Verbally abusive bullying adult son


Sending good vibes...
I'm fairly new to this forum and I'm not quite sure how to begin a new concern. I have two adult sons, 26 and 30 who both live in their cars for the most part. My 30 yr. old is really pushing back hard and basically is a bully towards me. Not physically but verbally and emotionally. I've been working on my enabling problems and have warned him since the beginning of May that I would not be paying for his gas anymore. He just worked for the first time approx. 8 hrs. over the weekend and I told him I'll gas him up today but going forward he's on his own and can use the money from his 8 hr. job to pay for his gas and then he'll have to figure it out from there. I have been able "somewhat" to stop giving out food $ but he refuses to go to food pantries to get food or local churches for help and constantly texts me that he's starving. Today before I went to lunch for my yoga class I told him no more gas $. When I got out of Yoga there were 26 text messages telling me the war is on and calling me all the usual horrible names. I keep asking God to give me the strength to deal with all of this but stopping the enabling is not a one time deal. Those you are making the changes with will push back hard and I mean really hard to get what they want. I'm just looking for some words of support or encourage to get me through his hurdle.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
If you read Leafy's post under the Title "Homeless" I think it will help you.


Well-Known Member
As hard as it was, I have blocked Kay from texting or calling me during times when we were still giving her money and cars and even a house. She doesn't bother us anymore now that we quit giving. I guess we were only necessary for money.

If you really quit enabling them you may never hear from them again, and you do grieve this, even the abuse, but slowly it starts to feel better. Your head clears. You are left with the sadness of what could have been, but you CAN move on through this. I recommend stopping. We almost blew all our retirement on an ungrateful hateful daughter because we love her.


Well-Known Member

This is abuse:
he refuses to go to food pantries to get food or local churches for help and constantly texts me that he's starving.
the usual horrible names.
I agree with Busy:
You need to block them both. For your health.
They can learn self-control. They won't learn self-control unless they have to.

You can do this. If you don't know how to block a number, we will help you. If I can do it, you can. My own son learned to curb his behaviors when I refused to speak to him if he continued. When I followed through, he stopped.

I have been here four years. I'm better, but a work in progress.

Many of us have decided to go no contact with our adult children, on a temporary basis, when they could not or would not respect appropriate boundaries.

Take care.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Nobody I mean nobody deserves to be bullied. This is abuse. Manipulation. It is horrible!
Sometimes we get used to being treated or mistreated a certain way. Or, it is just easier to give in, than to stand up. Because when we give in, it stops, well at least until the next need or want. Verbal and emotional abuse is just as evil as physical abuse, just as hurtful.
The key word for most of us with wayward children is “adult”. At 26 and 30, your sons are adults. My two are 30 and 38. On the streets. I hate it, but it is their choice. I understand the need to help out adult kids at times, but will not help someone who won’t help themselves, or are abusive.
My two daughters went through a phase of blaming me outright for everything that went wrong in their lives. I fell into the guilt trap and reeled those tapes over and again.Then, I realized I made mistakes but did the best job I could parenting them. The rest was up to them. They can’t deny their poor choices and put it on me, I won’t stand for that anymore.
When it was obvious that they weren’t making changes, I did. I had to, to survive.
Our kids know right where to “poke” us to get the response they want. We become enveloped in what is called fog, fear, obligation and guilt. That keeps us in their game, desperate for them to change, for answers, relief from the grief of their circumstances.
But, we have absolutely no control over their choices.
None of us imagined our kids growing up, failing to launch into adulthood, having attitudes of entitlement. But, here we are. It is a hard pill to swallow to see our kids living in cars, or parks. My two are able bodied and could work, but their
choice is to smoke meth, and be homeless.
I didn’t give up on them, I gave up on the notion that I could rescue them.
JPG, you don’t deserve the bullying and threats from anyone least of all your own grownup child.
Keep heading in the direction of letting your sons learn to fend for themselves. They will not like it and will try their darndest to keep you funding them. Love says no. I had to learn that, hard as it is. No, I won’t give you money, no you can’t live with me. When we make things easier we are not helping them. There will come a day when we are not on this earth. Our adult kids need to test their own wings and learn self reliance. They are capable.
I figure I am not getting any younger, the stress and worry of all these years has worn me down, but I am fighting to try to live the best rest of my life. I am hoping that leading by example, taking care of myself will help them to see the importance of self love, taking good care of their own health.
JPG you are not the only parent who has tried just about everything under the sun to make things right for your kids. We have all gone out on limbs for our beloveds. Even when they turned on us at times. Eventually, we learned to stop, take a deep breath, and put our feet down set healthy boundaries. Learning to come out of the fog and steady ourselves, breathe fresh air and find new ways of reacting is hard work, but we are worth it. You are worth it. Keep posting and let us know how you are doing. You have come to a place where folks understand the pain of it. We are not experts, just parents who have been there, done that and then some. We are all on a tough journey at different points along the path. Keep strengthening yourself and building your toolbox, posting, reading, meditating, exercising, anything that helps lift you up.
Take good care of yourself!


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Leafy we could repost this to everyone on here that comes with problems as your post says it all like no one else can!! Thank you.


Well-Known Member
Amen Leafy. Thank you. You pretty much said it all, and it helps to hear it again.
Busymember, we too spent too much money on our oldest son, Josh, that should have gone into retirement savings. We put ourselves at a disadvantage and are now scrambling to try to get as much saved in the next year or two as we can before my husband retires.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Welcome @JPG

I'm glad you found us here but sorry you had to.

Both of your sons are too old for you to be helping them out with gas money or food. The fact that your son is now bullying you means that you are serious about stopping the enabling. Good for you!!!

Enabling may make us feel better at the moment because we rationalize it; they are not starving, they are in a safe warm place, etc......
Enabling does no good for them or us. While it may help us both feel better for the moment, it does not address the real problem and that is they are adults and should be taking care of themselves.

It's very typical behavior for an adult child to ramp things up with hate filled speak when a parent cuts them off.

Your sons living in their cars is of their own making and if they want things to change then they will need to want it bad enough. You have made things easy for them so there has been no need for them to want to do anything but sponge off of you.

You have started setting some boundaries and that is great. Now, you need to stick to it. Something that has helped not only me but others here, is to have some standard responses at the ready. It's like having a script.
Son: Mom, you need to give me gas money or I'll lose my job.
Mom: I'm not able to help you.
Son: What do you mean, you've always given me money when I ask!!
Mom: I'm not able to help you.
Son: If I lose my job it will be your fault!!
Mom: I'm not able to help you.
Son: You B****!!! I hate you!!! I'm going to starve to death!!!
Mom: I love you, but I'm not able to help you. I have to go now. I love you, bye.

The key to using standard answers and sticking to them is so that we do not allow ourselves to get sucked into a debate. Always remember, you do not owe your sons an explanation for your choice of no longer giving them money.

Let us know how things are going. Glad you are here with us.


New Leaf

Well-Known Member
While we were trying to “help” my two, housing them, grandkids in the mix, my hubs fought severe illness. They continued to use drugs, and use us. I think back to those years and am astonished at the stuff we put up with, all the while still raising our youngest two. That point is driven home listening to them speak about those times, and how they are realizing now that their lives were far removed from normal because of their elder siblings choices and lifestyles, the drama and chaos surrounded us like a dark cloud.
Lost in their drug haze, it doesn’t seem to phase them. It is as if the natural tendency of love and affection for family, parents, empathy, fellow feeling is switched off. This puts us in a vulnerable situation because we love them and want the best for them. My Tornado knows how to tug and pull at my heart strings until I start second guessing myself.
It’s a hard road we travel.
I had to start borrowing strength from others, like my Dad, who wouldn’t have put up with any of it. I went and found a therapist who looked me straight in the eye and called me an enabler. Gulp. I was mad. But it was true.
All of those years, living with the chaos and drama. My two continued to spiral downward and took us for the ride. Even as their father grew more ill and eventually passed, that didn’t stop the madness of it all.
Our kids grow up and make choices. When those choices infiltrate your peace, your heart, your livelihood with darkness and despair, it takes a lot of our own self examination to pull up and out of that darkness and come back to the light. I am fortunate to have my two youngest to help keep me sane. My Hoku says “Mom we can’t keep doing the same things and hoping for different results.”
The kind folks here have helped me walk this journey and lift myself up, along with lots and lots of prayer.
I looked up one day just plain exhausted and gave my two back to God. I said “Lord please help them, it is way too much for me to handle, and please help me get through this.”
I realized there is no amount of money, home life or precious time I could give that would change my twos direction in life. They will do as they choose. I love them with all of my heart but will not let them take advantage of that love, manipulate, or mistreat me.
It’s not to say that I don’t fall in to the rabbit hole every so often, I do. I think that this will be a lifelong work for me, keeping my armor intact, guarding my heart and striving to live my best life. I have to remind myself that as long as my two are living as they do, I am a target for them. Like a con artists mark. They know all the right tricks to send me into the swirly whirly, because there, dazed hurt and confused, it is hard to make the right decisions, to say no.
My Tornado calls me constantly when she is in jail. She has begged to come home, saying she needed my unconditional love. It hurt to tell her no, but it was the right thing to do. She needs rehab. I started to think that maybe I could have her here for a day or two, as she waited for space to open up in rehab. She as much told me that if she was let out to the streets, she would end up using again. Then, she said she found a sober living home. That lasted a day. She’s been out for a few weeks now and I haven’t heard anything from her. She is off on a bender.
The old Leafy would have blamed herself, blamed my decision to keep my home a safe haven, Reality check. Would have been more of the same old.
Maya Angelou wrote “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” My two have showed me over and again that for now, they are lost in a meth world and will do anything to get their next high. Not that I have given up hope for them, I haven’t. I just know that as long as they are using-any money, housing, food I give them only helps them to stay as is. They need far more help than I can give them. It is up to them to decide the heavy price they pay, is not worth it.
With that said, I have my work cut out for me. That is despite how their choices pain me, I can’t let that fester into an infection that ruins my life. I have to snap myself back from the despair of it all and one day at a time build myself up. Sometimes it’s one breath at a time.
You can do this JPG, we all can do this. I firmly believe that by standing up and not allowing our adult kids to use us, blame us, put their bad decisions on us, we are helping them look in the mirror and take responsibility for their own choices.
That is a gift, to allow someone to come into their own. That’s what life is all about, finding our true selves through all of the ups and downs and sideways. Learning from mistakes. Reaching for the stars, setting goals and figuring out our own potential.
It’s time.
For all of us.
Our wayward adult kids included.
Have a blessed day all.


Well-Known Member
I'm so sorry. We will not speak with our daughter if she is verbally abusive.
We will block the phone...for a period of time..
We have cut her off for periods of time in the past.
Knock on wood and crossing myself, this has been effective.
She avoids verbally abusing us now. It's NOT tolerated. Occasionally, she will use the "f" word...not at us...but peppered in her conversation. We will warn her that we don't care for it. It usually, just escalates from there. If she doesn't stop it immediately, we get off the phone. She gets the message and stops.
Additionally, our daughter gets a food allowance. If it seems warranted, we will give her extra. If she pushes her luck...she is cut off. She can and will abuse us when it comes to money for food and for going out, etc. If she eats all her food money allotment, and doesn't have a very good reason why, she doesn't get extra from us and she has gone to food banks before. She has accepted the fact that if she is at a food bank it is because she has messed up royally. I hope and pray it teaches her to do better in the future. Not to eat a several days of food in one day. She is slow to pick up on things like that. However, if we didn't pull back when she messes up, she wouldn't learn at all...there would be no hope for improvement at all. Boundaries are key.
Thank goodness for these food banks and churches that supply food for the homeless and / or mentally ill.


Sending good vibes...
So I didn't do well yesterday evening. My son called me up and started yelling at me again to get him gas. He was on empty. I met him at the gas station put my card in and gassed him up without speaking a word to him and left. All the while saying to myself, "why can't I be stronger?".

I have since read everyone responses and truly feel so blessed to be surrounded by people who understand explicitly how hard this is to stop "enabling" and care enough to take the time to reply to me with words of strength. I am blocking him again and praying I will not unblock him when I know just about when he'll be running out of gas again. He will blame me for not being able to find a job and get to work and tell me how this isn't "helping" him. The same stuff I hear all the time.

I have been able to stop giving him money for food. Gas is the next challenge and then his phone minutes I refill each month because, of course, how will he get a job if he can't communicate? You see, I'm a real mess and I know it. I am in therapy because all of this has drained me financial and sucked the life out of me. It is only by God's grace I get through every day which I usually wake up fearing because I don't know what the two sons will demand. The younger son, 26 yrs. old hasn't been bothering me lately because I'm sure he's getting money from his father (another enabler).

Thank you all again.


Well-Known Member
I don't know what led to their homelessness. Unless there is severe untreated mental illness, they will eventually learn that they can't buy gas without getting a full time job. Do they have any job skills, education, etc.? If not, they have to start at the bottom.


Well-Known Member
Im learning that we cant help them. Money doesn't help. Buying someone anything doesn't help. The only person who can help somebody else is the person who needs the help.

We bought our daughter everything, spending most of our retirement, hoping to jump start her and her lazy husband. Actually she is also lazy and both have been chronic, daily pot smokers for twenty years. When we finally stopped the giving help, she had burned through one house, one mobile home, several rentals that they were supposed to help pay for but always ended up behind on, two cars and infinite amounts of household items, especially after my grandson was born.

We don't see any growth in our Kay or her husband Lee. Lee works at jobs then quits or gets fired and his parents often help now because we are tapped out. Plus we don't want to "help" anymore. Kay is a lazy mother and poor housekeeper who wont work. I used to clean her places because the mess drove me nuts but I wont do that anymore. So the house is a mess. Our "help" did not help. They have not grown up at all and I worry about my grandson.

Our handouts and help "getting on my feet" (how often did I hear that one?) became higher expectations of money and toys from us, no effort by them, verbal abuse and no growth. My husband and I shouldn't feel guilty, but we feel very guilty!!

It is scary to know my daughter and her husband are still as lazy and as unmotivated as they were ten years ago.

Gas. Dont do it please. Your son can ride a bike, take a bus or walk. I fell for that "We need a car or Lee wont be able to get to work" sham. So he drove to work when he didn't need to because a lot of his jobs were on the bus line or within biking distance. And of course they always needed gas!

Our kids need to grow up or do life the hard way. I never wanted my kids to have it tough. My husband makes a great living. So we eagerly shared and it was not good. Giving too much is not good


Sending good vibes...
Well, up until about a 1 1/2 ago I had been married for 30 years to an alcoholic. Aside from that grave difficulty, we could never get our sons to work consistently. Always, PT jobs and barely at that. They both had issues with drugs and preferred to not work and play video games for the most part. We had a lot of "trouble" with both of them and when I divorced I never wanted to be trapped in my home with either of them again and their verbal abuse. Let's just say, the police were at our house more often than not for one thing or another. They were "good" when getting money from us and nobody pushed them to "work" but when we'd prodded them to get work etc. it wasn't pretty. So this pattern has been pretty long standing. The one boundary I have kept and sad to say is not allowing either one of them come to my place. It is off limits for my protection. It breaks my heart but the relationship I have with both of them is one sided. One of my sons has anxiety and ADHD and although the older son, never diagnosed definately has anxiety issues. My younger son, actually at one point joined the Marine Corp. and graduated. He did not "serve" but was a graduate and then got discharged for medical issues (issues he sufferred to his knee while there). To this day I don't know what happened but I do believe he had issues even before the Marine Corp. Because of a Medical Discharge he gets no benefits. My older son besides the anxiety I feel just feels entitled. All his life he said other parents did this and that for their kids and he's still using that same line.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
I'm glad to hear you are getting therapy for yourself. I know it's easier said than done but please do not be hard on yourself. As I said in my earlier post, you did not cause them to be this way. They are adult men who would rather suck the life force out of their own mother.
I only have one child, my son, who has lived a homeless, wandering life for many years. He's 37. Trust me when I say my husband and I have gone above and beyond to try and help him. All it accomplished was giving me more gray hairs, sleepless nights and way to much money out of our bank account.
I, like many others here were once at a place of complete and utter despair, completely drained of energy and emotion. There is life on the other side of this for you. I have detached from my son and I live my life to the very fullest. I am happy. I do not worry about my son anymore. He is living his life the way he wants to and that's okay. I don't like it but it's not my choice.
Now is the time for you to be very good to yourself. You posted about Yoga and that is great! Keep doing that and find other things that bring you joy. What is something you used to do that you would like to do again? It's not only okay for you to live your life for yourself but it's healthy.
Stay with us here and draw on the strength of all the warrior parents here.


Well-Known Member
My son called me up and started yelling at me again to get him gas. He was on empty. I met him at the gas station put my card in and gassed him up without speaking a word to him and left.
He will blame me for not being able to find a job and get to work and tell me how this isn't "helping" him.
In the main he does not "blame" you. This is fundamentally a behavior that seems to work for him (short-term.)That is why our kids step it up when we begin to set limits. It worked before, they think, let me step it up. Their fury grows when it no longer "works" so good. This is what they call instrumental. Like a tool. I think of it as a lock and key.

If you think of it that way, you can decide to not be the lock, on which his "key" works. It takes a little bit of trial and error, but you will find a way, to change the code. Like those new fangled deadbolts where you only change the code. Maybe that's a better metaphor. He will no longer have your "code" when you change.

You know that his being on empty has not a thing to do with you. It is only that you have consented to be the lock to his key. To respond to his abuse, by forking up money. This has worked for him. Your job now is to change locks. You empower yourself by this, and potentially, you empower him, to find better solutions to his empty gas tank. If need be he will have to give up the car. That is what the rest of us have to do when we cannot afford something, we give it up. Or we find a way to pay.
I refill each month because, of course, how will he get a job if he can't communicate?
His getting a job has not a thing in the world to do with what you do, or do not do. If anything, as long as you support the status quo, this works against his working or doing any other thing to help himself. You sustain the status quo by giving into his punishment of you. You sustain it for you, and for him. The ONLY way we learn in life is to experience the consequences of our action or inaction. Right now the set up is that YOU experience the noxious consequences of his poor decisions and poor behavior. This is what has to change. It will.

The reason we understand this, is because we do it too. Some of us have stopped. Many of us cannot yet stop, altogether. But more and more we understand the dance.
You see, I'm a real mess and I know it.
No you are not. This does not help, this self-attack. All of this is a behavior. You have gotten caught up because you did not know what else to do. And this is subtle. You, like the rest of us, got caught up in something before you fully understood it. There was every reason to expect that a helping hand would work, that he would respond with good will and find responsibility and motivation. There was no reason to think otherwise. At first. Now, you know better. A helping hand does not help our kids. You know that now.

As your information grows, so will your repertoire of tools. You can do this. You are doing it!
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Well-Known Member
His decision to NOT go to food pantries is his decision to make. Not yours. But having made that decision, he is the one that bears the brunt of it. Not you.

My son is homeless. He decided to no longer ask me for money, not me. Often he is without money for food at the 10th day of the month. I don't know how he feeds himself, but he does.

The mistake we make (I am raising my hand here) is that we insert ourselves in their lives. Like somehow we have something to do with their being without money or food.. Or we have some responsibility that they don't want to work, to make them work. Or we have some responsibility that they go to college. Or get services. That we have a right to take responsibility to motivate them. This is where the problems come from. We are not part of their solutions. We are obstacles. Yes. That.

We don't have that responsibility or that right to insert ourselves in their lives. When we do, we confound ugly situations and make them worse. (Now I am carving out a big exception for myself here, because my son has an illness. And he requires treatment. I know I don't have either the right or responsibility to make him get treatment, but I forgive myself that I try.)

If we get out of their business, we are no longer responsible. But this is tough. Because there is a lot of grief and fear and guilt involved. This is what we call here, FOG.

Your son has bought into this too, the self-deception that you are responsible for him (big time), that Mama is responsible to feed him, move him, sustain him. NO. But in the main this is NOT the problem, what he thinks or does not think. IS NOT THE PROBLEM.

The issue here is what YOU think. These are adult men. They are responsible. For what they think. And what they do. It has not one thing to do with you. Or me. There needs to be some degree of outrage here. I am hearing the F word in my head, or maybe the H word, followed by "NO."
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