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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My son is 19, lives at home and I have younger children

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My son is 19, lives at home and I have younger children still in the house. He started using drugs when he was 13, has been in 2 rehabs, and is in the East Side Home Boy Gang in Dallas. he just recently got a job and signed up for a night class at community college. His 16 year old girlfriend is pregnant. He causes constant chaos in the house and won't follow rules. We want him to move out, but he says only if he can live in his gangs territory so he's safe from retalitory acts from other gangs. I appreciate any advice you have. We have college money for his apt., and he needs to move out before he tears the family apart. What's a mom to do?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

I am sorry to hear about the trouble with your son. It sounds like you have been there for him and continue to be, which is a lot.

I can understand your need to help your son, and it certainly seems that you have been doing that. However, he has to want the help and also want to improve himself and his situation in order to make this work. Although you have done your part, he is not doing his.

For one, he is in a gang. This is a no win situation for him. He needs to get out of the gang and work on moving away from that life and start a better path for himself. Two, although he does have a job and is starting college, both very good points in his favor, he still needs to develop responsibility and stop acting out at home. Three, he needs to take the lead on his drug use. Realizing he has a problem and take steps to deal with his addiction. It sounds like there has been a few attempts at recovery, but he needs to step up and start taking charge of his own sobriety.

You can talk with him about his options, help him make a choice then let him go. Give him a deadline to move out and stick to it. Offer to help, but don't go overboard and do everything for him. In other words, guide him but let him do the work. He will learn responsibility when he does the work himself. He just needs to find the motivation to do so.

This situation has to be stressful for you. Take some time to care for yourself. Take a day and go out and do something fun. Treat yourself to a massage. Anything you feel would help you get your mind off the situation for a while. It may give you a different perspective on the situation as well.

If you have not done so already, consider getting support through Al Non. You can find them at

I hope this has helped,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for the information. I do attend 5-6 Al-anon meetings per week. It helps some, but it is very hard when it is your child.
Another question. Because we want him out of our house, and have set a deadline, we offered (because we would use his college money for room and board, and he is attending college) to pay the down payments, and help get him set up in his own place. Some of this is because he has no 'good' friends to share a place with. He says that he can't get out of the gang. To get out of rehab last January, he promised to get 'jumped out' and leave the gang, which means he would go through a lot of pain, could possibly get killed, but he would risk it just to please us. He came home a week later with bruises all over his body, and later we learned this was all for show. He never even tried to get out.
Now, he says that if he doesn't live in (he is the only white kid in a hispanic gang) the gang neighborhood, he could get killed, either by his gang for disrespect, or another gang because he's in their territory. I went to look at one of these appartments today in his 'hood' and it is bad. I tell him I am so confused, no one on either my husband, nor my family lives like that. We live in upscale areas, including college age cousins. He says he's not like us.
I was told a horror story just today about parents who kicked their kid out with no place to go and he was dead within a month. Talk about guilt.
What are your thoughts on picking an apartment that satisfies us (he has to pay half the rent), putting down the deposit and not give him a choice. Or, let him live in that awful apartment in the 'hood' and we pay half, or not pay for anything, just tell him he needs to get out?
As I am sure you can guess with all the years of rehab, al-anon, therapy...we have tried in my opinion everything. The apartments are so expensive in our neighborhood, but it seems he wants to get on the right track, and he has a baby coming.
Please share more, I just can't take talking it out with others any more. I need some professional advice.
Thank you,


Thanks for the additional information. I agree with you, giving your son the option of getting out the gang and living in a better place sounds good. If you pay part and he pays the rest, then that at least gives him the opportunity to be responsible.

You mentioned that there was someone you spoke with about your son's gang affiliation. You may want to talk with this person again or even to the police (as a general question, not mentioning your son's name) to see if it is possible for him to leave the gang and how someone goes about doing that. I have heard many stories of gang members leaving and helping others who are in trouble and need to get out of gangs and drugs, so it is possible.

Ultimately, your son needs to sit down with you and pick how he wants to live. If he decides to stay in the gang and live in that area of the city, you have to decide if you feel paying for part of that kind of lifestyle is ok with you. If he chooses to move away from that lifestyle and that is something you are ok with, then paying part of his initial expenses is a good idea. What you are shooting for here is teaching him how to live a better life and to be responsible for his choices and lifestyle.


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