Abusive adult son


I really need help with this one:
My 30 year old adult son is psychologically abusive towards me and has been since he was 16 years old. ( the age when his father and I were divorced) He live with his father until he turned 18 and moved out on his own. I have paid his way out of trouble, fines, bail ect, ect. Finally at age 26 I said no more! he has never paid me back, but I have never pressed the issue.
It’s been a constant struggle to maintain any kind of relationship due to his aggrive behavior. Our visits start out okay, but hen he brings up the past, plays the blame game and I end up trying to defend myself:( I have to ask him to leave my house , just so I can calm down. I have been to counceling in the past, but he refuses to go along, saying it’s all my problem.
I have prayed about this for years.
Nothing seems to help.
How can I maintain my Christain morals and keep my cool when dealing with his anger and defiance?
It’s breaking my heart and I’m at a loss.:confused:


Don’t have him to your house. Meet at a restaurant (public place) and leave the minute any verbal abuse starts. There is no reason to put up with that from anyone. —KCT


Hi i’m going through this now with my 15 yr old, its rough road.
So far no cop trouble, thank god. But i cry cause he talks to me just like my ex , but later says he’s sorry. I’m just not a good disciplene person. But i’m trying to get tougher , plus we started going back to mass and he loves it. I’m going to try to get him in the youth group at church, if he’ll go. So i feel for you, and i’ll keep you in my prayers. Mary:gopray2:


I can understand I am going through similar problems with my 13 yo old son after an abusive marriage and difficult divorce. I am told that the situation with him is far from hopeless, so I am not going to give up hope. I’m not going to put up with that kind of treatment though.

You have said that you have been to counseling, but that your son won’t go. Have you had very much indiviual counseling? I’ve been going for over a year, weekly much of that, although I’ve just cut back to monthly. The biggest thing I have had to work on in counseling is getting a backbone and learning to say no. It is more important than you might think.

I think the most important thing when dealing with this type of person, even when it is someone you love, is to not allow yourself to be engaged and sucked into their mind games. When someone wants to play the blame game, just don’t play. You don’t have to defend yourself. Just say you don’t want to play the blame game, and then don’t answer any of his allegations. If he gets upset or just won’t give up, I would thank him for coming, and let him know the visit is over. I am sure that you can think of something that you might need to do outside of the house. If you know how to pick up on some of the clues that the visit is about to leave the “nice” part and is headed for the abusive part, end it abruptly. Give him a compliment on anything remotely nice from the visit and tell him you enjoyed it, but that he needs to go now because you are about to…whatever it is that you can think of to do. If this happens repeatedly he might get the hint that you aren’t going to play that way.

I wouldn’t give up on your prayers though, even if you need to continue them while maintaining a comfortable distance from your son. You do him absolutely no favors if you let him abuse you. I do think just withdrawing is the nicest thing you can do for him.

Like I said, I am still living with this myself. I can’t promise you this will work, but it is the strategy that I am using (in a way that is appropriate for a 13 yo still living with me.)


Hi Mary,

The advice I have been given is to not cry, to remain emotionless and firm, even if it requires an academy worthy acting job. I know it is a challenge. The crying just makes the lack of respect even worse.



Thankyou dear


When I was going through my divorce, my boys were going through puberty… not a good mix! What I did was get Catholic men with kids to spend time with the boys. It really helped them deal with the testosterone rush that is normal at that age. Now personally if my ds were 26 and still treating me badly, I would follow KCT’s advice… she is a very wise woman!


Perhaps you can come up with a phrase to use when you hear him start to turn the conversation in the wrong direction. Something like, “Yes, I know but there’s nothing I can do about the past. More coffee? How 'bout those Packers?”

I guess what I am suggesting is to not allow someone else’s agenda to shape your behavior. Your son is 30. He is a grown man. You are his mother, not his therapist.

No matter what he brings up about the past, maybe having a specific phrase ready to answer him will either make him so frustrated that he leaves or finally get the message through to him that you are not going to be an emotional punching bag anymore.

What other phrases could she use? Give us some examples of what he says to turn the conversation sour and maybe we can come up with some for you!


Well I have a flip answer I use for people questioning my actions. I don’t know if it will help or hurt but here goes:

I’ve examined that (behavior) and I am OK with it today, but thanks for the concern…

How about any of these:
… I know dear… you’ve said that before so I prayed about it.

You know, I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time.

And when you are a parent…

I would have to know more about the actual issue to come up with some really tailored lines.


You could turn to St. Monica for comfort. She had a rowdy adult son who later became St. Augustine. She never gave up hope on him and prayed endlessly for his conversion.


There is a book out called Mothers of Difficult Daughters by Charney Herst. I know, he’s your son. He’s also 30 years old. A lot of the tactics and strategies work for sons, too.

I would not meet anywhere but a public place with him. I would use some of the strategies from the book, and one of those is the one Leslie (LSK) suggested: Give a statement and change the subject. Dr. Herst brings up a woman talking with a chronic complaining daughter on the phone. To change the subject, she brings up a TV show she saw where they made chicken mole with dark chocolate.

He is 30. You cannot make him better. You can just change how you deal with him.

And if he starts to get abusive verbally or physically in public, smile, say something to the effect that you simply have to go now, and leave. If he tries to stop you, feel free to call the police, call for help from the management of the establishment, etc. Please do not allow anybody to abuse you, even and esp. your adult child!!!

I am speaking from experience.


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