What do I do now? Son problems!

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Glinda, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. Glinda

    Glinda New Member

    It's been seven days since I gave my 19 yr old 5 minutes to pack and get out of my house. He started acting out the end of his junior yr in high school. Running away and constantly getting in trouble in school his senior year. Gave no and showed no respect for anyone including himself. It has just gotten worse. He got a DUI in January and almost killed his three best friends. Thankfully everyone ended up ok in the end. He was arrested again last weekend and spent Friday night in jail for underage drinking and fighting. He was ignorant and disrespectful to the police who are our family friends that he grew up with. Then he didn't even tell me I had to hear about it when I ran into one of the cops and he asked me if my son told me what happened. I don't know if he has a drinking problem, I only know him to drink on weekends and only when he can come up with money for it. He has pretended to try and get a job since last June. I've tried everything from grounding to taking things away, to bribing and taking him to a therapist that he refused to talk to. We've gotten into fist fights and he has gotten very nasty. I have a daughter in college a year older that is the totally opposite of him and always has been. I also have two step children that are both older than him. I've raised all four the same. I know this is partly my fault for always giving in and I admit I do everything for all of my kids. I just don't understand what I did wrong with him. The other three are all in college and work. Now I'm so worried about where he is and what he's doing I'm not sleeping and I get so upset I make myself sick. My heart is telling me to just go find him and bring him home but my mind is telling me he needs to grow up and hit rock bottom so he will realize he needs a real productive life. I don't know what to do or how to act or how or if I can help him. I'm just looking for any advise anyone can offer, I'm lost.....
  2. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi! This is not my difficult child parenting area but I have family of origin experience.

    We were told in counseling that a drinking problem is when the drinking is causing problems. Overly simplistic I realize, but you get the point.

    Others here will have advice but I wanted you to know I read your post and am willing to listen. It is very very scary I'm sure.

    Welcome hugs, buddy
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Is he willing to change or get help and work, at least at home, if he comes home? Or quit drinking? Does seem he may have an alcohol problem. Anyone on the family tree have a problem with substance abuse? The sensitivity or predisposition to addiction can be inherited, however, even if it is, it is up to the person himself to quit. Only your son can do that.
    Have you ever gone to an Al-Anon meeting?
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Glinda, I'm sorry you're going through this tough time with your son. You may indeed have enabled your son, however, at some point, his choices are his own and you cannot assume responsibility for him. My advice is for you to seek help for yourself, either in 12 step groups for parents or relatives, therapy, parent groups, whatever you can find so you can learn the tools you need to detach and accept. You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post.

    If you were to bring your son home, in my opinion, he would need to abide by all of your rules and boundaries in order to do so. You would have to map those out VERY clearly and have absolute consequences should he break those rules or not abide by your boundaries. You may have already attempted to do that and he refused to obey your rules. If so, bringing him home may not be the best solution at this point. You could talk to him and map out a strategy along those lines, but you will need help yourself so that you do not enable him and give in to his bad behavior.

    Your guilt about your sons behavior is something you have to let go of, you did what you did, you did your best at the time, if you had known how to do it better, you certainly would have. In addition to making you feel awful and responsible for his actions, guilt will keep you stuck in enabling him. That's why I believe YOU getting help for YOU is part of the solution. Otherwise, you roll around giving in, feeling guilty, giving in, feeling guilty, etc., it's a hamster wheel you can't get out of. It's crazy-making. If you get professional help, or you're in a group where you hear other parents discuss how they handled their challenging kids, you begin to see how setting boundaries, getting clear on what it is you are willing to do and what it is you are NOT willing to do, and how you respond to each scenario is really all YOU can do. We have limited power over the choices of other people's lives, including our children. You didn't cause this, you can't control it, you can't change it and you have no power over it. The only power you have is how you respond to it. So, from my way of thinking, it becomes about how can you change the way you respond and how can you find a way for you to find peace in a situation where someone else's bad choices are ruining your life. For me, I sought a lot of help. I could not have made those changes alone.

    This is a terrible landscape for a parent to be on, to stand on the sidelines helplessly, while our kids make horrible choices. However, as someone told me, 'you don't have to go down the rabbit hole with him.' You can learn to detach. I am so sorry you are going through this, I understand very well what you are going through and I know how painful it is for you. But, there is hope for you, get support for YOU, take care of YOU, focus on YOU and what your needs are. I wish you peace. (((HUGS))))
  5. Glinda

    Glinda New Member

    Thank you everyone for the support and advise. Midwest mom, we don't have anyone blood related with addiction issues. My step father and the only grandfather he knows is a recovering alcoholic. He was already in The program when he was born. I've been to al-anon meetings when I was a teenager. Id isn't understand it then but now that you brought it up a lot of it makes sense now. Recovering enabler, I have set rules and boundaries and he just breaks them and then when he has to face the consequences he would run away and I would chase after him and cut deals to get him back home. When he I told him to leave I told him that I loved him and that once he got a full time job and handled his legal matters he could come talk to me about coming home. He called around 3am last night butI didn't answer the phone because I knew I would just go get him and nothing would change. He texted me around 6:30 this morning ad just said thanks, i got this. After reading all that you wrote I have to agree that I enable him and need to stop, I just don't know how to without driving myself crazy. I am going to try and find some kind of meeting. Just the last 24 hours on this board being able to talk to someone has made me feel a little better. Thank you again for everyone's responses and the welcome hugs Buddy!
  6. Glinda, welcome to the forums. You have gotten good advice from these warrior moms. And something that recovering enabler said is so true because i have been doing exactly that; feeling guilty, then giving in and the circle continues. You say that you raised all your children the same and the others are doing fine and being responsible so that shows that you are not to blame for your son's actions so don't be too hard on yourself. I don't have much advice to give you because i am going through a difficulty period myself with my 20 yr old and am conflicted on what to do, so all i can do is say a prayer and send cyber hugs.
  7. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    If he gets behind the wheel after drinking, he's got a drinking problem, in my opinion. I'd not let him drive any cars in your name, and I'd take him off your insurance if he's on it.

    Responsible users of mind-altering drugs...alcohol included, do not drive after partaking.
  8. gsingjane

    gsingjane New Member

    Welcome Glinda, I'm a bit of a newbie here myself. Read and treasure the responses you get here (I have read and re-read everything people take the time and trouble to write to me.) The comment about "if alcohol is causing problems, there is an alcohol problem" rings very true. Someone does not have to be falling down, drunk to pieces, every single minute, to have a drinking problem. Driving while drunk, crashing the car when drunk, getting into fights when drunk... all these are not things that a person with a normal relationship with alcohol does. That is why it's an excellent suggestion for you to perhaps seek out an Al-Anon group, and to start getting educated about alcoholism.

    Believe me I hear your heartsickness about how you raised your child and whether you are responsible for his conduct. Like you, I have three other children who are basically okay, and it still tears at my heart that I have one evil difficult child (his problem is different from your son's, he is a compulsive thief and liar). But you and I are lucky because we can look at those other three children and see, well, we made the mistakes we made, but it's not like we treated our difficult child completely differently than we treated our other three. You can see from looking at the other children that it was almost certainly not something you did, or didn't do, that caused your son to turn out like this. If you had four kids = four big messes, then maybe it might be another story (maybe still not then) but you don't.

    Hang in there, sister. We are here for you.
  9. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    My mother blames herself for the way I turned out. No matter how many times I try to tell her that without her support growing up I wouldn't have survived, let alone had any kind of life.

    Children are the sum total of the genetics behind them. In my case those genetics include bipolar and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). There's nothing more my mother could've done to change things, let alone 'fix' me. My mother is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), so's my late maternal grandfather ad a maternal uncle.

    If it wasn't for her knowing instinctively that I was "another one of those" I wouldn't be where I am today. She blames the fact that i had to go on disability on her parenting when it was my trying to ignore my bipolar until it couldn't be ignored any more.

    I, on the other hand, feel guilty for the hell I put my parent's, especially my mother, through in my teens when the bipolar first manifested.

    That's as foolish as mum blaming herself. Neither one of us could help it.

    ALL parents make what they realize in hindsight to be mistakes, but, to quote someone, "I did the best I could with what I knew, and when I knew more, I did better."

    (If someone knows the originator of that quote, please clue me in. That sort of thing drives me bonkers.)
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome to the board but I am so sorry you had to find us under such difficult times. You will find a great group of parents here who have walked more than a mile in the same shoes as you have. There isnt much that we havent heard, experienced or had happen to us so nothing shocks us anymore. You are now among friends who will gather you into our fold.

    Now I will warn you that because we all have been through the wringer with our difficult child's (the problem children who brought us here) we can some times be pretty blunt and tell it like it like it is. That comes from years of dealing with our kids,schools, the police and other various agencies we have all had the pleasure of being involved with. It does get old after awhile as Im sure your you know.

    Please take this time to let us know asmuch as you can about your difficult child. Has he/she ever been diagnosed withany mental health issues and if so when and where? Are theycompliant with whatever mental health programs are supposed to be inplace if any?

    How about substance abuse? If so,what type and when did it start? That can play a part in a downward spiral if your child was fairly okay and suddenly turned into the devil himself.

    Whatever the case, we are happy to have you. You will find links at the bottom of my page to the listof shorthand we use, and the website for detachment which is wonderful. I also urge you to join us for some talk that isnt all difficult child related in the Watercooler forum.


    How to prepare a signature:


    Detachment article

    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  11. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Glinda, First I would like to welcome you to the board. I am sorry that you are in this position, As a parent we only want the very best for our kids and when we see them taking a course of action that is self harming and potentially dangerous to others it is so hard to comprehend. It is a normal response to try to find fault within our prenting that is what society has taught us. But as you said, your other three children are doing fine. So there is your answer. It isn't your parenting it is something else. Whether it is a genetic predisposition to alcholism or not, your son must face the fact that he has an alcohol problem and work to get it under control. You as his mother and one prone to enabling behaviors, need to find ways to cope without enabling and also learn how to not let him run your life and control your happiness. It is hard. I am fully aware of that. You have come to a good place for understanding and support by joining this board. Getting help for yourself through education on substance abuse and co-dependancy will help you learn to maintain conditions and boundries. Maintaining those boundries will give you some sanity in an otherwise insane world of dealing with and living with an addicted loved one. You are not alone in this. Reaching out has insured that. -RM
  12. Wakegirl

    Wakegirl Member

    Hello Glinda, and welcome! Your story hit home in many ways, although my difficult child has a substance abuse problem (and sometimes drinks alcohol). He has a GREAT sense of entitlement, and I tend to blame myself for that, because I did everything for him!! Had I known the monster I was creating, I would have done many things different. But I did everything out of love. And also tried to make up for his father not being in his life very much (we're divorced). I'm definitely a recovering enabler. Someone once told me "You will literally love your son to death if you don't stop enabling him". In other words, if I didn't allow him to hit rock bottom, and get to the point where HE wanted help, than I could very well be burying him one day (due to substance abuse). It took many times, but the best thing I did was kick him out and let him fall. I made life too easy at home. He had no job, a cushy place to sleep, eat, and I was paying his cell phone, and car insurance. Why should he change? He had it made! Somebody wrote on this forum a quote that I absolutely love, and I had to repeat it to myself many, many times... "Nothing changes if nothing changes". No truer words have ever been spoken. My son came home last week after being kicked out for over a month. He has since started the process of enlisting in the National Guard. I still walk on eggshells, but I try to be an optimist when I see him making good decisions. In the meantime, I'm still learning to put myself first. It's a very hard lesson, but it comes with well deserved peace. I encourage you to do the same. You are a good mother. Your son knows right from wrong. I'm sure you instilled good morals in him. His value of life is now his decision. You can advise him when he approaches you, but that's it. Keep us posted, and know that you are not alone! Best wishes...
  13. Glinda

    Glinda New Member

    Wow, all these comments make me feel less lonely. It's been a rough day. It's the first day and tonight will be my first night with no kids in the house. Two went back to college and my other, the oldest left for New York this morning for a job interview. I was distracted at work wondering what I would do tonight all by myself. My difficult child texted me today around one and asked me if he could come by and get his dress pants and dress shirt. Im hoping that means he might have a job interview. I responded that I would let him know when I was home, and I did. He told me he would come tomorrow because he doesn't have a car today. I'd like to know who is giving them his car? Everyone knows he got DUI and they are still letting him drive? I guess his friends don't care about their car. I did take him off my insurance and he won't be driving anything of mine or the other kids. By way of background since someone asked, he's never been diagnosed with anything but a heart murmur that they corrected with medicine. Nothing ever mental. He had a normal childhood with just me and his sister until he was seven then I married and he got a step sister and brother. He adapted well and never had any problems until his junior year in high school. At first I blamed everything on the kids he was hanging out with until I realized he could just say no and go hang out somewhere else. We went to therapy together and he went alone he spoke once and it was only to be mean and nasty. After that he still went but refused to speak. He said he agreed to go but never agreed to talk. He's good like that, he has an answer for everything. It looks like he was drunk this past weekend again. My daughter has mutual friends with him on tweeter and said they posted some pictures of them drinking. I just cant get him to care about himself as much as I care about him. I did try google to find a support group but nothing is close. I'm going to an al-anon meeting on Wednesday. Not sure if I'm ready to talk out loud since I just start crying when I do but maybe I will scare up some courage. I know hes going to try and convince me to let him come home when he picks up his dress clothes tomorrow. I pray I have enough strength not to give in and let him come home tomorrow. Thank you for all the hugs and welcomes and support. I can't believe how good it feels to know you're not alone.
  14. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My first thought upon reading your post is to tell you not to be home when he comes by to pick up his dress clothes, put them in a box on the front porch and go out. Seeing him at this early stage where he will pull out all the stops to get you to change your mind is going to be hard on you. Make it easy, you don't need to be there when he comes, or just put them outside and don't come to the door. And, at your al anon meeting, you don't need to talk, just listen, you'll likely hear your story come out of someone else's mouth, you are not alone, and you will feel supported there. If for some reason that particular group doesn't resonate with you, find another one. You'll need support to get through the process of detachment, it's very difficult to do because it goes against our natural instincts to nurture, protect, support and love. But, in the big picture, if you take care of him when he is using, entitled, disrespectful, lazy, not adhering to your boundaries, etc. then you are enabling him and actually robbing him of the ability to take care of himself.

    Sometimes our kids have a failure to launch and they need a push to get out there and fly on their own. It's hard on us to do that, regardless of the circumstances, and often we need support. So I encourage you to get as much support as you can. A good book is Codependent no more by Melodie Beattie. You can order it on Amazon. Find groups, a therapist if that works for you, read books, keep posting, you'll need to stay strong so you don't cave when he begins manipulating you again. He knows all the ways to get you to do what he wants, our kids are extremely tenacious and very self serving, so be warned and take care of yourself. Ask yourself what it is that you are truly willing to do and what you are not and then make a plan and stick with it. Don't give in to him, you will both continue suffering. This is hard, get yourself some help. I wish you peace. (((HUGS)))
  15. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    Glenda, It's very hard! I'm still going through these issues with a 34yo difficult child. I've tried program after program, and like yours, he refused to cooperate in counseling. He started very young and I am just worn out.

    Mine was court ordered to rehab twice. He walked out of one so he had to stay longer. Mine is a master manipuator, can look you directly in the eye and lie with a straight face. They know how to play us so well.

    My difficult child is in a relationship with someone, in my opinion, that is worse than he is. I had to call the police to get her harrassment to stop. My difficult child went NC with me about Thanksgiving because I will tired of sending money for excuse after excuse. She tells him if I loved him I would be sending money.

    It's hard to actually admit what our children are and that we can not change them. I tried and I kept thinking and praying that he would finally grow up and take responsibility for his life and his actions.

    So no, you are not alone. Sadly, there are quite a few of us! Learn to detach, find a hobby, counseling if you can (the meetings work well for some - I didn't have any in my area) and the biggest thing (in my opinion) to start yourself in the direction of peace is letting go of the guilt. I had a hard time with that too!! Learn to turn the things you can not control (which is almost everything) to your HP.

    Your so is an adult in most states (my is 16yo) and there is not one thing that you can do or make him do, another hard cold fact. But there is so much you can do for YOU! I honestly think all of the things I did trying to help my son did nothing at all - only allow him to drink, abuse, and party more.

    I think this forum is amazing, also all of the books that help us overcome guilt and enabling. I did things I never realized were enabling, just trying to save my son! But, the hard, cold, painful fact is the only one I have any control over is me.

    Never give up hope - we don't know what the future holds.
    (((huggs only a parent going through this can understand the heartbreak we all share)))
  16. Glinda

    Glinda New Member

    I took your advice and I put his dress clothes in a bag this morning and sent his friend a text asking to tell him that he can pick his things up. He must of been with his friend because he texted me right back and said he will wait for me to be home. I told him I didn't know when I would be home so just come get them. He responded that he needed to talk to me and claimed he had a job interview tomorrow and wanted to talk to me about it. Of course I started crying but I told him he he didn't need my advice and he needed to get that job on his own. Then he got mad and I won't repeat the response but it wasn't anything nice or respectful. I got a few texts like that and I just deleted them without responding. When I got home today the clothes were gone and there was a note in the mailbox that said "I hope you know your son has no where to stay and just sleeps at all different houses and then stays in the baseball clubhouse all day until he finds another place to go. Maybe you should do something about that. A friend." I have no doubt that my son wrote it, it's in his handwriting but even so I started with the crying again. I really don't know how I have any tears left, I mean they have to dry up at some point. I was talking to my girlfriend at work who doesn't know about my situation but knows I'm stressed and depressed and she asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with her tonight. She says exercise might help relieve some stress so I'm going to try it. It's better than sitting in the house letting my mind go crazy! I have to start finding things to keep me busy otherwise I will go get my difficult child. In two weeks my other three will be home for Easter so that will help too. I am proud of myself though. I don't think I've ever gone more than three days without giving into him. It sucks and hurts but I'm doing it with all of y'all's help! Thank you!
  17. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    It's a hard situation, but the reality is that you are doing a really good job. You've put one step in front of the other, made some different choices and managed to not give in to him. I hope your experience of the gym was a positive one, exercise is an excellent stress reducer and it also keeps your mind occupied.

    You are doing what most of us have to do on this site when we are in the throes of learning how to detach, you cry, you hurt, but you are resigned to change a situation which has become intolerable for you. The only way to do that is to change the way you respond, you cannot change him. His note and his carrying on are manipulations to get you to cave in, it's worked for him before so of course, he will try all the same tactics. When they don't work, he will escalate those tactics. It takes time for both of you to change. He has to know you mean business. Once he recognizes that you will not give in, he will begin the process of figuring out other options. He may do some things you don't agree with, but they are his choice.

    Your other kids will be home in 2 weeks, and hopefully they will support your detachment. In the meantime stay busy with things that you enjoy. Keep going to the gym, find a therapist, an acupuncturist, do yoga, take a walk, focus on YOU and what YOU want. That is a huge step for us mothers, change that focus you've had on him to YOU.

    You should be proud of yourself for not giving in, you're doing a good job. And, the truth is it's hard and it hurts our hearts, but you know in your heart that this is the right thing to do. I wish you peace. (((HUGS))))