Please help with our decision to bail 35 yr old son out of jail..


I read and learn everyday from this wonderful site, yet, I can't sleep. My son, has been given money over and over for ten years...for halfway homes, new bedding, clothes, etc. Last year his girlfriend had a beautiful baby girl, lived with us for three months until we couldn't do it any longer. Insanity...the state was so slow putting girlfriend in rehab. We kicked them out ( I feel so guilty, but, in our 60s, we began having many heart issues). Thankfully, girlfriend is now completing six month Mommy and me rehab at end of month. My son however, has been in many rehabs, over six hospitals, halfway homes and is in so much debt. He was living under a boardwalk for a week after leaving transitional housing and was arrested last week for not showing up for a court date. He is in county jail. He bought a senior ticket for train pass too save money and got charged, along with another drug incident. I cant stop crying and was just released from hospital for another time from heart afib. My husband is 67 had major heart bypass 20 yrs ago, and is feeling weak. Our son, is fun, bright and handsome. He had his choices, we almost bailed him out yesterday after I spoke to him on phone. He cried, he cried...please get me out of here... it is horrible here. Over crowding, sleeping on floor and is in cell 23 hours, one hr in community room. My heart is breaking. I need words of strength from anyone who can help me get through this. He wants to be with girlfriend and precious baby. But, we can see him asking for money. We don't have. It is such a sad situation, like so many of you all experienced. Thank you. I just want to hug my son.. :(


Active Member
I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. I've not had to deal with my son going to jail, but I've prepared myself for it. I cannot tell you what to do- but I do want to implore you to listen to the voice that resides in your head- your gut instinct. I suspect it's telling you NO- do not bail him out. I suspect this only because you wouldn't be hesitating otherwise. I'm learning to deal with mine and detach and let him fall on his face for the choices HE makes. If you want someone to tell you it's ok to NOT bail him out- I will tell you it is ok.

Your health and well being are paramount here- you can't help him if you are down and out in ANY capacity. You can pray for him (if you believe in that), you can think of him and tell him you love him. But you indicate you don't have the money for this. Don't put yourself in a hole over decisions he has made.

I'll be thinking of you. (((hugs)))


Well-Known Member

My troubled son is 36. If he ever goes to jail he stays in jail. I'm 61 and I want to enjoy the rest of my life. I won't let any of my adult children ruin my health anymore nor should you or your husband. You've done all you can for him and he's a middle aged man now and still doing things that he knows will land him in jail. Guess what? If you don't go to a court date, you can go to jail. He knows this. And of course he will ask for money that you don't have. difficult children are selfish to the end and they don't care about our welfare, only their own. If he got clean and had a job, he'd have money.

I don't believe it helps our grown children, especially those already in their 30's, to throw money at them. My adult kids are expected not to break the law. If they do, they pay the price. We didn't even get lawyers to help our daughter when she used drugs in her high school years. We wanted her to understand that if she contnued this way, she would not get help from us and whatever the consequences were, she'd have to face them without a rescue. She was on parole twice and we did not try to get her out of trouble. She quit using drugs. Not saying that works for all addicts, but it worked for us. I cried a lot in secret, but I did it...I didn't want to contribute one dime to my daughter's self-destruction. THAT would have made me feel guilty. We made her leave after she was found having a gala drug party in our house when she thought we'd be out of town. I don't regret it, she isn't mad at me now, and actually we are going to visit her this weekend...and our new grandbaby. She has been clean for ten years now.

I suggest a twelve step program for you and hubby, like Al-Anon, or a private therapist. Who is he going to call when you and your husband are gone? And he is making it sooner rather than later. I hope you can start the path of detachment now; today so that you can have a wonderful Golden Years.

Of course, this is just my advice; others may have different advice, but...

1/Don't bail him out. He's a man now and he won't have any incentive to quit using if you keep "rescuing" him.
He still may not quit, but it should be on him at his age, not your bank account.

2/Don't let him live with you. That can't be healthy for you or your husband and it isn't good for him either. It again gives him a way to have a cozy home while doing drugs and forgetting the fact that he has a baby and a girlfriend he needs to be a man for.

3/Don't hand him money. You need the money. He needs a job.

4/Keep contact minimal for now. Drug users and personality disordered adults know exactly wh at to say and do to tug at our heartstrings and get us to do whatever they demand.

Don't let your son own the power over your life. Bet he has been verbally abusive to you when you have said no in the past. Bet also he has stolen from you. Maybe he has even hit you.

You can't save him. But you can change YOUR reaction to him so that you can live your life in peace. You must have other loved ones who are appalled by his behavior and want you to stop taking care of this man as if he were a little boy. Bet he gets ten times the attention the other loved ones get. They always do. They are emotional vampires. You are at an age where it's time to put YOURSELF first. If you don't, you may not be around to help at all and the family will still have to do without you. Has your son expressed concern for your health other than how it relates to him and his situation? I ask because most difficult children don't really think about anyone but themselves.

Hugs galore and I hope you can begin your journey to freedom. A good first step? Read "Codependent No More" by Melody Beatty.
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one day at a time
Shiela, I know how hard this is. My son has been in jail 8 or 9 times---I truly lost count so not sure which is the right number. He has begged and cried to us as well.

About six weeks ago, he was stabbed/stabbed himself (not sure), required surgery and left the hospital AMA to pound on my front door that night, crying and begging through the side window for me to let him into the house. I did not, and I told him I would call the police if he didn't leave.

Shiela, it's too much. It is just too much. Step away from your son. I don't mean cut off all contact. I mean step way back. Limit your contact with him for a while, and during that time, work hard to gain peace and serenity in your own life.

As you become stronger, you can decide how much contact to have with him.

My son right now has a job and is still homeless. It makes no sense to me at all. He has a very troubled girlfriend and that is a complete mess (in my humble opinion) but Shiela, the only choice I have about his life is how involved I am going to be with him.

That is truly my only choice.

So right now, I try to make contact/receive contact with him once a week or so. He has no phone but I can FB message him.

I also know where he works.

Our time together and in conversation is very limited. That is for me. I don't want to hear a bunch of details about his life, because all that happens is I get crazy and upset about it all. It's hard for me to focus on the good things---the fact that he isn't in jail, he does have a job, and he is sweet and kind.

I tend to overobsess on the "bad" things---why hasn't he gotten a place to live? Why does he stay with this girlfriend? On and on.

Limit your contact as a first step, Shiela. Then, start going to Al-Anon as often as their doors are open. Read CoDependent No More. Underline it. Pray/meditate. Have silence and quiet time. Cry if you need to cry. Take naps.

Start taking care of YOU.

Your son, I promise you this, is going to do whatever he is going to do. He has put himself where he is today, and that is the next part of his journey. We don't have to like it or understand it or agree with it. It just is.

Warm hugs. Please keep sharing. We are here for you. Get off the merry-go-round. Today.


Well-Known Member
But, we can see him asking for money. We don't have.
Why in the world would you help him when you don't even have the money to help in in the first place? He doesn't deserve YOUR money and because he is a difficult child, with both your health problems, in the future you will need that money because you certainly are not going to be able to depend on difficult child to take care of YOU. I believe in the rule for difficult child's: you got yourself in the mess, you get yourself out. Of course you feel guilty - he has talked you into feeling that way. Does he feel guilty that both of you are in poor health and it will be a financial hardship for you to come up with the bail money? No, no he doesn't. Does he understand how his cries for help because jail sucks puts emotional stress on you - which with heart problems, additional stress is the last thing you need? No, no he doesn't. All he understands is that he is in jail and if he can manipulate you he can get out of jail. Simple and to the point. WHO can I count on to get me out of the current mess I have created for myself? Well, geesh, my parents fall for my BS every time so I will target the ones most likely to get me out of jail!! Don't do it! Think of yourselves first - just as difficult child does. If you do not bail him out he will find someone else to do it or he will sit in jail. I understand you just want to hug your son - but which son? The good one you raised or the con artist and manipulator he is NOW? If I were in your situation, because you are so vulnerable to his BS I would stop accepting his collect calls and I wouldn't visit him in jail either. Save your money for things you and your husband need, either now or in the future.


Well-Known Member
Oh and by the way - if his crime is non-violent - and the jail is over crowded, he will probably be released on his own recognizance. Trust me when I say if the jail or courts, in an overcrowded situation, doesn't want to release him, you don't want him out either. Leave it to the professionals to figure it out - they know what is in societies best interest better than you do because they have no emotional attachments.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
No bail.

This may be the one chance your son has to take responsibility for where he has taken his life.

He has to see who he is before he can change who he is.

I am the same way you are. I don't let myself see the bad things that need changing. I concentrate on the positives and cheer myself hoarse over how sure I am that everything is going to resolve successfully and we are all going to be oh, so happy.

My son is 39.

He stopped talking to me back in March, when I told him I wasn't sending anymore money. (After this time -- ahem.) I told him too that he had been raised better than to do what he was doing, and that he needed to stand up and take responsibility.

So, I spent the following months in this weird place of believing, more surely every day, that I was a defective mother. So, when my son actually deigned to speak to me again, along about September?

I already had myself all softened up.

The problem here is that I want to feel like I am a good mom.

That's my vulnerability.

And my son is willing and vehemently able to exploit that vulnerability, whether it destroys me or not, to get what he wants.

And it's all so crazy and ugly that I get swamped and start wondering what kind of mother would not help her own son.

Like I said.

That is my vulnerability.

It has nothing to do with my son.

It has to do with my intention to be the kind, understanding mom I wish I had had.

My wanting to be a good mom so I can stand to look at myself in the mirror is the weapon my own son uses against me.

So anyway, it wasn't long at all before our relationship devolved into what it had been. Last week he lowered the boom.

It doesn't even matter what he wanted. What matters is that he tore into that innocent, harmless little vulnerability in me to get it.

But I have this site.

And though I wasn't clear on anything but that I'd been hurt, we were able to figure it out.

And now you have this site, too.


No bail.

Take it one step at a time.

We are right here, and we have been where you are, now.

I agree that an AlAnon meeting today will help and strengthen you.

Welcome to the site, sheila.

I'm glad you are here.



Well-Known Member
Staff member
Don't bail him out. Allow him to suffer the consequences of his own behavior without you getting involved at all. It is NOT your responsibility, nor did you create it, nor can you fix it. Stop it right now. You're in an endless loop of enabling. The only one who can stop it is YOU. Do not bail him out. If you can, limit your phone calls with him. He will pull out every stop to get you to help him and it really doesn't sound like you have the strength right now to deny him. Stay away and get yourself immediate support, like 12 step group. Go a few times a day. Go every single day until you have gained a little better perspective on this whole thing. You are stuck in a hamster wheel and the dizzying pace of your sons bad choices keeps you forever spinning out of control.

You are not in a position to help him right now. You have to help yourself. This is your opportunity to change the patterning you've set up with your son. No blame. Just truth. It is what it is. You can correct it now. It is time for you and your husband to put the focus on yourselves. You are in your 60's, as I am, it is time for you to let go of parenting, that ship has sailed. It is your time.

Go out now and get yourself in to a 12 step group today. Go listen. Do it for you. Keep posting your fears and concerns, we've all been there, we understand how you feel. It is a tough road, but you can move through this without enabling him. Step back from the edge. You are not really on an edge, you are on level ground, you're just used to feeling as if you need to stand right next to your son on HIS edge. Let him stand there on his own so he can finally see where he's placed himself. He did it, not you. Get off the edge.

Welcome. Keep posting it helps a lot. We're glad you're here.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I agree with the others. It would have to be some one in a million, extreme situation for me to even consider someone in the family was on their death bed and death was imminent and they were requesting his presence.

I also agree that it doesn't do them any good to "bail them out," both literally and figuratively.

Generally speaking, I think doing the "extras" for our difficult children past the age of 21 is not a good idea. And, when they have hit age 30, forget about it. AND you and your spouse have your own health concerns.

I also agree that you should seriously consider getting yourself to a support group like Al Anon or Families Anonymous.

Time for you to enjoy life as it should be. He needs to accept the consequences of his actions. Later, if he is appropriate and willing to try, you might offer to help him find a rehab or doctor, etc. But, best to GREATLY LIMIT your involvement. Don't get me wrong, this is sad, unfair...even painful. I'm sorry. But, you will NOT be helping him and you WILL be hurting yourself.

No bail.


Thank you all being on this site, your comments today are my strength. Thank God, we did not get up the money, he just called and was let out on his own recognizance. He walked to a convenience store and asked if he could stay just tonight. We decided no.. But, I will see him tomorrow to speak. He is on his way back to shelter as I write this. I was so close, so close to putting up bail.. Thank goodness I stepped back a day and wrote here. The situation was handled without us! Now, we have to dig in, really dig in. His girlfriend and baby will be out of rehab end of month, he will start asking...asking... He must do this. Love to you all, thank you and will give you update tomorrow after we see him.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
So very pleased to hear it!

You will be here with us in the weeks ahead. Whatever your decisions regarding your son, you will be making them from a stronger, more solid position.

Wishing you and husband a very nice, relaxing day.

Though we know, by this time in our lives, that life is to be savored, it is downright impossible to do that while we are all wrapped up in someone else's drama.

Even if that someone is our own adult child.

I think I am finally, finally, beginning to understand that, for myself.



It is still hard.


Well-Known Member
Me, too, Cedar. husband and I try to remove ourselves from the drama. I hate drama. difficult child lives with his father and they both wallow in it. I've told ex many times to make him respect him or throw him out and he continues with tolerating the crap. I'm all done with it. Granted, since I won't play I see and hear from difficult child a lot less, but I just might live longer. I'm just tired of playing that game. I gave him all I had and there isn't any more.


Roll With It
I am PROUD PROUD PROUD PROUD of you!!! You didn't rescue him, and that is a big step. There is absolutely no reason you should EVER bail him out of jail. Often jail or prison is the ONLY time hard core addicts stop using if they even stop in there (drugs are not hard to get in prison, just costly). Your son's life will never change until it becomes HIS problem and not someone else's. You are doing the worrying and the work for him, and it isn't fair to you or him.

He is a big boy. Remember back when he was learning to walk? You had to stop carrying him and at first he cried and yelled and begged and did everything he could think of to get you to carry him. You didn't give in because you knew if you carried him then he would not keep tring to learn to walk. Then those first precious steps were taken and not only were yuo happy and proud, HE was too.

Right now he has got to learn to handle his life and his choices. You didn't carry him by bailing him out. He figured out how to get out and he did get out. Not sure you should be proud of him, but you SHOULD be proud for not fixing it for him. He is a grown man and doesn't need to be carried. Put the weight of his life and his choices and his girlfriend and his child down. They are not your burden to carry and they never were. Even if he has a tantrum and refuses to carry his weight, it still isn't your problem. Even if he makes dumb choices or illegal choices or immoral choices, they are not your problem.

Where were you at age 35? Raising your kids while you and husband worked to build a life, weren't you? Your son is now of an age where he has a child to care for, and he is able to handle whatever choices he makes for his son, and to support his son. If you can conceive them, you can raise them. No exceptions for having a drug problem - it is still YOUR baby and YOUR problem, not the grandparents.

Step back from his life and into your own. Do get therapy and attend meetings to help with this - it has taken 35+ years to get here and will take more than a few weeks or months to adjust to not carrying his load. But if you start now, it will hlp you as much as it will help him.

From now on, don't accept calls from jails or prisons. Nothing good can come from those. Just hang up the phone if/when they come. He can and will figure it out.


Well-Known Member
Sheila, I'm late to the party here...but you did the right thing. We told our son when he was 15 years old that if he ever went to jail, he would stay in jail, and we meant it. I than God I haven't been put in the position of backing that up. I do believe you did the right thing. He will have to make the choice to change his life if he doesn't want to go back.


Well-Known Member
It's one of the things I have learnt from this site:

stop...think...don't act immediately.
wait and see
and often the situation will evolve, solve itself, take its own course
without my input
without my action
without my money
without my stress
without my resentment

I'm glad you didn't bail him out straight away when he begged.
I'm glad you didn't let him stay when he asked.

He has to deal with this stuff himself
Otherwise this stuff will never stop.

I hope you take some time out and regain your health so that you can take some pleasure in your grandchild, while not being responsible for your grandchild or her parents.