an "almost" 21 year old son that needs to grow up

Michelle - posted on 09/02/2011 ( 2 moms have responded )

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I don't even know where to begin, but I need the support of other Moms who have been through this. Tough Love stinks!

Our son has bombed out of community college (I think his main motivation for doing it was for the financial aid money.) He failed acouple classes and then owed the collge money because of it. Couldn't go back until he paid them a few hundred dollars.Wouldn't call and deal with it. Wouldn't get a job. "He won't do fast food."He found something wrong inany work suggestion.

I could have almost tolerated that if he made an attempt to wash his own clothes, help around the house (just picking up after himself) but he did a rare and occasional chore but that is it. He went to hang out with his girlfriend, partied all night and was coming home drunk a lot of the time. His dad, my husband dared to "call him on his drinking." That made him furious at the suggestion of AA because that is what kids his age do is party.We weren't buying it...and argument ensued and he packed his bags, took his xbox and said we were shunning him and left. My husband told him to leave if he wasn't going to respect house rules ie curfew, helping his parents who have many health issues. Our poor daughter (18 in community college) always had to pick up slack because he did nothing.

He has been gone 3 weeks staying with friends, girlfriend etc and hasn't spoken to us since. Our daughter has some contact with him but it's breaking our heart. But we have been through this so many times and took him back in and things always get worse. He always had the advantage because we caved and let him come back home. But, I knew that we could do nothing else. He is working I guess, his girlfriend is constantly telling him to call and talk to us and he hasn't.

There were a lot of mistakes I made when he was young like undermining my husband's authority and not standing behind his decisions etc so he had an edge and could get in between us. I have changed and won't tolerate that and he doesn't like it. My husband isn't perfect but has done nothing to warrant the pure hatred he has for his dad.

I am sorry to go on and on but I have to vent with someone---my husband and I are sticking together and know that this is what has to be for him to grow up and accept responsibility but it hurts so much. Any thoughts, experience?

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Melissa - posted on 09/26/2013

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I have a 21 yr old son, who is a Junior in college. He is a college football player and initially lived on a campus and after being robbed and several of the football players testing positive for drugs and the Quarterback going to jail, and my son smoking something and dealing with depression....we brought him home. He went to local college for his 2nd semester and was doing marijuana and drinking, eventually he decided to move out about a half a mile from us with his Grandmother and Great Grandmother. He has been there ever since and we have dealt with chronic drug and alcohol issues and is now at another college with another football college scholarship and Great Grandma is paying any overage because we told him if he kept abusing drugs we wouldn't pay the extra for him to go that college just to pay football, he could go to the local state college. There they do his laundry, pamper him, get him up for class/ work/ cook all his meals, etc......recently he was busted drinking alcohol on campus and he doesn't actually turn 21 for a wk. He has dealt with depression for yrs and has been in counseling, takes antidepressant, I don't know what else to do with him....and they enable him in his current living situation and they think that I am wrong......I struggle with self blame.....and wanting so bad to fix him....I love him and this just breaks my heart!

Heather - posted on 09/02/2011

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Some thoughts....lots of experience. I have a 20 yr old and we went through similar issues with him. It started in HS when his grades started dropping...then he graduated. Through HS he had a job did very well and maintained at least passing grades(mostly D's & C's) When he graduated we made a move, not locally we changed states, almost 600 miles away. He chose to stay in our old state with nothing. No job, no apartment, he did still have his car but I was getting ready to cancel his insurance and then he totaled it in a snow storm. So he then had no car. He only called me sporadically but I learned to deal with that by reminding myself that he is grown and needs to grow up. I didn't like that it was that hard for him but it was the choice he made. He only called me for money twice. The first time I did give him some and the second I didn't. This was almost 3 years ago. Last December, my son asked if he could move home and I said with a list of ground rules and you will sign an agreement you can. He lived with us for 2 months and wouldn't look for a job and was disrespecting my house rules, so he was again out. He had found some friends here and tried staying with them and he was being shuffled around as much as when he lived in our old state. It got old and he was hungry, dirty and felt lost. I again offered him the same ground rules and now he currently lives with us and he has a job, currently borrowing our second car for work, goes to work everyday, pays his bills, puts gas in the car and has oil changed when it needs it and respects all of our house rules.
Time is the only thing that will tell. When my son was in our old state, every time the phone rang my heart stopped and I hoped it wasn't police or a hospital calling. It was a very stressful time and made me sick to think of how he may be living, but I survived and so did he.
Tough love stinks to high heaven but with a little hope, he will either grow out of it and realize how good he would have it back home doing the right thing or he will have to have this hard journey on his own. As parents it hurts but they do need to learn sometime. Loving your child and enabling them to be irresponsible is a fine emotional line.

PS. I only sound this calm because I am typing and can review my words. It is a tough situation. You need to get a support system that can help you deal with the guilt and feelings that you failed somehow.
YOU DID NOT FAIL! This is just how this young man you raised kept all he was given. More to do with his personality and not yours. You are only responsible for a small part of what makes him...him!
Chin up and good luck. Be strong!!!

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