I don't know what to do about my 19 year old son. HELP!

Lisa - posted on 06/01/2012 ( 18 moms have responded )

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I don’t know where to turn how to cope and what to do. My 19 year old son has no idea what boundaries are. Will take whatever he wants things like my paints, tools, my cellphone and little things like that to use for himself. I don’t mind if he asks, most things I will let him use. At the age of 16 my son made his choice to move back with his father. It turned out to be the worse choice that he doesn’t understand. There was no parental supervision. He was allowed to come and go as he liked. Left alone most of the time. Not made to go to school or to at least get his GED. As long as he was working and out of his father’s hair his father thought he was being the best parent. A young person being left without a parent most of the time makes them loose the bound of a family. A young person doesn’t understand why they should listen to an adult when they pretty much left to take care of themselves. Two years later he came back here with a push from me and my brother. My child did not bath, did not brush his teeth. Lived on the street after a while before he would listen to his father. Since my son has been back he has been working on being a better person but the past 2 months he has been acting out again. Very resentful towards me. We fight, argue, if I look at him the wrong way if I ask what’s wrong he says “a lot” in an angry voice and if I ask more it turns into a fight. I put him into martial art classes hoping to give him some kind of goal, worth. I did this even though I really can’t afford it. He loved it has been at it for 5 months now. We just went to him second graduation to the next belt and he was mad at me for being there for taking pictures? This was even before we got into a fight. On the way home I gave him a senerial : If one of your paintings that you liked very much, you cared about and it meant something to you and someone came up and wrote crap across it how would you feel? He tells me it happens to me all the time I don’t care. I said yes you would. I asked him why he would write something on my drawing ruining it because it was a picture of something that he doesn’t believe in. I told him not to touch my stuff or to do that ever again. He told me he would. Well you can guess that led to an argument. We are driving home and I was stopping to get him a drink because he asked. The argument continues in the store and I decided I’m not buying him anything and started to walk out. He walks out with me then went the other way. I drove home, he walked. He fights with me all the time anymore. He now is telling me I’m to artistic and he is surrounded by it, he is so talented and I tell him all the time. He needs to express himself. He paints his wall in his room, I bought plywood for him to paint along with spray cans (he wanted me too) and he never did it. He just paints his room. I painted one of the plywood in the yard. I have two more sitting. Blank. I don’t know how to be a mom for him. If he asks for a ride somewhere I do it. If he asks for a couple dollars I give it. I let him paints the walls in his room. Pay for his classes. I feel the only time he is nice to me is when he wants something. When he first came down here he and I would talk. Now When I try to talk to him it’s just me wanting to know everything about him and he doesn’t want that. He thinks we judge him and look down on him. None of my family or me thinks this. We just want him to fix the problems he has (he created) and be happy. To let you know a little about his problems. He dropped out of school at 16. His plans at that time were to go to Life Skills. It is a computer base class to get your diploma. I had him signed up before he left to live with his father. When he came back I enrolled him again, he started going about 2 months with me driving him to school every morning a ½ hour away. He stopped going. He wrote graffiti on a building wall and was caught and went on probation for it. The week before his probation was up, he bunches his sister’s boyfriend and they took him to jail for that. I had to bail him out. He has a warrant out for his arrest because they said he missed a court date. All of these things can be taken care of. We learn from our mistakes. He is much stressed over all this, I understand that, but he is adding to his stress by pushing me away fighting to where I‘m now telling him to take care of his warrant and go stay with his friend. He is very much still like a child in some ways. Last night during our argument he took my phone (work cell phone) without asking and when I notice I told him I need it and I took it away. In order for him to get it back he punches the door repeatedly cracking it more, punching the wall and only stops till I threaten, or pretend to call 911. Why does it have to go this far. I don’t understand if a person is told something why don’t they stop knowing all they are doing is making there life harder. He has completely no respect for me and when I have told him that and say “and all I do for you” that gets thrown in my face. How dare I tell him “All I have done for you” He cares less what I have done, he just wants to blame all that has happen to him on me and his father. I forced him to come down here? NO I gave him a place to stay instead of the streets or a truck to sleep in, because that is where he was. I’m not saying I do no wrong. I think all I do is wrong. Whatever I do I make it worst. I don’t know where to turn how to help him. Because everything I try just back fires. I tried keeping my mouth shout, I tried doing stuff with him, putting him in martial arts, and I tried taking stuff away. NOTHING WORKS. It seems like it just gets worse. All I want is for him to have respect for me and his sister and our home. Respect for others. I want him to be happy, take care of the warrant, and get his GED. I’m not saying it all has to be done NOW. I know it takes time. I would give my life for him to be happy and content. Is this a teenage faze. When will it end??? He is 19; he is not a child anymore. I don’t want it to get worse, him doing drugs or suicide because I know at times he thinks about it. He won’t get help, won’t talk to anyone professionally. HELP!!!

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Sherri - posted on 06/01/2012

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I would stop bailing him out and doing everything at his beckon call. He is an adult and needs learn from his mistakes without mommy bailing him out. I wouldn't go so far as to kick him out but I certainly would turn him in for his warrant, you know you could go to jail for harboring and aiding and abetting a fugitive right??

Kristin - posted on 06/01/2012

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I think you may need to do some tough love and kick him out. Quit helping him and doing things for him, by doing things for his you are enabling him to keep treating you badly. He obviously needs some anger management courses, but he has to make that choice. He needs to realize that he is now an adult and needs to be help accountable for his actions. If he hates it at home so much than tell him to leave. My son is 16 and we went through an anger stage as well with him due to him smoking pot. I drug tested him and went to counselling. I forced him to go as he was still a minor. If my son misses school or treats me poorly I dont do anything for him and i am like that with all my children from day one. My teen son knows that all actions have consequences and I will not bail him out of ever situation he gets himself into. Thank god he makes wiser choices and has quit smoking pot. My mom was a lot like you, an enabler and as a teen I took complete advantage of that and walked all over my mother and treated her like garbage, until the day i came home at 16 and told her i was pregnant. She was supportive of my choice and I kept the baby however she told me I had to move out, which i did when i was 6 days away from my due date. As hard as that was for me and for my mom, kicking me out and forcing me to be responsible was the best thing she ever did for me. I enrolled back into school and got my diploma and carried on to college. The father of my son were together until my son was 4 and we divorced. This also taught me how to be more responsible and adult and to make wise decisions. We as parents are there to support and guide our children and prepare them to make wise decisions as adults and we are not ther to be walked on and treated like crap, however the more you enable his bad behavior the worse its going to get for you both. If he wont go to therapy i suggest going to one for yourself and seeing how to make things better., If it were my son I would say out the door you go call me when you want to be respectful of me. I would also never throw in their face of all you have done for them as that is a moot point as all parents have done lots for their kids. My mom used to say that to me and I felt that she was underminig my self worth which made me angrier at her. But since the day my mom kicked me out we get along way better and I straightened my life out to where i have a successful career 3 beautiful children a nice home and hubby. Be strong, stand your ground, and good luck to you.

Sara - posted on 06/02/2012

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I have been there! My son lived with me his entire life and I was on top of everything. He still took my tools, etc. whenever he wanted, didn't finish things he started, and he graduated from high school because his teachers and I were on him every minute of all 4 years. He was immature, had a bit of anxiety, and just didn't have a mature enough brain to connect the dots.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Find a picture of him when he was a sweet, vulnerable, little boy. Let the memories of that sweet little guy flood your heart. When you talk to your son, talk to that little boy instead of the tall man standing in front of you, because inside, he's still that little boy. It won't fix everything, but it will make a big difference.

2. Continue to remind him of the rules...preferably during calm down times. Decide what firm limits you are going to have and break those into 2 levels. Violations of level 1 rules puts him out of the house for 24 hours, and you don't care where he goes. Violations of level 2 rules puts him out of the house for 3 days...and you don't care where he goes.

I did this with my son and we never had to implement these. My son is now 23 and we have a great relationship, he lives on his own, and he has returned to that really sweet and thoughtful guy. Hang in there. You are doing the right things.

Sara...from SingleMomsAskSara.com

Martha - posted on 06/01/2012

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I must say that it disturbs me to hear that so many people are quick to turn these kids out on the street but happy that in those few situations things seemed to work out. Every situation is different and as parents we can only do so much to help, but I always tell my friends that make sure you have exhausted all options before taking such drastic measures. We can lead a horse to water but we can't make him drink, so they say...but try your best to lead them as far as you can.

That doesn't mean I don't agree with each and everyone's different choices, i understand that when faced with many of these challenges we are at a loss for a solution and stressed, tired and simply worn out from all the bad behavior and getting no where.

Not all ideas work for all people, but if you don't feel you are in immediate danger (violent child and such) or your home or belongings being damaged or stolen (for money and such) then it's very important you exhaust all roads to recovery.

I am a big advocat of counseling even if it's only for the parent (in the begining).

I would like to share that I was the product of a very abusive childhood
with alcoholic parents. I was a very angry teenager and by 15 I moved out because my mother had re-married and didn't want to bother with me and my father was too ill to care for me.

Although I was troubled, I had no one to reach out and give me some attention, some discipline a foundation. I lived on the streets for a very short period of time, bounced around from friend to stranger to whomever I could shack up with for a night or two until I met my first husband and married at 18. Up until that point many terrible things had happened to me, including being raped and becoming pregnant at 15, i had an abortion because I didn't know I had other options. My 1st husband ended up being a drug addict and abusive and after 2 1/2 short years and giving birth to 2 baby boys I left and went to live in a shelter. My mother advised me that I had made my bed and now I had to lied in it. I suffered more trauma until finally I was offered counseling at the shelter and met my husband now 2 years later.

I look back and still feel the trauma of being tossed out and left to grow up on my own because I was a difficult child. I will never fully recover from that experience and still wish someone would have taken better care of me or at least tried a bit harder. To this day I have a very estranged relationship with my mother and my father has since passed away.

My 15 year old daughter displays many signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder and my 17 year old son is failing almost every class in school because he simply has lost interest in school.
So far my 16 year old son seems to be doing quite well.

So you see, I too have personal challenges of my own, but I fight everyday to work on my childrens behavior and will not give up until I feel I have exhausted all options.

Some days I am just exhausted myself...lol

~Martha

Kim - posted on 06/01/2012

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He is very much acting like a child and tough love just may be the answer. My 18 year old son was going through some of this. Not as bad though. But he was figuring it out. It seems that he is having trouble figuring out how to be a man and he may be experiencing disappointment in himself or feel that you are diappointed in him. I am a single mother and it took a male cousin to explain to me that this may be what my son was experiencing. I lost my son last year on July 15th. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time with his best friend and was killed in a drive-by shooting. He had figured it out. He was working on his GED and a week after he was killed he was called for a job he had applied for. I believe if there is a male family member that your son looks up to and respects that has also been a positive role model is his life, maybe you can get them to spend some quality time with your son and maybe he will open up about what his problems may be. Or help him find some direction and a purpose. But also make sure he knows just how much you will always love him and be there for him in everyway possible as long as it is within reason. I still have a 15 year old son that I am working on and I have a close cousin that does not hesitate to take him under his wing to help me out whenever things get stressful. And that happens often especially with him still trying cope and deal with the death of his only big brother. I hope in some way I have helped with some insight and I wish you and him the best of luck on working this and your relationship with him out.

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Kate - posted on 07/02/2012

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Hmm well since he is 19 he is an adult now. Don't baby him, let him learn himself. i know it seems hard and he is your child, but let him figure it out fro himself. Good luck!

Teresa - posted on 06/11/2012

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Wow! I am in the exact same boat as you! My son is 18..he does what he wants..does nothing around the house to help out.sneaks his girlfrend in to sleep over..sigh! When he was around 16 I couldn't deal with him any longer, we bumped heads on the daily bases, he wouldn't go to school for me, so I sent him to his dads..well he worked with his dad & he talked his dad into signing him out of school..I wouldn't do it. Well a few months later he comes back home to live with me..things were ok for a little. But he had lost his drivers permit for not going to school..he of course blamed that on me cause I wouldn't sign him out of school when he didn't want to go.. anyways same as you I bent over backwards for him.. now that he's 18..he's not doing anything , doesn't want to help me out at the house, no job, no GED..so I tld him not to ask me for a thing! He wanted money to go t the shore with his friends, I said if you help out Ill hook you up..does he? Nope! So no money for him! I don't have the heart to throw my kid out, ug! So what do I do?

Angie - posted on 06/10/2012

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Kim...I think you have a few things going on...you said he was at his dad's house for a couple years and never learned responsibilities or consequences for actions good or bad. Now you have him home with you at your home with a whole different expectation level. My son was gone from 17 1/2 to almost 19 before coming back home and when he did, we sat down and had a talk about what was expected.....and oh yes, we had our disagreements for sure, but my motto is and always will be "I will always be there to help you as long as you are helping yourself". I think it's time to have a heart to heart, be positive, be supportive, but if he's not on the same page of getting his GED, getting a job, taking care of his warrant, and respect you, your house, and your things, then you are going to continue to battle....and I know, believe me I know it's hard to have to tell them this isn't going to work and you need to find different living arrangements. I can attest there is the "other side" and it is wonderful. I didn't kick mine out, he chose to leave last September when we couldn't get on the same page & he didn't feel the benefits he was getting from living at home were outweighing the sacrifices he thought he was making, but now my almost 21yo comes over and mows my grass every week because he wants to take care of something for me; he is respectful and thoughtful, he is so appreciative for just the little things & I probably see him more than I did when he lived here, plus the time together is more quality. He's actually talking about coming back home for a few months when his lease is up so he can save money faster. Best of luck to you ~ I really think your biggest challenge is battling the mentality he has gotten from staying with his dad so keep communicating and stay consistent.

Vicki - posted on 06/10/2012

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I have same situation. My son 23 now--No GED, no Job, No permantent shelter.
Can't keep relationship and has a 1 yr old son he never sees.
Everytime I think he is trying to straighten his life----He lies or turns around and 'messes' up again.
I feel I did what I could, now he is a 'grown-up'. He now has to take his own responsibilities for himself.
I love him, worry for him however must have tough love too.

Sarah - posted on 06/02/2012

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I'm so sorry. I really am. He has several issues and none of which you can help him with. He is a very angry young man. He needs some help. He need to take care of the warrant and do whatever time he needs to. I'm sure it will be a small amt. Theres not alot you can do to him or for him at this point. He is simply all about himself... You need to try to detatch yourself from his emotional self and simply meet is physical needs and thats it. He will continue to use you and your daughter as verbal punching bags until you STOP questioning him and give him alot of time to himslf and eventually, he WILL come to you. You HAVE TO LET GO ... He is, by law, a adult, although I know very well, he is YOUR CHILD. Be there for him, help if he asks, do not offer up extras, put your phone AWAY and let him try to deal with his emotions. When he's ready, he will come to you. I'm sorry Mom. I remember how my sisiter was @ his age, and honestly, he sounds excatly like she did and she's fine now :)

Martha - posted on 06/01/2012

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To Kim...Thank you for your rating and for all your inspiring posts for all of us!

Martha - posted on 06/01/2012

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Dear Kim,

I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your son but so happy that you are blessed with another child to care for. You brought up a very good point about having another male talk with Lisa's son. Many times this is very helpful, but this may not be an option for Lisa, and if it's not she needs to try and help herself.

I hope that she is able to work through this with her son and that he is able to overcome his challenges.

~Martha

Barbara - posted on 06/01/2012

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The best thing we ever did for my stepson was to kick him out. Once he had to sleep on the streets and try to make his own way for a while, he came back a lot more grateful and appreciated just having a bed and food. He was a lot like your son except it was drugs that made him act that way. You might want to be sure that his behavior is not related to drugs, because they can affect his attitude, especially the part about taking things without asking. My stepson was the king of that behavior for a long time! It was the drugs that made him act that way. He is home now and drug free for over a year. The hardest thing to do was kick him out and refuse to let him back in or give him money when he needed it. I and his dad had to pray for him constantly. It was SO worth it once he realized we were not backing down. Good luck with your son and I hope God will give you the strength and hope yo do what is right for him.

Martha - posted on 06/01/2012

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Hi Lisa,
This is a very difficult but very sensitive situation. I know many people resort to tough love and many times this is my first thought, however in your case you may want to try a few things first before telling him to move out.
Although 19 is a legal adult in our country, 19 is still a child in many ways, and for males they are still growing typically until they are 21-22 and this means physically AND emotionally. You mentioned that he is angry much of the time and has talked of suicide. This is nothing to ignore, there may be some underlying issues going on. I don't think you are babying him, he is your child after all, it just sounds like you have exhausted almost every option you have to help him.
Martial Arts, especially if he enjoys it, may be a great way for him to channel his stress and anger. I know it's hard to have a rational conversation with him, but have you approached him (not after or during an argument) but just a random time and asked him what he wants to do in the future or what he likes? Also ask him what he thinks you can do for him to help him (even if it's something that you can't do...like give him more money or things you can't afford) ask him and see what he says, be serious and sincere and wait for a response. If he does tell you, don't answer him, or give him the reasons you can or can't do whatever he may ask...just let him talk. Then think about his responses carefully.
Maybe explain to him that school is not for everyone but that if he at least earns his GED, it will open up a lot of doors for him for whatever he chooses. I know you said he is not interested in counseling, but you may want to get some yourself (try finding a place that charges on a sliding scale or is even free), to help you cope and tell him you are going to get help yourself, that you are very distraught and under a
lot of stress worrying about him and you need someone to help you figure things out. Counseling may help you figure out how to handle him better.
As parents we lose control fast and it's hard to think calmly or rationally anymore, especially when each and every incident you have keeps piling up and piling up.
Is he still in the Martial Arts class? If he has committed to that for 5 months there might be something there. If he doesn't want you to be there when he earns his belts or take pictures, then maybe give him some space. You might also want to talk to his instructor (in confidence) and tell him how important the class is to your son, that he is a little lost in the world right now and that you are very thankful for the this class and that it seems like the only thing he enjoys in life right now. Let the instructor take it from there.
Is there still a warrant out for him? You need to try to help him fix that, I know many people won't agree with me and think you should step back and let him go on his own, but if you still feel there is hope and you haven't passed any points-of-no-return, then you need to keep trying a few more things.
If you would like to call me anytime to chat please feel free. My name is Martha, I live in Chicago. I am 36 years old, a wife and mother of 3 teenagers, 15, 16 & 17 years of age. I have almost completed my Sociology degree and hope to pursue a career in which I can counsel young people such as your son. I myself came from a troubled past and always knew one day I would give back the help I never got.

Please respond or call or even shoot me a personal email.

marchfishy@comcast.net
1.773.573.2116

Kindest Regards,
Martha

Kristin - posted on 06/01/2012

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Hang in there honey. It will get better. Like i said I put my mom through hell and back when I was a teenager and she was at the point where she didnt know what to do with me either. I wanted my independence but at the same time I was too immature to figure out how to do that. I threatened sucide to my mom and i ran away from home and lived on the streets for 2 months until i got arrested and my parents came and bailed me out. I still didnt learn and still treated my mom like garbage until i had my baby at 16 and grew up a little and learned how to be responsible and independant. By my mom doing everything for me to me it seemed like she under mined me and I felt worthless. Plus I did not have the best self esteem and worked at that as well. I know joining the gym helped me gain some confidence and some self esteem as well as helped with my anger issues. The thing you have to remember is that the transition from teen to adult is very hard and deep down your son does love you. It was not until my early twenties that I apologized for everything i did to my mom and now we have really good communication. She still tends to want to enable my children but she is learning as well to respect my decisions about raising my kids and i also learnt how to respect her and actually listen to her. I realize that my mom just wanted me to be happy and I see that now but didnt then. But you just have to stand firm and communicate. Feel free to talk to me abytime if you would like. Take Care and good luck

Lisa - posted on 06/01/2012

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I know reading this you all feel I give him everything,. I don’t. He has only been back here for 6-7 months and really has been trying. I know it has to come down to where there are rules that need to be followed or out the door. I have explained this to him I’m finding out now that telling him “What I do for you” was wrong. But you can understand as anyone it’s hard to always say the right things. Reading from someone who has gone through this and understanding that you made it through on top, make me feel much better to hopefully be doing the right thing. Thank you.

Louise - posted on 06/01/2012

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Wait a minute this man is 19 years old he is not a baby. Dont baby him, if he is disrespectful kick him out. Let him learn the hard way that he needs an educatation to get a good job to support himself. Let him learn the value of money by needing it himself and not taking things from you. My eldest son is 21 and has lived on his own since he was 18 and away at uni. He is very worldly wise and it was the best move he made.

It could be the making of your son. Maybe you are babying him too much. Give him a taste of the real world. Time to grow up!

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