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Tough love got a bit tougher for our family this week. So never say, “It can’t get any worse.” Sorry to disappoint you, but it can.

But despite this thought, as long as we are still upright, there is always hope.  It’s possible to get stuck in the inertia of paralysis, but hope is still the necessary ingredient to taking the first step forward.

I don’t want to go into too many sordid details, but let’s just say our older son is really on the crash and burn. We see it; he does not.

Two weeks ago, or so, he was suspended from his job that he loved, did well at and had never had a problem with.


Because he chooses to attend musical events where he enhances the whole experience by ingesting things that aren’t legal or medicinally necessary for him.

OK, only a suspension, but he is, for various reasons, choosing not to go back.

This is problematic from my way of looking at things. A significantly overdrawn checking account, which will soon go to collections; a more significant amount of credit card debt (due to online gambling) that is soon going to hit interest rates that really should be outlawed; and cancelled car insurance due to non payment (back to the overdrawn checking account). Last I knew, and it hasn’t changed, it is illegal to drive without car insurance, even though plenty of people do it.

Admittedly, I don’t understand. My husband and I love our children and work hard. Very hard.

Even worse was his decision to make several scary threats and indications of plans on how he would deal (not deal) with what the next several weeks may hold for him.  And as responsible, caring parents, let’s just say his statements and actions didn’t leave us any wiggle room in the “he needs help” department – regardless of the fact that he has no health insurance. It took a day to get to the next step, and when we hooked up with him he was not a happy camper.

I love my firstborn fiercely; I always will, but I am not sure what happened to the notion of helping ourselves, and simply reserving a firm hand of support for backup – not as an automatic expectation. But don’t get me started on what people think they do and do not deserve. I will save the discussion of entitlement for another day.

So, we now have one pissed off adult son who isn’t speaking to us, and hope that others will surround him who can speak a different alternative into his mind and heart.

It is difficult, but necessary to hold the line. And the line must be black, it can’t be written in invisible ink.

Tough love is tough, but it is still love.  Blessed are the peacemakers, and when communicated firmly and in a technically neutral voice (not screaming, but incorporating reflective listening using the “victim’s” own words) it is still love.

Have you experienced this kind of tough love?

Kathy Pride is a mother of four, author and Parent Blogger for Empowering Parents.


If you find any comments that are rude or inappropriate, please contact us immediately.

  • Philip Says:

    This doesn’t sound fun. Showing love, even tough love is better for your son then enabling his spiral. We have not experienced this with our kids but we have friends who have. Often time things have to get a lot worse before they get better, but they can get better, and usually do.

    Don’t back down, you are doing the right thing!

  • cswartz40 Says:

    Good for you and your husband. I work as a family crisis counselor and while I know your decision did not come easy, it was a good decision.

    Don’t feel guilty. Stick to your guns and don’t bail him out. Give him love and support. But, allow him to work out his problems. There are some great programs out there for recovery that provides individuals a place to live, support for recovery, training, and employment. They are usually peer own and operated and self-sustaining.

    As parents we don’t want our children to struggle and suffer, but we have to learn to “let go”. (and do a lot of praying.)


  • Singlemom Says:

    Do not back up now, keep your chin high and you will win it, just take the responsibility to make it right from the day today, And do not let your self blame you or trape you in guilt, insted feel the pride that you can do it as a life project and it will get better because i know parent knows hhow to put their hreat in the projects related to their children sometimes they need only skills and this link to empowering parents is all about us.
    So chin up and do it as a guardian proyector and warriors do it.

  • admin Says:

    as long as we are still upright, there is always hope.

  • Kathy Pride Says:

    Greetings friends and fellow sojourners on this parenting journey…

    First, I thankfully can say I don’t feel guilty. That just doesn’t get us anywhere except back into the muck of murky grey waters.

    Our decision did get our son’s attention, and although he did not speak to us, it was only for a couple of days. He followed through on recommendations to set up follow up appointments with the counselor he has had a relationship with and invited me to participate in the session.

    We will return this next Wednesday.

    We are holding the line and will determine with the assistance and guidance of the counselor what we will and will not support. The counselor recommended thirty days of inpatient treatment, which also got our son’s attention. That night he made a decision to talk to the people in charge of his old job and is awaiting their decision about whether or not he can go back, and if he is invited back it will be with mandatory counseling and drug testing. Which will be a good thing.

    We are proceeding cautiously and making sure our yes is yes, and no is no, and is spoken in unison. SOOOOO important.

    We have not contributed towards his bills and will work out, again, through the counselor, acceptable terms for him to live at home, a modest amount of rent which will be affordable as long as they take him back. If they don’t take him back, he will have more figuring out to do, but we are not getting too far ahead of ourselves.

    His brother, who spent a bit of time living in his car has started going to D&A counseling, mandated by the courts as a result of a DUI, and is going to AA. And has a job that will start shortly.

    I have learned to also accept the small things as tremendous gifts, and simply not get too excited one way or the other; blown away by the successes, or devastated by the slides…

    We are learning much that will change the course of parenting we take with our daughters as a result of these experiences. Oh my, how they will not, but should, thank their older brothers!

    Cindy, can you point us in the direction of any of those peer run programs?

    Blessings, Kathy

  • Veronica Says:

    We are going through a similar experience with our 18 year old son, only in our case the courts and possible jail time are involved. It’s very hard to watch him continue to make poor decisions. Telling him he couldn’t live here rent free if he chose to continue to drink and use was one of the hardest things my husband and I have had to do.

    Hang in there. No matter what he says, I believe he knows how much you love him. God willing, he’ll find his way soon.

  • Tammy Says:

    My daughter is traveling down the same road. She was kicked out of school for verbally assaulting her teachers. She will not graduate with her friends, she has lost her job, her car insurance and her license. She will be 18 in a few months and the line has been drawn as to what will be acceptable now and when she becomes “an adult”. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do – but she is tearing our family apart. I pray each and every day that today is the day that my daughter breaks free and returns to us.

  • Nigel Lane Says:

    Your children will always be your babies no matter how big they get, which is why it can sometimes be so difficult for parents to give tough love to children even when that is the best strategy. To learn more effective child-rearing tips, you should definitely pay a visit to this website:

  • Brenda Fox Says:

    Keep strong with your Husband and family that is still with you.
    You have to stand up for what you believe. We as parents have to make such hurtful decisions. The kids will never know like we didn’t until they are parents.
    God Bless You.

  • Rhonda Says:

    I understand where you are coming from & know this is hard. My problem is a bit harder. My daughter is on a downward spiral & has for the last 10 years. We have not bailed her out but have taken her children so they can have a safe stable life. We have raised her 3 boys (now all teenagers) with no help from her or her ex husband emotionally or financially. She stays at our home when the mood strikes her to be near her children. She has a daughter who is younger but no idea who the father is, a whole different story. She disappears for days with no contact but will not let us have custody of her daughter. We have temporary custody of the boys. When we confront her she acts like we are the ones to blame for her life being bad. We have never done anything to help her. She threatens to take our granddaughter which scares me. She has left her with anyone who would allow her to since the child was born. At the present we have all the grandchildren living here where we know where they are. As grandparents we have no rights & if she chose she could remove her daughter & we would never see her. I know she is into drugs & drinks a lot but can’t find any help for her or us. She is also stealing from us or just gives our stuff away. When we ask about it she acts like she has no clue what we are talking about.
    I have enjoyed the articles here & they have helped a lot with the grandchildren. Sure wish I had something like this when my children were younger.

  • Susan Engel Says:

    Oh … my … goodness. *heavy sigh* My heart is SO heavy for you, Kathy, as well as all of the parents who have posted about this challenging … no, let’s not sugar-coat it … this PAINFUL decision. My kids are still young yet (almost 7 and 10), but the tweenage years are right around the corner …
    The scary thing for me is to recall what I was like as a teen and young adult. I was one of those kids who managed to get through high school and college, but struggled with chemical dependency (although I didn’t acknowledge it at the time). I KNOW that I put my poor parents through heck when I engaged in some less-that-stellar choices. And today, I cringe when I think that I may be the one on the receiving end of my own behavior in the form of my kids. Who knows? It’s possible. They’ve got the genes for it, unfortunately.
    Okay, enough about me (blush). While I don’t have any sage advice, I can totally support your decision to hold the line, as tough (<- understatement!) as it is. And it sounds like you’re doing that so … good for you!!! *high fives!* Folks who don’t have kids or who haven’t faced this situation with a loved one cannot possibly understand the whirlwind of emotions that assault you when it comes to this issue. So I say: Keep up the good work, Kathy!!!! And here are a few extra {{{{ hugs }}}}, too. ;-)
    BTW, for what it’s worth, it’s important to emphasize that, as painful as it is, enabling the behavior of an addict/alcoholic/ragaholic is only furthering the behavior. Enabling frequently masks as “love” and can be difficult to distinguish. However, barring immediate death, allowing the person to experience the consequences of his/her own behavior just may be the “bottom” that they need to hit in order to turn their life around (as one who speaketh from experience). As a caring, loving parent, it’s one of THE most difficult choices to make. Ever.
    Again, my heart goes out to all of you experiencing this painful situation! Bless your hearts.
    I would love to hear how this all turns out in the end …

  • Susan Engel Says:

    P.S. I just re-read my post and wanted to add that I am in NO WAY implying that you are enabling your child. Quite the contrary, my dear! Quite the contrary.

    Just wanted to make that point. ;-)

    ~ Susan

  • GAP Says:

    I can so relate. My kids are hooked on the online gambling and my teen son overdrew on his debit card to play and incurred hefty overdraft charges consequently. He also owes his cell phone provider overdue payments. I am trying to help sort out his finances and took away his debit card. He has been ok with this but continues to make poor decisions. That being said, I don’t think young adults reach a stage of good judgement until close to the mid-20s (according to scientific studies). God help us all!

  • Kathy Pride Says:


    Thanks for your support and kind words. We continue to hold the line and allow for the counselor to advocate and mediate. We had another appointment yesterday, and our son’s summation of the visit was that it was basically worthless. I remarked that when we don’t like listening to the hard truth it is pretty easy to lash out. His brother, who has made more than his fair share of bonehead decisions actually said, “well, that’s good; it’s striking a raw nerve close to home, so I would actually take it as a good sign.” The pot calling the kettle black…

    We continued to discuss options, work, school, debt payoff, and general conditions for staying in our home. He will learn tomorrow if his old job will take him back, and in the meantime got a response from a job he applied to to go and interview. It would be house painting but guarantees forty hours a week as opposed to 25-32 or so and at a rate $2 more per hour… Time will tell.

    And will also reveal what he decides to do about finishing up school.

    Yes, it is hard, but becomes a bit easier every day as we stick to our guns and get a pretty clear picture of where enabling excuses would lead.

    OK, now I am going to bed; I am exhausted. Peace.

  • Mary Jane S. Says:

    Showing tough love to an adult child is so difficult but I guess necessary to really help them in the long run. I am at a sort of crossroads with this and am so stressed knowing that my son is incurring tremendous debt while having neighbors up the street who are willing to house him while he continues down a rocky path. He won;t listen to good advice and I have promised to release some of his savings from earlier childhood to buy him a car for his job. The problem is that he has blown this past semester at college. He is losing his scholarships and always repeating classes because he either drops them and never attends very many. He has been spiraling downward ever since he started gambling and uses so much time to play online poker. He is 19 and this has been going on for a few years now. I have tried to help him and now feel afraid to get him a car. I think that is the only reason he is moving home this summer. My fear is that he now has a lease on an apt. for a year starting in the fall, no scholarships, and has a bill at college for a summer class he probably won’t even get to because he is late for everything and will have to leave at 6am to get there while holding down a full time job near home. School is about a 45 minute drive through rush hour traffic. He has agreed to move home for the summer and I previously was so happy about this but since he withdrew from 3 out of 4 classes this past semester and is retaking the fourth I am not happy about the car thing. He says it is his money but that would only buy a clunker and what about car insurance costs? Any advice and thanks.

  • Kathy Pride Says:

    Hi Mary Jane,

    I see so much of myself in your response; the wanting desperately to believe that somehow it will be different next time…but statistics are not in our favor when we continue to make insane decisions. Remember, the definition of insanity is repeating the same decisions over and over yet expecting different results. I hate to say this, but experience backs me up on this one: There is no real reason based on your son’s track record to indicate that this time will yield better results. If I were you, I would make him prove being able to be responsible for a car. Who is paying the insurance? Does he have a job? Why not just focus on working for awhile, forget school. He isn’t ready. We yanked our son out of school when he had had an abysmal semester and made him work for awhile. He just turned 28 and still is just shy of his degree.

    Why are the folks down the street putting him up? Are they friends of yours, or his peers? I doubt his ability to get up that early, work and manage school. Gambling is a nightmare; I know. And it is addictive behavior.

    Our son had a job interview yesterday, has been working one other very part time job and is making plans to take his last two courses. He has started to make wiser decisions, but all our household rules are being mediated by a counselor.

    Hold the line and be strong. Demand some positive performance first, otherwise you are simply rewarding his poor choices. It is the hardest thing you will do, but will pay off in the long run.

  • Mary Jane S. Says:

    Thanks Kathy. It is so hard to watch the self defeating behaviors of my son. The people up the street are the parents of my son’t “best” friend and they want to be friends to the kids. I despise them for not respecting my rules and for helping to ebable my son’s behaviors.
    Now that he is home I see that his behaviors have not changed. He goes from staying up all night, sleeping all day and playing warcraft with most of his free time. He does have a job waiting tables but is mostly late getting there, which doesn’t seem to matter to the restaurant so far. He lost his full scholarship and has wasted an entire year of college. When I ask him to stop going to school he says that he still wants to go there. It is like dealing with an insane person. I also know that to get money this past semester Jordan wrote papers for others and even did something shady to get about $40. He thinks “fun” is all there is and yet won’t listen to good advice from me. What makes a person so stubborn and foolish? Thanks.

  • Mary Jane S. Says:

    I want to thank you again for helping me to be stronger with the tough love approach. You must have gone through so much with your son since he is 28 now. I hope I can be strong for as long as you have although I know you are probably worn out from it. Since my son is an only child it is hard not to worry sooooo much. He looks at me sometimes like I am an alien. He was diagnosed with ADD as an elementary school child and I think he has low self esteem because of it. I had to be very strict with him and school and now he is rebelling against this. How nice of you to listen and respond. Take care.
    Mary Jane

  • PAULA Says:

    I didnt think my 36 year old drug addict daughter could fool me again but she just took more of my money pretending to be serious about rehab to save her relationship with her 8 yr old daughter from a destructive step father drug addict life style. She stayed less than one week and had him come get her, hasnt seen her daughter since. I was so mad & hurt I said no more dont call dont come around I am done! Now I just want to know she is alive & OK but I dont know whether to call or leave things alone. of course no money or help but one seems to lead to another. any advice? thanks

  • Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor Says:

    This is a very difficult situation to endure alone. There is a resource for you that could give you tremendous support. It’s Al-Anon. Al-Anon is the best resource for techniques to use for family members of an active alcoholic or substance user. Alcoholism and drug use is a family disease and those who care most about the user, such as yourself, are affected the most. Al-Anon members learn an alternative way of interacting with the user in the family: detachment with love. This happens when family members admit that they did not cause their loved one’s substance use, nor can they control it or cure it, and they focus on taking care of themselves instead by changing the things that they can and letting go of the rest. The substance user is no longer shielded from the consequences of their own behavior and this, more than anything else, can help the user face the facts about their addiction and admit their need for help.

    To learn more about Al-Anon, call 1-888-425-2666 or go online to

  • Kathy Pride Says:


    First, I will lift you guys up.

    Carole, thanks for filling in with the Al Anon resource. Love with detachment is so important… We so desperately want to believe…

    Our older son has been working, applied to finish his two college courses, has been living at home and helping, but we are all ready for him to leave when he returns to school…he filed his FAFSA form and will pay for all his expenses with his loan that we will not cosign for.

    We visited with his younger brother in OR last month, and for the moment he is clean. A relief. But a friend from home who uses and is a brewmaster just moved in with him, which concerns me. But I didn’t cause it and can’t control it, so I pray, keep the lines of communication open and hold firm and love him.

    Be well, and let us know how it goes.


  • Kim Says:

    I too have a adult son whose poor decisions and daily pot use still manage to cause no end of problems. He has been intermittently dysfunctional for the past 10 years and unfortunately his father has enabled some of this behaviour by bailing him out. Finally though I think I have taken an emotional step back(call it self preservation)so that I can have some degree of peace. It is as they say impossible to change others behaviour; only the way in which we react to it! Health and happiness to all the battling parents out there just remember all deserve some peace in our lives and must endeavour to find it!

  • beth Says:

    Decided to kick out my 20 yr old son after many battles and his not following rules.
    Kept bringing his girlfriend to the house and having her stay over night when I told him she was not allowed at the house, would not do his dishes,or help with chores around house, and then two of his friends came over and killed / attacked some of my pets. Now my son will not talk to the investigators because he does not want his friends to get in trouble. That was my breaking pt – working with the humane society and I hope they all end up with felony convictions. Took away his car, his gym membership, he’s out of the house – and I should have done this long ago.I should have kicked him sooner out when he would not help out around the house and was disrespectful. I am so sorry I waited so long to kick him out.

  • Pat Says:

    Today I finally got some back bone. My 22 year old unemployed son is moving out today. The last straw was when I went to bed early a few nights ago and he and his friend and girlfriend once again decided to disrespect me and smoke pot in my basement. I have told them over and over not to smoke pot in my basement. I am sick of coming home from work to a house that reeks like pot. He is verbally abusive towards me and I can’t take it anymore. I have a 17 year old daughter who is an honor student and she does not need to be around this either. I feel bad but I have to stay strong. Reading others letters on this website make me feel better and I know that I am not alone. I just hope he figures it out as I really worry.

  • Kate Says:

    Recently asked my 20 year son to leave. He had two years of college and not returned to school or working for nearly a year. I have enabled him and kept hoping he would pull himself up by the bootstraps and get a job or a direction in life other than chasing the music and concerts all summer long. Let his girlfriend life in our home for a short bit. Final straw too was coming home from my second job to find kitchen piled high with dishes and smoking pot on the front steps for a “night cap”. Not a good role model to his younger sisters. His great personality had me letting him coast for a long time. I am praying and repeating over and over, ” Let go and Let God” Peace

  • Marcia Says:

    I have an almost 21 year old daughter who I describe as “failure to launch”. She has ADHD and also has a slight learning disability and because of this, much enabling has occurred, but I also know that kids such as she are several years behind their peers in maturity. For instance, she is just now learning to drive. She doesn’t seem motivated to get a job, go back to school, or really to just grow up. We still give her an allowance if you can believe that, although she does earn it by keeping the house somewhat clean. I’d like to help her set some goals and then set a deadline, but am I once again playing the “enabling” game? She has two older sisters who made this transition quite easily, although they didn’t have the same roadblocks as she. Any advice?

  • Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    Marcia: Thank you for your question. Helping your daughter set some goals is not considered enabling. In fact, you are more likely enabling her if you don’t help her set some goals and hold her accountable for meeting those goals. It’s best to work on one goal at a time though, especially with ADHD children. James wrote a great series of articles on how to set rules and limits with adult children living at home. I am including them here for your reference. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this.
    Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part I
    Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part II: In Response to Questions about Older Children Living at Home
    Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part III: Is It Ever Too Late to Set up a Living Agreement?

  • Patty Says:

    I also have a 37 year old son who had an excellent job. He was addicted to Adderall among other things. I am divorced from an alcoholic who is living in Mexico because he has a bench warrant out for his arrest. My son just went through a dual diagnosis center but does not think he is addicted. He is now on his way to Mexico to live with his non-recovered alcoholic father.

    I have been through 30 years of my ex-husband’s addiction and 10 years of my son’s addiction. I will not spend one more minute (except the one I’m experiencing now for sanity’s sake) in thinking about their problems. I am tired. There is very little caring left in me. My choice is to keep the rest of my family and grandchildren and not let this splinter my remaining family. I love them deeply and a choice has to be made. I’m glad they’re in Mexico. The farther away the better. I have just retired. I can do nothing more for my son. I gave it my best. The only thing left, is love, if he needs that. It’s refreshing to get him out of my life as he has caused so much turmoil. There, I feel better. Life can be very good if you think about the things you are grateful for and take steps to reboot and start fresh.

  • jeni Says:

    My husband just found this website and it has been so insightful reading the articles and blogs. We have an 18yr old daughter who just graduated with honors from high school and got a very generous college scholarship last month. She got a good job for the summer and recently started hanging out with a friend who quit high school and has been through drug rehab already at 18. Things were fine a month ago. We were talking about stuff for her dorm, etc and now she has decided that she wants to move out and maybe go to local community college. Plus her behaviour here at home is disrespectful, uncaring, won’t pitch in, etc. I feel so torn on how to handle this. She, like others mentioned on this site, has so much potential and if she stays here in our little town she will be giving up so many opportunities. AND if she stays, how much help do we give her? She is a very smart girl and thinks she is already to go it on her own but she has a history of letting her friends influence her decisions and make some pretty bad choices. She is my first born and I just feel sick about what to do but my husband is right, her behaviour is not a good example for our other 3 kids. Please, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and God bless.

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To Jeni: It can be so hard to watch our children making poor choices and giving up amazing opportunities that they worked hard for. Since your daughter is 18, you unfortunately cannot stop her from moving out and going to a community college if that is what she chooses to do. You are not required to provide her with any financial assistance to do this. In fact if you help her move out it could be seen as a reward—the message it sends is that you can act defiant and rude and your parents will pay for you to have your own apartment or give you their car. While your daughter will make her own choices about where she lives and where she goes to school that does not mean that she should not be held accountable to follow your rules if she is living at home. I am including some articles on setting limits with adult children for more information. It might be helpful for you and your husband to talk more about this and figure out what choices you are willing to support and what choices you won’t support, and what will this look like? Come up with a plan for how you will hold your daughter responsible for following your house rules while she is still at home and present it to your daughter. If she refuses to follow your rules, it is not unreasonable to ask her to find another place to stay for a few days while she thinks it over more. We wish you and your family luck as you continue to work through this.
    Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part I
    Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part II
    Rules, Boundaries and Older Children Part III

  • KAY Says:

    Today is the first day I am handing our tough love. My husband has been wanting to do it for 1 year, but my mothers heart would not let me. I lost a son to cancer when he was 8: I do not want to bury another son. My son is a heroin addict. He does well, then relaspes, he does well, the relaspes. He has relasped once again. This time we offered him help with a local doctor, but he did not show for his appt,so as we told him, we will have no more contact with him. We are changing our locks and will not accept calls from him. It is going to kill me at night – when we are the lonliest. Please keep us in your prayers. This is going to be so hard.

  • Erika Says:

    Is there anyone who can throw me a raft because I feel like Im sinking in quicksand. I have an 18 yr old daughter who left school at start of senior year, finally just got her GED a year later. Had one job year and half ago for a month.She did great surprisingly. She was always late for school when she even got up to go. The job seemed to be good for her, I think being on a schedule, not so much free time. Shes a pot smoker and will be 19 in April and is doing Nothing. Applies for jobs online but follows up on none. Says she wants to take classes but expects me to send her to FLA school where her friends are when she couldnt even finish HS. Stays out all nite all the time. Verbally abusive, have to walk on egg shells. I did tell her I was going to lock her out because Im not living with abuse no more. My 20yr son is upset by her mouth all the time. Its turning my house into a house of horrors instead of a home. Yelling, cursing, I try to walk away and not engage but sometimes she is EXTREMELY hurtful. Its ripped my heart up. Im a single mom with NO help from their cop dad who I seem to be the target for with her anger. She refuses to go to counseling. Ive been a great mom, always been there. Ive offered to take her to look for jobs. She sleeps all day when she even comes home. I see Im going on and on here. My life has been turned upside down. Ive got no idea what to do anymore. Ive made myself sick trying to live in this. I dont think she wants to leave here becasue when i tell her to pack her bags and live elsewhere she stays. I think she has ADHD based on symptoms, talking to a friend with similar problems with her daughter. But she refuses counseling so my hands are tied. I miss my daughter. How long do you let this continue? Im alone in this with no support from family or the ex. Me and my son, thats it.Someone please help, any advice is appreciated.

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    Hi Erika: It sounds like your daughter’s behavior is really taking a toll on you, both emotionally and physically. The answer here lies in your hands—she can only continue to live in your home, verbally abuse you, sleep all day and zone out in front of the TV screen as long as you let her. ADHD is no excuse for her behavior. I agree that your daughter probably does not want to leave but it’s time for you to set some limits, whether that means setting up a living agreement or calling the business line for your local police department and seeing what you need to do to get her out of your home. It might even help for you to get some support in your area, either by visiting your doctor and talking about the stress you are under, going to a local counselor or therapist for help in your decision, or consulting with a religious leader to name a few examples. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” as James Lehman says. Stand by your decision or you will find yourself in the same place still. We wish you the best as you work through this. Take care, Erika.

  • Jan Says:

    I just found this website. This has been the worst week of my husbands’ and my life. Our 23 year old has been hiding his drinking and pot smoking from us for 6 yrs. On trash day, I was cleaning his trash out in his room and smelled a horrible little bag, got to thinking, talked with my husband and he confronted our son. He has been doing this since his college days!! Now I know why he lost his wonderful ride in college, (free scholarship,etc). He didn’t finish, moved in with us.
    Now, 14 /12 months later we find this out. What an actor my son is, and our life feels like a sham. Dad and I feel like we were emotionally raped by our son. My husband confronted him and we found this all out, we are devastated. Dad gave our son a choice, move out, or stay and get clean. Our son was out of this house in an hour!.
    We don’t drink, smoke and have always walked the Christian life to the best of our abilities, and Dad and I are so stunned we have had a horrible week.
    I appreciate so much reading all the comments here, as we don’t feel so alone anymore, but sre in shock, I can’t tell our friends, for breaking down like a bubbling mess. We changed our locks immediately, and Dad doens’t want to see him right now. He has no idea how much he has hurt us. He is an only child and he didn’t get everything, he just takes and takes in life. No Thanksgiving here.
    So sad, and we are trying to hold up the tough love which isn’t too hard. He lied to us. Kept this ‘addiction’ from us and has no remorse! How can this be my son? We are in agony,but are praying and holding each other up in prayer.
    thank you all so MUCH for your stories. It helps us cope a bit better, we aren’t alone.

  • Jan Says:

    I understand your angst Kay, it is hard. My son has left and we don’t know where he is living, it has only been 3 days!..why do I feel like the bad guy?..tough love is hard on the parent.more than adult chldren will ever know. Hang in there, you have plenty of company.

  • Onesopinion Says:

    I don’t know what to say except I did the 2nd hardest thing I think I have ever done. I signed papers to file charges on whom I am 99.9 percent sure took money out with my debit card. I am totally at my wits end with him and he has left me no choice. I, like others have tried to help him time and time again and I only see his addiction getting worse. When you must steal to feed your addiction and not having any remorse is not acceptable. I should have done something soner. I thought when I left him in jail begging and crying that would help, but apparently not. This is killing me as I know he will be put in jail but to me at least I will know where he is and hopefully will not be doing all those pills that could kill him. I dont feel like I should have to watch it. A big part of me is dying as I have to do this but I have to stay strong for my other children…He is sucking the life out me. It breaks my heart knowing he was raised the same as the other children and choose such a different path. Lord please forgive me and please tell me I am doing the right thing!! I feel like this would help get him clean, gove him a HARD lesson and hope to choose a better road in life. Even if I lose him now…In years I hope he comes back, a healthier, happier grown man!

  • Scelest Says:

    My almost 19 yr old son has had struggles since graduation about what he wants/ who he is. Moved out shortly after grad. because he wouldnt get a job, I told him he had to work or go…if he went he would lose his car. He went, for two months living with friend to friend with no car. Called me to come home admitting he cant do it on his own, and wanted to better himself. He moved home got a job, we gave him his car back, he was doing so good. He opened a bank acct. gym membership, girlfriend the whole 9 yards, I was so proud of him and he was so proud of himself! two months into that, he decided with all of that he was ready to move out with roommates. I wished him well all though knew it was a mistake, but fig. they have to learn on their own. As time passed, he quit his job to get another he was, didnt get the other, but blames the person who told him he did, not himself for quiting one job before the other. All the roommates got evicted due to non payment, in the meantime he lost his girlfriend, got evicted, car ins. cancelled, both tags on car expired, driving around everywhere, letting his friends drive the car, his aunt bought him a car his senior yr. to make his struggle with future college and work easier, a beautiful 06 toyota corolla. Its now illegal as it could be, and looks like a crash up derby car. He came to me saying he feels like a zero, and has done some bad things he wasnt proud of and really wanted to come home because he was doing better here on the right track, and felt so much happier and better about himself. He was here for a week, a gave him 5 dollars here and there, enough to make it to find a job in this big plaza we have down the road, yet everytime i talked to him during day, he was hanging with friends playing call of duty and smoking pot. I cut him off telling him i wont give you money to hang out with your friends, he then says to me “Oh, your giving me some damn gas money”..I laugh and say”really” and its down hill from there, I told him get your things and go back to your friends, you won’t talk to me like this in my house, He also tells me I have been a loser my whole life (emotional buttons) for the (PATM) then takes my dog with him to hurt me. That night he wants to come home and is the day i started reading your website, I tell him only after we sit and talk and agree on some changes. That was mon. he doesnt come home till wed. only he isn’t here, my dog is here and he is bleeding and cut up scared and traumatized….we have a pitbull, who is my baby, and so super sweet, where he was staying they have two. Im horrified, did he need money and fight him or am i to beleive it was an accident? either way he just left him here scared and hurt, this dog was a gift to him two yrs ago, but he forfitted that by never caring for him. Thanksgiving is big for us and he promised to be here, but I get a text at 5am that morn. explaining he decided to go with friends to La. to someone elses thanksgiving and he hopes i can understand, he will be home fri. so today is fri. and Im going to give him tough love more than ever now, its going to be ugly and i dread it, my question is….Do i take his car?, I want to because I know he drives it messed up, Iv heard him talking…also its illegal, no tags no ins., and he has three tickets now, which may have turned to warrant since he isnt responsible enough to take care of them. My best friend who we call his aunt, bought him that car, and I feel awful, because the way he treats it is like a slap in her face! He is going to hit rock bottom soon, and I beleive its necessary before he can start again! Its going to be the hardest thing now especially to take his only possession from him, and im hurting so bad, but don’t know what to do to help him. He says he doesnt know already if things will be ok with us because I want things my way, so im guessing it will be really harsh since im stripping him. I worry so much, and love my only child so much, I don’t know what to do to make him responsible for his own actions, like my dog or his car, Please help! Thank you, Scelest

  • Christy Says:

    It has been helpful for me to read these posts. I have a 25 year old son that has had a drug problem since the age of 13. He will get clean for periods of time and then fall back into it. We have bailed him out of so many situations that I could write a novel. I know we should have been tougher but we believed he could change. He has never actually worked for anything himself. He has a very old truck that we bought for him that was old at the time. We pay his insurance which is $50 per month. Several months ago, we let him add a cell phone to our account, providing that he make the payments. He was working at the time so we agreed. Well, now it’s the same old song and dance we have been dealing with for years. All of his friend’s are toxic but what can I do? He’s toxic to them too. Today I’m letting go. I’m going to shut off his phone and shut him out of my life. It’s the hardest thing for a mother to do but I know it’s the best thing to do. I’m tired and my heart is heavy.

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    Hi Scelest: It can be so disappointing and discouraging when you see your child succeeding and doing well, and then suddenly it all falls apart. Whether you take the car or not is ultimately your choice. It certainly doesn’t sound like he is making safe decisions with the car. However, whose name the title is in and who it was registered to last might impact your decision. It could be helpful to contact your city hall or city clerk, or even the non-emergency number for your local police department, to discuss the possible ramifications of either taking the car or letting him keep the car. That way you can make an informed decision. We wish you luck as you work through this. Take care.

  • debbie Says:

    Hi, Our 24 year old daughter has completely changed in the last year. She is finishing her masters and has a very good paying job starting this June. She joined a faith based group at her college and things have went down hill since. She attended a Christian school and our family is very faithful to our Baptist Church. She met a guy there 3 years younger and it has went all down hill since then. We bought her a townhouse to live in and a new jeep and paid for everything since high school. Because she is very smart and has 2 degrees in Math and CHemistry and now a masters in Petroleum Engineering. Her entire schooling has been on a scharlorship. That is why we have paid for eveything because she has never given us any trouble ever. She has been the model child never disrespecting us in anyway. Until now and it is unbelievable. We didn’t like her boyfriend because he doesn’t work and she paid for everything and has a no nothing degree. But when we told her to watch out she got very defensive. Then the pastor and his wife told her that we were parasites and to get away from us as soon as possible. In the 6 years of her college we have only been separated for 2 weeks. She called us 5 times a day we are a very close family. She has a brother that is now a freshman and the both were living in the townhouse. Until she told us that she got engaged to this guy without our approval. Normally she would never had done that but we think this group is a cult. They have been telling all the kid to turn away from their families that they don’t need them because we are only their biological families and they only need their spiritual families. This is very against how she has been raised. We told her the night she got engaged she had to move out give up her jeep and cell phone. She could only take her clothes because there is nothing else she paid for. She is working part time for $24 an hour and she can make it with no trouble. Everyone has supported our decesion to kick her out because these things were preveiledges not rights. That was 3 months ago and she has cut all ties with us. We don’t know where she is living, or her number. Only where she is working. SHe refuses to reply to emails. She even did not talk to us at Christmas, Thanksgiving and her birthday. It has been 3 months. This is not her and we don’t know what to do. We feel that she has been brainwashed by this cult and by this guy. We thought since she was so intelligent she would see that he only wants her money. He has 3 mores years of school and she start full time with a big salary in June and thats when they are planning to get married. Very convienent for him he now will not have to work and get a free ride for 3 year while in school along with the fact he will be out from under his parents rule. They are also very against this engagement. They say he is very immature. But she refuses to talk to us. We don’t know what to do we have sent flowers card presents anything to her work address and no response. Emailed her morning and night to say that WE LOVE YOU and lets work this out. But no responses. We don’t know what to do we feel she is mentally unhealthy and sine she is 24 there is nothing legal we can do. As close as we have been we were hopeing he would break but if she didn’t after all the holidays then she is really a mess. Our Pastor has no idea what to do except we pray everyday and night and show her love. We have never asked her to break up with him just to wait till they know each other. We own a large business and we know he is after that but we will take her out of the will if she ends up marrying him. But we don’t want her to ruin he life ended up divorced with a baby maybe. No one can believe this is her she has been so close to us forever. PLEASE HELP WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. THANK YOU DEBBIE

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    Hi Debbie. I can tell how incredibly worried you are about your daughter and the impact her recent choices will have on her life. I think perhaps the hardest part of this situation is realizing and remembering that you can’t control your daughter and the choices she makes as an independent adult. You have done all that you can already to make her uncomfortable and to show her that you disapprove of her choices—you have had her move out of your town home, return the vehicle, and turn in her cell phone. You have made her as uncomfortable as you can and she has still decided not to change. Now all you can do is focus on taking care of yourself. One of our authors on this site, Debbie Pincus, talks about how we tend to over focus on another member of the family in response to anxiety. Over focusing on another person often consists of trying to get another member of the family to behave the way you need them to in order to feel better emotionally. Debbie suggests that it’s far more effective to focus on yourself. In fact, James Lehman also states, in his article about the silent treatment, “Going to your child and pleading with him to talk gives him too much power— and lets him know very clearly that his withholding of communication is getting to you.” Our recommendation at this point would be for you to reach out once more to your daughter, tell her you understand she is not ready to speak to you but you will be there when she is, and then focus no taking care of yourself and coping with the hurt you are experiencing from this. Here is an article by Debbie Pincus that will be very helpful for you: Throwing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices. We know this is extremely difficult for you, and we wish you luck as you work through this. Take care.

  • Lorna Says:

    Wow, I just saw Debbie’s post. She’s living my life, too. Back in April we had our 19 year old (now 20) son involuntarily hospitalized due to very scary threats he had made. He was better for awhile after that, but then started using drugs. He’s lost three jobs and walked off another one. He’s currently not using, but is unemployed and not trying real hard to find another one. He lies ALL the time and I believe he has stolen some of his younger brother’s things and pawned them for cigarette money since he has no money of his own. During his period of using drugs, he also got himself in debt to the tune of $3000. We made him sell everything of value that he had to pay off some of it, but he still owes about $2000. Hard to pay it off when you can’t keep a job and don’t look hard for one. He’s in therapy, but I’m not sure if it’s helping yet. He is mostly compliant about doing what he’s asked, but lies about where he’s been and what he’s done. We shouldn’t have to worry about our stuff getting stolen all the time. We really want him to leave! In September we made him leave after his sister found him on our front porch smoking pot. He was gone for a week with disastrous results. We just want him to move on with his life!

  • Devistated Says:

    I was a single mother for 10 years of my 22 year old sons’ life. His father, a pathological liar, along with HIS mother, he was a ‘hidden drunk and drug addict’ meaning he would do it with no one around. I realized this AFTER I married him, he was quite good at the lies and stories. After we married, we found out I was pregnant. I had a great job, good pay, well he quit his job, me pregnant and he quit because he ‘felt like it’. Well after our son was born a stay at home dad he was not, drunk all the time, driving with our son drunk, went to counseling, that didn’t help, then came the verbal abuse, physical abuse, I had enough and moved out with my son. Custody battle began, judge saw through him, set up mediated visitations, he stopped showing up. To the courts, they awarded me full custody. He never paid child support, took him to court, said my mother was cashing his 30.00/wk checks, yeah right, my mother and father did not need his lousy 30/wk trust me. Hadn’t seen him in 3 years, I moved to FLA w/my folks, then after almost losing the house I bought due to economy, moved to CO for 3 years, loved it there, had fun and then moved back home, all of which we never heard from his father, and I wasn’t hiding. Long story short, he is 22 now, I’m remarried to my childhood sweetheart who is a wonderful hubby and so tried to be a loving stepdad, but my son never gave him the time of day. At 13 we bought a home, and it began, the drinking, the smoking cigarettes and at 16 he got into trouble drinking at school, took him out, took him nightly to night school, he got his diploma, not a GED and at age 17, went into the Navy, so that he could get a college education. It was a 2 year contract w/6 years reserve after. The most proudest I have been was the day of his boot camp graduation (PIR) in Chicago. He stayed in CHI town for a year, transferred to VA then off to deployment. While on deployment I found his birth father had been using his SSN since he was 14 years old, ran up a 985.00 Verizon Cell phone bill that he never paid, used it for references for apartments, it was so disgusting, I told my son what was going on. Called out to the in-laws and told them to tell him to stop or he would go to jail. I called our police, they said my son would need to press charges, which my son chose not to BIG MISTAKE. He got out at 19 1/2. And then it began. Again, long story short, he moved home, got into opiates and Heroin and this girlfriend, disgusting girlfriend, and I was horrified to find out from one of his friends what was going on. So naive I am, he moved out with the girlfriend. He has done jail time for possession and while he was in jail his birth father and grandmother got in touch with him telling him how they have been ‘searching all this time for him’…blah blah….my son got out, told him he had 4 weeks to find a job, any job. He had no license now, no money and no girlfriend (thank GOD). Anyhow, got a job, kept it a month, said he got laid off, and sat around until this past August. Signed up for college and was very excited. His GI bill paid for his dorm room/books/classes etc. Fast forward to today. He was due back to school tomorrow, but told me last tuesday that he was not going back as he failed 2 classes, this, after telling me he got all c’s and will batten down this coming term. Well, found a letter from school he had a GPA of .60…rEALLY? The daily pot smoking, and I found pills he was taking, he never showed up for Thanksgiving Dinner, was blowing his nose every three seconds at Christmas dinner, well, you see where I’m going. I had had enough and told him to pack his stuff and get the hell out. He told me how awful I was etc etc….he took off with a friend and the friends dad for a trip to NY, met the father and he was nice, but seemed to think my son was so awesome….that was the last I saw of him. Told him prior to call his father and grandmother and go stay with them. He didn’t take all his stuff, you KNOW he will be back only on the day my husband is working and guarantee it will be with the flea bitten no good dead beat ex to get his stuff. I have the Mommy guilt sure, but I have been having a nervous breakdown for 2 years now, I haven’t gone for help, I know I should, but the minute he left, I felt like me again, but the twinges of guilt are like waves, just trying to deal with it. Today I will pack up his stuff in green plastic bags, I refuse to pay for boxes. I have paid enough for his nonsense, attorneys,etc and NO I did NOT go to see him while he was in jail nor send him money. I will put them in the garage and he can call when he has ‘time’ to get them. Not for nothing, he couldn’t even flush the toilet after he was done. He had a girl stay over after he KNOWS this is unacceptable to us, he KNOWS the rules and broke everyone of them with a smile on his face…..well too bad, so sad. He has no money, nowhere to go. My biggest fear is the phone call that he has either committed suicide or overdosed. I had him in treatment 2 times, he had been in treatment with the Navy….it isn’t working. Where do you go from there? Drugs are THE BIGGEST PROBLEM in our country and it seems like there is no end to it. He says he is sober. Um, no, smoking pot every 3 hours like a cigarette and drinking and popping pills is NOT SOBRIETY. I hope I’m doing the right thing. I know that when he gets with ‘those’ people, they will lie, they will make him hate me and I will likely lose him forever, but really I lost him a long time ago. That sweet little boy who loved his Mommy so much was gone along time ago. He is a mess and I’ve bent over backwards to get him the help he needs, and what I learned from his birth father is you can NOT help anyone that doesn’t want the help.

    Sorry it was so long, but I don’t have anyone to talk to about this and I’m putting it out to the universe. Thanks for reading.

  • thewifelife Says:

    A heavy heart for holding the line on tough love.

    Three years ago, I was volunteering in the legal system and attending college, and a young lady was brought to me by a mutual academic colleague for help. However after several years of her attending counseling, being saved and me being there for her, she digressed completely. Or I woke up. She says she is a survivor of many horrible things from her family of origin, but she has made a choice to be like that family by using me and my family. She acts out and causes strife in all of the homes that have taken her in thus far. I had to let her go because I realized her oppositional defiance to further her main objective of trying to control me and my family was completely dysfunctional and unacceptable.
    I am grateful to have been able to let her go and my family and I have had an instant peace since she has been away from us. I have learned the importance of tough love and know it will serve me well as my birth toddler grows up.

  • Barbara Says:

    My son is 20 years old. I know he has been smoking pot since he’s 15. He is living away from home and attending community college. Last week he was stopped by police for speeding. In his car was muliple ounces of pot, 80 xanex pills, and thousands of dollars in cash. He was taken to jail, where he called a friend to bail him out, for $2500. He did not tell his father until a week later. His father then waited a week to tell me. I actually found out when I receive a letter from the court that was sent to our home address. He is not returning my calls or texts, the last conversation, which I did not show any emotion, I just asked him to tell me what happened, then all I said was, “do you really want to go down this road?” ( and this was before a I knew ALL the facts). He then started swearing at me and hung up. That was yesterday. He is not answering my calls. He owes his friend $2500, and must attend drug counseling. Do I pay his friend back or wait til my son calls me and asks me to. Do I continue to encourage him to register for the 4 year university that he attended for one semester before transferring to community school, or bring him home? Do I continue to try to call him and tell him I love him, or do I stop and wait for him to call me. He seems to think since he is 20 he does not need me. I am lost.

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    Hi Barbara. What a tough situation you are in. Your son has really gotten himself into a good deal of trouble. It’s so hard to see your son make poor choices like this and it’s very natural to want to help—most parents don’t want to see their kids struggling. And, what’s more, it hurts when you try to help and your attempts are rejected or even ignored. What you do now depends on what kind of message you want to send to your son. Do you want to send him the message that what he did was ok? That he can be rude and verbally abusive to you and you will still open your wallet for him? That the consequences aren’t really that bad because you will bail him out? Or, do you want your son to learn that his poor choices have heavy consequences and that those consequences are his and his alone? Ultimately, this $2500 is between your son and his friend. Let them work it out amongst themselves—your son is responsible for paying that back. My thoughts about bringing him home are that you really want to take some time to think about that and what that means for you—that puts you back in a limit-setting role with him, a role where you are holding him accountable for his choices. Is that something you really want? The more you carry the burden of this consequence for your son, the less discomfort he will feel. The less discomfort he feels, the less likely he is to make a better choice in the future. Calling your son and telling him you will give him some time to work through this and you are available to help him talk through it if he’d like is a great idea. Then, we would recommend that you focus on yourself while you wait to hear back from him. Anything you can do to relax or to help yourself cope with all of the difficult emotions this brings up for you will be very helpful. Here are a couple articles I think will be very helpful for you as you work through this: How Adult Children Work the “Parent System” & My Child Is Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol—What Should I Do? We wish you luck, Barbara. Take care.

  • Barbara Says:

    Thank you so much for your advice.

  • LostinLA Says:

    I sat down at my computer this morning emotionally beaten and alone. I now find myself filled with hope and arming myself with information and knowledge. Good feeling.

    Many of your stories of frustration and worry mirror mine. One difference is that my 23 yr old son does not have a drug addiction-though I know he occasionally smokes pot with friends.

    My son is living with us. He is smart, witty, handsome, athletic and major charmer. He is also a huge pain in the a*s. After four years of college out of town and numerous dropped classes, switched majors, cancelled semesters and mini crisis after crisis, he decided to move back home. He only has enough credits to be a starting sophomore.

    We supported him during college by paying rent, phone, insurance,and giving him a new car. He worked two years and paid for food & gas. He realized he was going no where fast and came home to community college. He did get a 4.0 last semester.

    Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Uh uh. My son has always felt entitled. Late to things, doesn’t really want to work-just get handed stuff. He’s ADD and he can DEBATE everything. Its all about him. He goes to college two days a week and otherwise does nothing. He works out and plays video games. His room is a disaster, he never picks up after himself, he says he can’t get a PT job because he doesn’t want to “risk” messing up success at school and really doesn’t “need” money. He cuts our grass for $20 a week.

    When I try to motivate him or fuss at him or tell him flat out that he needs a job-I get steam-rolled. He knows how to turn me into a crying pile of worthlessness. I don’t work outside the home-so he uses that gainst me like I am lazy. I take care of two parents with Alzheimers-one passed away. I have worked most of my life and raised three kids.

    When I try to talk to him, he shuts me down. He turns it on me and all my shortcomings and says I have no right to judge him. When I say we will stop financially supporting him if he doesn’t get a job, he laughs and says it isn’t “my” money-it’s dads. My hub does try to help, but he hates confrontation and my son’s mind games. So it’s either nothing or him blowing up and telling him to get the hell out of the house–which my son knows he doesn’t mean.

    My son recently broke up with a girlfriend of two years and is depressed on top of everything else. He can’t handle crisis well and has said he has no reason to be around anymore. We spend hours talking–but, anytime I tell him he has issues and needs to see a therapist-he goes nuts and refuses. He cries
    a lot. He is lonely and thinks he has no friends-but he does-they are just busy with life!

    As cruel as he can be to me, I know I am the one he depends on. My friends have always thought how great it was that my kids told me everything-included me in their lives. Whether it is girls/boys or sex or problems-they come to me. My son regularly gives me hugs or massages my shoulders when I’m sitting at the computer or just hangs out with me. He is a conundrum.

    I am just so tired. I know I am not doing this right. His mood colors the whole mood of the house-I soak up his depression or anger or attitude like a sponge-and I don’t know how not to…
    I will be reading every article I can on here–I need a plan of action.

  • LostinLA Says:

    Really at my wits end. Any thoughts?

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To ‘LostinLA’: It’s so hard when you have an adult child living with you who refuses to help out around the home and isn’t doing as well in school as you know he can. It’s even harder when you know that child is really struggling and depressed, and won’t accept help. We would recommend looking for some support in your local area. Your son may not want any help but it could be helpful for you to find someone you can sit down and talk to, who can help you decide which of our tools here are going to be appropriate for an adult child with depression. A local support can also help you come up with a plan of action to use when your son says things about not having a reason to be around anymore. You can search for local supports by contacting 211, an information and referral service, at 1-273-6222 or by visiting You can also review the rest of our adult children articles by clicking here. We know this is hard and we wish you both luck as you work through this. Take care.

  • Nancy Says:

    It is hard to distinguish between love and enabling. I have been through all of the above with my adult son. Kicking him out did help him and he seemed to improve but got in trouble again. I will not let him live at home ever again, that is not an option. He has been arrested twice in less than a year. He was on probation for one when he just got charged with another offense. Mostly misdemeanor. I did not go bail him out when I got the calls from jail. He obviously has not hit rock bottom in his life. Very hard to do as others have said but must be done or his life will never change. Not sure how I will interact in the future. Will be seeing a counsellor for that part and making sure I don’t enable in the future either.

  • LostinLA Says:

    Thank you Sara for replying. I will look into 211 and have considered seeing a therapist for me. I need to learn to cope and understand.

    My son did just got a job, but from what I’ve read on here, I am not going to assume its the answer or even permenant. It does show that when push came to shove and I told him he needed to get a job, he was able to get a good one within two days.

    That may be the most frustrating part of all this. He is truly a smart, well-spoken, good-looking guy. He just has no faith in himself and a real fear of being a responsible adult.

    Wish I could twitch my nose or snap my fingers to let him see all the potential others see in him. My words aren’t enough.

  • Overwhelmed Says:

    Wow. My story mirrors LostinLA – and bits and pieces of other posts. The only difference is … my just-turned-26 year old son is not living at home. Like many other stories I’ve read, my son was (and still is) extremely intelligent and had a bright future ahead. What happened since graduating high school (with an engineering schlorship) and now? Lots. Enabling? You bet. A car, credit card at his disposal for gas, food, spending money. In other words – no strings. Just attend classes and do well. In the fall of his sophomore year, he announced he was transferring- from a major 4-year university to a community college 70 miles away to be near his friends. He enrolled in the spring semester and did well.

    Since then, he has enrolled, started classes, and quit. All of this on our dime, too. We were paying rent, car insurance and cell phone. When he repeatedly enrolled and quit AND lied each time, we demanded return of the car and told him we wouldn’t be helping out with rent – he had to get a job. He got a job at a restaurant where many of his friends worked. Little did we know that 6 years later he would still be there.

    Fast forward 6 years… His friends have all graduated college, some have married, and moved on with their lives,. Meanwhile, my son still works as a server. Because of his lack of commitment to complete classes, he has not been allowed to enroll for 18 months.

    Just last week, an offer came through for a job working on an auto assembly line. Great job? No, but a heck of a lot better than the server gig. My husband excitedly called our son and told him. Physical at 6a.m. Friday, start to work on Monday. We saw it as a new start. Obviously, he didnt. There was No sense of urgency on his part – he was busy watching basketball with his buddies. He called a day an a half later to tell us that he had lost his cell phone and couldnt make the call to schedule the physical. We later found out that … This was the 3rd or 4th call – maybe more – from the Prospective employer. We don’t know what to think. drug use?

    Now what? Do we back off and let him make the next step? Communication was never easy (he never answered his phone, or responded to voicemail, text or emails anyway), but with the lost cell phone drama, we have few choices – none of them good ones. We have no idea of his current address, and visiting him means going to The restaurant where he works.

    Add to this …. Stealing money via our credit card, a DUI and bailout, his own credit card debt that we TWICE paid off (over $1800 each time. Shame on us), a total lack of respect. So, please, someone throw me a life preserver! We don’t know what to do next. Except pray.

  • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To ‘Overwhelmed’: It sounds as though you are having a tough time deciding what your next steps are with your son. It can be so frustrating to have a child who appears to have a bright future, and insists on making poor choices and not living up to that potential. The tough thing is, you do not have control over your son’s choices. You only have control over yourself, and your actions. You can make the choice to not pay his rent or his bills, or loan him money. You can make the choice to let him experience the natural consequences of his actions by making a police report and not bailing him out if he does something illegal. Your son ultimately can make the choice of whether he wants to get a different job, or if he is ready to return to school. That will only happen when he is uncomfortable with the way his life is going. This is not to say that you have to cut off all contact with him until he reaches that point, either. We recommend setting up some boundaries for yourself and your relationship with your son, so you can enjoy the times when you are together. I’m including a link to an article I think you might find helpful: Throwing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices. Good luck to you and your family as you continue to work through this-we know this isn’t easy.

  • ANGELSONHIGH2009 Says:


  • ANGELSONHIGH2009 Says:


  • OMGyouvegottobekiddingme Says:

    Wow – just discovered this site. Who knew that my son (aged 22) has lived at all your homes too! Like all of you we love our son and know he has incredible potential, but can’t for the life of us figure out why he’s making the choices he’s making. He has been a pot smoker since middle school, something we’ve been battle about for years. The final straw for us was the obviously drug addicted girlfriend that stayed overnight and came and went as she pleased – even when no one else was in the house and even though we had made it clear she wasn’t welcome. We convinced him it was time to move out and he did. He moved into an apartment with her. That lasted about 2 months because she was stealing from him and sleeping with anyone that would give her drug money. But the pattern is that they break up/make up/break up, etc. He did get another friend to move in and split the rent when the girlfriend couldn’t/wouldn’t help with the rent, although he continued to let her live there. He had a good paying job and was moving up in the company. But his drug problem got him in trouble. He was demoted and his attitude about the job changed and he was on the verge of being fired (only know that because Dad works for the same company) when he was in a fight with the girlfriend and hit her in the face. She charged him with assault (he was on probation for a drug violation) and he is now in jail. What little money he had accumulated in a checking account was emptied by the girlfriend who along with her other boyfriend forged his checks and emptied out the account. Now comes the enabling part…he was behind on this rent, his electricity bill, his cable bill and he owed his lawyer money. We paid up on them all – with the understanding that when he was released he would move home, get another job, stop the drug use (counseling is already in place) and pay us off. Initially it seemed like he had reached the bottom and was ready to make some major changes in his life. We were so hopeful…that was until we found out he was lying to us about being in touch with the girlfriend and that he put her on his prison visiting list and she’s been to visit him. I’m not blaming her for his troubles, but I do recognize that she is trouble and his desire to be with her means that his attitude has not been changed. I feel panic when I think of him back in our house.

  • Desparately Seeking Help Says:

    My husband and I are like so many of you – worried and sick over our son. He’s 34 and hasn’t worked for about 2 years. As a young man he was energetic and motivated to work and earn money (he liked fixing up cars & trucks over the years). It’s important to know that he is the son of my husband & his ex and lived with the ex until a couple of years ago. They live in another city but when he was younger we would go and pick up him & his brother to spend the weekends with us. About 10 years ago he was injured on the job (shoulder) and began a lawsuit against them. He began working for another company (grocery) and seemed to enjoy it. He got injured on that job and yes, started a suit against them. This has happened 3 times now. It does appear that he is really injured (shoulder, back, hips) and seems to be in real pain but has never (to our knowledge) received any compensation from these suits. For years he talked about how much money his ‘attorneys’ said they were going to get him, how the courts had ruled in his favor, etc. He would always tell us very detailed reports of his cases but eventually the old case stories got replaced with the new case stories but no actual outcome. About a year ago he fell off the 2nd story balcony and injured (again) is back and is suing the owner. Yes, he says he’s got money coming, etc. And yes, the old case stories have been replaced. We know in our hearts that he’s a pathological liar – the things he says just can’t be true. On the other hand he does seem to be injured and in great pain. I know he did drink for a while (he lived with us for a month until we had to throw him out). Right now his mother pays his rent, he has no job or car and often no groceries. When we say no he’ll stop calling for a while but then calls again and (sooner or later) asks for money again. Finally recently (after too much money) we told him no more. But he calls to just keep in touch and casually mentions that he has no food or that he can’t afford his prescriptions and we feel so guilty! We just don’t know what to do any more. Any advice would be so appreciated.

  • eclecticdeb Says:

    I’m a hot mess. My son just turned 18 and is in jeopardy of not graduating from high school. He is in a somewhat “alternative” program called Middle College, where he is finishing his senior year at the local community college, attending 2 classes with other students in the program, and completing the rest of his required graduation courses enrolled in the college.

    Unfortunately he has chosen to not attend most of his classes, and was dropped from the college courses. He has not completed any of his english coursework this quarter, and his teachers have said he will fail.

    This type of behavior (unfortunately) is not new. He has NEVER finished any class without major issues. However, he is extremely likable, and his teachers do not want to fail him. To be honest, I’ve probably been a big enabler as well, constantly riding him, and making sure his work gets turned in.

    At home he does NOTHING except create messes and feels like he is owed everything. I’m a single parent, and have worked extremely hard to ensure that we live in a decent area. He contributes nothing to picking up the house, and has basically taken over TWO bedrooms with this crap.

    At the root of all of this is a horrible gaming addition. He refuses to go to counseling. Everything is someone elses’ fault. I know the thought of life next year scares him to no end, but he refuses to talk to me about it, and refuses to discuss what his options may be. We’ve done college tours, but at this point I am not willing to pay for school, when he hasn’t shown he is capable of graduating from high school.

    I’m am sick with worry. I’m thinking about renting him a room in another house, until he is out of school (or until he WOULD be out of school if he graduates).

    I need to somehow stop being his safety net. I need to figure out how to get him to take responsibility for himself, but he is a master at making me feel guilty. Saying things like “do you want to lose me as a son?” — “I’ll just go somewhere and you’ll never hear from me again” and worse.

    I don’t know what to do, but I know that this can’t keep on like this. I’ve been very clear that I will not have him at home, working at a minimum wage job. He says that I’m a horrible parent for wanting to “kick him out”. I feel like such a failure as a parent.

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To ‘Desperately Seeking Help’: It’s easy to see why you would be so concerned about your son. You have a really good awareness of the patterns in his behavior and that’s really important. You have also begun to set some limits with him, which is even more important. People sometimes need to be allowed to feel uncomfortable in order to get motivated to change, especially adults. It will be helpful for you and your husband to figure out where your boundaries are—what are you willing to do for your son and what are you not willing to do? For example, you might not be willing to buy him groceries, but you might be willing to help him find a food pantry. If something your son asks you to do makes you uncomfortable or causes you to feel put out or resentful, that’s a good sign that your boundaries are being crossed and you might need to set some limits in order to take care of yourselves. By focusing on yourselves and not taking care of him, you are giving him the opportunity to learn how to solve his own problems. I am including some links to a three-part article series about adult children. It’s geared toward adults who still live at home with you but many of the concepts and ideas will still be helpful for you. Good luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.
    Failure to Launch, Part 1
    Failure to Launch, Part 2
    Failure to Launch, Part 3

  • Wit's End Says:

    It’s so helpful to read so many similar stories and realize that we’re not alone. We’ve had similar issues as most of you with our 20 year old, but the biggest issue has been his constant lying and stealing from family members, friends, or just random acquaintances. He can’t hold a job and moved out of our home several months ago to be with “friends.” He seems to fund his existence by stealing from others. Allowing him into our home, and that of relatives, is almost begging to lose something of value. I’m at my wit’s end on how to handle this. Should I press charges? I’m hesitant to do so, but I don’t know what else to do. If we press charges, it will put him into the system, and ruin any chances he has in the future to change his life around. But I can’t let him continue to steal from unsuspecting relatives. Any thoughts or advice from others who have had to deal with this heart-wrenching choice?

  • sarabean Says:

    To ‘Wit’s End’: I can understand your frustration with your son and appreciate your desire to protect your relatives from being stolen from. It’s going to be important to focus on what you can control. You don’t necessarily have to press charges yourself, but you might choose to let your relatives know about your son’s stealing history. That way you can leave it up to them to decide whether or not they are willing to open their door to him—because ultimately it is their choice anyway, but you can help them to make an informed decision. Pressing charges can be a scary thing, but it might be a good option if he steals from you or brings stolen goods to your home for storage. And remember, as the age of 20, you are not obligated to provide a roof over your son’s head. Sometimes young adults need you to allow them to struggle and feel uncomfortable in order to decide they want to start doing things differently. I would recommend that you read some of our expert articles about adult children which can be found here: Parenting Articles about Adult Children. I am also including an article about when to involve the police for more information on this: Is It Time to Call the Police on Your Child? We know this is very tough and we wish you and your family luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.

  • ReadyForAChange Says:

    Thanks to so many who have share their stories. I’m so thankful for finding this site and realizing that I’m not alone. My son will be 20 this year and I’ve just asked him to leave for the third and final time. The first time he was 18, the second time he was 19 and now this year. He has disrespected me, my house and also placed my career in jeopardy on one occassion. Why did I allow him to keep coming back? The hope that he would change, his charming personality, and guilt. I guess you have to come to a point where you realize that you have been a good parent and now it is time for them to stand on their own-two feet. It is hard not to give into the sob stories and manipulation that they have grown so use to utilizing. Although I worry about my son it is a much lighter cross to bear than to have him in my house and disrespecting me. I wish you all well in your parenting journey…May God Bless and Keep You.

  • Kathy3232 Says:

    Thank you for this site. My soon to be 23 year old is sitting in jail as of a couple of hours ago. He abuses both alcohol and drugs and has been living at home. Despite our rules, he sneaks alcohol into the house when we are not at home or even hides it in the yard. He has been having issues for many years and has completed out patient programs only to start using again soon after.
    He has ovedosed on opiates twice in the past year. He gets violent when drunk and today I had to call the police again as I have several times before. He threw the phone across the floor and when my husband confronted him about it they proceeded to get into a fist fight. My heart is heavy as I know that I must put him out of the house. I am anguished knowing he has no place to go. I fear he will be on the streets and will soon be dead. I know that I don’t have any control over his actions and decisions and can only hope and pray that I am doing the right thing. It is comforting to know that I am not alone.

  • Diana Says:

    I have been experiencing my son’s troublesome behavior ever since he graduated high school two years ago. He moved out of the house a couple months after graduation in 2010 and has since been living on his own. However, it has been one thing after another with his self destructive behavior. He makes one horrible decision after another. He too has experienced with illegal drugs even at one point bringing it into our home. Me and my husband(his stepfather) have tried to help over and over by giving him advice. I have been so frustrated, angry to my wits end, and sad all at the same time to see him going down this path of self destruction. He is my only son and I expected so much more out of him… He was always a smart kid and I felt in some way that my parenting skills maybe weren’t as good as I thought they were… I’m hoping that I have since learned from reading articles on this website and others that my actions were actually enabling him to act this way or at least not helping him. He always knew mommy would back him up and take care of things for him when things got tough. I finally put my foot down yesterday and told him enough was enough. It was very hard for me to see him cry because I knew at that point he thought he didn’t have any other options and was at a loss but it turned out good because he actually took care of some things he didn’t want to bother with but needed to resolve on his own. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he is on his way to becoming more independent and financially stable. I know it’s too soon to say but I feel so much better and all I can do is hope and pray that things will get better for him. It’s so hard to see your child sad and hopeless but they need to learn to fix things on their own and go through hard times so they hopefully learn from it. Wish us luck!!

  • desertmama Says:

    I have to agree with several of you, It’s so helpful to read so many similar stories and realize that I’m not alone. My 22 year old daughter is seemily okay right now, she is about to graduate college on time, and she has several part time jobs to help pay the bills. That’s thte good news. The bad news is that she is in debt, has made poor relationship decisions and hasn’t really spoken to me in over 6 months becasue i do not like her boyfriend (who is not going to school, only works part-time and has a history of cutting on himself when stressed) and the fact that I got rid of her dog (the second one she brought home) – I already have 2 dogs of my own and 1 that she has left with me for the past 2 years)
    I was allowing her and her boyfriend to live in my house rent free, but they wouldn’t even help with chores and I just couldn’t take it anymore. She got angry and left (and moved into his parents house) They did move into an apartment with friends – who are not moving out becasue they can’t stand living with my daughter and her boyfriend. They fight all the time. This is the 4th roommate situation that hasn’t worked out for my daughter int he last 2 years. She is angry and abusive to thers at times. i have encouraged counseling (her dad killed himself 4 years ago and he never delt with that) Its hurts deeply that she will not respond to any phone calls, texts or e-mails, but I just can’t keep allowing her to treat me badly.

  • Keleeemo Says:

    It is so good to read here and know I’m not alone… My son is turning 28 soon and he is crashing and burning. He was given a mobile home by his Grandmother but picked up drinking and got behind on his park rent and taxes. My son is an alcoholic and when he picks up a drink he can’t stop. I let him move back in with rules. It was only so he could get to AA meetings as there are many in walking distance of my home and until he was caught up on his rent and taxes. 3 months later I had to ask him to move back because although he was sober and attending meetings he has not made his back payments for a while. He also got hooked up with some older woman in AA and was spending his time with her instead of on his meetings and budget. Out he went and he was mad! He is back home and luckily he has a steady job. Now he has to walk or get a ride to work and pay off his bills. As for his relationship I wish him luck because she has her share of problems. I am hoping she isn’t going to bring him down and back to drinking but that is “his” problem. I tried to help him to help himself and he as always looks for the “easier, softer” way. I’m sure he thinks this 38 year old woman is going to take care of him and make everything alright. In effect he replaced me as a crutch with her. I have not spoken to him since he went back to his home and I won’t until he makes contact. I’m trying to stay out of the picture because when he is in a relationship he likes a lot of space. Also I don’t want him to be able to blame me if it doesn’t work out. I am relieved actually he is not here and I have my home back and some peace of mind. I just worry as a Mom does when we are out of contact…

  • Elaina Says:

    I am a mother of an adult child who has been clean and sober for ten years. I was widowed at 5 months pregnat. He died of an over-dose in 1975. I remarried when my daughter was 6. Her Dad now is a loving and caring as any biological Dad could hope for. She did not come from an abusive home but a disaplined one. She was well educated . We applied tough love as much as we could when she was addicted. Sometimes we failed and gave in but most we stayed tried and true. My daughter still has a enormous grudge against me in particular. I am looking for a group who helps parents understand and accept that sometimes ex drug addicted adult children never forgive and forget what they think was done to them by their parents

  • Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor Says:

    Hi Elaina. It’s so incredibly difficult to parent a child who struggles with substance abuse issues. It sounds like you did indeed try your best to provide your daughter with a loving but structured childhood with many opportunities. It’s so frustrating that she can’t understand or appreciate that you did all you have done with her best interests in mind. It might be helpful for you to try Al-Anon groups, where you can connect with other people who have loved ones who struggle with drugs and alcohol. You can find more information and locate meetings in your area by visiting their website: We wish you and your family luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.

  • NotAlone Says:

    My 21 year old daughter has been on a downward spiral since the beginning of her senior year in high school. I have three girls, she has a twin and older sister (27)and she is the polar opposite of both of them. She rebelled and wanted to move in with her father when she was starting her senior year because I refused to allow her to see a boy that was toxic in every way. Of course when she moved in with her father and step mother they allowed him to come into their home because “I didn’t give him a chance”. She went from high honors in school and playing sports to being a C student. She did finish school but barely. She was arrested at a local grocery store for shoplifting while she was with her father. What did he do? Got her out of it. No consequences, she was out with her friends partying that weekend. She was arrested with her friends for possession, what did he do? You got it, got her out of it. No consequences. She does drugs, drinks and works at a “Gentleman’s” club and I use that term loosely, if you know what I mean. Her father and step mother didn’t think there was anything wrong with that since she is paying her own way. She did move out of their house into a dump apartment in a bad neighborhood with 6 apartments that have a hallway the wreaks of POT and God knows whatever else they are using there. I have not approved of ANY of this behavior. I tell her that I love her and I know she can do better but of course she just says I judge her. Her sisters tried to “help” her with no results. The final straw was when her father was in critical condition in a hospital out of town (3 hours away) and she disappeared drunk and drugged out of her mind. She was suppose to be staying at the hospital with her sister in a room. My other daughter called me and we drove 3 hours at 2 am thinking the worst. When we got there they found her on another floor in the hospital with NO PANTS AND NO SHOES! NO she was not assaulted she was so out of it she pealed off her clothes in a public hospital and passed out on the floor. It was the next day when they found her clothes. We drove her home and she was admitted to out local hospital for mental health treatment. Of course when she was sober, they recommended IN patient treatment, she refused. The day she was discharged, her father passed away. She has been on anti depression medication and anti anxiety medication and started going to an out patient program, with individual counseling 2X a week. She was out 24 hours and started drinking. Then she stopped going to that all together and I didn’t hear from her for a week. Nothing, not returning my texts or answering my calls. No one could get a hold of her. I drove over to her apartment and she was in bed at 5 pm on Sunday. She is now back in the hospital again. She asked me to bring her a few things so I brought them on Monday night. She was so combative that I had to leave and I told her to call me when she wants to see/talk to me. You got it, I haven’t heard from her. This weekend is my other daughter (her twin sisters) graduation from college. She is graduating with honors and has worked VERY hard the past four years for everything she has. It is also mothers day and we have always gone to a local festival as our family tradition. This year she will not be there. My daughter keeps saying that the only person that ever loved her had died (her father). I want to say NO, he was the only person that condoned your behavior, we LOVE you. But that would fall on deaf ears. I feel like I am just ranting at this point, the reason why I wanted to post this was to get it off my chest and to share that you are all NOT ALONE.

  • xwingz2 Says:

    I am amazed that there are others and that these posts remain comtemporary. It is May the 19th, 2012 and I am struggling within the family. About a year ago our adult son left the house in anger. He moved in with this girl friend who is now his fiancee. She is a nurse so there is income…I say this because he has just lost another job. Lots of excuses and rationalizations…go ahead…give him the benefit of the doubt. In this time my wife and I became much closer than in 30 years…now she has taken his side. Neither understand my deepest love for him…this blog helps me. Thank you.

  • socalimom Says:

    So much of our kids choices depend on who they hang out with. Our son, met at girl when he was 17. He lied to us from the get go. When we discovered he was lying he left home….and was picked up by the girlfriends mother! We immediately did interventions and friends took him from her house to theirs…boy was he mad. After 9 days came home.

    Broke up with girl off and on.

    A few months ago was thinking about getting back with her. The gf mother wrote our son a text telling him how much her 16 year old daugheter liked him, was the kind of guy she’d lik for her daughter and…THIS IS THE CLINCHER…her daughter always wanted to be a virgin till married by told her that she would break that rule for my son! The MOTHER told this to our 18 yr. old son.

    He began to rebel against us and after a series of events within a few weeks left our house to live at gf house! What a mom..huh?

    She has 7 children….the 7th is by her 13 yr. Junior boyfriend who lives with them. Gets $$ from the state for every child…and wants another one too.

    Our son failed h.s. and hopefully will make up this summer.

    Shame shame on parents who enable this! My husband said that she pimped her daugher….pretty much!

    Our son is on his own financially, except that we have his health insurance…so he’d be covered for something big.

    My situation to most on this blog is small. I know the pain and sleepless nights I’ve hadh for the past 2 months.

    I’ve seen kids hold steady during this time of life….the kids who are still immature but their decision and faith in God and to live for Him keeps them out of the bad stuff.

    It is the only way….but,then all we can do is lead them to the water…we can’t make them drink.

  • SickatheartSue Says:

    Last night my 17 year old daughter packed her bags and left to stay with a friend. I have spent the past hour reading through all the previous replies to this article. My heart goes out to all of you! I don’t feel so alone anymore. My daughter graduated a whole year early from an alternative H.S. and is scheduled to attend a community college this coming fall. That is the good part. In May she quit her job and has since been looking for a PT job. She sleeps until noon every day, and basically does nothing around the house. I leave her lists of things to do around the house and sometimes she does them, sometimes not. She says she is “in love” with an 18 year old who is a drug user and just was released from a 30-day jail sentence. Her father and I have told her that he is not welcome in our house and we don’t want anything to do with him until he gets his life straightened out. He has made it plain to her that he is only interested in her as a friend. We have house rules that she continually breaks. She has a very nasty attitude and tries to dictate to us how things are going to be done. Last night, we had enough and told her she should pack a bag and live somewhere else. We just can’t keep living this way. We took her car keys and locked up all the keys in our house and also locked the house down so that she can’t get back in. We worry about her showing up with her friends and stealing from us. Like so many of you, I’m worn out by constantly dealing with her. We have been through Total Transformation and it does work, but you have to keep at it. I know that our next step is to sit down with her when she does want to come home and establish rules again. Today I just want to give up on this whole parenting thing. But, I’ll keep praying and reading these good articles by Empowering Parents. I really do know that I can’t give up, that God gave her to me and her dad for a reason and that she needs us now more than ever. To all of you out there who are struggling with your children, young or older, I’m with you and praying for you too.

  • PP831 Says:

    It has been a long night which finds me surfing the web. Perhaps I was somehow led t your site?? I have never written any kind of respond like tho. Anyway, Please tell me what to do I like so many others am heartbroken daughter. My daughter (19) has left home. She has a long time boyfriend who has been in trouble with the law Armed home invasion, on school grounds(I think dealing) while on probation….He has been in a rehab and is home now. He is on 5 years probation
    . I did not know (or perhaps did not want to know) that when my daughter returned from College that they were seeing each other again. She vehemently denied it. We told her that the only parameters we had is that at 19 if she chose to have this man in her life that we would not pay for it. We provide a very nie lifestyle and very large and supportive extended family. When we found her lying(not surprising she has been lying sine her relationship began (on/off five years ago). We very calmly spke with her regarding her decision as she was aware of the ramifications. Her I phone service was turned off (she was allowed to keep the hardware as it was a gift and her sports car was taken as well as we found it parked at his house.) As we had discussed very clearly If she wanted to see him it would not be on our dime.
    She is now living with him at his home with his parents. They love having her there as she keeps their son stable??? I went over and spoke with the father and told them that we found this an unacceptable place to be and asked him not to enable her by allowing her to stay here. by doing that they were not allowing her to resolve the conflict at home. I also, asked that they not give her $ as she has work if she wants it. The father totally ignored me and I noticed later that he had transferred $ to her account. I then called the young man’s mother and asked the same of her not to enable her and asked to ask my daughter to leave. I mentioned we have a large extended family all local and she could go to anyone of them if she didn’t want to come home or to a friends. She totally denied my request and responded that “We are struggling too” (her son is a recovering prescription addict).

    What do I do?

    My husband and I are now separated, we just couldn’t make it. we have been married for 3 decades. We have a great son and I just couldn’t allow the exposure to this young man and his “friends” one is dead of an overdose, 1 is in jail, 1- was murdered (drug related).

    Help how can I get my daughter (devoted family member, non user(to the best of my knowledge,) all around good kid, back.

  • Suz Says:

    I am at a point that many of you have been at or are experiencing now. My daughter is 21, and we have struggled with what I believe is the symptoms of adult ADHD. She makes terrible choices, has been living with boyfriends since before graduation even though all her crap is still here. She lies, has stolen from us and her siblings, bats her eyes and somehow justifies that she is deserved. She threw out the ‘sexual abuse’ card regarding her father (we have been divorced since she was 4) and then due to chronic alcohol issues and multiple treatment attempts, he died this winter. She has battled since. We have tried counseling (which she loves) then quits going, medication that she says she takes then really doesnt, procrastinates, overdraws bank accounts, and to top it off, spent about 15,000- of a 32,000 inheritance on a scam investment at the urging of her boyfriend. The rest she spent on a car (good choice but only after she crashed her old car) and many trips to online COACH sites, Big Willies (pot access) and crap. Now she is once again overdrawn, and at a loss of where to go or what to do. Left her boyfriend of 2 years due to temper issues and his ongoing issue with her and his ex girlfriends hold on their little boy. So here I am…5 years of this…and no end in site. She is down to about 100 lbs, smokes and drinks energy drinks. I am a nurse that teaches smoking cessation for a living! Tough Love sounds great, just don’t know where to start or how to do it anymore. My heart is heavy, I have sleepless nights and although I ask her to come home and let us help her work this through she wont’. She often just agrees and tells us what we want to hear.
    Thanks for this great site, I for once don’t feel alone in this.

  • tranquilM Says:

    Hi. Finding this site half an hour ago has already helped. Lots of people feeling like me when we all want peace and everything to be ok for our kids.
    How do I find the strength for tough love. My son was thrown out of schoolthree years ago. His behaviour and truency were the reason. He was hurt in an accident and got compensation. He blew £20,000 in less than a year on pot, computer games and well nothing. He doesnt work. He sleeps all day and is up all night. He is so hurtful to me. He lies to get money and lies just for nothing. He is being assessed for mental health issues but the process takes so long. He was given anti depressants but won’t take them. He’s 19, nearly 20. I want my life back but don’t want to lose him. I’m afraid all the time. Its good to let some of this out. Thanks for being out there.

  • Collyn Says:

    Wow..I finally dont feel “alone”. In a nutshell have been in fam “chaos” w/my now 20yr old son, since he was 17. Finally got a backbone and packed up garbage bags, put them on porch, changed the locks. I have noticed his traits have a lot in common w/others:
    *pot/alcohol use
    *verbally abusive/ anger
    *in debt, never pay bills, lost his car insurance …list goes on and on…..
    He couch surfs or in his beat up truck now, and calls once in a while hoping to come over to take a shower, BUT NOT allowed in our house anymore. Bad influence on our younger son. Its not easy, but had no other choice.

  • When is enough, enough Says:

    Dear fellow friends:

    My 22 year old daughter dropped out of highschool. She was pregnant 3 months later. I have that child who is 4 and my very heart and soul. Last year, she gets pregnant again and tells me she is giving the baby up for adoption but then doesn’t. The new “boyfriend” talked her into keeping the child (a girl who is 9 months or so) I have been paying rent etc for her and the little girl, while she does nothing about seeking child support, assistance, finding a job, going to college etc. Today was the final straw for me. She is pregnant AGAIN. I cannot take anymore and will not keep raising her kids……. I guess my question is “when is enough, enough” ? Is it wrong to turn my back on her and refuse to pay anymore rent, cell bills etc. Am i a failure as a parent for her destructive liftstyle ?

  • D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor Says:

    To “When is enough, enough”: Thank you for writing in and sharing your story. What a difficult situation! It’s no wonder you would be asking yourself the question of when is enough, enough. I can hear how much you want to do the right thing as far as your daughter and grandchildren are concerned. Ultimately, you are the one who decides what your limits are and when you will apply them. It’s admirable for you to step in and raise your grandson and for you to have offered the support you have up to this point. Something to keep in mind is your daughter is an adult, and, as such, whatever support you give her is a choice. It’s not wrong for you to decide you no longer wish to continue supporting your daughter and the choices she continues to make. That actually points more to you have clear limits and firm boundaries, as Debbie Pincus advises in her article Throwing It All Away: When Good Kids Make Bad Choices. It’s also important to keep in mind that your daughter is where she is because of the choices she has made. It doesn’t mean you are a failure as a parent. From what you have written, it sounds like you have done what you can to help your daughter turn her life around and make different choices. She doesn’t seem to be availing herself of that help. As difficult as this decision most likely was for you, it may be what your daughter needs in order for her to step up and start taking responsibility for her own life. Good luck to you as you continue working through this challenging situation. Take care.

  • lallum Says:

    Phew! Lots of identification. I am a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been sober for almost 10 years. In that time I went through a terrible divorce (took over 3 years) as my ex-spouse would not agree for me to have shared parental responsibility for our 2 children. I eventually got sole residency! Neither of my children were happy about this but they stuck by the court order. My son is now 19, at University and doing well. His sister has been driving me crazy. She has been asked not to bring alcohol into my home but has completely disregarded this. She has pushed every boundary. 4 weeks ago my son told me he was suffering with depression. I have arranged treatment and that is working well. His sister however has been on a major bender, has brought a number of very dubious characters into my house and has been driving after drinking. With a heavy heart, I asked her to leave. She went to her father. She had spent 1 night there in five years but now considers that to be home. My ex-husband is doing a ‘poor lamb, horrible mother’ to anyone who will listen. After 3 weeks, I have a calm home. My son is happy (I suspect she has been bullying him), I sleep at night but I worry about the future. Will she come home for Christmas? Will she expect presents from us? WIll she get drunk and argue with us? WIll my son react badly? I read her Facebook page and twitter feed. It’s bad. Pictures of her flaked out on pavements, talks of drunken fights and relishing the attention of being a celebrity at school. I’ve tried to talk to her. I asked her to come back on my terms and she said no. I therefore will get on with my life and looking after my son. I have tried hard with her but I am worthy of better than this. I might be selfish but I’ve worked very hard to get sober and I can’t let her drag me back. I have to trust in a power greater than myself to get me through all of this. Ultimately this is the best place for me at this moment.