Out of control 19 year old son

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by mikekc, Dec 15, 2007.

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  1. mikekc

    mikekc New Member

    I am a 49 year old male who is retired Army. My son is 19 and failing at life. I gave up my army career to stay in contact with him and his brother, spent over $30,000 on airplane tickets over the years and fought an expensive international custody battle to have them join me at age 16 which was there wish. He is an intelligent individual who keeps going downhill fast. Last year he had a underage drinking charge and this Summer had a DUI and lost his license for a year. I have been paying for college tuition, food and driving him to a weekend job with no gratitude expressed by him. He received $10,000 from his mother for school and has blown it all in 11 months. I co-signed for an apartment for him and will most likely be stuck with paying the rent for six months. He is going to Ireland to visit his mother for a month and I need the time away from him. This morning he cursed me several times and it ended up getting physical. I am at a loss at what to do with this son. I started as a 17 year old private and he is wasting all the hard work I put in to give him a leg up in life.
  2. goldenguru

    goldenguru Active Member

    Welcome mikekc~

    Glad you found us. But, sorry you had to go looking.

    It is hard when our kids choices disappoint us. It is hard when the dreams we have for them take another course.

    Most of us understand the frustration and the sacrifice.

    I'm sorry things got physical this morning. Best advise I ever got was to walk away when things escalated to that degree. Easier said than done I know.

    Your son is an adult now. What you do for him is out of the good graces of your heart.

    Come post often. It really helps.
  3. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi Mike,
    sometimes weekends are slow on the board but I am sure more people will respond to you soon! Welcome to our group, hope we can be of help to you.

    I guess my advice is to stop giving him stuff (college tuition, food, etc.) since he has no appreciation for it. I have a 19 yr old dtr who was the one who brought me to this board. She would not help herself til I quit helping her. I had to kick her out of the house at age 18 and then I had to remove all financial support before she finally decided to take responsibility for herself. She now has a job and can support herself and feels good about being able to do that. We have a nice relationship--she no longer has to defy me, I no longer try to control her. She tells me often that I was right about stuff--what a turn around! Your son is 19, I think your trying to give him a leg up in life probably has backfired. I don't think he will appreciate anything you do for him, he needs to work for it and get it for himself. You did that--you were 17 yrs old!

  4. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome,
    I can totally understand. You want to give your child a hand up, so they can move forward in their lives. On the other hand, when it just becomes a handout that they waste and don't appreciate then you need to stop. He's an adult now, he has to learn how to do things by himself. We can lecture until we're blue in the face and to no avail. Some kids learn by doing. Let him learn the hard way. Otherwise things will never change, let him figure it out on his own. If you have to pay the 6 months rent, consider that a lesson learned and you will never sign another loan with him again. You'll be surprised how he'll step up and take care of his own business, however hard that may be, once he has to- because you've stopped. -Alyssa
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Hi Mike,

    Welcome. The things in life that I worked for on my own to get? I cherish. I cherish them because when I look at them I see something that I started, worked for and finished. Those things make me proud.

    The things in life that someone handed me, I cherish; but in not in a way that leaves me with bragging rights to say "I got this on my own, or I worked hard for that." Much like your army career.

    If you had gone into the Army and on the first day of basic training - a General came up to you and said "Son, I saw those push ups you did, mighty fine - here (hands you an E6 rating) you're top man." It wouldn't really be the same as if you went through the ranks to earn that ranking - it was just handed to you. Then say a month later a 5 star walks in and says "Sgt. - I saw the way you made that bed this morning, tight as as tic - here's a star NOW you're a General." You would think "MY GOD the man is into the rum." or "I didn't earn that." and the guys around you certainly wouldn't say "Wow that General Mike - sure earned that star."

    It's not any different with our kids - In order for them to respect what they have in a world full of easy to get - we've left them with very little to earn. And along the way sadly - that includes our respect for giving them everything.

    My advice? Live your life. You son's are grown, they are who they are. If they prefer to live in bonnie Ireland, let 'em. Go re-enlist, and do what makes YOU happy. You aren't turning your back on your son - you love him right? Yes. But maybe if good old dad wasn't so 'attainable' he'd be more appreciated. IF you aren't then all the apartment paying, money giving, car buying in the world is going to make a difference - the only difference will be that you had the good sense to live your life on your terms.

    I've had to let my son go - he's 17. There isn't a day I don't think about him. But after a lot of expensive therapy - there IS a lot that I won't do for him - he's got to do it on his own - and when he does finally - he'll appreciate it because he earned it. That goes for respect as well.

    However you found us - We're glad you're here.
    oh ps. Prayer never hurts either. Well unless you're catholic, and it's a high mass wedding, and you've blown out a knee and the padding on your kneeler is gone - and you're trying to look good in front of the family - so instead of getting up and down and up and down - you just stay down. I'm not catholic but the catholic side of my family thinks I'm a saint now. Prayed through the whole high mass wedding.

  6. mikekc

    mikekc New Member

    Thanks for the reply. Everyone has given the same advice which I know is the right thing to do. It is going to take six months to disengage totally because of the apartment but that will pass quickly. I really appreciate the advice and encouragement. I have come to know you can always find someone in a worse situation than you and reading some of these blogs confirms that. By the way I won't be re-enlisting since I did 28 years already but did not achieve the things I wanted to due to the situation with my sons. A divorce with kids while in the service is a tough situation with them almost always thousands of miles away.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Mike -

    SO then - what is your SECOND biggest dream? Do it.

    Could you sub-let the apartment out to someone?

    We all basically have the same problems, wants, desires, - it's just when it is YOUR problem - IT IS BIG.

    Good luck!
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Welcome. As we say around here "glad you found us..sorry you had
    to". I agree with everyone above but also would like to suggest
    that you take this time to study the subject of Detaching. It is
    not a snap course as you have to implement the principles in order to stay true to your course and feel confident in your choices. Someone will post a site for you, I'm sure.

    Gently, I'd like to also suggest that although it probably is
    completely true it would be best not to identify your career goal
    as lost due to the needs of your children. I'm sure that it has
    the ring of martyrdoom to the kids though your choices were in fact based on the depth of your love for the kids.

    by the way, you didn't mention your other son. How's he doing? We
    usually find there is an emotional dominoe effect when one difficult child
    begins to make major poor choices. DDD
  9. mikekc

    mikekc New Member

    To DDD, thanks for your advice. I actually have three other sons. The oldest is a Special Forces Sergeant and has just returned from his second tour in Iraq, the next is a Lieutenant who is still in Iraq and then the youngest graduated from high school this year after a tough year and a DUI but has returned to Europe for a year off from school. He worked on a Greek Island last summer and is working for a awhile and then traveling after he has saved his money. He calls often and has grown up a lot. By the way I did not see my two oldest for 10 years and then reconnected in 1996 when they were teenagers. We do not have the perfect relationship but they understand that I did things on my own in life and how hard it was now that they are in the army also. The difficult child has the strongest entitlement mentality of all of them but also had the most potential with his intelligence. Since his DUI and loss of his license last summer he has turned to alcohol and pot to escape reality and complains that the system is not fair. This is after he saw his younger brother lose his license and bum rides for a year and being told countless times not to drink and drive. Their upbringing in Ireland did not help since at age 16 anyone can drink and most do it to excess on a regular basis.
  10. mikekc

    mikekc New Member

    Starb, I am living my second biggest dream with a good wife and being the head of my family. My parents are in their 80s and I am visiting/helping them as much as I can. I have an older brother who is autistic but holds a steady job, keeps his apartment spotless and is very happy with an occasional drink and watching sports. We talk every Sunday on the phone and I am amazed at what a good citizen he is.
    Don't get me wrong about the army career, I had a great one with many opportunities. I started as a private, went up to Staff Sergeant as enlisted and retired as an officer with a good pension after seeing 37 countries during my service. The thing is that I know I could have went further but made the decision to put my sons first. Now watching difficult child and his younger brother struggle and rebel the last couple of years makes me wonder what could have been had I pursued my career, sent support and saw them when I could rather than making them the top priority. The best thing is that I can look in the mirror and know I did the right thing but some days when things are not going well you second geuss yourself. Thanks for the chat!
  11. mikekc

    mikekc New Member

    Thanks for the advice. I have told his mother about his troubles but she is in Ireland and chooses to ignore the issue since she does not have to deal with it. Much of difficult child's troubles come from the bad relationship that his mother and I have. There was a huge custody battle when the boys were 14 and 15 that saw them moved back and forth and I have made allowances for that but it is time for everyone to move on. difficult child will not see a therapist which is a cultural thing with his Irish roots, his mother is the same way and walked out of our marriage with no warning after 10 years and refused to attend any marriage counseling or mediation.
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm going to spend a few minutes searching on the Board for the Detachment post. Why? Well, I relate to your pain. My now 20
    year old grandson has lived with us his whole life. Without a
    single iota of exaggeration :smile: he had the best of all
    our six grown childrens attributes. Smart? Yep. Gifted and
    tested by Duke University for early admissions due to it. Cute.
    Beyond cute...downright handsome. Talented? The kid was born to
    be an athletic star, as well. Played in the youth World Series.
    Starting five basketball. Youth golf top competitor. Loving?
    Not a day has he been at home that he hasn't given each of us a
    hug and an "I love you." Popular? Mega with peers & adults.

    What happened? When we piece it together it was a combo of a
    biodad who popped in and then bailed, a biomom who got together with a criminal alcoholic and a Coach who blackballed the kid because he didn't like me!

    Our kid turned to pot and to booze and to loser companions because his winner companions couldn't hang with him anymore due
    to his choices. He became more and more separated from the main
    stream where he had thrived. He was arrested for pot. He went
    to three rehab programs. We provided all the emotional and loving support we could.

    Did our support change his choices? No. Could we keep "the system" from slamming him? No. He literally fell three stories
    and has permanent Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) problems.

    Because the maximum potential is there does NOT mean that it can
    be attained. Your son has chosen s frightening, lonely road and
    HE is the one who will travel it. You can and will love him every day of his life but NOW is the time to detach and watch him
    from a little distance. He is not having an occasional drink. He
    is not toking a little joint. He is on his way to addiction or
    he is there. That, sadly, is HIS choice and HIS battle. He is
    no longer the boy you knew..period. You'll have to wait and see
    what kind of man he becomes.

    Hugs. DDD
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Found it. Go to the Archives section. You'll see a Board member
    asking "where is the detachment article" and after a few replies
    someone lists the site. Good luck. DDD
  14. mikekc

    mikekc New Member

    Thanks for your help!
  15. DemeterRX

    DemeterRX New Member

    Hi Mike,
    Sadly, I can relate to your story. The circumstances are slightly different, but like you I went through the nightmare of custody battles and endured long separations from my difficult child. She came to live with me permanently when she was 13. This whas what I fought for for her entire life. And then a whole new boatload of troubles began. Now she is 19, just lost her license because of an OUI. Spends money faster than her over-indulgent grandparents can pump it in.

    Like you, I was a responsible young adult who was independent from a young age and I have worked for everything I have. I so much wanted to share my love, wisdom and comforts/comforting with my difficult child! Instead I spend all of my time bailing her out (at first figuratively -- now literally) and trying to recover from her emotionally violent outbursts.

    I have started to do more of the 'tough love' thing with her ... especially since my SO has made it clear that the constant drama difficult child brings into our lives could ruin our relationship. Oy! The twists and turns life takes. The choices we are forced to make.

    I don't have any advice. Just wanted you to know you are not alone. (And to thank you for sharing your story, which lets me know I'm not alone either!)
  16. standswithcourage

    standswithcourage New Member

    NO you are not alone. Everyone here has been there and done that and if you need any help - this is a good place to land. We are allhere for each other.
  17. mikekc

    mikekc New Member

    DemeterRX, I think you probably understand the feelings I am going through with the whole custody battle. I had my sons visit me every chance we could over the years, four times minimum, with a nanny in the summer and we had great times when they did. The custody battle started again when they were 14 and 15 because we wanted to be with each other everyday. They both moved when they were 16 and had a hard time adjusting to a new school system and my rules after living with mom who had none. Now I wonder if they were better off finishing school there.
  18. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    Heya Mike KC

    First of all, hugs for your situation. Yikes. Detaching is not fun nor is it easy. Keep posting here, you'll get lots of good lessons.

    Do us a favor. Could you make yourself a signature? Click on the FAQ section to see how.

    Helps us keep everyone straight.
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, MIke. Wow. You sound like a kind, level-headed man, and you do deserve to live your own life now that your kids are grown.
    My daughter (now 23) was a drug user. We could never really try to fix her problems because we just don't have a lot of money. I think the lack of us being able to bail her out monetarily really helped her straighten out. If she wanted anything--be it name brand clothes or jewelry or car insurance--she had to work. She did work, even when she used drugs. At eighteen, she was thrown out of the house because we found her at home having a drug party with her friends (she assured us she didn't use anymore, so we let her stay overnight at home while we took the younger kids to a water park. We came home one day early and SURPRISE!!!). She had been on parole twice and smashed up one car we'd bought for her (in spite of our limited funds). She didn't take care of it. Why should she? She hadn't paid for it. She drank and drove and lost her license too and we wouldn't drive her anywhere. She had two legs. Walking and bike riding is good exercise. By age nineteen, she was done using drugs (she had started at twelve although we're so naive--we thought she had a sudden mental illness--we didn't think she used drugs). Anyways, she made her own decision, while out on her own and financially responsible for herself, to quit being a druggie and an irresponsible person. Now she is running two candy stores and when I go to Illinois to visit her and my other grown child, she is hard to catch because she is always at work and is very worried about her stores! She is a valued employee too, has a nice boyfriend, and is pretty much a homebody. I think giving too much to our difficult child's is a big mistake. I think it encourages their self-destruction because they have no real incentive to change. Daddy or Mommy will bail them out of trouble, pay their way, etc. So, in our case, not having extra money and our daughter needing to work for all she has, really helped her straighten out. And she was a mess! I strongly advise that you cut the cord. He's not a baby anymore, and you don't owe him anything more than you unconditional love. Money and bailing him out won't help him.
    I wish you luck :smile:
  20. carollynn

    carollynn New Member

    Hi Mike,
    I just found this site and it's so wonderful to find out that I'm not the only one having troubles with my young adult. I to have a 19 year old son out of control. He is the youngest of 4 two being step and one being his sister. My son was always such a nice kid but something changed and I don't even know him any more. Like others I have probably over induldged trying to give them what I never had, maybe that was my first mistake. His step grandparents offered him a free ride to college and has done nothing with it. Like you I moved him into a apartment cosigned for him and his girl. Well that lasted 2 months and she moved out. Then she had to move from her parents and moved down stairs from him and after fighting got a restarining order and so here he is back at home. Since then he has gone to jail for going back to the apartment to get his stuff and spent a night in jail. Called me in tears that he will be good just get him out, so second mistake, I did. Now I have a 50,000 bond hanging over my head if he messes up. Since he has been home he lost his job, refuses to get another one and spends all his time on the computer or at ravs. I ask him to do anything and he gets angry and just don't do it or yells at my telling me he would just like to kill me that I'm just a annoying tic. Well it comes to him blaming me for the way he is, he said it's in his jeans for me having a baby with a looser like his father. Trust me his father has been out of the picture for 18 years, and yes he is a looser. I told my son that his car insurance runs out next week and I am not paying for it, and he is either in school or has a job or he is out. He laughs at me and said he can stay since I let his siter live here without a job. What to do? I feel like I lost my son and I have no control and if I do put him out he will be on the street. Please help
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