There’s a calendar date parents of Oppositional Defiant kids often cling to: the 18th Birthday. That magical day when your child becomes an adult and you are no longer responsible for him — at least not legally. Sure, you’ll still be his parent. But things will be different! No more power struggles, disrespect or refusal to follow the rules. No more embarrassment over the way he behaves or the choices he makes. No more feelings of shame, disappointment or anger about the relationship. He’ll be an adult and out on his own. If he doesn’t like the rules of your house, then he just needs to move out!

“You’ve been waiting for your child to grow up, both in age and maturity so your relationship will be different. If that doesn’t happen, it can leave you feeling disappointed, angry, sad and cheated.”

Some parents can actually tell you how many days are left until their ODD child turns eighteen. “Only 543 days until Jake’s an adult!” So what happens when that day finally arrives and it’s not so magical? You’ve been waiting for your child to grow up, both in age and maturity so your relationship will be different. If that doesn’t happen, it can leave you feeling disappointed, angry, sad and cheated. Many parents have been walking around on eggshells for years, with one thought to keep them going: there’s an end to this eventually.

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If your ODD child seems to have grown into an ODD adult—with the same old behavior that has driven you crazy in the past—here are some tips that can help:

1. Accept that this may be your child’s personality — even as an adult

Some kids do “outgrow” their ODD behavior. For ODD kids, giving up control feels like drowning, and they will fight with parents, teachers and any authority figure until the bitter end. Many ODD kids go on to pursue their dreams successfully in this world: Goldie Hawn, Cher, and Steve Jobs are just a few examples. That strong, stubborn spirit and tenacity can translate into the strength and drive it takes to survive and change the world. One ODD kid we know went on to become a very successful lawyer — when she was ready and on her own terms. Her mom’s response? “Well, she always did know how to win an argument!” On the other hand, some kids will continue to fight against authority figures in society as adults. Yes, this can present challenges and make it difficult to maintain employment or a marriage. But we all have the ability within ourselves to change our outlook and our behavior. People change when they are uncomfortable and are motivated to do so. If you can accept that your adult ODD child’s journey is not yours, but his, it can help you feel less responsible and bitter about the choices he continues to make. You can love him, wish him well and encourage him, but in the end, the responsibility for his life is his own.

2. Set Boundaries

Just because an adult is your child doesn’t mean you are obligated to have him in your home. You have the right to set limits on your home, property and finances. You have the right to set and enforce your own emotional boundaries. Sometimes a relationship with an ODD child can transition into an abusive one once adulthood is reached. You cannot control your ODD adult child’s behavior, but you can control your own. Again, people make changes when they are uncomfortable. If your ODD adult is still living in your home, disrespecting you and arguing with you, you don’t have to put up with it! If you are, spend some time identifying why you’re having trouble setting and enforcing those boundaries. What stands in the way? Guilt? Fear? Sometimes we have baggage from our own upbringing that’s standing in our way. You may want to consult a counselor to help you work through things, or even an attorney if there is violence or intimidation occurring in your home. Remember: you have rights. What would you do if your ODD adult was a neighbor or a tenant living in your home? What limits would you set in that relationship?

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3. Don’t Rely on Your ODD Adult to Change

You’ve probably been waiting 18 years for that to happen and if you continue to wait, you could wait forever! It’s up to you to define how you will relate to your ODD adult. Write down on paper what an acceptable relationship would look like with your child. Is she living with you or not? If so, with what boundaries and limits? What would you like conversations to look like? Some parents find they can only talk about certain topics with their ODD adult child, otherwise an argument will ensue. If you need to stick to the weather, the news or other surface topics in order to be able to have a pleasant conversation, that’s okay. Maybe conversations need to be short — just a few minutes — or infrequent. But it will probably be up to you to set those limits. One mom shared, “If my son starts talking about his friends or his job, I end up getting drawn in, trying to get him to change his behavior or fix things for him. So if he starts talking about arguing with his boss or drinking the night before, I let him know I have to get off the phone and will talk with him later. He knows the limits, but usually I have to be the one to set them.”

4. Communicate Your Boundaries

Just because your ODD adult might have difficulty communicating doesn’t mean you can’t effectively and respectfully communicate your own boundaries and limits. After years of conflict and arguing, she may be in the habit of relating to you in a certain negative manner. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to say, “You know, you’re an adult now. We aren’t obligated to live together. If we do, it needs to be based on mutual respect. I have some expectations if you continue to live here, in my home.” Remember, it’s your home even if your adult child with ODD has a way of acting as if she’s entitled to live there. (You are responsible for providing a home for your ODD child, but not after she becomes an adult. After that, it’s a privilege.) If your adult ODD daughter has dug in her heels and refuses to leave, you might consider seeking some legal assistance. It’s interesting that the same ODD child who fought against living with you sometimes refuses to leave! That’s because that underlying need for control doesn’t just switch off automatically at the age of eighteen.

5. Be Aware of Expectations

We all have expectations — for ourselves and for others in our lives. Often we aren’t even aware of what those expectations are until we sit down and really think about it. As you transition into a new relationship with your adult child with ODD, take some time to understand, grieve and let go of the expectations you had for him that were never met. There was a picture you had of what your child would be like that never fully developed. Accepting that the picture is what it is — that this is your child— will help you let go of the expectation for him to be different. It doesn’t mean you agree with him or the way he chooses to lead his life — it just means you accept that this is how things are right now. You may continue to have hope, but when it turns into an expectation, that’s where the potential for disappointment, anger and hurt can occur. Your adult ODD child likely has expectations of you, as well. You may not always meet them; as parents, we usually don’t. You also may not meet all of the expectations you have for yourself all of the time, either. Be gentle with yourself.

Raising a child who fights against all forms of control — into adulthood — is one of the hardest tasks a parent can face. If you expect yourself to parent in a way that leaves you feeling good about your behavior — always — and one day you lose your temper and say something in anger to your child, forgive yourself. Start the next day fresh. Ask yourself, “What needs to change so I can feel good about myself more often?” Usually, if we find ourselves losing our temper or behaving in a way that we feel guilty or ashamed of, it’s because somewhere along the line we failed to set a boundary with our adult child. We stayed on the phone during a power struggle instead of disengaging; we allowed her to live in the house — making messes and not contributing; we gave money that went to drugs, alcohol or something else we didn’t intend. If you expect your ODD adult to maintain boundaries you may be disappointed, because he has the ultimate control over whether or not he meets that expectation. But if you set the boundary — and enforce it — yourself, you have the control.

The transition from childhood to adulthood with our children can be difficult even under the best of circumstances. When that child has a strong personality that is used to fighting against authority, it can seem like a daunting challenge. Just because she’s eighteen doesn’t mean she’ll stop looking at you as an authority figure she must fight against. And just because she’s technically an adult doesn’t mean you’ll automatically stop engaging in those power struggles. But by being aware of your expectations, accepting your adult ODD for who she is and — maybe most importantly — setting and following through with reasonable boundaries, your relationship with your adult ODD child may change into one where you can find and build on the times you actually enjoy each other.

Related Content:
Parenting ODD Children and Teens: How to Make Consequences Work
Intimidating Teen Behavior: Is It ODD or Conduct Disorder?

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About and

Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner are the co-creators of The ODD Lifeline® for parents of Oppositional, Defiant kids, and Life Over the Influence™, a program that helps families struggling with substance abuse issues (both programs are included in The Total Transformation® Online Package). Kimberly Abraham, LMSW, has worked with children and families for more than 25 years. She specializes in working with teens with behavioral disorders, and has also raised a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Marney Studaker-Cordner, LMSW, is the mother of four and has been a therapist for 15 years. She works with children and families and has in-depth training in the area of substance abuse. Kim and Marney are also the co-creators of their first children's book, Daisy: The True Story of an Amazing 3-Legged Chinchilla, which teaches the value of embracing differences and was the winner of the 2014 National Indie Excellence Children's Storybook Cover Design Award.

Comments (58)
  • Exhausted mom
    Arw there any resources? My son has ADHD, anxiety and ODD. I want him to be happy but I can't take it anymore. I live in Oregon right now.
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. If you're looking for local resources, you may find it helpful to contact the 211 Helpline. The 211 National Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can give you information on the types of support services available in your area such as counselors, therapists, support groups/kinship services as well as various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by logging onto 211.org.

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going.

  • DC
    I think we all feel each other's pain. I have an adult 25 y/o son with ODD and he has self medicated using Pot/cannabis w/elevated levels of THC. I ask all.of you if this is part of your equation too? The ODD ect is an issue along w theMore POT. However, I am convinced that some of the major contributing factors is the enabling of my son via my wife. My son has been given a private school education from grade school thru college and he graduated college w a degree in cyber security. He was 22 making $75k and he like the pot more than the job.. Money has never been a focus of my son and I believe it is because of the enabling of his mother.My son ultimately became catatonic, delusional and paranoid. This landed him in the hospital 4 times plus and in and out of homeless shelters across the Midwest. After 30 years of marriage and a few years from early retirement, my wife decided to keep her son and toss me and her other adult kids to the curb. My other kids are professional adults, although sad, they will be fine. I now cry daily because I have lost my entire family over this and get to work, until this divorce is finalized etc. It's sad that one person (not totally true)wife's family members have odd too. A contribution to the mess. But still, should we allow one member of a family unit to destroy the entire family? I have said no for sometime after providing the kid with doctors, meds and opportunity. At some point one must become self sufficient or not. But why is the entire family responsible for the mess?? Good Luck to you!
  • Mel
    I thought I was alone after reading most of the comments I see I am not. I have a 18 year old daughter who was diagnosed with ODD, ADHD, high anxiety and on the spectrum has an intellectual learning disability it’s been a struggle since she started fourth grade IMore had behavioral specialist TSS workers , therapist, PHP program which is out patient hospital for mental health. She does thing out of impulse and has no fear what so ever of danger since the age of 13 once she started middle school I have been calling cops to find her cause she always finds the worst crowds to hang out with she has totally drained me in ever aspect of life my marriage isn’t what it should be I have four other children that dislike there sister for everything she puts this family through. Family trips vacation she always has found a way to just mess it up cause she doesn’t want to do anything but what she wants. Now she’s 18 she left and knew I couldn’t do anything about it she gets in relationships that are not healthy at all I always have to save her from her self I can’t afford lawyer to get legal guardianship so I’m at a place with her where I set boundaries but she always disrespects them I have tracker on her phone and I just be up all night tracking her all hours or night with people she hardly knows staying at houses with people she don’t even know and there’s nothing I can do about it I just hope and pray everyday the lord will bring her home safe. I live in fear every day of my life I can’t focus on anything but just making sure she is safe. Turning 18 and having no rights over a child with so many issues is so unfair. At the same time with all the disrespect and heartache pain she puts me and the family through with out one ounce of empathy, emotion, care at times wanna kick her out but I know I will live with regret if anything would happen to her. So I’m pretty much at a point in my life with my daughter where I feel hopeless.
  • Lori
    My son is almost 20, so I've had about 18 years now of feeling like a failure as a parent regularly. Although we've received the ODD diagnosis at age 6 and there were certainly rough moments (often targeted at me as his mom) he was a great student and seemedMore overall to be well-adjusted until age 14. The past few years have been pretty horrible and I was really feeling at wits ends when he actually seemed to get worse after turning 18. I've needed to kick him out twice, once with police assistance. I feel like a terrible mom a little and wonder if there is something wrong with me often...maybe I am selfish and uncaring like he always says if I can call the police on my first born (Although he did assault his 16 year old brother and caused lots of damage in our home after being asked to wake up at 7 PM). After reading this article and all the comments, I really feel less alone in this. After years of seeking various treatments and trying everything I could, it's easy to feel like I've failed him, but it seems like our situation is not unique. Thanks for posting.
  • A. G

    I can relate to the pain and suffering … no one expects to have to deal

    With so much when they have these entitlement issues with kids or adult children … I myself have one and it has totally destroyed my life and my quality of life .. the fact is the kids are given too much power ! Parents walk around with their hands tied … my son never finished school never had a job never tried hard enough and expects us to just do for him … it’s a heaviness and it can’t be good for anyones health … I have went above and beyond for my son with evaluations at school and outside of school … I was forced to have him medicated or the schools would not accept him … I fought to get him into private schools with job placement …. He basically wants to stay being a child …I think it’s a load of crap all these disorders….. it’s a choice to listen and a choice to try to understand … it’s a choice to be who you are …. As parents, we can only do so much … at some point you have to let them just figure it out on their own … save urself the energy … you matter too!!!! Glad I only had one …. If I could change its would never have had any … total nightmare the last 2.5 decades … not a pleasure at all to deal with …. No one deserves this … the laws are too lenient to these kids …. This post about these disorders abs what they do to families really resonated with me …. ADD , ODD …. It’s all bs ! They know very well what they want and how to do it … they just choose not to …. Go against the grain your whole life …. Only do what is fun and what you want to …. lol go gave them the privelage to ….. ? We all have obligations in life … to ourselves … like I said let them fall on their face and figure it out … no one has the right to be so disruptive and entitled … when I see kids I run the other way! No effing thank you ! Hahaha

    • Merc
      I can so relate to everything you typed. Mine took every bit of joy out of being a parent. I cant relate to the moms who go on and on about how much they love being a parent. Its been a total nightmare for me every step of the way.More Glad to finally get my life back after 23 years!
  • Now I'm a gram to strong willed adult

    I had to have temporary custody of my grand daughter twice in her first 10 years. First time went thru indepth testing because if outburst at day care. She was diagnosed as strong willed child not ADHD and no learning problems. Had months of classes with her to learn to parent. 2nd time again went thru therapy and learned 123 magic which helped greatly. Both times and then when finally transitioned into adult with her mom who did not continue the parenting techniques, I now have the grand daughter back in my home after living with her boyfriend and having a baby. She is immature and controlling as ever. Her mother also has lived with me for years now after several failed relationships.

    I could put boundaries and I could get things on track but the mother my daughter won't support me and will go behind my back and let her have her way. So I've instructed my daughter that if the grand creates problems with my peace then she must move out with her.

    It has started, where my 23yo granddaughter stays up late and sleeps during the day wants to be loud late at night arguing with her boyfriend over the phone and loosing her temper alot. I'm senior with a disability and on a fixed income and I'm just not going to put up with this. So I'm calling a family meeting this evening and I plan on spelling it out in writing to both of them.

    This is not what I would prefer to do...I would prefer us to live together and support grand daughter to get her on her feet and pursue education but as you know...she won't do it. Her mom let her quit school as she made it so difficult and was failing alot of classes and she is 23 without a driver's license. Another form of control is to make others do for her. I've never been able to have that loving relationship

  • Jen
    My son is 21 and has a high - functioning autism diagnosis and ODD. He also suffers from severe depression. He sleeps in most days until 3 or 4 in the afternoon and his only contribution is walking the dogs must days. I have set the rule that to haveMore access to the internet he has to be up by 11am and contributing to household chores. He rarely meets those expectations but argues that he should be entitled to Internet access and any consequence of not having access, is my fault. He blames me for everything and has an excuse for everything. I love him desperately and want to help him but he refuses all help, insisting that the only problem he has is me. I paid for counselling sessions for him but he quit saying he'd "said all he had to say", he went to the doctor (on the counsellors advice) and got anti-depressants but stopped taking them before they'd had a chance to work. He's angry, resentful, defensive and so difficult to live with. I don't want to throw him out, though I want to help him be successful when he is ready to be independent (he constantly says he hates living here and wants to leave but takes no steps towards doing so). I have no idea where to turn or how to go on. I have chronic health issues and I'm a single parent with one other child. I have nowhere to turn for support. I want what's best for him but he won't engage at all as he refuses to see the problems or the harm he's causing.
  • Joyzai01
    My son is 33, and have struggled with him until about 13 years ago. He had severe tantrums, was setting fires at around 2, physically aggressive to his brother, and destroyed things. He struggled in school, though he had good teachers, his temper and refusal to do as he wasMore asked frequently got in the way. He was verbally abusive to me growing up(but not physical with me), and extremely defiant. There were periods when we got along, but it wouldnt' last. He was in the juvenile Justice system, and has had some involvement with the law as an adult, but fortunately no felonies. He has had several jobs, but would get fired because he'd either mouth off or refuse to do something he felt was unfair, or believe he was being singled out "for no reason". He has a hair-trigger temper, blames everyone else for his bad choices/behavior(it's always someone else "setting him off/making him mad") and has very little insight about his issues. For a while, I hated him, and prayed he would die so I could be free from all the chaos. I'm glad that didn't happen. He is the father of my granddaughter, and he and her mother had a volatile relationship. She lets their daughter spend time with him, and he appreciates that. I had to take a hands off approach with him, help where possible, and set boundaries to protect myself from his verbal abuse and unreasonable demands. Because we live in two different towns, we get along better. He is is not in treatment, which I think he would benefit greatly from. I just found this site, and wish it existed when we were going through hell. We get along well now, not without hard work(and sometimes tears), and I am proud of the man he is. He is working, just got an apartment with his girlfriend, and is involved in his daughter's life. Thank you for letting me share, and want to learn from all of you. For years I felt alone, and thank God for leading me here.
    • Christine G.
      Your story mirrors ours. Our son (32) just landed in jail for the first time. I called the police because we could not get him to calm down and comply in his drunkenness 2 weeks ago. Looong history of that. We are communicating with him via phone and email againstMore my family’s advice. Last night he phoned, once again, completely broken. We have not bailed him out but I am secretly wondering if this has been enough now for the minor offense. That night his anger and defiance met with the officers that came to the house and they had real consequences for it. We are heartbroken and teetering about our decision to not bail him out. Our son is ADHD, probably bi-polar and from our experience I would say definitively ODD amongst other things. We have not access to his medical records so I don’t know what diagnosis is actually recorded. This is the hardest scenario we have been through with him yet.
  • Shar
    So are there any real solutions. I feel that my adult life has evaporated waiting for things to change with my now adult son. There's no point to this life and I'm traveling in circles.
  • Caroline
    Hi. I am at my wits end. My son who is 17 was diagnosed ODD when he was four but when he was 7 they diagnosed Aspergers (autism spectrum disorder). The ODD was sort of forgotten about as all the focus and explanation of behaviours was putMore down to the ASD. Now he has been battling major depression for the last year and a half. Problem: with the depression he lost a lot of weight and the focus was to get his weight back up. But I think the ODD has reared its head and is refusing all food and very little fluid. He says he's not hungry but today I took a glass of apple juice into him but he's refusing to drink it as he didn't ask for it. He has behaviours at times of vindictiveness such as hiding the key to my jewellery cupboard. Still don't know where it is!! I know I didn't lock it as I never do and the key is gone!!! Also violent if we persist with any requests such as showering or anything at all. Point is I think he's refusing food and drink as part of the ODD. He's refusing to go to doctor and they don't do house calls. Small country town in Australia. I simply don't know what to do. Please can you help??? Not sure if I've posted this correctly. Apologies if I've posted on somebody else's post!!!
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles you have been experiencing with your son, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support. I understand your concern about your son’s refusal of food and drink, as well as his refusal to go to the doctor, as thisMore could have serious implications for his well-being. Even though your son does not want to see his doctor, I still encourage you to contact him/her, and voice your concerns. Because s/he has the benefit of knowing his medical history and potential effects of his refusal, his doctor might be a good resource for you even if your son doesn’t want to go. I recognize what a tough situation this must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.
  • rosemary mcbride
    Hi reading this lets me no my son may or may not change but there are ways to help me work with him. He's 26 yrs. old .Thanks for being here for parents like me thanks.
  • Cindi G
    My son is 23. He has always been a challenge with learning issues and defiant behavior. I guess I was hoping as he got older he would mature and use better common sense. Lately he has gotten into confrontations with his managers, co workers if he "perceives"More he's being talked to in an unkind tone. He also has gotten 3 speeding tickets and says he was confrontational with the police when he got pulled over. Afterwards, he realizes how inappropriate he was, yet he continues same behaviors. He's super disrespectful to me also and says things to me that would make most parents head spin. I'm really at the end of my rope and don't know what to do.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m sorry to hear about the ongoing issues you have experienced with your son. It can be so frustrating when you feel as though you are continuing to go through the same challenges now that your son is an adult as you did when he was younger. AsMore outlined in the article above, keep in mind that your son is now an adult and so anything you choose to provide to him at this point is considered a privilege, and not a right. This includes things like a car, a phone as well as a place to live and financial support. Something you might consider is writing up a living agreement with your son which outlines your expectations for his behavior while he is living in your home. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your son. Take care.
  • Connie M
    Our adopted son, who is now 31 and living with us again, has been a challenge all his life, from infancy to adulthood. He is a recovering addict and alcoholic. He saw many professionals as a teen, all of whom said we were wasting our money, since he told themMore whatever he thought they wanted to hear. We paid for two rehabs and two out-patient living situations. He has f found (again!) a wonderful job, with career potential, but is in the process, yet again, of shooting himself in the foot. He doesn't fit into the usual ADHD patterns: he was a wonderful student, great athlete, had many, many friends, etc., but a problem for us at home, and eventually run-ins with the police. Decidedly ODD. Now he is fairly reasonable at home, gladly helps us with chores, has a lovely girlfriend (lost two long-term relationships because of the substance abuse), and a wonderful job, which he enjoys. The problem? He is chronically late to work. He has already been given warnings, and may be fired. I imagine that he has transferred the impulse to oppose and defy to arriving to work on time. No matter what, he manages to make himself late. His other personality issues (mild bipolar and ADD) are more or less under control with appropriate meds. We could cut him off financially, but the idea of his living under a bridge and getting killed (which happens around here often enough) is terrifying to us. Any ideas?
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I hear your concern for your son, and I’m glad that you are here reaching out for support. It can be so frustrating when you witness your child behaving in self-destructive ways, and experiencing the consequences of those choices. Because your son is an adult, he is responsibleMore for his own behavior, and for dealing with the outcomes of his choices. This doesn’t mean that you are powerless, however. You have control over determining your own boundaries, and how you choose to enforce those. I hear your hesitation around cutting him off financially, and I understand your concern. In the end, if you are not willing to enforce this consequence with your son out of worry for his well-being, then this will not be an effective boundary to set. At this point, it could be useful to determine what boundaries you are willing to enforce with your son, as Kim and Marney outline in their article series on adult children. You can find the first article in the series here: Failure to Launch, Part 1: Why So Many Adult Kids Still Live with Their Parents. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • Judy B
    I need all the help I can get. My son is 30 and has had this all his life. I can't have a relationship with anyone, he causes to much drama and anger towards them or me. Please help I have had one nervous break down because of him.
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m sorry to hear about the impact your son’s behavior and choices have had on you over the years, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support. As outlined in the article above, it’s going to be important to set some boundaries with your son at thisMore point, and to communicate your limits and expectations with him. If your son is behaving in a way that you would not accept from a tenant or a roommate, it’s OK to set a limit and communicate that to him. You might find some useful tips on this in Kim and Marney’s series on adult children; the first article in the series is Failure to Launch, Part 1: Why So Many Adult Kids Still Live with Their Parents. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your son. Take care.
  • Vicki Harper
    My daughter, I adopted when she was 10. She has been a challenge to raise. I, like the above article, could not wait until she turned 18. Not for her to move out, but for me to no longer be responsible for her. Her dad and I divorced and IMore moved to Florida. She did really well then. She was cooperative and even maybe feel like she loved me. She has always kept her room a mess and has never done chores. When she did do them she only halfway did them. She is now pregnant and her ODD symptoms have seemed to raise its ugly head. However, I must say that she has her boyfriend and his family now, so it's almost like she doesn't need her mom. She and the boyfriend have been disrespectful. I have bought stuff for the new grandbaby, and gave them a shower. She did. It say thank you one time while she was opening presents. I was embarrassed. She for the past week or 2 has been very difficult. Just like old times. She has a sense of entitlement. Her shower was beautiful, she got a lot of gifts and she tells people that her shower was "ok"! She has a great sense of entitlement. I have been giving her the child support, so she could learn responsibility. It didn't work. It's always an argument. She has not been doing her school work. I can't kick her out being pregnant. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Vicki Harper I’m sorry to hear about the arguments you have been having with your daughter lately, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support.  It’s understandable that you might feel hurt and frustrated by your daughter’s and her boyfriend’s behavior and lack of gratitude toward you atMore this time.  Something to keep in mind is that, because your daughter is an adult, it’s going to be more effective to focus on setting and enforcing your own boundaries around her behavior, rather than trying to make her act a certain way.  I hear your hesitation around kicking her out due to her pregnancy, and I understand that.  Only you can decide what limits and consequences you are comfortable enforcing with your daughter.  You might consider https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/ with your daughter which outlines your expectations for her behavior while she is living with you, and how she will be held accountable if she is not following the rules.  Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.
  • frustraded mom
    My daughter is 17, 18 in 7 months and has always used "when i'm 18 i'm leaving and I can do what I want."  She was diagnosed with Aspergers in 2014 and I believe she's ODD.  For the past year she has become very defiant and does whatever she wantsMore which also includes smoking pot and lying.  Constant lying.  I'm fed up and last night I told her that I was going to help her get her disability when she turns 18 so she can move out.  I've decided to go and see a psychologist to help me make good decisions because I just don't know if i'm doing the right thing.
  • Sedavis251
    I too, am at my wits end. My son was diagnosed with ADHD around 5, hes now 20. He was always in trouble at school and defiant. All F's since about the 3rd grade. He made it to his senior year but dropped out to try Job Corps. Bad enviornnentMore and he got kicked out. Finally got his adult diploma through our local college. Since he has been arrested twice, once for stealing a car charger out of someone's car with a friend even though they both had jobs! And about 1 month later for a owi for smoking weed. Finally got a different job that he has had for maybe 1 month, and is constantly disrespectful. His brother got a phone upgrade because his phone broke. And all he did was complain that all his stuff is shitty, dad gets a computer for christmas and his brother gets a newer phone etc...so we went and upgraded my husband so he could pass along his phone to my oldest. The phone is an apple 6plus..and its not good enough. So he and my husband got into a huge fight. My husband is done..and i cant blame him. To make it worse my son then got on fb and started talking about us and saying how he had never liked his stepdad and never will!! My husband has been the only dad he has ever known since 2. He doesnt see the bigger picture at all. He is selfish, spoiled and thinks we owe him something. I feel like disrespecting us on the phone we just gave you is outrageous !! I am just worried that kicking him out will lead to him getting arrested again. He is so emotionally immature and he doesn't respect that as our child he has a "place" and its not the boss of our house. Help!!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Sedavis251 I hear you.  It can be so challenging when you have an adult child who constantly displays an entitled and selfish attitude.  The truth is, your son is an adult, and so anything you provide to him at this point is considered a privilege for him, and a choiceMore for you.  This includes things like a phone, financial assistance, and even a place to live.  Ultimately, the decision of whether to kick out your son belongs to you.  If you decide to allow him to remain in your home, it could be useful to https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/ which outlines your expectations for his behavior while he is living with you.  I recognize how frustrating this experience must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.
      • rrwmaxwell

        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport Sedavis251

        I understand, too.  My son is now in prison.  He is 19 and the youngest 'adult' in there, although he is emotionally way less mature.  He did not think he had to follow the law, and even said that God is the only one he answers to.  He was gifted in school, accepted into Ohio University with a scholarship but as soon as he began to drink and smoke, it went downhill pretty fast.  His dad and my marriage was less than stellar, and he has anger control issues.  Is it the combo of everything or is he born opposition-ally defiant with ADD? He is shocked that he got caught and was put into the bigboy prison.... I pray he has learned.

        I agree with what Rebecca said as the more you give your son, the more entitled he becomes.  I know how you feel and honestly, my son being in prison is sadly the safest I have felt at night regarding him getting hurt or hurting somebody.

  • rrwmaxwell
    I wonder. Are there other parents of kids who are adults that still defy authority legally? If so, is there possibility for a good life or is prison typically the outcome? Are there support groups?
    • rrwmaxwell

      Rebecca thank you!!

      I am going to read the book and contact the number

      God Bless you


    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      Thank you for

      writing in, and I hope that other parents of adult children will write in as

      well to share their experiences.  From our perspective, it is never too

      late to change, even if your child is now an adult and getting into legal

      trouble.  As a matter of fact, James Lehman, who created many of the

      programs and wrote numerous articles here on Empowering Parents, was defiant as

      a child, and was in and out of jail as a teen and even into his adult

      years.  You can read more about his story in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-a-former-troubled-teen-turned-his-life-around-the-james-lehman-story/. 

      If you are looking for support groups, you might consider contacting the http://www.211.org/ at 1-800-273-6222.  211 is a

      service which connects people with resources in their community.  I wish

      you and your family all the best moving forward.  Take care.

  • Confused_inthe_808

    I just came across these articles while searching for a solution for our situation. My husband and I have living at home, an 18 year old who just graduated; a 16 year who is trying to graduate a year early; and a 12 year old. the 18 year old is from my husbands 1st marriage. the 16 year old and 12 year old are from my 1st marriage. we have been together for over 8-9 years and married for 4 years.

    I have raised the 18 year old, obviously for the last 8-9 years of his life as my husband had primary physical custody of his son. I have always treated my husbands children as my own. there is no difference, and many many people and friends can't tell who belongs to who...which was my goal in trying to be a successful blended family.

    The issue at the moment is the 18 year old. He helps around the house with some chores, but since graduation has made no serious effort to "step into the adult world" of finding employment or figuring out what or where he is going to end up.  We have had the talk with him but it seems the more we talk, the less the results and efforts become.

    Now we have to move from our 3 bedroom home and can't really afford to pay for storage while we pack up the house, so we took over the 18 year olds room as a "storage / command center". Now before you raise an eyebrow, the 16 year old gets child support which he gives back to us every month to help pay bills and make ends meet, has a part time job, and just saved enough money to purchase a moped and shares a room with the 12 year old.

    My thought of using the 18 year olds room was to "make him uncomfortable in his current situation" and "lovingly push" him to kicking in and getting a job so he can move out, help out or something but he moved himself into the other boys room. I just told him that's unacceptable and he of course got upset...as did my husband. He feels that I'm not being fair...I need an outside opinion as to what is reasonable for us to ask of him being that he is an "adult"...please as this is pulling our family apart quickly...

    • Darlene EP


      I can understand your

      frustration. Of course you want your 18 year old son to have some direction and

      motivation to move forward into the adult world. Having just graduated, your

      son is facing a pretty uncertain and scary time. Some kids really have it all

      mapped out and are on to the next phase, many do not. I think it is fair to

      give him a bit of transition time as I am guessing he probably graduated very

      recently. Instead of taking over his room, we would recommend coming to an

      agreement on what the expectation is and when you expect it to happen. For

      example, you could expect him to be looking for a job each day and show you

      evidence of that. You can set up a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/ so that everyone is clear and on the same page. Establishing

      ground rules and expectations can be very effective in giving your son some

      clear guidelines. Also, do your best to see each of your children individually.

      Comparing their efforts or contributions is generally not very effective, as

      they are different people. Viewing child support as your 16 year old

      contributing financially is not fair to your 18 year old. Your 16 year

      old  is not contributing that money, it is your money to help with the

      expenses of raising your children. Thank you for reaching out. Let us know if

      we can be of any further help. Take care.

  • mommad
    My daughter is 22 and was diagnosed as a sophomore in high school with adhd and learning disability.  High school was a lot about getting her through her academics with a high enough grade point avg to be able to be accepted in to college and pass the NCAA requirementsMore so that she could accept her full ride Division 1 athletic scholarship..  We got her through that, got her off to college and everything goes down hill from there.  She is very head strong and whatever she thinks in her head is reality.  she consistently gets into financial issues that have cost us tons of $$$.  She makes crazy impulsive decisions without regard for anyone else.  If you met her you would say I'm crazy because she is strikingly beautiful, a top ranked athlete and just as sweet as she can be to everyone.  Howver, she struggles to build relationships with coaches, teachers etc. and is very very oppositional defiant with me.  She has never taken responsibility for her issues academically and always blamed on teachers.  She did good with high school and club coaches because of her talent but when she got to college and had to be told something by her college coach, she shut down and hated the guy.  I am not the mom that sits back and says ok honey it will be better tomorrow or is in denial where my child is in the wrong. I am very open and honest with her and am real with her.  She met a guy her sophomore year and she got pregnant and had a baby dec 2015 losing her last year of her athletic career and giving up an opportunity to play professionally.  With the grace of God and a phenomenal academic support structure for athletes at her university, she did manage to graduate on the day that her baby was born.  Baby's father was in the picture but had a semester left to finish school.  She went back and forth between my house and his moms house for the past 5 months.  (we are 4 states away and a 10 hour drive).  She walked for graduation in May and stayed another week for his graduation and then was going to come home with him and baby - that was her plan that she had not communicated to him or did he agree to.  He goes on a 5 day binge leaving her and baby in his moms house with no change of clothes etc while he is out with other girls, smoking weed, partying, strippers etc etc etc.  normal for a 22 year old boy, but, not with the mother of your child and your child stranded.  We go get her and baby, bring them home under the agreement that she is DONE with this loser.  He has never worked, has lived off of her for the past 2 years (well off of our credit card) and we are done with that.  Since we cut off her funds, he is running like a wild party animal and being very disrespectful to her and emotionally abusing her and she is allowing it.  She is here at home now and insists she does not engage with him, but, the call records show differently.  Anytime any kind of discussion takes place with her about what she is doing for herself and her baby or him, she turns into a devil screaming yetlling LIEING.  Just hatefulness.  She doesn't do anything to help in the house, she doesn't clean up after herself telling me to "calm down" "its not that serious" etc etc etc.  I am so fearful that she will leave and take the baby and God knows what would happen to him.  She reminds me he is her child and that I'm just the gramma and I have no say so.  Yet, I do most of the care for him including buying his food, formula, diapers etc etc etc.  Because of course the sperm donor does nothing to help.  The final straw for me with this guy was when he was arrested last week on 6 counts of drug possession and trafficking.  mInd, you, she is a very high profile athlete in our state and could care less what anyone thinks of her.  She was livid and talks a big game of how she is done with him and she never wants anything to do with him etc etc.  She's not talking to him, all the things that we all want to hear but, the call records show differently.  She feels sorry for this guy and thinks she can fix him, yet, she is entitled with us, and we are the demons that are trying to control her life and her relationship.  She feels like a burden in my home, but, doesn't do anything to get $ to help out.  She doesn't like me in her business knowing what I know about this loser baby dad of hers, but, I'm a real person and won't be fake with her.  She now threatens to take the baby away and wont see him again if I don't stay out of her business.  She has always had issues with academics, she has always made up stories and lies when she doesn't need to and to the point where she believes her own lies.  She gets anxiety and has a hard time with friends.  Her friends never leave her and are always there for her but she doesn't ever interact with them socially.  She is always home (even in high school).  When she was in college all the friends and her teammates would go out and she RARELY joined them.  She spends a lot of time alone and doesn't want to be bothered.  She spends an enourmous amount of time in her phone which is keeping her from being productive every day.  She wants to be a stay at home mom, but, she doesn't have the spouse to back that up, so, she just does nothing and expects everything to just magically happen, food, shelter, cars etc.  She wants to do what she wants to do without any consequences and she wants to be an adult without doing what it takes to be an adult.  Everything is my fault, I don't trust her, I don't believe in her, I don't do anything right.  Any attempt to have a mature adult conversation with her turns into a yelling screaming match where she drags me to a point of anger I've never felt before.  When I tell her I'm "disengaging" until she calms down, she says "fine, walk away, you never listen, you just care about yourself, and I'm not going to talk to you about anything at all if you walk away.  Nobody understands me and especially you".  I disengage anyway and we don't talk for days living in the same house.  This cannot be healthy for the baby.  She has ADHD medicine, but won't take it.  Her stubbornness tells her she's not hyper or isn't trying to take a test so she doesn't need it.  She is a very unhappy person trying to put up a big front and not being real and honest with herself.  I'm afraid this is going to spiral out of control to the point that something happens to the baby and her and that our relationship will be tarnished for life.  After one of these incidents, she always sends me a sorry text and I love you or posts something on social media about how much she loves me and how wonderful I am.  I am emotionally drained at exhausted and broke.  God please give me guidance and strength.  I love her to pieces but how can I help her?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      I hear you.  It sounds like you have been through a lot

      with your daughter, and it’s understandable that you might feel frustrated and

      worn out with the constant conflict.  In addition, it can be difficult to

      witness your daughter making poor choices that impact not only her, but also

      your grandchild.  We hear from many parents in similar situations, so you

      are not alone in this.  The truth is, as an adult and a parent, your

      daughter has the right to make her own decisions regarding her life as well as

      your grandchild’s life, even decisions that could potentially have a negative

      outcome.  This does not mean that you are powerless, however.  As her

      parent, you have the right to set and enforce boundaries with your daughter

      while she is living in your home.  I also hear your concern that your

      daughter might leave with your grandchild if you try to enforce too many

      rules.  Ultimately, you are the best judge of what you are, and are not,

      willing to live with.  It could be helpful to sit down with your daughter

      during a calm time and write up your expectations for her behavior while she is

      in your home, such as in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/ground-rules-for-living-with-an-adult-child-plus-free-living-agreement/. I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I

      hope that you will write back and let us know how things are going for you and

      your family.  Take care.

  • Lori

    I am so happy to find this website. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what is wrong with my 20 year old daughter. I seem to be 100% sure my daughter has ODD disorder. My daughter was always very headstrong, but it progressed in her early teens. My ex husband and I divorced when she was 2 years old. My daughter lived with me up until she was 16 and my ex then somehow persuaded her to move in with him. While I was at work, my daughter grabbed her belongings and just left. I was devastated. I am sure there were no boundaries set at his house, I'm sure he was just happy she was with him. To my ex it was a power trip for him, to try and get our kids to be with him because he never forgave me for filing for divorce. He has been trying to get revenge on me ever since. My ex has battled drugs for many years. He has been arrested a few times for marijuana, had a few DUI's , and finally after 20 years he went to rehab (kudos to him), but my daughter is the one now suffering. By him stealing my daughter to live with him, I feel like he set the downward spiral with all this. My daughter then moved back with me because se didn't like his rules (about a year later), eventually didn't like my rules and went back to him. It went back and forth a few times until she finally moved into her own place a few months ago. Her disrespect for me has grown stronger and blatantly told me she hates me and her father. She never had a concrete reason why, just the way she felt about us. She would never listen to me when she was here and did what she pleased. It was my fault, because I reluctantly allowed it. I did not know what to do besides tie her up and lock her in a room. So, how do you set boundaries when you have no control over your child. She has so much anger towards me, it became physical last week. She verbally abuses me and degrades me and I had enough. She is in her own apartment and seems so unhappy. I have seen this progress over the last few months. I claimed her as a dependent on my taxes in February and she went ballistic. She felt it had affected her refund (it did not). I had every right. She now had a reason why she is behaving like this. I am now a piece of shit to her, dumbass, etc. I feel she may have another disorder as well, due to her mood swings; it's almost like a bi-polar type of behavior. One minute I'm no good, the next she's texting me asking me a question, and being totally nice. Her father and I do not speak, and haven't for a few years. I moved in with my mom about 8 years ago after my father died, along with my daughter and son. She had a very stable and happy environment here until my ex took her at 16 to live with him. Due to her going back and forth and it being allowed I think it has mad her feel like she does not have a stable life. My mom is not a fighter and never really backed me up with my disciplining. She more less allowed it and out of respect for her, I did not want to make any unnecessary stress for her.

    It all makes sense now. She never listened to anyone when it came to disciplining (parents, teachers, etc). She does have a job, but signed herself out of school in 11 th grade because she could not handle all the girl problems at the High School (anti-social disorder possibly). She did receive her GED thankfully. She only lives half a block from me and I see her on occasion. There is so much tension it's ridiculous. I tell her she needs counseling to help her through her anger, but is in denial. I am afraid something drastic is going to happen. How do I persuade her to go to counseling with me??

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can hear how fearful you are about your daughter’s future.

      That’s a common worry for parents, especially parents of older teens and young

      adults. It can be easy to futurize and awfulize when your child is making poor

      choices.  It sounds like you think counseling would help the two of you

      have a better relationship. While that may be true, it may not be possible to convince

      your daughter to go. This doesn’t mean you can’t go on your own, though. You

      may find working with a neutral third party to be an effective way of helping

      you determine where your limits and boundaries are, as well as ways of

      responding to her choices that will help you feel empowered, instead of

      overwhelmed. That’s really the best way to parent an adult child – establishing

      clear boundaries and deciding how you are going to respond when those

      boundaries are crossed. The 211 Helpline would be able to give you information

      on counseling services in your area. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day

      by calling 1-800-273-6222 or by visiting them online at http://www.211.org/. Best of luck to you and your family

      moving forward. Take care.

      • Lori


        Thank you so much for responding. I know I cannot get my daughter to go right now. I finally understood that. You are right about me going to counseling for myself to learn how to cope. I have been so overwhelmed and stressed and it is not a great feeling. I want to feel empowered. I will keep you updated. Maybe I can help other parents dealing with this situation.

        Thank you so much!!!

  • Bella2016
    I just stumbled upon this discussion. I have a 32 year old learning disabled son with seizures, ADD, and horrible oppositional behavior. He married a mentally ill girl and now has a child. I pay for daycare three days and babysit two days because I try to keep her outMore of that environment. I'm drowning. I worry day and night. He is not compliant with healthy life choices and started having seizures again after 6 years. His wife works against us at every turn: He is very negative, argues with us, is mean and disrespectful. He dresses like a slob and when we tell him the dr says to eat healthy he says drs don't know what they are talking about. I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and just plain sad.
    • Bella2016

      Dear SheriL,

      I'm sorry for you as well. I think I just posted in hopes of hearing from others like me. I feel so sad all the time. I'm 65 and exhausted. I watch our granddaughter to have her have normal at least two days. My sons wife appears to lack emotion and just stands and stares at me if I offer anything that makes sense: then she attacks my son verbally when I'm gone. My son is emotionally unstable and his reasoning is like that of a stubborn toddler. I can't believe I'm in this situation. We pay the majority of their bills due to all my sons disabilities and his wife contributes nothing. They live and dress like slobs and I feel sick seeing it. Just venting. It's a true heartache that only those dealing with similar situations understand. God bless us.

      • SheriL9

        Hi Bella, I so feel you! I know that I practice surrender most of the time when it comes to them because I am powerless. The law does not provide grandparents any rights in the state that I live in so I cannot take them to court... Because I have no power, I give myself permission to "let go" so that I am not miserable over it.

        My son & his wife are also complete slobs. They smell so bad & it's sad. But since I have no power to make them change & any advice or soft suggestions makes them angry, I choose to let go & give myself a hug instead.

        He challenged me since he was very little. I refuse to give him the power today to make me miserable but every now & then I get weak & allow my inner critic to have expectations that he "should be" kind to me & give me the respect I deserve... That's what I was upset about yesterday.

         We do have the right to be happy... I hope tomorrow brings you happiness. Write back any time if you need or want to vent.

    • SheriL9

      Dear Bella, I feel you. I also have a 32 year old son with ODD who is married to a woman who is bipolar with ODD: They have 3 children with 1 due soon. Since I am physically disabled & have a 13 year old busy daughter at home, I am not able to babysit for them every weekend as they would like so he gets very mad at me & calls me a bad grandma... I also do not know what to do because they are cruel parents. I feel so terrible for my grandchildren. My 6 year old sweet & kind grandson talks about how he often feels so sad & cries "for no reason." I feel so sad that I cannot do more. I also do not know what to do.

      I am sorry that you feel sad Bella. Maybe someone might have some advice?

      I wish you well.

  • michelle8586
    Thee I have been there my daughter is 25 almost 26 she is married and does live with her husband out of state but they fight everyday she is obsessive compulsive and adhd and odd she does not show anger at me but does not listen to anything I sayMore she calls me and texts me 20 times a day for advice and then does just the opposite of what I tell her, her husband does not work and plays video games all night and she can not work due to her mental disabilities and receives a monthly check to pay her bills. All any parent wants is the best for their child but people with mental disabilities can not process life as others so those of us who live with them suffer as much as they do.
  • Sadmother

    I believe our middle son, who has moved back in with us at age 26, to have ODD. I don't know where to turn for help; I can't involve myself with his health care because he is a legal adult and I have no rights. He is very bright, and holds a math degree, but is extremely negative and absolutely refuses to set goals that would get him a job. He talks of applying to graduate school, but has no references since he has never worked and did not involve himself with professors or counselors while he was in college. When I said he needs to start the process by contacting professors he had in college, he becomes negative and says none of them would give him a recommendation. He won't even try!  I also don't think he has any clear concept of what he would do with a graduate degree, so I'm not sure it would matter. He seems to feel that the only option he has is to go to grad school. When we tell him that's not so, that people with math degrees have many options, he starts in with the negativity. 

    I have suggested volunteer work. I have suggested going back to school for a different bachelors' degree. I have suggested getting any kind of a job at all, just to gain experience and references. Any suggestion I make is met with flat negativity and usually the comment that it wouldn't help, or that I'm stupid. We have observed this pattern for many years: during high school, it seemed like anything we praised him for would be immediately dropped. Like art; he enjoyed drawing and painting and won an art award at school, but did not even tell us about the award. When we tried to encourage his interest, he dropped it. This was repeated many times.

    On the plus side, he is as honest as the day is long and would never hurt anyone (except us—emotionally). He doesn't have substance abuse issues or any of the other problems I see that other parents sadly have to cope with as well.

    I feel that we've failed him as parents; my husband, unfortunately, chose to pretend that none of his issues were terribly important and that he'd grow out of them. I've felt like I was battling both of them: my son because of his issues and my husband because of his passivity. At this point, my husband finally realizes that he is NOT going to outgrow his issues on his own, and that we need to do something. But what? Should I try to find a counselor for the two of us? Or what?

    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      You bring up an interesting dilemma. Truthfully, whether or

      not your son has ODD doesn’t really matter in terms of the expectations you

      have for him in your home. If you think counseling could be helpful for you

      and/or your son, I would encourage you to find out what types of services are

      available in your community. I would also encourage you to consider developing

      a mutual living agreement with your son that outlines what expectations you

      have while he lives in your home. You can find some great tips for developing a

      living agreement in the articles Parenting Your Adult Child: How to Set up a Mutual Living Agreement & Ground Rules for Living with an Adult Child (plus Free Living Agreement). The

      second article includes a template for a Living Agreement that can be

      downloaded and printed off. We wish you and your family the best of luck moving

      forward. Take care.

  • Hurt mum

    My 20 year old son was never add. He and I were very close up until I left my husband when he was 15. He chose to stay with his dad who set no boundaries. I tried to stay involved but my ex always over ruled my authority stating my son was living with him. My son grew increasingly hostile towards me but we were bumbling along At the end of his 1st year of university his behavior changed. His flat was a disgusting mess. He would shout at me if I called at "the wrong time ". I started to fear he was abusing some substance. I discussed this with my ex who promptly told him my concerns

    My son immediately stopped talking to me He is angry and full of hatred for me. He has stopped all contact with any family members and has destroyed any photos of me. He has blocked me off all his social media and his phone He forbids me to go anywhere near him or for his father to discuss anything with me. He is the authority in their relationship. His rude and aggressive messages to his sister say he is who he is and everyone must accept him as he is. He is no longer going to be told what to do by anyone and will take I bs from anyone

    The change in him is so extreme that I'm left confused and hurt. It has been suggested that he has ODD. He did take add meds in the last two years of school as his concentration levels were bad. Is this a possible diagnosis? He has no communication with me and if he does its to tell me to get out or get way

  • KittyKat55
    relieve Take away the car and show him the door. Find a therapist. If it is ODD it will get worse over time. I had the police out so much when my son lived with us that I was on a first name basis with the police. The police socialMore worker said to show my son the door. We were enabling and I could get really hurt with an angry, out of control son. He would not take any of the information the social worker provided as he did not want help. Sometimes life is a better teacher than parents! Natural consequences speak volumes.
  • KittyKat55
    At the end You just do it. He needs to learn some hard life lessons and only the real world can demonstrate it so well. It worked with my son. It was hard but it worked. The only thing that he is entitled to is the air he breathes. TheMore rest must be earned!
  • KittyKat55
    I have an oppositional defiant 27 year old son. He had a stroke at birth and suffers from a neurological mood disorder. He lived with my husband and I  on and off for 6 long years after checking out of residential placement on his 18th birthday. I kicked him outMore 7 times and my husband kept asking me to take him back. I finally said to my husband to  choose between your wife or your son and I would leave him if he chose his son. Luckily he made a choice to kick my son out permanently. My son refused to get a job, partied , and pretty much was homeless on and off whenever we kicked him out. I finally got him on Social Security disability. and am his representative payee. My son had a melt down in the Social Security office which pretty much confirmed the mental illness. I took his college fund and purchased a small trailer in a trailer park near us. Of course he nearly got himself thrown out for failing to follow the rules. I sat him down, and with full support of my husband told him the trailer was the last resort. He trashed his credit so renting an apartment or a room was not an option. i said if he got kicked out of the trailer park we would not lift a finger to help him. If he was homeless, so be it. He finally got it! I told him I would pay the bills with his social security check but there was no money left over for anything else. I told him if we wanted to buy  things, to get a job. He got a crappy, part time job but it is his money to do with as he likes. provided he used part of it to provide his transportation to and from work.  He has been so difficult his entire life. I saw a therapist who told me to take him in very small doses or not at all. I have chosen not at all at present because he is abusive and toxic and I don't need the stress., Tough love is the key. You can't really help those that will not help themselves and if you coddle the difficult they just become more difficult. People say "well he's your son and I say yes he is and he does better when he does not get my help". Someday my husband and I will die and he must learn to take care of himself. I will appoint someone to pay his bills but we will not be there to help with the day to day management of his life. That will be up to him and if we coddle him, there are no lessons that he will learn if we make it easy. Parents, if this is you, stop making excuses for them. Kick them out and walk away. If left to their own devices they will have to work out how to survive. Get on with your lives and only let them come by if they respect your rules and boundaries. If not, show them the door. You are entitled to a life. They are co opting yours because you allow it. Like I said tough love. Apply it to to yourself first and then to the problem adult. It really does work!
    • melissa g

      This comment hit home. My 26 year old brother I know without a doubt has ODD, and his behavior has become unbearable. Unfortunately our circumstances have all four of us, me (age 28), and my two 62 yr old parents living in a 900 sq ft house and we can't easily escape his behavior. I so desperately want my mother and father to take the action you have. My father is more like you and my mom is the one who feels that kicking him out is not an option...because he will be homeless! He has made absolutely no effort to make a life for himself. He plays video games on the computer 24/7 which he refers to at "work". Truly laughable, but its what he actually believes. He is on social security, but claims he tricked everyone so he could have the money but insists he is not mentally ill.

      My question is how do we set boundries for someone who refuses to believe his is ill or ever wrong. He can NEVER be wrong, which I am sure you understand. How do you go through with this without him thinking we just hate him and want him gone. He always thinks we and planning conspiracy and plans behind his back....ay yi yi

  • 2nd Fiddle to son
    Help my BF's 19 yr old son is a daily argument between us.  This "Adult" dropped out of High School freshman year, NO never obtained a job. My BF kept saying at 18 I am done he is will on his own. They moved in with me I insisted heMore must to back to school & get a job. That didn't last long he didn't like my rules. He went to live with his mother.  Well 18 came an left he obtained a job for 2 months via me calling in a favor, he constantly was late and had many no shows, and ended up fired.  Then 19 came still the same, dad said the same at 19 thats it, now he is heading towards 20. He has no education, no drive to find a job, smokes weed daily in the house, has broken in to a family camp with friends and got caught, taken neighbors bikes (neighbor called Dad and said before I call the police I want to talk with you.), He lies constantly about everything to his Dad, He is out of control towards me (yes I understand, he has told me he has ruined got rid of dads other GF, and his dad will always choose him). His dad left him for a few months while visiting me while I worked in another State, we came back to a filthy home, things broken and dirty beyond anything, We had to throw dishes out! He did do any laundry for 8 months total.  We came back to this state in June, the son entered a 2nd chance GED program to be kicked out 2 times attendance issues, He was being paid to attend . So the deal was with dad get this done then a "real job" After being kicked out I called the local Adult Ed and found he could continue where he left off on GED testing. He only needs to attend class 2 days a week 8 to 12 AM and 2 day 4 to 8 PM, in 4 weeks he has not attended half the time. He stays up all night gaming, smoking pot and not helping around the house.  He is a slob he will not do his dishes at all, his dad or I will say do the dishes his answer is naaa and laughs and goes back to his room.  I started piling the dishes in a bucket in front of his door, dad will do them when I am not there.  He helps his dad with nothing! His dad birthday & fathers day came he couldn't even say happy birthday get him a card or acknowledge all he does for him on fathers day.  When it comes to his mother he is right there taking her to dinner.  He uses his dad knowing his dad will always give in to him, his mother will not they fight and she does not put up with his crap.  Yes great he goes to school occasionally less then 10 hours a week to obtain a GED, 1 test left. He has no money coming in at all, and constantly puts his hand out for money to buy wrappers for his weed. The adult was offer work for a friend doing handy work, he did not go 2 days, did go for 4-5 hours 1 day. Nor did he go to school during this time. Dad said that is it I am not giving him any more money period.  This was 2 days ago. Tonight at 11 PM the adult knocks on our door wanting money for blunt wrappers and yes he tells Dad this.  I say you better not this is crazy let him go with out and deal with not working.  Dad's answer is well he did work they haven't paid him yet.. In my mind I thinking and saying your crazy.  He didn't go back today to work again, and let him go ask them for his pay don't give him money.  Dad does not give him money, 40 minutes later dad is sleeping son starts banging on the door and doesn't stop " I need a dollar for blunt wrappers, come on are you kidding me I will pay you back if it matters that much"  Dad gets up heads to kitchen with money I get up and said really don't give it to him, son says to be shut the f**k up b***h.  I say get a job loser, stop putting your hand out to your father for money get a job. Needless to say I lost it Dad gave him the money, I am in the wrong because I said let me suffer from his choices of not working. Do not support his drug habit make him be responsible.  Dad says this is not my issue nor my kid, We have been together over 2 years  & living together for almost of it. I feel it is my fight as well, dad says no, he can handle this and get him in line.  Needless to say the son has lived with Dad and not with mom for years.  If he could handle this it wouldn't have come to this. This is what I think tough love, A job, no weed smoking in house, and get your GED.  I have raised 3 successful children now adults, they all worked attend school with great grades, played sports & attended college, while working, now have great careers. I never allowed this type of behavior and have a very hard time with the lack of respect, no job and no direction.  What advise do you have for dad to stop this behavior, Dad said to me tonight, I will always choose my son over you.  I don't want a choose one or the other I want him to control his sons lack of respect and lazy ways, and be responsible for his lack of education & job. HELP!!!
  • Godslady
    Thank you for this article!  I have been dealing with a 28 year old step daughter who has 3 young kids and seems to be just what you described.(ODD)  They do not live with us (she did during 1st pregnancy and a year after that).  She is very demanding andMore disrespectful towards her dad, and recently, toward me. I have only been in the family for 5 years.  We both feel that she needs SO much more than we can provide, including childcare, finances, help with the house, etc.  We both work full-time, physically demanding jobs, so by the time we get home from work, we're both pretty tired.  We don't mind them coming over for a visit, but when she asks us to babysit all 3 kids (one is an infant still), I tend to have the wrong attitude, and she recently was offended by it.  My husband says that she was the classic "strong-willed child" from birth, and they ended up moving her out at 16, to another family member's household.  Just in the past 5 years, has she actually had a somewhat working relationship with him.  Sometimes I feel she only makes it work because she needs so much from us!  I guess you gotta do what you gotta do!  All the things you mentioned are very helpful to me, and will help me try to respond in a more productive way next time, when she begins talking to  me again.  God bless you in your work.
  • momba
    I have a 27 year old son who is living with me and has problems with drinking and much anger.  He has lost most of his friends.  Doesnt remember things also has many of the symptoms of the odd.  I really dont know what to do with him. I haveMore set boundaries but when he breaks them I kick him out and then take him back because he has no where to go.  I cant really take much more.  Alcoholism and this odd.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      Watching someone you love struggle with substance abuse issues

      can be distressing, especially when it continues to impact your life as well.

      It may be helpful to look into area supports, such as Al-Anon or perhaps a

      private counselor. Many people in similar situations have found these resources

      beneficial for developing clear limits and boundaries with loved ones who

      continue to abuse alcohol or other substances. You can find information on Al-

      Anon online at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/ If

      you think a counselor could be helpful, the http://www.211.org/ can give you information on counselors and therapist available in

      your area. You can reach the Helpline 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-6222.

      We appreciate you writing in and sharing your story. We wish you the best of

      luck moving forward. Take care.

  • robynbanks
    Hi i have a 19 year old with odd and adhd, hes recently moved out and now moving away. But i need too talk about my daughter right now. Shes A.D.D. and 23, in jail for past few months should be out soon. (4 months total) her bf is alsoMore in jail. He is undiagnosed just plain crazy criminal. She got hooked up with his alcoholic drug sddicted self to which got worse, they went on a daily crime and theft spree for 9 months. He lead everything and taught her how to steal cars and anything else they needed. His new profession is a deisel fuel thief. She was agood kid, she still is but shes in her first love with this boy- young man of 26, i have tried everything to get her to stop seeoing him and trying to show her nes no good for nothing but the more i try the closer they seem to get. So ive told her she isnt welcome to be in my home as long as shes with him. (long story but they both lived here for a time and he stole, when i accused her-them, she said it wasnt her but understood she brought him here, ive had restraining orders ect) so because we can be close most times and i just didnt know how to have a re;ationship with her, she said we can have a phone relationship and she can come visit or we can go to public. Im open as i dont want to loose her, i just dont want any thiefs in my house or my life really. I need some advise how to keep it healthy between her and i, how to get thru the times untill she sees the real him. They are both in jail and its seems like they still find ways to connect. His upbringing was terrible but obviously not changeable. And he has choosen my daughter over his family as they believe shes the bad one and they gave him an ultimatim, he chose her. So of course she loves him more now and im just pulling my hair out. They were out from dec1 to jan 3, christmas. I gave him another chance to redeam and he blew it bad so never again, but he wasnt out 3 days and he was stealing another car to come here to see her. She gets out beginning of april and she has no where to go, but i have faith she will be ok and someone will help her get to where she needs an apartment, but as soon as hes out they will be together. No one will help her (as in my friends) as long as shes with him, she knows no one likes him. She knows she can come home as long as shes not with him too. Help me please how can i help her help herself? If my son leaves like he plans then im so alone, and yes i fear that too. Ive been a single parent all thier lives..(my first mistake ive learned)
    • KittyKat55
      robynbanks Unless she wants the help you can't help her. Join some local area groups, a church, something that will help you meet people and ease your loneliness. Your daughter has to make her own mistakes and learn from them.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport



      can be difficult to know how to effectively respond when your child is making

      choices that you do not agree with, especially when she appears to be under

      someone else’s influence.  In addition, many parents struggle with setting

      appropriate boundaries with an adult child, so you are not alone in your

      situation.  Something to keep in mind is that your relationship with your

      daughter does not have to be “all or nothing”.  That is to say, you can

      have a close relationship with your daughter while still setting reasonable

      limits around who you allow in your home.  It might be helpful to talk

      with her over the phone, or to meet with her at a coffee shop or local park, in

      order to maintain a connection with your daughter.  Ultimately, it’s going

      to be up to your daughter to make changes in her life, and she’s going to do

      that when she is uncomfortable enough with the way things are going that she

      needs to make a different choice.  It can also be useful for you to make

      sure that you are taking care of yourself during this time.  Self-care is

      an important, though often neglected, part of being an effective parent. 

      Your self-care plan can be anything you desire: from calling a supportive

      friend or family member, to engaging in an activity you enjoy, to using more

      structured supports such as a support group or a counselor.  For

      information on this type of support in your community, try calling the http://www.211.org/ at

      1-800-273-6222.  I understand that this is a difficult situation, and I

      appreciate your reaching out to us for assistance.  Please be sure to

      write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. 

      Take care.

  • PJ
    AmandaJones1 At the end I wish you peace, Amanda. You might consider talking with a therapist about your own journey in parenting a child with behavioral challenges or, if you have engaged a therapist; you might want to consider trying another. It often takes time to find a helpful match whenMore it comes to choosing a therapist/counselor. A skilled clinician should be able to help you work through your negative feelings. Remember, unaddressed, unresolved resentments regarding children with these kinds of challenges only creates barriers to increased well being for, both, the adult child and the parent.  Good luck to you.
  • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

    Adult ODD
    I can hear your concern. Many parents struggle with the
    uncertainty of how their child’s conflict with others may impact their future.
     You don’t mention in your comment how your son responds when he gets
    frustrated by his peers.  I think it can be helpful to recognize that it’s
    OK to beMore frustrated, upset, or angry. These are emotions we all have. Troubles
    come about when we utilize ineffective or inappropriate behaviors to cope with
    difficult emotions. One thing you might consider doing is problem solving with
    you son about situations that arise and things he can do when he starts to get
    frustrated or upset. We have several articles on problem solving. One in
    particular you may find helpful is The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: “I Can’t Solve Problems”.  Good luck to you and your son going forward.
    Take care.

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