me much good."

    Bottom line, he's emotionally messed up, but he has this oppositional streak that he will not put aside and do what needs to be done to get better. I KNOW that if he were really committed to AA, instead of just going through the motions, he would get better.

    Oh, by the way, did I mention he has a strong lazy streak?

    I have told him he needed to get an additional 10 hour a weeks job or replace the one he has with a 25 hour a week job. He put in a few apps but isn't really trying hard to work that out. Instead, he spends almost all his free time playing "Magic" at the game store. I understand it is his one social outlet, but he's escaping life by spending so much time there.

    A week ago, we had a long talk about all these things with him and I affirmed that he was capable and able to get better if he would decide he wants to and if he decides to really throw himself into recovery. We also told him that it was taking an emotional and physical toll on us and that he could not live here that way things are going. In general, I thought it was a pretty good talk. I should mention that he thinks we are disgusted and ashamed of him. There is some truth to that, but I told him what was upsetting us right now is not all the stuff from the past, but his current behavior and that is what has to change. He's said he doesn't think he deserves to get better. I told him that wasn't true and that the past is the past and each day is a new opportunity to start anew.

    He was raised in a Christian home and I've explained to him that the heart of the gospel is that our past can be forgiven and washed away and we can have a new life at any time we choose. He has a problem with the God thing.

    I will be gone in a week for a week and we have decided to not take any major steps until after I get back so that his mom won't have to deal with him alone. But, we have it in the back of our minds to kick him out. He cannot really make enough to support himself while applying for disability and he will be homeless unless he goes to the Salvation Army. There is a halfway house that would take him and that would eat up most of his earnings at 25 hours a week, but he could probably squeeze by. However, he won't want that because he's out of AA and he did a halfway house once and hated it.

    We go to Alanon and I do a lot online work trying to find the wisdom to know what to do. He really has put us through hell off and on ever since he was a child with his oppositional behavior, and we feel we have a right to some peace. We also feel he might just prove to be resourceful if we kicked him out. But we waffle back and forth because in some ways he truly is pathetic. Smart as a whip, very high IQ but has never grown up or recovered from his illnesses.

    Bottom line, we are in our 60's and he will have to live without us when we die, plus we cannot have him living with us much longer. It is a quandary.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Jon. I'm sorry for the struggles with your son. I'm glad you found us, many of us have been in your shoes.

    I have a 43 year old daughter whom I've had to detach from too. It took me a long time to recognize that my helping was really enabling her and once I stopped, she began her own journey without my help. It's a process to learn to let go of our adult difficult children and to allow them to face the consequences of their choices and behavior. You and your wife deserve to have these years in our 60's be free of stress.......you deserve peace of mind.

    You may want to read the article on detachment on the Parent Emeritus forum, it's helpful. You may also want to contact NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, you can reach them online and they have chapters in many cities. They have excellent courses for parents which can assist you with resources, information, guidance, support and compassion. They also may have resources for your son. Alanon is a wonderful support system, I'm glad you have availed yourself to the support they offer. Another helpful resource is the book Codependent no more by Melodie Beatty.

    You may also want to check the eviction laws in your state, often removing our adult kids from our homes involves legal proceedings. You will want all your ducks in order. The process of disability is, as you mentioned, a long process, and I see no reason why your son needs to live with you during that process. It seems as if the time is right for him to be on his own now. You appear to have started that ball rolling and are now looking for acknowledgment that this is the right choice. I believe it is the right choice. You've done all you can do, any change that will happen is completely up to your son to make. As long as you allow him to live with you, and support his poor choices, he will not learn to accept responsibility for his actions. He is a grown adult man, it is time for him to live on his own, even if that means the Salvation Army. The hell he has put you through is his hell, not yours.

    When you return, my suggestion is that you give him a date to leave and stick to it. If you require eviction notice, then find out what the laws are and serve him with papers. Offer him a list of resources in the community if that feels right, shelters, food banks, social services, etc. Get yourself as much support as you can, for now and for the future when he is likely to pull on your heartstrings to make you change your mind so he can continue living in the way he desires. Usually before they let go and begin their own lives, they put us through the mill with manipulations and huge efforts to make us change our minds, be prepared for that.

    This is difficult. It is not what we thought parenting would be. We have to learn to parent our adult difficult children very differently. It is challenging to let go, detach and accept what is. It sounds to me like you know it is time for your son to be on his own. That realization is tough to get to. It seems like you've gotten to that point. Now it is time to take the action you seem to understand is very difficult, but necessary. Not only necessary for you and your wife's well being, but necessary for your son's well being too.

    Hang in there. Get as much support as you can, keep posting, get all the information you can about eviction and begin putting the focus on you and your wife and take it off of your son. Do kind things for yourself. This is hard. I'm glad you're here........
  3. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    It might be hard to juggle two part time jobs...the scheduling might not fit well with the first job. How about adding volunteering to his requirements? Extra pay would be nice, but maybe being around other people and feeling good about helping others might be even better.

    Also, I would be careful about talking about Christianity. He may not be in a place to see it as a positive in his life. Mt daughters struggle with...why did God let my parents have addictions? Why was I placed in foster care? Why did my brothers grow up in different families. How long will mom be in jail? Prison? I am a spiritual person and attend church regularly. But, even I struggle at times. I have tried to e plain free will, and God bring with you during difficult times. I try to encourage them to help others who are going thru hard times. To me...that is being Christian, whether you call it that, or not.

    Good idea not to set more boundaries until you are both home...

    Good luck.

  4. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    Ksm, he has a job interview tomorrow for a 20-30 hour a week job. I think we are past making requirements like volunteer work etc. He won't do that because doesn't want to.

    I'm not pushing Christianity on him, but I along with people from AA have told him he needs God. After one particular "I'm so unhappy" Facebook post, his doctor pretty well laid a dose of "You need Jesus" on him frankly I'm at a point of giving no advice and the time is near that he step out on his own.
  5. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

  6. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    Recoveringenabler, thanks for the thoughts and you are pretty well on target. We have contacted our local NAMI and have passed that info on to him. We're quite familiar with Codependent No More.

    Regarding eviction, I'm not 100% sure but I believe if they aren't being asked to pay rent then you can put them out without notice. Besides, he would never sue us. He's too passive. I will check a little further into KY law. The crazy thing is, if you are asking rent even if they aren't paying it you can't boot them out.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Jon, I live in California, and even if our kids don't pay rent, they are considered tenants and I believe the law is 30 days notice. I've known a few parents who had to have the Sheriff accompany the kids out of the house, they simply refused to leave!

    Sounds to me as if you have the ducks in order already........I can remember feeling very much like you do now.........at the end of my rope, but not quite ready to make what felt like a horrific choice........then I arrived here on this site and met a number of parents in the same boat......they helped me to make difficult choices, along with mega support I received in various other places.....and my entire life changed.......and my daughter adapted to each change I made and is doing much better. It's not perfect, but I am no longer being dragged around my daughter's lifestyle choices and behaviors....I no longer pay for anything for her.....I found a modicum of peace of mind and I am so very grateful for it.

    It appears as if you're ready to make changes now.
  8. JaneBetty

    JaneBetty Active Member

    Jon, I hope that you and your wife follow through with plans to encourage your son to get going on his own. Your post was sad to read and my heart goes out to you. You have given your son the gift of time to recover (four years!) You and your wife have done your job, now it is time for your son to do his.
  9. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    tandemdame, you put it so nicely, "encourage your son to get going on his own." I have a feeling like it will be more of a hellish experience. It will be forcing him out with a deadline. I've thought i should give him 30 days, but those will be 30 days in emotional hell at our house.

    Just yesterday, he called for $5 because his phone was out of data(Internet). I reminded him he didn't pay his cell bill and insurance ($30) to us past Friday and he said that was because his short paycheck only included 6 hours, but he could pay us back on Friday. So I asked if he was paying $65 on Friday and he wasn't sure about that. I held my ground and he agreed, then posted this on Facebook for my benefit,

    “Why am I unhappy right now, at this very moment? Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's because I've been trying to live off a 6 hour paycheck, just spent my last $4 on gas, and half of that gas just sprayed all over my pants because the last person didn't hang the hose up properly. Or maybe it's because I worked my ass off last week, and a large chunk of the paycheck I will be getting Friday for that work is already owed to people, leaving me in the same situation I'm in this whole week.”

    “Earlier when I said I spent my last $4 on gas I was slightly mistaken. I forgot about all the money in my pocket. Lets see...4 quarters, 5 dimes, 3 nickels, and 6 pennies.

    Also my low fuel light is back on already.”

    I texted him “When you wake up, I’ll give you $20 for gas so you can use your other money on cigarettes, fast food, and other essentials. There’s really no need to repay this back. It will be on the side table by the sofa and you don’t need to acknowledge this text or the money. Just take it.”

    He took the money and disappeared until after bedtime. I am fed up with his immature lifestyle, ungratefulness and mooching. I know he has mental problems, but I cannot bear the dependency and entitlement much longer.
  10. JaneBetty

    JaneBetty Active Member

    Jon, we went through a similar situation with our 26 yo daughter who struggles with mental health issues. Many, many reluctant promises to get a job and stay on medications. She is out of our house now, and seems to be looking for jobs and seeking the help she needs. It helps to be able to somewhat track her movements via cell phone records. We live in a medium size city that has decent help for people who find themselves in this situation.
    We have seen her twice since she had to leave our house, and she has not asked to come back and seems to be resourceful in a way that she wasn't under our roof, because she HAS to.
    Your son won't starve, and yes, he might be stressed, but you might be surprised what he can do for himself. He's comfortable in your house. Who wouldn't want to leave? He has unconditional love to act any way he pleases without too many consequences.
    You and your wife deserve some peace and happiness with each other.
  11. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    tandemdame, thanks for sharing your perspective and the success of your daughter. However, I wouldn't say he stays here because he has unconditional love! What he has right now is angry parents, a tense situation, and sheer disapproval on our part. I guess he has unconditional love in that we do love him, but it sure isn't a comfortable situation for any of us. And yes, we DI deserve peace.
  12. JaneBetty

    JaneBetty Active Member

    Jon, try to ignore the FB posts. I used to be worried about what my daughter would post there until things got so unbearable in our house, and I realized that we all needed help and the "light of day" needed to shine on our living situation. Someone here posted that it is beneficial to come to a place where we are not parenting out of fear. In our case, our separation has given everyone much need time and space.

    This forum grapples with the question, "what do we owe each other?" And I don't know the answer to that question. I just hope that my daughter gets the help she needs that I couldn't seem to provide in this house. Your son may flounder for awhile, but you and your wife cannot take care of him forever.
  13. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    I am aware that quite often the Facebook posts are primarily for my benefit. Sometimes they are to gain sympathy from his "friends." They hardly ever give him that and they usually just ignore it. I am afraid of what will happen to him. I'm afraid to go 5 rough with kicking him out even though I did this when he was 18. Seems harder now. However, this is why I'm trying to stay so active on these message boards, they help keep me on track. After yesterday's incident I drafted the list of things I will say to him after I get back from my trip next week.
  14. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

  15. JaneBetty

    JaneBetty Active Member

    Jon, I wish you well. There's no change without change. It seems harder to kick him out now because you know that the stakes are higher for him because he is that much older now.
    We wanted our daughter out of the house, and didn't want to go the eviction route either. In our case, things erupted and the police had to be called. So now she is out. I am not sure we could have gotten her out otherwise, since we tried the soft route: an offer of an apartment, plans to renovate the house to accommodate her, and both were rejected. Now that she is out, I know that we can't go back to how we had been living, but we can still remain supportive and loving, which just wasn't possible with all of us under this roof.
    You can be supportive and loving without offering shelter and money.
  16. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    Thanks. I really don't think we will end up having to call the police. He isn't very assertive. He's resistive and passive aggressive, but not assertive. However, if there is any violence I will call the cops.
  17. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    It sounds to me like your son has been taking advantage of you and your wife for many years.

    I think this is an unhealthy situation for all of you. We had our son who is 21 leave this year for treatment and he has been on a slippery slope but our home is peaceful. We are not always at peace with his choices of course but that's another story.

    I hope that you get the help and find the strength you need to take your life back. We had our son leave because we don't want him living with us. He's an adult. He is making poor choices and we won't live like that. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

    Good luck and stay strong.
  18. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Hello Jon and welcome. I'm so sorry you have been dealing with this for so many years. My son, age 21, has no diagnosed mental disorders (though I don't doubt he has some issues) but he was at the point where we were having him move out again. Yes, again. He was made to move out at 18, because he was stealing. We only allowed him back because he had lost his apartment due to a fire. Our requirement - #1 - was a job, full-time if possible. He was working until recently...when it all fell apart - I have a post on that on the parents emeritus board. We had other rules, which I admit, were at best being loosely adhered to, but for the most part, we wanted him to have that income so he could move out. We required him to pay us 1/2 his paycheck, or 100/week, whichever was less. There were times he paid more. We held that money until he had enough built up to pay deposits and rent, so he could move out.

    Your son is rapidly approaching middle-age and works 6-10 hours per week, lives with his parents and blows what little money he has. What kind of life is that for a grown man? And he posts on Facebook that he "worked his butt off"? Really? He worked his butt off for a whole six hours? Forgive me, my sarcasm is showing.

    At the risk of being hypocritical, because my husband would tell you I was bad about enabling where "frivolous" spending was happening, this stood out to me:

    Jon, in what world are fast food and cigarettes "essentials"? Do you really believe that? Don't you have food at home? I'm willing to bet you and your wife pick up special food at the grocery store for him; soda, pizza, stuff you wouldn't normally buy. I guess that because I did that for mine. As to smoking - and I'm a smoker, couldn't he quit, or at least cut down or buy really cheap smokes? He's only working 10 hours a week, why does he need to eat out at ALL? Why does he need $20 in gas? How far does he work from your home? My son rode the bus to work - a 7 minute car trip took him over an hour by bus...but it only cost $1 and he didn't have a car at all. I have to ask, since you are paying the insurance, is this his car, or yours?

    He already owed you $35 and you gave him another $20, which basically means you told him to pay you $15...

    Jon, like I said, I feel a bit hypocritical because it's so much easier to say than do and believe me, I've done...I've enabled like crazy...but I suggest you NOT give him another penny of cash. Let him pay his own gas. If you feel generous, you be the one buying fast food or cigarettes - the cheapest ones they make. My kid had found some that were under $2 a pack...tasted nasty, but that's what he bought when he was broke.

    But if nothing else, I'd darn sure make him having a REAL job and paying YOU FIRST. Call it "savings" call it payment of his bills, call it whatever you want. But he HAS to do this or he'll be living with you until you die. Then what? What happens to a man who won't work and has no one to take care of him? Maybe he will get disability - maybe not - it's not easy with no physical infirmities, but will he pay rent and utilities, or will he blow that money and then want you to help him? Maybe you want to hold off on the job because they won't give disability if you're working...I understand that...but you have to do something here.

    by the way, Magic the Gathering is quite an expensive hobby. It's not just the starter decks of cards, you have to keep buying expansion decks and special cards and they are not cheap. I expect he's dropping $10 to $20 every time he plays.

    Jon, this is hard. The hardest thing in the world in my opinion and you've been at this a lot longer than I have, so I have no room to lecture and I don't mean to...but I really think it might be time to put your foot down, firmly. He has to tow the line because you won't be around to take care of him financially forever, as you well know.

    To be honest, reading over your posts again regarding your son is just kind of scary...he sounds sooooo much like mine. Makes me even more sure we've done the right thing by forcing him out of the nest - though it isn't turning out as planned. But ours has a thing for pot as well, which adds to the problems. But for a while there, he was stable and working. Hopefully he'll get there again before I'm in my 60's and he's in his 30's. I may not live to see my son turn 37 - 16 years from now, as I'm already 53...though I certainly hope to. But I know I'll be too darn old to keep up what's gone on in the past. Can you really imagine this in 10 more years? That's why change needs to happen sooner rather than later.

    Best of luck to you all.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  19. Jonbaldbg

    Jonbaldbg New Member

    Let me clarify a few things. The comment to him about spending the rest of his money on cigarettes, energy drinks and other essentials was pure sarcasm. We've talked priorities before and it does not goo. We've tried setting up the regulations you mentioned and none of them work. He does not comply. I gave him the gas money so he could get to work for now. He applied yesterday for a much better job and hopefully he will get it, But, the money for gas is a stopgap. I am out of town next week and I promised my wife I would not take any drastic actions until after I return. This way she is not left alone to deal with him. The car is his and part of our living arrangements was that he pay that, his cell bill, and pay down money on loans he has from us. He hasn't been able to get enough hours out of his employer to do that and it is not a good employment situation. But, I have advised him for weeks to find another job with additional hours or replace the job he has with a suitable job. He has made minor efforts at that, hasn't tried very hard. This most recent job may work out. Hopefully. It would be a good fit for him and he would do a good job in that role.

    But anyway, when reading my comments, keep in mind we are intentionally in "status quo" mode until I return from my trip. However, the emotional strain felt by all is not status quo. It's pretty bad. I just can't take the next step until I get back.
  20. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you were serious there. It's not like I never said, "A boy needs to go out and have some fun." But there comes a time after all...

    See...that was always a sticking point with my husband and I. We were of the opinion that if you only work 10 hours a week...you've got 30 more hours to look for work and you need to be putting in EXTREME effort. So yeah, that has to be sticking in your craw too. I gather you work full-time, so it must be awful to see him not trying very hard.

    I agree...don't leave the wife alone with the fall-out. Status quo is good until you get back. I'm sorry you have to deal with it at all.