So now driving has opened up a new set of difficult child adventures


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My younger difficult child age 17 has his driver's permit but not a real license. Night before last (actually at 4 a.m.) I heard the front door open and saw he wasn't in his room and the car keys were gone from the bowl where we keep them. My older son had driven and left them there, which is our usual spot to keep them. I called difficult child and asked where he was. He said he was taking his girlfriend home. She had apparently been in our house all night without my knowledge. (That's another story altogether, but I wasn't so worried about that part at the moment.)

I told him he didn't have permission to drive and she shouldn't have been over without me knowing. Then my mind started "thinking like a criminal" and considering all the things he might do if I lowered the boom right then, like driving around all over the place or not getting the car back in time for me to go to work just to be spiteful. So I texted that if he didn't have the car back within 30 minutes, I would call the police for a stolen vehicle. He replied "LOL ok" and I replied "LOL felony." He's terrified of that possibility since he really wants to join the military.

He did return within the 30 minutes and had parked in a space that had to be vacated by 7 a.m. I told him to move it to another place so I didn't have to move it that early, and he did. I also told him that he needed to find his own way to class that morning since I wouldn't be driving him. He said OK, then I'm not going. I said "fine." He takes classes at the same community college where husband and I work, and we drive in an hour early for his benefit three days a week (his classes start at 7:30, we have to be there at 8:30).

All this happened after he had been out with his skateboarding friends all weekend, slept overnight in a different town without asking or telling ("I thought you'd know where I was," was the explanation), and entertained me (not) with a drawn-out account of bragging how drunk he got with his friends and the stupid things they had done.

So I set my alarm to sleep an extra hour. He didn't go to class, but he did go to therapy in the afternoon and we dropped him by his friend's house later. I told him to take the bus home as we weren't coming to pick him up.

Anyway, husband and I decided that difficult child the younger can find his own way to school from now on unless he wants to ride with us on our schedule (two days a week when he has later classes), and the extra rides here and there are stopping. He has a bus card, and if he can figure out how to take the bus to God-knows-where doing God-knows-what, he can get to his classes on his own. We'd been taking him partly because he was working until midnight the night before his early classes, but he quit his job anyway, so that reason no longer exists.

I made the mistake of letting him drive his girlfriend home once last week by himself, so I think he felt entitled to drive whenever he feels like it. I told him it was a lapse of judgment on my part to let him drive unaccompanied, and he won't be doing it again. He can get his license in a few months when he turns 18.

Last night I had my older son bring the keys all the way into our room last night after he drove instead of putting them in the bowl so that younger difficult child couldn't get them. I guess this is another thing we have to think about.

Ugh. Driving + difficult children.


Well-Known Member
Get a lockbox. Lock up keys. in my opinion neither of your kids should be able to drive since both get high/drunk. When my daughter used drugs we cut off all ability for her to drive our car. Do they pay for their insurance and gas? If son crashes your car drunk you WILL be liable since he is underage. Is the heroine addict the other one driving your car? Same issue. And since he's not working I assume you are paying his insurance and gas too.

I would do it. JMO.
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When you allowed him to drive on his own with only a permit, that opened you up to a lot of legal and monetary headaches.


Active Member
Hi Oragami, was wondering, how is older difficult child doing by the way. The last I remember he was locked up. If you provided an update since then, please forgive, I didn't get a chance to see it. The fact that you said older difficult child is driving, I guess he was able to get bonded out?


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Yes, I realize that I should never have allowed him to drive unaccompanied to start with, but I guess I rationalized it because he's nearly 18 and many kids have been driving since age 16. He's a good driver etc. (blah blah blah my rationalizations), but now I won't let him until he has a real license. Especially not since he's decided to do so without permission. And yes, the older difficult child has been driving. His driving mainly involves taking his kids to their school and other activities.

GuideMe, older difficult child got off house arrest a few weeks ago after being jailed for a couple of days for being late to court, and his bond was reduced. As far as I know, he hasn't been using again. His court case is still pending. He's going to a job fair tomorrow with his wife, and he's also working with an agency that helps people with felonies get jobs. I feel like he's trying, at least.

The lockbox is a good idea, MidwestMom. The keys are going in a hiding place tonight. He (younger) asked me if he could drive to the laundromat tonight, and I said no, so he agreed to do his laundry downstairs. We live in an apartment building. I could kick myself for ever letting him drive alone to begin with. And no, nobody is paying for gas, insurance, etc. I feel a little like a dusty old doormat.


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In one of the videos I watched, I heard, "The definition of insanity is to try doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Your 27 year old son should pay for his own insurance. Why would you pay for his? He could have a serious accident since he is a drug abuser and is way too old for you to be picking up those types of bills? You don't have to answer that to us. Just give it a few thoughts. If he gets into a serious accident while high or drunk (this applies to both boys) would you not feel a bit guilty for having enabled this by paying for insurance and gas and helping them be able to drive? Even if both paid for their own gas and insurance, if this were me, neither would ever have access to my cars nor would I help 17 year old who drinks to drive in my car. My guess is he is not mindful of being sober while he drives. Both could die in an accident or kill somebody else. My daughter had accidents, but after the first one, in which we had thought she quit using drugs, she never was allowed to use our car again. She drove friend's cars (I have to wonder how high they were to allow her to do it) and in all was in three bad accidents, one that cost her $16,000 or more long after she was sober. She was sued. She lost.

To me, this is a major safety issue. If you are not clean and sober for years, well, I won't help you be a danger on the road to yourself and others. Your 17 year old is not "most kids." He is a difficult child and at least gets drunk, if not more. Why would you want to put him on the street at all?Did he earn that right by showing responsibility? Remember, a car is a guided missile, only as reliable as the person behind the wheel. His age is not as important as how safe he is in the missile.

Yes, yes, I know it is hard to tell especially our rude difficult child kids "no" and to admit our adult children are different and may be unsafe doing things other people their ages do all the time. But facts are facts. It is what it is. And all that stuff.

Your older son, not only uses dangerous drugs and is not guaranteed to be clean and sober at any time, is way too old to be counting on his parents to pay his car insurance, his cell phone, his clothing, anything. He will have no incentive to grow up and get clean. You are supporting not just him, but his entire family. Are you that rich? I could never do that. You have yourselves to think about. You and your husband matter. Will either boy step up to the plate to care for YOU if it's needed? Can you afford this emotionally too? j

Has it helped either of your boys so far to pay their way as if they are six years old? Again, this is to think about, not to answer if you would rather not.

Insanity--Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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Active Member
Thanks for your wisdom and advice, MidwestMom. In all honesty, I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my doormat status and face the tough work of detachment. I'm sure a person could analyze this as my own insanity and need to be in charge of something, maybe? Or maybe I'm too chicken to rock the boat with my grown and semi-grown kids. I'm thinking about all this, however, and am so grateful to be able to discuss these issues with you parents who understand the issues and where I'm coming from. I have some good friends who I share things with, but after a bit I can see their eyes glazing over and they really can't relate to my problems although they're supportive and sympathetic. My husband is supportive and I think we're equally hesitant to take a stand. Maybe all this is becoming too entrenched? I think we've allowed the abnormal to become "normal" to us.

As of next month, the 27-year-old will have been in our house for one year. This is way longer than expected. He hadn't previously lived with us since he moved out at age 18. His wife kicked him out of their house last November when she discovered he'd been using heroin. Since then he's been fired from his job, been arrested, been on house arrest for 6 months, and is now supposedly clean and sober and looking for work. I need to read more about detachment so I don't become one of those 80-year-old mothers taking care of a 60-year-old son. Some soul-searching is in order.

Thanks for your patience and the hugs!


Well-Known Member
Origami --- Lockbox is a great idea. We got a lockbox for difficult child's medications when he was 13 after we learned he was selling them on the street. We began using same lockbox for other items, also (keys, wallets, small valuables, etc). In fact, we still prefer using lockbox. Great, GREAT peace of mind (for you, not him).

Our difficult child never got a permit, nor a license. He never earned it and was in and out of legal trouble too much. But after he hit the streets, he began racking up a nice tidy sum of tickets (driving with-o license, reckless driving, etc). He still owes the court approx $2000 in unpaid driving fines.

Even though a lockbox may rile your difficult child (but, in fairness, don't many - if not most - things tend to rile our difficult child's?), may save lives....his and others.

Origami -- You deserve better than "doormat status". I'm new(er) to this group, also, but your posts show that you have insight, strength and determination. You can do this!


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I'm starting to see that there are parents as well as adult kids who can not move from the status quo and be different people. We can only give advice, and it's solid advice, but, like you can not make your son stop using heroin or the the younger stop, stop drinking or doing whatever else he does, we can not make you stop being not just a doormat, but an enabler who will allow non-sober kids to drive on the streets, endangering others. Yes, that is on you and your husband if you allow these boys/adults to drive your car, knowing they both have substance abuse problems. You and husband can easily cut off the car availability for good. And in my opinion should. You share the blame for anyone hurt in an accident by either one of them because you are not blind to how they are. You know. That is why our daughter stopped having any/all access to our vehicles. We did not want anyone hurt nor an injury or death on our conscience. Nobody was going to die...not in OUR vehicles. Not going to happen. Sure, she screamed and threw a fit, but nobody got hurt in our cars.

When we enable, it is for us, not for our adult children. It makes us feel better, like we put a band-aid on the problem, even though it is actually quite risky.

While we are a supportive group, we can "talk" till we are blue in the face. I can't think of one reason why you would want to keep your life as it is. It is not helping either of your sons, your son's wife or his children, to see this type of dysfunction and all of them overly dependent on you. But everyone is different.

It would not be so bad if your son was 18 and lived at home (as long as he was banned from your car), but he is 27 and a heroin addict and has now lived in your house for a year...this time. And you said you pay for his car, his insurance, his gas, what else? Why on earth does he ever need to change? He has it made? Did you watch either of the Dr. Phil videos I posted? If not, I suggest watching at least one. You may see yourself in it. And these grown children are not even drug addicts!

Yes, I am trying to give you one last kick in the butt. Your son will be middle age soon. Yes, he's closing in on thirty. My thirty year old daughter has a SO, a house, a baby, paid her own schooling, and had a good job until her baby was born and SO and she decided she'd be a stay-at-home mom. She cooks, cleans, takes care of the house, is independent.She started out as a teenage drug addict. We decided not to make that a comfortable status for her. There was no hesitation about making her leave once we knew for sure. And she made it. Not saying your son would, but until YOU change YOUR behavior toward both of your young men (I see the 17 year old as another one who is disdainful of societal norms and rules), you will live in chaos and your young men will be helpless once you and your husband are no longer there to care for them. Not to mention your life will be ruined and you will not spend the time with your PCs t hat you may have had you not decided to take on difficult children entire family.

There are therapists out there and 12 Step Groups which don't charge. You can take those first steps to helping both yourself and your grown children or you can stay the same. None of us can help you. But I'm sure we all hope you choose to let go of the idea that you are helping your sons by being this doormat. You are actually harming them.

Hugs and good luck. I'll see how your story progresses, but, if no change occurs by you and hub, there isn't much else to add. Wishing you all the best!!! :) Peace!


Active Member
So you're calling me insane and kicking me? What kind of abuse is that?:apathy: (kidding)

No, I didn't get a chance to view the videos yet since can't do so at work, but I'm ready to start learning more and taking action. My husband is on board with this, too, so we need to get our act together.

I hope it's OK to continue posting occasionally even if I'm not quite there yet--I enjoy getting the feedback and encouragement.


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I hope it's OK to continue posting occasionally even if I'm not quite there yet--I enjoy getting the feedback and encouragement.

Of course it is. It is even if you never get 'there' or decide that you don't even want to go 'there.'

In fact there is no 'there' - at least not something, that would be same to everyone. Some of us have found serenity and inner peace doing certain things, for some those things don't give that peace. Some are not even really looking for it.

We do believe in different things and there certainly isn't one truth or solution to fit all with our troubled loved ones. And every one of us knows our own situation better than anyone else in this board, so you simply take what you can and leave the rest.

Of course when someone finds something that really works well for them, they may be somewhat overzealous to push it also for others, because they really believe, it could help them too, and at some cases it could, and others not. And that is very human. But rules of this board don't have some first step where you should promise to do as some others here, believe like them or even want to stop or start this or that.

What we have in common is, that we are parents of difficult children. Our children are difficult in different ways, their ages vary from babies to people on their fifties, they have very different issues and we are in very different stages and tactics of parenting them. And we all have our own journey in this.


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Nope, not calling your insane and certainly would NEVER kick ya or anyone :) Not literally. Give you a kick, yes. I had many kicks here!!! They were meant to be helpful.

You, as a person, are kind and loving. Doing the same thing over and over again that doesn't work is insanity. That act is insane. Changing it makes sense. PIcture this: You keep letting your dog pee in the house and then complain that he is peeing in the house, but you don't walk him or show him where he should go that is appropriate. Would you keep doing it so that the dog keeps peeing in your house? I mean, I know I love my dogs dearly, but I don't think it's healthy for any of us in our house, dogs included to pee all over. So I do what I have to do. Now obviously a dog is not a person. My only reason for using that example is that I'm not feeling very creative this morning...haha. I'm sure there are better examples. The point is, if you keep doing the same thing that doesn't work, it's going to continue not to work. This hasn't worked yet and your son is a heroin addict and not launching in any way plus you can't afford all the money you are putting out for this and, I believe, you are not a spring chicken anymore. I'm not either. I get it. We need that money for us. Not like our difficult children are going to take care of us if we suddenly give them our last dime. Most likely, they'll head for the hills as fast as they can if they think we want something from THEM. Plus the younger difficult child is learning from his older brother. "Hmmmmmmmmmm. I can mess up in a really bad way, and they'll let me have free rent, insurance, the works and I can even bring home Wifey and Kids. What a party!!!!"

I gave you my best advice. I truly don't see how this can work out until you decide to change, however long that takes. Most of us here will say the same thing. We don't want you to leave. We hope you hang in there with us and learn things that have helped those of us with similar situations. Most of our adult children are drug addicts who refuse to quit or to launch and take care of themselves. Many have seen prison. Many are dangerous to live with. They affect us. They affect our younger ones. We can get into legal trouble if they have illegal substances in our homes. They don't care if they put us at risk. They disrespect us in every way, for the most part, or we wouldn't be here. We all started out being doormats. We learn with age and experience...(sigh) and it's not a fun trip. Have you ever gone to Twelve Step? I found that very helpful, having a support group of real facetime people there. They all know what you are facing in Al-Anon or Narc-Anon. It's important to be around those who have been where you are. Most of us have. Or are.

Absolutely keep posting, but the faster you launch YOURSELF, the better it will get. I leave you with this:

"God grant me the SERENITY to accept the thngs I can not change,
the COURAGE to change the things we can,
And the WISDOM to know the difference."

Although I like Twelve Step, a great therapist, familiar with parents who can not break from their grown children, can be even better if you prefer one-one. I also like to browse "YOUTUBE" and get feedback from experts that I can never afford to see. Almost all of them, however, do suggest not enabling (even if they are not affiliated with 12Step) and many say the problems we face are not our grown kids, but our own because of our reactions to those grown's interesting. I posted from Dr. Phil, but there are REAL experts on YouTube...more schooled than him and from all over the world. Listening helps me stay focused in the right direction so that I don't become that doormat ever again.

Here's to hoping you take a few baby steps. The first ones are always hard, but ultimately, unless you are richer than Midas, you can not support your drug addicted son and all of his toys and habits plus the rest of his family forever and I'm sure you don't want Mr. 17 to see that he can do anything he wants. One reason I made Julie leave was because I had two little ones who were greatly affected by the cops coming over, the out-of-control behaviors, and they were darned scared. She was 19 and unwilling to get help for her drug addiction so we made her leave. Her brother took her in and he is much stricter than we are...she got clean. Although it may not be that easy for your son, trying something different may shake him up and certainly will help your pocket book, your peace of mind, and your younger child.

I still think it is dangerous to let either of your young men drive. That's and death. I'd think hard about allowing that, no matter how loud they scream. At least they are still alive to to speak..I remember those nightmare calls from the hospital with my daughter and I don't want you to experience car accident cars. They were all her fault too. She's lucky nobody was killed and she WAS sued. She paid money to this woman long after she had quit using drugs until her father finally paid the woman off completely, but that was about four years into her Recovery, when it was clear drugs were no longer going to be on her radar.

Hugs and hoping for the best. Keep coming back, it works, as they say in Al-Anon.
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Well-Known Member
Origami --- Of course you're still welcomed (and wanted!) to post here! I have enjoyed your posts immensely, despite the fact that we're both fairly new here.

Everyone cares. Some of us carry different "voices" about our experiences and points of view. We're all different in our manner of expression, but we're all the same in our manner of heart. We're cheering you on! And an occasional "kick in the pants" is its own form of cheering you on (remind me of this the next time I need a "kick in the pants"! LOL!).

We're with you! I agree that your son is a grown man and should be responsible for his own life. I think the best thing we, as parents, can do for our kids (no matter what age) is to encourage whatever degree of independence is age-appropriate. Age 27 is age-appropriate for full independence. If not now, then when?

But let me remind you that I see much wisdom and strength in you. I think you're stronger than you think. I think you CAN do this. I think you CAN release him. I think you CAN do it now.

So, the essence of my supportive message to you is..............YOU CAN! :) Give it a shot! You never know until you give it a shot.

And, whether you sink or soar (I vote soar!)......... We will still be here. EVERY voice in this forum matters and has something great to contribute. I learn something from everyone here!

Now SOAR, girl......SOAR! You CAN do this! Let him be a responsible adult! Your health and happiness matters.

Of course, these are all your decisions. Your freedom, your power, your responsibility.


Active Member
I'm holding back tears of gratitude here at work from all your friendly "kicks" and being my cheerleaders. Thank you all so much, and I can't believe you're so willing to spend time replying to me. In honesty, I've been feeling like I'm not doing enough or fast enough. I'm so used to other people (difficult children and others) calling the shots, I have trouble claiming my power. Hopefully that's something I can learn from the sources you've all mentioned (videos, therapy, 12-steps, etc.).

Things have calmed down at home for the most part, so I've felt like everything's OK, but I realize now might be the best time to regroup and get some boundaries in place before the tide turns again (as it has many times before).

On a more positive note, difficult child 27 and his wife are both actively looking for jobs and have some interviews lined up. difficult child 17 is also looking since I told him I wouldn't finance his cigarette habit anymore.

Thanks again, ladies, and you're all the best!


Well-Known Member
Origami -- We're with you!

Claim your gratitude (gratitude is a mighty power of sanity to wield!) and claim your power to "call your own shots"! When I want to start reclaiming any perceived loss of power of my own, I begin reclaiming that power with little things. Nope.....I do NOT want to ______, I want to _______. Your wants and needs matter! You can fill in that blank with everything from as small as I don't want to watch this tv show to as big as I don't want to keep living this way. PRACTICE SAYING, "NO". It helps, trust me.

You have the power, Origami! So do we all!

And we all need support, cheering on, and an occasional "kick in the pants", too. All in care, all in support, all for health and happiness....for all of us.

The power of Free Will is ours to claim. :D Practicing our Free Will makes us more and more aware of its empowerment. The more we practice, the more we grasp its empowerment, the more we are grateful for it.

Take care!

PS -- Everyone's on their own timeframe with change and growth.
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Well-Known Member
Hey there...dont worry about a time line to get anywhere with parenting these kids. No kid comes with a manual and we have especially difficult to manage kids. Somewhat like getting one of those huge toys that need to be put together on Xmas eve and you find out they forgot to include the instructions and all the words on the box are in Chinese! Then halfway through you realize it appears parts are missing...oh no!!!

I had one of those kids who seemed able to find my car keys no matter where I hid them and he would take my car. Cops did nothing here. I recommend one of those clubs for cars. You know the ones that attach to the steering wheels? Reason I say that is that one of the things that people dont realize is that there are only so many keys made for cars. They can manage to find another one that fits!

This was proven to me when I bought a 95 Ford escort and we found to our surprise the same key worked on an old ford minivan we had that didnt run anymore. I think it was the Aerostar. Cant remember the exact name. Maybe Winstar? But not same year. How ironic that we would get keys that would fit the two vehicles sitting in my yard?


Active Member
Hi Janet,
Although I'm not a novice difficult child mom, my 17-year-old is coming up with new and different ways to jerk my chain! The latest thing is that he took the car last night (without permission, was supposed to be getting dropped off) to the laundromat to do his laundry. It turns out that he also did the rest of the laundry for the household without being asked. I'm talking about 3 large hampers of clothes in addition to his own. This all happened after I was in bed, so I didn't know about it until this morning. So how can I be angry at him for taking the car when it was for a good cause? (grrr)

I have been hiding the keys, but as a one-vehicle household with three legitimate drivers (me, my husband, my daughter in law), the keys sometimes get left unhidden. I'll be glad when he turns 18 in two months so this will be a non-issue, at least the unlicensed driving part. So far he's been a responsible driver, but of course that's when I'm with him.

What GFG17 fails to comprehend is how dangerous it is for him to drive with only a permit both from a physical point of view as well as legally. When I tried to explain this to him, he said, "You only care about money, you don't really care about my safety, because I'm a safe driver and nothing is going to happen to me." I told him he's not the only driver on the road and if some weirdo hits him, we could be liable for damages or at least an expensive ticket. He said he'd pay me back if that happened. Nevermind that he doesn't have a job or any other means of paying anything back.

I like your toy analogy. So true! I thought I'd seen it all with my other difficult child, but no.

I had that experience with keys once myself. I opened the door to a minivan and sat down in it (parked on the street) and realized the seats had the wrong upholstery and I didn't recognize the items in the van. I slinked out of there as fast as I could as didn't want the real owner to show up and think I was stealing a van!


Well-Known Member
Yikes! Does daughter in law pay her own insurance?

I don't think driving while underage is as dangerous as drinking under the influence. Do you think he understands he can't drink and drive? They are really cracking down hard on that in certain states.


Active Member
So far difficult child has never drank while around the vehicle. He goes off with buddies every couple of weeks or so and gets drunk (at their houses, outside, wherever, since I won't let them drink in our house). I know this because he tells me every sordid detail as if it's entertaining or something. There's a "no tolerance" policy for underage drinking while driving in our state, and I did talk to him about that. He said he wouldn't be that stupid since he wants to join the Marines. I hope that's true.

Our policy doesn't charge extra for other drivers as long as they're occasional and have our permission to drive. She's not officially on the policy, in other words. I did check with the insurance agent. daughter in law drove yesterday and actually filled up the gas tank, which was nice. I had asked her to do so before she took the van. Yes, I'm learning to make my expectations known!

Technically, GFG17 isn't driving underage since he could have been driving at 16. I think that's why he thinks the rules don't apply to him. However, not attending school or driver's ed means he had to wait until 17 to get a permit. He still has to wait until 18 for a real license.


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I have tried really hard to not answer this post because I didn't want to seem like I was "flaming" you, however from the first time I read your post I felt that it was written with some sort of glee as in gee wiz, (ha-ha) look what difficult child has done know, especially since you gave him permission to drive the car illegally and then you "seem" stumped as to why he felt it was OK to take it on his own. To me this says that you are getting some kind of pay off in your part in this situation - which I am not "blaming" you but just giving you food for thought to what is it really that you are "getting" from this dysfunctional situation (what is the pay off), how are you contributing to it's ongoing cycle, and what your position in this "allowing the difficult child's" from learning and advancing on to stop abusing you. It is as if for some reason you enjoy the dance. Probably, you are not even aware of this - maybe the pain is the payoff, again only you know why???? Yes, there is pain here, but are you dancing so fast so you NEVER have to really do anything about the situation. If it is all just "too much", when is it ENOUGH??? The older difficult child should have been out of your house a long time ago - seems he is only there to train the younger, giving you more time to prolong the pain. Again, not trying to blame the victim, just asking you to look inside yourself and see what is preventing you from moving forward. If younger difficult child had killed someone on the highway when you gave permission to drive illegally, you might have gotten a ton of mileage out of it, but not so much the innocent the victims of the accident.