update on 22 year old bipolar who is difficult to live with


We kicked out our 22 year old son again. Out of anger, he broke a screen door, and then a few days later, had kicked a hole in a bedroom door. After the screen door, I had told him the next thing he breaks I will call the Police. Then when he kicked the hole in the door, my wife kicked him out. He stayed at a friend's house for a few days, then came back to our house to "get a few things", which meant he didn't have any place to stay. During the time he was gone, I had typed up a list of "House Rules", he must follow if he ever wanted to stay at home again.

The rules were very basic, allow everyone in the home to live in peace, treat everyone in the home with respect and respect their property, and everyone in the home work together for the benefit of everyone else.

I presented these rules to him, and he rejected them. He said "they were just words on paper". I said they were reasonable rules that people who live together must follow. He said they "are tyranny". I dont understand why these would be a problem for him, for anybody actually. They were for him. I also told him he must go to counseling if he wants to live in our home. He refused to agree to each of these things, so we have not allowed him back. He has been outside the house for the last two days, sleeping in the woods at night I think.

We have been keeping our doors locked. He knocks at the door occasionally and asks for some food or water, and we have given him some. The whole thing is very odd, really, and sad. Not even sure if we should be helping him at all (with the food, and allowing him to stay on our property). Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever expected this to happen in my life. It's surreal. Having to lock the doors and not allow your child into your house ... Why me? Why do we have to go through this. Why is he so messed up that he can't see how reasonable these rules are?

But, its tough to send him away, when all he has is a bike, a backpack, and a jacket. No money, no where to stay or go to. And, seemingly, no ability to see how senseless his behaviour is, and how reasonable our rules are. I dont how he will ever change.

His thoughts/views on things are so out there. Although he hasn't said this in words, his behaviour has told us that he feels he should be able to do whatever he wants, break things in our house, verbally abuse us, not clean up his messes in the kitchen, not turn down his music when we ask him, leave door open when he feel like it, feed our dogs even though we tell him not to, take my daughter's hampster out its cage and play with it on the kitchen island, etc. etc. etc. He basically doesn't like anyone telling him to do anything he doesn't want to do. He will just do what he wants to do, and that's it. He may obey us when we first tell him, but then we find him doing what we asked him not to do a week later. I dont know if he is telling us to go <you know what> off, or if part of his condition is lack of impulse control.

So, for today anyway, he is still hanging around our property, not allowed into the house. He has been calling friends, trying to find a place to go, but for now anyway, he has come up empty. I am seeing my counselor tomorrow to talk about the situation. My life is so messed up right now with this situation. I wonder if my son will ever get better. My wife says that he has to hit rock bottom first, before he will ever see the need to change. And that he isn't even close to that right now. I picture him becoming a street person, and me driving around town, looking for him, and finding him in a gutter somewhere, and he not even recognizing me. It makes me cry. It makes me feel like my life is turning into a nightmare and I cant stop it. I think of all the sad stories you see on the news about people losing loved ones to murderers, etc., and I feel like I'm becoming one of those sad people ... overtaken by life's tragedies. Some people have kids who do good in school, go to college, get good jobs, and have good lives. Why cant my child get even close to that. Why am I caught in this bazarre, sad plot. These are my thoughts right now ...


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Oh MrMike. I am so very sorry. I hear the anguish in your post and I can identify with everything you are saying and all that you feel. I am very glad for you that you have a counselor to help you walk through this maze of sadness.

As you know I have a daughter who is the older version of your son. In the beginning of 2012 she lived with us for awhile because she had been asked to leave the home of the friend she had been living with (on his couch) for 2 years. She had no place to go. Within a couple of weeks she had erected a huge green tent outside our back patio doors and stayed in that thing with her 4 cats because she found our simple house rules objectionable. Each time we set a boundary she broke it. Sometimes within hours of telling us she understood and would comply. She had a key to the house and ultimately we had to take it away and she had to knock on the door to go to the bathroom or eat. It was completely surreal. She thought nothing of it. To her, not abiding by any rules in any case is how she experiences freedom to be herself. Anything but her own perception of liberation is reprehensible to her.

Presently she lives with a woman my age who is ill. She pays no rent, the woman desperately wants her to leave but my daughter won't, she says, "I have rights." She has been living there rent free for over a year.

I can't explain any of this to you, but I do hear in your post very similar experiences. Nothing has changed for my daughter, however through my own counseling and hard work on myself, my daughter's choices don't have the same impact on me. I had to learn how to detach and accept what is. It's not easy.

I'm so sorry to hear this, I do understand your feelings and certainly the wondering why...........I can't answer that either, but what I can tell you is that you can walk through all of this sorrow and pain and come out the other side and live a fulfilling life NO MATTER what you son does or doesn't do. If I can figure out how to do that, and I am the biggest sentimental, sensitive, (hopefully recovered) enabler around...........anyone can do it!

You might try contacting NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They not only have parent groups which are very helpful, they helped me to find resources for my daughter. The Social Worker there told me he could help my daughter apply for Social Security/disability, get housing, jobs, education, medical insurance, medications, etc. I set that all up, but my daughter refused to follow through. Sigh.

You could also find out all the local shelters in your area and give the list to your son. Different states have different options for mentally ill folks. I also looked into all the Social services for my daughter. She does get food stamps now and has medical insurance, she was willing to do that but nothing else. She finds the annual forms you have to fill out to continue receiving government assistance a "violation" of her privacy, so often she doesn't do it for a long time until she gets desperate.

The bizarre choices some of our kids make are crazy-making for us parents. We want them to be safe and happy and the choices they make are often in direct conflict with our own perceptions of safe and happy. In order for me to maintain a life of my own and actually experience any kind of peace and joy, I have had to distance myself from my own child. It was a long process, a step by step experience of detachment........and I had a lot of professional support which proved to be invaluable. The sense of powerlessness, the sadness, the disappointment..............was profound and I needed help to navigate through all of that.

Hang in there MrMike, little by little we learn how to maneuver through all of this. We make choices, we follow through, we become comfortable with each step we take, we go through enormous emotional storms along the way as we learn how to do it all..............just keep walking through, keep taking deep breaths, get all the support you can find.................take good care of yourself and nurture your relationship with your wife............sending you lots of good thoughts and a prayer for you and your family.........


Dear Recovering,

Thank you so much for your kind advice and insight. It seems we do have similar situations, and that you have already been through the ringer a lot longer than I have, and have learned very well how to cope, and live victoriously even given your situation with your daughter.

Your words are so helpful, you do not know how much. Not to embarrass you too much, but your writing is so good, so spot on, you have a gift for this ... helping people, and for providing support for these things.

We have signed up for the Family-To-Family course offered by NAMI, and start it next week. It should be a big help, as from what I have read, it goes over all the psychological conditions that most of these young adults have, and instructs on how to deal with them, and also
provides a support group type of a atmosphere. We are going to need it.

*Thanks again for your great help.


Well-Known Member
I have a 17 yr old (his birthday is today) and thinks the same way as your child. He is currently in a juvenile correctional treatment center and is floundering and having difficulty trying to figure out how to make sense of his situation and why there have to be rules that everyone, including him, must follow.


Well-Known Member
I don't think it's unreasonable to allow him on the property, if he is NOT destroying it or using drugs in your view, or giving him water or a sandwich (I wouldn't over do). At least there is peace in your home, which is your goal. Your goal, as RE, who I call Ms. Compassion, has said you can not change him. Only he can do that and if he does it will be because he gets tired of himself and he wants to. You can't do it for him.

At the same time, is it not time to move on with YOUR life? It is not fair to put your own life on hold because of your child's bad choices. You have more family than just him, friends, hobbies, activities you love, things you've always wanted to do...now is the time! DO THEM. Treat yourself kindly. You may, besides NAMI, want to go to AA or NA if your son is a substance abuser. There is a lot of good common sense and loving support in those groups too.

I wish you well and hope you can learn the difficult task of detaching with love.


Mr.Mike, my heart goes out to you. I have a now 23 year old, has been out of my home for 3 1/2 yrs. had to get a restraining order. He is homeless and I did all I could do. He is in the town next door to me and not sure who he might be living with. My son was out of my home for most of his teenage years, in group homes/residential,etc. because I could his behavior. I too, wonder why some people have wonderful children who are doing so well, but realize this is what I have been dealt with by God and I know I did the best I could. I have been seeing a therapist for over 3 yrs. and although it helps, I am depressed and can't seem to move forward enough, although I am trying. I am devastated by my situation and wish things were different, but they aren't. My oldest son asked what would happen to him, will he be bum on the street someday; I said I don't know, but maybe. I thought mine hit rock bottom but apparently he hasn't. It might never happen and I hurt so bad every day. I muddle through for my husband(not difficult child's dad) and my 2 other boys, but it is devastating. You must be strong though, you can not live in fear and you don't deserve it. Somehow, these kids manage and all you can do is pray(if you do that sort of thing).
Thinking of you and wishing you some sort of peace.


I guess we can only do so much, and the rest is up to them. I know that at certain times in my life, I was making some poor decisions, but it was the only ones I knew how to make. Maybe that's what they do, make extremely poor decisions, but it is the only ones they are equipped to make, given their mental state. All we can do is be strong, insist they behave respectfully towards us and others, and not accept when they don't, even if that means kicking them out. I know for my son, if we don't get through to him at this point in his life, we may never. So, we better do it now, cause his attitudes and behavior wont serve him well in the future.


Well-Known Member
At his age, he understands his poor choices, but is ignoring that knowledge on purpose. There is nothing YOU can do to either help him or change him. He has to decide to do that, if indeed he ever wants to. It's late now and I forgot the whole story, but if he is using drugs that is a bad choice he has made, but he could be addicted to them by now and then logic goes out the window.

A very hard parental lesson we often have to learn is that no matter how many dinners we take them out to in order to talk to them, either harshly or kindly or with desperation, we can not make another person, even a grown adult child, suddenly say, "Hey, you're right. Think I'll do what you say." In fact, harping on them often causes spats and the kid walks off even more sure he has reasons to do poorly...because his "nasty" parent expects too much of him.

I strongly suggest practicing detachment. At your son's age, you are powerless to change him, as we all are regarding our adult children. I'm really sorry you are going through this. You seem like such a nice dad. You don't deserve this heartbreak...and I hope you take steps to make your own life better. THAT you have control over :)


Well-Known Member
Staff member
"All we can do is be strong, insist they behave respectfully towards us and others, and not accept when they don't, even if that means kicking them out."

That really is what it all boils down to. The difficult part is for us to let go and accept that often that is all we can do. The deep grief about the losses involved, our dreams for our kids, our hopes and the vision of how we thought their lives would be, can feel devastating to let go of. I think it takes parents time to grasp all of that and we do it in increments. As I've mentioned, detachment is not linear, it doesn't follow a set pattern, we go forward, backwards and sideways as we avoid and sometimes step onto emotional mine fields.

Your son is still young, there is still time for him to pull it together and for you to balance what you're willing to do and not willing to do. I'm so glad you have a counselor and will be attending the NAMI parent course, that professional support will be extremely helpful and give you the tools to navigate with success.

I'm sorry you have to go through this, I do understand the level of heartbreak this brings to us...........you're doing all the appropriate things for both you and your wife and your son. You've got all the ducks in order, if you have a spiritual connection you might place your son in the hands of a Higher Power...God..... that can be comforting and offer you solace.

And, thank you for your kind words.......it seems my daughter has given me an opportunity to offer help to other parents on a similar path. Sometimes life places us on strange journeys which have unexpected outcomes. Hang in there..........
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Quick update: difficult child called from wherever he was, asked if I could pick him up and get him some food, and then take him somewhere else. I agreed, since I dont mind providing him food from time to time, and since he had another place to go (and it wasn't my house).
Met him, got him some food, and then he said he didn't have any place to go. He manipulated me again .... I felt I couldn't leave him in the parking lot of the pizza shop where we had dined, so I told him he could sleep in the tent in our back yard, but not come in the house. He agreed. He was home for two days (in the back yard), and then we had a family conference. We all asked him if he would agree to follow the rules of the house (we had printed out a few basic house rules for him), and he told us NO, he would not follow them. We asked him to leave, and have not heard from him since then (a few days ago).

My problem is this: He seems like he feels cornered when we ask him to agree to our list of house rules. Almost like its a symptom of his mental health issue that makes him feel cornered or trapped by rules. But, he causes chaos and anxiety in our house by not agreeing to them. So, to get to the problem: Next time he calls, I will ask him if he can convince us that he is ready to follow the house rules. If he says no again, I know I should tell him then he cannot come home, but I'll also know he has nowhere to stay AND I will question whether his response to our house rules is a reaction caused by his condition, or whether its a willful disobedience that should not be tolerated.

I think I know the answer to this, but it would help getting others opinions. Is his refusal to agree to follow our house rules caused by his condition? (by the way, we don't have a diagnosis yet), is it willful disobedience? or does it matter? I believe the answer is that we need to have peace in our house, and we need to be able to relax, and not worry about him mistreating us, and if he cannot agree to follow our simple rules, even if its because of his condition, then he needs to live somewhere else, period. If it's because of his condition, then he needs to acknowledge he has a condition, and agree to get help for it. Do you guys agree?


Well-Known Member
Staff member
I've traveled that road too, looking for rational ways of dealing with irrational data. I think it's more about you needing to gain some clarity so that you can ultimately make a very difficult choice to keep your own son away from your home, I completely understand how that goes.

Your son's responses may be a result of a yet unnamed condition and it may be the driver behind his inability to follow any rules. My own daughter is exactly the same way. It likely is a result of some condition............rather then willful disobedience and yet if he refuses to acknowledge that he has some "issues" which require assistance, your hands are tied. You said it all yourself, you want peace and he disrupts peace, whatever the cause.

Mr.Mike, the likelihood is that my daughter and your son are simply acting out of their own beliefs about what reality is, it doesn't have anything to do with you and I. They are wired in a fashion that makes them respond to life differently which causes them and us pain. The problem is that without their acknowledgment of the "issue" and seeking help, we are powerless. That powerlessness forces us to continue looking for ways to understand and fix it. It doesn't make any sense. My daughter works so incredibly hard to make her life work, it is just remarkable............when if she simply had a real job and made money, all of that struggle and hardship and suffering would cease to be................and yet she cannot make that choice, no matter what I say or anyone says. She is the captain of her ship, not me. She has always refused to acknowledge any issues or problems she has. You can't fix what you don't acknowledge.

This is monstrous for you, believe me, I understand that completely, but short of giving him a list of shelters in your area and/or finding some way you can support him where it doesn't harm you..........there isn't much else you can do. Your son clearly stated he would not follow your rules. At some point you'll have to believe him.


PS/I thought it might be prudent to add that my daughter and your son may benefit from being evaluated and diagnosed which might make them eligible for Disability/Social Security benefits............I did set that up for my daughter, all the resources were at her fingertips, however, she declined to go to the next step. So, even if they can't work, there are resources available to assist them, however, they would have to admit to a problem and follow through.
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Wow, another great response Recovering. You are right ... I truly feel he is acting on his beliefs, and that his beliefs are screwed up due to his condition. He has a lot of screwed up beliefs, but that a story for another day. All we can do is protect ourselves, and ask them to do what we know is right. If they won't or can't, it's up to them to either decide to do what's right, or get help because they can't. And if they can't, I guess the only way they might is if they go through enough pain where they decide something has to change. I don't know. I guess that's the best we can hope for, but as you say, it's their life, their ship, and they make the decisions about their lives.

One book that I want to recommend for anyone out there who is frustrated by their difficult child who refuses to acknowledge they have a problem is called "I am not sick! I don't need help" by Xavier Amador, PHD. ISBN-13: 978-0-9677189-3-4

It provides a way to approach and partner with your difficult child to help them accept help, without focusing on the fact that they have a mental health issue, which, of course, they will deny anyway. Great book which helps alot.

And thanks again to Recovering, whose responses to my posts are like having a wise counselor at the ready whenever I post my problems. :D


Yes, your son is acting that way because of a mental health disorder, but..........he needs to know you do not hate him you hate the disorder. My son was in 2 adolescent residential programs and then when he came home he wouldn't engage in any after care. When he turned 18 I let him continue tolive with me because I knew he could not survive alone; I gave him names of counselors to call but he wouldn't follow through. He verbally abused me so much I had to get the rest. order. Even then, I tried to get him help but he never followed through. Of course, he doesn't want to acknowledge he has a problem so he won't get help. I suspect mine has more than bi-polar and when my therapist met with him a few times she said she feels it is a combination of things and maybe there isn't even any medications that could help. That's depressing. These kids see reality in a different way, I guess. The manipulation is classic, you learn that quickly. I can't even have ANY CONTACT with mine because it leads to give me this, give me that.....There is no answer, you would think they would hit rock bottom, but sometimes they don't. It's been 3 1/2 years for mine, and still no positive things. If you ask him to follow the rules in your home, your asking for something he can't do. What I did was tell mine was he needs help and I can find a way for him to get it and even pay for it, but I realized he couldn't follow any rules so that was expecting too much. Offer help, give him the name of a counselor, hospital,etc. but don't let yourself be abused.
No, they are not capable of taking care of themselves without assistance but they are smart and might understand more thanyou think they do. I understand totallyhow you feel and I went through that for awhile..........but it's nothis fault he acts like that, it's the disorder talking. All you can do is pointhim toward help. It won't get better until he realizes it and I am waiting myself.
I think of what I used to live with and know it was not healthy. I believe I got cancer over 10 years of worry and turmoil.
Good luck and stay strong.


Active Member
I was wondering what your son was like before he hit this angry disobedient phase? Was this change following a traumatic event of some sort? Was he of normal IQ during his early school years? These are all things the psychiatrist will consider when they evaluate him to figure out what his diagnosis is; unfortunately he is never going to meet a psychiatrist if he is living in a tree somewhere telling a squirrel how he is right and his family is wrong.

I would ask him why he feels he should live life with no boundaries? Does he feel entitled to take or destroy others property? Disrespect them? Try to see this from his perspective (not yours). With Angel I had to get rid of the list of house rules (even with calling it a code of conduct); she knows what they are but can't handle looking at that list, she's same way with any kind of chore/ behavior/ rewards etc charts. Took years before I could keep a calendar on the wall. There are sometimes that because of their illness certain things or triggers will cause them to get stuck or explode. It sounds to me that there is something about the word "rule" that causes your son to turn off his listening abilities or to get stuck.

Then again I never met your son, just know where my kids react to the same type stuff and thought I might give you a different slant to look at this. Wishing you the best.



Stomach is in knots today. difficult child called last nite and wanted to come home and get some food, which means he wants to come home. We last kicked him out about a week ago for breaking more stuff, and not convincing us that he really and truly agreed with the house rules, which require everyone in our house to treat each other with respect and kindness. difficult child has never had the ability to show empathy toward anyone. I think its part of his condition. He currently says he's "down with" the house rules, but dont know if he'll ever be able to convince us he really "gets it", as far as how to live peacefully with the rest of the family.

And this is my delimma today ... I'm not convinced he "gets it" yet, as far as our house rules, and his understanding of their importance. He only looks at what he needs and wants, and not what is required by others around him. He says he is down with the house rules, but he is only doing this to get back into the house. Like I said, this may be part of his condition, as he has never had empathy for anyone. So, how do I know when it is really safe to let him back in ? And by safe, I mean how do I know that the same behavior that got him kicked out multiple times (verbally abusing us, breaking things, acting like he owns the place) will not recur? How do I know he really "gets it"? Can he be broken? Can he learn that that kind of behavior and attitude is not acceptable and wrong? He seems to not have the ability to looks at things as right and wrong, only what is expedient for him at the time.

I guess we're gonna find out, because even though I've been a pushover most of the time, I think I've reached the point where I know that him living with us if he hasn't changed his attitude is not going to work. Frankly, I don't want him in my house at all. He makes me (and everyone else) uptight and uncomfortable, as once he gets comfortable, he rules the house. He has such a strong personality and will, that he does whatever he wants without regard to house rules and respect for others. The only reason I'm wrestling with what to do is that he is running out of places to stay, and even though I shouldn't care, I still am concerned about that. I hope that very soon, I develop the attitude that our welfare (i.e. the rest of our family) is more important than his demands and unreasonable attitude.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
MrMike, I could have written your post two years ago, with all the exact same questions as well. I hear ya!

Well, from my own experience, my guess is that as you mentioned, your son is a strong personality and within a very short time, those rules will be a thing of the past and you will once again be faced with asking him to leave.

That said, certainly give it a try if that feels right, with ABSOLUTE rules, which mean that as soon as one or two infractions happen THERE WILL BE IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES, NO SECOND CHANCE. I think some difficult child's can adapt and learn and truthfully, some, like my daughter, cannot. If you give this a try, I would have it all written down, as to what you expect, exactly what the consequences will be.....and have him sign it. They are experts at manipulation so you will need to be very clear.

Having gone through this with my daughter, I know how hard it is, but seriously, consider calling the local shelter and finding out if they have a bed for him. I know you were going to attend the NAMI course, they may be able to assist you with SSI, if your son is willing to jump through those hoops.......but that takes time and is a future option.

MrMike, you said, "Frankly, I don't want him in my house at all. He makes me (and everyone else) uptight and uncomfortable." That is what you want and that is based on your experience. Often we parents have to go through the same situation over and over again until we finally reach our own personal limit. You may or may not be there yet. Only you will know when that point hits. It was obvious to me, it took a long time, but when I hit that wall, I was then done. My experience is that if you leave any opening at all, any loophole in your thinking, your son will find it and exploit it to his advantage. Without a place to stay, he is going to promise anything, "being down with that" will likely last as long as it takes for him to develop a foothold of power to then use to intimidate and control you. My daughter could make my fiance' and I feel as if we were guests in our own home, uncomfortable in our living-room while she stood directly in the middle of the room playing Wii tennis and acting as if that was a totally normal thing to be doing while 2 other people sat on the couch trying to have a conversation!

Think this through well before you make any choices. It doesn't sound good to me, personally, based on my own experience with my daughter, I would not let him back. I would offer the number of the shelter. Some folks here found cheap rooms at the YMCA or some local hotel which caters to transients, that works too if you're willing to pay for that. It's really all up to you, you hold all the power. You could also put the tent back up and allow him to use the bathroom and offer him some food, but his past actions and all of your statements make that seem like it's too close as well.

This is hard MrMike, I really know that. There is no real right or wrong, only what you can live with and what feels right to you, right now. Sending good thoughts.


scent of cedar

New Member
Mr. Mike, is this behavior a change for your son?

Do you know whether drug use is involved?

I think I understood you to say that he had not been diagnosed. I am assuming he refuses to be assessed?

Mr. Mike, the balance of power in your relationship to your son has shifted. In order for your son to live at home again, that situation is going to have to change. This should not be a question of whether or not your son is willing to obey the rules. He has already demonstrated that he is not. He is blackmailing you into bringing him home again by making you look at him, all pitiful in the yard. He can do that because you love him, and because he knows that is not the kind of father you want to be. Your son knows the rules of this game inside out. He knows you will let him come home. He knows his condition excuses his behavior.

That all has to stop.

As Recovering suggested, you need to check out addresses and phone numbers for local shelters. You need to check on the cost of a room at the YMCA. Having somewhere to send your son will enable you to mean what you say. It may become necessary for you to pay for a room for a certain amount of time so your son can find work and get on his feet. Just knowing what your options are will make you stronger, and will change the nature of your interactions with your son. Maybe that will be enough. Maybe your son will sense this different determination in you, and start behaving with courtesy and respect.

But best to be prepared.

You are going to need to learn what your rights are, relative to your son. You may not have the right to ask him to leave your home without going through an eviction process.

If your son has been refusing to be assessed, that should be one of the conditions of his returning home.

Call and make the appointment before you let him come back. Ask him if he is "down with" having an assessment done, and explain that he will need to leave on that date if he does not willingly complete the assessment. (This is where knowing the cost of the YMCA, or of one of those month-by-month hotels comes in. You may need to take him there, or send him by cab.) If your son is suffering a mental illness, it should be addressed by a professional. If there is no illness, then you and your son will need to re-assess what is really happening, here. If you don't know where to begin this process, go through the blue pages (the government section) of your phone book. Contact Human Services, and they will be able to help you. In some areas of the country, dialing 211 will access a 24
hour helpline. It will be an amazing source of comfort and information for you. This is toll-free.

If you are reluctant to have your son diagnosed and labeled like that, then you will need to be very specific about the behaviors that will get him thrown out of your home. You will probably have to run him down to the YMCA once or twice. The cost of a room for a week to teach him this lesson will be good for both of you. You can tell him that, though he will be able to come home in one week the first time you find it necessary to move him out...the day will come when you may not allow him to come back, at all.

It is your home, Mr. Mike. You are not making it impossible for your son, he is making it impossible for you. Part of the problem is that young men should not be living with their parents. Your son should be out on his own, unless he is in school.

I know you may not act on any of this information, today. And that's okay. It's okay to give your son as many chances as you are willing to try. Each of us comes to this in our own time. It took me years and years, and I still get taken, sometimes! :O) But it is also important for you to begin to prepare for the day when you will be ready, really ready, for things to change.

None of us envisioned ourselves trying to figure out what to do with a violent, rebellious kid. It takes time for us to figure it out, and more time still to be ready to do what we need to do.

It's a hard, painful process, Mr. Mike. I am sorry you need to be here with us. But I can tell you that each of the parents here has been right where you are, today. Eventually, we made peace with what had happened to our children. Sometimes, the days are so hard we can hardly stop thinking about them, can hardly stop crying...and then, we hold one another up and get each other through it.

I am glad you are here with us, Mr. Mike. This site is a good, safe place to learn and to share our stories and to heal.


These are things that helped me.

One of the mom's here posted about a newspaper article she'd read about American soldiers in Iraq. The article contained pictures of the 18 to 20 year old young men huddled around their tanks in camouflage, rifles in the air. And it occurred to the mom that she had just left her 22 year old son's filthy apartment (for which she was paying in a desperate attempt to get him out of the house and on his feet) with that same son yelling after her that his power was going to be shut off and he had no food.

All at once, the mom could see her son differently.

He was even older than those soldiers were. And while they were risking life and limb half a world away...her own son couldn't hold a job, didn't bother to clean up after himself in the apartment his parents were paying for, and couldn't even supply his own food, let alone pay his light bill.

Reading that mom's post helped me to see my son differently, too. I found a picture of young soldiers in Iraq. I taped it right next to the phone. Because I found it impossible to say anything to my son that didn't involve "Where do you want the money sent." (Ha! It's true! :O) I practiced phone conversations with the other parents, here. Then, I taped their responses next to the phone, too. The next time my son called, I used the responses we had figured out. Things like: "I'm sorry that is happening, difficult child. What are you going to do?" Or, "Let me know how things turn out." Or, "You are a smart man, difficult child. You'll figure it out." Or, "Sorry, honey. I have to go."

difficult child came to hate this site.


Part of the problem for us was that it never occurred to us that our son's problems had less to do with poor parenting than with drug use. This may not be the case, with your son. Another piece of the problem for us was that we did not (and still do not, to some degree) see our son as an adult male who is responsible for what he says, what he does, and what he believes. We excused inappropriate behavior and even, blamed ourselves for our son's behavior.



Today I am doing better. After I spoke with my son, I decided that I wasn't ready for him to come to live with us yet (if ever). So, when I spoke to him the next day, I told him I would drive down and meet him where he is staying, and the two of us could go to the local supermarket and buy him some food. He agreed to this.

When I met him we did just that. After that we talked in the car a little, and he asked if my wife still didn't want him home. I told him that both of us had thought about it, and that we weren't ready for him to come home yet. I told him I would drop him back where he was staying (his friend's house). He agreed. I also told him that for my wife and I to be comfortable with him living with us again he would need to change. He thought about that, and said that he wasn't sure if that's what he wanted to do anyway, and that he kind of likes being on his own (which he really isn't, as I bought him food, and he is temporarily staying at a house he doesn't own or pay rent at). I said ok, and dropped him where he was staying. We parted amicably, and said "See you later".

I then went to an appointment with my counselor, and told her what happened. She reinforced how my wife and I are handling this, and went even further, saying that I am probably being too soft on him. That driving to meet him, and buying him food is probably doing too much for him. She recommended next few times he calls not to answer. Have him leave a msg, and let him think about things ... why he's where he is, how I might not always be there for him. She said I should not be so eager to fix his problems for him ... the problems he created. I agree with her. I told her I felt I had one a small victory by not allowing him back into my home ... which is true. But I agree with my counselor's assessment that he needs to think about what he has done to our home (breaking things, violent outbursts, verbally abusing us). He needs to get a dose of reality, and not be coddled by me. He needs to see where his actions have gotten him, and really and truly decide to change his attitude and behavior, because he knows it will not be tolerated (at least not at my house, and probably not anywhere else for that matter).

I am trying through prayer and others' support to focus on how I feel about him coming home. If my gut tells me I don't think he's ready, or I'm not ready, then I need to respect what my gut is telling me. I would be doing a disservice to myself and him if I let him back home before either of us is ready. He needs to change, and I need to change. I need to be absolutely resolute that his disrespectful, bullying behavior is not tolerated in my home. He needs to decide that he will respect us and everyone in our home. He needs to give up the bullying behavior, become a man, and deal with his own weaknesses, instead of taking them out on us.

So, today, after my small victory of not letting him back in, and the reinforcement from my counselor, I feel relaxed and am able to focus better at work. I feel more secure. I need to keep praying for strength and guidance, and stick to my guns, of mine and his sakes.


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Good job MrMike! You've quite successfully walked through the latest mine field. Good work! Each step of the way, treacherous as it is for us, is a huge victory, not at all a small victory. We all must learn to pat ourselves on the back for these steps, they are outrageously difficult and tear our hearts right out of our chests. Do not minimize this and simply move onto the next drama, let yourself really get what you went through to come to this decision.................you won a GREAT victory fighting your natural instincts to protect and keep your son safe...........

Each step is a victory which has to be acknowledges in order to build on whatever the next step is. It is FAR too easy for us to not acknowledge the intense level of re-learning, shifting our parental gears, facing our fears, dealing with our disappointments and sorrow...............no one except those in the trenches with you, NOT EVEN your therapist, really gets the magnitude of this for us, the parents............ What we go through, what we have to let go of, what our losses and suffering is............. you did great. Against all the internal promptings to "oh, just let him come home this one time".........remembering him as an 8 year old who you want to protect..............NO, this is reality and it is a tough one. And, there will be more to the story, so you will clearly need to keep encouraging yourself along the way........

So, please MrMike, celebrate this victory, go out to dinner with your wife, do a happy dance around your office, buy yourself a new pair of sneakers, anything to commemorate what a good job you did. I know how hard this is to do. I'm telling you from where I sit, you done good!