Heading south now...


New Member
I am new here. I have a problems typing these words it sounds like wingeing and I hate wingeing. But there are some facts and if I don't lace them with self-pitying emotions I should be able to write them. I do not have such terrible circumstances as some of the people I have read on this site. I do truly honour your trials, parents. But anyway, here's what is.
My son is 20, he lives in another city, about 7 hours drive from home. He left here 2 years ago to go to university there. He dropped out before the end of term 1 because he thought it the course wasn't what he wanted to do and quickly got a desk job, not spectacularly well-paid but a good job. he organised himself into an apartment with a friend and some other people. This all sounds reasonable and he did handle it ok but it was pretty stressful working out how to support himself by himself in a new city only just turned 18. Things soon went really sour at the apartment and he found the work very stressful (it was!). He spent more time on the phone talking to me about what to do about this and about that. But he became blacker and more and more angry. Really reactive and strung out. Yes he was smoking weed, I think quite a bit. But kept getting up and going to work all the way through it which I was really proud of. I will skip all the rest of the two years up to late last year except to note that it has been one long list of dreadful sets of circumstances that he has to have an enormous battle in....He has called me through every one. Throughout it all he has stayed blackly depressed and angry. He is now unemployed and about to have nowhere to live. he is enrolled to start university this year again but I have the strong feeling that he isn't going to be able to manage to go.
My mother died in November last year. Since then I have had some health issues. I feel that my worry about my son is making those issues worse. I am taking on his blackness. Seems there is nothing I can do to help him. He acknowledges that he has a depression but reckons he can make it go away (if this and this and this and this happens...) To his credit, he has stopped smoking marijuana because he sees that makes it worse. But I have talked to him about going to talk to a doctor but he refuses. But I honestly don't think he is going to improve --In fact things are shortly going to get a lot worse -- without medical intervention. I have read in this forum about detachment. I understand that this is what I have to do. I would like to understand more about the mechanics of it. He and I are very close and he would not want me to be hurting. He would understand although be devastated -- I would need to explain what I am doing in withdrawing a bit I think?? How do you restrain the huge empathic strength of feeling when you are talking with the person? I don't want to cut myself off. How do I keep suggesting that he seek help -- is this over-involved. I read someone somewhere here suggest we should insist on therapy and medications as a condition for our continued assistance. Is this over-involved? Just don't understand the boundaries here.
Thank you very much for reading and in advance for any thoughts you might have.
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New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Hi Thirdeye, welcome to the forum and so sorry for your troubles.
Detaching does not mean coldly cutting our d cs off. What it means to me is learning to set boundaries and limits with our d cs, so that they take on the responsibility for their own lives and consequences of their choices. It means valuing ourselves enough to draw the line when their behaviors start to be all encompassing for us. it may mean for you to gently explain to your son that you have noticed conversations with him getting darker, you are concerned, "Son, go see a therapist. Get help. I cannot bear to hear this anymore." Then, the next call, keep conversation light. If he continues to lament, nip it.
Why should he see a therapist? He has mom......

You could be frank with him and let him know that you are learning a different way of parenting that gives him more responsibility and helps you to be healthier.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but most kids will say they only smoke weed. It is usually a different reality, especially if there is a string of down and out stories attached. Our d cs are extremely clever and manipulative and know how to get us into a tizzy and a fog, to keep us enabling.

I have heard my fair share of confabulations from my two, that sent my head and heart reeling. I found out much later, the stories were greatly embellished. Our d cs know how to push our buttons and tug at our heartstrings.

Meanwhile back at the Homefront, poor mom and dad are fretting away at the latest story, and d cs are out whooping it up, partying.

The mindset there with detaching is that anything we send should not be easily converted to the means to purchase drugs. No cash, checks, even large gift cards can be sold off.

If there is substance abuse, we do not want to be unknowingly funding the habit.

I am sorry Thirdeye, it is so hard to go through this. The truth is, we really cannot trust what our kids tell us, we have to see it with our own eyes.

As far as setting conditions for assistance your son is 7 hours away from you so how would you even
be sure he was meeting your terms? 20 is very, very young, but still an adult in the laws eyes. He will do what he wants.

Detachment is every bit as much for us, as it is for our adult children. It is for us to open our eyes to what is happening, set boundaries so that we stop going down with the troubles of our d cs. We have no control over what our adult children do, we only have control over our own actions and responses.

In the end all, Thirdeye, it is a personal choice how how we each proceed. We are not experts or professionals, just a bunch of warrior moms and dads who have been through the proverbial wringer with our d cs. How do we detach? We love them, but we have come to know them pretty well.

It is not easy at first, but gets better with time.
Keep posting and let us know how you and your son are doing. I hope he gets into therapy and works towards self help.

There is no pain or worry as strong as this.

Please take care and do something good for you. You have value, you matter.
More will come along and share.

You are not alone.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Thirdeye, I wanted to add that I am very sorry for your loss with your moms passing last November. It is a tough thing to go through, losing our parent. My sincere condolences.


Well-Known Member
My mother died in November last year. Since then I have had some health issues. I feel that my worry about my son is making those issues worse.
My condolences, 3rdeye. My mother died in September of 2013. It was hard on me, too. I am better now.
But I honestly don't think he is going to improve --In fact things are shortly going to get a lot worse -- without medical intervention.
What makes you feel things are about to get worse? Is there something specific?

It is hard not to let our own sadness dovetail with theirs.

The thing to begin with is you do not have any control. And your real responsibility is limited too. Although we feel them to be our children, and they are, they are adult men. Your son has been living as an adult for awhile now. Working, self-supporting, independent.

No matter how worried we are, there becomes a point when our children are responsible to solve their own problems. It is this that propels them to mature. If we take away from them these opportunities to solve difficult problems, we take away their opportunity to learn, to build self-esteem, to become who in this life they will become, finding their own way. I learned that I was disrespecting my son by trying to solve his problems and micro-manage his life. While I did this I was stunting his growth. I stopped.
I would need to explain what I am doing in withdrawing a bit I think??
If you do a search for the member, scentofcedar, you will find a link at the bottom of her signature from Dr. Kathleen McCoy that suggests ways to talk to our adult children.

Are sons are grown man. We love them. But decisions about their health, the direction in life they choose, and decisions about how they live their lives are their own to make.

I am learning to take responsibility for my own fear, desire to help, and wanting to control, by curbing these impulses, because they serve to hold my son back, rather than help him.

I think we need to first, understand what we are doing, and how we need to change, and why. Then our conversations with them will be easier. I think less is more. Saying less. Because a lot of the words we say come from guilt. There is no reason for guilt.
How do you restrain the huge empathic strength of feeling when you are talking with the person?
We cannot control our feelings but we can control our words and actions.

When I was detaching from my son in phone calls I came to say only Hi, Bye and maybe 2 more words during the whole call. He was relieved. I was easier to talk to. Because I listened more and gave advice or criticized less.

Our worry and our great love are actually hard on them. They know they need to break away some, in order to become mature men. It is very hard for some of our sons. They are helped when we get a grip on our own emotions.

Think about it: You want a mature man for your son. You do not want a Mama's boy, I do not think.
I don't want to cut myself off
You do not have to. It is not all or nothing. I think you might be scaring yourself.
How do I keep suggesting that he seek help
I would stop suggesting it. You cannot control him. You already told him. He will follow through or not. I know how hard this is.

My son is mentally ill and has a chronic illness for which he required treatment. I was hysterical with fear because he was not taking medication or going to the doctor. I did everything. Anything I could do. It only made me crazy, helpless, feel desperate, hysterical, terrified. You get the picture. None of it helped. Nothing. He sabotaged every single attempt by me. Finally I accepted the truth. He may die before me. I do not want that but I cannot control it.
I read someone somewhere here suggest we should insist on therapy and medications as a condition for our continued assistance.
I have said that at different times on posts.

I do not know if it is the right or wrong thing to do. Because if you insist, and he does not choose to comply, what will you do? Will you cut him off? What can you really do?

I am concerned that there may be reasons why you fear your son may soon worsen. Can you tell us more about your concerns?

As far as his readiness to resume University, I think the only thing to do is to leave it up to him. You could say something like, "you know son, the timing of returning to school is up to you, whether the time is xx or xx, you will know what is best for you."

I do not know whether it is a good thing to have your son come home, after a period of independence, given you are mourning the loss of your mother, have been depressed and are having health issues. Particularly as you already fear that your condition will be exacerbated by concerns about him and the mixing of yours and his depression.

I would also be concerned that coming home, given that he is depressed, might reinforce a sense of dependency and give room for him to get more depressed. With you he may not have the need to interact with people his age, to work to meet his needs. These are the things that are going to get him out of it. Not living with his parents, I think.

But I am not clear about his circumstances, whether returning to university requires he live in your home, etc.

I think I might talk to him realistically and directly about all of this. As you post what you want to say and need to say will become clearer. And you will come to know how to say it. All of this is a process.

We are glad you are here with us. Keep posting. It really helps. On as many threads as you have time for. Even if the circumstances seem different than are yours, it helps you and all of us if you participate, I think. Forgive yourself. You are going through a lot. You need all of the kindness and self-care you can summon.