Question: Dear Luise: I am a hurting mom of an 18 yr. old son who just left after a fight we had. He went to live with his dad who never paid any attention to him his whole life. I put him in a private school and he took it for granted and is real behind. Upon making the decision to go live with his father, he also quit school. He will be going in the last year in Sept. 09. I’m very distraught and have been weeping uncontrollably. He has always been strong-willed. I started dating after 17 years. l let the guy move in, too. My son has challenged me over his behavior. He has been real mean to me…threatening to harm himself. He has the biggest heart but he is disrespectful to me. His father is very rude, too. I feel so betrayed, guilty and unsure what to do. He is acting weird. I don’t even know him. He’s very short on the phone too. He just doesn’t want me at all in his life. I asked him to come home. I also said the door is always open to him. He’s planning on moving in Aug. to Vegas to get married. How can I reach him?? Please help in any way you can I would appreciate any suggestions at this point. P.
Answer: Dear P.: Most of us don’t think of an 18 year old as fully-grown but they think they are. Some places they are seen as legal adults. Your son is getting close to the time that he will be off and running, no matter how angry and confused he is. Unfortunately, you and I know that The School of Hard Knocks awaits.
You have tried to give him a good education and you have tried to reason with him. You’ve asked him to come home and you have told him the door is always open. There isn’t much else that I know of that you can do. He’s free to screw up his life with his father’s help, if that’s the direction he decides to take.
You’ve started a new life and of course your son doesn’t like that, either. What does he like? Not much and certainly not him self, I’m sure. I see no course of action available to you except to watch and wait and to eventually help pick up the pieces, if he’ll let you.
It’s heartbreaking to watch but some young men disintegrate when faced with approaching adulthood and responsibility. They see the free ride coming to an end and they simply don’t have the skills to step up to the plate. That’s my guess about what’s happening and why he’s so angry…but it’s only a guess.
When my eldest son was faced with that dilemma, he joined the Marine Corps at 17 and went to Viet Nam. Talk about radical! He was a sensitive, non-athletic, immature bookworm…a wonderful but totally confused child/man. He lived through Boot Camp in the summer in Georgia, (I still don’t know how), did his time and then re-enlisted. When he came out it was with an education in computers that he turned into his life’s work.
Don’t give up! Keep your love strong and your heart open to reconnect if and when he is ready.
Also please consider coming over to my web Forum, www.motherinlawsunite.com where you may find some much needed support from others who are dealing with issues concerning adult children. Blessings, Luise