Can't Stand Young Adult Son

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Stress Bunny, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    Our young adult son's (JT's) behaviors are extremely antagonizing on a regular basis. In a nutshell, this is what is and has been going on over the past two years:

    • Charged with underage drinking the weekend we dropped him off for his first semester at college.
    • Flunked semester 1 at University #1.
    • Flunked semester 2 at University #1.
    • Kicked out of University #1.
    • Flunked EMT class at College #2.
    • Came home to start new Fire Medic program at a local college.
    • Abused all house rules immediately and behaved very disrespectfully to all of us.
    • Told him it wasn't working out and that he would either need to follow house rules or move out.
    • He opted to move out.
    • Never continued with study at College #2.
    • Moved far away and in with friend whose life was also going nowhere fast.
    • Started smoking.
    • Hired in automotive repair job.
    • Fired from automotive repair job after two weeks. He failed to do something right, which resulted in a safety issue for the car owner. Of course, he argued that he was still right in what he did and that the company was wrong.
    • Lying nonstop about everything.
    • Got a credit card and charged up well over $1,000, though he had no job or intention of paying the balance.
    • Accumulated other bills he failed to pay, and creditors began calling.
    • Traded the truck we bought him (that he wanted and we worked hard to save for) for a piece of junk truck that is no longer running. He now drives his girlfriend's truck back and forth to work.
    • Lies constantly about everything, as though the fact that he says something makes it true; contradicts his own statements just moments after making them, as though everything he says is true even when his remarks are in direct conflict with one another.
    • Moved in with grandparents for 8 weeks after getting hired for a factory job.
    • Currently in his own apartment (for past month).
    • Shows zero respect in his communications with husband and me. He swears and uses other disrespectful language.
    • Continues to lie nonstop about everything.
    • Calls at all hours with no regard that we may be sleeping.
    • He respects no one, only himself. All that matters is what he wants.
    • He only contacts us (or other family members) when he wants something, and yet, he won't come right out and ask, because apparently, that is beneath him.
    • Chooses to behave in ways that he knows are provocative to us:
      • Smoking
      • Buying guns
      • Porn
      • Swearing
      • Red-Neck Worship
      • Filthy Dirty Living
      • Refusing to Shave his Face - Ever
      • Shaving his Head Regularly
      • Big Ego; Extreme Narcissism
      • Constant Boasting and Bragging
      • ALWAYS thinks he is Right
      • Argumentative
      • Enjoys Button-Pushing
      • Out of Touch with Reality; Believes he is Better and Smarter than Everyone
      • Willing to Lie to get into Military
      • Constantly trying to Use and Manipulate People
      • Disrespect of Women
      • Doesn't Believe he needs Training or a Degree because he is Already More Qualified than Everyone for Every Job
      • Refuses to Live on a Budget or Allow us to Help Him Organize his Bills
      • Nothing is EVER his Fault or his Responsibility
      • Does not Care about Anyone but Himself
      • Smirks when Confronted about how his Behavior Negatively affects Others
      • Lacks Empathy (see above)
      • Big Mouth
      • Inconsiderate
      • Rude
      • Disrespectful
      • Unable to Control his Behavior, i.e. risk seeking behaviors, and instant gratification/impulsivity
    The only positive is that he has managed to keep a decent paying job for the past 90 days. He has been living in an apartment of his own for the past month. We no longer pay any of his bills, but this has just begun over the past month or so.

    I honestly can't stand this person at all any more. Every interaction with him is difficult for me.

    When he graduated from high school with a 3.5 GPA, scholarships, and a 25 ACT score, he had a goal. We had hope. But over the past two years, his behavior has gone downhill so much. He has always been a very stubborn and defiant, difficult, and uncooperative person, but at least it seemed like he might be able to use his intelligence and abilities to compensate. He is milking his new freedom for all it's worth.

    I feel so disappointed, angry, and hopeless that this will ever change. I know that at a minimum, JT is a narcissist, and at worst, possibly a psychopath. I'm exhausted and heartbroken.

    I have been reading about setting boundaries and detachment.

    Just need some support, I guess.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I was just about to turn off the computer when I saw your post. I guess I can welcome you to The I-Wish-I-Didn't-Belong-To-It Club. That's my new name for people here with adult difficult children :) Hey, humor keeps me sane.

    First of all, this is only my opinion. We all have them. And you take what you want from my response and throw the rest in the trash. It is not meant to tell you what to do. They are only my thoughts.

    The biggest thing that konked me on my thick skull :) is that you worry too much about what difficult child thinks and does. I certainly understand much of your disapproval of so many of his habits, but you know what? He is himself and you are yourself. It is a waste of angst and energy to worry about if he worships "rednecks" (whatever that is) or smokes in his own home (I hate this habit, but I can't control if somebody else does it as long as it's not in my house), if my kids have dirty homes in their own places it's not my business, etc. His beard and his bald head are his own personal choice. We can't tell our grown children how to groom really is none of our business. A lot of what you worry about may not reflect your own values, however they don't really affect you. I would put all of that into a large mental garbage bag. Let's call it trash. You can't do squat about it so why even give it your peace of mind? You want a serene, happy life and thinking about all the stuff that bothers you about difficult children nasty habits THAT DO NOT AFFECFT YOU is harming your health, both physical and mental and is not worth it. You have to start taking care of your own well being and thing extra stuff is just cluttering your trash. It is not fixable.

    Onto the stuff that does affect you such as his disrespect. You can not do one thing to make him a respectful person. I have a son who is disrespectful too and I can't change him. Only he can change him. What I can do is refuse to talk to him when he swears at me, calls me names, tells me what I do wrong, yells, etc. And that's exactly w hat I do. Most of our contact is by phone as he thankfully lives in a nother state. He used to be very verbally abusive. As soon as he starts with that, my cell phone goes silent and I won't answer him calling me or read any texts from him for another day. Then he gets another chance. If he blows it, well, he is 36. He is a middle age man. I'm not going to treat him like he is still ten. He knows my boundaries. If he doesn't follow them, he loses the ability to talk to me. I wish I had done this when my son was your son's age. It took me until he was almost thirty to put any boundaries on his trash talk to me at all and I feel silly that I hadn't started sooner. It would have been easier for him and for me.

    The bills. YOu should not be organizing his bills. He is a young man, no longer your child. If he screws up his bills, he screws up his bills. Why should you organize his bills for him? Is he ever planning on learning to do this himself? Are you planning on living until eternity and doing it for him? You can't. He has to learn to organize and pay his own bills. He is certainly old enough to do that. You can show him a few times, but I personally think that should be on him. You worry too much about his business and this takes away from your own time and happiness. Try to remember that he is a MAN. We tend to think of our adult men and women as that little boy or girl we bounced on our knee and hugged. I know I did. But he is a man and many men his age don't have dad and mom helping them at all.

    Unable to control behavior, risk taker, life is not going well: Yes, he can control his behavior. He is choosing not to. And you can't make him control it. His risk taking is a choice as well. His lack of empathy could be a sign of a personality disorder such as antisocial personality disorder or narcissism. Personality disordered people are quite common and VERY hard to deal with because they are unpredictable, totally never wrong in their own minds, and they blame YOU for everything. That, as parents, makes us feel like we were terrible parents. However, they are manipulating us to feel that way and we can choose to look back and realize we were actually very good parents. I will post the links to antisocial and narcissistic personality disorder and you can see if your son has some traits of either or both. If so, he will be difficult and you need to accept this and deal with him in the best way for YOU and move on so that you can have a happy life.

    There is something I find helpful called "radical acceptance." You can look for it in any search engine. Basically it means "It is what it is, I don't have to like it, but I can't change it, so I accept it and I can now live my life in peace." It is a wonderful concept.

    I also think it would be helpful for you to read the article on detachment on this site. We learn to detach from the drama with our love, but we have our own lives and they have their own lives. We are not them. They are not us. We have lives separately from them and they make choices in their own lives and we can't control their choices. What we can do is choose happiness for ourselves in spite of not being happy with our difficult child's choices. We do not have to be unhappy because they are or because they are making poor decisions.

    That's sort of what we try to talk to one another we can learn how to live our own lives with joy and peace even if our adult children are struggling. And we have such good posters. I'm sure they will come along.

    Wishing you a peaceful, serene night. Nice to "meet" you.
  3. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    Midwest - Thanks for some much-needed advice from someone who has obviously been around the block with this sort of thing.

    You are blunt, but I appreciate the honesty. I agree that I need to let go of the things that irk me about JT's appearance and annoying, but otherwise benign choices, such as the way he carries himself, etc. I absolutely hate it when people smoke, and I won't allow it in my home. Of course, JT lies and claims he doesn't smoke even though there are cigarettes in his truck and butts and lighters in his pockets.

    I do need to think about our younger boy, though, and I will not have JT smoking in my home or in the presence of Bubby. He can make his choices, but I can make mine too. I think smoking is a terrible, terrible habit for many reasons, and I choose not to surround myself with smoking people period. It is a big deal to me.

    It is my business how JT grooms himself when he comes into my home with grease all over himself (clothes, hands, and face) and then proceeds to sit on our furniture or wipe his hands on the walls, etc. He is filthy, and when he is in my house, it matters to me. He doesn't care about property or anything. He trashes everything he and anyone else owns. The back of his truck is full of garbage, rotting food, and oil, which leaks all over everywhere he drives. It is outrageous, really. He left a pool of oil on our newly blacktopped driveway last summer. He tries to get his grandparents to allow him to store stuff in their garage and use their garage for his projects. But he never cleans up after himself. They are in their 80s, and they are fed up at this point. I could go on and on. Of course, we need to set boundaries in these areas because of this, and this gets in the way of having a better relationship. His grandparents have ordered him and his truck and his junk out of their garage this weekend.

    I disagree that his personal cleanliness and disrespect for property have no effect on us.

    I try to ignore his harsh appearance, but the truth is that I know he is enjoying looking that way because he knows it is hard for us to see him that way. He is smirking at me from the inside; looking down at me; mocking me. He actually hates me, I'm sure, but he plays games to get what he wants, as if I don't know who he really is. If he can taunt, offend, or hurt me, then he feels more powerful than ever. He enjoys it. It builds him up. He gets his jollies out of using people and causing them pain. He has different girlfriends all the time so that they will do his laundry and give him things, like money and the use of their vehicles. People are objects. When they are no longer useful to him, he moves on. When he calls me in the middle of the night to ask for something and I tell him not to call so late, he calls late again anyway. In fact, if I ask him not to do something, he is that much more likely to do so anyway, just to create more drama. He never modifies his behavior out of consideration for others. He thinks I am weak because I care about him. He lies nonstop about everything. I don't trust him. He respects no one.

    It's not about the way he looks, so much as what it represents. I know what it represents. I know who he has become, and it is disturbing. If he were a wonderfully giving, but scuzzy-looking person, it would be easier to accept. Instead, all of the years of hard work and loving family we have given him are a waste. husband is completely done with JT now. He cannot stand him either, and the rude and selfish behavior is the worst. We have just had it with everything.

    He is a narcissist. This I know, but still wish it were not true. It is very hard to accept. There really isn't a cure, and I know he is unlikely to change. This isn't a phase or an adjustment issue. This is who he is. JT also potentially fits the psychopath criteria. I read the book, Without Conscience, by Robert Hare, and it was eye-opening. I have read a lot, and research indicates that features of psychopathy often appear in childhood and that there may be a genetic link. The brains of these individuals are actually different. I think the concept of choice becomes more of a gray area with the brain-based nature of these disorders. The outlook is not good. JT's characteristics have been remarkably constant throughout his life.

    At this point, it is in our best interest to ensure JT is responsible for his own life, I agree. He is handling his bills for the first time this past month, so husband offered to help him set up a filing system and calendar for managing this. He has to write his own checks and do this himself, but husband offered to help him get off to a good start. Of course we have no intention of doing this for him going forward. This was an initial help for him to get started managing this himself. He has never had to manage all of his own bills before, and he is extremely disorganized.

    I love the idea of radical acceptance, and I know that for my own well being, that's the direction I need to go. Also, I have read the detachment article and all about not enabling. I have set boundaries with the way he talks to me, and I am working on getting him out of my head now.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I get all of that, hon. Our difficult children often do things to bug us on purpose. But you can't make him be clean or groom himself the way you want him to. It's not possible. Now you can certainly tell him that in YOUR house he can not smoke (I have a sign in my house that says NO SMOKING and if any of my kids smoked they would never do it under MY roof). You can tell him that he is not to smoke in your house or even on the grounds of your house. That is a boundary you have control over. You can insist he take a complete shower and wear grease-free, clean clothing before coming to visit OR you can refuse to allow him to visit you in your house at all. You can insist that unless he drops the smirk and disrespect, you will not speak to him or see him, if that is something you are comfortable doing. That is within your YOU react to his choices in YOUR presence and on YOUR grounds is 100% up to you. You can not in any way minimize the drama he wants to cause, but you can choose to not be a part of it.

    I have to do many of these things with my own 36 year old son. He fits traits in both the antisocial and narcissistic categories. I guess that, all things considered, I am lucky his job is in another state because then I don't have to have him in the house where I don't really trust him 100%. The only thing I'm fortunate about is that he IS responsible about keeping a job, a house and paying his own bills because we wouldn't help him if he weren't. So I guess he's lucky too. On the other hand, he still has childish meltdowns and spats of disrespect and has even threatened me and my ex, his father. I do understand what you are dealing with. It's not fun. We wish they were not like they are. We wonder how we could have loved them so much, yet they seem to lack normal empathy for others. I have four children that are actively in my life. He is the only one I don't like. I love him, but I often do not like him. At times I am ashamed of his behavior, but I have gone into "radical acceptance" mode. He is who he is. I can't change him. But I can decide when/if/why I want to talk to him and under what circumstances. That has been a Godsend for both my peace of mind and my relationship with my other grown kids. Let's face it, these drama queens and kings take up all our time if we engage them so we have no time for our loving spouses, if we have one, or our other more loving children and our friends or, really, anything. When my son was going through his last crisis, he called me ten times a day (no lie) and my daughter, who is a doll, would roll her eyes and say, "Mom, I don't even know why you talk to him at all. He's such a jerk." None of his siblings can stand him.

    I talk to him at all because I still love him, but I won't put up with him being mean to me. Period.

    I hope you are not offended by anything I wrote. I don't mean to tell you about your own son as I don't know him. I *do* know how hard it is to deal with somebody you love (but don't like). And sometimes they make it very hard to love them too.
  5. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Stress bunny,

    I am sorry you are in a place where you can't stand your own son. That is hard.

    He is of an age and in a place that the consequences of his choices, financial, personal, educational and otherwise, will catch up with him soon enough (although in the land of sooner and later, I've been surprised to find that this is often later...)

    It is really important that he doesn't live with you. You did well to tell him he had to move out if he couldn't follow your rules..that is a big hurdle for a lot of us here.

    It would be important to be sure that there is no place where his credit intersects with yours, as much as possible..because sounds like he will have collection agencies in the picture, and you don't want to be there.

    As far as his being a jerk? I suggest you do what we all do with jerks...set limits. If he is rude or disrespectufl on the phone, then get off the phone. Say "I am not going to continue this conversation while you are speaking to me this way."

    Assume if he can't be polite on the phone he won't be polite in person. Stop letting him come to your house. If you want to see him, meet him somewhere where you can get up and leave. Don't get in the position of trying to make him leave, which is sure to be a scene.

    It is embarassing when people we love or are forcibly associated with behave in ways we find disturbing or repellent.

    My SO is a big supporter of gun right. When he posts about that on facebook he sounds like a redneck, and I want to go bury my head. I work on remembering that he is he and I am I. He has a right to his ()(&*)()) opinions, and so do I. He is not a reflection of me.

    Your son is moving to a place where he is not a reflection of you either.

    Try to let it go. Let him make his dumb financial decisions, disrrespect his work, bosses, girlfriends, and property. That will lead him where it will lead him, and he will deal with the consequences as he does. One thing for sure...your talking to him lecturing him or writing to him about it will not impact him. In the least. Or it would have worked already.

    I' m sorry you are here. But you aren't alone. I hope that helps some.

  6. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Oh, and when he calls late at night? don't answer. That is what voicemail is for. But what, you say, if he is calling from a hospital? from jail? from the side of the road after a car wreck?
    He'll call again in the morning.

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  7. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member


    The posters above have written some excellent advice regarding control. I know that it was very hard for me to realize that I really do not have any control over my difficult child or her behavior. She also is 20 years old, but does not behave anywhere nearly as maturely is a 20-year-old should. But her mental illness is to blame, not me. I love her dearly, but I cannot change one thing about her. Only she can do that.

    I don't know if you're a praying person, but the Serenity Prayer is one that I utter often. And if you look at my signature, you will see my mantra is "Let go, or be dragged" -a Zen proverb. It's really true. Let go and they cannot drag you any more.

    Good wishes for you this day.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Just wish to second Midwest Mom's reply. I try very hard to not concern myself with my difficult child's appearence, etc. I just simply gave up, as she is an adult. I do set boundaries, especially when it comes to me and my home. For example, we have strict telephone boundaries. We have times that she is allowed to phone the home. One set for M-F and another for Sat. And Sunday. If she calls at the wrong time (we have caller ID) we don't answer the phone. She has lost her right to call when she wants. If she keeps on calling, we take the phone off the hook. Since she has improved with this (after many years) we have given her the right to text at the wrong time if she thinks it is an emergency, but not to expect us to reply because chances are we won't think it's an emergency. Lots of rules/boundaries and it took time to get her to cooperate with them, but she had no other choice. We told her "take it or leave it." Oh, and along with this, if she is rude or cusses, we as nicely and as quickly as possible (like immediately) cut her off, and get off the phone! She can call back (at the proper time) if she can speak respectfully and not a moment sooner.
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    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  9. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Bunny, I read your post a couple of times. Wow, he doesn't sound like a person very many people at all would want to be around. And you know what, Bunny? He'll find that out, and if he cares about have any people at all in his life ever, he will modify.

    Sounds like he is in a place of complete rebellion against society. As a 20-year-old, he has a lot to learn and years to learn it before his brain develops fully. He will have to learn it the hard way, it appears.

    If he has a severe mental illness, he will ultimately be diagnosed and offered treatment. He can either take it or leave it.

    I think it is a huge plus that he is working, keeping a job and living on his own. Wow, wonderful! You don't say anything about drugs, so I hope that is not an issue today and won't be.

    So...what I hear is your feelings about your son. You are sick at his behavior. You are disgusted. This is NOT how you raised him. How could this have happened? You don't really like a thing about him, but of course you still love him. That is how so many of us on this site feel, even while the details are different in each situation.

    From the common perspective, let me say this:

    ***Feel your feelings as much and whenever you need to. It's upsetting and it's sad and it's frustrating and it's maddening. Cry and rage and write and be depressed if you need to be. Those feelings are valid.

    ***Then move on. Cycle through the feelings/move on as many times as you need to.

    ***Focus on yourself, your husband and your other son. Live your good life.

    ***Part of doing that will be setting boundaries with your difficult child and sticking to them the very best you can. Figure out what is acceptable to you and what isn't. It's okay not to see him or talk to him for a while. It's okay to let his calls go to voice mail. It's okay not to answer his voice mails or text messages or FB messages or however he tries to communicate. If he comes to the door at an inopportune time, tell him this isn't a good time and if won't leave tell him you will take additional steps if he stays or does this again. Then do it.

    ***The point is this: You don't have to be around people that are that upsetting to you. You can say no or yes on a very limited basis.

    ***It helps me a lot to write down a simple plan that I will work to follow. Put it on your computer so you can edit. Make the plan for this next 24 hours. You can change it at any time, Bunny, because you're an adult and you can change your mind at any time, no matter what you have written or told anyone.

    Your plan for today might be:

    1. I will let all calls go to voice mail.
    2. If we are scheduled to see each other today, I'll text him and say my plans have changed and we can't get together today. We'll make plans later.
    3. I will focus on good things for myself: take a nap, take a walk, take a bubble bath, go to a nice restaurant---do nice things for yourself and your family.
    4. If I'm really upset, I will write, I will exercise, I will divert myself. I will not react to my own upset by taking action.

    That's it. Tomorrow you can do another plan just for today. It can be the same or different. Whatever YOU decide.

    I love this from Nomad. This is very similar to what I am doing. It is really working well, and you know what Bunny. All I really "need" to know today is that he is alive. I don't have to know another thing. Maybe one day I will even been okay with not being sure about that. I am letting him go. This has been a very long process with a lot of hard work under my belt.

    But today, I am much happier, much more at peace, much more contented---regardless of what he is doing.

    It is a great place to be and working working for.

    Please know we are here for you regardless of what you do or don't do. We get it.