Am I doing the right thing?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JustWantPeace, Jul 17, 2018.

  1. JustWantPeace

    JustWantPeace New Member

    My son is 19, Bipolar, ADhD. My Husband and I have done all we can to support him. He graduated alternative school last year. He has had 2 jobs since graduating, each one held for about 3 weeks. We have set boundaries regarding paying his car insurance. No pay, no play! He sees a wonderful therapist on a regular basis who is supportive of our boundaries and consequences. She makes sure that our son understands the rules and the consequences.

    Son smokes pot and we are NOT ok with that at all. We had him sign a contract with us that if he smokes pot in our house or is in possession of pot in our house, then he can no longer live under our roof. Therapist knew about the contract and made sure he understood it and made sure I would follow through with the consequences.

    He was caught smoking pot yesterday in our house. We sat him down, asked if he remembered the contract and knew what the consequence was. He said that he did. We told him he can no longer live with us until he can pass a drug screen. We assured him we love him and we want him home, but we have 2 younger children who need a more stable household. He needs to follow our rules and set a better example.

    He basically said he would just consider it a permanent move out and “figure his stuff out on his own”. We said that was fine, but reiterated that he can come home anytime as long as he passes a drug screen and submits to random screens once he is home.

    This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. My husband cried and I was the strong one, which is usually the other way around. There has just been too much disrespect for us, our family, our home. Total lack of consideration for all that we do for him. We have given him every chance under the sun. We are totally willing to pay the car insurance if he would just put forth SOME kind of effort to be responsible and work towards a better future for himself. Whether it is working, training, volunteering, going to school, anything. But sitting around doing nothing and not following the rules or helping out around the house and arguing about everything is not going to get us to pay his car insurance or continue to allow him to do nothing.

    Breaking the no pot in the house rule was the final straw. I can’t believe we actually asked him to leave. Now I just need the support that I did the right thing and the strength to continue my follow through. He left with hugs and “I Love You”s.

    Although he is 19, sometimes he seems so much younger. Did I really just abandon my mentally ill child? Is this the best thing for him? Am I doing the right thing?
  2. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I can't speak to the issue of mental illness, but you are completely in the right in sticking to the terms of the contract he agreed to. I know that right now this feels like the lowest of the low and that it's forever, but you've let him part from you with love ad hugs - that is SO much better than it often is in these cases.

    Hang in there. Other's will come with more valuable thoughts. But at least know that care and understand how hard this is.
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    My immature 19 year old daughter was shown the door for using drugs. I had two littles too. She quit drugs and grew up. On her own. And we never paid her car insurance. Our kids all had to pay their own car insurance.

    Your son sounds okay with leaving. I would let him go. He sounds ready to go, not ready to stop smoking pot. You gave him a choice and he made the decision.

    Your house/your rules. And he is old enough, young acting or not, to work and pay his own bills. Impared people shouldnt drive anyway in my opinion. Some 18 year olds are serving our country. It is an adult age...some are more mature than others but they dont mature so well under our roof while we do their laundry and pay their bills. And society treats them as adults, immature or not. Trust his choice.

    Light and love!
  4. BloodiedButUnbowed

    BloodiedButUnbowed Active Member

    You absolutely did the right thing. I so applaud you and your husband for sticking to your boundaries. As much as it hurts and as cruel and heartless as you may feel, you have done the most loving thing possible for your child: allowed him to experience life on life's terms. An employer won't allow the kind of behavior you are seeing; to prepare him to "adult" independently he needs to learn that.

    I wish my stepsons' father would get on the same page as their mom (my wife) to parent their children in this way. Both of my stepsons are mentally ill, defiant, and absolutely unable to function. My older stepson is in worse shape than the younger, and the older is about to turn 18.

    You have given your child a gift I wish I could give my stepson.

    Have you and h discussed how to handle a "return to the nest" situation assuming he does not comply with your rules at that point?
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  5. JustWantPeace

    JustWantPeace New Member

    BloodiedButUnbowed, we were very clear that in order to return he must pass a drug test and agree to random tests after returning. My H is actually his step-father and loves him more than I could have ever hoped for. We support each other in this action and are blessed enough to have each other for strength and support.

    Unfortunately, at this time, our son seems to not be interested in coming home, but I know that won't last long. Only until he has used up all his couch time at friends houses. Hopefully by then he will be ready to follow the rules and start adulting. But there is that fear that I hold that he will not learn and will be defiant enough to try to "stick it to us" and live on the street. But I just have to keep repeating that these are all his decisions. I just hate causing pain to people and I hate conflict.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree that you made the right choice. You sound committed to the path you've set forth, which is wonderful.....and at the same time, it's often the hardest thing any of us have ever done. But strong boundaries are the best option. We can't wait for our adult kids to change..... WE have to do the heavy lifting of change.

    It may be helpful to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. I'd encourage you to shift your focus off of your son and put it on yourself and the rest of your family. Remember what life was like before your son slipped off the rails and recapture your peace and comfort. Nourish and nurture yourselves.

    Hang in there. You're not alone, we're all here with you.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    If you haven't already, you might contact NAMI as well, they're the National Alliance on Mental Illness, you can access them online. They have very good parent courses which may offer you support & guidance.
    Here's the info: About NAMI | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome to our little corner of the internet. I'm glad you found us here.

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with this. All of us here know the heartbreak you feel.

    I believe you not only did the right thing but the only thing. There are too many times that parents will set clear boundaries and rules but struggle to follow through with the spelled out consequences. You have sent a clear message to your son that you will not cave in and let him get away with breaking rules.
    When parents don't follow through it makes it that much more difficult down the road.

    As for your son being bi-polar, that's not the end of the world. There are many people who are bi-polar who mange just fine. Your son is still very young and may very well turn things around. I do hope that he will continue to work with his therapist.

    Going forward can be challenging. Your son may reach out to you in desperation claiming he has no where to go, nothing to eat, etc..... This can tear at your heartstrings but you need to remain strong. Have list ready of shelters and places that offer meals. Remind him that he can come home only if he passes a drug screen.

    I'm glad you are here. Read others posts and gain strength from those that have been on this journey a long while.

    We are always here for each other so even if you just need to vent, feel free to post.

    ((HUGS)) to you...........
  9. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Was he diagnosed with bipolar before or after he started drugs? My daughter was diagnosed with it after. She is clean years now and doesnt have any symptoms of bipolar. It is impossible to get a clear diagnosis when they use drugs. The drugs cause symptoms of mental illness. So you and even the doctors dont know what he is like when he is not fogged on drugs.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  10. Wish

    Wish Active Member

    Yes you are doing the right thing. I have a extensive history of Bipolar disorder and PTSD. My parents did not care about any of it. They tolerated nothing from me. They could have been a lot kinder at times but it is what it is. They didn't give me the option of "if you don't do this, then you get to come back". It was one and done with them.

    Your son doesn't seem to be as bad off as some of the difficult children here so this is the time to save him. So nipping it in the bud now before it gets worse is the absolute right thing to do.
  11. JustWantPeace

    JustWantPeace New Member

    Thank you all for your support. It really helps and I know that desperate phone call will come some day. I have a list of responses ready (found on another thread). I didn't go into all of the struggles we have had with him because we try not to hold grudges and use past indiscretions against him. But this has been a very long road. He has always shown signs of being Bi-polar, but he was not officially diagnosed until recently. He refuses to take his medications, which when he is on them we see a huge difference. His ups and downs are more hills than mountains when he is on his medication. We know that the drug use exacerbates his symptoms of Bi-polar, but they have always been there. I just keep questioning myself and this decision. Have I really done everything before it got to this point? Was there something more we could have done? Did I fail as a mother since he has no consideration for others? What if he is not mentally capable of taking care of himself, can I force him to become capable by kicking him out? He isn't "slow". He is immature. He makes bad decisions. He is SUPER self-centered, to the point of being narcissistic. I just don't know and I guess I won't know for a long time. I have to keep telling myself that he isn't going to change and mature overnight because I have asked him to live somewhere else. I found a good quote or analagy or whatever yesterday that I keep repeating, "you’re not pushing them out of a plane without a parachute. You’re pushing them out into the street without any money". I am so thankful I found this forum and I am not the first or last to go through this situation. Now I need to find a good drywall fixer for some holes in my walls that are about the size of a 19 year olds fists.
  12. JustWantPeace

    JustWantPeace New Member

    WOW!!! That article on detachment is exactly what I needed. I have thought all of those things. Thank you so much!!! I am going to print that out and put it on my fridge. Thank you! Thank you!
  13. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    I can only share from my own personal experience. I spent years and tens of thousands of dollars trying to help my son, giving him second chance after second chance. In the end, I was doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome. You know the saying, "the sign of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over expecting a different result". I made the choice that I was tired of the insanity. Had I found this site all those years ago, I could have saved time and money.
    No, you did not fail as a mother. The fact that you are here on this site speaks to your character as mom, that you love your son and are deeply concerned about him. I'm sure there are parents out there that once they "liberate" their child from their home, they don't think twice about them.
    I'm sure your son is capable of taking care of himself. While he may have struggled, he graduated and was able to hold a job.
    As for maturity, well my son is 36 going on 14. My son just wants the "easy" life, the one where he doesn't have to be responsible for anything, the one where he can drink and smoke pot all day without a care in the world, the one where he doesn't have to work. Self centered and narcissistic, yup, he's all that too.
    As much as I don't like the choices my son has made in how he lives his life, it's his choice and there is nothing I can do to change it. Once I accepted this I was then able to work on letting go and detaching with love.
    This is a journey none of us want to be on but here we are. I will always love my son and will always hope that he will someday decide to make better choices for himself but I will not allow the choices he makes to affect how I live my life. It was not easy moving past all the anger and hurt but I did it. I have a wonderful life filled with lots of joy. That is my choice, to live a life with purpose and meaning.

    Take good care of yourself. Self care is not about being selfish, it's about nourishing ourselves, mind, body and spirit.
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  14. JustWantPeace

    JustWantPeace New Member

    I was strong and ok, until he called with no where to go. Said he has no food or water or a blanket to sleep on the park. My heart is breaking. How can I sleep under the door of my big home when my son is in a park by my doing? How can sit on my comfy couch searching for a homeless shelter? I don't get it.
  15. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Your son broke your house rules. There are consequences in real life to not abiding by rules. He will learn this with you now, or he will learn it down the line in a more harsh way when you are not available to help him. He made the choices which lead him here, you did not. Breathe deeply, hold on and trust that you made the right choice. It is not easy. However, it is necessary if you want to see any change. This is the part that is hardest on us.....hang in there.
    Try praying, meditating, placing your son in the hands of your perception of a higher power.
  16. startingfresh

    startingfresh Member

    I wanted to offer my support as we have been in the same spot as you.My son is also now 19 and 6 months ago we asked him to leave for smoking pot in our home. I have younger children and they were final push I needed to make it happen. He would always promise never again when caught and on and on we went. He was also disrespectful of our home and would come and go at all hours never telling us where he was. It was very very difficult and I felt like a complete failure as a mom. I still ask myself if I did all I could to help him. He has found a place to live and has done ok. He seems happier and in order to pay his bills had to stop buying pot. He told me he was done with it but has not asked to come home. He recently quit his job so Not sure what is next. It’s more about us now and how we are all beginning to heal and live without constant stress and chaos. My other children deserve peace.
  17. bluebell

    bluebell Active Member

    We just kicked out 21 year old out Sunday and I know exactly how you are feeling. He has a place to stay but no money and no AC and it's extremely hot. In our case he threatened my husband's life so it does give me resolve. Is this the first time you have kicked him out? This is our second time around he's been back for a year or so. My overriding emotion is sadness this time, but I do remember the last time and I was very anxious and self doubting. I still have those thoughts but I know we did what we said we would do and if he was here I would be feeling worse. Much worse. I'm so sorry for what your son has put you through.
  18. JustWantPeace

    JustWantPeace New Member

    I can't stop crying. This is horrible. We took him a blanket at the park last night. I can't stop picturing him trying to sleep in a park. He called this morning begging to come home. I had to stick to my guns and tell him he had to be clean before he can come home. Unfortunately, pot stays in your system for a long time before a drug screen will come out clean. In a state where pot is legal (if you're over 21) I am really struggling. But I also have to think of it like alcohol. It doesn't matter that it is legal, it's not allowed in my house. I know, I'm giving myself my own advice. I just need to talk it out sometimes. I dread his phone calls because they make me feel like crap, but I love his phone calls because I know he is still alive.
  19. JustWantPeace

    JustWantPeace New Member

    This is the first time we have kicked him out. We thought about it before but felt we needed to be clear about what would force us to do this and give him a chance to prevent it. Thus the contract we drew up with him. Becuase of his immaturity, I feel like he wasn't ready. Maybe I didn't remind him enough of that rule and that contract though.
  20. Wish

    Wish Active Member

    Remember, this is going to be the hardest thing you ever done. You have to stay strong. Any help that you give him out there right now, besides contact numbers to shelters and food banks, might actually hurt him instead of help him and prolong the experinece/lesson even longer. Be wary of sending mixed messages to him. They are disastrous for difficult children.

    Also, if he has a pot addiction, that's probably never going to change. He is a grown man now. There is no room for adult children to live in the home regardless of mental illness or not, especially if there are younger children in the home. He needs to be in his own place. It will just not work at your home with him living there.