I need some advice


New Member
Hello -
This is my first post here. I am overwhelmed and don't know what to do or think, so all advice is appreciated.

My son is 22 yrs old. His last full year of education was grade 7, although he went in and out of schooling for a few years after. He is bright, not just a Mom's opinion but from several teachers over the years. I believe he has ADD, Avoidance Personality Disorder, maybe some sociopathic traits, and is an alcoholic. He also smokes weed, but has so far not done anything harder than that.

He has anger issues. He has damaged so many electronic devices (phones, TVs, gaming consoles, etc), and has smashed many walls and ruined furniture in our house. This has been happening for years. He once kicked out a window and my husband and I had to repair at 4 am in morning with duct tape in middle of winter. His anger issues stem from his perceived inadequacies. He thinks he is a loser, stupid, not worth anything, etc.

Last month during a drunken rage, he threatened my husband, verbally abused us (which wasn't new but we had had enough), we called the police and charged him with assault. He was taken to police station and charged with assault. He was released the next day. We had moved to a new city a few months prior. His familiar city had a population of 100,000. We moved to a city of over a million people so he was definitely out of his comfort zone. Anyway, his sister helped him find a homeless shelter to go to. That was on Dec 1. Since then he has tried to get help from the mental health system, but help is limited. His Dad (my husband of 40 yrs) passed away a week ago, so he is also dealing with that right now too.

Today he asked me once again (he has asked many times) if he could move back home. I said no, because I don't want the verbal abuse, I don't want to listen to him yell and scream all night long, and frankly I am kind of scared of him. He once told me that when he gets enough nerve to kill himself he will take me with him. He has never harmed me physically.

I don't know what to do. He is still in homeless shelter and hates it. He doesn't want to go to rehab for alcohol addiction. He doesn't have any friends because we moved recently, all his relatives have written him off. He hates his life and his situation, but he is still unwilling to accept responsibility for his situation.

Help! He is really a decent person and he is so sensitive. He is lost. I want to help him, but I don't want to allow him back home because I'm afraid it will end up back in the same situation.
Hi Zopdrop, please first let me send my sincerest condolences for your husband's passing. I'm so sorry you find yourself in this position. Your situation is similar to many here and I'm sure more folks will be along soon - my story is a little similar, but without the substance abuse. I worry that you are in a very vulnerable situation and you need as much support as you can muster. Have you got the wherewithal to put your son up in a budget hotel room or similar for a week or two while you have a think about what to do? This would be my temporary solution if my son reappeared needing help as he cannot stay here at home any more. Are your daughters anywhere near you to provide you with some support, even if just moral ? Sending hugs and hope your way!


Well-Known Member
Dear Zopdrop,
I’m so sorry for your loss. You are going through so much right now. It’s hard enough to deal with the grief of losing your husband without the added worry of your son.

I can definitely relate to you not wanting your son to move back in with you - I was the same with my son. Once they leave and we experience the peace that brings, it’s natural not to want to go back.

You are vulnerable right now and I would urge you not to give in to him, no matter how hard it is. He is an adult now, and it is up to him to make good choices. I know this sounds harsh, and I completely understand your desire to help, but you deserve peace and security in your life.

It’s a difficult time for you right now and I imagine hard to make decisions. I would comfort myself with the knowledge that he is not on the streets, he has shelter for the moment, so he is reasonably safe for the time being.

The sad fact is, there is really nothing you can do unless he chooses to seek help himself. Any assistance you offer will be wasted unless he is ready to make changes. Nothing you can do will fix this. Only he can do that.

I can’t offer any wisdom on the mental health services situation. I’m in Australia and our health system is different. Because my son is an adult, I have no right to information about his treatment and cannot seek out treatment for him (which is possibly the same in the US.) The best I can do is encourage my son to seek treatment and that advice usually falls on deaf ears. Sometimes my son seeks help of his own accord and when that happens things improve, but he inevitably stops treatment and the cycle starts again. After much help from this message board, I have learned that this is his choice and out of my control. I can love him and let him know I am here for him when he chooses to seek help for his issues, but I can’t solve his problems for him.

I want you to know you are not alone. There are many of us here who have experienced similar issues to you. Keep posting here. It truly helps.
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Well-Known Member
Hi and I am soooo sorry about your husband! Sending prayers!!!

We bought our daughter a house and put so much down on it that she had little to pay each month but she refused to get a job. We ended up paying while she and her useless.husband who worked part time destroyed the house. We sold it and bought her a mobile home and she only.had to pay lot fee.but did not and also the two of them fought outside, disturbing neighbors. Found themselves homeless. We paid rent. Until we stopped.

I don't think it was good for my daughters maturity for us to support her. She is in her 30s and homeless now and we are done. She seems just the same now living in an old mobile home as when she had nice places to live. She never cleaned up. I did it for her. She was unhappy then and is unhappy now. She and her husband still fight. I get this from a cousin who sees her social media. She is also mentally.ill and believes conspiracy theories very much.... they terrify her. Certainly she has not matured or gone for help....she has Medicaid now and may be getting social security too. Not sure. Your son could get social security and Medicaid too.

Kay can never live with us again. She.is very abusive and mean and NarAnon plus therapy helped us learn that we need to take care of us first. So for us housing our daughter did not help her. Now that she is homeless and we won't give her money, she won't contact us at all and and is managing with just her husband who works part time making pizza. Her son lives with my other daughter. She just is not willing to try to thrive. Neither is her husband.

I again send you prayers for clarity as to what to do. Please take care of you. It is a hard time for you and you matter as much as he does. Took us a decade to learn this. Love and hugs.
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New Member
Thanks for the words of wisdom. I knew deep down there is probably nothing I can do, but I still feel like I have let my son down.
Since my post, he decided to 'disown' all of us because he felt like we weren't being supportive.
I found out today he is in the emergency department, due to suicide threat. The shelter called police who took him to emerg. And to top it all off, he has tested positive for Covid. He is still unwilling to talk to any of us, the hospital staff won't tell us anything either. The only way I knew he was there was I decided to call the hospital to see if he had been admitted because the shelter staff wouldn't tell me if he was still there or not. I found out his Covid status from the social worker at the shelter. The hospital called the shelter to tell them of the positive test.
I hate thinking about how alone he must feel right now.


Well-Known Member
Welcome, Zopdrop. This is your place to stand:
I don't want to allow him back home because I'm afraid it will end up back in the same situation.
It's not a fun place to be but it's the truth. It's horrible for a mom to have to deny her beloved child refuge and support. We struggle with it because it's contrary to what is in our hearts and it is contrary to what we want to do. But it's real. Most of us here have been in this very spot. The thing is we did not arrive here alone. Our children arrived in this place, by either their choices or their incapacities. In your son's case he is making real choices here that are responsible for his predicament:
He doesn't want to go to rehab for alcohol addiction.
I am kind of scared of him. He once told me that when he gets enough nerve to kill himself he will take me with him. He has never harmed me physically.
he is still unwilling to accept responsibility for his situation.
He is dealing with mental illness and he is self-medicating. And he is unwilling to accept treatment for either one. You didn't make these choices. He did. But you are asking yourself to accept the consequences. The consequences so far have been extreme misery for him, and for you. What he said to you about taking you with him is extremely scary. While they are at this point only words, you should be scared.

In my own experience, there are 2 kinds of boundaries I had to learn to make and had to learn to tolerate. The first boundary is the easier one. That is to create a physical and emotional space where I am distant from the consequences of my son's behaviors and choices. The second one is much harder which is to create boundaries in my own brain from the pain and guilt and suffering that I feel because I have wanted and had to make such boundaries from my son who I love.

As I see it this is where you are now. You know you are in the spot where you have to create physical and emotional boundaries. But your heart does not accept it yet. I along with the others here, want to tell you that we truly understand how hard this is because we live it too.

I want to tell you how glad I am you found us. And I want to tell you how sorry I am you have lost your husband. There is another mother on the forum right now with active threads in pretty much exactly the situation you are in: Tishthedish. You might want to look at her threads.
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Roll With It
Hi Zopdrop!

Welcome to the forum. You will find tons of support here. And we truly have been in your shoes so we truly understand.

Your son probably is sensitive and smart. He just has to get to the point where he wants a better life and then he will start to make changes. The wait until they want a better life can be very long. Just when we think they hit bottom and will change, they go back to old ways.

At this point, you have to weight what will be best for yourself with the impact of any help you give him. At his age, he really needs to learn how the world actually works. The world won't make his life easy just because he is sensitive. He is now an adult and he needs to figure life out for himself. Doing things for him actually isn't usually helping. He needs to do things for himself to prove to himself that he can actually handle life. When he calls, tell him that you have faith he will figure things out. What things? Whatever is bothering him.

Keep him out of your home. He has shown you who he is. Believe him. He is a very angry person who lashes out when he gets mad. You deserve better. Far better.

One thing that many parents find helpful is to make a list of short responses to use while on the phone with him. Things like "I have faith you will figure it out." and "Hmmmm. That is interesting." and "I need to go now. Have a good day." It sounds odd to practice things like this, but do it anyway. I find the car is a great time to practice stuff like this. This way, the responses will be automatic and you won't accidentally agree to something you don't want to do. One great phrase when you don't want to do something is "I don't think I would enjoy that." and make that statement the end of the discussion of the topic. Just change the subject or flat out say "That subject is over. Let's talk about . . . "


New Member
Thank you for all the great advice. I know I am part of the problem, enabling and such. So here I am enabling once again.
He finally contacted me again and admitted he can't make it on his own without us. His sisters still have him blocked on their phones, so he is only in contact with me.
When he was discharged from hospital, he went to COVID hotel to finish his isolation. From there he spent a few days at my house until I found him an Airbnb. He's been there and although very lonely (no friends, no job, etc), he's been doing ok. He also has no money so can't by liquor. But Airbnb is expensive. So I am considering paying for one more month. If he doesn't find housing by then, I am thinking of letting him back home with following conditions:
Absolutely no drinking.
Attend AA meetings
Stay on antidepressants
Attend family counselling with me
Respectful conversations - no blaming me for his life.

I have tried to be supportive but also maintain my boundaries. We've talked alot about boundaries and what I need to do to maintain my sanity and health.
At this point his only other option is back to homeless shelter. His legal case is still ongoing so he can't come back here until that is settled as well.



Active Member
Zopdrop I have been in your shoes. My now 21 year old son was very very similar to yours. His teen years were horrendous and once he was 18, he had to leave. We allowed him to come home twice and each time ended up with him having to leave again. The last 3 years have been 100 percent better not because he is perfectly mature but because he has to own his problems. He is someone who for whatever reason has to actually personally experience everything to come to realize the truth. No one can tell him or show him. Its a rough rough way to mature but what can I do? I know that when he visits, I love seeing him and connecting with him but know without a doubt I will never have him in my home again to live. The space is powerful for me in letting things go and stopping the enabling. I am fully aware that I can say this because he does step up when pushed to it. If he was homeless I know I would be considering letting him home just as you are. I don't think I am being very helpful, I guess I just am letting you know I understand.
Startingfresh wrote "We allowed him to come home twice and each time ended up with him having to leave again. The last 3 years have been 100 percent better not because he is perfectly mature but because he has to own his problems. He is someone who for whatever reason has to actually personally experience everything to come to realize the truth. No one can tell him or show him"

Snap!! My son exactly!


Well-Known Member
Hi Zopdrop. A brief reply as it's almost 2 am and I want to go back to sleep.

I swear. I think you're me.

My hugest mistake was my "conditions." I had lists longer than you do, of the absolute necessities that my son return home. Over and over again I made lists of conditions. For years and years. 8 years. 10 Years. Many, many years. The thing is, they were my lists. In my head. My son "bought in" only to get back into the house. How many things on the list did he ever do? None. Zero.

Oh. He paid lip service, but that was it. He'd maybe go to the psychiatrist one time. Oh. Maybe he'd pick up the medication from the pharmacy. But I would be surprised if he ever went to a NA meeting. He did go to Vocational Rehabilitation but was discharged a few months later for non-compliance. But that's our situation. Maybe yours will be different.

I doubt it though. Your son may actually believe he will comply. It is not necessarily lying. But the follow-through and the desire to really change one's situation doesn't come from mothers. It comes from our children. And to actually decide to do what it takes to change course, takes a shift of motivation and intention, that is like turning around an ocean liner. This is an internally driven thing. Can a tug boat carry an ocean liner across the ocean? No. We are little tiny tug boats. We can't carry them.

We can be there. We can love them. But we can't carry them. They have to. Even pushing is dangerous. Although I can't stop it. I was told just last week by a director of a recovery program that our pushing empowers the addiction.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

I join the others in offering my condolences for your loss of your husband. I cannot even fathom losing my husband AND dealing with our son when he was off the rails. Please give yourself much self-compassion because YOU have certainly earned it!!

I agree with the others. Your son should not live with you under any circumstances but you can only do what your heart can bear. It is a long and painful process to get where WE need to be.

We have our son with us now after a 13 month Christian program. He lost 5 years of his life drugging. He is doing well now but I honestly cannot wait until he finishes college and can be on his own. I am glad we had time to reconnect because our relationship, once as thick as thieves, was shot to hell.

He gave nothing but lip service for so many years. Like Copa said, our lists don't mean shi* to them.

I don't know if you have faith in God but if you do, start praying. Pray for your son and yourself. Prayer and my faith in God is what helped me get through. I knew that he is God's son too and not just my son and I also knew that God's will would prevail. Even if that meant that my son's life would end due to his poor choices and dangerous lifestyle. I had to make peace with that.

Stay with us because you have gotten great advice!! This site gave me the strength I needed to do what we did. I do not think we would have had a good outcome if we did not change how WE parented.

:staystrong: :hamwheelsmilf:


Well-Known Member
Think a while before offering. I come from a place where we enabled hugely and every time we drew up a contract with Kay she broke it. Then she went off on us when we tried to enforce it and often I felt too guilty to make her homeless. Well, we learned. She.is homeless now rather than willing to follow any sane rules.

I think Kay likes the freedom of living in an old motorhome rather than getting help or working. She'd gladly accept our hospitality and money but only if no strings were attached. I never believed anyone would be homeless by choice until Kay and her husband did it.

Fortunately they are.in Arizona now. I don't think they will like it much in the summer though. I hope they don't drive back here.

Prayers and.love.


Sending good vibes...
My heartfelt condolences to you. I noticed in your post that you focus on your son primarily. (LOL.. I'm preaching to the choir but posting also helps me sort through my own issues). You just lost your husband of 40yrs. and yet you are concerned about how your son will handle this. What about YOU?! You too are grieving the loss of your husband of 40yrs. and now have to deal with the heavy burden of sorting your sons life out. That is huge and you need to take care of yourself first and foremost.

I have to say that I personally don't feel that allowing your son back home will solve anything. What it does is it relieves, temporarily your hurt and pain. Looking back at my own experiences you are only prolonging the inevidible and he will be out of your house again in short time due to his inability to hold up to the conditions you put in place. But I don't blame you because most of us have been through this swinging door scenario until "we" finally have had enough.

Both of my sons who are now almost 28 and 32 were homeless, lived in their cars etc. It doesn't mean I didn't do everything in my power to make things better and financially drain myself but the unfortunate thing is 4 yrs. later - there's not a lot of change. My youngest son did make great strides for a while and held a job for close to 8 months. He has secured an apartment with friends but hasn't worked since December and all his stimulus money has run dry. The older son was working but recently suffered I think a psychotic episode and is stuck in fear, depression, paranoia and quit his job. He won't even stay in his apt. that he has until the end of this month because he thinks the roommates have it out for him. He's been coming by my home daily and although I think he's sincere, I can't help feel that his "nicesties" towards me are manipulative and that he's sizing up my living room couch as his next stop. My gut is screaming to me to put an end to these daily visits (although most would appreciate it), I know that it is not for my benefit. He has very little stimulus money left and the financial burden is going to be hitting me like a boulder any minute.

I know I can't "save" him. I can pray for him and my other son, which I do constantly but they have to be the change. It's hard to accept that when they have mental issues because I ask myself, how can they if they don't accept help from professionals? I still don't have all the answers but what I do know is that my home has been my safe haven, my quiet place, my boundary against their insanity and irresponsible behaviors. I want that back again and I need to find that balance again with the older son who is trying to "push" his way back into my home again. Again, I don't think that it's a conscious thing he's doing but rather to show me "he's changed" and that we could live together. I know I don't ever want either one of them living with me again for my own mental health and well being. It's just something I know now, as clear as a bell. I enjoy a weekly visit, text messages or calls but I don't need either of my two grown up sons living in my home ever again, as selfish as they may sound. I don't have much more than my peace and quiet and I intend to keep it.

I hope that since you posted several months ago that you are well and working on caring for yourself and that you have your own support helping you through the loss of your husband.


New Member
Well, here I am again. I’m still struggling with the decision to let my son back into my house.

He is living in a place that is for young people at risk of homelessness. They have staff at the front desk 24/7. He has his own place with a bathroom and kitchen. He also has a cell phone and internet (that I pay for) and I am usually buying him groceries. He pays his own rent from the income assistance he gets from the government. He absolutely hates the place. The reasons are that he feels like he is a patient in a hospital because they have to ‘ring’ in and out, and get the staff to take them to the laundry room as it is under lock and key. To me, a small price to pay.

The reasons I am considering letting him back home are that I don’t think where he’s living is doing him any good. He has no real friends (due to us moving here last year and he didn’t know anyone). He has made friends with a girl who lives in the same place as him but she is also an alcoholic, plus is addicted to meth and cocaine. Luckily my son has not tried meth and cocaine with her. He is trying to not drink as well, and is successful until the girl knocks on his door with a bottle of liquor. He says he can’t resist her – as he enjoys drinking with her and he has never had any girl pay any attention to him ever in his life, so he likes that attention even though he knows she is not good for him.

So, basically I think if he moved back home he wouldn’t be around those that have addictions as well. I know when someone is trying to recover from addictions it is really hard when you are still associating with people who are addicted. He spends time here at my house. He visits for about 2-3 days at a time. He is very respectful, quiet, doesn’t drink. But he doesn’t do anything either, other than do his laundry and eat my food. He sits with me all the time as he doesn’t want to be alone.

I feel if I don’t give him another chance there won’t be much hope for him as he is so depressed. He texts me daily to say how much he wants to die, how he just wants his life to be over because it’s so pathetic, how he’s so angry that he has to be alive, etc.

I don’t know…. I’m waffling between giving him another chance at home - with conditions. Or do I leave him to suffer with his severe depression alone. I know it’s up to him to get help, but I also know someone who is severely depressed has a lot of trouble getting out of it without encouragement from others.

I am taking care of myself too. I try to stay busy, keep connected with my family and friends. It's really hard tho, but I keep on going.


Well-Known Member
What do you want to do? Do you want him home?

I am not asking you what you think is the right thing to do. Nor am I asking what is best for your son. I am asking you, what do you want? What is best for you?

Ultimately our children have to live their own lives. Not only because we will one day die. But because this is their life to come to terms with. My son has been depressed, has felt suicidal, and has said he wishes he hadn't been born. He blames me.

But the thing is, the more I have backed out the more he is living the kind of life he wants, and it looks to me that he finds some satisfaction and happiness. It's not the way I would live. It's not the way I would want him to live. But he's living a life that seems congruent for him.

From my own experience, I think when we insert ourselves into their lives, it is not good for us or for them. But that's me.

What do you want for yourself?


Well-Known Member
Your son will come into contact with addicts even if he lives at home. You can't save him or fix him and it sounds like he is in a good place. Unless you plan to lock him up forever, our culture exposes us to bars, drugs and people who use drugs and and drink. Addiction is a lifetime disease and for the rest of your son's life he will have to learn coping skills so that he CAN resist when around other people who drink. Narcotics Anonymous and other organizations can and often do offer fellowship and teach addicts how to resist using. Home is temporary. He still has to live in a world of drinkers.

My opinion doesn't matter. I am sharing what I have learned from five years of Nar Anon. We want to fix them. We can't. If your son is in treatment he probably could benefit by staying.

A friend we have has been sober for 30 years. He got clean after both parents died, not before. He struggles every day to stay clean and is still active in Narcotics Anonymous. His wife attends Nar Anon and is also my sponsor. I know both would tell you that you have no power to change your son's life. Wish we all could cure our kids!

You, in the end, have to be the one to decide what you do. Life holds no guarantees. The only person on earth who can get your son clean and keep him clean is your son.

You have a lot to think about. Maybe try a Nar Anon meeting. They have Zoom meetings too listed on line. Everyone there is in the same boat but some are much farther along and have a lot of coping tools to share.

Whatever you decide to do remember you can only fix yourself, not him. You can't shield him or protect him. If you choose to bring him home, it won't stop him from having to learn how to not use substances. Other people in Recovery really tend to try to help one another. In the end, it's a One Man Gig...the addict has to use his friends and tools and do this alone.

Whatever happens, we support you and I send prayers and love.
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New Member
If he wasn't so depressed, I would leave him where he is. But it is so difficult emotionally. He blames me for being born as well. I truly don't believe his most harmful issue is his drinking. It is his mental health issues - depression, social anxiety, self loathing. He is self medicating and to just stop drinking doesn't make the feelings he has go away.

I am going to ask him to make a list of conditions he will live by while here, and also what will be different when here vs there, as well as different here this time vs when he lived here before. Maybe if he comes up with the thoughts, he will be more committed to them. I'm probably just fooling myself.

He has a condition on his parole that he cannot see me or come anywhere near my house. I got that lifted temporarily, but I have been told I can revoke it at any time, no questions asked. To do this I have to call the police and say I want to revoke the condition and they will come and arrest him. So, I do have an out if he starts drinking at home and refuses to leave. He understands the consequences which will mean being sent back to the homeless shelter - plus probably back to court for violating his probation condition of 'no drinking'.

I wish I wasn't dealing with this. I do blame myself for how bad his emotional / mental health issues got. I kept thinking he'd outgrow what I was seeing when he was young. He has a medical condition that he didn't tell us until he was about 17, which results in him not being able to be intimate with girls. He has had 2 surgeries to try to resolve with no success - at least from his point of view (kind of a difficult topic to discuss with your son). I know that is where his anger stems from. He has said his greatest wish was to get married and be a Dad someday, but knows he can't ever have that. I feel so bad for him. He watches everyone he knows, sees everyone online who have relationships and it drives him crazy. He won't tell any therapist about his issue, and he says he regrets telling us as well. He is so embarrassed by his condition. That's why I hate the thought of abandoning him. I often wonder why he had to have this disability - of all people, one who is super sensitive and has always had really low self esteem. I can't tell him 'Oh well, you won't miss having a family of your own'. I think if I was in his situation I would be angry at the world too.
I just don't know how to help him.