43 year old homeless son


Active Member
Goodness, the whole "it's MY fault" ideation. Don't I have it too? Of course I do!

If I hadn't pushed Kiddo so hard to learn so many ways to be functional, she'd be LESS functional and much easier to deal with! That's the ticket! I made her learn more than her ability to use her skills safely or appropriately! I'm the failure!

Oh lord, do I hear that voice.

(I mean, I think it's true - Kiddo was a joy to teach and engage in occupational, sensory, speech therapy - but ran into the Autism Wall by, I think about 6th grade. We kept plugging along because Temple Grandin! Splinter Skills! Someday! College! Etc!

Except what we plan for the future and what the future actually holds doesn't always meet up in the same coffee shop. I'm not of any typical religious understanding, but it's pretty close to what my mom has said (Yiddish): "Mann tracht und Gott Lacht." We mere humans make plans, and God or the gods get a good laugh out of our plans.

You've got some good thoughts here, and it's hard but if you get a hold of the difference between Habit and Will, I think you'll make it to a healthier state of mind.


New Member
Have heard nothing since the "I'm going to die" phone call. Whenever I feel anxious I go back over all your posts. Again, thanks for the support. I cannot express how much it helps.


Well-Known Member
My difficult children tactic was to say she had cancer because both of my parents died from cancer. I can't tell you how many times difficult child told me she had cancer. After the first few freak-outs I decided to wait until a DOCTOR told me difficult child had cancer. difficult child, at age 40 is cancer-free. What they will put us through to break our hearts and emotionally abuse us is beyond belief.


one day at a time
Marie, my son is 25 and he has threatened suicide multiple times. I don't believe he ever had any intention of killing himself, but I reacted to his threats multiple times, which taught him that threatening suicide would get me to act on his behalf.

Finally, I realized what was going on. It still scared me, because you never know what someone will do, but I also learned and realized that like every other thing about him, I couldn't control this either.

That if he wants to kill himself, he will. And there is nothing I can do to stop it. I have come to terms with that fact.

I began telling him that I would call the police every single time he threatened suicide, and of course, he called my bluff. I called the police the next time he did it, and as a result he spent a week in a psychiatric hospital. He didn't like that.

The last time he threatened suicide, I was nearby, so I drove to where he was and I got in his face, and I reiterated the fact that I would call the police right now. He backed off, and it hasn't happened again.

Now, I want to be clear that my son's mental illness is drug addiction, depression and anxiety. He has no diagnosis beyond that, that I know of, and he functions in the world pretty well. When he wants to.

Your son may be different, but this is a common manipulation tactic when parents like us say No.

You are well, very, very well, within your right to say no to your son, Marie. It's time. It will be hard to keep saying no, and you will need to do a lot of work on yourself.

Start assembling your toolbox, if you are really ready, and start using your tools every single day. Spend at least 30 minutes a day on yourself in prayer, meditation, reading this forum, reading books, therapy, writing in a journal, exercise, going to Al-Anon meetings, etc. These are all tools. The more you use your tools, the healthier you will become, and you will find the strength, patience, courage and fortitude you need to change the dynamic between yourself and your son.

He may not change, but you will. And that is enough, Marie. Warm hugs and we are glad you are here!

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I didn't want to give in and I didn't. But what if something does happen to him? OMG. Really scared.

I am running on empty over this question myself.

I bounce between "If only" and "I should have" and "if I'd known." Then, I begin recalling the determination with which (in this case difficult child daughter) roared headlong down the path of her own destruction.

And nothing we did, and no responsibility she had, even to her own children, could stop or change or even alter the path she seemed determined to take.

This helped me: Think of the young soldiers serving in other countries. Nineteen, maybe twenty years old. Just out of high school and hardly shaving, yet. Think how young that is, to be so far from home, to be so frequently in danger. Think how they stand up, do what they swore to do...sometimes, die doing.

Now think of your son.

A grown man. A mature male. Verbally abusing and blackmailing the mother he should be cherishing, protecting, respecting, and watching over because he doesn't have any money.

Or anywhere to live.

A grown up man, badmouthing and blackmailing his own mother because it is easier to hurt her, easier to break her enough to give him what he wants, than it is to work, to establish himself as a man.

I am still in the thick of this with my son, too.

It helps me to say:

"No more money."

"You were raised better than this."

"I expect you to be the man your father and I raised you to be."

That last one is not working too well for me, actually. It seems to really hit home for difficult child son and he says the most rotten things. This sets me spinning and I have to post like crazy just to pick myself up again.

It's like I go into shock at the difference between who my son is and the son I am carting around in my heart.

But the difference between now and when I was defenseless is that I can post here now, and stand up again.

And now that you are here, so can you.


And so, eventually I get myself upright again, no matter what difficult child son says. And the more times that I do that, the more certainly I realize that I want what I want ~ which is an honorable man for a son.

So, that is what I am working toward.

An honorable man.

And boy, once I decided that?

I was able to counter that picture I hold of my son as a very young boy. He is not a young boy.

He is a man.

And he needs to stand up.

But if you step out, wait, leave it alone, he will have to figure out another plan. Over time, you will re-train him. But, it will take time and it usually isn't easy on us. All our mother guilt buttons get pushed over and over again, until we stop reacting to them.

It is not easy on us.

But we have one another, here on the site.

Welcome, and I am very glad you are here.



Well-Known Member
Perhaps it would help if you had an explanation of gaslighting: Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.

Most everyone here has been through gas-lighting. It is the lies, the distortions, the manipulating of facts. It is both emotional and mental abuse. It is used by difficult children to get you to do,for the difficult child, anything you would not reasonably do for another "normal" person. It is used to cause what you are going through right now: doubting yourself and scaring yourself with all the what-ifs. It is the never-ending merry-go-round that we stay on until we recognize that we have no control over what difficult child does, says they are going to do or the consequences of THEIR own actions.

I would hazard a guess that gas-lighting works so well against most of us here because we are loving, caring and nurturing. These things about us are well known by the difficult child and so they use those very compassionate qualities against us by saying things that, when believed, leave us doubting ourselves, who we really are, and feeling emotionally devastated when accused by difficult child of being anything but an ideal parent. Probably the hardest part of not falling into the trap of gas-lighting is to begin to believe in ourselves enough, know ourselves enough, to not fall for gas-lighting.

These difficult child's say horrible, vile, and disgusting things to manipulate us into feeling bad enough about ourselves to give the difficult child whatever they want at any given moment. Most difficult children lack the empathy to understand the things they say are so hateful and hurtful. It is if gas-lighting by the difficult child is the baby crying for the pacifier. Yeah, real mature!

It is probably the most helpful for you to understand that the intensity of the feelings you are experiencing has been brought about by the gas-lighting of your difficult child just to position you where you are now. If you don't "feel bad" for difficult child, just how is he going to get you to keep coughing up the money? What "other skill-set" does he have for providing for himself? He gas-lights you because like the rat in the cage he has found that pushing the gaslighting button, if he pushes it enough times he is going to get a pay off. In fact as you stop falling for gas-lighting expect the threats, the manipulations and the abuse to ratchet up because gas-lighting you has worked for far too long and darn he knows that if he just gas-lights you with the right amount of hate and hurt - you will give in.

Something to think about.


Well-Known Member
Have heard nothing since the "I'm going to die" phone call. Whenever I feel anxious I go back over all your posts. Again, thanks for the support. I cannot express how much it helps.
Marie, in my opinion he is either trying to ratchet up your worries because you didn't give him what he wanted or he is looking to other sources because you didn't give him what he wanted. Either way I am certain you are worrying about it far more than he is.

My brother committed suicide. When I wouldn't give difficult child what he wanted, he once left a fake suicide note for me to find. Another time he asked, "How old was your brother when he killed himself? I'm surprised he lasted that long." I just made it clear that I would call 911 every time he intimated self-harm. Eventually he stopped making that threat.

It's really unbelievable sometimes what they will say and do or who they will hurt to get just 5 more minutes of the life they want to keep on living.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Well Marie, it sounds as if your son is punishing you. Punishing you for not giving him what he needs. As the others have said, you are involved in a 'game' of sorts, one in which you always lose and your son always wins. He has manipulated you to get his needs met and now his needs aren't getting met, so he'll show you, he'll stop the interaction and he is well aware of how that will make you suffer. In some amount of time, you will likely hear from him and the next level of abuse will begin.

Marie, get yourself some support, this stuff is very, very hard on us parents. Find a 12 step group, or a therapist, or a parent group. NAMI has courses for parents who have mentally challenged kids........National Alliance on Mental Illness, you can access them online, they have chapters in most major cities and towns. Don't try to stoically do this alone, it is just too hard. It will help you immensely to seek out and gain some guidance, support, a safe place to vent and cry and get the support you need and deserve.

Stay the course Marie, you are involved in an abusive relationship and the way to stop it is to STOP the abuser from abusing you. You've taken a giant step forward and it feels scary, change is weird and scary in the beginning. Breathe deeply. Take a walk. Eat well. Sleep well. Get support. Take very good care of YOU now.


New Member
I did not hear from my 43 year old homeless son for a few weeks. My punishment? Then I got a text of a new phone # with no name attached which son #2 confirmed is son#1's new #. So the messages are starting again. "Leaving CO. I won't bother you anymore, just letting you know." I responded "Just because I'm not sending you$ anymore doesn't mean I don't want to hear from you. Where are you going?" Response: "Hollywood or The Keys so I don't freeze to death. I relied on that $ for food but I'll figure something out. Saving for bus ticket. I'll be homeless wherever I go tho. Gonna be 1 degree tonight, as in 32 below freezing."
Ok, so I guess the manipulation is starting again, right? I'm supposed to feel horrible that my son is freezing and hungry and send more $? Honestly, I'm so conflicted. I don't want to cut off all communication but every time I try just to converse I end up feeling guilty because all he does is tell me how horrible things are. So now that I've responded to him I feel back to square one. By the way, I told him this move to CO from Hollywood was a bad idea but he didn't listen. Now he's stuck there and cold and hungry. I KNEW this would happen, but I couldn't prevent it. I'm just miserable all over again.


Well-Known Member
He is 43. It sounds like he may be trying to punish you, but you know what? He's solving his problems.

The last time he called you, twice, in a panic about $, and look what he did with no help from you. He not only figured it out, he got himself another phone, and he's even found a way to get himself to somewhere warmer!

IF he got robbed twice (which I doubt), then he needs to call the police. There is nothing you can do, even if you were right there, and certainly not from 2000 miles away.

Good for you, for knowing your limits and setting them. You told him basically, "I want to hear from you but I'm not sending you $." I think you should keep up the good work!

Good hearing from you. Keep us posted.


Well-Known Member
Well...maybe he wasn't really robbed. It's not like they don't lie to us. Does he have anything worth stealing?

I would remind him, without anger, that there are food stamps and that he certainly qualifies and that there are places that feed the homeless every day.There are also 24 hr. laundromats and some 24 hr. Walmarts to warm up in. There are shelters too, but shelters have rules.

I like how you said, "Just because I don't said you $$$ doesn't mean I don't want to hear from you."

That is a loving thing to say. Very sadly, sometimes our grown kids do punish us if the money stops. It never seems to occur to them that they could solve their problems just by getting even a low paying job. You do qualify for benefits if your pay is low. Also, when my husand and I needed a break from one another before we married, to see if we wanted to take the relationship to the end point, Tom offered to rent a room in a private house to give us space. He put an ad in the paper and a very nice lady answered. She took him and even his dog...lol. He paid nominal rent (very low) and did chores for her around the house.

Son doesn't need to live in a palace. There are plenty of low rent places to get warm for the people around us who only make a little money. They are also the ones who most easily qualify for food stamps, welfare and Medicaid and your son would be able to get all three.

Good luck. Try to take care of YOU right now. Your son is on his own trip through life. He needs to be capable of taking care of himself because, of course, none of us can live forever.


Well-Known Member
Marie, I should not have said that about doubting he had been robbed twice. I have no knowledge of that situation and was out of line. Please accept my apologies.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Marie, my daughter used to let me know when her life was in some kind of peril, it would send me into a panic. Over time, as I detached from the requests and made it clear I was not giving any more money, she stopped doing that.

When our kids are as old as ours are Marie, we both get into a patterned way of reacting. Like a script. Your son says he is in peril, you have likely responded by helping. He is used to that. Once you change the script, he will up the ante as he's done. The point, in my opinion, is to get you to respond the way you used to, to help him.

Over time, as he finally gets that you aren't going to give in, he will stop, but likely not before he drags you through more of his drama.

Marie, there are shelters and food banks everywhere for the homeless. He has choices. And, I'd bet he's working other angles while he makes you think he is simply sitting on the side of the road freezing, starving and alone.

I used to worry myself sick about my daughter and then I wouldn't hear from her and I would assume all kinds of horrible things that may have happened to her. Then I would see her and she would say she had been out to dinner with a friend, or she was over a friends house watching TV, or other normal kinds of things. But I had spent days, sometimes weeks, stressed to the max and up most nights worrying.

I don't do it anymore. I won't offer up my life on the alter of my daughter's bad choices. Interestingly, she is making better choices now. Her life is still strange to me, but she is dealing with it without my involvement or help. As I pulled back, she began working things out for herself on her own terms. And, we get along a lot better too. It isn't just her asking for help and me giving it.

I understand you feeling conflicted. Of course you are. That is a normal reaction as you make changes. Get some support for yourself Marie, this is hard stuff. You have no control over the choices your son is making, he is a grown man. At any point he can change his life and he is choosing not to. You are not responsible for him. You are not the cause of this, nor can you change it. Do something kind for yourself.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Marie, I can so relate to what you are going through. My difficult child has used similar tactics on me. I have found that those months that go by where I don't hear from him usually means that he is doing ok. As ok as he can be for being jobless and homeless. When I do hear from him it's always a sob story of how bad his situation is. I've heard the same things over and over, "I don't have any money for food, have to beg for food so I don't starve, it sucks to sleep out in the cold, my stuff got stolen, no one cares about me, I'm sick of my life and can't take it anymore, etc....." In the past I would remind him that he is the one that got himself into the situation he's in, and that me and my husband bent over backwards trying to help him. I found this approach only fueled his fire and an argument would ensue. My difficult child is a master at talking in circles, basically there is no arguing with him as he will always have the last word. I have learned when I do talk to him and he goes into his sob stories I simply say, "I"m really sorry you are having a tough time" I never ask anymore what I can do for him. I have done enough. Most people are lucky to get a second chance, my difficult child has been given hundreds of chances.
I know how your heart is breaking but remember, you did not do this to him, he just like my difficult child did this to themselves. They are grown men, mine is 33, and they have made their choice to live the lives they are living. I accepted the fact a long time ago that there is nothing I can do to change him and there is nothing I can to save him. The only thing I can do is pray for him. Ultimately it is up to each of our difficult child's to decide that they are fed up with the life they have been living and seek out real help, not just guilting mommy or daddy into helping them when they feel desperate.
Hugs to you!!


Well-Known Member
There are all kinds of shelter and places to get a hot meal and a place to sleep (especially where it is a colder climate). Once you give cash, there is no telling what the money really would be used for. If he is starving and hungry why is he not using those resources? I bet he is, he's just not going to tell you that. One thing that is interesting with difficult child's is they always leave holes in their stories so we can fill in the blanks with our imagination and we usually do fill it in with the worst imaginings. That's why we call it manipulation. I agree with the others that he is just using the tactics to get money from you that he has used in the past because they have worked.
Also having anxiety or feeling overwhelmed when we try something different (in this case not giving in) is completely normal.


Well-Known Member
I finally took away the credit card I'd given him when he started racking up thousands of dollars on it. That was about a year and a half ago and he has been all but homeless since. I kept sending him $ through friends but was no longer paying his rent. He called last week to ask for $ and I told him no.
It sounds like, since you already cut him off he is already ratcheting up the manipulation with the intent to make you feel bad. If it makes you feel better, make a donation to a place near him that feeds the homeless and tell him that!
Someone posted a link to a website about lying/liars. I went there and took a look around./ That led me to a site about "Statement Anaylisis" : http://www.statementanalysis.com/
I have found that information very interesting. Because I can not have a decent conversation about anything that my difficult child deems "negative" I discuss unpleasant things (the truthful, but awful things) through text/private messaging. Then I print them out and keep them. After reading on the website I pulled some of them out and was able to see all the places where difficult child lies. Interesting thing about one of them was the big wide circle that she went around to avoid answering a question/situation I posed to her to see whether she had, as she was saying she had, changed. I will be studying more of this just because I find it fascinating but it helps, also to see what methods people use to deceive. Especially helpful when dealing with a difficult child!