A dilemma...


My husband and I have had a week's trip planned for several months. We had somewhat hoped our son would care to join us but realized that he probably wouldn't because, 1) He's 18 and past the family vacation stage, and 2) He's only been home from his group home for less than a month and really has no desire to go anywhere.

He is going to house/pet sit for us, but we have some concerns about leaving him home alone based on what happened a year ago when we did so, i.e., we came home to the house a mess but, more importantly, reports from our local police (we live in a little bedroom community with its own 6-man police force who know all the families and their kids...) that kids were found loitering in front of our house after midnight and then ran off because they had been drinking, one breaking a leg and the other found passed out in our back yard! According to the police, who checked our house, there were no signs of anyone having been in the house, although there had been a party up the street, presumably where these boys had gotten the alcohol. There were also no signs that our son had been drinking.

Obviously, we don't want a repeat of what happened, so we've talked to our son in depth about avoiding the same problem this year. We're also asking our neighbor to keep an eye out and the police force to patrol. They have no problem coming up and knocking on the door to talk to our son and/or check our home should they feel the need.

We talked to the therapist who is following our son for the next six months, and she feels that what happened last year is in the past and that he should have the opportunity to house-sit for us, using the maturity he's developed over this last year and the skills regarding peer pressure he learned in his group home therapy.

Not everything is perfect, but we have seen good positive changes in him in the month he's been home and agree. However, my father, whose opinion we very much respect, feels that we should NOT be leaving him alone and that, by doing so, we are putting him in a situation where there could be a good deal of temptation and that we could be setting him up for failure. He feels that, as parents, we should avoid that, even if it means cancelling our trip. I pointed out that, every time he walks out the door, he's subject to temptation, and, at 18 years old, we certainly can't follow him around.

I'm feeling very torn about whether or not we should be going on this trip. On the one hand, I think our son will do just fine, as he seems to taking the responsibility seriously, even taking notes! This is something he NEVER would have done a year ago, but rather let what we said go in one ear and out the other. He really seems to be trying hard to avoid situations where he might get into trouble and has come home every night since he's been home much earlier than the midnight curfew we all agreed on. On the other hand, my father reminded us that our son is impulsive and doesn't do a lot of self-reflection when he makes decisions. I can't argue with that, although we have also seen a change in his impulsivity since a year ago. HELP!!


No real answers to life..
Don't think I would leave him there alone, but I don't know his state of mind....certainly any valuables, alcohol should be locked up. Could your father come stay with him? Or could he go stay with your father?

The problem is if you go on the trip you will be wondering the whole time if he is doing okay.....

Don't know that I would cancel the trip, I would look into other options--he going somewhere to stay or having someone in to stay with him....


Thanks, whyme. My parents are in their late 80's and early 90's and having them come check or him staying with them would simply be too much for both of them. We even considered a professional housesitter, but really want to give him a chance to prove himself.

I hear you on locking stuff up--we've kept our alcohol, valuables, etc. locked up since a year or so ago.

As for his state of mind, I'm quite sure that he's looking forward to having the house to himself. He's already got his Playstation hooked up the big-screen TV in the family room, preparing to "move in." He's been almost paranoid since coming home about having anyone over except for three or four old friends...he says he doesn't trust anyone because "Mom, you don't know the kind of stuff kids are into these days." He also insists that he's not told anyone that we're going to be gone since he feels what happened last year had to do with kids knowing we weren't home and thinking to party here. He's come home early every night, avoiding the party scene. So, all in all, I THINK he's got good intentions and will at least try very hard not to blow this chance.


New Member
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: CAmom</div><div class="ubbcode-body">On the other hand, my father reminded us that our son is impulsive and doesn't do a lot of self-reflection when he makes decisions.</div></div>

This describes my son. He's not a party kind of kid, but on the occasions when we have been gone for a few hours, we usually come home to find a yard full of teens (some of whom we don't know or don't know well). Even when he has been told repeatedly that we don't want people here when we're gone. And these are on occasions when our son knows we won't be gone overnight. We have debated going away for longer than a day, but so far, we've decided it's not worth the risk. I don't think my son, on his own, would get into any trouble, but add a few friends, and anything is liable to happen.

Having said that, you know your son better than anyone. If you're pretty sure nothing would happen, I would go ahead and go, but I would probably check in with a neighbor every so often to make sure there aren't any problems.

One other thought-there have been times when we dragged my son along with us on family outings, and he ended up actually enjoying himself, even though initially he really didn't want to go. Do you think your son would enjoy going once you got to your destination?


Well-Known Member
I'd be sorely tempted to close up the house and get a pet sitter. Even as well as L is doing, I won't have her watch our house or dog. She makes it pretty easy, to tell her no, though, because she point blank tells us that she feels our requests to do things like be home to walk the dog before midnight when you have been gone all day. How stupid are we, anyway, that we think that the dog should actually be taken care of in the early evening when he has to go potty and has gone for a walk for the past 10 years? I am able to tell her that we agree to disagree, and she just can't do it for us.

Of course, now that she isn't living in her boyfriend's 4000 sf McMansion, she might decide she'd want to do it. I hope not. I'll still say no.

It seems to me, from the safety of her office, it's your difficult child's therapist's job to believe in his successes. It should also be her job to understand that you don't have to have the same level of optimism that she does.


I haven't read all the replies yet but I strongly think you should go. I do not think you should put your own plans on hold and this is a wonderful opportunity to see just how much he has changed. You are not in charge of making sure he doesn't succumb to temptation--he is. I remember oh so well how I tried to do everything in my power to keep my dtr from relapsing when she returned home from her Residential Treatment Center (RTC). I did not make it her responsibility, I made it mine. That did not work. She did relapse--she relapsed because she was not ready to change.

I really think if your son has not changed it doesn't matter what you do--you cannot prevent him from relapsing. Please, please do not cancel your trip!



New Member
I don't think you are setting him up for failute. He has to learn to make the right choices in life no matter what the situation. I just know myself, I wouldn't leave him home for fear of what might happen to my home while I'm gone, not him. I would make him go, or find somewhere else for him to stay. Are you really going to relax and enjoy yourself with him minding the house??? I know I wouldn't.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
When we let our daughter move back home, we had the same dilemma. We had to be out of town overnight to go to easy child's state softball tournament. Her counselor told us we should go and leave difficult child so she could prove to us that we could trust her despite the parties she had in the past when we left her alone.

BIG MISTAKE! When we came home the next day we realized immediately that she had thrown a party despite her attempts to clean up. They even slept in our beds! I also found that my computer had been used to look at porn sites.

I vote for a housesitter.



Active Member
I would go on that trip. No question about that. But personally, I would hire some back up.

When my easy child was 18 ... we went away for a week. I allowed him to stay home. But, I hired a young man in his middle 20's to come and house sit as well. I wanted a back up in the event of household emergencies ... pet emergencies, etc. Not because I didn't trust easy child ... I just believe there is strength in numbers.

One month is not long enough for you to judge how your son will do. And really that is a lot of responsibility for him ... and an awful lot of freedom. It's too soon. in my opinion.


New Member
Personally, I think trust is something he needs to earn back rather than just be given to him because his therapist says he should have it back. He does sound like he is making a good effort but I'm not convinced it's the real thing. A lot of his talk sounds like the typical stuff kids spew to make their parents happy while they blithely go their own way. You do have some safeguards in place (neighbor, police) but I think I would try to add at least one more -- maybe hiring someone to come around at odd times to make sure everything is okay?

Is he working yet? Is he still staying all night with friends? I hate to say this, but I see some huge contradictions in what you say -- in previous posts, he was spending the night with friends and rarely home; now, "he's come home early every night, avoiding the party scene." Which is the truth? Staying overnight at friends? Coming home early every night? In other words, what has he truly done to earn your trust?

What happens if you go and your son does have friends over and they do drink or party or whatever? Does he know and understand what the repercussions will be if he betrays your trust? More importantly, are you prepared to follow through with whatever you decide are the correct consequences?

I would say that if you have firm consequences in place, that he knows what they are and there is no doubt you will follow through, go on your trip. You have a right to a life; he has a right to earn some trust back (not just give it to him on a silver platter).

I have my doubts about how honest your son is being. I think he's playing you. However, he is YOUR son and YOU know him far better than I do. If you think he's being as honest as he can, that he's trying as much as he can, then he's earned the right to prove himself. If, however, you think it's a scam by him, then you have a duty to stop him before he can do serious harm to himself and to your property, whether that means a housesitter or you canceling your vacation.
I agree with the housesitter. When my son was released from an Residential Treatment Center (RTC)/correctional institution he had been in for 10 months we had planned a trip on a weekend to Washington Difficult Child. I so hated to cancel it because it was a weekend my husband and easy child had planned together. So we left our difficult child home by himself to keep the animals. The house was a wreck when we got back - the animals were unfed and my daughter had come over to find our dog, that never goes outside without a lease, roaming around the yard. It is hard to know what they will do with freedom and sometimes boredom. Ask someone responsible and a good role model to stay with him.


Well-Known Member
As you know, it's YOUR call. on the other hand, lol, I will weigh in with our
experiences. We left easy child/difficult child twice and there were no problems.
His poor choices, however, have always been away from home as he
doesn't want to "mix" his worlds.

It could go either way. Being "good" would help him mature and
built self esteem. Having to turn away visitors might be too
difficult for him. It's a see-saw. (At least it's not a roller
coaster.) Good luck. DDD


(the future) MRS. GERE
I agree with your parents. I think you are setting him up for failure. A month is still honeymoon time. I hope I am wrong.

I would have him (1) go with you; (2) stay with a trusted friend; or (3) hire a housesitter to stay with him at the house. If he does well under any of those three scenarios, that's a positive step and works towards gaining more trust and freedom, without taking such a huge risk so soon.

I like what Witz said...

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">from the safety of her office, it's your difficult child's therapist's job to believe in his successes. It should also be her job to understand that you don't have to have the same level of optimism that she does. </div></div>

Easy for her (the therapist) to say. She doesn't have to live with the consequences if they aren't good.



Well-Known Member
My true opinion? I think you're asking for trouble. BIG time. And you can't do anything because you won't be there. Even though he's eighteen, I'd make him come with or have him stay with a relative. He isn't eighteen in the mature sense of the word. We left our daughter alone for one night. She thought we were going away for two nights (so did we). When we came home early and surprised her, we found a drug party going on in our house. This was after she had been behaving pretty well (at least around us) for a few weeks. I'm sure she would have cleaned house and everything would have been perfect by the time we got home if we hadn't surprised her early. I truly don't think the age eighteen means independence unless it is earned. It's up to you, of course, but you won't have a clue what he's doing while you're not here and he could easily backslide. This is the lack of structure that, in my opinion, is the kiss of death for our difficult children. I think it's too soon to put pressure on him to make him prove himself. I don't think he's ready--baby steps. I would want him clean for at least a year before I'd even leave him alone for three days. He may actually not want all that freedom--he counts on you to sort of keep an eye on him, and, unlike some eighteen year olds, he needs that. I do wish you luck and hope my prediction is wrong.


New Member
I have never been faced with this dilemma so I don't know what I'd do for sure. I just have a suggestion I haven't seen posted yet. Does he have a easy child friend that has a positive influence on him that he he could have come stay with him while your gone?Someone that you can trust that can handle anyone one that goes there thinking it party time? My difficult child has one of those she is my other kid :).

It would give him someone safe to hang with and remove the idea that you don't trust him if you do decide to tell he can't stay there unsupervised. If he is enjoying himself with his easy child friend it may be easier for him to turn the others away. Also have someone keep an eye open for you that can call you if things aren't going well.

Just a thought.



Well-Known Member
We left Cory at home last weekend when we went out of town to visit Jamie. My therapist thought I had lost my ever lovin mind!

He was supposed to go with us but because he got the job and had to work from 7:45 am until who knows when each day...he simply couldnt go.

I think I would be more inclined to leave your son if he had a structured routine to do. Or if like in my house, there was someone else here. My oldest son lives at home. Not that my oldest can stop Cory from doing anything but he can tell which is a deterrent.

If you had a cousin or someone like that who could come stay...that would be good.

I could always leave my older two no matter what. Heck...I left the older two and went to Houston when Jamie was 18 and there was no problem at all. Well they didnt clean up quite as well as I would have hoped but oh well.


Well-Known Member
Personally, I think you're pushing your luck too. Will he be working while you're gone or some other structured activity where he'd only be home part of the time? Do you have friends or family who could maybe invite him over for dinner so he wouldn't be there by himself all evening?

Something else that could happen ... if he has mentioned to any of his "friends" that he's going to home alone for a few days, the word will get out. He could very well be sitting there one evening minding his own business, watching TV, and have a group of kids show up ready to turn your place into "party central"! Even if he didn't instigate it! Very few 18 year olds would be able to handle that one! What kid could turn his friends away or call the police on them to get them out! Happens all the time. It's just a little too much, too soon.


Active Member
That's a toughy CaMom. Hope this doesn't get to rambly...
Just because he's been at an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) doesn't mean you HAVE to trust him completely. I agree, it's the counselors job to think like they do. It's your son's job to incorporate what he's learned. It's your job to protect your assets, including your son.

I'm thinking, no matter what you and husband do, you'll sort of end up being the bad guy. I think if it were me, I'd tell difficult child what great progress ykou feel he's made, but due to your lifetime of experiences, you are not ready to give him your home for a week while you are on vacation. I think he should be given a choice of attending the trip with you or staying with a relative....somewhere.

1. now you'll be able to see if difficult child can handle being told "no", and if he can go with the flow.
2. if he goes with you on the trip, he might enjoy himself, he may find it boring. So what...get him some music and tell him to chill. He can look for work upon return then he won't be so bored.
3. if he stays with a RELATIVE, this will be a clue as to how manipulative he really is. Will he follow someone else's rules, will he try and do what he wants, will he relapse. If he relapses at a relatives, it may just be self inflicted and only cause damage to himself (not property ie your home).

True, only you all know your difficult child. But like I said, you don't HAVE to trust him. It's up to him to make you all trust him and 1month home isn't doing it for me.

We've only started letting difficult child 2 use our boat by himself, and it's been at least 2yrs. difficult child 2 had to learn how to call husband and not use me as a middle man. It's a maturity thing that takes time.

Just my .02


Well-Known Member
To be honest, even a child who has NEVER been in trouble would probably throw some sort of party if he/she had a week of no parents. Look at how kids behave when they go away to college, even non-problematic kids. I really think a week of being home alone is too much for any eighteen year old, let alone one who has used drugs and been in trouble. I sure wouldn't do it...


New Member
Our difficult child son that did not live in our house at the time of our vacation last yr, deemed it nec. to use our house for a party. We had a mother and son watching the home, and feeding the cat while we were gone. The party went with-o a hitch but the aftrmath was bad. My difficult child left the house a mess, but before the boy dould report to the mother the condition, my difficult child staged it so it look like the houw was broken into and used. He also tried afterwards to blame it on the boy that is 15. Cops involved, and anger by mother towards us, not just towards my son that was guilty. Never again would I have a neighbor watch. If my difficult child son wouldnt have added the extras, adn left it at the party thing, then wouldnt have been so bad from our end to handle. Of course, the mother took pics as it was. Dont get a weird, prudish neighbor.