My 31 year old son feels entitled and expects to be taken care of

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Jadeland, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. Jadeland

    Jadeland New Member

    My oldest son is 31 and has never lived on his own. He hasn't lived with me for eight years however. I spent several years encouraging him to get a job and plan for his future. He had no desire for college. He bounced from job to job to job. He refused to "work" his way up to a good position. He felt he was good enough to start at the top so he would quit if he couldn't get the position he wanted. He refused to pay room and board so I eventually made him leave when he was 21. He simply moved in with friends and bounced from friend to friend never paying the agreed upon rent or sharing in chores so would get kicked out. I took him in one time when he was homeless because I am a mom and felt sorry but it was a mistake. He took advantage of me. Refused to look for a job for months. Laid on the couch and didn't even bathe. I made him leave again out of frustration. He has since continued to bounce from job to unemployment to job and from friends house to friends house and somehow he has found one who's allowing him to live there rent free. He calls me occasionally to tell me that I am a horrible mother for not allowing him to live with me and take care of him since he doesn't have a job that will support him. He says it is my job as a parent to take care of him. Since I won't I am a horrible person. You wouldn't believe the horrible things I have been called. I have three other children I have raised the same way and they are completely self-sufficient and mature and love me. What is wrong? Has anyone else experienced this? Could this be some sort of personality disorder? I am at my wits end with the hurtful insults and just don't understand how a 31 year old can't grow up and still expects mommy to take care of him. It's not like I have been an enabler.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Oh, he could have a personality disorder or other problem, but it isn't YOUR problem. As for you being a bad mom because you won't take care of him? He is supposed to take care of you in your old age. If you ask him what old is, he will problem give an age close to yours, so why isn't he paying all your bills and taking care of you? Doesn't he owe you that? After all, you carried him inside your body for ten months (sorry, but a month has 4 weeks and a pregnancy is 40 weeks, so it is 10 and not 9, unless you are short in which case it is actually more like 12 because there is so much less of you to carry him, lol) and then you changed his diapers and wiped his tushie and snotty nose and bathed him and cared for him and did all those other mom things. Now is the time when he is supposed to care for you, not the other way around.

    The greatest gift you can give your son at this point is his independence. Let him know he is free to think what he wants, but you have done more than enough and you are not going to ever do more for him. He needs to grow up and be a man, not a whiny baby. When he is miserable enough he will find some way to cope. You owe him nothing and the less you do for him and the less you give him, the more he will have the gift of self sufficiency and independence.

    Ignore his guilt trips, lay your own on him about him not taking care of you. Not that you truly expect him to take care of you, but to give him a different perspective.

    You may actually need to sever contact with him until he matures and chooses to lead a more responsible life. If all he does is abuse you verbally because he doesn't want to work and support himself, then I would limit contact with him. You know you are a good mom - you have other children who are responsible members of society and you have a good relationship with them. So it is NOT your parenting, it is something within your son. Pretty much all you can do is get whatever therapy and support you can to help deal with the pain of having a child who is determined to not be an adult, go to alanon/narcanon if sub abuse is an issue in your extended family, and live a happy, healthy life which includes not enabling him or allowing him to abuse you.

    If at some point he chooses to make better decisions and get help for whatever issues are behind his refusal to grow up, you may want to help with therapy or medications or whatever. But you need to wait until he comes to the decision that something has to change and he takes the first steps to making those changes. Offers of therapy, rehab or whatever will only result in him working to con you into giving him money to support his current lifestyle, and that won't be good for either of you.
  3. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good evening Jadeland. I am very sorry you find yourself in this situation with your son. I am glad you found us, welcome. Yes, many of us have experienced adult children who cannot launch into their own lives and blame us, vilifying us to terrible degrees rather then face their own natural consequences. Has your son been diagnosed with any sort of disorder? Depression, bipolar, ADHD, Aspergers, PTSD? Is he abusing alcohol or drugs?

    Many of our kids do have personality/conduct disorders, diagnosed or not. Many abuse substances, some are mentally ill. Whatever the reason, the results are often very similar, much like your story. I have an adult daughter who is 40 and has been couch surfing for 3 years. I am raising her 16 year old daughter. I don't have the answer to your question, 'what is wrong', I wish I did. We do the best we can with our kids and sometimes they turn out like your son and my daughter, I don't know why.

    What I have come to know, over a period of time, is that to preserve my sanity and the sanity for those around me, my fiance and my granddaughter mostly, I had to learn how to detach from my daughter's lifestyle, her choices and the drama she creates by not taking full responsibility for herself. It's been a very difficult road. For me, it was necessary to get myself professional help, a therapist trained in codependency issues. I also attend a group of parents like me, mostly with adult kids who are mentally ill, but some who are abusing substances too. This CD board has been a huge help in offering advice, support, compassion, insight and a very large component, my not feeling alone.

    You might consider either limiting or not taking the phone calls at all from your son. There is no reason you have to put up with that behavior. You might figure out what you can live with and what you can't and set strong unbreakable boundaries with him and then if those boundaries aren't adhered to, then come up with consequences that really limit his time in your life. Your job as a parent is OVER, he is a grown man, not a 12 year old boy. He sounds exceedingly entitled and selfish, much like my daughter. It sounds like you've done quite a good job in not enabling him. Good work. I'm sorry you're still suffering because of his behavior. It is hard to let go.

    What many of us here find, is that we need to really detach from our kids in the ways that work for us. You might read the blurb at the bottom of my post on detachment, it has good points. There isn't anything you can do, you didn't cause his behavior, you can't cure it, you can't change it, you can't control it. In order to really get that, many of us need support of some kind to stay the course. You deserve to have a happy, peaceful life where your focus is not on your adult son who won't, for whatever reason, be a responsible adult. I've had to change in ways that redefine my way of parenting and look at what I can do to accept a situation that I have no power to change. It's not easy, but it's possible and gives you the opportunity to have peace without your son's behavior damaging your well being and/or peace of mind. You've already done a very good job of detaching from your son, perhaps now what is necessary is to accept what you cannot change and keep your connection to your son to whatever minimum will keep you healthy and happy. Keep posting if that feels right. Many of us are in a similar boat and find comfort and support here. I wish you peace. (((HUGS)))
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I can never top Susiestar. Nobody says it as well as her. I'm thinking that this young man has GOT to be using drugs. Is that part of the picture here? If not, there is something terribly wrong with him, BUT THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO. He is 31 and old enough to get help. If he has no money, there are county mental health facilities. I use one and love my therapist. If he has drug or alcohol issues there is AA or NA or other alternative free groups that help get you going the right way. There is NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) which he can call to see where else he can get help. He needs to do it himself though. You can't and shouldn't.

    I have struggled with mental health issues all my life and I didn't have a nice mom like you to blame or abuse or to take me in. I *had* to do it all myself. I think I did a great job (patting myself on I found my own resources, read selfhelp books non-stop (I still do) and made sure I never made things worse by drinking or using drugs. I am really proud of myself. Ok, enough about me. I just wanted you to know that it can be done, even without a lot of money, and that your son can do it too. But if he doesn't want to, he won't and you can't make him. Do you have other kids and a husband? If so, I recommend you focus on them. That doesn't mean to forget your son. That just means you aren't helping him or you or anyone by lamenting his poor choices. You can always guide him to helpful areas that pertain to his situations. But you can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink.

    One last point. Could be that, if drugs are NOT the issue, that your son really has trouble keeping a job due to cognitive or mental health issues. There is social security disability and job rehab (they help special needs adults get jobs). If your son qualifies for disability, they will also help him get housing (Section 8). My autistic spectrum son gets this sort of help and he is thriving and becoming more and more independent every day. Every resource I listed here, I have used either for me or one of my children. I know they work.

    by the way, your job as parenting him stopped when he turned 18 or 21 (depends on how you look at it). You should not be parenting a 31 year old. I have a 34 year old who often acts half his age and wants a parent too, but I can give him advice and listen to him...he is too old to parent and I know it wouldn't be good for me to take on that role at his age.

    Good luck and keep us posted :) We are here for you
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    At least you got him out! I bow to you. I have a 31 year old who is still living with me! Now he is somewhat respectful to me and he does pay me $150 a month but that barely pays what he eats each month but it makes him feel like he is actually paying his if. He does nothing else, no chores, no helping around the house...nothing. He does go to work but thats it.

    We made a huge mistake in allowing him to stay here long after he got his job. I know why we did it but it was stupid.

    I would also suggest not taking so many of your son's phone calls. If he starts getting ugly with you I would hang up. I think the next time he calls I would start the conversation by giving him a new set of rules before he can get many words out and simply tell him that you do not enjoy hearing from him if he is only going to call to whine at you and blame you for everything wrong in his life. He is old enough to take charge of his life and make it what he wants. If he wants to call you and speak to you in a respectful manner and share conversation like two adults, that is fine but if he starts to get ugly you will simply hang up....then do it every single time. He will get the message.
  6. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome Jadeland :)

    He could have an undiagnosed issue. It could be drugs or alcohol. It could be sheer laziness. And yes, perfectly good parents can find themselves with an utterly lazy kid and wonder what the heck happened when their siblings are just fine. It's because we don't control our kids, we raise them. Once they reach adulthood it's on their shoulders to take life by the horns and live it. You can't force them to do so. You can't convince them to do so. They have to want to do so. If your son needs help of some kind, the same thing applies. He has to want the help and seek it out. You can't do it for him, you can't force it upon him.

    Sounds like he is finally running out of options, which oddly is a good thing. Time for him to grow up and learn to stand on his own. 31 is a rough age to be learning to do that but hey that was his decision not yours.

    That you have other well functioning adult children should be enough to prevent you from doubting your parenting. Don't buy into the guilt trip. It's just manipulation to get you to do what he wants. You've done your job. This is the time in life when you're supposed to shift focus back onto yourself and other things, not try to drag a 31 yr old man kicking and screaming into adulthood.

    If he can't be respectful, limit contact. If he is rude on the phone simply hang up. (enough of this and they get the idea) If he is rude in person, make him leave. When he whines that you should be helping him tell him to man up and help himself. I don't mind helping out my grown kids, but I'd better see that they're doing something to also help themselves. Your obligation to him officially ended on his 18th birthday. It might sound cold but it is the truth and sometimes as parents we need to remind ourselves of that.

    It's not you Jade. It's him. He has to want to make the right choices and do the right things.