Does anyone else have this kind of issue?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Lea, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. Lea

    Lea New Member

    Hi, I'm new here. I'm so glad to have found this site. I feel so alone in dealing with and trying to understand my son's problems. Do any of you have an adult child who has absolutely no substance abuse problems, is not mentally ill, but lives his life like someone who does have those issues? My son is now 40 years old and has nothing. He can never hold a job, is about to be evicted from his apartment. It's like he won't deal with anything until he's absolutely forced too. My husband and I have tried and tried to help him. It's all to no avail. We've made sure he's had a car, paid his car insurance, etc, so he could get to a job, but now he's behind on child support (he has one young child) and his license has been taken away. I know I can't change him, but I worry all the time and I can hardly ever talk about him without crying. I'm so sick of feeling like this, but I can't seem to not be emotional about him. What do you all do to stay strong? Do any of you have a grown child like this? Thank you.
  2. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    Oh boy, Lea ! You are not alone! We understand here. I welcome you, but am sorry for the reasons that led you to find this site.

    I do not have time to write much now. But I want to acknowledge your post, and tell you that you have come to a safe place, a place to learn how to take of yourself, detach, and stay strong. My son is 36 years old. I first posted my situation 4 months ago on September 28th, a second thread again on November 6th, and a new one just recently this week. You can read my threads which will tell my story in more detail. You can read others’ threads by going to their profile page, click “postings” and then at the bottom of that page click “threads by XXX.”

    Others here on the site also have older difficult children. And yes, those difficult children exhibit the behaviors you’ve described.
    Yes, my son is just like this. I could have written every word of your post exactly about my own son. It freshly saddens my heart just to read your words. I have been learning how to detach, and how to not enable, and how to stay relatively peaceful most of the time.

    There is a very valuable article at the top of this forum about Detachment. Take time to read this article over and over again. Learning detachment helps a lot. Here is the link.

    This is late on Friday night in the United States, and sometimes weekends are slow on this site, but others will surely be along soon to welcome you and offer wisdom and guidance.

    Take care and stay with us here. Reading others’ threads always seems to have a bit of wisdom to strengthen and comfort. We are glad you are here with us. You are going to be alright.
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    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Lea, welcome to the site. My son is 27. He does have diagnosed mental illness, a mood disorder.

    I would guess that your son too may have issues, whether diagnosed or not. But that does not mean he does not need to take responsibility for his own life.

    I am glad you found us. The article on detachment that Kalahou recommends is helpful. The member scentofcedar has a link at the bottom of her posts about how to talk to your adult children. You can do a search for her posts (upper right is search) and you will find it.

    Here it is:

    Many of us have found that we have not helped our children by "helping them" and we have made ourselves miserable too.

    It is time for your son to live under his own steam. He will grow this way and you will feel good as you see him responding successfully to the challenges he faces. You will find your own integrity too, as you insist your son find his.

    I am so glad you found us. You are not alone in any of it. It is slow this time of night, especially on the weekends. Tomorrow morning others will check in.

    Keep posting. It really really helps. Posting on your own thread and threads of others.

    Take care.

  4. Hopeful97

    Hopeful97 Active Member


    I am happy you found this site. You will find a lot of love, caring and support here in this safe place. We understand what you are going through, many of us have been where you are. My son is younger but the pain I know can be unbearable.

    More warrior parents will come along. Keep posting it really helps.

  5. Hopeful97

    Hopeful97 Active Member

    The detachment article referenced above is a wonderful tool in my toolbox. I read it often.
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  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    The "difficult child" who was acting the way your son is was my former husband. Couldn't keep a job, had an excuse for everything, blamed the universe for his difficulties, didn't pay his child support, had to be thrown out of my house (and his next girlfriend's house as well) because he just wouldn't take any initiative and GO already, had cars towed for non-registration, power shut off because he didn't mail the check I asked him to, basically ignored our daughter who's now 24 (though she has pretty much learned to deal with it, her hubby HATES him), passive/aggressive from the word go, hid mail/bills/my car registration and license renewal...

    He's now 56, living in his grandmother's house (that his mother owns), gets an allowance from his mother each month, his mother paid the child support so he wouldn't go to jail, she pays his bills, buys him food...

    I can't speak as the parent, but I was terrified that her father's uselessness (which he was very good at hiding; he was/is an excellent liar) would somehow be genetic and I was hard on her when I saw any little bit of that emerge. I can tell you that it's absolutely heartbreaking to be the child of a person like this, and it's extremely frustrating to be the spouse. I wish Grandma had cut him off years ago. Maybe then he would have manned up. Maybe not. I don't know.

    From my perspective, as difficult as it is, is to do nothing. Let him figure it out. I honestly think it's too late for my former husband, and I hope his mother made some provisions in her will for him, because I don't want him hassling my daughter about financially taking care of his useless hiney.
  7. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    I had a father like that and brother well for about 40 years or close to it forgot of his life until he discovered the beauty of money and what you can do with them. In one year he went from living with my mother to being the richest of all siblings. I am really jealous. We all know he was the smartest of us all and was kept back by his laziness I can not believe he can achieve so much if he wants. Really jealous. He is not married with a family.
    My father was married 2 times had 2 children abandoned them managed to avoid paying for alimony I do have to mention that our justice system back then sucked and it was communist. Until he was 34 he was acting like a child and lived mostly with his mother and his girlfriends until he cheated on them and they kicked him out.
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Welcome Lea,

    I'm glad you found us here. It's a good place to be where you will find much needed support and encouragement.

    Just because your son does not have a substance abuse problem or mental illness doesn't make it any easier to deal with what's been going on. As parents we want our adult children to thrive and be happy and when they are not we worry and we want to help.

    It's our "helping" that can contribute to the problem.

    There is a fine line between helping and enabling.
    Helping is doing something for someone else that they are unable to do for themselves. Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves. Enabling makes life easy for the adult child and hard for the parent.

    When we enable our adult children we can actually do more harm than good. The longer we enable them only makes it's harder for them to learn for themselves how to do for themselves. There will come a time when we the parents will no longer be here for our children so it's better for us and them to lovingly detach now. We as parents need to own our part in it.

    Detaching is not easy but for the well being of our adult children and us the parents, it's necessary. When we detach it does not mean that we don't love our children. We have to love our children and ourselves enough to let go.

    I would suggest that you set some clear and firm boundaries with your son. If he comes to you and asks for money be prepared to say no. You do not owe him an explanation. I know sometimes with our difficult adult children they don't come right out and ask for money or help, they will elude to their troubles by telling us things like "I don't know how I'm going to pay my rent this month" or "I don't have any money for food" these are manipulation tactics, they want to make us feel a sense of guilt, to feel sorry for them and we will "offer" to help them. I went through this many times with my own son. I learned to recognize the manipulation and I would tell him, "I'm sorry to hear that but I'm sure you will figure it out"

    I agree with what others have posted. I know this is overwhelming and a lot to absorb. Please understand that detaching is not something that happens overnight, it takes time and effort.
    Also, please know that you are not alone in this. You have a wonderful support group right here on this site.

    ((HUGS)) to you......................
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  9. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Wanna add something while its uncommon for people in some countries to see people in their 40's being well lazy in life. In some countries like mine its well still uncommon but not very rare there quite a lot and in my country somebody always has to stay with their parents per tradition one of their siblings. Hey I stayed until I was 27 with them, one of my brothers was until he was almost 40 another one moved with my mother when the one who as almost 40 moved out as tradition and responsibility dictates.
    Basically depends on where you live in my country while people that do not work and live with their parents are a minority their still a lot and people that live with their parents and work is the norm. Mine both live away from us but well we are still in power we expect them to take care of us when we are not.
    I do find strange a little on this forum how important independence from you the parents for the children is.
  10. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    HI A dad,
    I know what you are saying about children living with the family. Even here in the community location where I live, there are many adult children (and their families) who still live with the parents in an amiable, working, and caring relationship. In these situations, the adult children can contribute to household expenses, help with household responsibilities, and the older grandparents can care for grandchildren, etc. This is a local, cultural custom among some ethnicity groups in the state where I live. These responsible, working and contributing adult children are not the difficult children we grieve about on this forum.

    The difficult adult children discussed on this site are the ones who (for whatever reason) have not launched successfully to responsible adulthood. All parents wish and hope to see their children successfully grown into happy, accountable and successful adults, taking responsibility for their own lives. We have all poured our many years of loving and caring parenting into our hopes and dreams for our children to reach the full potential of their lives. But this has not happened for our difficult children discussed on this site.

    The difficult children here on this forum may have substance abuse or mental health or attitude problems, are lazy, do not work at a steady job, do not contribute to the family, are often angry and abusive, are involved in troublesome legal or criminal matters. With all these problems, they increasingly rely and want dependence (if allowed) on the parents to enable them, which then causes the situation to spiral downward, not good for either side as seen in the resulting grief and pain expressed here.

    In your country I’m sure that most of the adult children taking cultural responsibility for your elders are successful and helpful to the family’s situation. There are also surely some who fit the “difficult child” profile that are described on this site. Thank you for being here and sharing your perspective and wisdom. We appreciate all comfort, support, interest and assistance to know we are not alone and that we are going to be alright.
    Take care, Kalahou
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Interesting post, A dad.

    I lived in a Latin American country for awhile. Actually a few of them. In one country I lived with a family in a traditional setting.

    The mother lived with the family. And old lady. And there was an adult son, probably early 50's at the time, who was a drunk and would soon die. He would lay around with his back against the exterior wall of the house, with his bottle in hand. That was his life. Jesus was his name. Pronounced Hay-sus.

    It is very common in most of Latin America for adult children, unmarried in particular to stay with parents, to live with them, and to rely on them, even as the parents become infirm.

    I guess that is why M, my SO, is so ambivalent about my adult son. Four years ago he was a prime mover in my thinking that my son would, could only mature, if he left, and became responsible to support himself and to suffer the consequences of his choices. Now four years later, it did not work. My son got SSI. And even still does not want to pay rent. He prefers homelessness and dependency to self-sufficiency.

    M now feels that he was in error. That he should never have allowed me to eject my son out of the household. He believes he defaulted in authority and in responsibility to not try to motivate and to shape my son to be a responsible adult. He believes that the responsibility of a parent never ends. Is your society like this?
    This is a very fascinating observation.

    M spent his children's childhoods instructing them in self-sufficiency and productivity. So the result was that he raised self-sufficient and productive children.

    Here in the US it is different: Both parents work. In my case I was a single-parent. Much of the responsibility of raising children is handed over to the schools. My son after school went to after school programs. We were separated maybe 11 hours a day. I came home exhausted. I had no extended family.

    While my son did have chores, the work of molding a productive and hard-working and self-governing adult child, I did not do.

    Yes. Independence is a virtue here. Where young people establish their own nuclear families or solitary households. This I think was encouraged by the society, rather than the family, initially. The USA wants its immigrant families to live as do we. In nuclear families. I think ultimately it has to do with consumerism and with a flexible and mobile workforce. After all, if an extended family is divided into 8 households, how much more is consumed. And if an extended family puts primacy on the family unit and the home, that obstructs the mobility of the workforce.

    While some immigrant groups hang on to their own cultures as best they can, in the case of my own, the family was broken up in 2 generations. That is all it took. By the time I was 17 I had left home. Pretty much never to return.

    I had begun life living in an extended family. My grandmother and grandfather were the center of it. Our heart. It took only my childhood to blast the family apart.

    I am thinking about a conversation I had this week with M. He talked about how peculiar it was that Americans move so much and sell their houses, rather than repair them or increase their size. He said that was completely contrary to what a Latino does. I said, well Americans are always dreaming of that bigger, better house (that confers to him (and others) his value, his worth. And the American is always chasing the better job too. So the house is expendable. The American gets rid of the house, and maybe the wife and family too. To get better. To be better.

    M was appalled. He said: The Latino believes the family and the house is the center, the heart of his life. He will lose everything before he loses that. He will commute 4 hours a day to his job, rather than leave his home. He will get a simple room in a far away place to return to his original home, and family.

    So to answer your question. We here in the states, I think, many of us, me, could not invest in our children to the necessary degree to build real autonomy, self-regulation and independence, which has nothing to do with living independently and responsibly.

    Perhaps I am blaming myself too much. Some would say I adopted a child who already had had significant challenges. That it is from this that his lack of self-sufficiency can be traced, not to my own failures or faults.

    Maybe so. But my son was also raised in a society where I had to work, and whether because of personal deficiencies or my own situation, I did not provide the necessary structure, consequences, training that could have, would have produced a productive child. Much of that may be the way it is here. In the USA. Perhaps only the winner kids are able to thrive. The more vulnerable kids, no.

    M has 3 sisters here. Each of them has only girls. One sister, 5 girls. Another sister, 2 and another sister 2. All of these girl children are now young adults, the oldest is 35. Not one of those 9 girls ever established a household apart from her parents or a man. Not one. And if a relationship breaks up, there is the expectation that she return home to her parents home. Not just for protection and support. But to help the parents economically, to pool incomes. Even if it is just welfare. So here, too, we have the more traditional norm among peoples who have still resisted the governing norms.

    Interesting post, yours, A dad.

    Thank you.

  12. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    Lea, How are you doing?

    When I finally reached the point where I recognized the need for detachment, and made a decision to act to stop enabling, I felt peace in little by little increments, over months, all the time weeping and emotional when I thought about my son. But through my frequent tears and racing heart, I knew detachment and stopping the enabling was the only way. I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew it could not stay the way it was. The situation was getting intolerable, it was bad for my health and attitude. It was feeling so resentful and almost hateful. This kind of situation was not good for either me and husband nor for our son.

    I would gladly have continued to encourage, support and assist my son if he had shown any interest and motivation and committed desire to move forward in responsibility for his affairs. He did not want my interest or contact in anything except for when he wanted something when he was in trouble, or hungry. And then we he did want it and asked for it, he seemed antagonistic if there was any question. I’m sure he felt a guilt and anger at himself in his need. The support from this site helped me to maintain my resolve to stop the enabling.

    It has only been 3 months since I firmly cut the enabling cord. I have briefly seen my son a few times since then, and he seemed to be accepting it, and I was accepting his situation. Then recently since 2 weeks ago, he is in prison (a first). I did not bail him out, and it remains to be seen what will happen with this situation. It is quite likely that if I had continued enabling him and providing all for him, that he would not be in prison now. But this is a consequence of his own actions.

    My job now is just to work on myself, to stay peaceful, to stay thankful in all things, and to lift the best for my son as he works out his life. I feel that since he went to jail, this must be part of what he needs to do to figure things out for himself. He is an adult man. I am still in a grieving process, I still have my weeping /sobbing moments, I still wonder and hope, and don't know if it will ever go away. But I also now understand that enabling is not an option, no matter what happens. "It is what it is", "what will be will be", and we have to accept, surrender, and move on. Our adult children's lives and thoughts and actions are there own That is what frees us.

    Stay with us here. Read the threads and posts. And post more of your situation and release your heartache. We understand. The guidance and wisdom here will work on your heart to bring you to the actions.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    This is just my opinion, of course, but... Anybody who lives like "someone who has issues", by definition has issues. They may not have a diagnosis of anything. That doesn't mean they don't have mental illness.

    On the other hand, having mental illness doesn't absolve them of responsibility either.
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  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Cant speak for everyone but due to our cultural norms here I would feel odd if my grown kids did not want to be on their own. But say they didnt. As long as they paid rent, did chores, were polite and folloewed the house rules, I would probably allow them to stay.
    This is not the kind of adult children we are talking about here. Most are defiant, mean to us, disobeying both the law and our rules.
    I find it hard to imagine living with somebody who was or is like that. Maybe because I grew up valuing my own independence, I dontthinki could live with a problem adult and crowded quarters. Our values are colored by where we live and our norms.
    My father is 91 and sick yet he turned down a chance to live with one of us. He aleays valued his independence. Maybe too much but that is what he prefers and he is proud that he has lived on his own.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  15. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    My mother was an original feminist and she always drilled into my head that women should always learn to be self-supporting and able to live by themselves and never HAVE to depend on a man to support you.

    Her advice has served me well, and I passed it along to my daughters.

  16. Lea

    Lea New Member

  17. Lea

    Lea New Member

    Kalahou, Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement and support. I was trying to reply to your post and think I did something wrong, so hope you see this. I went back and read your earlier posts about your son and I definitely can relate. My son has not lived at home for a very long time. He has always had issues and my husband and I let him come back home when he was in his mid twenties and wasn't making it on his own. I talked my son into getting some counseling, which went on for eight months. Took him to our family doctor and he put him on an anti-depressant. Tried to encourage and help him in any way we could, but when he would oversleep and be late or not go into work, and just stay up all night and do nothing all day, he was making me nuts and I couldn't take it any more. So, on the advice of the counselor, we drew up a "contract" with him, to look for work, that sort of thing, even with rewards! He didn't want to abide by it and decided to leave home and live with a friend. He has not lived at home since, and I thought then (almost 15 yrs. ago) I was done enabling. But, we have continued to supply him with a car and insurance, and have bailed him out on many occasions when he couldn't make rent. My problem with him is that I feel he has a good heart, and I feel sorry for him. He was classified as behavioral disordered in school. I thought they were wrong, because he never acted out or was violent or any of that. He's just always had low self esteem and is introverted. He was bullied in his early teens and it was heart breaking. I'm at a crisis point with him again, because he is being evicted from his apt. and I knew this day was coming and we can no longer afford and no longer want to financially help him. I'm so worried about him, because he'll be homeless and it's winter. He lives 6 hrs from us. I'm mad at myself for not being stronger. I'm so tired of crying whenever I talk about him. I've gotten counseling myself and she said it was o.k. to feel sorry for him, because I'm his mom. But, I know I have to let go and the detachment article is very good. It's hard though, because he's not a bad person and has never spoken rudely to us or anything like that. But, he only ever calls when he needs something. There has been very little joy in raising him, because we really don't have a relationship outside of us giving all the time and him taking and not giving anything in return. I just feel so, so sad. I will try and work on detaching. Any tips you can share in your journey are much appreciated. Thank you again!
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  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    A Dad, I remember from your earlier posts that your Dad finally found a woman he loved and settled down, (and so did your brother.) Was that with your mother that your Dad settled down with? Were you that way, too, if I may ask?

    Is it part of your culture that men mature later? Or is it something more typical of just the men in your family? What do you make of it? I mean, why do you think this pattern happened?

    Is it wanting to be free, immaturity? I am curious because it may bear on how we see our kids, and their potential. My own child had a difficult history. But he was raised well (at least I think so.) I would love to think that this has something to do with late maturation.

    Thank you.

    And thank you for posting. Your comments are always interesting and thought-provoking. I always enjoy answering your questions.

  19. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Yes it was with my mother and he settled down and worked and provided for us well both did but he was allowed by my mother a lot of freedom to put it kindly and my mother decided to ignore things I am sure he loved her. My brother that we are talking about was the most similar with my father but me the other ones never had the charisma my father and brother had, to be like them.
    I got really unmotivated at the beginning of my adult life that is why I stayed so much with my mother until I got my motivation. When I finally got a job it was because of a girl also who motivated me as I said there some people who can change you. You change for the people you love.
    Most men in my country I will not say mature later they just try later to settle and have a family more like in their thirty its not a recent thing but its more common now. Not like it was uncommon before like in every developing or developed world.
    I think your son and many others and even OP's one can change if they find that person They will not change for them they probably do not believe they are worth the change you know because the low self esteem problem many have. I think that is the problem with most Difficult Child they do not really care about them.
  20. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Lea,

    I'm glad that you got counseling for yourself. Do you still go?

    After reading your last post I thought about how different and yet how similar our situations are. This is the commonality of all of us here on this site. My son started having problems early on, trouble in school, smoking pot, in and out of jail/prison. He's 34 now and still does not live a life that I would like him to be living. My son is basically homeless. He drifts through the southwest states. I do not have much contact with him and when I do it's via Facebook. It used to make me nuts with worry that my son was homeless. I got a message from him that he was starving and was going to freeze to death. I live 1000 miles away from where my son was at the time. I replied to him and told him he needed to go to a shelter, that there were organizations that could help him. He made a choice to not go to a shelter. He did manage to find someone who let him sleep on their coach. That only lasted so long until he burned that bridge and so on and so on.
    Before he got to the point of being homeless my husband and I tried to help him. We bought a house for him to live in, we bought a car for him. All he had to do was get a job. He did get a job but it was short lived as all of the jobs he has had have been.
    We gave and gave and gave and he took. The amount of money we have given to him could have funded 3 or 4 years of retirement.

    You are at a turning point in your life. I know this because you have found your way here and I am so glad you did. You know what you need to do but as a mom you are filled with all kinds of emotions. The most common emotion us moms experience is guilt. How can we not help our children, that's what moms are supposed to do, right? We don't want to see our children in pain, we don't want to see them suffer so we continue to give and they continue to take. This is not normal when they become adults. You know this, we all know this. That's where we start, with that awareness that we can no longer continue to give, to help/enable our adult children.

    One of the members here, @Childofmine coined a phrase here on this site "our toolbox". This is a good place to start, filling your "toolbox" with things you learn about how to detach. I'm glad you read the article on detachment, I suggest you print it out and read it often.
    One of the main things I suggest you do is set clear boundaries of what you will and won't do. I don't know if your son comes right out and asks for money or if he talks around it until you give him money but the end result is the same, you give him money.
    One of my main tools in my "toolbox" is NO MONEY.
    When I finally decided enough was enough it wasn't easy because I had the guilt. I had to learn that I had nothing to feel guilty about. My husband and I raised our son with values and morals, we set the example of having a strong work ethic, we did everything we could to raise him into a responsible adult. It was his choice to not follow the example we set.
    Another good tool is acceptance. I had to accept that my sons choice to live his life the way he wanted was just that his choice. I tried to change him but had to accept that I couldn't.
    Something else to keep in your toolbox is simple prepared statements.
    Son: Mom, I don't know what to do, I'm going to lose my apt.
    You: I'm really sorry to hear that. You are smart and I'm sure you will figure something out.
    Son: I can't, I have no money, I have no job, you have to help me.
    You: No, I don't. You have to figure this out for yourself.
    Son: If you loved me you would help me.
    You: I do love you but you are not my responsibility, you are a gown man. I love you goodbye. (hang up)

    Setting limits is key to detaching. Limited contact. You do not have to answer every time your son calls or texts. It's ok.

    Something else, you need to be good to yourself. Find something you enjoy. Take your life back.

    Stay close to this site. Read others posts. Draw on the strength of all us here.

    You can get through this.

    ((HUGS)) to you..............
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