Adult son steals and lies


New Member
We have an adult son who steals and lies. The lies started in college. He went away to school and never attended class. He promised to go the next semester and didn't go. My husband moved him into an apartment the following year and he promised to attend community college. He didn't go. He came back home, got a job, but stopped going to work. There were signs that he wasn't going to work, I showed up and his employer said he quit two weeks prior. He joined the army and we thought he was on the right track. He earned commendations and was deployed in Iraq. He was stationed in Europe and married a local girl. After deployment he told her he didn't love her and left the country for his new assignment. He took the car her parents purchased from the US Army base. He sold the car and never paid her parents back. He bought a car while on his new assignment, defaulted on the loan. He bought a motorcycle, defaulted on that loan. Married girl #2 and moved back to the states. He left the army and was to attend school. He collected the housing for the GI bill but hasn't completed school. He owes over 40K to the government for collecting the housing allowance and payment for school that he didn't complete. He was accepted in a contractor apprentice program for electricians, he quit the program. My husband took out a loan so he and wife #2 could have a car (Wife #2 left after 3 months in the states). He doesn't pay the car payment, doesn't pay his cell phone, which is on our account. He racked up almost 3K in parking tickets, which we paid since the car is in my husband's name. He has given us 300 here and there. He stayed at our home to house sit the dogs and forged a check for 100.00. He stole my iPad which I found in his belongings. He stole our change jar and cashed out the money. He lies - says he's working when he's not. He lied for months about school and the apprentice program. He only tells the truth when he's caught and forced to. He hasn't paid his rent for three months and is being evicted. My husband told him he can live at home until he gets on his feet. I don't feel comfortable with my son in my home. Fortunately, I work from home and I'm here most of the time. We have two other children who are thriving, loving, and responsible adults. They call and come home to visit and enjoy being around my husband and I. I'm at a loss. My husband and I tried everything, but I am tired of being lied to. We have done way more than any other parent would or is capable of doing. When he visits, we give him food. We buy dog food for his dog. He doesn't have friends and he always has a girlfriend. He doesn't communicate with any family members other than his immediate family. I believe my son is a sociopath, he has no feelings or remorse for the stealing and lies throughout the years. He doesn't care about others. His only actions are to benefit himself at the expense of others. Now that he's moving in, I need to be on guard to watch his every move and I'm concerned he'll take my mail and open credit cards. I know my husband and I have given more chances and perhaps have enabled him. Should I cut off ties until he can prove that he is trustworthy and can take care of himself?


Well-Known Member
Ugh. I would not trust him now or maybe ever. He does sound like a sociopath and they take, take, take, have no remorse and need to be out of a family home or they will bankrupt/destroy the rest. You know darn well that getting on his feet means taking or stealing from you with no guilt on his part.

The man, your son, has been in the Army. He doesnt need to move in with his parents, even if its easy and even if he squandered all he had and took from others.

in my opinion he will never be like your loving kids and can destroy your relationships. At any rate, he certainly wont change without extreme therapy, the strong will and hard sweat to change and many years of therapy. In other words, he hasnt yet changed one wit.

Before you allow him in your sanctuary, go for marital counseling. You both must be on the same page.sounds like hub is in denial or guilty or both. You dif not cause this. Some people are wired differently in a negative way. It isnt your parenting.

If he will steal your mail, he is unfit to be allowed on your property. A restraining order may need to happen. Change your locks. If you meet up with him go only to a CROWDED public restaurant so he isnot alone with you andnot near your money.

Do not let him destroy the rest of you. I assume he does not want to go for therapy and does not try to change. Please be safe. Dont let him back. In your gut, you know it will be a disaster. Right?
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Roll With It
Did he lie and steal as a child or did this just start in college? If it started in college, it is highly likely he has a substance abuse problem. You might not even see it. It could be something he binges on and doesn't use constantly. My brother became an alcoholic starting at age 12 and he was in the army. They never caught on to his problems. I was the only one who kept insisting he had a problem and it caused real problems between my mother and I. She thought I just wanted to get him in trouble. I wanted to get him some help. Especially when he was still a kid!

Even if he is using something, you didn't cause it, you cannot control it, and you cannot fix or cure it. Tell your husband that your son cannot live at home. Do whatever you need to do to keep your son from moving in with you. He is a grown man and any problems he has are because he has made poor choices. The ONLY thing that is going to make him get any help, IF he can be helped, is a very large dose of natural consequences.

That means he has to face the problems he has made without any help. He has to go and live with whatever means he has, and support himself without any help from you. Let his girlfriend help him if she is dumb enough to do that.

If he is a sociopath, and that may be true, I don't know, nothing will help. You won't know until you are sure he isn't using something. If he is an addict/alcoholic (same thing really), only getting clean and getting major amounts of therapy will help. I would tell him he has to spend at least a year or two cleaning up his mess before he can try to live with you. That is time spent with no use of booze or drugs, no lies to anyone, a steady job with no excuses for not working every day, and he has to get into a debt relief program and do what they say. A reliable debt relief program. If he has done these things for a year, with proof of them, then he can contact you. Until then, you are going to focus on your other children. You have given him enough.

In the meantime, get into therapy. Find a private therapist that you can trust. Treat the first few sessions as an interview. Evaluate the therapist to see if you are comfortable and if you feel you can trust her/him. Not all therapists are right for everyone. I have run into more idiot/quack therapists than I could count here, but I have also seen really amazing ones. It is well worth it to see the idiots to weed them out so that you can find the truly wonderful ones. Just listen to your instincts. When the therapist tells you to do something that goes against your instincts or common sense, think hard about it and consider moving to a different therapist. Sometimes it is because you are in a bad pattern of behavior, and sometimes it is because your therapist is an idiot.

You should also consider AlAnon or NarcAnon Family Groups. Not everyone is comfortable with them. Don't quit after one or two meetings. Go to different meetings at different places and times so that you can see what is out there and which one might be the right fit for you. Each meeting has a different feel, so you have to try different times and places to find the right one. They truly can be amazingly helpful. AlAnon really helped me with my brother's alcoholism and my parents' refusal to admit it. The funny thing is that my mother is the one who first dragged me to a meeting. Her father was an alcoholic and she wanted me to deal with the patterns of behavior I learned as the grandchild of an alcoholic. It took her a decade longer to see my brother's problem as a real problem.

Whatever you choose, get some help to work through all of the confusion and feelings that your son's problems will cause. It is so hard to cope with all of this and it is only natural to need some help dealing with it. Drag your husband to marriage counseling also.


Long road but the path ahead holds hope.
Both responses above are excellent advice. I am so sorry you are going through this HWM.

Keep posting you are not alone.