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My son, 20, is disrespectful, ungrateful, and rude. When he

My son, 20, is disrespectful...
My son, 20, is disrespectful, ungrateful, and rude. When he gets angry, he yells, curses, and calls me every name in the book. This evening he even tried physical intimidation. Of course I backed down... When he gets like that, there's just no reasoning with him. While he was fuming in his bedroom, I packed my bag and left the house. I'm in a hotel room right now.
I love him dearly, but I'm ready for him to grow up. And I'm fed up with being disrespected in my own home. He was not raised this way... His father and I are now divorced, but we never had violent verbal or physical fights, so he is not repeating learned behavior.
I'm a firm believer in consequences, but what consequences can I enforce? Maybe I should kick him out of the house,but I don't even know how to do that. He has nowhere to go.
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Answered in 21 minutes by:
6/1/2012
Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5,334
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Verified

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say the situation is very difficult. You do not believe he has any serious diagnosable mental health problem or you would have probably mentioned it. What we are left with is what I am afraid is not an uncommon situation: he is a young man with little life motivation who tends toward laziness and instant gratification and is rather self centered. And you are clearly loving and giving parent. I'm afraid this is not a productive combination. It feeds into his weakness: his self centered orientation lets him use you with now feelings of regret.

When you attempt to show signs of independence and of holding him accountable and responsible for his adulthood, his being an adult, he ups the manipulation from making you feel you owe everything to him to outright narcissistic aggression. This is a dangerous spiral and you must take action: for his sake but for your own sake as well.

I am so sorry you are facing this problem. Divorced children are not the only ones exhibiting these symptoms; it's not even clear if divorced children exhibit it more often. The point is that he has learned to treat you as an object for his use and fulfillment of his needs, not as an independent human being he mus have a real relationship with. I'm hesitant to overload you with books as resources. But I don't have much of an alternative in terms of what can be done here. Why?

I can imagine that he refuses to get help. Right, why should he? He knows he can have all your goodness and kindness without taking any steps. Well, he's an adult and there's nothing that can be done to force him to seek treatment for his unhealthy behavior patterns and perhaps emotional problems.

However, you have been acting as an enabler. That you moved into a hotel is a proof: this is your house and you have made it clear to him that you feel he has more of a right to it than you do. That is very destructive and you must take action to cease the enabling. If he does anything to make you scared, you call 911 and when the police come, you tell them that he threatened you and that you want to file charges. They will try to discourage you because they don't want to get involved in domestic cases unless there is blood (I'm serious). But they will scare him a little. And indeed, it is time to tell him he has 3 weeks to find a new place to live. That you love him but that you realize after your hiatus away (use it to your advantage) that he now needs to make his own way as an adult. You can give him a couple of hundred dollars to get him started and then he's on his own.

Because no matter how much you may feel responsible for him as your son, or no matter how you may feel you have contributed to his pattern of behavior, your feeling guilty and responsible and as though you need to tolerate and bear whatever he does not help. In fact it does the opposite: it HURTS him and his chances of having a good and happy life. And this is the key here to my answer to you that you two need to think about and act on.

So I would very much like you to consider printing out my answer and taking it and your husband to Starbucks or some other quiet neutral place and discussing this with him, my perspective as a psychologist. Because I am concerned that the enabling is contributing to keeping him resistant to getting help. In other words, enabling is contributing to him saying he won't go for treatment because it feeds that unhealthy place inside of him.

Here are two important and good books you can get from the library or buy online or from a bookstore about enabling adult children:

Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents by Allison Bottke. She comes from a Christian perspective but it is not a religious book and non-religious people have found it extremely helpful.

The Enabler by Angelyn Miller. This is also excellent and not just for the usual enabling of alcoholism, etc.

And I want you to consider finding a therapist for yourself who is very strong about codependency and enabling adult children. That he has nowhere to go is the situation he's put HIMSELF in and he will need to learn how to get out of that. If it means sleeping in his car for a while, he's young and will survive it.

Because you have to recognize somehting: you are teaching him that you do NOT count; only HE counts. And this is not parenting. You have to model for him that there are boundaries and rules in human relationships and when we violate them there are consequences. And that you count. That you are important to yourself, that you value yourself. Otherwise, you are teaching him that the winners use people, the losers are used.

So he may have to start swimming on his own. And finding his own place to live may be an important developmental step for him. And you will need to let him flounder for a while, even if it means sleeping on friends' sofas or his car for a time. He has to find his own "bottom" so he can learn to stand up on his feet is the idea here. And it will be tough and that's why I want you two to read those books.

Here are some motivational ideas you can print out for him to send him on his way. He will probably scorn them and just throw it away, but I'm offering it for him anyways. You'll see their benefit. Maybe he will. You can perhaps buy him one of these books to take with him on his way. So this is for him:

Here's a simple YouTube search I put together on "motivational speakers":

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=motivational+speakers&aq=f

Some like Tony Robbins are the classic big guys. Some are newer. Watch them all. Get inspired. Buy a book or two. Here are some possibilities, but they are only suggestions as there are so many good ones.

The first book is the father of all these type of books. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. There are classes in these books now! It was written in the 1930s and still has something to say to us today that is very worthwhile.

I think very highly of the second book on my list, which is a real classic: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It is the book that has helped more people than probably any other.

The third book is by Anthony Robbins. He's one of those speakers who fills up huge auditoriums. For a reason. He's a terrific speaker and writer. The particular book (if you like it, try his others): Awaken the Giant Within.

Okay, again, you are a good person and all the best to you!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. You are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago
Thank you Dr. Mark,
You are right, I'm an enabler. I've been trying for the last few months to get him to take responsibility for himself. When I try to have an adult conversation with him and lay down the ground rules, he ends up having a temper tantrum, trying to take control of the conversation, then storming out. Since I have been unable to get my message through to him face to face, I put it in writing and texted it to him last Sunday. Here are the points I spelled out:
1. You have one week to get your car fixed. After 1 week, you may no longer use my car.
2. You have a job, so you may no longer use my gas card or debit card.
3. On your 21st birthday, you will be responsible for you car insurance as well as maintenance and upkeep, including registration and inspection costs.
4. I will no longer pay for your online games. If you want to play, you pay.
I also offered the following:
1. I will assist with the cost for the car repair... Up to $300.
2. I will continue to let you live in my home, rent free, and eat my food at no cost.
This evening I found a traffic ticket in the car... He lied to me about where he was last night, and he is driving recklessly. (he has many traffic violations)
I do feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I take away my car, he loses his job. Employment is important, but he hasn't been a good steward of his money.
I suspect that he is retaliating to my modest expectations.
Excellent points!

But now the tough part: you are expecting that I might say okay, so he knows what he has to do, enforce the rules.

But you are wrong: he knew what he needed to do, and he did the opposite: he attacked you physically. He now needs to live by new rules. He has now forfeited your offer #2: he cannot live in your house any more. He has a job, he will now have to pay rent somewhere, maybe with a roommate. That is his choice to make.

In other words, bad behavior doesn't get rewards. Bad behavior gets consequences. Right, just like a child. He has not developed properly or completely in his emotional development so you must continue to parent actively. And that means boundaries and consequences, just like when he was a kid, right?

So, great start. I'm very impressed. Truly and sincerely. Now he has to get a new text giving him 3 weeks. Your money offer was very generous, by the way.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. You are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

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Customer reply replied 5 years ago
OK.. Last question...how do I make him move out? Pack his bags and change the locks? After last night's traffic ticket, I'm not letting him drive my car at all. But his is still broken down. And he'll probably lose his job
Also, I have read most of the books you've suggested. I love the Boundaries books,and the 7 Habits.
Good--about the books.

No, make him pay you for the ticket if he wants to continue using the car for the time period you agreed to originally for him to fix his car. Don't force him to lose his job.

If he does anything weird like selling your stuff, you may have to charge him with theft and have him arrested. You can drop the charges later. They'll hate you for it at the police, but you need them to make your point.

You evict him by giving him notice. You then have a restraining order placed on him if he doesn't move out. You go to the police station and you tell them that your son was violent with you and has been threatening. You don't want to file charges but you want a restraining order. They'll give you the form and you go in front of a judge and the order is issued. If he comes to your house when you don't want him to, you call 911 and tell them he's violating the restraining order and they really will act on it.

Yes, this is harsh, but you've read the books. He's gotten to where he will escalate to physical aggression. You don't know what's next. So you have to preempt this escalation and let him know that you are escalating as well the consequences here. Most kids do move out, by the way.

I do know that it's much easier for me to write all this to you than it is for you to do it. So again, I'm sorry you have to go through this. But it is truly the best chance you have to have your son back when he's 30 rather than a monster.

I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. You are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5,334
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Verified
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Customer reply replied 5 years ago
Thank you!
You are most welcome. And I want you to remember that when I said you must be important here, that you have to count, I meant it. You are not here just to serve him. Your life is as important as his. He has to learn this; and you have to live it.

All the best to you, Dr. Mark
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Category: Mental Health
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