Sage of the Prodigal Son (Need advice)

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LauraH, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    He's been back a little over a week. It hasn't been terrible but it sure hasn't been a day at Disney World. The good news is that as far as I know he's been clean the whole time, with the exception of smoking pot, but in a case of choose your battles, I would much rather have him smoking than doing the other drugs. I can't really say anything about that, because my husband smokes on occasion and most of our friends do in varying degrees and amounts. The bad news is he's still antagonistic towards me and continues to throw little passive-aggressive jabs, but I have been really good about not taking the bait and jumping into drama with him.

    He's staying with a friend but hangs out here a lot and has spent a couple nights here when he had a series of job interviews around the corner from my house. But every day it seems he asks me for favors, usually multiple times a day. (Not money so far though) and I don't know why it bothers me like it does except that it seems to be never-ending. Today he took the bus across town to a friend's house who had a quiet room where he could do a video interview. He called and asked me if I would call him an Uber to my house because he had just enough to get back to the place where he's staying on the bus. I said yes but then there was some confusion and that fell through. So then after he got here we made plans to meet my husband at the Greek Festival when he got off work and he asked if we would just call him an Uber from there to get back "home." Didn't really want to, but sure, no problem. (Hey at least that meant he wouldn't be staying with us tonight!) But then in the meantime he decided to meet up with some friends and go out after the Greek Festival, and would I please call him an Uber when he was ready to go home. I told him we would be going to bed around midnight so if it was after that, no dice. He told me I was being difficult and noncooperative. Because it's perfectly okay to wake your mother or anyone late at night to have them call you an Uber, right??? I mean, how inconsiderate can one person be??? We exchanged words until I realized we would just be spinning our wheels and getting nowhere and just disengaged. So we just sat in our own little corners doing our own little things and not talking for maybe an hour.

    Finally the atmosphere cleared and we were able to speak civilly and it was time to get ready to go to the Greek Festival. If you've been to a Greek Festival you know it's CROWDED. And we're in this long cafeteria-style line to get food when his phone rings and he answers it and has a chat with someone while we're trying to order food, put it on our trays, and get through the line. Really??? And during the commotion my son starts asking for baklava like a little kid. Bad timing, if he had waited until we got out of the line and found a place to sit my husband would have had no problem sending me or my son to another line with just desserts to get him baklava. But instead my husband just got irritated, rightfully so. After we ate we went outside to watch the dancing, and it was raining! So my son decides to go ahead and leave to meet his friends. No problem with that, except I told him it would be nice if he told my husband thank you again and that he was leaving. To which he said "I've already said thank you three times, Mom! Geez!" He told me goodbye and he was gone. Not a word to my husband, his "host" who had bought his dinner.

    I don't know why it still amazes and surprises me that he shows little or no common courtesy such as thanking his host one more time and telling him good night. I don't know why he's like that, if there's anything I can do to get through to him that this is unacceptable, and how to deal with it without starting World War III. Is it possible to even get through to an almost 30 year old? Should I just stay silent and grit my teeth when he's here until I get to the point of telling him he's no longer welcome here under any circumstances? What would you all do? I'm actually wondering if he's been misdiagnosed and is narcissistic rather than bipolar, or maybe a combination of the two. But I do know that this his complete lack of empathy or consideration for anyone other than himself is not the way I tried to bring him up.
  2. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    On relative scales its been going well. Being the parent of an autistic kid I teach manners every minute of every day. So not saying thank you and goodbye to your host is routine in my life. I think I'd put that in the category of pick your battles. And if that's the worst your husband has to complain about I'd say you're both lucky. Now obviously there's a long history here. But without considering the history it sounds good to me!

    FYI. Having had some tech problems I found something called Gogograndparent. Low tech way to use uber and lyft. You might see if they can help you by restricting a ride from point a to point b within a given time frame. They charge your card same as others. But its meant for grandma to call 800 # and get human on phone and get ride at child's expense. So everything arranged waiting for grandma's call. Helpful for early alzheimers as well as technologically challenged. Not meant for addicts so I'd check that its a one time thing he can't take advantage of.
  3. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    It didn't bother my husband nearly as much as it bothered me. It was so discourteous after he spent money we didn't really have. I thought it would be a nice thing we could do together as we try to work out the new dynamics of our relationship(s) since we helped my son get back to Florida. To me it was a slap in the face that a simple "Thanks again, Steve. I'm heading out and will see you later" was too much to ask. Maybe I'm making too much of it but it really irks me when anyone disrespects my husband like that. He basically lets things roll off him.

    What does bother him is that every time my husband gets home from work and all he wants to do is decompress with the TV and a couple of beers my son is here, sometimes alone and sometimes with a friend. He's always been like that. When we were dating I wouldn't hear from him for about an hour after he got home from work until he had a chance to relax with nobody around, sometimes not even the TV. If I tell me son he's here too much I risk hurting his feelings, but if I don't my husband will grow resentful at not having his "me" time that he needs after a long day at work. I'm between a rock and a hard place.
  4. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    Here's the thing, he seems to be almost completely lacking in either empathy or gratitude. Yes he says "thank you." But those are words that any one or two year old knows how to say. But let's say he ask me for A. If A is within my means, financially, time-wise, or otherwise, I'm happy to do it. But then it's "Well you gave me/did A so would you be willing to do B as well?" And so on. And when choose to or have to decline, he gets agitated, wants to know why, wants to argue about it, tries to make me feel guilty, etc., to the point where the next time he asks for A it's almost an automatic "No" right off the bat. It just seems that in his mind one favor should lead to another and another and on and on. Never ending.

    And other than saying "thank you" he does very little to express real gratitude. I already mentioned how after I had made dinner...which he, my husband, and I ate together at our coffee table, he finished his and then sat there holding his dish until I got up to take mine to the kitchen and asked me to take his as well. That's not how I was raised. As the younger person and the recipient of a nice meal, he should have been offering to take my dishes to the kitchen rather than asking me to take his.

    I work from home doing transcription. It seems more like a hobby than work because I really enjoy it. It doesn't pay extremely well but it pays enough for me to supplement my Social Security and my husband's income. Shortly after my son moved back to town, he was at our house and asked me if he could use the computer to put out some resumes and job applications. Of course I said yes and relinquished my computer, which also meant I was not working. And then he "needed" to do something with his iCloud pictures. And then...etc...and by the time he got off the computer I had lost my momentum and I was done working for the day. (I don't have regular hours as my work is available 24-7 and I can set my own schedule. If I'm awake at 6 I start working then. If I sleep in until 9 I start then. If I want to knock off at 5 PM or 10 PM or midnight I can) But not working costs money that we need, this time of year especially. And he doesn't seem to really understand or appreciate that.

    Even when he's just hanging out it's often difficult to focus on working because he's talking on his phone or listening to music or watching TV. And constantly interrupting me and going in and out of the house. Sometimes I can block his distractions out and other times I can't. And he sees nothing wrong with that because it s not a "real job" and I don't have a quota or an employer who will fire me if I miss hours or days of work. No consideration, no empathy, no understanding of the fact that although I won't lose my "job" if I don't work for an extended period, I also make no money.

    And...holy's 6:15 in the morning and he just texted me from wherever asking me to let him know when I get up. I can only conclude that he's done partying for the night and wants to crash here on our couch or wants me to call an Uber for him to get home. Especially if he wants to crash here, that means he'll be sleeping all day most likely and my husband won't be able to watch the morning news with his coffee before he starts getting ready for work and I will have to tiptoe around all day until he wakes up sometime in the afternoon. I have no idea which he wants and I really don't want to do either. Regardless of what it is, I know he's not texting to wish me a good morning and tell me loves me. My husband had a mini-meltdown last night and said that my son would be, to put it in less than delicate terms, sucking my tit until the day I died. And it looks li he might be right.

    Forgive my rambling...yet again...but sometimes I wish I had let him stay in Chicago and get by the best way he could. What do I do at this point? I'm so afraid that if he pushes me to put my foot down he will start chaos and drama that will end up in me and my husband getting evicted for disturbing the peace for the other tenants in the building. (But there I go again borrowing trouble ahead of time where there may be none.) I've just seen this behavior in him in the past and know it could be a distinct possibility. What's the old saying? No good deed goes unpunished.
  5. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    Crisis averted. Before I could text him back to not come by until after my husband had left for work he showed up at my door, wanting to take a shower and an Uber to his friend's house. I told him no on the shower, because I didn't want to risk waking my husband and also I'm worried about the landlord's water bill going up and having to deal with the consequences of that. But I called him an Uber...and told him that's the last Uber I'm calling him. We were able to talk outside and my husband thankfully slept through the whole thing. I also told him I need to get focused back on working and that he needs to, for the most part, consider that I am working a "real job" and treat it as such. If I was working in an office he couldn't just show up and hang out and he needs to treat my home the same way unless he knows I'm giving myself the day off.

    So thanks again for listening to my ramblings. This forum is becoming a sort of journal for me, a journal where others can read and give input, insights, and feedback. I hope everyone has a blessed day.
  6. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Laura, I know this has been stressful, but it sounds like it hasn't been a complete disaster! Even with our "easy" adult children, it can cause stress to have them back in out space after you're used to having them out. This goes double when you are with a non-parent partner who is used to having things be just the two of you. I know it puts you in a hard position. But the good news is you son has found something else to stay and is looking for jobs. And you have had some decent, if not perfect, interactions with him.

    I think you're going to have to get really good at sticking to your boundaries and ignoring any resulting tantrums or snits.
    - Mom can you do x?
    - Sorry, no, that doesn't work. I could do Y, or you can figure out your own answers. (If you even feel like offering a Y - you don't have to!)
    - What? Why? But (insert adult tantrum here)!
    - Sorry, that doesn't work, you'll have to figure out something else. The most I can do is Y.
    - You're so (selfish/mean/whatever)
    - Sorry you feel that way. I've got to go now. If you decide Y will work for you, let me know.

    I freelance, and it took me YEARS to train everyone in my life that yes, this is a real job, and no, just because I'm home doesn't mean I'm available. I may be my own boss, but I have to answer to my clients and if I don't meet deadlines they don't come back. And if I do take a day off to deal with unexpected drama, it costs me real money. No such thing as paid time off in my world! It wasn't just my difficult ones that needed training. It was my mother, my sister, my "easy" children, my friends. Even my partner when we were first together. People think if you're working at home you're not really working. Hold your ground! Don't let anyone tell you your work isn't real or doesn't matter!

    Set your boundaries. Don't let him take money or time from you that you don't have to give. Give only what you can afford, what you can give cheerfully, and believe has a real chance at helping. Don't let him make his problems yours. If he wants to stay out late partying, how he gets home is HIS problem. You don't owe him an Uber. I will cheerfully help my kids with things that will help them take steps forward - clothes for an interview, help with an application, books for school, etc. I don't help them out with day to day life or rescue them from their own choices and they know that now. The more consistent you are with holding those boundaries the faster they learn and the fewer tantrums you will see, because they know it won't get them anywhere. (Kind of like puppy training...consistency counts!)

    I find it works better to refuse to fight. I don't let myself respond with emotion. I try to keep my No's cheerful and matter of fact. I don't rise to their bait.

    And yes, choose your battles. Let the small stuff slide right now. Your husband will have to also. It might help to get really clear on your boundaries yourself, on the kinds of things you are and aren't willing to do and why, and explain this to your husband so he knows where you are coming from. He is afraid that you are going to let your son leech off of you indefinitely in ways that impact both of you negatively. He wants to put his foot down because he is afraid you won't. If you can reassure him that you are clear on your boundaries, and you both are clear in advance on what you will and won't do, he may back off some. I hope so. You don't need conflict there also.

    Good luck. You're going through a rocky transition time. Hopefully it will get easier as time goes on.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I think you got good advice. The only thing I might insist on is letting husband have his space after work if you think this could interfer with your marriage. I know its important to have me time after work or even for some a crowded party. Ask your husband if its worth fighting him over. Its your house/your rules and you are not asking for much! Maybe it doesnt bother him as much as you think.

    I would forget the manners. He knows the social rules. My four year old granddaughter knows and follows those rules. In a way maybe its him just thumbing his nose at society rules or just being selfish or feeling entitled. But you know who your son is, what he is like and what he does and you asked him to come home. So he is home and he is being who he is but not really blowing things up. They are who they are. We accept or we wont be able to live with them.

    Wishing you the best in this path with your son.
  8. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    This is in essence a new relationship. He's a new person. So there are going to be boundaries and rules to be set on both sides. Sounds like normal stuff. Sounds like you're doing great in figuring out what you can and cannot live with. For one person to test the boundaries isn't unusual either. Honestly, it sounds like things are going really well.
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Dear Laura. Actually, I think it is going well! Considering. I agree with everybody else, but wanted to add a bit from my slant.

    The gogograndparent sounds fantastic. M and I are tech challenged. It took us one year to learn how to use UBER and to have them arrive at where we were instead of returning to where we had been last time (the month before). Oh gee.

    My point is this: there is a way to fund his account without the use of a credit card. You buy a credit online. And that credit stays on his phone for him to use as he wishes. If he has money or when he begins work there is no reason for him not to arrange and to pay for his own ubers. You have the option now to NOT arrange and pay for his uber. To suggest and to insist he do this for himself. He is old enough. This is a boundary that you can draw. As long as you do not, you are the one responsible for this dance. You keep saying yes.
    This kind of thing drives me crazy. But everybody here tells me to pick my battles, telling me I have no control over my son's manners or his reciprocity. I think the more we insist upon this, thank you and the like, the more we give them ways to control us, by resisting by doing it more. We hand them power.

    The only way to deal with this is to choose to limit the ways that we extend ourselves, and allow them in.

    When I am getting resentful it is because I have not drawn and held boundaries that worked for me. That is my job. What about looking at these past few posts and identified ways that you feel put upon? And thinking about (and asking us, if that works for you) ways that you can make limits, to protect your space and yourself? I am wondering if it would be helpful to pull back a bit so that your son will have to step up more. In my view he may be asking for too much, and you may have been going along with the program. The responsibility is HIS to make this work. NOT yours.

    I think given how bad these visits and readjustments can be for us, yours is going well. Good for you.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  10. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    I agree with this. Mine have been guilty of this also. But I've found that the less I say about it, and the more I MODEL it, the better they have gotten over the years. Also, as I have set up firm boundaries on doing favors or handing out money, they are MUCH more grateful on the rare occasions when I do help them out. The sense of entitlement has been vastly reduced, and as the entitlement falls the gratitude goes up.
  11. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Once he has money coming in here's something I've done.

    I call him and ask to borrow $20 till pay day. LOL. Makes them think. I make the point that I don't have that much more than they do and my needs are just as real. I say its for something like groceries or in my case the disabled bro's class trip (a while ago). I promise to pay it back and do when pay day comes.
  12. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I have to say when You said he was back in Florida I was afraid your life was going to immediately be hell. It really doesn't sound like it's been awful. Stressful for sure. I can feel you waiting for the "other shoe to drop". I agree with setting boundaries. He has to respect your work time and your hubby's down time, period. If he disrupts your work time, make sure he knows he did and then the next time he asks for Uber--sorry I don't have the $$ , remember you made me miss work hours. It does sound like there is a narcissist in there .
    I hope he gets a job soon.
    Good luck and wishes for peace sent your way.