Is this difficult child territory?


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My step-son, 19yo-not Easy Child, not quite? Difficult Child, has started drinking and partying. This is his first year of college (community college locally).

He lives with his mom and comes to our house a couple of times per week, usually when he has a reason, such as when he and his dad have an early morning fishing trip planned or to watch a 'game' or such.

During high school he didn't go out with friends much, never had a girlfriend (or even wanted one). He lived out-of-district when his mom bought a house on the other side of town from his school, and she wouldn't EVER let him drive her car. So he was dropped off and picked up by mom all through high school. He had had a fender-bender right after he had gotten his license, so he was scared to drive for a long while anyway.

After high school last May he got a job and we loaned him a car to drive. He enrolled in college and started to get a social life, mostly with buddies he knew from high school. We were glad at first, and allowed him to park his vehicle here so his friends could pick him up at our house. He would come home late and sleep at our house.

We were naively sure that HE was the 'designated driver' so were quite confused that he never took his vehicle (early on he did, but that stopped quickly).

Then we got up one morning last fall and found a bag of throw-up on the porch.

After trying to say that it was someone else and he was just disposing of it ??? on our porch??? (I laughed right in his face and called him out on the dumbest lie of the century!) he admitted it was his. Told him no more coming too our house after drinking.

He stopped going partying for a while (as far as we knew) and things settled down. We thought maybe he had tried it and learned his lesson.

Fast forward to this weekend. He went out with friends. We knew.

We got up Saturday morning to find a lamp knocked over, off the table, and laying on the floor. Water marks on the table (never did find the source) the fruit bowl in the living room, a blanket with throw-up all over it, wet clothes and a wet (soaked) couch. He got in the river, apparently, at some point during the party and later came home and fell asleep soaking wet on the couch and remembers nothing.

His dad told him we will no longer be the launching pad for his nights on the town and can't come over to sleep after. IF he comes over to sleep, he is in by 8pm.

It is worrisome because his brother is an alcololic/drug addict. He doesn't see the connection.

Should we be worried?


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It is worrisome because his brother is an alcololic/drug addict. He doesn't see the connection.
Should we be worried?

I would be.

Kids experiment. Kids drink. These things are to be expected. But to get throw-up, pass-out and black-out drunk? That's concerning, especially in light of the family history. He's old enough to comprehend the genetic factor in addiction, but unfortunately young enough to think he's invincible and it'll never happen to him.

I wish I had advice. Other than making HIM clean up his own mess, placing a curfew (although 8 seems pretty early even under the circumstances), and pointing out that his brother didn't think he would ever develop a problem - until he did, I don't really know how I would handle this.


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8pm does seem early, but his dad picked that time because that's when the parties seem to get started, and he thinks a 10pm curfew would enable him to drink and just come home early. Then he would start coming in just a little later every time and we would be back to square one.

We go to bed by 10pm but are not always *sleeping* ...ahem...and he often comes in by 11 or 12. Not always but sometimes.

With the older boy, they often parented out of fear. Fear of his reaction.

Fear that he wouldn't go to school.
Fear that he would leave and not come back.
Fear that he would sabotage his own life.

But it all happened anyway.

And he put up with a lot of stuff he otherwise wouldn't have.

Don't want to do that again.


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While I do think you need to point out genetics to him, I suspect you'll also need to make it clear you understand he's his own person. I only have one kid, so I haven't actually done it...but my understanding is comparing him to his brother would backfire. My first impulse would be to say, "We've been thru this once." or "We don't want to see this happen again.", but I understand that tends to make kids defensive, "I'M NOT Difficult Child!" would be the normal reaction. So I'm not sure how to approach it. Do you have an ALANON group or something you can ask?


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Ignore what you did or didn't do with kid #1.
Just DO what you now know would have been a better approach.

If Kid #2 says "but kid #1 never had to ...", THEN you can say that you're not going there twice, or whatever. But don't bring up kid #1 unless kid #2 does so. And even then, minimize the references. This is about Kid #2. PERIOD.


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He is experimenting, finding where he fits in, and wanting to belong. He has gone too far.

On the positive side: Yes, he has got a job, is going to college, is hanging out with his Dad....wanting to be in your home. And, one acknowledges his good sense to leave the car at home, when drinking. This does not signal a difficult me...YET.

I have the sense that Dad reacted appropriately about curfew and other limits and that step-son needs to clean up his act before he again has free rein in your home.

Step son has choices to make. It's his move now. Best to you.
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I think it's best not to do too much talking when it comes to drugs/alcohol. No excuses to listen to. No conversations about how pot is legal and innocent. Nothing. You sit the kid down and "just the facts, ma'am."

"When you sleep at our house you have to be home at 8pm for the night. No car. No partying. Period."

Him B--b-bbut that's not fair.

You: Life isn't fair. That's our rules. Our house/our rules.

And stick to it. You can't do a thing about mom's house/mom's rules, but you can make sure your own house is a safe haven for you and yours. And conversations go nowhere as our adult kids who use drugs are just manipulators. They don't need us to explain things to them. They know. You don't approve of it and won't tolerate it in your home. Period. Consequences is he loses the use of your home if he won't follow your rules when he is with you. If we don't put the kibosh down hard and not waver, our adult kids think we're weak and take advantage of us and use our house like THEY are paying for it. I find that less is more. If he wants to have a discussion with Dad about a girlfriend, by all means, have Dad talk to him about that topic as long as they want it to go on. But not about drugs or alcohol (which is a drug). Just stte the rules and keep repeating them and if he gets out of hand or obnoxious tell him to go to his mother's house.

Too many of us give our power to our children in our own house. I have come to see that this is not good for anyone--not us and not them.

And to me your stepson is indicating the beginnings of a Difficult Child. And I always tell my kids and always have (three were adopted) that drug addiction runs in their genetic tree andt hat if they choose to take drugs they are more likely to become addicted than somebody without this in their family trees. Neither of the two younger kids have done drugs or even hang around with drug users and from I hear from Jumper's college friends she doesn't even drink. I do think it helps to let them know something may be a problem to them that is not a problem to somebody else. And that addiction runs in the DNA. I can't think of one reason not to bring that up.