My almost 20 yr old is making bad choices; how do I stay out of it???

MK - posted on 06/07/2012 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My soon to be 20 year old son was accepted to college on a full scholarship when he graduated high school. His freshman year was a joke- he never went to class & ended that year with zero credits. He took the next year 'off' to figure out what he wanted to do & work. He did work, but for my husband & I and we overpaid him for what he did. I accept responsibilty for making a huge mistake by letting him work for us. He has been seeing a girl with a lot of issues for the last year & half. They bring out the worst in each other and I have caught them smoking pot on a few occasions, which I blew up over. When my husband & I told him he wasn't working for us any longer and we would help to a point with his expenses only if he went back to school with us being able to verify his enrollment & grades, he decided to move to Las Vegas with his girlfriend and get a job and an apartment & go back to school. Well, he has run out of money, cannot find a job and is living with his girlfriend & her parents. He keeps flip flopping on staying or moving back east where we are. I am in communication with him almost everyday, but I cannot see him, so I don't know if he's taking care of himself. How do I stay out of this & let him fail? What if something really bad happens?

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Shelley - posted on 06/10/2012

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Maybe this will give you some encouragement....My brother also very bright, totally wasted my parents money sending him to a private college after H.S. I don't even know how he got into college being he was wasted so much of the time in H.S.. He got kicked out of things for showing up wasted and flunked out of college after 2 years of that behavior. My folks stopped giving him money/help. He drifted around doing odd jobs like tree trimming and tarring roofs for a year or two he was sometimes basically homeless. Finally he woke up and realized if he was going to have the life he wanted he'd have to work for it. He went back to school and graduated. Got into dental school and graduated. Now he's a very successful dentist with a lovely wife and 4 kids. Never would have dreamed he'd turn out so well with his rocky start. True story.

Gayle - posted on 06/28/2013

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I understand wanting avoid people or situations where you are around " successful " youth. It is not easy. Your son has a path in life that is his alone. I was that kid out skrewing up. Now my son has just failed out of collage and I am worried about his level of depression and drug use. People have free will. Let him have the right to live his life as he wants to. He can know you don't approve of his choices but do respect as a man they are his choices to make. I bet he a part of him likes being chased around by his loving family. Likley he feels resentment and important. Feelins I believe he might miss if his family stops chasing him. Try, try, try, to let him come to you when he is ready. If wont be on your timeline I garrentee. I do believe if you keep chasing him, he will not have the space to make choices on his own.

Best of luck, and remember ..... You are not the only mum with kid skrewing up, we just hide when our kids are a mess.

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MK - posted on 06/13/2013

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Thank You! A lot of has happened since I posted the situation & sadly it has gotten much worse. We did get our son to come back to the east coast a few times only to have him return to Las Vegas. He is currently staying with his Dad a few hours from us. He was with us for about a month, but couldn't follow our house rules- no drugs, no alcohol, had to get a job- he could not do any of those things, and then we found out he stole from us to buy drugs. He decided to go & stay with his Dad, who is a recovering addict himself, and I recently found out he has stolen & lied to him also. His Dad knowing the games addicts play, has given him one option, and that is to go into a rehab center, that he ( his Dad) will pay for & arrange.The drugs are serious & dangerous- but I guess that is not needed to be stated- they're drugs. My son has had so many changes to get help & has an amazing support group who love him madly, but he just doesn't get that he needs help. He actually said to me that he likes not being sober, and given the choice everyone would rather be high than sober. I told him that was one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. I'm struggling with trying not to hate him for doing this to himself & us. To say I'm angry doesn't even come to close to how I feel. I have spoken to a therapist & I understand I didn't cause this & I can't stop it, but I find myself being very resentful of my friends whose kids have happy normal lives. I have 2 stepsons who had nothing to do with my son ruining his lfe, but I find that I don't want to be around them- I've avoided one's college graduation a few weeks ago, becuase it's too sad for me to be in situations that my son should be having. My husband has been very understanding, but I know it isn't fair to him or anyone else in my life that deserves to have good things happen to them & have me be happy & celebrate their accomplishments. I do not know yet what my son has decided, my guess is he is still in denial & the drugs have to tight a hold on him. I pray everyday & will continue to for him & for me to get through this.

Megan - posted on 06/13/2013

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First, I am sending you hugs. Fear is an awful place to be... Read as many books as you can find on the subject of helping a struggling young adult. Sounds to me like he could really use counseling. Suggest to him that you want to do anything you can to help him find his way... but do not enable poor choices. This book is a good start...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802468...

Pray, Pray, Pray, Continue to let him know you love him and share your worries with him, cut off any funding but let him know you will pay for him to come home any time. Do not get pulled into drama...stay calm and loving and firm.

Jodi - posted on 06/09/2012

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Acknowledge your fears and concerns, reaffirm your love for him, and acknowledge that he is an adult~under the law AND in your eyes. That he is now responsible for his life and that you and dad will be there as support and encouragement for him, although it may not look like he thinks it should.

In our society, I think parents often confuse the ideas of unconditional love and support with acceptance of actions. You son is an adult. He has his opinions, he has his habits, he has his views on life. You and your husband have your opinions, your habits, and your views of life. Just because the two do not meet eye to eye does not mean you do not love your child. You are allowed to disagree and still unconditionally love. You can unconditionally love a person and not like, or agree with, their actions. Do you love your friends? Do you agree with everything they do or say? Transition your relationship with your son into an adult relationship filled with respect and honesty. Respect who he choose to be......this does not mean you have to agree with it! It just means you have to acknowledge the reality of it and that it is his choosing.

You son seems intelligent. Have an honest and open conversation with him, don't raise your voice, do express your opinions, as your opinions, not as absolute rights or the measure of correctness. Listen to his opinions, not as absolute wrongs or bad choices, but as another adult human being's opinions. Then see what comes from this kind of dialogue.

Good luck and godspeed
www.theconsciousmoment.com ~coaching for the relationships you desire

MK - posted on 06/08/2012

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It's helpful to know I am not the only one dealing with this kind of stuff. It makes me feel like I did something wrong as a Mom when he acts like a lazy bum with no motivation or ambition.

MK - posted on 06/08/2012

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Thanks for your advice- I know you are right but its still so hard to follow through- but I know that is what's best for him even if it makes me feel worse- it's not about me. I've thought about the Skype option, but I'm not sure what I will do or what I can do if I see something that is of concern- like you said he is his own man now, so my options are limited. I keep hoping he will come to his senses and see what is best for him, but if there are other influences, such as drugs/alcohol than I don't think he knows what's best. We've been very clear about what his options are in regards to getting help from us, so I think that's all I can do. Thanks again!

Francine - posted on 06/08/2012

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As parents its hard. I'm going through the same thing with my 22 year old daughter. Her boyfriend had nerve to come over tonight unannounced aft almost midnight and now my daughter left to spend the night in the streets with him without any concern that id be up and worried. She's failing school because of him. I have been trying to help but she repays me by pulling stuff like this. I clearly have to let go though. She keeps showing me that. When her student loans come after her for non payment, I believe that's when she may learn but who knows. Its not my place to bail her out anymore. All I can do is be a listening ear and pray for her. Its time for you to do the same.

Louise - posted on 06/08/2012

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Your son is 21 the same age as mine. You have to sit back and let him make his own mistakes in life. You can advise if he asks your opinion but that is it. He is a man now. Your son sounds lost in life he really does. He obviously does not have any direction. First things first he needs to go to the job center and enrole. He may be entitled to benefits if he is actively looking for work, any work. Then he can work from there. If you bail him out with cash he will spend it on stuff he does not need instead of getting off his backside and looking for work. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realise things are bad. He will never do that if you bail him out all the time.

Your role as mum now is advisor. He is a man and with that comes responsibilities. It is up to him to sort himself out and decide what he is going to do. You can not do it for him. If you ae worried what he looks like then get Skype so that you can see him every day on camera.

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