UK Parent needing support


New Member
I came across this site by accident just a couple of days ago and the advice, kindness and support shown on here has helped me more than I can say.

I've never posted on a forum before and until now I just didn't realise that there were parents like me around. I can find no sites that are UK based that have the same support as this so if its okay, I'm going to use this because this is the first time in years I have not felt alone.

My son is 18 and over the last month has been in to hospital 3 times for self harm including stabbing himself, been arrested and now has been made homeless from the supported housing unit he is in.

Within the next few days he will be sleeping on the streets because he refuses to engage with any means of support he is given. He blames me for everything and no longer calls me mum but calls me by my first name (if he makes contact).

As a single parent, I think I blamed myself for so many of his problems because I was so strict - I just wanted to bring him up with a proper sense of right and wrong and now I feel that I have failed him completely. Since his final year of school, its been a battle. I wanted him to do well at school so he would have choices but he hasn't held down a job properly in two years.

He is still taking drugs, extremely confrontational, lies about everything and I know if I let him back he will take every bit of energy I have left... but im scared, he will be alone and on the streets. I feel like I have to choose between my life and his life. I miss the wonderful, funny and loving little boy I used to have and I fear he has gone forever.

He has been assessed by two mental health teams who say he has chronic low self esteem. I cut all contact with him to try and make him stand on his own two feet and the last thing he said to me was that he would seem me at his funeral if I could be bothered to turn up.

I'm so scared, it occupies every bit of my mind and has taken over my life, but he is my boy and I love him so much but I cant see a way forward for him once he is on the streets.

Thanks for reading x


Well-Known Member
Hi there and welcome. I see you haven't gotten responses yet so I decided to jump in. Honestly, our stories are all very similar when it is adult difficult children. If it's not substance abuse and how they changed once they started on drugs, they have personality disorders or mental illnesses which they refuse to treat. Either way they break our hearts and, yes, it does often come down to angsting over them or our own lives. Our lives can become very stressful if we let their issues overtake us. Because they are our children, we tend to do that, even though it doesn't change anything for their better and only makes us worse.

Most of us on this forum are trying different ways to learn how to detach from angsting over the choices of our grown children so that we can be good for our other loved ones who are loving toward us and for ourselves too. If you've never read the book, I'd read "Copependent No More" by Melody Beatty and I'd read it right away. I don't know what sort of twelve step groups you have in the UK, bu t you might try one. Others try our own private therapists or both. There have to be agencies in the UK that help friends and family of the mentally ill or drug addicted.

I don't know UK laws, but in the US parents can not do anything after somebody turns eighteen. Legally, they are on their own. And even if we drug addict or anyone with a mental illness can get help unless he or she wants it. No matter how much a loving family member worries about her relatives, even a child, nothing will change until the grown child decides he is tired of his life and wants to change. Therefore, most of us here have made a decision to live, even though our adult children may be struggling or mean to us or in dangerous situations that they refuse to leave. One thing I had to learn was that I have no control over anyone...nobody...except myself. I can't change my adult children, but I can decide how to react to their behavior. I don't have to throw money at bad behavior and I don't have to live with disrespect, even violence. I don't have to ruin every day of my life that my adult children decide not to get better. This has really helped the quality of my life and I think it has helped my two children who struggled as well. One used drugs and quit. The other has ups and downs and always will, but at least he is nicer to me than he used to be and is financially independent, not that he wouldn't love to con people out of money. And maybe he is, but it is not us anymore.

Others will come along. We have a beloved member from the UK and I hope she posts.


one day at a time
LMW, Hi and welcome. You're at the right place. Come join us.

I have two sons, as my signature says. One is 28 and has done it all like we would wish our children to do. He has a college degree and a Master's degree, and is engaged to a very nice young woman. He is kind and responsible and hard working.

My younger son is 25 and a drug addict, has been in jail 8 or 9 times over the past four years, and has been homeless five different times, this last time since June 26. He has depression and anxiety, and I believe he has had that since puberty. Today, he does take antidepressants (as far as I know) and they have helped him.

He refuses to accept that he is an alcoholic and a drug addict, and says he doesn't need 12 step or rehab or any type of recovery program. So he takes a couple of steps forward and then other steps back. You may have seen here my post about him being stabbed four weeks ago. Either by his homeless, bipolar, alcoholic (by her own admission) girlfriend who is 19 who he had known a month when this happened, or by himself. He works 32 hours a week at McDonald's right now, even while homeless. There is housing, but he doesn't want it because he doesn't want to live by their rules. He would rather be homeless. He has multiple misdemeanors and two felonies for selling drugs.

I do understand your feelings, everything you posted. Let me say this: how you brought him up---good or bad---did not cause this. And it is no reason or excuse for his behavior and actions. If he is depressed there is help. There is medication and therapy. In extreme cases, there is even more help. My sister in law, difficult child's aunt, has had shock treatments for her depression.

If the UK is similar to the US, there are halfway houses and shelters for temporary housing. There are day shelters and food pantries and food stamps and clothes closets and job assistance and free bus passes. In fact, you can be homeless and virtually get everything you need and more. One time I found in my son's backpack six pages of organizations and the help each one provides.

I know, though, that your mind is your worst enemy. Do your best to start working on yourself. You are the only person you can control. You can't control him. He's grown now. You did your job---imperfect as it was---as we all were in raising our kids. You did your best. You and he are separate people. You're not the same person. You have a right to live your own life, and so does he, no matter how much nonsense his life looks like. It's still his life.

I often visualize God walking alongside my son with his arm around my son's shoulders. They are walking away from me, down a long path into a woods. I stand and watch them walk further and further away. They are on my son's own journey, his life journey. It is not my journey. I don't get to go. I don't get to run around in front of them on the path and say, stop, let me come too. It's his journey. And I have mine.

Start the work to start thinking this way. As you work on yourself, you will start to find peace and joy and serenity and contentment, regardless of what your son does or does not do. I know this because four and a half years ago, I was right where you are. I was out of my mind with fear and grief and anger and hopelessness, all about my son.

Today, I have times of those same feelings, but I have many more good days. And his behavior is much worse.

You can do this too. You can do the hard work of change. Start assembling your toolbox, and start using the tools. We're here for you and we care very much.


New Member
Thank you both for your kind words an support. He has tried getting in touch again last night. I am just ignoring him because I know any sign of good will on my part will lead to him thinking that his behaviour is acceptable.

I live in a really small village where everyone knows everyone and I know that he will be sleeping rough here where everyone can see him. I know I should not care what others think but it is so hard when I feel so judged for my actions.

The thing is that nobody knows what it is like to live with someone like this. I think a lot of people see me as abandoning him (I feel like I have).

The other thing is - do they change? Is there anyway he will grow out of it? And at what point do I let him back in to my life.

Thank you again for your support


Well-Known Member
He may change. He has to want to change. He may not change. While you wait for the hoped-for change, you don't have to banish him from your life. Meeting once a week for coffee, as long as he stays civil, is something some do. I let my son call me (he lives states away) as long as he remains civil to me. If he doesn't, I hang up and he knows I will hang up if he gets angry or abusive toward me because we have discussed it. He pushed my boundaries at first; now he is USUALLY (not always) civil. He knows he can only talk to me if he is respectful, the way I am to him. I do not send money. I do not offer to allow him to live with me. I give emotional support only. In an adult/adult relationship, that is to me how it is supposed to be. Some of our adult children only come to us when they want something, like money. It is more a needy child relationship.

In my opinion, you are doing more harm to you son by coddling his horrible behavior than by detaching. Detaching doesn't mean abandoning. It means that you have decided not to enable his behavior in the hopes that by doing so, both of you will do better. He will have to grow up, at least a little bit, and accept the consequences of his actions...or decide he is sick of his lifestyle and change. Either way, he has to learn to depend on himself. He is not ten years old anymore. He is a man. People his age fight in war, are in college, work full time. Sometimes we keep seeing that ten year old boy, but he is not that ten year old boy anymore.When/If they decide they truly want help, we are there for them. That does not mean we throw money at them. That means we are there to support them with our love.

It would help to learn how to block out the reactions of others. Often our extremely disturbed adult children keep us "stuck" because we are embarassed and/or ashamed. But we are not trying to get a toddler to grow up. We are making normal demands of an adult. Most young adults eagerly move on and grow up. If they won't, is it being good to them to help them stay a child without consequences? Is it good to send them a message that we will put up with their abuse? Their criminality? I don't think so, but the answer for your situation is up to you.

Also, you have a life and other loved ones who care about you and often we get so tied up with our difficult children, who we can't change, that we put everyone else, including ourselves, on the backburner. Do you think that's fair for them and for you?

If somebody has not walked in your shoes, they are clueless. This is your walk to take. Nobody else has been through your experience. All of us have received criticism. When I made my son leave, the friend's mother whom he stayed with called me to yell at me about being a horrible parent. Three weeks later, she threw him out and hmmmmmmmm I didn't get an apology for his harsh words.

These "others" simply don't get it. If they haed to live with your son, they would get it.

Hugs and hoping you can find some serenity in your day.
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Active Member
Your story sounds so similar to mine!!! I have to tell you about my first 'visit' to an online forum. I posted my sad tale and a member posted back, 'face reality you have a loser for a son, deal with it'.

OMG!! I was already out of my mind and THAT was the last thing I needed lol!!!! I stayed away from online forums for 10+ years! It is also really hard to find a good, supportive counselor or in person group too.

BUT, I can honestly say this is one of THE BEST group of people I have found. There are a good deal of books and info on the Net that are a great help.

The biggest lesson I learned is you can't make them get help and you can't do it for them. The guilt is also hard to over come. As a single parent with a dead beat dad in the picture I was easily manipulated.

It's very hard, I would never have dreamed I would be living this life, and yet, here it is and it's a person I love dearly.

Find some hobbies and take care of you! Posting does help.


Well-Known Member

I'm so sorry that you are going through this. Welcome to our group and I hope that you join in our conversations and feel less alone. I live in a small village in Wales and I understand what you mean about how everyone knows your business etc. I really couldn't care less what other people think. Most families have some sadness or stress, and often what appears to be the 'perfect family' from the outside is actually not. So firstly I would say to try and not care about people who don't matter. You matter and your son matters. That's all.

My son has been homeless through choice and now lives in a squatting community on a derelict farm. He cannot deal with society at all and rebels against any authority. He would not seek any help for anything because he despises most people and most organisations. When he comes to visit I am sure that other people in the village are shocked and confused about who this scruffy, filthy, strange-looking hippy is in my house. Who cares. He's my son.

I have tried in the past, for years, to 'help', to step in and solve his problems, to pay for things, to try and get him on the straight and narrow. I just made him worse and made myself ill. I now just completely accept him as he is. I let him get on with it and I get on with my own life. Our relationship is much better for this and I am a lot happier. I am still sad sometimes at the state he is in, but it's his choice and his life and I accept this. I love him unconditionally, without trying to change him or turn him into the man that I wanted him to become.

Try to take some small steps towards reclaiming your life. Know that it is not your fault. Know that it is not in your power to change him. Know that we are all here to listen and to support you. I looked for some suitable support groups in the UK for me, but, apart from talking to The Samaritans or similar groups, there was nothing which appealed to me. This online support group has changed the way I see things and given me so much advice and optimism from people who understand what it's like to deal with the sorrow and worry that can be caused by our children.

Keep posting and talking to us.
Sending hugs.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome LMW. I'm glad you found us.

Your story is familiar to us. Most of us are dealing with an adult child who has for one reason or another gone off the rails. There is nothing more you can do once he is an adult. If they change at all, it is often when we stop enabling them. The criteria for gaining entry back in to our lives is when they begin taking responsibility for their choices, when they respect us, when they learn that their behavior has consequences and they now know what they are and that you will impose them, that they respect your boundaries and honor your wishes. Their behavior alone determines the outcome.

You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. You may want to read the book, Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie. Both are excellent resources for us parents. For many of us support for US becomes may consider going to a 12 step group or something similar in your country, like Al Anon, or Narc anon, or CoDa or Families Anonymous, a place where you can go for support, guidance, empathy and understanding. Private therapy, parent support groups, whatever you can find that will support YOU.

Those who judge us have not walked in our shoes. I have found that often WE are the cruelest judgers of ourselves because of our own expectations of ourselves as parents and thinking we must have failed when our kids are troubled, it MUST have been something we did or didn't do. Well, I have learned that sometimes, with our best and most heroic efforts, some kids just fail to launch, or get involved with drugs or alcohol, or have a mental disorder or all of the above.............. and at some point we have to admit to ourselves that there is no more we can do to save them, they have to save themselves. We never stop loving them or wanting what is best for them or even offering a hand if we see that they have developed the willingness to change. However, they must develop that willingness, we can't do that for them.

I am sorry you are in so much pain. I was in that place a mere three years ago with my adult daughter. No matter how old they are, if they are lost, it is a heartbreak for us and we suffer the agonies of the damned trying to save them. But we can't save them. We are powerless to enact change in another human being no matter who they are. That powerlessness, that lack of control is a devastating blow to us, and very hard to take in and adjust to, but it is the truth. Once we begin to accept that truth, OUR lives get considerably better. The situation with our kids may or may not change, but we change and we get healthier and we get happier. I can attest to that because I've gone through that and come out the other side of one being more surprised then me, believe me...........but it can be done, even with the person you love the very most in the world. Detaching and ultimately acceptance of what is, are the ways to peace.

You are doing the right thing in my opinion in distancing yourself from him for now. He is NOT the funny and loving little boy he once was, he is an adult in the eyes of the law, he is a man, he is responsible for his choices and his behavior.......not you. Blaming you is the usual tactic our kids take when we begin to say no and set boundaries, it plays on our guilt and they know it and use it as a device to get us to go back to taking care of them. You are wise not to fall for it.

You sound as if you are coming out of the FOG of untruths our kids weave around us. This is good. Get yourself some real support for YOU. Keep posting it helps. Be kind to yourself and put the focus on yourself now.

If you can, please put a signature at the bottom of your post as you see we all have. You can do that by going up to your screen name in the upper right hand corner of this thread, clicking on it, scroll down, find signature, write one and remember to save it. That helps us to remember your story so we can respond appropriately.

I'm glad you're here. I hope you can find some peace in the coming days. Put your needs first now, take very good care of YOU.


one day at a time
I live in a really small village where everyone knows everyone and I know that he will be sleeping rough here where everyone can see him. I know I should not care what others think but it is so hard when I feel so judged for my actions.

LMW, I understand the shame and the embarrassment. For a long time, I isolated myself from some of my old friends, once all of this started. I live in a suburban town of 110,000 25 miles from a large Southern city in the U.S. Because of my business, I am very visible here, and I've lived here for 20 years. My son is homeless here. He walks around the downtown area, sleeps outside on the City Square at times, hangs out at the downtown McDonald's, gets a night here or there in the crummy motels around. He is now working at another McDonald's. He wears a backpack as most of our homeless people do, so he's easily identifiable.

I am now working to move myself---in my own head---out of the ditch of isolation. I can't do one thing about this. It is what it is. If people don't understand, I can't do anything about that either. This whole thing, LMW, is one incredible exercise in realizing I have no control over people, places and things. That is the biggest lesson I am still learning---a very good lesson---from the events of the past four or five years. Sometimes it seems like forever, since all of this horror began.

The thing is that nobody knows what it is like to live with someone like this. I think a lot of people see me as abandoning him (I feel like I have).

Well, actually, many people do understand this---we just don't talk about it. I am also realizing this, as the months and years go by, and we lose more young people to the disease of addiction and mental illness. Just within the past two weeks, a young man from a well-known family here committed suicide. He was 24. He was active in church, and everybody loved him. I don't know what his drug or alcohol history was, but there has been an outpouring of compassion for the family. Mental illness is everywhere, and it is much more prevalent than we realize. We are ashamed, so we don't talk about it. The more we are willing to take the step of talking about this, the more the veil of shame will be lifted. Mental illness, including addiction, is a disease. It is not something you did or didn't do when your son was growing up. It is completely out of your realm of control.

The other thing is - do they change? Is there anyway he will grow out of it? And at what point do I let him back in to my life.

Ah. This is the $64,000 question, isn't it? How long will this go on? I think back to the Christmas a few years ago when difficult child and easy child and myself and difficult child's girlfriend at the time went to Oklahoma to my family's house for Christmas. This was before all of the true horror began, but difficult child was using drugs and alcohol at the time, and I didn't realize the depth. One night, while we were there, difficult child got drunk and caused quite a scene at my sister's house, where he was staying. He was awful. I was staying at my parents' house and when I got up the next morning, I found that they all had been up all night trying to deal with him. It was that day that I realized that something was terribly, terribly wrong. We left a day early and drove the 12 hours in silence to get back home. When we arrived, my easy child son, who was in college in a town five hours away, said this: Mom, do you want me to drop out of school and help you deal with difficult child? I said, very sadly, to him: Honey, you go back to school and live your own life. This isn't yours to solve. This is going to go on for a very long time. We will just have to take it as it comes.

How could i have known what was ahead? I couldn't, and I am profoundly thankful. It would have been too hard to even contemplate, all of the days and nights and arrests and outbursts and throwing him out and drunkenness and being high and trying to get him help and nothing working and living with him in jail, over and over and over again, and visiting him there, and hiring lawyers and bailing him out, and thinking, this time, this time, and getting him into multiple rehabs, and the suicide threats and calling 911 and seeing him arrested in front of me...I can go on forever.

We just don't know the future. I hope and pray your son will not go down and down and down. I do know this: You can either go down with him, or you can find a way to live with reality, whatever it is. And that takes a lot of work. Please seek help for yourself like others have suggested. You need it, even if he turns around tomorrow.

We are here for you. We are one of those places of help. We get it, and we care.


New Member
Hi, thanks to all who have replied to my post. Your support means so much and has given me the strength to deal with my son over the last few days. He keeps trying to get in touch, but I am too scared to talk to him. The supported housing unit he lives gave him notice and he leaves tomorrow. They offered to help him with finding alternate housing but has refused.

I know if I start having conversations with him now, he will start to depend on me and therefore not take responsibility for himself. Its not that I don't want to talk to him but he doesn't seem to understand that he cannot come back and live in my house. The next couple of days are going to be the hardest because its a complete unknown to me.

The thought of him being alone terrifies me, but I do believe that this is the only thing that might change his attitude. I am slowly coming to terms with this and the grief has at times been over-whelming. The thing I am learning to do is to stop blaming myself as I think I have taught him to do the same. He has so much anger and rage at the world, but I will not give up hope that my bright beautiful boy is still in there somewhere.

Again, thank you all so much. Having found this site has really felt like a gift from whoever is watching over me.