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Telling 19-year-old son to leave home(101 Posts)
This is an old problem involving a difficult boy who has in the past been a shocking, intolerable problem in so many ways. I'm his father and we recently, after a spate of lies, told him to go, but I couldn't do it without a last ditch attempt to tell him to do a behavioural 180 degree turn, with 20 conditions, or he's out - a long shot, I know, but I had to try this to exercise some integrity and compassion. My wife agreed, although for years she has taken the most trouble from him in terms of abuse (although her bad temper has sometimes kicked things off). He marginally improved but had a small slip when questioning a curfew, partly a misunderstanding, but did fall in line. My wife was upset and yesterday it kicked off when the misunderstanding blew up into a full-scale shouting match and she is now insisting he leave and that I should make him, or she will leave - with our girls. She's upset also for my not fully backing her...but I understand the slightness of the curfew slip and cannot simply say that she is right in this case, despite his past sins. It is important to say that she is fundamentally a
good woman and good mother and I love her, so this is very difficult to navigate. I need a reasonable female view because I don't want to do this without seeing if he can do what I need him to do with regard to the conditions we have set. If he fails, then that is the last chance used up and he goes. I am happy with any criticism or advice.
Where would he go? I sympathise - our eldest son was awful from the age of 16 to 26. Has there been a trigger for your son’s behaviour ? Are your rules too strict? What do they say - pick your battles? My husband constantly wanted to chuck our son out but I just couldn’t do it - I couldn’t bear the thought of him on a park bench. It got to the point where I was leaving with my son (I love my husband but for me my sons are everything) - thankfully it didn’t come to that and he sorted himself out in the end. Unless he’s being physically abusive I wouldn’t give up on him.
You’re his father - is she his mother?
It sounds like your wife is possibly making a bad situation worse with losing her temper and shouting? A curfew for a 19 year old sounds a bit strict to me, but then I haven’t got the experience of having older children, just a mother who made life very difficult when I was about that age. I’d like to think I wouldn’t give up on my son when he’s 19
It sounds like your wife has had to take the brunt of a lot of this behaviour, so from your perspective it was a small slip up, from hers it's the final straw.
It does sound slightly as if you are moving the goalposts as you want your son to succeed in turning this around.
Is he apologising for the behaviour or have you been left in the middle to try and reconcile this?
A 19 year old has a curfew?
There has to be a missive back story here surely.
Is she his mother?
A 19 year old should not have a curfew. If you want him to act like an adult then he should be treated like one.
Gosh that sounds very difficult op. My gut tells me that you are right, a small infraction could have been overlooked but it seems your wife's temper has escalated things. Is there any chance that they will both cool down and back down? I agree with pp though it might be the straw that broke the camel's back as far as she is concerned. If she is serious about leaving with the girls he might have to go, awful as it is. Has he somewhere to go?
All of your points are very valid and helpful. To answer all at the same time - My wife and I are his M&D. His curfew was a condition of staying (because he kept on staying out without warning, missing meals, - wasting food etc., lying about his whereabouts constantly and coming home at 2 waking us all up with loud telephone conversations), as well as a generally terrible attitude. He is too proud and selfish to back down from anything. My daughters (17 and 20 - bright, vivacious and loving - we don't expect him to be the same as them) both want him gone, so bad is the atmosphere that he generates. I do not want him on a park bench and would see him housed and give him money if he was to go. I am reasonable and pretty level-headed but am so torn that it has clouded my judgement and I am possibly not looking deep enough into the past (drugs - for which he WAS kicked out, by me, for a month), some violence - which has subsided to a good extent, and surly, defiant, manipulative behaviour. I should mention that when my younger daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia 3 years ago (she had a successful transplant and is well) his reaction was 'that's life', and I feared he was soulless. Perhaps that's true.
Does he work? I think it sounds like he would also be happier moving out, but its not always as easy as that is it.
@Branleuse yes - nearly...probation for a restaurant job starts next week. He has constantly lied (non-existant trial shifts) about this too. We have encouraged, helped, cajoled and finally hounded him until his UC dried up and he had no money. His options are limited because he does not have Maths GCSE despite our having him tutored (he refused to continue after 3 sessions).
Maybe your son needs you to follow through and actually take action instead of empty threats? I really do sympathise but it seems like he is harmful to your family in his current behaviours. Perhaps you should support your wife and daughters this time.
@Beamur - you have a very good point and I wonder if to some extent I am erring on the side of the fact that he is my son and a man, so there is a subconscious bias that makes me feel this way. Gender shouldn't play a part, but perhaps it does deep down, despite the circumstances.
There are a few things that jump out from your posts. Your language about your daughters is effusive and proud - is there any chance that he has been labelled as the black sheep of the family from an early age and is finding it hard to carve out any other role/position?
If your daughter has been so ill then a lot of attention will understandably have been lavished on her. Could his anger, disobedience and lashing out be a response whereby any attention (even angry attention) is better than none?
I have been a mother who bore the daily brunt of a neurodivergent 18-19 year old and it was very wearing. Sometimes tempers do flare. My DH had the annoying habit of coming in at the end of the day and declaring that he didn't know what all the fuss was about, full of 'helpful' advice about what should have happened instead. When left on his own with DS for a weekend they almost came to blows!
You have 3 children and they all matter. You’re putting one of them, who has been violent, done drugs, is selfish and disruptive, over the other two. Your wife is so worried and traumatised she’s willing to walk away from you and your son to protect your daughters. I’d take that pretty seriously.
@Jng1 Indeed - I have thought about that too. He was always difficult in various ways, but we have always said that we don't mind what job he has or his general circumstances, we will love him and be proud of him, and we have tried to show him affection and generosity, same as the girls. He never seemed to respond to this after he was 14 or so.
@AnneLovesGilbert I am reaching this conclusion - but am still heartbroken...mostly because it has come to this. Thanks.
am erring on the side of the fact that he is my son and a man
He may legally be a man but emotionally he sounds very much a child. Still he's old enough to look after himself, if he can't respect your house rules then off he fucks.
I don't think it's reasonable that she (assuming she's his mum) gives you an ultimatum, it's just going to make the situation worse.
It's hard to know without knowing the slip but if he's crossed the line then he does need to move out, or have whatever consequence. He's young though, where will he go? Does he have an uncle or someone who can help for a bit? I don't think you can just leave him completely.
Why does a 19 year old have a curfew? Do you mean along the lines of in by midnight on week nights so the rest of you are not disturbed (which is fair enough).
If your wife has put up with lots of problems she is probably at the end of her teather and just can’t cope and sees this slip up as a final fuck you to the family, so she is being irrational and not seeing how this could be a genuine reason for him being late home, which is understandable really.
@pinkyredrose - nicely put! - and it has been said to him. Trouble is he can be reasonable when he wants, but that soon gets left behind once he feels he's back on solid ground.
@TheAverageUser yes this all does muddy the waters. We have contacted the Housing Office to see what can be done and they've been helpful. I will still help him out if it comes to it (which it will probably hve to). His Grandmother may also step in.
He does have a midnight curfew weeknights, but this particular one was 10:30 due to extraordinary circumstances. It flared up from there. My wife's embedded enmity towards him is borne of long frustration, hurt and thwarted love, so I sympathise with that as well as see the more dispassionate view.
@Rainbowheart1- sorry my last post (14:42) was in response to you.
Im not sure why everyone is surprised about curfews. I wouldnt want my kid rolling in at 2am whenever they felt like it. This is one reason kids should move out if they want to party a lot.