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Ask Lori Gephart Your Own Question

Lori Gephart
Lori Gephart, Licensed Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 259
Experience:  20 years of experience as a Psychologist and Parenting Coach. Parent of 2 grown children.
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I have a 37 year old son who is currently in jail for driving

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I have a 37 year old son who is currently in jail for driving without a license in Illinois. He calls me and told me that he could be out in September with an electronic monitoring system for 90 days if I will let him come to live with me. I am a 71 year old woman, retired senior on a fixed income and living in a gated community for older, active adults. There is nothing here for him, but to sit around. I feel between helping out my son and being tough with him and letting him stay in prison until next year when he will be discharged.

Can you offer me some thoughts around the pressure he has put me on me. I do not know anything about an electronic monitoring system, but that it could involve police action at my home. This is a quiet community and if the police come here there will questions. I am thinking that I may be playing too easily into his needs. His father will not even answer his calls. I am afraid of enabling him, but he is so unhappy in jail. Please enlighten him.


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I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing with your son. Your son is obviously an adult. As adults, we must learn to face the consequences of actions. No matter how much you love and care about him, he needs to accept these consequences, not try to find ways around them, if he is to have any chance of learning from them. I know that as a parent it is difficult and heart wrenching to think of your son in jail, but it is important for you to see this as a choice that he made when he chose to drive without a license. The more you bail him out, the more you send him the message that he can use you to avoid consequences in life. You may find this website helpful regarding enabling behaviors:


Tell your son that you love him and that you want what is best for him; to learn from his actions. By choosing not to enable him you will be helping him more than you realize and it may be the "wake up" call he needs to get his life together. Tough love is difficult but extremely important here. I hope this helps. I hope this answer is helpful. Please let me know if I can clarify further.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I am heartbroken that this happened, but he has been playing with the law for a long time. He had attended classes for learning disabled when he was young and he stutters too. Does that have anything to do with all of this, pluse no support from his father at all.


I appreciate your answers because this is very confusing to me, as a mother.




Stressors such as you describe could certainly be obstacles for your son to overcome. However, they are not excuses for his behavior, especially since this was not a one time incident, but a pattern of behaviors. It is time for your son to either step up and deal with his problems and change, or continue to be faced with uncomfortable consequences. You cannot save him from himself, you can only offer him love in the midst of his problems. It is understandable that your are confused since his actions are not logical. I wish you the best.
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