So, how do you detach? What did YOU do?


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Given all the events, the 'virtual crossing of the line' (that you know is there, but just not where it is until it is crossed)'s time to let go. But, how?

Do you put them out there and just have no contact?
Or do you put them out there and have minimal contact?
Limit to texting only?
Did you take their phone away (if you were providing a cell)?
Did you help with anything else?
Did anyone's difficult child end up in jail due to you calling?
Do they just go, or do they wreak havoc?
Was there ever a moment where they resigned themselves to your decision?

I don't want to do anything that makes this ugly, but I also don't want to get in a position where difficult child can wear me down, causing me to feel sorry for him, or feel guilty, or "I'll help just one more time".

I want to do what's best for ME. It's taken a lot of reading and a lot of praying to come to realize what most of you ALREADY realize. I have to make decisions and choices that are in MY best interest. I've not (upon thoughtful consideration) ever done that. It's ALWAYS been about my CHILDREN first.

I'm just trying to figure out what to expect. I'm one for having 'plans' and this is certainly a situation for having one. I don't want to worry for no reason- which only keeps me ill.

When they threaten to tear up something, for example, but have never done it- does that mean that most likely they won't? Even after detaching?

When they threaten to commit suicide, do I start calling police for it 'just in case' he means it 'this time' or do I say 'ok' and move on?

That sounds cold- but I know that I'm guilty of allowing him to get me engaged in his over the top drama and he goes between making threats to threatening suicide to becoming child like and playing THAT role - I go from being a "bad mother, what kind of mother ARE you?" to "all I need is some help. I'm trying to get a job, and just need some gas money"



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Sorry you have reached this point. I can tell you, everyone sort of starts out doing it differently and then sees what happens. I prefer to first off cut out the money. When I had to do this, cell phones weren't that popular. I don't know what I'd do today. They always tend to find ways to contact us, phone or not, and often get so angry that they'll talk to or text others, but not us. On our dime. It's a personal decision.

I did not cut my daughter off, but she didn't want to talk to me and that was ok. It took time. My oldest son, who I also had to ask to leave, I did talk to, but in my heart I knew he could never ever live with me again. While my daughter was doing drugs, she was still a good person and I could tell she'd never harm us, although I did think she might die of the drugs. My son, on the other hand, was scary to live with and has not lived with me since he was maybe nineteen. Often they cut US off when it becomes clear the money has dried up. And, yes, they can ramp it up when they see we mean it, but if we don't stick to our guns, it will never end.

I like to use the example that some 80 year old parents are still supporting abusive sixty year old "children." May sound funny to think of a sixty year old as a child, but some people never grow up...ever...and some parents can never see that gray-haried man beyond the little boy or girl he used to be. So the parents never ever have their happy retirement and continue supporting their child who is a senior citizen. You have to decide for yourself if you want that lady to be you or if you want to live a good life in spite of the poor decisions your son makes and how he tries to throw a constant guilt trip at you.

When my son threatened to commit suicide, I found it extremely useful to hang up on him and instantly call 911. He stopped doing it. I guess he didn't really mean it, but, just in case, there was nothing I could do from a distance so I felt calling 911 was the smartest thing to do. He was furious, but, again, stopped threatening suicide.

There is no way to predict what a verbally abusive person has the capacity of doing, but I feel that the threatening words are a red flag that anything is possible. My son has gone so far as to threaten to get a gun and kill me. He was having a high anxiety moment and he has never touched a gun in his life, but just hearing him say it was chilling. Would he ever do it? I really doubt it. But do I know for sure? Pretty much, but he put a seed of doubt in me that makes me feel he's not safe. Not that he hadn't done that years ago. When we lived together he would crowd me in and loom over me (I am small, he is not) and he would punch the walls near my head and he spat at me full in the face once. I was a single mom at the time and afraid. And my little girl was afraid.

I guess I got somewhat off track here. I tend to do that. Sorry.

The answer is, you handle things the way you like. You asked about if you talk to your grown kid. I did, but now I do it carefully. Here is how I do it. I believe that "less is more." When you talk to your son, don't engage him or say anything to set him off. Listen quietly. If he gets verbally abusive, you can use my tactic. I say, "If you can't respect me when you talk to me the way I respect you, I am going to hang up." And then at t he first raised voice or nasty female part I am called or the connection of me to a female dog, I gently get off and will not answer the phone again for several days. This has sort of trained him to talk nicely. I don't know why I didn't demand respect sooner. He is in his middle 30's now. Why did it take me so long to stop listening to that?

Don't be someone like me, a doormat until your son turns 35.

Hugs and hope for your future. You sound strong...a real warrior mom! I'm sure, like most of us, you went overboard to do all you could for your son and, like most difficult children, he doesn't appreciate it or even acknowledge it. And he stepped over some line you drew in the sand...eventually, most of them do. Lots and lots of hugs for your hurting mommy heart. I'm very sorry it has come to this.
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Sweet Mama & MWM -- Can I just say, right upfront, that I think you're both wonderful! Very heartfelt. Your consciences more than doubly makes up for your difficult children' lack thereof. You have a strong hearts. Can relate to much of what you both said.

Questions you asked about detaching...

Our difficult child left in a mutual sort of way -- almost at exactly the same moment I was saying, "That's it, you're out!" he was saying, "That's it, I'm out!" Had to get permission from his probation officer. He was 16. He tried living in 4 other homes, but was kicked out of all. We tried to have him back with us a half-dozen times (between his ages of 16-19). Two of those were because he was on the eve of entering Job Corps (he went, but they, also, kicked him out). Since then, he has asked another half-dozen times.....including last May after his last stint in jail.

In general, I think we handle contact with our difficult child the same way with the "less is more" strategy. It really is a "strategy" for us, because it's not how we are naturally. I am very fortunate that my husband and I have almost always been on the same page with how to handle (or not handle) our son. I have a fine teammate in my husband and we support each other through it all. I tend to be more emotionally expressive than my husband is. But the day I saw my husband cry about our difficult child? Well, that's the day I knew how bad it was. My husband is the kindest man around and he is very gentle.

Sweet Mama -- I still don't have all the answers. Sometimes I think I've detached from our son as quickly as ripping a bandaid off of a gaping wound. Ouch. But it doesn't last forever. However, it has lasted 5-6 months at a time. Other times, I just change one thing at a time -- whatever works me me (just like what MWM said....). I think we each have our own scenarios, variables, needs, and styles. The best part is...........YOU GET TO BE IN CHARGE OF YOUR CHOICE FOR WHAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU! :)

We quit giving our son cell phones (went through at least a half-dozen before learning that lesson), cash and/or things he can pawn (for drugs). I quit carrying cash in my wallet so I'd never have to decide spur-of-the-moment whether to give it to him or not. Just don't have it on-hand. We bought a small "safe" of sorts to hide valuables (which....we're not rich so we don't have many! LOL!) if he's coming over. We got a home alarm system. After we caught him stealing from us (from our home), we said that he can only come over if he doesn't argue when we frisk him or check his backpack. Interestingly, he has always agreed to that. No more theft (that I know of). Generally, he only comes to our house with a called in request (from him) first. I'll give him this, he has tended to respect that. Early in 2014 he showed up at our door, unannounced, 3 times and we were shocked each time. We told him to please stop that and always call first. He has not been to our house since then (March).

Our gameplan is:

-- He does not live with us ever again (he has stayed 2-3 days if sick and that's never been an issue because, frankly, he's mainly just unconscious - sleeping - and eating and showering.... We feel good about giving him that and, at least so far, he has never abused that (that I know of).

-- No financial ties -- No cash, no pawnable items. We will buy him personal items (toothbrush/paste, razor, soap, shampoo, etc), clothing (winter coats -- but we've learned how to look for good warm ones cheaply as they never last the whole season - he just leaves them wherever), food (either we take him out, buy him non-perishable carry-around food, or get him food gift certificates).

-- We usually see him on OUR terms, not HIS. Usually meet in public places (restaurants, usually), usually for 2 hrs or less.

We used to try to talk to him and convince, cajole, coerce, bribe, beg, reward, yell, cry, whatever to get him to change. Gradually, that kept moving more and more to exactly what MWM does........ "Less is more".

After difficult child's last jail stint, we didn't even ask him details. If he offers (and it's respectful and appropriate), we'll listen. If not, nope. We have literally had to walk or drive away from him.....or call 911. In fact, his last bit on social media had him and a not-so-thrilling girl with inappropriate pictures listing unattractive comments and saying they were husband and wife. This was last week. Maybe he got married last week, maybe not. I dunno. I doubt it, but, ya know.... I've been "gaslighted" so many times (and fallen for it many times in the past), that I only believe what's verifiable.'s how I'm "detaching" from that..... I'm not even gonna ask him about it. At all. Zip, zilch, nada.

Those are some of my specific ways I try to detach. Sometimes I feel successfully detached, but still holding so much love and compassion in my heart for him. Other times, I'm not terribly successful at it at all.

But one thing's for sure.......over time, I'm getting much better at holding detachment and love in my heart at the same time! And so will you, Sweet Mama!

Suicide Threats -- Been there. Yes, I report it. But, see, here's the thing........ The claim is that there are Community Mental Health Professionals (CMHP) in our state which will come out to your home to immediately intervene. Ha! Mostly, they have not shown up. Too swamped. When they have shown up, they do try. We have had ZERO success at getting him good suicide prevention in-patient treatment. He has been brought in by the police twice (laying down or running in traffic, trying to get cars to run him down) and brought to ER/psychiatric unit, but released both times.

My response to suicide threats from him has also somewhat mirrored MWM's. We adopted our difficult child at age 6. At age 7, he once ran into the bathroom and put scissors to his neck saying he was going to kill himself. I do NOT know what hit me, but I said, "Go ahead, show me what you've got!" (all the while my heart was pounding and I was just praying, "Oh, please God, please no!"). He smiled, put the scissors down, and said, "No, you wouldn't let me." I smiled back and said, "You've got that right!" The traffic-dodging incidents began at age 14. At age 18, he nearly lost his life in a game of Russian Roulette. At age 19 he made suicidal threads with a butcher knife. At age 23, he began laying down in traffic again (although at age 23 I was more worried about drug overdose). And here we are at age 24.

I have made so many calls to so many professionals (and even relevant non-professionals) trying to get him help. 105 days of dual diagnosis rehab (polysubstance abuse + mental health) at age 16 was the closest we got. He did not complete that program. And here we are at age 24.

Our difficult child tears things apart (oh, the police calls) and wreaks havoc. That's just the way it is. That's why he doesn't live here.

You know what I do to detach? I FERVENTLY ask God to help me do it. Because, honestly, as nice as all that clever strategy sounds, detaching from our child is brutally hard. It's flat-out bigger than I am and I'll take all the divine intervention I can get! Sometimes I have no words, but one day it struck me to just spout at the last line from the 23rd Psalm when I don't know what else to say. I ask for "Goodness and mercy to follow me all the days of my life." And I ask the exact same thing for difficult child.

Because, bottom line is.......... No matter how hardened difficult child can become, I do not wish to become hardened. Realistic, yes. Hardened, no. In some ways, "detaching" may be the greatest form of love we can offer them at times. I hold onto that and I try to do it in a loving way. Again........sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't.

No magic pill for deep down, soul-ripping pain.

Sweet Mama & MWM -- I appreciate your words and hearts very much! You are both teaching me more than you realize. As I seek gratitude at every turn possible, I see that in the course of this thread, I am grateful for learning from both of you. :)

Side Note: Please pardon my lengthy messages. Since I'm new, there's a lot of share and ask. Plus, hey, I'm kinda chatty. :D


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PS -- One other quick thought.... When our difficult child threatens to call the police on us (which he has threatened to), we hand him the phone and say, "Go ahead". Once he did call. The police came. We told them the spiel (he refused to go to bed at his normal bedtime and trashed his room to smithereens by midnight....shelves, bookes, clothes, breakables, all thrown all over our upstairs (outside of his room -- he was maybe 12?). Police came, shook their heads, told him to obey his bedtime rules and clean up his mess. difficult child was shocked. Since then, he does not threaten us that way.

Not sure if your difficult child does that kind of threatening, Sweet Mama. Sounds like, perhaps, MWM's difficult child did.

It is NOT ok to have to walk on eggshells in one's own home -- whether physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. No one (including difficult child's) deserves that.


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Sorry, 1 more. I missed something important you asked.

Did anyone's difficult child end up in jail due to you calling? YES. I called when police difficult child was trying to punch out my husband. Police there pronto. difficult child went a berserk and they hauled him to jail kicking and screaming (he was 15). Police pressed DV assault charges on difficult child. He spent 16 days in jail, then court-ordered to 105 days in-pt drug/mental health rehab. Court orders can be the catalysts for getting difficult child's into tx.


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Let me post a few resources that helped me. You sound really distraught and I'm soooooooooooo sorry. I know it's hard. I had to do it twice. One of my adult children came back to me. One is still very much in my life, but under close boundaries and rules of how he can treat me to be able to stay in my life. I find it very sad that I have to do this to my own child, but if I don't, he is capable of driving me to a nervous breakdown as I do have a mood disorder and anxiety and panic disorder and maybe am less resilient than some. Have to take care of ourselves or we are no good to ANYONE else either. Here are some good books an d resources you can contact.

Any Twelve Step program, such as Al-Anon, Narc-Anon, Families Anonymous, Codependents Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous...good programs that focus on how to detach with love and learn how to take care of yourself. You are not forced to talk but you can listen and learn...maybe you'l hear something that resonates.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) which has classes and other info for those who have mentally ill loved ones.

"Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie. A must read.

"Boundaires" by Cloud and Townsend. A great book witdh a Christian flavor, but even if you are not Christian there is a lot of help in that book. Just skip the Christian parts.

"Without Conscience" by Dr. Robert Hare, an explanation of antisocial personality disorder

Any private therapist who will focus on YOU.

Use all of them, if you like :)


Active Member
Thank you so much for the feedback. You know, several years ago I was in a relationship with a guy I've known since I was 18. We were together 2 years- at which point I found out he was a cheater (oh joy). Well, while that was not the same- I see the process shaking out the same. You have all these people tell you "stop talking to him, people treat you the way you allow them too" all the way to "how can you even still TALK to him after all he's done?"- he and I went back and forth. Fall for those lines, because you want so badly to believe people can't be that heartless.

I almost have the same feelings inside now in dealing with this with my son- "what could I have done?" to "what did I do wrong?" to "is this boy crazy? has he lost his mind?" to "after all I've done for this boy- even after I was no longer even responsible for his care, and he steals from me and then steals from my mother and my daughter, and has the audacity to be loud, belligerent and overall threatening?"

I know that once I walked away from that relationship with the guy- truly walked away. No contact, cleared my head of it all- even when he'd still call and do all the "do you still love me" bull, I saw right through that, my stomach didn't turn anymore and it had no effect on me at all.

I realize with my son it's different, because - well....he's my son. But at the same time, I need to realize (and saying it "out loud" here helps) that I no more have to accept this from him as anyone else. Him being my son does NOT give him the RIGHT to do the things he is doing- and quite frankly it is worse because hello- I'm his MOTHER.

I think it hurts my feelings more than anything- and here I've tried to make my kids entrances into adulthood easier than mine was, and one appreciates it and one wants more more more more more more more.

He's grown. He's an adult. He's created this. Maybe all this happened (the thefts) for a reason. Maybe it was destined to happen because nothing was going to change until he did something that extreme.

short story: I raised these kids alone- literally NO help from their fathers and with very sporadic and unpredictable child support- so while I bit the bullet went to "business college" and found a good job that allowed me opportunities to move up- raising them financially was hard. Made too much for help, but not enough to not rob peter to pay paul every month. For years, I'm the one that went without things - I'd get the occasional top or pants for work from WalMart, but nothing big or nice or well made. Couldn't afford it. Once my kids were out of school, and I promoted at my job- my ongoing obsession with purses began- always been a purse wh0re, loved them all my life, but all I could ever have were walmart, kmart, etc. One until it fell apart. Promotion- more money- QVC and coach outlets did something to me. Name brands. Spread out, but nice. *I* loved them. made me feel like all my struggle had come to pass. It's weird, and maybe selfish- but it was what it was. Anyway, in February of this year is when I discovered that difficult child had sold ALL my handbags. About 3 coach bags and 3 Dooney's. Gone. Because I didn't carry them until they were trash worthy and switched out all the time, they were all like new. Sold them on a 'sale' site on facebook. I didn't even realize until well after they were gone when I went to find something in one of them (you know when you switch out and sometimes receipts stay in the one you are stopping using?)...and they were gone. All gone. I called him. Of course, he lies and denies. I get online and search and message the admins of a few of those pages with pics of the bags. Posted to see if they were recognized. Had one person message me that she recognized them and some guy was selling but she couldn't remember his name but thought it was "ABC" - difficult children name is ABCD - so it was close enough for me to know it was him. I filed a police report. He punched holes in my walls in anger that I was 'accusing' him of stealing them when he knows 'how I covet my handbags- even he wasn't crazy enough to do that'. I wanted to believe him. I really did. It wasn't until the detective called him and told him point blank that he was going to pull a report from facebook, that nothing deleted is ever truly gone, so if he took them he needed to tell him- because IF the detective pulled his history and found it- he WOULD pick him up for theft over $1500. so difficult child confessed it. Detective calls me and tells me and then tells me that I can press charges, but in situations like this to think about it because it's family.

I didn't press charges. I should have, looking back, maybe that was the consequence he needed. 2 days later, I loaded all my belongings into a moving truck, put it all in storage and moved in with my mom. Left him in an empty house that at least my stuff was gone so he couldn't steal anymore of it. I travel for work, am gone Sun-Friday and I didn't want to get home Friday and find everything else gone. He didn't think I'd do it, and I was told by his sister that he cried and cried when he got home that day (from work- from a fantastic job he had all of 2 weeks)...and everything was gone.

I think he's doing drugs. No wait. I hope he is. Sounds crazy right? Who "hopes" their kid is on drugs? I do- because you can get help for that. If this is who HE is, then that is sad. It really is.

I know the time has come to wash my hands of this. Whether it be 6 months, 12 months, or 12 years- I can't take this anymore. I can't do it. The only tears I've shed in the last 5 or so years have literally been over him. His actions. His lies. His outbursts.

I've done the imagining of what if he kills himself? I've said really ugly things to him in anger, then later wonders if that's why he is this way. What if something I've said is the catalyst for this? Then I remember that I've also said very good things to him- and have always apologized when I've said something in anger. You know what he chooses to remember? The thing that got said that was negative. Never the good stuff. Never the apology. He remembers the 'thing' he really wanted in 11th grade that I didn't get him (because I COULDN'T) but doesn't think of the things he gets from me all the time.

It's sad. I didn't struggle doing this to have it all be in vain. But it was- at least for him.

I know this was long- sorry.


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MWM -- Thanks for listing those resources. Also, the reminder about 12 Step Programs (I appreciate those)!

Sweet Mama -- I feel your in your post. How I greatly admire you for raising kids on your own -- especially with an uber difficult one! Your're strong. by the way, I totally "get you" on the comment about hoping it's drugs over certain mental health prospects. Both are ugly. For us (and probably many others), they co-exist. And you're right on the money that it's awful to be treated that way by our difficult child's...... Hello, we're their mothers! Hang in there, SM. And "vent" away. We all relate and we all travel this journey together. :)

PS -- What does "easy child" stand for in this forum? Is it as simple as "politically correct"?


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Staff member
HLM, easy child is 'perfect child' for the non difficult child's we raise.

Sweet mama, I related to every word in your post. It was long because it was your story and I appreciate that you took the time to share it all. It touched my heart because so many of the feelings you have/had are so similar to mine.

Detaching is a process for all of us. It is not linear and it is all over the map. We love these kids, there are many emotions to untangle in the journey we are taking. It is very hard. My advice is always to seek out professional help, a therapist or a therapist run support group geared for this kind of thing. I placed myself in an almost 2 year long Codependency program within a huge HMO run Substance Abuse program, run by therapists well versed in recovery. It changed my life. I went to a weekly support group and had private therapy as well. I also attended CoDa 12 step groups, other groups, NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) groups and I read everything I could get my hands on. I expressed myself on this forum and received stellar support from others who were in similar situations. Over time it all changed.

To attempt to answer your goes...........I don't think we "put them out" in the beginning, I think we have that as our intention if they cannot adhere to the boundaries and requirements we must have in order to live our own lives and feel good about ourselves. Which may be the first step for many of us, to figure out what it is we want, what we can live with, what we can't live with, what is non negotiable, what is ok and what is not ok. We have to get VERY VERY clear on what it is we require, what our boundaries are, what we are willing to do and what we are not because we have to cover all the loopholes so that our difficult child's cannot manipulate themselves back through the boundaries. That takes some time and usually some real support.

Once you get the boundaries intact, you've been absolutely clear with your difficult child about what is expected and what you will not tolerate, I think it's then we begin the boundary of "by this date, if this isn't accomplished, you will have 30 days to leave." Then you stick to that date. You may need to get a court order, in some states, even if the person is your child, you need to go through the legal system and get an eviction going.

It ends up being all about YOUR boundaries. They cannot be crossed. Period. If they are there are consequences. The police are called. Real life has consequences. This is real life.

If he abuses calling you or texting you, then yes, you limit it. It is all about his behavior, the consequences are equal to his behavior. He is respectful, ok, he is not, hang up or end the text and don't pick up for a while.................consequence.

Take the phone away? Well, for some of us, it's worth it to keep the phone so they can call. However, if he abuses it, keeps losing it, has no regard for it, or hassles you with it, then get rid of it. That is your call about how much you want to be in touch to know he is okay. We all differ on the phone thing. Remember, there is no right or wrong, only what YOU can live with.

A therapist told me once that the way you can begin to see if you are enabling versus loving kindness is that with loving kindness you feel good, with enabling you don't, there is usually resentment and anger or frustration. I found that to be helpful as I learned how to disengage from my difficult child's behaviors and choices.

I haven't called the police on my daughter, she managed to get into jail without my interference.

Once you start changing and setting boundaries, usually our difficult child's begin a terrorist program of acting out, manipulation, high drama, threats, whatever has worked in the past will now be blown into the stratosphere to get you to go back to what you were doing before. This is a tough part for us because of course, they know every single button of ours to push to get a reaction. You will likely need support through it, it's challenging. Do not cave, hang in there through it, it will eventually subside when they realize you have indeed changed and their attempts are futile.

Yes, they do sometimes resign themselves to your decision, eventually I think many of them do, but not all. My daughter actually responded quite well to each boundary I set. I was surprised, but as I changed and responded differently, so did she. Some of the difficult child's stay angry for a very long time though, go no contact to punish us and do whatever they can to remind you that their messed up lives are entirely YOUR
fault............if you read through some of our stories, you will see that theme often.

My belief is that there is an end to parenting..........if we go beyond that point, it becomes unhealthy for us and for our kids. When we have troubled kids, the end of parenting is a harder line to figure out, we continue because we believe they need us and they can't do it without us, but truthfully, most of our kids can make it without us, there are a few who require more care, but most of them need to face the reality of their choices and behavior and face those consequences in order to learn how to grow up. It may not be the way we would want them to grow up and face reality, but often, their choices will lead them to their own life lessons that we have nothing to do with. My belief is that my daughter has her own destiny path and I had to get out of the way and allow her to have it. Is it what I would want for her? NO. But it is not my life, it is her life.

As the others have stated, call the police for any suicide threats.

It a good idea to limit your time with your son. Make that clear. Engaging with him will bring on the crazy making. Refrain from responding. Practice that. Practice using one liners instead of getting emotionally involved. "I know you can figure it out." Practice silence, use few words. It's the engagement with the wild crazies that will make you nuts. Our difficult child's live in a different universe where their words are like sharp objects designed to cut out of us what they require............keep away from that as best you can. After awhile you get used to it. You have your boundaries intact. It takes time. It takes support. It takes your commitment to change.

It follows the stages of grief, like your connection with your boyfriend......... denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. It's not acceptance of their actions, it's acceptance of what is. We can't control it. We are powerless. We didn't create it and we can't fix it. At some point we begin to let go, and then we keep letting go, and as we let go, we start to get our lives back, we start to feel alive again, we feel joy and we start to find peace. It's all up to you. You have all the power, you just gave it to him, now you're ready to take it back.

You're obviously a very strong, courageous, smart woman whose gotten through life on your own, raising your kids and working. I admire you for that. Many of us are strong and capable and it takes us awhile to recognize that we can't work our will here, we can't barrel through making things happen with our power and strength, we can't control this. For us strong, capable women, letting go is a real challenge. We're forced to surrender to what is, to accept what we can't change and to find our own peace and serenity in spite of what our kids are up to. Quite the tall order.

However, we CAN learn to respond differently, we can learn to let go and detach and we can learn to put the focus on our own lives and begin to thrive instead of just surviving. I didn't think that was possible a mere 3 years ago and now I know it is, I am okay. My life has changed in amazing and wonderful ways as a result of my new found ability to LET GO. Because as you begin to let go of trying to change another, you let go of a lot more that you can't control and life actually becomes easier and better on many different levels.

Keep posting. Stay the course. Follow your deeper yearnings for your own life now. It's time to stop parenting and it's time to focus on YOU. Figure out what you want. What makes YOU happy and what nourishes YOU. As you make those changes, the path with your son will get clearer. Be very kind to yourself. Very, very, very kind. You deserve that. We all do. You've accomplished a lot in your young life and now it's time to allow yourself to experience the rewards of your hard work and dedication. Learn to play. Laugh more. Do things just for the fun of it.

Stay close to the board as you walk this path...........there is a lot of guidance and love here..............we'll circle the wagons around you, you're not alone............we're all here............
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Recoveringenabler -- You just helped me with your post, above, also. Thank you! And thanks about the easy child explanation. :)

Sweetmama -- We're all with you in support! Sending prayers, positive vibes and hugs your way!


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LOL on hoping it's drugs.

I know how you feel.

With me, I know my son's problems go way back to even toddlerhood when he would step on other kids fingers and laugh. He seems to have inherited some of my bio. family's horrible and sometimes personality disordered DNA. He was at one time overmedicated from Xanax and he drank, but he was this way before that. However, he has recently quit using benzos and cut back on the alcohol so much that maybe he doesn't have an alcohol problem. Maybe he does. Either way, he is considerably better without the benzos in him, so what was it? Both? I don't know. I do know his personality did not change overnight.

Don't underestimate the DNA connection to your son's personality. What was his birthfather like? Remember that even if he never met him, he carries 50% of his DNA. Yes, it matters.


He's of age. This is his decision to live this way. He can decide to change if he wants to, but, again, that is also his decision again. It's on him. Hugs again for your hurting mommy heart.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I wasn't able to understand the concept of detachment parenting for a very long time. Part of that was because I could not believe that what was happening wasn't my fault.

How could I refuse to help the children I had not protected?

It took forever for me to accept that the rotten core at the heart of what happened was addiction.

Then, I had to exhaust myself trying to fix that.

I am still loathe to admit it, when I cannot think of some alternate way to fix or heal or even just limit the forever ongoing damage.

But one day, after being here on the site for a very long time, I came to understand that trying to protect my kids from the full horror of the consequences of their actions was only bringing unbelievably worse consequences.

Shortly after that, I got it that, just like everyone had been telling me, helping was not only not helping, but it was preventing my kids from maturing.

There are all kinds of guilt and control issues involved with why I couldn't see that sooner.

I began to believe my children had been raised better than to do what they were doing. That was key, because it meant I was no longer taking responsibility for their bad choices.

I can't stress that enough.

Until I could understand that, I was sunk.

Then, I realized I had been wrong in "understanding" that of course they didn't mean any of the bad things they said or did.

And for me, understanding all those things, understanding even that excusing behaviors pretty much guaranteed we would see more of them, popped me into a place where detachment parenting was the only moral position to take.

Then, it was just a matter of standing up.

Until I changed my thinking though, there really was no way I could understand the concept of detachment.

What I now understand is that until the kids take responsibility for themselves, they cannot take charge of themselves. The best thing I can do as a parent, I think, is stay centered, keep loving them and myself, and tell the truth about what happened (addiction).

Addicted people blame others.

Parents want so desperately for our kids to be okay. We can come up with a million things we should have done instead of whatever we did do.

And all the while, the addiction is digging Itself In deeper. Destroying our kids, changing the stories of our families, determining the courses our families will take in the future.

I also think parents need to start telling our addicted kids the truth about what their addictions have cost us.

We need to use every tool at our disposal to bring home to the kids the costs of their addictions.

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Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
A key piece in being able to get into a place where we can see clearly is to practice not judging.

There is such a thin line between judging and blame.

There is a thread in our archives about words and phrases we might use to change the nature of our interactions with our difficult children.



Well-Known Member
I think in my family we have done a little bit of everything in getting to where we are today.

My son has been a difficult child from day one. I spent years, all his life, trying to get him fixed. Nothing really worked. I wont bore you with everything we tried but I dont think there was anything else we could have done. As he will tell you today, he was just gonna do what he was gonna do no matter what. Killing him would have been the only way to change that and that wasnt on the table.

My son also stole from us. It started quite early. First major thing he stole was at 12 when he stole my brand new car and got it stuck in the woods. He knew he was in major trouble so he tried to run away and that was a whole other big fiasco for him. See my son isnt a good criminal. Eventually at 21 he stole and forged some of my checks and that was it for me. I pressed charges. He ended up with three felonies because of that. During that time he was a pain in the rear and we did end up kicking him out at one point. I dont really remember when that happened because I lost a period of time due to an illness and that is probably just as well.

For awhile after my son got kicked out, I almost died and he was on intensive probation due to the felonies, things got better with him. He acted almost normal. Oh he was still a difficult child but one we could get along with. Things went down the toilet a little over a year ago when he got the job of a lifetime but it meant he was living halfway across the country from us. He has always been a follower and someone convinced him to try heroin and he did. That was the end of all progress. Of course he lost that job and he ended up back home. We didnt know why for a long time. When we found out it almost killed us.

We cant live with him anymore. More stuff was going on in my life in the past 3/4 years so all this stuff was just the topping on the cake. I have another son who has never moved out and I doubt he ever will. There father and I were fighting constantly and our relationship was just about over...after 30 years. Last January we decided to move out and have the two boys pay us rent to stay there. We moved into a small place for just us.

We dont give money. I will take my difficult child to his doctor appts provided he tells me ahead of time. We go to the same psychiatrist so our appts are at the same time so that is convenient.

I do hope one day Cory and I can have our relationship back. I know he misses what we used to have but I am just too done with it right now. I dont have a whole lot to say to him anymore. He calls me and wants to just chat but I wont stay on the phone for more than a minute or two. I have nothing to say. He is paying his rent so that's good.

Oh as far as blaming and all that. I have never had to deal with any of that stuff. My son knows whose fault all this is. I wasnt perfect and I know it. Both Cory and I have bipolar. However Cory will tell anyone that he does what he wants and we couldnt have done anything else and what we did do was done for his own good. I have a strange son.


Active Member
This all makes me feel so much better. Not that I'm glad we've all dealt with these things, but just knowing (again) that I'm not alone? Helps SO MUCH!

I went to bookstore tonight and got CoDependent no more and Boundaries. I also bought the 'workbook' that goes with CoDependent no more. I'm looking for Without Conscience- Barnes and Noble here didn't have it, so I'll have to order that one.

When I think back- my difficult child also has always been this way- and when I'm honest with myself, I made excuses for his behavior. From ADHD where his desire to do something outweighed his fear of consequence, to stealing change from my car, to stealing my daughter's candy money when he was in 1st or 2nd grade (you know when kids have to 'sell' candy). To actually setting and staging a scene - he was maybe, 7 or 8- I had a CD player that I had hooked to my cassette player in my know, so you could listen to CD's? Well, one morning very early- before time to get up for school, he comes and wakes me up and tells me someone has been in our car (in the garage!) - I go out and my CD player is gone. Crazy! So I talk to him and we try to see if anything else was gone. Nothing. I had to go and honestly I knew he did it. I was late to work that day- and just on a whim I opened the doors on my coffee table, and there's my CD player. He wanted it and took it AND staged a crime scene! I had a friend whose exhusband was a police officer so she called him for me and I had two police from the local community college (by our house) come by to 'scare him'. Man, he was in so much trouble so after school I sent him to his room. When the police got there, I told him he had company and his eyes were like saucers.

When I caught him lighting matches in his room, I took him by the fire department.

When he was in 4th/5th grade, he was convinced this one teacher would 'fail him' because she didn't 'like him'. No matter how much LOGIC I used to explain to him that no, she would have to JUSTIFY a failing grade, she couldn't just fail him arbitrarily- he flat didn't buy it. It wasn't until I told him that she likely would do anything to pass him given that since 'according to him' she didn't LIKE him, she surely didn't want to teach him another full year- that is what shut him up.

I guess for much of this I chalked it up to him being a busy boy. A handful.

I still have a folder in my email account from emails regarding him in school from 4th grade on. Sometimes I go back and look at those and just shake my head. I never had a moments peace back then.

Update: I've not heard anything from him since last Sunday. I had a missed call Thursday from him, but he didn't leave a message or text me so I never called him back. I'm staying at my mom's, and evidently he has a friend in this complex (condos, some own and some rent over here) because I've seen the car. But it appears to not have moved.

His sister hasn't heard anything else from him either. I'm actually shocked by that given that I got paid today and trust me- my kids have ALWAYS been observant of that. I halfway expected to have text messages from him first thing this morning. But maybe he doesn't realize I got my check today since Monday is a holiday. I don't know.

This is too I'll stop- but just know it helps to tell some of this and not have people say "I don't know how you do it, I'd have put him out and shut him off a long time ago". Unless you have LIVED with one of these kids, you just don't know.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I'm sorry, Annie.

Sweetmama...I remember when I first began letting myself know what I knew. It was like letting the glaring sun in and tearing my heart out at the same instant.

But once I knew what I'd known all along, once I processed the emotions that went with the knowing, then I could begin responding differently.

And that is when everything changes.



Well-Known Member
For the most part I had people around me, few that they were, that believed in us. My son was an equal opportunity donkey's behind so everyone saw his behaviors. I did have a few people who said they didnt know how we did it but it wasnt said in a bad way, they honestly felt our pain and anguish and wanted to help. The only real horrible experience I ever had with someone who was close to me who said something stupid was my immediate supervisor when I was still working. He told me that if it were his kid he would beat the snot out of him. Ironic since I worked for Social So unhelpful.

We didnt have many friends, mostly just our coworkers. Cory's mental health workers were for the most part wonderful people who dearly wanted to help but he just wouldnt comply. They did help me. I was able to turn to them and cry on their shoulders when things got bad. Whats funny is that when Cory was 13 he went inpatient and was dxd with bipolar. The psychiatrist there is now the psychiatrist that we both go to. We found him again once my son was an adult and able to use someone other than county mental health. Its so ironic that we both go to the same fact at the moment we have our appts at the same time to save the doctor time. Some probably think that is too much sharing but I have nothing to hide and evidently neither does he!


Active Member
My son knew how to turn on the charm in front of others. There are a few folks who I'm friends with that I've shared this information with that are positively shocked. It's just that I never really talked about the REAL difficult child because I didn't want to 1) demonize him, 2) I was embarrassed, and 3) they wouldn't believe me.

I don't have alot of friends outside of work either- given that because of how he was, I didn't get out much with them, and even if I wanted to do something without my kids- didn't want anyone to put up with him. so, I had/have no social life. I'm trying though.