Trying to do the right thing - but mentally exhausted


New Member
my son is 19 but still lives at home.

He's at college - but hardly goes and is failing - I am leaving him to fail and have stopped asking him.
He is smoking weed - says this helps him relax and switch off (he has dyslexia) - we are pretty open minded but worry this may escalate if it hasn't already.
He is going through a stage of sleeping most of the day and up at night.
He has left home once (after he argued with his dad) but came back after a week.
Just left again today because I woke him up at 2.30pm as he had asked for help to fix lights on his car.

We try not to provoke and engage him in anything and generally tip-toe around him.
He rarely eats with us.
Keeps saying he wants to commit suicide but won't see a councillor- has never actually tried it. But can't seem to cope with life.

Example of his behaviour - went out for a meal for my birthday, because I ordered food for us all to share he suddenly snapped into a mood. Said he wasn't hungry, sat there on his phone. We ate quickly left. He drove off on his own.

He is spoilt.
He lies.
He gets money (from somewhere)?
He says he is angry inside (he isn't to us)
He can be incredibly sweet sometimes and I try to positively reinforce this when he does.
we are hoping in time he will grow up and find his way.

I worry where all this is heading..


Well-Known Member
Hi there. Welcome.

Of course I don't know your son but the behavior is familar, especially sleeping all day and being up and out all night. In my family it meant my daughter was using drugs way beyond pot. Drug users like to be up and out all night. My daughter took downers to sleep days and uppers to fly all night.

We had no clue. We also thought it was just pot. Haha. The joke was

I am iffy about pot. I have anxiety and it made me worse and paranoid and it can trigger latent mental illness in those with that in their genes. it is proven that it can trigger schizophrenia and disassociation disorders such as depersonalization. It often causes a serious blah affect and a lack of motivation. I feel it is very bad for those with a lean toward addiction and mental illness.

Your son may be getting money stealing, selling drugs, pretending to be homeless...unless he works he is getting money illegally. I am sorry.

Your house/your rules. In my opinion your son should not cause you discomfort in your house Your house is your sanctuary. Does he do anything productive? Work?

Welcome again :). Others will come along.
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Well-Known Member
Welcome bun.

There are many similarities in our stories. My son is now 29. It became bad when my son was 19. Eventually he began heavy use of marijuana.

He was in college but began failing everything in his second year. I kept pushing him to achieve something, do something. He did complete a couple of trainings and did hold a job for 15 months, but quit, depressed. But would not seek treatment. I kicked him out when he was 23. I would not accept not seeking treatment.

Eventually he got ssi for mental illness. Mood disorder. Social phobia. Etc. He lived with other people and was for a time homeless.

For most of the past 2 plus years he has either lived in another home I own or with me. Now he is here.

Here is what I believe after a decade of this.

This is not about my son. It is about me.

There is no one size fits all.

The prevailing wisdom of this site is detachment. You will find an article on another forum which describes it. There is a great deal of wisdom in the approach. But it is just that. We have to find a way to live it which is consistent with who we are, want to be and our kids' uniqueness.

We cannot and should not live another person's life. You learned this early. It took me a long time.

But i was not willing to let my son completely fall to the bottom without a safety net. I just will not do it. Everybody makes a different choice. And we are free to keep deciding (differently) over and over again.

My son lies too. He sees this is self protective. If he tells the truth he thinks I will throw him out. I understand that I am responsible in large part for this power dynamic. We are both works in progress.

You are clear about red flags: the money, from where?. The suicide threats. The self indulgence. Like in the restaurant. Being spoilt. Sleeping all day. Lies. Etc.

I will be blunt. You have a role in each of these behaviors. You can respond. You are the authority in your home. You decide what you tolerate.

Calling 911 any time he makes a threat. Insisting he be gone from the house during work hours, changing locks as necessary. Insisting on drug testing. Setting a date by when he needs to become independent and move out, and supporting him to reach this goal. Telling him and curbing unacceptable behaviors. (phone at dinner.)

Do you pay for his car insurance, gas? Whose car is it? (Cars are risky, especially in your name.) Do you pay for college? Does he work?

If you fear he may be doing illegal things to get money, I would think about asking him to leave sooner than later. How can you live with that kind of risk? Do you feel comfortable sustaining a lifestyle like that?

Each of these things parents on this site have considered or in fact done. Each action is something over which you have control. There is no guarantee that any one thing will work to help your son. But the key thing we learn is to help ourselves.

You and your family are fundamentally important. Not just your son.

I hope you keep posting. It helps.
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New Member

Yes we pay for college (community college). He is in his first year and has failed the first semester. He talked to us about it and said he can't cope doing more than 2 subjects, due to his dyslexia. He only goes half the time now.

We give him an allowance for fuel to get to college and pay insurance etc.
He has talked to us about smoking and said this helps with his dyslexia to calm his brain down. He has said he would like to work in the business of medicinal marijuana.

He has tried the last few weeks e.g. Offer to walk the dog, make me a drink and ate with us a few times. It's sad that I feel this is a win for us.

I agree and feel the pot has made him a little 'crazy' he has has a couple of deep conversations with us and to be honest afterwards I've thought - he is crazy and needs help. He won't go to counselling, we've talked about that.
I know where he is getting money from but don't want to say on here.
We've said, (amongst the facts it's wrong, illegal etc), if he gets caught he will go to prison and there is nothing we can do about that.
It doesnt help that where we live the kids are all doing this and it's 'normal'.
He did have a job a couple of years ago, when I mentioned he should get one he said what's the point when it only pays minimal wages.

I'm hoping he will hit rock bottom and this will make him change his ways.

This all seemed to happen when he was with a really bad girlfriend when he turned 18 - he is no longer with her. After they broke up her father tried to take my son to court for underage ___. It was a nightmare but all was dropped but not after 2 months a stress for all of us plus attorney fees.
I don't feel I can drug test him or have any authority to make him do anything like counselling as he his over 18.

To be honest I try to ignore it, pretend it's not happening, not engage and try to show him how a good human being behaves.

Not sure it's working!


Well-Known Member
You do not have the authority to drug test him or to insist upon treatment. He can refuse. But you can make it a condition of living in your home.

If you know he is doing illegal activities in your house, can you overlook it? The idea everybody does it does not sound like anything I have ever heard of.

It sounds like his mindset is: why would I ever want to work if I can earn big money through crime? Is this your way of thinking?

Every single thing you allow in your home and around you, you condone. You have the right to stop it in your home. If you do not, you own it.

Modeling good behavior clearly has not worked. In my mind, boundaries are crucial.

As far as rock bottom helping, this has not been the case for us.

But the thing is, even if you put your hope in rock bottom as a teacher, how can he bottom out as things stand. You provide a car, house. Food. You pay school. You cook and clean for him. You protect him.

In turn, he calls the shots. He sets the limits. He says what he will or will not do.

Your role? In your words: Ignoring him. Tolerating him. Pretending it is not happening. Tiptoeing around him. My words: Hoping against hope he will spontaneously change. Why would he?

It is hard for me to type this, and if you choose I will no longer post on your thread. But there is the concept of authority.

Authority as a parent. As a person. It is not being bossy that I am speaking of. It is more in the sense of taking responsibility. Of living by principles. It is about being accountable. Of setting rules and having expectations and enforcing them.. Having a bottom line.

Our kids need that. At 5 and 20 and 50. We are their parents. Not that we be authoritarian or tell them what to do or be. But to have authority in our home and in our lives.

I know you can do this. Your son needs this, I believe. You need it, I believe. But of course I speak only from one person's experience. My own.
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Well-Known Member
I was actually going to respond almost exactly as Cops did but she is more articulate than me and probably wrote it better.

Your son is 18 but he is in your house and you are supporting him. He isn't acting like an adult at all. He is living like a little boy only more dangerously, doing illegal stuff to get money and it's ok because he says everyone does it? Everyone DOESNT do it! He and his probably troubled friends do it.

I can only tell you that looking the other way won't help. It will make things worse. No expectations on him as he lives with a child's mentality knowing you will supply him with money, a car, everything no matter how he acts will lead to no changes for the better. If he were mine, I would have made him leave unless he:

1. Went to therapy

2. Totally stopped illegally getting money under my roof....maybe then he would get a job.

3. No car if he is impaired on pot or worse and certainly no pot in my house. He has to see you as strong people with boundaries and morals or he will go off the rails and YOU will be the only one hitting rock bottom. He can't hit rock bottom if you coddle him from all consequences.

Dyslexia is no fun. I have many learning disabilities and never even made it to college and one of my sons is autistic. But I had to work anyway, and it was hard for me, and we always treated our son like our other kids and he is out on his own in his own place taking care of himself. He works. Your son can do it too and at least in my opinion should be forced to do so or face consequences. He should listen to your rules or leave.

I know this probably sounds harsh to you, but nothing will change if you don't change it. You don't want him in prison or living in your basement while his peers are thriving. If my own four kids wanted to drive they had to pay their part of our insurance and the gas. They all worked part time in high school except for my autistic son. My youngest had serious learning disabilities and could not read until age 8, but she just finished her law enforcement college program and has been called back twice for a job at the jail. If she doesn't get it she is enrolling in the police academy. We expected her to do well. She has.

If you don't expect anything from your son he will not expect anything of himself. I have four thriving adult kids and two struggled in school but they made it. I hope yours can start to thrive and cut out the illegsl stuff but he probably won't unless you get tough and tell him that he either flies straight or he has to leave . Most of us have put our foot down hard for behavior like your sons.

I am sorry. I can't see letting him basically take drugs, do illegal stuff and get free money from you for no effort doing anything but making him walk all over you. I hope you realize we are trying to HELP you and him. This is not bashing you at all.

Love and light.
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On the road unwanted to travel
He has tried the last few weeks e.g. Offer to walk the dog, make me a drink and ate with us a few times. It's sad that I feel this is a win for us.
it manipulation not a win

I know where he is getting money from but don't want to say on here.
We've said, (amongst the facts it's wrong, illegal etc), if he gets caught he will go to prison and there is nothing we can do about that.
If he is willing to throw away college to smoke and sell dope, he is throwing away everything you have given him and is being enabled to do so.

I'm hoping he will hit rock bottom and this will make him change his ways.
We thought the same. It appears our son had a bottom and liked to dwell in it. Our rock bottom was the first time we had our son arrested. It certainly wasn’t his.

I am sorry you find yourself in this situation. I have been through a very similar situating hat began when our son was 14 going on 15. It progressed and as long as we enabled him it got worse. Even when we stopped enabling and set good boundaries it continued to get worse.

We forced our sons hand by having him arrested for stealing from us (large sums) he had a choice of rehab or jail. He is currently in rehab and is now being assessed for a suspected mental health disorder.

I can only speak from my experience but enabling them will never help them move forward.

Setting strong boundaries and detaching will make them flounder and things will get worse before they get better. If they chose to get better.

You are living in FOG Fear Obligation and Guilt. This leads to enabling your son who is failing college, possibly selling drugs and defining doing drugs and not much more.

No passing grades no tuition, no school, work, no work, Out. Your house tour rules. Drug testing if you want by why bother you know what he is doing. You can make zero drugs and testing him a part of your conditions of him living in your home.

What ever you decide to do be sure you stick to what you put in place.

You need support for yourself. Do you go to Naranon?

Our son was the very same as your son but at an earlier age. We took his car and put rules in place when he didn’t abide by these rules we locked him out. He said this was illegal and we told the police he had signed a living agreement and by breaking that agreement he CHOSE not to love here. Authorities did nothing. Where I am from they can chose to leave at 16 but we can not put them out u TIL they are 18. You can read my past posts. Essentially we went through hell. Had him arrested three times, he managed to have himself arrested once, we put him out and he spiraled which was horrible to watch.
If we didn’t do what we had in terms of setting boundaries and detaching one thing we know for sure is that our son would either be dead, still on drugs, or in jail for a more serious charge.
He is in a long term residential in patient rehab program. We are finding that he may well have an underlying MH issue. Regardless the choice is still his to be on a path to getting better or not. He k ones we will support every effort he makes to get well and zero support for any negative behavior or drug use.
This is not an easy path. Our son can be the most genuine loving and kind person. Not on drugs he isn’t. Sleep all day no motivation for school can’t hild a job. Nasty if we tried to address any of this.
Decide what you can and want to do everyone is different.
I know if we had not detached and set boundaries our son would not be getting help.


New Member
Thank you both.

Sorry the comment on 'every one does it' was at the smoking weed.

Regarding the money - and bear in mind that this is a small amount of cash occasionally - I know that's irrelevant but it makes me feel better!
We by no means agree with him doing this.

I want him to hit rock bottom education wise not life in general - we would rather have him at home to know he is safe and try to guide him in the right direction. He is like a child - he left yesterday saying he was leaving home - I didn't engage. He came back 7ish then got up with morning and was trying to be sweet.

I did search mood affects with marijuana and found an article which I am thinking of printing at work today and bringing back for him - how it affects your dopamine levels.
Before he goes to college this morning I was thinking of saying I would like to talk with him after he gets back.
I want him to seek professional help and stop obtaining money.

A little bit of background - we moved here 8 years ago and have no family in this country. I grew up with arguments, confrontation and secrecy - I hate and avoid at all costs - we feel quite isolated and alone. I feel weak and don't know what to do for the best.



Active Member
Just a thought, if your son struggles with dyslexia and he received special education (or whatever this is termed if you are not in the US) in high school, he may qualify for accommodations such as extended test taking time and a small, quiet environment in which to take his exams.

In the US dyslexia is considered a learning disability and a student can qualify for an IEP if they have this condition provided it impacts their performance in school to a sufficient degree.

As an adult it is his responsibility to manage his dyslexia, and marijuana use is as far as I know not evidence based :)

One great example of an accommodation which helps many students with dyslexia is listening to text being read aloud rather than attempting to read it themselves. Many books have audio versions available, even textbooks. He may wish to explore this option.

I agree with the advice you have already received. It sounds like you are operating in Mommy mode with your son. That is understandable. But bear in mind, he is not a little boy any longer although he may seem like one and act like one at times; he is a grown man and the longer he is allowed to "act as if" he is a child. the worse it will be for him and the harder it will be for him to launch.

Best of luck to you!


Well-Known Member
Hi bun.

A few thoughts as I am on the way out.

First. All of us have been isolated and alone. Even with family and friends, nobody really gets it except the people here who live it. Often people judge us and gossip. That happened with us. That I was an inadequate parent. I may well be l. But that does not mean I will not fight for my child and myself.

There is intense shame.

We cannot love them in the same way as before. At least outwardly. This is a kind of warfare. Almost a spiritual battle. We have to pick a side. Your son on drugs (and I include pot here) is not your beloved boy. As long as we are cuddly with them while they are on this path, we are enabling their demons, their antisocial tendencies, their living in an altered consciousness and moral universe.

I know I sound like a nutcase. I am a highly educated, professional person, a worldly woman. But I had to face the nature of the threat I am dealing with. Of course your situation may be different. But in our case, I had to take an all or nothing stand.

As far as persuasion, such as showing him the article, in my experience, this did not work. They cannot be persuaded. Even by their own suffering, until they choose this.

It is hard to say this but we cannot act towards them as allies because they are not all there. The integrity, caring, empathy, responsibility that we molded in them, is in us, not them. For now. They will only use our best nature to manipulate. Not because they are bad. But because they are lost. That is why they need us to stand up. To remind them who and what they are.

Oh I have such empathy for you with respect to the dread and fear of repeating family of origin issues. Trauma. Conflict. Secrecy. Betrayal.

Unfortunately in my experience, you may be there already, but you are eating it, stifling it, denying it, with the hope it will disappear or be smoothed over

None of us wanted this. But nevertheless it showed up at our door. It will not go away without being dealt with.

Of course you feel weak and afraid. Who would not? But that is not who you are. You are your decisions and your acts. You are your love. Your responsibility.

That person is there. You see. We have to remember who we are, too.


Well-Known Member
One more thing about not wanting him to hit bottom, life wise. Only educationally.

This is very, very hard to write. But what does wanting have to do with anything?

My son speaks and writes 3 languages with absolute fluency. He speaks 3 more conversationally. He is self taught. He taught himself Portuguese in three weeks when he was 14. He traveled to a foreign country where he had never been at the same age with a group of adults to study a martial art. He is highly intelligent and articulate. He has the sweetest, most loving nature. Our relationship was only loving and sustaining for the both of us. He is gorgeously handsome.

The last thing (nearly) that I wanted is what came to be. Believe me. I tried everything I could to ensure that he fly right. When I finally cane to this forum almost 3 years ago I had forced him to enroll in classes at our community college. And I enrolled myself too so I could monitor him and do the homework with him! Yes. Am I embarrassed? Not so much as amused. I tell you this to let you know this did not come easy to me. I was not born smart.

And after I pushed and pulled and pressured, what came of it? He has been homeless off and on for 5 or 6 years. He believes all manner of conspiracy theories. He can look like the most destitute, wild and degraded of homeless people. All he has wanted or valued is his marijuana to escape and maintain his SSI. While he keeps his person clean, he is filthy in his habits. He believes his body is disfigured and his appearance repugnant. He will not let himself be seen without a hoodie. He has little hope of a relationship and none at all for his own family. He had absolutely no desire to get a job.

In a million years I would never have imagined his life (and mine) would have arrived to this place.

But the thing is this: do we ever have control over another person's life or destiny? Can our intentions or best efforts protect another person when their will is something other than we want?

I tried to control my son and to prevent his descent. I tried with all my might to steer him. It got worse. And worse still.

Until they want something. Or want to avoid something, anything we want for them is like spitting in the wind.

The only realistic choice we have is this: do we help them destroy themselves (and us) or not?

LBL said something very true: when we begin to take a stand and set limits, it gets worse. By standing up we can provoke them, or even push them to make worse choices.

I do not know how to explain this to you, but there came a time where I had to stand up, because I knew I had lost myself. Even still I doubt myself, because my son has not thrived. There is nothing about his life that looks successful or reflects to me I was a good mother. In fact, it is the reverse.

I question myself all the time. Did I cause this? If I had let him stay home, without treatment, without work, without conditions, could he have dug himself out of this, would he have? I do not know.

But I know in my heart as I type this, I could not have, would not have let myself go limp, become dead as a mother without answering back with word and deed.

Yes, there was conflict. He had contempt for me.

But I believe we have found in moments another kind of bottom. The depths of love, and responsibility. Some people tell me my son is extraordinarily kind. My son told me a couple days ago how much he respects that I fight for him and for what I know to be right.

He decided to work (again) with m, my SO, doing remodeling. Today he was up, ready, by the door when we got up. He knows he will have to do boring, hard work.

Why is he doing this? When he could be homeless, free, and unaccountable?

Because he knows now that homeless, free and unaccountable has its price too.

If I had kept on steering his life, standing in the way of consequences, tolerating mutely his one destructive act or another, I will never know what would have been the outcome for him, this is true.

But he knows his family has taken a stand for him, will support and stand by him, through thick and thin. He knows there are an infinite number of do overs if and only if he takes a stand for himself, and honors us. If I look at it this way it is not a half bad outcome.
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Well-Known Member
He doesn't care about his education, you do. That won't make him change his ways. Since he isn't interested in getting an education so that will never make him hit your rock bottom.

If he uses drugs what makes you think he is safe in your home? He goes out, drives impaired in your car and meets his dealers and dangerous friends. My daughter lived at home but went out and was assaulted in a park. We can't give them a safe haven if their friends are unsafe. it's impossible.

Also he can bring these dangerous criminals into your house when you are not home, you can be busted and it's in YOUR house! You are then involved in harboring illegsl behavior.

Keeping him home to save him will fail. We tried it. It's all about who they hang around with.

Nowhere is safe regarding drugs and other illegal activities. And it could get you and others who live with him into legal trouble.

As for you being a role model he will copy, I am sure by your post that he has watched you being kind all his life. But young men his age don't copy us, they copy their friends. If they don't have e good friends, it's not positive.

Good luck!
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Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Hi Bun,

SWOT and Copa have given you some great advice.

Here's my 2 cents.

We try not to provoke and engage him in anything and generally tip-toe around him.
This is a red flag!!! We as parents should never feel like we have to tip toe around our adult child who is living in our home. A line has been crossed here and his moodiness and temperament are dictating the tone for your home. You are slipping into enabling his behavior instead of holding him accountable.
My suggestion is you need to have strong boundaries in place for him to remain living in your home.

Keeps saying he wants to commit suicide but won't see a councillor- has never actually tried it. But can't seem to cope with life.
It's better to error on the side of caution here. When he makes that claim call 911 and tell them your son is suicidal, they will most likely have your son put on a 72 hour watch at the hospital.
Here's the thing, if he's serious he really needs to get into therapy. If he's saying it to just say it, he will stop if he knows you will call 911.
Either way, it sounds like he would benefit from therapy. If you are willing to pay for it, it can be a condition of him living in your home.

He gets money (from somewhere)?
My son would also get money from somewhere, somewhere in my purse, his dad's wallet, stealing things from our house to hock, etc........
Be very careful here. Kids today are really smart, make sure you keep your debit and credit cards in a safe place and monitor your accounts.

I wish you all the best!!

Let us know how things are going.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

Welcome! Sorry you had to find us but you need to be here!

I agree that you have gotten excellent advice from all here.

You can see by my signature that we have been at this for a long time with our son. He started at 15 and now he's 22. It's more difficult to be honest when they start as minors because then they really are children. Your son is an adult. My son is an adult also.

I would recommend finding a therapist that specializes in addiction. I preferred the one on one approach. She helped me set boundaries with our son - along with this forum and the wise people here. You have to be prepared to take action when your son does not follow the rules that you set for him.

You do not have to reinvent the wheel. There is a wheel in place but the spokes are different on all of our "wheels".

If you continue on with the way things are, I can pretty much guarantee you that NOTHING will change. Your son will not get better. I feel strongly that he is using more than weed based on your posts.

Our son is now in a long term faith based program and for the first time ever I am seeing him grow and change and SEE the way he was thinking and living for what it really is. We have fought hard for him and we will continue to do so but as many have said here and it is so true: love says no.

Good luck to you and keep posting and reading until you get the strength to make some changes in your home and your life.