I Hope I Did The Right Thing


Hi everyone -

Please forgive me for the long post, but I’m hoping to gain some kind of understanding in this situation.

My 16-year-old son has been a joy to me, yet the past couple of years have not been so joyous with him. Almost two years ago, I asked his biological father to take custody of him because of his attitude and behavior. In the midst of an unemployment I had, he had beaten my resolve down to a pulp, and in essence, I couldn’t handle it anymore. (He had blamed me for losing my job, something I didn’t think was true.) I wasn’t in the best state of mind, because not only did I lose my job, I lost my health insurance, which is something that I needed in order to get the medications I needed for bi-polar.

His biological father agreed to take him in, and things over there were fine for a year until he got into a major argument with his stepmom, and she attacked him physically. In order to protect him from her, I took him back in, but in the next 6 months, he began smoking pot and drinking. We tried to tolerate it at first, but this past October, when I had to rush to the ER because he had an alcohol level of .25 and was found passed out on the street, vomiting all over himself, we got tougher with the rules. He did ok for about a month (we restricted him from his friends), but early in December, when he disappeared from a family outing (Christmas parade) to be with his friends and not tell anyone about it, my trust level started to decrease with him. He came home drunk that night. The following day, we (my current husband and I) wanted to talk to him about his actions - words were exchanged, a fight between his step-dad and him almost insued, and he ran out of the house. I heard from him that evening around 8:00 pm, and asked him to come home, but he wanted to stay out because he wanted to have sex with some girl. When I hung up on him, he agreed to come home around 11pm.

By 1:00 am, I was calmly packing his stuff into suitcases and bags. I felt really felt like I was nothing to him, and he showed it by disobeying a simple command to come home. The next morning, he came back, took his stuff, left me his key, and was gone.

We knew he was staying with friends, and he ended up at his dad’s side of the city. His dad was trying to help him out, but he couldn’t realistically bring his son back into his home because of the volitile nature of his wife.

We spent Christmas with out him. We talked to him several times, telling him that he can come back if his life changed. We kept trying to find signs of that in the way he talked to us or treated us, but unfortunately, it wasn’t happening. Then his father caught him in a lie, and lashed out at him physically. I took him, comforted him, and told him I was sorry.

It looked like this week he was going to come back and stay with us, but whenever the subject comes up with my family (my husband and middle son) they tell me that they can’t trust him, that he’ll make things worse around here, and my husband has now gotten to the point where he says he may not be able to control his temper around him. Plus I found out tonight that my husband is experiencing some chest pains recently, and we don’t have insurance (still) to help pay for any sort of medical expenses.

So tonight, I had to tell him that I couldn’t have him come back. He was crying, pleading with me to come back to the house - I told him I wanted him to, but I can’t, and I didn’t want him to be put into a worse situation.

This is breaking my heart terribly! I totally understand my husband and middle son’s side (he doesn’t want to see the peace destroyed, and he recently suffered a bout of major depression in which he was hospitalized). My husband is a recovering alcoholic - been sober now for nearly 5 years - and I’m soooo afraid that if my son did come back to live with us, my husband will be so stressed out that he may turn to the bottle again, or worse, may suffer a heart attack or stroke.

I prayed the Rosary tonight after all this went down - got to the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery and broke down - I can only imagine that this is what Christ meant when he said for us to take up our cross. I wonder if I did the right thing? It’s so hard to know, especially when the people you love around you are having their hearts broken by all this!

I pray that God have mercy on my soul :frowning:


Wow! I can’t begin to give you advice. I will take your intensions to Mass with me today. I kinda of understand your pain. My youngest son is no where to be found. I have not seen or heard from him in 4 years. His mother (my wife) died 10 years ago, after that he was never the same. I am very close to my other children but he has wandered off. I do know he is alive and has a baby from third party info. Enough about me. I will pray for you!!


I will pray for you and your family. It sounds like a hard situation with no good choices. I don’t know what your job experience is like, but have you checked into government jobs? They tend to pay less than the private sector but they generally have good benefits including insurance. Also they tend to be more accommodating of people with disabilities and pre-existing medical conditions.

I’m not sure what the laws are in your state, but with a 16 year old I don’t know if you can just put him out of the house. Perhaps you can check with a local social services group, family/children’s advocacy group or run away shelter that won’t get you in trouble with the law to see what your legal options are with a minor in this situation. When I was younger they had homes for “troubled” teens where a parent could give temporary or permanent custody to the state for an uncontrollable teen. This prevented the parent from being legally in trouble for kicking them out or held liable in case they stole or damaged the property of others. As your situation stands currently you might be in violation of laws for neglect or possibly held liable if your son steals to support his drug habit.

God be with you.


You gave me some great advice concerning my son and I would like to return the hope. You more than likely did the right thing in that you need to protect what is good in your home and with your husband’s health well that needs to be taken into consideration. My advice is too pray and pray hard never stop and never give up hope. My son was thrown out of his girlfriends house and I told him I couldn’t help him and it has been about two weeks and he has not quit his job and his biological father told him he could stay there until he finds a place this is something that I thought would happen, but it was a long time in the making. I have regular converstions with him and now for the first time in a long time I feel a real sense of peace “Praise be to God” I know that it is He that gives it, but it was my hope that attracted it. I will say a rosary today for you and your family. I really know how hard it is.

God Bless


Given the multiple issues of mental illness in your family–bi-polar disorder, addiction, depression–is it possible he is experiencing something more than just rebellion? Has he ever been evaluated for mental health issues? This would be my first step.

He also needs to be in some sort of protective living environment-it is dangerous to allow a volatile, erratic 16 year old to be out in the world on his own, unsupervised, etc. Not only is his own poor judgement endangering him, but he is an easy target for predators. If you cannot handle him in your own home because of his disruptive behaviour and the resulting violence, ill health effects, etc., and no other relatives are an option, then he should be placed in foster care, at least temporarily given he is a minor child.

Finally–it sounds as if the whole family could benefit from some type of family therapy. There are so many issues at play and the violence that has served as the response up until now is not healthy nor productive for anyone–including this troubled young man. One can hardly be surprsied that this situation has escalated out of control. It seems time to seek professional guidance to right this ship before it sinks or someone else falls overboard.


I suggest that you sit down with your Husband and Stepson and jointly write a “contract” that your son must sign before he is allowed back in the house. Any violations of the contract would result in his immediate dimissal from the house. This way all parties effected have a say in the conditiuons of his return and your son knows exactly whay is expected of him.


I have a relative in a similar situation. We are currently considering letting our nephew come to live with us, in the hopes that we can help him, and get him out of the environment he is in now. It would be a large move (several states), but there is lots of family here to help. They moved away, so there is no family where they are. It seems like this (living with a relative) is not a possibility for you. Soo…

You really need to get him into some kind of program. I agree that you may not be able to have him in your home, with all of the issues there, but you cannot abandon him to his own devices in this world. I believe that you are right that you cannot risk the well being of the rest of your family for this one child.

Research. Lots!! There are many places for kids like this sprouting up all over the place. Try to find some place where they can give him the help he needs. Of course, much prayer is in order. That is a given. But really, try to get him into a live-in situation. This is more than you can handle on your own. Call every social services place you can find in the telephone book. Persue every avenue they give you. Desparate times call for desperate measures. Once he is 18, you will not be able to get him the help you can now. He is minor, and he has no choice right now. In a couple of years, your window of opportunity will be closed.


Thanks everyone for your suggestions, replies and prayers. I think in the past two months I have touched on every one of these suggestions in regards to dealing with my son.

I did research on some programs, including the MAAC Project here in San Diego, Project Oz through the YMCA and Job Corp. He and his father met with one of the counselors at Job Corp on Monday, and they said they would be happy to take him in, but there is a 6-month waiting list. He would also have to prove that he was in school 6 months prior to that in order to qualify for the program.

As for any mental health issues or counseling, I was ready to get the ball rolling for a psych med evaluation for him (actually, a re-evaluation) and get him back to seeing his counselor again (he quit two months ago). It was under the condition that if he came back, I would have to see that he was truly ready to change his life - after spending all day on the phone with him, getting mumbled answers and being blown off with “Whatever, Mom!” when I tried to stress what he needed to do in order to live with us, I realized by the end of the day that he wasn’t taking this as seriously as I had hoped he would.

We did draw up a contract outlining a series of rules and regulations for him if he did return - he told me he didn’t want to sign the contract.

Right now, his only saving grace is his father - he now seems to have picked up the ball now (finally) and is getting him enrolled in school in his part of the county. I’ve done everything that I can for him. BTW, he’s not under my physical custody legally - the custody papers were changed quite quickly when he came out to live with his father in 2004.

I’m leaving my son’s fate and future in God’s hands. I will continue to love him and continue to pray for him. I feel he will eventually come around, but I don’t think it’s going to be anytime soon.

God Bless!

PS - My priest said that he will help us get some help with counseling on our end. We’re blessed to have a Catholic MFT working at our parish, and I understand she’s pretty good!


Look in your phone book for a Tough Love chapter. You need support and people in this group can relate to all you are experiencing. There are also books on the tough love program. I attended when my daughter was 10 (she’s now 31). Some folks have problems with 40 year old kids. I haven’t done a search online, you might also try that.

God bless.


[quote=Tonks40]I pray that God have mercy on my soul :frowning:

Your husband is in recovery? Good. If he is in recovery having your alcoholic son in the home would not cause him to relapse but it could be very difficult for him and for you.

I have been sober since May 4, 1992. It sounds (from your description) that your son is also an alcoholic. He needs to be in a rehab. Check what is available in your area. Look to Catholic Charities for help. Go online and look for whatever resources - county or otherwise - might be available for this child. You have a right, as his parent. to tell him that he cannot come home unless he agrees to find a different way to deal with his illness than drinking and using drugs.

Go to Alcoholics Anonymous website and read the information available. Educate yourself and arm yourself with facts. You are NOT the reason your son is ill, but you can contribute to his recovery.

If you want to PM me I will be glad to share more with you about my story. People all have opinions about the best way to treat alcoholism, whther it is a disease or a moral choice, blah blah blah. The reality is, listen to those people who have been through this and are in good recovery.
you are in my prayers.


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