New to board, so many issues--need clarity


Active Member
I figure it's time to introduce myself since I've been reading the forums for over a year now. I have two difficult child sons at home, and they seem to take turns being the center of attention. They are 10 years apart at ages 27 and 17. Two other sons are successfully out of the home, and easy child daughter is in college locally and living in the dorm.

There are several things going on that are troubling, and I feel like I'm losing sight of what's normal or what I should be doing. Right now, we're not in crisis mode, although the police have been at our house twice in the last few months to break up fights between these two. I could elaborate on that but it would take a while. During the first fight, difficult child 27 smashed GFG17s television and gaming system. They were both being jerks, but I felt like 27 escalated it more than necessary.

Also, during the last fight about 2 weeks ago, my daughter's laptop was "lost" in the scuffle and hasn't been seen since then. difficult child 27 said he gave it to my husband so it wouldn't get broken, but my husband did not have it, I'm sure of that. There's no way he would have hidden it that well without either giving it to me or telling me about it. husband said he saw daughter in law hand the computer to difficult child 27. So I'm fairly certain one or both of them either have the computer or have sold it, although they both claim innocence and have been helping us look for it (supposedly). Despite difficult child 17s faults (again, too numerous for one posting), he's a pretty honest person and said he never had the laptop. My daughter believes him, too. So somebody is lying in this scenario. We live on the third floor of a walkup apartment building, and nobody else has been in our apartment or even walks by the front or back doors.

(taking a breath now)--
I guess the thing that keeps me up most at night now is that I feel like my older difficult child son, his estranged wife, and the two grandkids have now set up permanent residence in our apartment. On the one hand, I resent the loss of privacy and the fact that they just assumed it was OK to move in, and I really didn't want to be taking care of a whole family including young children again. On the other hand, I realize our daughter in law had the rug pulled from underneath her when difficult child got fired, as he was the main breadwinner of their family. I worry about the grandchildren and hate to see them shuffled about from house to house. In general, difficult child and daughter in law are not that bad to live with between fistfights, and do some household chores and cooking, etc. This makes the whole thing more cloudy in my mind, as I'm not even sure if I should be complaining. My husband says we don't have a choice and we need to keep helping them until they get back on their feet.

difficult child age 27 moved in with us last November after a frantic call from his wife to us in the early morning. She said she had found out he was using heroin and she couldn't take it anymore and we needed to come and get him. They've been married for about 7 years and have two small children. He was still using, although we didn't know the signs at the time (we do now) and thought he had quit. By April, he had been fired from the job he had for three years where he earned a decent salary. Although he blames a hotheaded client, I found paperwork in his room later showing he had been disciplined over a period of months for coming in late, not doing projects on time, etc. He had been given several chances. He's been fired from numerous jobs including the military, but that's another long story.

Within a week of getting fired, he got arrested for possession of heroin. Two days after the arrest, I got a call at work from the sheriff's office asking if he could be released to us for house arrest. Without thinking, I said "yes," as it just seemed like the natural response. Well, who know that house arrest could last so long? The incident happened on April 3, and his court date has been continued three times now with no action. The next date is Sept. 17.

At each court date he has told the judge he has no job and no income and would like a public defender, and he said the judge questions him about how much he earned at his last job, how much he got in his income tax refund, etc. and just continues the court date.

During this whole time, he has been babysitting his children while his estranged wife works. At first it was two or three days a week, but now the wife and kids have moved in and are with us all the time. I still don't quite know how we let this happen, but here we are. They inhabit the middle bedroom that was my daughter's who is in the dorm at college. She had to sleep on an inflatable mattress in our living room all summer until school started again.

My daughter-in-law had been living with her sister until two weeks ago, when they had some kind of argument. The sister and her husband are moving out of state in a month, so daughter in law needed somewhere to live anyway. She told us that nobody in her family was in a position to help, and just started bringing boxes of clothes over without really asking us. She has six or seven siblings plus her parents and stepparents.

Since then she has brought over the kids' bunk beds, and they are camped out in that bedroom. They've also taken over half of the living room with enough toys to start a day-care center. The kids are starting preschool and kindergarten at our neighborhood school next week.

I also found out that daughter in law and difficult child have been smoking weed on our back porch although they both know I'm against it. difficult child is pretty adamant that there is nothing wrong with it, and he may be right, but I still don't like having illegal substances on my premises. Our downstairs neighbors already hate us for the noise we make between kids running around and police calls, and wouldn't hesitate to call the police if they smelled pot.

I don't know where I'm going with this long message, but really just wanted to vent and maybe get some feedback from those who've dealt with these kinds of things.


Active Member
Awww wow. I feel for you honey. I got a headache just reading this story, I can't imagine what it's like to live it. In my head while reading your story, I kept thinking to myself, how does she do it? How come everyone else seems so much stronger than me? I couldn't handle it. I just couldnt.


Well-Known Member
I was about to say that your son probably sold the computer for drugs. I have a bigger question. Why on earth is this family living with you? Your son is almost thirty. Does he work, pay rent, help with chores, treat you with respect? Even if my kid did all those good things, living with me at 27 and dragging the whole crew with him would not work.

Have you thought about making them leave for good? He has put you through enough. I'm sure you did all you can to help and it isn't working. You have other children and loved ones who need you healthy both mentally and physically. You also owe it to yourself to be happy. To live the way you do is madness.

If it were me (I know it's not), but they'd be gone as fast as they could blink. Your seventeen year old isn't in a good place either. He doesn't need this older brother causing trouble and influencing badly.

Hon, you should go to a twelve step meeting or see a private therapist. It's time for YOU to be good to YOU. Just because we give birth to them, we are not obligated to support them and house them after they become adults. That ship has sailed. Time for him to grow up and sink or swim.

Do you want to be busted for having heroin in your house? If it's your residence, you can be arrested along with him if the police get ahold of that information. Yikes! GET THEM OUT OF THERE.

JMO. Hugs for your hurting heart and all the pain. Didn't you post once before?


Active Member
The main reason my older son is here is because of the house arrest. He literally can't go anywhere else without permission from the sheriff's department, which isn't that easy to get. He's been out of the apartment only four times since April and those were for court dates. He's not buying heroin since he has no way to get outside. I know he could technically get someone to bring it to him, but he has no money and I'm sure he hasn't been using since the arrest. His wife (they were supposedly getting a divorce) moved in when her sister moved because she has only a part-time job and can't afford rent until she finds something better. She's been applying for other jobs.

Anyway, I'm not worried about there being heroin here at the moment anyway (might be a different story when he gets off house arrest), but the weed bothers me. The fighting bothers me. The missing items bother me. The lack of privacy bothers me.

MidwestMom, yes, he does treat me respectfully, will do whatever chores I ask and generally keeps his area tidy. He takes good care of the kids. That's where I have a disconnect between the fact that he's generally a likeable person who I don't know if I can trust or not. He has a history of being a very good liar, but charming nevertheless.

You're right, I could probably benefit from some therapy or group meetings to give me some perspective. And no, I hadn't posted before. Thanks for your concern and advice. I'll probably post more since I think this relatively calm time won't last too long.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome Origami, I'm glad you're here.

It will be very beneficial for you to find support for you. While I believe it is a noble thing to help your son, I believe your daughter in law has taken advantage of you. It sounds as if you need to set some boundaries. Doing drugs in your home and being pushed into doing something you didn't agree to is NOT RIGHT. You have rights, you have feelings, you have the right to protect your home and your family.

Therapy, or some kind of counseling for you will assist you in figuring out what your needs and wants are. It will help you to clarity your boundaries and get out of the fog of thinking about what you should be doing versus what you actually want to be doing. You sound stuck in a lot of shoulds. Your son is 27 years old and made some serious mistakes. He should be facing the consequences of his choices, you should not be living the consequences of his choices.

I might try finding out from the legal system just what MY rights are. If you are no longer willing to have him be on house arrest at your home, then what exactly are the options. You could also tell your daughter in law, that as of (some date in the future) she and the kids must move. You don't have to give any reason for it other then that is what YOU WANT. It is YOUR home, you have all the power. These are adults. You don't have any responsibility to take care of any of them UNLESS YOU want to. YOU get to decide, not anyone else. You and your husband. Not your son. Not your daughter in law.

Take your power back. This is your home. Figure out what it is you really want and then tell everyone what that is. It is not murky out here, only in there where you are trying to figure out how to help people who should be helping themselves. Whatever happens at the next court date is what happens for your son, not you. Set a date and get them all out.

I'm sorry you're going through this. Keep posting, it helps. You might want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post. You might also want to read Codependency no more by Melodie Beattie. Al Anon groups might be of help too. Hang in there, take care of YOU.


Active Member
Thanks for the support and food for thought. I guess the whole feeling that I've been a victim of circumstance is the core of my problem. It's hard for me to feel like I have any power in the situation, since I'll be letting several people down if I assert my wishes or rights. So I continue to complain to my husband, a couple of good friends, you guys--

Action is the hard part for me. I think I'll start with a heart-to-heart talk with the son and his wife and take it from there. Will also make an appointment for counseling.


Well-Known Member
Hi and welcome.

I know exactly what you are feeling and dealing with. My son ended up on house arrest and the court mandated that he do it at my house even though he was an adult. I tried to tell them they should find him a place to live. Didnt work. My son also has moved his entire family in on me a couple of times over the years.

It is so confusing isnt it?

Right now their father and I have left them behind at the family home and we moved out. We couldnt take the constant fighting, the refusal to do anything anyone asked, everyone expecting their dad to be the only provider and me be the chief cook and bottle washer. Nope....we left to keep what little is left of our sanity. We do make them pay rent which they do. They know if they dont, they will be gone. I dont expect this to last forever. I hope they get tired and move out. Honestly I hope my oldest moves out first. He is the one we figured would never leave and I think this is the only way we could force the matter...if he gets so fed up living with his brother he may just find a way. He was too comfortable with us. For some unknown reason my son's father is considering turning our home into a duplex and I assume he thinks Cory will rent the other side. Sigh. I dont even want that.


Well-Known Member
Welcome, Origami. That is quite a story. You've gotten some good advice already. I would say it will be hard for you to stand up for yourself until you get some professional support...I can read between the lines that you don't seem to think you have any right to end this untenable situation...but the thing do!

Take your power back. This is your home.

Get help to get to this. Go to Nar-Anon or another 12 step, see a therapist yourself or with husband. You are being walked all over and I'm not sure you even see it. A man and woman with a family should figure out how to take care of that family. As long as you are the answer to the will be the answer to the problem! Why would they do anything else? You are the easiest answer.

Being a grown up and a parent is hard. It is fine for you to be a (very) temporary bridge, but you cannot shoulder the whole burden, and in the long run you do them no favors to let them think that it is you who will fix things, not them. Who will fix things for them when you are gone? They have to figure out how to fix things themselves.

Fist fights, pot, lying to you (about the job) are all...totally...unacceptable.

Good luck to you. Keep posting. We understand how you got here, and how hard it is to see straight.



Active Member
Janet, I almost laughed when I read that you and your husband moved out and left the "kids" behind, because my husband had jokingly said we should do the same thing! Unfortunately, finances don't allow anything beyond the fantasy: "Let's move to a small apartment (no spare bedrooms) and not leave a forwarding address!" I'm sure it wasn't funny that you guys had to do that, but it just seems weird to realize we're not the only ones with that thought.

Thanks also, Echolette, for your good words. I do realize I'm being walked all over, but don't quite know how to stand up for myself yet. I think in the back of my mind, I would feel like I'm throwing my little grandchildren out on the street if I say they can't live with us. They just started school today at our neighborhood school, so it seems like this togetherness thing is getting even more entrenched. Meanwhile, daughter-in-law has brought in another van load of kids toys that they're sorting through from their other apartment.

Another thing is that son and wife are being very nice, cooperative, and helpful. They clean up the kitchen after dinner, take down the trash, are generally fine to live with. We watch TV together and are planning to take the kids to Legoland soon. So part of me says I should just let things ride since they're not so bad right now, give them time to regroup, see if my son gets off house arrest at his next court date, etc. But then I look around at the massive amounts of toys in my living room, the books my son has moved out of my daughter's former room to make room for his things, and I'm still feeling like a doormat.

And on a more petty note, son informed me the other day that he installed a video game on my laptop for his son (the 5-year-old) to play since my computer's faster than theirs and his screen's broken. Then he was also playing it. I said, "I didn't want anyone else on my computer, and I didn't want that to become the Minecraft computer." Son left the room, and my husband called him back and said we'd pay the $50 to fix the screen on his computer. (broken during the latest fight between my two difficult children).

My daughter said we shouldn't have paid to replace the screen since it wasn't our fault it got broken. Another son who lives out of state says I need to tell them to move and not to be subtle about it because they don't take hints well. Voices of reason? But I'm not comfortable being the bad guy. (sigh)


Well-Known Member

You give a well rounded description of your situation, which is, like so many, neither black nor white.

There is of course an in between place, where you lay down some ground rules and a time frame and help them out for a while. Here is the key, though..the rules are your rules, there is no negotiating around them, and if they don't stick to them...well..they have to leave. There are rules everywhere. There are rules if you live in jail, if you live in an apartment, if you live in a half way house, a shelter, wherever. You should have rules too.

Another thing is that son and wife are being very nice, cooperative, and helpful. They clean up the kitchen after dinner, take down the trash, are generally fine to live with. We watch TV together and are planning to take the kids to Legoland soon. So part of me says I should just let things ride since they're not so bad right now

I totally get that they are pretty nice, and also that you love them and the kids. IT is the last sentence that worries me because, I gotta tell you, people's behavior doesn't generally get BETTER unpromted, it generally devolves to the lowest tolerated level. This is even true to some extent to non-difficult children. In your case you are witnessing it right now. So please, I'm begging you, DONT LET IT RIDE.

And on a more petty note, son informed me the other day that he installed a video game on my laptop for his son (the 5-year-old) to play since my computer's faster than theirs and his screen's broken. Then he was also playing it. I said, "I didn't want anyone else on my computer, and I didn't want that to become the Minecraft computer.

Honey, this isn't petty. This is a breach of boundaries, and your husband is enabling. It is totally not OK to just take some one else's computer and use it. It is totally not ok to install or download things on some one else's computer, or to usurp any time on it. It is childish to think otherwise (I get that the 5 year old might have that kind of magical thinking, but it is intolerable in a 30 year old. Please!)

And paying for the screen that was broken in a difficult child melee? I say again...Please.

So...I suggest that you sit down and think how you would like to see things. All toys picked up before 10 pm each night (preferably with children participating). Put them in the bin HERE. You guys do the dishes every night, and make dinner (xxx) times each week for all of us. You contribute xxxx to household expenses each week (I don't care if it is $25, just something). No Pot. Ever. Pot or any drugs is cause for IMMEDIATE eviction, zero tolerance. No hanging out on the community back porch after xxxxx hour (it isn't ok for them to annoy your neighbors).

And difficult child 27 fighting with difficult child 17? Cut it out. He is a grown up. difficult child 17 lives there, and is surely inconvenienced by this whole fiasco. Fights between them are difficult child 27's fault...period. He can leave the room or deescalate, but as I see it he owes difficult child 17 a new gaming system...and no one owes 27 a new screen.

Feeling tough today!



Active Member
Thanks for the tough talk, Echo! I'm feeling stronger already. :)

The rules talk has to happen quickly, and I think that will make me feel less put upon. I also want to approach the topic of them moving (wife and kids, since son can't leave while on house arrest). She claims there are no options with her family, but I'm not so sure about that. She says she's already on the list for Section 8 housing but it's a two-year waiting list.

The first big difficult child fight (where all the stuff was broken) happened just before Father's Day. It started with something petty that escalated to a point of stupidity. GFG17 is very immature, and actually tries to egg people on to fight, spouting all kinds of racist, crude, insulting garbage to get a rise out of people (mainly his siblings) whenever there's a conflict. This is what 27 was responding to on that famous night. However, we all agree that 27 should have been able to walk out of the room and not smash the TV and gaming system. He refuses to apologize and says that 17 almost killed him by choking him, so the damage was warranted.

This is all so stupid in retrospect, I can't believe I'm still rehashing it. Ugh
Something's got to change.


Well-Known Member
It is up to his wife where she stays. Nobody owes her a home. She is a grown up with children. And she is messing with your life. How did you son end up on house arrest in YOUR house? Can it be changed? He doesn't sound very fun to live with. He is a drug addict and a danger to you, on or off drugs. Your younger son clearly doesn't need his bad example around.

It is hard to learn to say "Sorry, but I'm not your mommy're a man and a woman and you need to do this yourself. If you can't find a relative who will let you stay with him/her, there are homeless shelters."

Chances are the wife burned her bridges with her entire family, which is the norm. It is not your place to house her. And aren't you scared of your son too? What does he do to contribut to the house? How does he make it an asset for him to live with you?

Lastly, why on earth would you allow them to smoke pot in your yard? I called the cops on my daughter when she smoked pot in my house. I can't say that it had anything to do with it, but my daughter QUIT using drugs and she used some pretty bad ones. She is clean about ten years now, but she was not coddled.

I think you hurt your son and his wayward wife more by housing him than by letting them learn about life in the School of Hard Knocks.



Well-Known Member
Staff member
You've gotten such great advice. Those 12 step meetings are so empowering. I like Families Anonymous, but they are all good. Your sons's wife has a big family, chances are she can find another I place to stay...but that's not really your problem. She can take difficult child-27 with her. You can always offer to have the kids over on weekends....maybe ever other weekend or something like this. The smoking pot in the backyard alone would be enough for me to invite them to leave. Yes, group meetings and private therapy would likely help to make you a whole new, stronger and happier person.


one day at a time
Origami, isn't it nutty, how one day we sit up and look around and everything is completely out of control. Our home has even been taken over. How in the world did we get to this place?

Yesterday, I just started laughing at the lunacy of it all. It was actually funny, for just a few minutes.

Just like I do right now, you gotta a whole lotta crazy stuff going on. The difference is, it's going on right in your house, which should be your sanctuary.

You need a sanctuary, with your 27 year old son and your 17 year old son, and now your daughter in law and your grandchildren. You deserve a sanctuary, Origami.

If you can, and if you are ready, start making a plan. You and husband have to be on the same page. At the top of the piece of paper write: Plan for Me and husband.

This is not a plan for difficult children or daughter in law or grandchildren. This is a plan for you and husband to, for starters, reclaim your home.

Set a time limit on when they will move out. Make it reasonable. One of my key thoughts is: is this reasonable? Just because difficult children are unreasonable, doesn't mean it's okay for us to be unreasonable. You want to be able to look in the mirror.

Write down a date 30 or 60 or 90 days from now, whatever you and husband are comfortable with. Think about it. Pray about it. Talk about it. Because once you tell it to difficult child and daughter in law, you have to stick to it. No matter what. No matter what craziness occurs, you have to back up what you say. If you don't, you're sunk. You've taught them once again you don't mean what you say.

So, pick the date. And then tell them the date.

On this day, you will need to be out of our house. It's up to you where you go, and I'm sure you will be able to figure it out and make good decisions for yourselves.

Don't solve it for them. Don't sit and go over endlessly every possibility with them. They are grown people. They will figure it out. Keep it short. Keep it simple. Make sure they know you mean business.

In the meantime, like someone else posted, make a list of the new house rules. Sit down and discuss them with difficult child and daughter in law. Post them on the refrigerator. They are effective immediately. Smile when you say it, it doesn't have to be punitive or mean. Keep them short and simple---don't write a book because you can't keep track of it and neither can they. You might put down the top six things you most want to change around there. One piece of paper. Short and simple.

When they break the house rules, just say, hey come here for a minute. Let's look at this list together again. These things aren't happening. They need to happen or we will need to move up the date for you to move out.

Once you have a plan, you will feel better. You will know there is an end to this.

Origami, then, once you do these things, start working on yourself. You have a drug addict for a son and you are going to need lots of help dealing with that. Assemble your toolbox and start using your tools every single day. As you get stronger, you will feel better. Your thinking and your attitude will start to change. You will start feeling more and more like you are on level ground.

It's time for things to change. You deserve better. And Origami, you can't save them. They are grown people. They will have to save themselves.

Take what you like here, and leave the rest. We are always here for you. We get it. Warm hugs.