To interfere with my adult sons life choices

(39 Posts)
muddiboots Mon 28-Dec-15 00:08:57

Ds is 22, lives away from home with long term gf. I never had him formally diagnosed but he is very definitely on the autistic,aspergers spectrum but very high functioning. Super clever and has very responsible job ( not stealth boast, required info) . One of his issues as a child was food, picky to the point of pathological. I had real issues managing his diet to ensure a nutritious balance and up to the point he left home, to go to uni, was succeeding and despite being dyspraxic and hating exercise he was a healthy weight. Over the three years at uni he gradually gained weight, basically by buying takeaway pizza ( 2 large ones at a time) and eating them in one go, then often not eating for 24 hrs.he also developed an addiction to Diet Coke and drinks at least one large bottle a day ( it's the only liquid he will drink by choice). In the holidays when he came home , things would stabilise a bit. Then he got a job away from home for a year and had money to buy whatever he chose and things started to go downhill big time. In September he moved to a new job in a new town in a rented flat with gf and I hoped that things would start to improve and that gf would moderate his eating ( I am not saying that she is responsible for him but they have been together since school so she knows his normal weight and just the fact they were eating together and not ordering takeaway pizza constantly.) sadly he has come home for Xmas and is now the heaviest he has ever been. I am so worried about potential health issues, he is on a crash course to diabetes and cardiac problems. I also worry that he could end up losing the career he has and loves for health reasons ( and partly, rightly or wrongly for image reasons). If you try and talk about it he gets very defensive and is so focused on food and what he wants to eat, it's really hard. Today for example, he had four slices of home made fruit loaf for breakfast ( one would have been a normal portion) ate three packets of crisps ( not normally in house but it's Xmas and he found them in the cupboard) had Coke with his breakfast. Then we went to the cinema, I was in the queue getting tickets and took orders via his gf, she said he wanted a large popcorn ( literally a bucket) and large Coke, I said ok, I'm buying regular though, he then appeared in queue and said " I'm buying snacks, it's my treat for everyone" ( no one but he and gf wanted any). We then went for pizza (pre arranged Xmas family treat) where he had three courses and the largest pizza they do. Sorry this is long and I know he is an adult and I shouldn't interfere but he genuinely is not behaving like a rational adult on this issue and I feel helpless standing by and watching. He is not going to do anything about this on his own, it's a real psychological issue. I know this is aibu but couldn't find anywhere else appropriate, please don't be too nasty, I'm not an interfering mum, just one who loves her children

NeedsAsockamnesty Mon 28-Dec-15 00:15:34

So he's switched from not eating anything really to eating everything?

Have you thought about asking the GF what her opinion is,if she's worried it's likely to have more of an impact on him that you

coffeeisnectar Mon 28-Dec-15 00:19:08

Talk to him and explain what diabetes is and how likely it's going to affect him. But I think the gf needs to be on board and maybe a health check up. Not sure how feasible that is though.

I don't think yabu at all.

muddiboots Mon 28-Dec-15 00:21:34

No he just eats the things he likes and with no moderation. For instance he used to eat ham, chicken and bread and would eat any kind of fruit. So I would give him lean ham, chicken and brown bread plus lots of fruit. When he was about thirteen, he decided he wanted to eat pizza so he could go out with his friends, so he did, and it became the new best thing. So left to his own devices at uni, he ate chicken pizza ( and literally nothing else). Now he will just eat his favourite kind of limited foods , so white bread etc and no fruit or veg

cuntycowfacemonkey Mon 28-Dec-15 00:21:42

Gosh that's a tough one, I think it's natural for you to be concerned and protective, particularly if you feel he has other issues such a being on the spectrum.

I think all you can do is talk to him about it. I wouldn't go behind his back to his girlfriend about it though

muddiboots Mon 28-Dec-15 00:27:24

The gf almost enables him in some ways, like today with the popcorn. She has a health science masters degree so should be fully awAre of health issues! I know she tries a bit, they meet for lunch and she has offered to make him sandwiches to eat ( as she does) but he insists on buying a takeaway chicken thing instead.
He is fully aware of diabetes etc and we have tried to talk about his weight , dh is pushier than me as he is really concerned, but he just gets defensive/aggressive, it's really hard to explain , but not normal rational responses.

KittiKat Mon 28-Dec-15 00:34:39

Muddiboots my son has diagnosed Aspergers. He too is overweight. I think it is the stress and anxiety about life that makes them overeat.

I think you, as his Mother and TRUSTED adult need to talk to him. You will have to do this point blank, and tell him that you are concerned for him. Tell him (and I am sorry but you will have to do this) that you will devise an eating plan for him to help him. Believe me he will not be happy with the size/shape he is. Once he trusts you, tell him you want to involve his girlfriend, so that all of you can devise a healthy eating plan together and make sure the girlfriend is onboard with it all too.

I am about to embark on this with my son. If he has Aspergers as you suspect, he will welcome the routine going into his life. He needs some of the stress he is having taken away from him.

Another thought, does the girl friend know that you suspect he has AS? That may very well be a very different problem to overcome if she doesn't. My son does not want his girlfriend to know.

YANBU. You are being a very worried loving mother who wants to steer her son in the right direction. My son is 21 by the way, so very similar in age.

muddiboots Mon 28-Dec-15 00:46:19

Kittikat, thank you, that sounds eminently sensible. It will not be pleasant but will try and sit him down in a room and make him listen. I think you are right, there have always been anxieties around food, he has always had to know what time meals will be and what the menu will be.
Gf knows re AS, it would be impossible to be around him as long as she has, let alone live with him, and not know. Last night for example, we were playing a card game and he got really upset because one of the cards got a little bit wet accidentally. He had to order a new set online. Little things like that on a daily basis. High functioning enough to disguise it to the outside world but very very obvious when he is relaxed with family,gf.
Stupidly until I read your post, I had nt actually thought about how stressful it must be to appear "normal" to the outside world.
Good luck with your son.

thelaundryfairy Mon 28-Dec-15 01:13:51

You are being reasonable. I hope you can help him develop healthier eating habits. Would he also be able to include more exercise in his weekly routine?

summerainbow Mon 28-Dec-15 01:33:17

My son is the same . At the end of the it is his life . I let him get on with it . But don't buy him clothes any more .he has the buy the expense larger sizes .

Italiangreyhound Mon 28-Dec-15 02:32:34

*muddyboots YADNBU.

Agree with KittiKat about a healthy eating plan (don't call it diet, no one likes to be on a diet).

If you have not had him formally diagnosed I am not sure you can tell anyone else he definitely is but you may want to look into encouraging him to get a diagnosis if you think it will help him.

nokidshere Mon 28-Dec-15 02:41:21

All you can do is talk to him about your concerns. But he is an adult and it's not your place to involve his girlfriend nor is it her responsibility to watch what he eats.

If he has had problems since he was a child why has he not been diagnosed formally?

Italiangreyhound Mon 28-Dec-15 02:42:44

Just an idea muddyboots but if he has a good job and money could you encourage him to get some sort of life coach/personal trainer who can get him on the straight and narrow re food and healthy life style. A few sessions with this guy or woman could be an early birthday or late Christmas present for him in the hope he keeps up the sessions himself if he is interested.

It looks like he is an 'obsessive' person (I am to some degree too!)so maybe you want to try and tap into this and find a way to get him leaning towards the healthy food/exercise and find some way to convince him it is for his own good! Which of course it is!

I think you need to be a little 'sneaky' here and tap into whatever makes him tick! Thinking his mum is looking out for him/taking care of him might work or that someone else, a trainer (like his mum but by proxy) might work or might it be the exact opposite of what works!

Can some sort of 'help' be tied somehow into his work - to keeping up with hectic schedule of his fabulous and demanding new job?

The girl friend needs to be on board but I would try and work on them both simultaneously rather than simply enlisting her as an ally, she doesn't seem to be able to do it and in one sense she should not have to police his food intake, and this could drive a wedge between them. So you may wish to find something which works to motivate them both.

You said dh is pushier than me as he is really concerned, but he just gets defensive/aggressive, it's really hard to explain , but not normal rational responses. by but he just gets defensive/aggressive do you mean your son? If so, we know 'pushy' does not work.

Maybe other gifts could be cookery classes, healthy eating, for them both. Just a 'taster' session (excuse the pun) and if they enjoy it, and have fun, they may pursue it together.

I just feel you need to put some distance in there is you can, if your son cannot be responsible for his eating alone, and his girlfriend cannot/should not take responsibility for it, you could end up with your and dh responsible for his eating and health for the next 40 years. But if you introduce him to people and systems which can help him regulate his food intake and the type of food he eats, then he may be able to do this himself, which is empowering.

MiscellaneousAssortment Mon 28-Dec-15 03:42:27

Ooooh, wise words from ItalianGreyHound there, would any of those ideas help the situation?

Totally agree that the girlfriend/ partner should not be expected to fulfil a carer or maternal role. It's not fair to her or him to expect her to take on an unequal relationship dynamic.

Mistigri Mon 28-Dec-15 08:23:40

I think you need to step away from seeing his eating as a problem that you can help with sad

It sounds to me like he has some sort of eating disorder possibiy induced by the stress of coping with his ASD. Telling someone with an eating disorder to eat more healthily, and thinking that will be enough to make them change their eating habits, is unfortunately very naive. He's an intelligent young man who almost certainly knows what a healthy diet looks like, and what the risks of an unhealthy one are. It's unlikely to be lack of knowledge that is preventing him from eating a better diet.

It does also sound like his gf is enabling him - and focussing on diet risks driving you apart and making him more reliant on his gf.

I'd consider instead whether there is any possibility of getting him some support for his ASD - obviously this will require his consent. I imagine that resources for young adults with high functioning autism are in rather short supply unfortunately sad

Enjolrass Mon 28-Dec-15 08:40:08

I have aspergers. My eating is always all or nothing.

It's extremely healthy to the point of obsessive or completely the other way.

Over eating is how I cope with stress. I also do it when out to seem normal. When you go out and order a salad people often comment but not if you order a pizza.

As a result my weight yo-yos. Dh is very supportive and always cooks healthy meals. Actually healthy not what I call healthy when I am being obsessive. Which is a salad of lettuce and red peppers. He has learnt to guide me back to eating properly and healthy.

But if we are away, he doesn't comment on anything I eat as he knows that will make me worse and cause a melt down. We were away for three days last year and I ate the same as everyone else deposited being miserable about my weight. Because he knew if he questioned it or tried to help I would literally melt down torn between eating healthy to lose weight and wanting to appear 'normal'.

Your sons do may do everything she can at home but letting it go as he is with his family.

Personally I would have a chat with her. She may be very worried but not know what to do.

I would also speak to him. Seriously from a health point of view. It's very very difficult, but it's worth doing. If he doesn't listen or take it on board, then there isn't much else you can do.

NeedsAsockamnesty Mon 28-Dec-15 10:33:40

Sorry I should have made that clear, I was not meaning going behind his back, I was meaning the three of you having a supportive none hostile open discussion about it. That obviously can be terminated or managed effectively if it is something he cannot cope with.

muddiboots Mon 28-Dec-15 14:45:28

Thank you all for taking the time to reply, genuinely appreciated
We never persued a diagnosis as he was bright enough to cope socially and academically and I thought ( possibly mistakenly) that a label wouldn't help.
This is an issue I hadn't appreciated.
Gf loves food and cooking and eats a massive range of foods in a healthy balance ( and is size 8 ) . She says that she enjoys the evenings he is not at home as she cooks proper food rather than something he will eat.i know she tries but she doesn't have the authority or purchasing embargo that was available to me, and yes absolutely it's not her job.
As an example of him stressing re food, have spoken to dd re the popcorn incident and she said that gf went back to group at which point ds was repeatedly asking if I was buying a large popcorn, she tried fending him off but he wouldn't stop asking until she admitted possibly I was buying regular at which point he came over and took over the purchase.
Enjoiyrass, very helpful to see it from your point of view. That's kind of why I don't go in all guns blazing as don't want to make things worse.
Am going to have a quiet chat alone and possibly mention the coach idea, fingers crossed !

Enjolrass Mon 28-Dec-15 18:24:02

You sound lovely and genuinely concerned.

Food does become obsessive for me and it causes all sorts of problems.

If I fixate on eating something they can't have it. It can cause issues.

I found that exercise actually really helps. Because to improve you need to be feeding yourself properly. I now do a sport and see my food as supporting my performance, iyswim.

It's not always perfect but better.

I really feel for his dp, especially when she is visiting as she probably feels very in the middle.

I would suggest next time , if you aren't buying something for him, you don't tell her. Just either get what he asks for, or do what you feel you should and don't tell her.

EponasWildDaughter Mon 28-Dec-15 19:15:29

She says that she enjoys the evenings he is not at home as she cooks proper food rather than something he will eat.

gf went back to group at which point ds was repeatedly asking if I was buying a large popcorn, she tried fending him off but he wouldn't stop asking

It doesn't sound as if there is anything else GF can do. She's aware, and is trying to sway his choices, and he's taking no notice.

I have to say - i know you meant well, but doing things like trying to control what he's eating while out on a family outing is going to be counter productive i think. If my mother was in a food queue buying 'what she thought best' instead of what i wanted it would make me cross. and even more determined to eat what i wanted instead.

Go with the honest chat with your son. Don't mention involving his GF. No 22 year old will want their GF (mothering) monitoring him.

Best of luck.

Floralnomad Mon 28-Dec-15 19:28:04

Does your son know that you think he is autistic / on the spectrum ? I only ask because I also have a 22 yr old who has autistic tendencies / OCD but is high functioning and not officially diagnosed but he knows that we think he has issues and it does make it easier to talk to him about things .( mine doesn't have any weight issues though) .

HPsauciness Mon 28-Dec-15 19:36:01

I don't think it is the gf's fault at all in this scenario, what is she supposed to do, wrestle the credit card out of his hand and fall to the floor with it all so he has a regular rather than a large popcorn. It is not in her power! He is an adult. I really wish I could control my husband's eating, but I can't, all I can do is cook ok at home and moderate my own food which is what it sounds like the gf is doing.

Ultimately, this sounds like a very difficult to fix problem which to your credit you fixed by being his mum and controlling his food intake, but in no way can you now fix what is in his head regarding what is acceptable/unacceptable food.

The gf shouldn't be then blamed for being unable to fix the unfixable! Beyond making healthy choices at home.

The only thing you can do is talk frankly with your son and suggest some options such as online MFP or so on, but it is his life, his weight and not his gf's responsibility.

ovenchips Mon 28-Dec-15 19:41:44

Could you give an idea of how heavy he is - his height/ weight, clothes size or description of him eg morbidly obese? I know you said he is his biggest ever, but it's difficult to get an idea of his size from your posts.

IonaNE Mon 28-Dec-15 19:53:55

OP, you sound lovely. It is a very difficult issue to solve - on the weight-loss boards people always say that the person has to want it him/herself before any change can happen. No practical advice, just wishing you the best. flowers

muddiboots Tue 29-Dec-15 00:59:09

Thanks again
Oven chips, he left home wearing 34 in waist trousers, about 5ft 9, now must be about 42 in and xxl shirts etc, about 16 stone ? But that horrible all around the middle weight that is the unhealthiest apparently.
Have ordered him a book online about diet,life style changes, that was recommended on a forum for adults with aspergers and will chat tomorrow as been at gfs parents today .
Hp, 100 pc agree not either gfs fault or issue to deal with.
Floralnomad, yes he does, he knows himself really.
Exercise would def be the way forward but there is no form of exercise he will do by choice sadly. Gf starting training for 10 k charity run, am going to suggest he could do a bit with her, " to keep her safe" worth a shot !

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