Stuck in a corner


Here is my dilemma. My 24 year old son who struggles with depression, major anxiety and adhd, hasn't held a job in a year and a half due to his anxiety. He realizes that he needs to get out there but is fearful of doing it. He was on medication for anxiety and depression but stopped it because he was not getting relief so went back to pot because that is what he says helps. I worry about the motivation aspect but what can I do? His doctor wants him to go to therapy before she will treat him anymore. My husband is suppose to arrange this with my son but is dragging his feet. Also he is supposed to be putting a deadline on getting a job since we currently support him. I have to stay out of this because I am my son's punching bag so that is why he does not live with us. I am so frustrated that nothing is getting done about this. My son has made a few positive moves by auditioning for a couple of shows, (he got a cameo role, no pay). He also volunteers as a lion dancer with a Chinese dance troupe. He gets depressed frequently and hates to leave his apartment. Another thing that bugs the hell out of me is my father-in-law. He has never treated my son with much love and encouragement and is quick to pass judgement. Everytime he calls, he tells us we must do tough love, even though he lives far away and we never see him. He and his family never try to understand the mental health aspect of this. Today was my father-in-law 'S birthday so I had my son call him. My son said it was awkward because my father-in-law was so distant on the phone.. Just prior to that call, my father-in-law had told my husband we needed to do tough love. Why can't my husband stand up for our son to his father? I know it sounds like I want the same thing but I don't believe it is anyone's business to pass judgement when they have not walked in our shoes. We know our son has to change and I know we have to put our foot down but I resent my father-in-law 'S attitude. It doesn't help. Any suggestions or thoughts. Feeling anxious and down right now.


Well-Known Member
I worry about the motivation aspect but what can I do?
My son has some of the same issues. I took a stand against the marijuana as a condition of help. It is a constant battle.
Why can't my husband stand up for our son to his father?
I have the same issue with my partner, but it is I who feels guilty because my son feels I side with M, not with him. There is competition between the two men, and I am pulled in 2 directions.

I identify with your husband who wants to preserve a relationship with his father and may feel if he stands up to him, he will lose his father's affection and/or approval. Or perhaps that his father will criticize him harshly, too. Perhaps your father in law treated your husband harshly, with tough love, and your husband still feels scarred by this.

Your husband must find his own voice as I must find my own. The issue is not father in law, but husband (and me, too) being able to find our power.

Everybody has the idea that this is easy, and that they could do a better job as parents than we are doing. That goes with the territory. Maybe they could. Let them try.

Meanwhile we are in this together.

I think your son is doing great. Taking risks. Getting out there. I do not believe in tough love, but I do believe in staying on them hard. And when they mistreat us, they mistreat themselves.

Take care.


Well-Known Member
I am wondering how your son can go on stage yet be afraid to work. I do understand anxiety disorder. Intimately. I have had it all my life, even as a child. My official diagnosis...are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and mild obsessive compulsive disorder and I also have a mood disorder not otherwise specified. I made myself get help and try to work. I tried medications until I found medications that worked. I never gave up on me. I never smoked pot. Pot isnt helping your son at all. He isnt better. Hes just dazed. He is not doing better smoking pot.

I dont judge you. i know we also must do what feels good to us...that we have often super pity our children. We love them so much.

But I dont judge father in law either. I read that 10% of the population has anxiety disorder. It is easy to treat, if the person is willing to try hard to get help, and your son is doing nothing to help himself. Most people woth anxiety work. My autistic son has anxiety, as do all autistics. He works two part time jobs and gets a little social security. He lives alone and has a fairly normal life...not comparing him to yours. It just is. It is partly motivation in my opinion.

Has your son gone for further evaluation lately? How hard does he try to get better? Had he applied for social security at least? I dont think you are wrong but I dont think your father in law is wrong either. Your husband will do ehat he has to do. You cant control him. Maybe he sort of agrees with his father. Maybe he is afraid of him. This is his decision, how to deal with his father.

All of us make choices when our adult children wont thrive or work. in my opinion anxiety disorder can and should be agressively treated with the goal of working. Your son does go outstde...he is not agoraphobic. He does drama and dances and he must go out to get pot. How does he pay for pot?

I am not trying fo be harsh. As someome who has mental illness, was in the hospital thrice, i do not see any mental health disorder, other than psychosis like schizophrenia, as a reason to sit around, smoke pot, and live off parents. The only way for anxiety to improve is professional help and doing what scares you until you see its not so scary. Pot will never help him function.

If this were my child he would have to be working very hard in therapy, taking real medications and working part time or at least regularly volunteering to get monetary help. If he receives social security he also gets help with job coaching and other services. I would urge he apply. Its more than pocket change. It also opens the door to many services. He can go to The Dept. Of Workforce Develipment to find a job he can handle. This is worth more than the social security in my opinion. But you need one to get the other.

Son is not improving. I'm on board with forcing him to do much more to help himself. I would start with having him intensively evaluated at a high level (not a therapist or social worker). Maybe he has a form of mild autism. Hr needs a total evaluation from the big guys...a psychiatrist or better a neuro psychologist (a psycologist with extra training in the brain). If there is no pressure for him to function, he apparently wont try.

Again, this is just my point of view as a mental health patient. My attitude is to not give up on yourself and I cringe when patients try to say pot is helping. If so, are they functioning better?

Hugs. Thid is hard with no one right answer. Our experiences drive our advice. And we are all different.

My biggest concern is that we will all die one day. Can they live without us because they must. So getting s way to sustain...this has to happen. Without us.This is the huge elephant in the room. What about when we are gone?

Think everything over and take on differing opinions even if in the end they are not right for you. We are all here for you regardless of how you handle your son. We support you.
Last edited:


it's none of your father in laws business. Period. Hopefully your husband can say this to him..and that's that. Thank you for your opinion, we are handling it.

We know the hell my husband's family would put us through if they knew about our son..we don't lie, we omit major details.

Are they, do they have children who do pot and such, yes...does addiction run in their families..yes...but severe judgement would be passed...who needs that???

Hugs...literally you have to not care what "other" people think.


I think the thing that irks me so much is my father-in-law was always rough on my son. Quick to compare him to his favorite grandson, quick to pass judgement. Quick to get angry at him. So much of this is a long history too long to get into but it makes me mad and feel bad at the same time. Like he is right and I am wrong etc. even though my father-in-law is no saint. Why do I care so much? I don't even respect or love my father-in-law anyway. He has never understood my son's mental health issues or the struggles that my son has gone through or how much my son feels like the black sheep of the family. I know that my son needs to change in many ways. His anxiety is partly biological, which I also have. He is scared to do the things he should due to fear and developed bad habits. My son has struggled since early childhood so even though he can go onstage and lion dancing, it is only because he has or had a friend who supported him in it. He struggles with doing thing independently. And his ADHD causes another whole set of issues with procrastination, boredom etc. I know we need to get tougher on our son and we are trying, but my father-in-law's comments just remind me that we have not solved this situation yet and that it will probably never be perfect and we will probably always struggle. I an trying so hard to detatch, and this just sets me back.


We will never fix it...we can only get them tools. Though I know we will always try.
You can't change other people's judgement either...well guess what, if everyone told you to stop helping him in anyway and get tougher, would you? No, you will do what yo u can do that is best for both of you.

I struggle whether we do anything right..but families all look jus to know where you are today...u can make plans for tomorrow, or not.

Only you know how you feel and deep down you know he will need to commit to get his own help. I will not make any kind of call for my son...I will give him a number...but, hello..their own job.

I just realise that we are taking it slow...but I know the tracs could be slick at anytime....forgive your father in law for his closed mind, his loss that he has missed out on your sons gifts.



Well-Known Member
Well, father in law, isnt important. Its not his son. Maybe you should detach from HIM and next year your son is old enough to decide if he calls grandfather on his birthday. Seriously, i would disregard grandfathers opinion. Talk to him only if necessary. He sounds toxic.


Roll With It
Maybe it is time to start looking at grandfather in a different way. Start imagining him as those old men in that Muppets show who just grumbled and grumped and never got anything done. When he starts his complaining, see the Muppet men in your head and focus on them rather than Grandfather. Then be done with the whole thing.

I know it is hard to just turn off the ugly comments, but all you are doing is giving this nasty old man the power to make you and your son miserable. Take a day and truly think about if it is worth giving this man that much power over you? Are you truly willing to ALLOW him to have so much power? Or are you going to go ahead and live your life on your terms and let him stew in his own ugliness while you go forward to enjoy your life without him? You actually don't have to consider anything he says. Just because he wants to say it doesn't mean it has any truth or meaning or value in your life. You can choose to not include him or listen to him.

When thoughts of this man come into your head, pick a topic and think of it. Think of the Muppets, or something funny that makes you smile. Think of Grumpy Cat if that helps, or of your son dancing and happy. Then go on about your day and stop fretting.

If anxiety over this old man with nothing good to say keeps overtaking you, maybe talking to a therapist would help. I know there have been times when I needed to talk with someone outside my situation to help me make sense of things.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
The grandfather reminds me of someone that is really old school thinking. Like if you don't shape up and live your life to make ME proud then I'm coming down on you! I think a lot of older people are like that. I'm not making excuses at all but just saying consider the source. We cannot control how other people, even family, treat our Difficult Child's.

Have you considered going to therapy for yourself to help you maneuver this type of parenting? Even though your son is a young adult at 23, it can be very difficult for us moms since we are programmed to want to help our children at any cost. My therapist has helped me establish boundaries with our son. I have been broken hearted for so long over his choices but they do seem to be starting to move in the right direction. Slow as hell but oh well!

My son has horrible anxiety also and since he is away from us he has a job that I'd never dreamed he'd be able to do, let alone take a college class. Those two things were huge triggers for him when he was living in our home. But doing these things helps build self esteem too so it's a win-win for him (and us).

Perhaps a therapist can help you craft a plan for your son so that you can be sure he is continually moving forward - even at a snail's pace it seems at times. We are doing this with our son right now and things are stable with him and I am beyond grateful for that.

Keep posting and reading others' posts. This forum is truly a wealth of knowledge. It's helped me tremendously.


All good thoughts to consider. I do see a therapist and my husband and I are always reevaluating our responses to our son and his issues. My son is making progress though very slowly. I do agree that my father-in-law is very old school which has always posed a problem with my square-pegged son. I am just not very good at putting up with his bullshit though I know that I should just ignore him. My therapist recommended that I tell him how I feel though I know that it will not go well and most likely will go right over his head. So not sure it is worth it. Might make me feel better though!


Well-Known Member
The grandfather reminds me of someone that is really old school thinking. Like if you don't shape up and live your life to make ME proud then I'm coming down on you!
I am reading an excellent book by Suzette Elgin Haden who was an applied linguist, called You Can't Say That to Me. The book is about verbal abuse, both abusers and victims (and observers too) and how we can take responsibility to stop it.

She describes how children grow up in homes where communication styles are abusive and learn this way of communicating. She asserts that much of this may be unconscious, a learned way to get attention and control.

Most importantly she says it can be stopped. In almost all cases. That those who are abused can stop it by not feeding it. After reading a few pages, I realized that all of my responses feed the cycle, and that I too can be verbally abusive, although I excuse it (in myself...).

She says that verbal abusers are not necessarily bad people, most are not. It is the language which is bad. The language environment and the communication style.

I highly recommend this book which actually is a 8 step program to stop verbal abuse in our families, the workplace, etc.
Last edited: