Help needed in dealing with adult son

I am facing a distressing situation involving my nineteen year old son. He has had a perpetual problem of self-discipline and following through with commitment. He left home at seventeen after dropping out of high school and job-hopped while trying to make ends meet. Three times his grandmother and I have helped him out financially to get him set up until his newest job could start. After he quit his last job, I told him I was done. Just as funds ran out, he joined the Army. He had a great future ahead of him and this fourth chance to redeem himself seemed real, so we helped him once again long enough to ship out.

After three weeks I got a small note saying he was going to medically discharged for depression. He asked for a place to stay for a night when he first comes back. I simply have no more resources to spend on him, nor is it right to do so. My youngest is four and I can not expose him to the disrespect and turmoil that my other son brings in the house.

I do know if I am asking for help as much as wanting to know what others have done in this situation. There is no good answer for me and every choice has a serious downside. I do not want to stand in the way of what God must do with him either.

Take him to a psychiatrist and assist him get treated for depression before his life takes any more wrong turns.

I second this advice.

And I’ll join in prayers for him and for you and the other members of the family.
Please God your son will come to a new beginning within himself soon.
God bless you all, Trishie.

Your son needs medical help. He may have ADD-ADHD which manifests in different ways in many people including anxiety, depression, forgetfulness and impulsive-destructive behavior. An accurate diagnosis is necessary and there are medications that work wonders. Best to you and your son. Don’t give up on him but do not enable his behavior. You are right in setting limits for the sake of the rest of your family. Sometimes the tough love is the wake-up call that some people need to get motivated to change their situation.
God Bless.

Finding a good job is hard these days. Sounds like your son has issues that he has buried within him. He needs to talk to someone that can help him bring out his hidden feelings and turmoil.

Legally, you can refuse his visit. I know as a mother it is tough. Are there homeless shelters in your area?

He’s only 19, and your son. As an earlier poster mentioned, it may be that he has had mental health issues which led him to leave high school and hop from job to job. I would say your responsibility is to help him get set up in life. I couldn’t live with myself if I did anything else. Are you going to let your son end up on the street?

*He needs medical help, like others have said…if nothing else, to provide an evaluation. Depression manifests itself in many different ways, one being, the inability to hold down a job, be responsible…etc.

What led up to your son wishing to drop out of high school? I mean, a kid doesn’t wake up one day, and just bags high school…was he getting bad grades? What was his demeanor? Were you on top of him for his grades? Personally…I would get him medical help…AND get him back in school…wherever he left off, or have him go through a GED program. He will have no chances of getting a decent job, without at least a high school diploma. I will be praying for you and your family. *

I have - three times. He has also recieved medical evaluations throughout his life, including recently. There is nothing measurably wrong. He has been diagnosed with mild depression. Any sort of medicinal treatment is an iffy proposition. Often the cure is worse than the disease.

Like I said earlier, I also owe it to my youngest son to provide a safe home environment. On the bright side, I found out that he will be leaving with enough funds to make a new start (more money than I have). I will try to advise him, but that has never proven very useful.

Depression is a difficult problem. Yes, there can be real physiological basis for it. However, it can also be used as an excuse for failure. Our behaviour, physiology and emotions are all related and it is often difficult to tell which came first and what the best way out it.

I don’t mean to be rude, but this is really a pretty mind-boggling response to me. Do you have a medical degree or a degree in psychology? If you don’t, then how do you know the cure is worse than the disease? How do you know he is just “making excuses”?

I guess the Army just made up an excuse for to medically discharge him, and the opinions of the doctors should be disregarded?

***Yes, but something led to all of this. What was happening all along? He would just mess up, and you would give him money? And, then he’d run out, mess up again, and then you’d give more money? He then dropped out of school, and you gave him more money?

Here’s the thing, while I do think as a mother, we should help our kids…if we continue to just bail them out of every single mess they have, what do they learn? I was one such kid growing up…I had a free ride all through college…when I married, I had no idea how to balance a checkbook, how to clean, how to cook, how to be a wife…My family did the best they could raising me, and I love them for it. They probably thought they were helping me, but they made it so that I didn’t know how to take care of myself. (let alone anyone else) When I became a mom, MUCH changed!

Maybe your son needs to get married and have kids. :D;)

Once the funds stopped coming, I had to work together with my husband, to figure out how to SAVE, etc. I went to cooking school, I did not know how to do anything!

Your son needs to get his GED at least. He will have no shot at a decent job without it, plus he should just get it for himself. I’m sorry pnewton, I don’t know you well enough, are you his mom?***

A mom doesn’t need a medical degree to know what’s best for a child.Much wisdom can come from experience.
And yes, medically treating “mild” depression can have serious side effects & repercussions for some folks. Check with parents whose teenagers have attempted suicide after medication with anti-depressants.Those can be dangerous drugs.And they are often over prescribed.
There’s not always an easy answer once a child’s over 18. Prayers are in order.

No to the first. Yes to the second.

To a carpenter the whole world looks like a nail. A doctor will attempt to use medicine, a psychiatrist therapy and a parent discipline.

Perhaps you did not read. He has been checked with no physiiological signs of depression. I am not a doctor, but I trust what I am told. The diagnosis of mild depression (I was told by the physician) is a general diagnosis, and he is the one that said it was best not to try and treat it, in an absence of physiological signs…

I am not blind to the existence of depression. However, I am also not blind to the use of depression, or anything else, as an excuse. Both exist. I will never abandon him, but neither do I want to stand in the way of what God must do. In the worst case, he has a handicap, not a disability. He still must learn to live with his advatages and disadvatages.

I also have a degree in Psychology, and quite frankly, I don’t believe you. You told us your son was medically discharged from the Army for depression. Now you tell us, “nothing is physiologically wrong and the doctor said he doesn’t need to be treated.” First of all, what “physiological test” are you referring to? A diagnosis of depression is based on behavioral symptoms, whether mild or severe, and it always implies that there is something going on physically that correlates to the psychological symptoms.

You should also know, since you have a degree in Psychology, that treatment for depression is not limited to medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also an effective treatment for depression. What is your philosophical objection to getting your son cognitive behavioral therapy?

If you want to see your son as “making excuses”, well, kick him out and be done with it. I have a daughter that will be 19-years old in August. It is my role and my responsibility to be on my daughter’s side and help her start her life. That might mean helping her through not enabling her, and forcing her to take responsibility for herself, but even if it does mean that it will always been done in love and with the utmost concern for any medical or psychological conditions she might be suffering from that could be holding her back.

pnewton, as a father of three teens, my heart goes out to you. This is so difficult.

I pray that you will do the right thing for your son. I don’t know what that is, and won’t venture an opinion. I just pray that you will have strength and wisdom to determine the right course, and the love and perseverance to follow that course.

May the Lord bless you and your son.

pnewton, I don’t have advice. Just sympathy and prayers. How hard it must be for you and your family,and your 19 year old son.

You need to find a new Doctor. Again the symptoms you describe mimick ADD-ADHD. People like to laugh at the diagnosis but it is real and the people who live with it and the people who live with them can testify to it. ADD-ADHD manifests itself in many different ways, most notably exactly as you describe. You need to find a Doctor that specializes in ADD-ADHD and have your son evaluated. My oldest son is 25 and he wasn’t diagnosed and treated until he was 21. My Lord what a difference the proper diagnosis and treatment can make. He is now earning his Masters Degree and is working for a major financial institution. Also I am ADD not ADHD. I am way over 25 and medication has helped me. Please find a qualified Doctor and get your son the help he needs. Medication alone will not do the trick. Your son needs to learn behavior modification, he needs to take responsibility along with treatment. God Bless.


I also have a degree in psychology, and my heart goes out to you. I would not dream of second-judging your attempts to do what is best for you son. You obviously know him better than anyone here does. You have spoken to doctors–why not speak to your priest and go with what he advises?

There are lots of lovely people responding to these forums, but ultimately, you must do what you (prayerfully) think best, and we can only speak to you as friends would.

Your choice is a difficult one, but I sense that you will do your utmost to do what is best for your whole family.

My prayers will be with you!


I would say your responsibility is to help him get set up in life. I couldn’t live with myself if I did anything else. Are you going to let your son end up on the street?

I did.
yes, i thought he had a mental disorder.
no, he refused treatment-- many times.
yes, he did drugs.
yes, we offered (begged??) for him to go to treatment. (we’d researched, begged for places to reserve him a bed, made arrangements to borrow money to pay for treatment etc.)
no, he refused to go.
yes, we alerted, badgered, hounded, and begged outreach mental health programs to diagnose him so we could get guardianship of him (they use non-invasive, non-threatening street-meet mental health assessment techniques)
no, they observed nothing diagnosable. (he met mental health standards on 6 of the seven criterion. he failed on self-care. dontcha think a drugged up guy who lives under a bridge would fail on self care? and how bad do you have to fail at the self care criteria for it to, on its own, indicate a mental illness? i guess you’d have to fail more than my son did…)

so, yeah. we ***let ***our son end up living on the street. for more than a year.

then we lost him – that’s LOST him-- he disappeared-- for seventeen months. guess how it feels to do John Doe searches in an ever widening circle of area morgues…?

and yeah. i couldn’t live with myself either. but i had to. i was NOT-- that’s NOT– going to pay for the overdose that killed him. i was not-- that’s NOT_- going to have my four year old walk into a bathroom and find him dead on the floor. i wasn’t going to let him flip out/ bring his criminal acquaintances/ sell drugs or anything else in my home.

yep. i had a hard time living with myself, but i could think of a dozen things that would have forced upon me a much harder time living with myself.

pnewton, do what you know is best. research services. point to services, beg for kid to avail himself of services. pray till you’re half dead from praying. get up in the morning and start all over again, but don’t give him money. don’t pay him to fail. don’t fund it, house it, watch it or promote it in any way.

Then no need to go any further. If you think I am lying there is nothing to respond to. Anything you say is biased by this opinion.

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