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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
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My girlfriend is a widow, her husband died in an automobile

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My girlfriend is a widow, her husband died in an automobile accident in 2007. She has an 18 year old son that used to be a good kid, was into sports, and did well in school until the death of his father. After that, he seemed to go downhill, refusing to talk about his feelings and even becoming distructive and abusive to his mother, who is the sweetest, kindest, and most spoiling mother I have ever seen to her son. They live in a nice neighborhood in the suburbs and have a really good middle class lifestyle. Since the tragedy, he is become irresponsible, getting in trouble with the law with minor drug offenses and underage drinking, despite his mother's best attempts at steering him down the right path. He stopped liking school and sports and just recently barely graduated from high school after once being an above average student. He is still living at home, but seems clueless and lost about getting a job or continuing with education, despite his mother's attempts at insisting to him to do something positive with his life. He was put on parole last year for possession of marijuana as a minor and promised to straighten himself out, but it seems he is still involved with the wrong crowd and has recently been charged with underage drinking. Instead of admitting fault and remorse he complained that he only got caught because the cops were undercover.

What techniques can she turn to in order to motivate her son to stand up and fly straight before he ruins his life even further? He refuses to seek or receive therapy for his issues, his mother is at her wits end with him and the situation is affecting her negatively because her fear is that she will lose her son eventually if she can't help him turn things around in his life.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for using Just Answer. I am sorry to hear about the situation with your girlfriend's son. The route that might be taken focuses on tough love. Since he refuses to go to therapy and has already been motivated to improve his situation, he must be given an ultimatum. That is about all that can be done.He must take some responsibility for his actions. He can not just sit around the house and do nothing. It is hard to motivate another person that does not accept the assistance. His mom needs to tell him that within 3-6 months, he must find a job or be enrolled in school. If he cannot do those things, he must find another place to live. I understand the tragic situation with the death of his dad, but the son is an adult now and that accident happened 4 years ago. He can not keep using that as an excuse. Life must go on. Your girlfriend needs to be firm with him. Enforce rules and boundaries as well.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Being tough on her kid is not one of her strong suits, she has overcompensated for the loss of the father by spoiling him and becoming overprotective, now he has a sense of entitlement and an expectation that mom will always forgive and bail him out of all his problems. What does she need to do to gain the resolve in herself to become tough and be willing to kick him out and let go of her fear that he will self destruct without her?
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 5 years ago.
Your girlfriend may need counseling in how to be a more assertive parent. It will be hard at first to stop being overprotective and spoiling him. She needs to set boundaries and follow through when he crosses the line. You are correct in that he does feel entitled to have everything and do anything that he wants because Mom will bail him out. She must stop her previous ways. Like I mentioned earlier, she may need to get counseling in how to become a more assertive parent and learn intervention and coping strategies in dealing with an adult child who refuses to make the much needed changes in his life.
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