Update on DS


Well-Known Member
Hello everyone! I hope that we are all staying safe and are well during these very challenging times.

I have not been here in a very long time and wanted to post an update (those who don't know my story can read my post history, it's very long and convoluted).

The last time I updated, my oldest stepson, DS, had been kicked out of a sober living halfway house due to flagrant violations of their rules. He moved in with us (his mother and myself) after that and the last I posted he was thankful for the reprieve, grateful to us, very active in his AA community and well behaved. He held down a part time job, obtained his high school diploma, and enrolled in community college.

Since then, things have remained largely okay; however, there are signs (to me) that the honeymoon is ending and DS' problem behaviors are potentially returning, as I knew they would; his issues are cyclical and it was only a matter of time before the boomerang turned once again. We are not at a crisis point yet, but I suspect that it is possible we may get there in time. Then again it's also possible that we can make the necessary adjustments, that DS will accept them, and that he will continue moving along what has been the most positive and productive path he has EVER walked, going back to when I first entered his life, when he was in middle school.

In January DS began his college classes. He was also gifted a used, but not inexpensive, car by family members, so that he could transport himself back and forth to school. We were concerned that a vehicle was too big a responsibility too soon but thus far it SEEMS to be going all right. We pay his insurance and he pays all other expenses related to the car.

When DS started school he dramatically cut back on his hours at work. His classes all end by noon and he is working two days per week at the most. So he has a lot of unstructured time on his hands - which is not a good thing for him. Added to this, there was some drama in his primary group of sober friends (not involving him) which resulted in a splintering of said friend group, so DS is not as socially active as he was over the summer and fall. He's still attending meetings, but not as many as before.

W has chosen to take a laissez-faire approach and assume that DS is doing everything he is supposed to be doing. But the truth is, we don't know. When he was in HS we could log into the school's app and see whether or not he was attending class or turning in his assignments. Now, he is an adult and we don't have any right to that information. The only way we will know is if he tells us and there is no way to know if he will be honest. Both W and I leave the house before DS, so while we ASSUME he is attending his classes - the truth is we really don't know.

DS has taken to staying up way past midnight every single night; when he first came to us his work schedule was such that he needed to go to bed by 10 or so. I think he needs a schedule; DS has always required structure and without it he has, in the past, gone off the rails given enough time. I am codependent and tend to be very controlling and to butt my nose into things that don't concern me directly. When DS moved in with us, I did some very serious reflecting and I decided (and still maintain) that the healthy thing for me to do is let W do the parenting and step in only if one of my bottom line boundaries, related to my safety or that of our pet/my possessions, is being trampled. Thus far none of that has happened, not even close.

But I did suggest to DS last night that he go to bed a bit earlier - he is obsessed with video games and plays them for hours on end, without a break, lately; this is another concern, as he used to go to meetings/out with friends during his evenings and now he's usually holed up alone playing video games. At any rate, he reacted poorly - first he told me no, that he would not go to bed at 11, and when I suggested his video game habit was becoming obsessive, he stormed away from his console and over his shoulder said, "I'll prove to you that I am not obsessed," and on his way to his room said sarcastically to W that her TV habit was worse than his gaming. He then closed himself off in his room.

For a few reasons I rarely sleep all the way through the night. I woke up at 1 AM and DS was back on his console gaming. I chose to let it go. He was still at it at 2 AM. By 3 AM he was back in his room, I assume asleep.

I can't completely fault him for his snotty and rude response to me as I did spring it on him suddenly; W probably needs to sit him down and tell him that we are imposing an 11PM curfew if that is what SHE thinks is best for her child, and I need to butt out if W doesn't agree with that. What concerns me more is DS's defensiveness and sneaky behavior around the gaming. Addiction is a behavior and the object of addiction can change; he is acting like an addict but instead of using substances, now he's gaming.

DS had a paper due this week. When he was high school aged, he would flat out refuse to do his work, insisting he shouldn't be subject to the same rules as other students because of his superior intellect. This led to him failing his entire junior year and ultimately dropping out of HS; when he came to live with us we decided to homeschool him to graduation which we did and to his credit, he did the work.

Now he is exhibiting the same behavior and making the same excuses about his college assignments. Which is not a surprise. I think W in particular believed that DS' legal trouble and short time behind bars transformed him completely; but as a more detached observer, I pretty much figured his lifelong patterns of behavior would re-emerge once he was settled and felt a bit safer. And it seems like this is now happening. The question is: a) how bad will it get and b) how will W and I respond.

This is what's happening at the moment. Again, I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy.


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This is a huge improvement. At this time last year, he didn't even see a need to finish high school. I'm afraid to ask if he turned in the paper on time. College just isn't something some kids take seriously. When I was that age, my dad was constantly telling me how lucky I was to be in college, and how he would have given his right arm if he could have gone to college, etc.


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Dear BBU

I would be concerned too. From my own experience, this is what has happened when I give my son safe harbor. He uses it to further poor habits. He sees my support as something to be milked, rather than something to use to get a step up to independence and autonomy. The idea of reciprocity, my son has not yet heard of. I am gradually seeing that I have no control how my adult son lives, but I do have control over boundaries.

I remember in the past how hard that was for you when you felt (rightfully and understandably to me) that you were being steamrolled and did not have voice in your own household, with respect to the two young men. And how that led to a crisis in your relationship. But I also remember the clarity you got about your own boundaries and what you needed to do for you.

I have nothing really to say or recommend beyond offering my understanding and support. I do think your instincts are correct, that this is not good in the long run for DS, nor in the short-run for you. But the thing is, DS is responsible for himself. That is what I have learned about my own son. And you are responsible for you. And you have demonstrated in the past, your ability to get clarity about your own needs, and to act on it.

Have you opened up a dialog with W about all of this? You've both been so great taking the risk to bring DS home, despite his history. Maybe there has developed even more elasticity and confidence to bring to bear on this new iteration. But bottom line, you know how to do this.

Take care.
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Well-Known Member
Do you or your wife ever attend AlAnon? I would think it would be a good resource for you, even by yourself. It has helped me the past 2+ years. Learning to let go of trying to control others... It's always a work in progress. Ksm


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It's been quite a while and I hope everyone is still doing well. This is the first time I have checked this board since I began this thread.

Copa, I really liked what you said about your son taking advantage of your support and using the respite you provide to continue indulging his selfish impulses. I think that's where we are with DS. He has been with us about nine months and the honeymoon is over. He has forgotten where he was when we took him in and he is now acting as though we, and everyone, owe him a royal standard of living.

DS is somebody who needs to live hard in order to stay on the right path of lawfulness and productiveness in society. By that I mean, he needs to work hard for his money and for his possessions, and he needs to be kept busy by something external like a job, with as little free and unstructured time as possible. Otherwise he becomes lazy and entitled.

He refuses to clean up after himself in the kitchen, for example, and when we brought this up to him his response was that we "should not look" at his mess if it bothered us. Typical self-centered, bratty behavior. Meanwhile, he has no expenses here other than gas for his car. We pay for everything - and while we can manage that in our budget, as you said Copa, this is not teaching DS the skills he needs to live independently as a productive and cooperative human being. And it's annoying as hell for me.

His new grandiose plan is to move out with friends in the fall. His work is still open but his hours have been cut to practically nothing, so he makes very little money.

Because his expenses are so low, he has some money in the bank.
He is too young and too arrogant to understand how quickly those savings will evaporate without a steady income. He thinks his meager savings will allow him to live like a king with several of his friends.

DS is someone who won't take no for an answer and won't listen to anyone so I don't try. I do hope he will follow through on his plans and move out sooner than later. I think the school of hard knocks is what he needs most of all. But we'll see what happens.

Adding to this is the fact that my W's health is declining. She is undergoing tests. It may be C. And if it is, it may be bad. I will try to keep updated as I can. It helps me to post here and help other families with my experience.


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

I think your DS needs to be humbled. That is what helped our son in the program he attended - his words. I am not sure how you can instill this in him.

You need to continually remind him that this is YOUR house and he is there as a guest to help him get on his feet to be on his own - which is what we tell our son when he gets entitled acting.

I think it's good he is moving out. I hope he can manage so that he can stay out. Maybe this will humble him...who knows.

Keep us posted on your wife's health. I found out yesterday that a man I worked with for many years who just retired (he's 58) was diagnosed with cancer and has literally weeks to live. I am not sure what his symptoms even were but I am still in shock. Life can be cruel at times.