Question: My husband and I have just given our 26-year old son a limited power-of-attorney to allow our 17-year old son to live with him in another city. The 17-year old has dropped out of school, and the older son approached us about taking him in to help him. Actually, his words were, “to get him out of this toxic environment.” We were at our wits’ end, agreed, although the 26-year old makes it clear to us and our other six children that he hates us, he blames us for being awful parents, he will never reconcile, and he we personally are “low on his priority list.” He was a very angry teen, dropped out of college and joined the Army. He was trained as a sniper and medic and had three tours in the Middle East before “retiring” to go back to college. He has a nice girlfriend, and seems to have much of his life in order. For this, we are thankful—but his hatred of us through all these years (he did not speak to us for five years) makes no sense. We are a stable family, good parents, my husband has worked so hard to provide for all the children, I have been a good and dutiful mother. The children had many, many opportunities: private schools, extra curricular activities, regular church participation, and we were, despite what this son says, “on the scene.” We have asked him why he is so embittered, and he avoids a direct answer by saying that, “What’s is is,” or “our values are so different,” etc. He told his girlfriend that I never attended his events (how does he think he got to them? Yep, I drove, I stayed, I drove him home). Violin and piano lessons, soccer team events, basketball, cross-country. He claims his dad never came. My husband made a point of always being there when this son ran—now, the son has rewritten history. We are told that he goes from sibling to sibling trying to recruit “against mom and dad.” Our 22-year old daughter reports that we should be very careful, because he wants to “destroy you both.” She and he had a falling out when he tried to recruit her. He has hijacked the affections of our youngest daughter with whom he would have nothing to do for six very formative years of her life. This began because she asked her Christian school class to write letters of encouragement to him when he was in the Army. We could never figure that out—they were praying for him! It is very painful to think an adult child hates you so much that he would bring out your demise. When our 26-year old picked up our 17-year old tonight to take him out of our lives, my husband told him, “We are giving you carte blanc to do whatever you want with [our 17-year old].” I objected to the verbage (no one has carte blanc to do anything with my child), and the two of them launched into me. The 26-year old said at that point that this was entirely a business deal, and either I was in, or he was out. For $800-1000 a month, he will house and school the 17-year old. It is indeed a business deal that will enable the older son to afford a more expensive condo in August. I have every reason to think that money motivated him as much as trying to remove his brother from “this toxic environment.” We have yet to understand what his definition of a “toxic environment.” I believe the 26-year old to be a bully, has a very, very short fuse, and had told us that if our 17-year old ran away (as he has from us), the older son would hunt him down like an animal and “bring the hammer down.” Immediately, I think about the Army son having been trained as a killer, and within that context, a conflict, a wrong word, all could putting someone in harms way. Including us. Yes, I am afraid for the younger son, though I did sign the power-of-attorney. I wrote it, and stipulated that my husband and I and the older son will review it on September 1, and if all three parties agree, we will renew it, or not. I also wrote into it an “out clause” allowing any one of us to break the contract with 24-hour written notice. I was cautious. My husband was not cautious when he stated, “carte blanc to do whatever you want.” I was worried about the 17-year old dropping out of school, smoking pot, talking trash to his father and me, and it seemed like a last-resort situation to send him to his older brother’s. I will always be worried about his safety while he is in the care of the older brother; and I am concerned about what the future holds for my husband and me if this older son is scheming to destroy us both. We are certain that we have not done anything to harm the older son, at least in our eyes, and if we have, he will not come forth and say so. Our other older children do not know what his problems are. We tried very hard to be good parents, and it is inconceivable to us how we have somehow engendered so much ill will with an adult child. I am bewildered, hurt, fearful for my husband and me. Thank you for letting me vent, and I would appreciate any advice or comment. J.
Answer: Dear J.: I think I would see an attorney to be sure I was moving in the right direction, legally, and a psychologist for any suggestions regarding supporting your younger son. I just don’t know if I could let the older son take on this responsibility when he is such a terrible role model…family-wise. I fear that he will poison your younger son further. I would probably be getting a restraining order instead. Your older son isn’t making any sense and you are being threatened. The attorney should know that, as well.
What would you do to try to straighten your younger son out if your older son hadn’t made that offer? There must be some other course of action available.
Please consider coming over to my Web-forum: www.wisewomenunite.com with this issue. It has become a valuable sounding board for many.
I know that adult children do rewrite history sometimes. There’s just no reasoning with the unreasonable. You deserve so much better. Blessings, Luise