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I think my son is a sociopath

(58 Posts)
AltheaVestrit Mon 28-Apr-14 19:37:33

Where to start?

Last Friday I had fetched my 18mo grandchild. When I got home with him my dad and son were already in my house. We had a cup of tea and got ready to take the dog out. Because I suspected money had gone missing from my bag I keep it by me when at home. With the kerfuffle of DGC, cups of tea and getting the dog ready I had left my bag in the kitchen.

Before I left to fetch DGC I had put in £40 (2 x £20). When I checked the contents as we were about to set off on our walk there was only £20 in it. I knew the money had been taken in the last 10 minutes, so it could only have been my son who had taken it. I confronted him and when I asked where my £20 was he said "it's in my pocket. Sorry mom, sorry". I took it back off him, told him to get out, and that I should be calling the police. I didn't.

My son's situation is dire ATM. His partner (the mother of his child) asked him to leave the family home about a month ago. Son was made redundant in February, and from what I can gather they were arguing a lot and he was generally unsupportive as a partner and father. He's supposed to be starting a new job in May, and we hoped that once he was supporting the family financially again, they could sort their problems out and hopefully get back together as a family again.

He was welcome to stay with us as long as he followed the house rules - basically keep yourself clean and tidy and tidy up after yourself. He declined and has been staying at my dad's house around the corner. Family are coming to visit dad this week and he asked son to move out for a few days. Dad assumed he'd be coming to me. Well, after the thieving incident that wasn't going to happen. Son sent me an email saying "Hi mom, ok to stay with you a few days? Love you." I replied that it wasn't ok.

So, I don't know where he is staying atm. I'm worried about him, but he doesn't seem to acknowledge that his stealing is a problem. I suspected he's been helping himself for ages, but i doubted myself. I even confronted him a couple of times over the last 6 months or so when I thought I should have had more cash in my bag than I had, but he denied taking it and left me feeling very confused.

In fact, this incident has brought things to a head for me.

He's lied a lot in the past. It's mostly been stuff that he knows I want to hear, but there've been a few incidents where his lying has got him into trouble. We have extricated him from trouble with the police, where if he'd told us the truth in the first instance we could have advised him how to sort it out easily. But his continued vehement denials he was any way involved lead to him going to court with a solicitor. And when we had irrefutable proof that he was involved, he continued to deny it until I pointed out that the people we'd spoken to about the incident must also be lying. You could see the ratchets in his brain clanking away until he realised all his lying options weren't going to get him out of trouble and he finally admitted his involvement.

There's other things he's said and done which made me wonder how on earth his brain works. He's rubbish with money. He wants instant gratification. With his redundancy money he bought himself a PS4 when he was advised to wait until his new job started before treating himself. He's made a mess of paying the rent on the house my DH and I bought for him and his partner to ensure our DGC had a roof over his head.

We've bailed him out so many times and each time we thought well, he must have learned from this. But no.

Over the weekend I read the thread in Chat about sociopaths and I think he ticks a lot of the boxes. It appears there's no cure for someone who has no empathy, no conscience and doesn't believe they are or have a problem at all.

So, where do I go from here?

horsetowater Tue 29-Apr-14 23:15:31

I think if I were him I would feel completely emasculated and humiliated at having my mother support my ex partner and grandchild, then take me off the tenancy of the home that was bought for me by my parents.

There's something very wrong about this set-up - the best thing you can do as his parent is to support them to get together and live together happily. You're not doing that by taking his name off the tenancy.

What happens when DIL finds a new man - as long as they are apart this could happen. Will you continue to support her?

Your son must be feeling very trapped and could go into self-destruct mode if you're not careful. It may well be that he is taking to using drugs if he's so laid back as you say, and has started taking money.

AltheaVestrit Wed 30-Apr-14 09:09:59

Horsetowater - the tenancy was changed with his consent. He didn't argue the toss. At least in this instance he did put his family first. How many times on these threads do we hear than the primary carer of children should stay in the family home, and have trouble getting the abusive or unsupportive partner out? I tried to do the right thing under the circumstances.

Besides, if his partner found his behaviour unacceptable don't you think he needs to realise it? Realise what he's in danger of losing? I would have thought the fact he was asked to leave would give him cause for introspection and change his behaviour to something more acceptable. If I'd supported son instead of his partner wouldn't that just be bailing him out yet again?

Tryharder Wed 30-Apr-14 09:44:51

Thread consensus:

OP's son is a lying, thieving fuckwit?

And so that's the OP's fault because she didn't set boundaries and always bailed him out.

Why can it not be accepted that some people do bad things because that's the way they are rather than it being someone's fault (usually the mother's)

We bail our children out of problems if we can because that's what parents do. I just don't see why the OP has to be at fault because her son has done bad things.

Jayne35 Wed 30-Apr-14 11:26:00

Just wanted to hand hold really, I have similar problems with my DS, he is 15 now and it all started very early when I look back, no matter what I did or didn't do, he feels entitled to have what he wants. It used to be just little things but now he is almost 16 he is taking things to sell (weed habit). DS moved in with his Dad just over two years ago, he wanted to, I wanted the break tbh, thought he would come back - but hasn't.

We haven't spoken since Feb, he took a large item from me and sold to a pawn shop, did say sorry but doesn't appear to mean it. If it was just me I suppose I could cope with it but he has also recently taken Christmas presents from my sis DCs, and my Mum, and won't face them (Ignores their messages/calls etc) to apologise.

I tried Doctors, Counselling, Group Therapy, NSPCC groups for difficult children. Mostly they blamed the divorce, but he wasn't right before then, unfortunately it ticks a little box for them!

BUT, we still love them, my son can be so loving and I expect your DS is the same. I wish you well, and hope he sorts himself out.

NutellaLawson Wed 30-Apr-14 11:41:30

is he the youngest? He sounds like my sister (3rd of 3) who always gets battled out. She used mums back card and took the accoujt to overdraft. Had had cc and phone bills paid fire. She currently has a whopping tax bill and fine to pay becauae she ignored hmrc letters. she doesn't steal outright (as far as I know) but I think her inability to take responsibilty in dealing with money, to grasp the nettle instead of avoiding are because of her situation. She is the baby of the fault by 8 years. always gets bailed out each time, was 9 when my parents divorced and so had a very close relationship with mum that, in hindsight wasnt healthy (mum relied on her for emotional support when she was too young to provide it) and the divorce was traumatic (dad had psychotic episodes around her).

I would NOT describe her as a sociopath though. I don't think your son is, either. Just unable to deal with difficult siruations with good judgement. I do think tough love is in order. No more bailing out or enabling.

AltheaVestrit Wed 30-Apr-14 11:51:42

He's an only child.

Jayne - you keep hoping that they'll grow out of their stupidness, don't you? At 23 I think I'm giving up.

horsetowater Wed 30-Apr-14 12:29:55

Did he have much choice about whether to consent to taking his name off the tenancy?

My concern is that if his relationship is over with his ex then you should accept that and let him make his own mistake. She also needs to understand what she's dealing with and if necessary, move on. By supporting her you are really interfering in that personal development. You should be supporting him to support her - not with money and property, but with emotional support and guidance - even if it's just 'get out and make your own way in the world'.

Did you discuss with him how he would like you to support his children? This is the crux of the matter to me, you are going over his head about his own family. I would be furious if my mother did that to me.

blueshoes Wed 30-Apr-14 12:44:40

Althea, you have done nothing wrong. As a parent, I would have done the same for my child. I agree with what Tryharder said.

At what point does a son stop being a child that we love and protect with all our heart and resources to one that we leave to let them stand on their own feet and fall if necessary.

Others should bear that in mind if they think they know all the answers.

horsetowater Wed 30-Apr-14 13:07:32

My point is that Althea is not letting him stand on his own two feet by supporting his ex partner and son. She's still covering for him by doing this and it's unhealthy.

perfectstorm Wed 30-Apr-14 13:23:05

So the ex and child should suffer because he's a useless father and partner? Single parenthood's demands less important than hoping a magic wand will convert him into father of the year, so he'll pick up the slack instead? Because of course, that always happens - ask anyone on Lone Parents. hmm

OP I can't see anything you are doing wrong. You've challenged him on undeniable wrong, you've refused to have him to stay as a consequence, you're providing excellent support to the single mother of your grandchild, as a buffer against his fecklessness. He's made horrible choices, and at some point kids are adults and they and those around them need to look to the actual, genuine children in the situation. Here, that is your GC.

JaceyBee Wed 30-Apr-14 14:30:10

It sounds as though he certainly has the impaired limits and entitlement schemas we might associate with anti social personality disorder but this is only the more extreme end of the scale of normal personality traits we all have. Absolutely nothing to suggest full blown sociopathy which is much rarer than is made out on here. Some people are just twats!

I think if his dad abandoned him when he was 6 that will have had a MASSIVE impact! Definitely he could benefit from therapy, but only if he decides he is unhappy with himself currently and wants to live differently and make the necessary changes which is bloody hard work!

horsetowater Wed 30-Apr-14 17:26:49

The GC will be fine, they have two sets of grandparents and when their Mum finds another boyfriend they will have him and his family as well.

OP should stand back and let things happen. Be a cushion and a support for the GCs if needs be but don't get too involved. I've had two feckless brothers who had four children by women they messed about with. My mother supported at a very long distance because she knew it would prevent them moving forward if she got too involved. Out of the four women involved - two found new men and have a happy new family, one stayed single and did a fine job with her son alone despite the hardships, one had a breakdown and lost residence of the child to him and he did a fine job as a single Dad. In all cases (except the breakdown one which is debatable as it was a serious MH illness), my brothers suffered emotionally far more than the mothers of their children, and the children didn't suffer at all as they had lots of people around rooting for them. What didn't happen was my Mum offering any of them a roof over their heads etc or giving big financial support (I think some childcare costs were covered and music lessons).

perfectstorm Wed 30-Apr-14 21:29:05

I'm - genuinely - really happy things worked out so well in your own family, horses. However, that doesn't make it the one-size solution for everyone else. I also highly, highly doubt that all the kids in what sound deeply difficult circumstances emerged wholly unscathed. Often such damage doesn't begin to show until after adolescence, and a feckless father who eventually gained custody due to severe MH problems in your mother... um, yeah. That's not a childhood you can gloss over as "the children didn't suffer at all as they had lots of people around rooting for them." In fact I'm quite staggered anyone could make such a claim about children - puppies, maybe. Kids, no.

AKeyFox Wed 30-Apr-14 23:10:17

Did you think about letting him and his partner make their own housing arrangements ?

AKeyFox Wed 30-Apr-14 23:26:13

Over the weekend I read the thread in Chat about sociopaths and I think he ticks a lot of the boxes. It appears there's no cure for someone who has no empathy, no conscience and doesn't believe they are or have a problem at all.

To be frank it sounds like you wouldn't be that greatly bothered if he were in fact to be certified as a sociopath. At least you would know it's an insoluble problem and you could focus on things you could change instead.

ie you yourself don't exactly come across as brimming with empathy, and I wonder if this is a trait he has picked up from the family.

Was his DF involved in his upbringing and how empathic was he ?

MexicanSpringtime Wed 30-Apr-14 23:26:57

Yeap, can't agree with Horses point of view either.
I have a friend suffering like this with her adolescent son, who also has a drug problem. After wracking our brains to try to give her advice since the problems started when he was about thirteen (not drugs at that point) I've had to realise that it is not easy to know what to do. He is a lovely young fellow (if it weren't for the lying and stealing) and he has good parents who have good morals and love him.
The only thing that I think might have been a problem is I think they were too strict with him when he was smaller, but that is just another stab in the dark

horsetowater Wed 30-Apr-14 23:43:41

Perfectstorm I don't want to get into an argument with you about my family because this thread isn't about them and it is far more complex than it seems. I wrote about this in order to clarify where I think the line should be drawn when it comes to helping adult children.

OP seems to be highly dismissive of her son and brimming with sympathy of her daughter-in-law and this would be deeply unsettling for any child. He not only feels a failure as a partner he will be feeling a failure as a son as well.

The accusation of sociopath is very serious and I find it surprising judging by what his behaviours are.

perfectstorm Thu 01-May-14 00:31:43

I'm not trying to argue, either. I just think that stating extremely troubled family situations don't harm kids inside them if other adults are about is dangerous. Too many women post here trying to rationalise toxic and/or abusive setups, and kids thrive best in stable, calm and consistent homes, if that is remotely feasible (obviously it isn't always).

CookieDoughKid Thu 01-May-14 01:36:17

I think your son has never really understood what it means to live on the breadline and also understand the consequences of steeling. He doesn't does he because he knows you're never going to call the police. It's only going to get worse imo . difficult but you need to cut the apron strings lose and let him look after himself.

nooka Thu 01-May-14 02:05:36

The OP said that the house was to provide a roof over the head of her grandchild. It's still doing that. The mum is paying the rent and the father has left the home. The OP should not get involved with their relationship - if she is finding her son very difficult despite loving him as her child then it's possibly not too surprising that his partner has had enough!

I think it's a bit of an odd attitude to take to say that she can just find another father for the grandchild and the OP should effectively abandon them. Many grandparents in that situation are devastated to lose contact.

AltheaVestrit Thu 01-May-14 08:52:23

Nooka - you seem to have grasped the housing situation. They were struggling to find anywhere suitable; council lists were impossible and private renting was gone before they could even view. The house was bought because it suited them, and was an investment for me. This was made clear to them from the start.

So I am wearing 2 caps. One as a mom/granny and the other as landlord, and the two I consider to be kept very separate. Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned buying the house for them as I'm not sure it impacts on what my son has done and how I feel about it.

My relationship with DIL has not changed since son left the family home and to be honest there isn't much of one anyway. I look after their son 1 or 2 nights a week as before. The only thing I've done is change the name on the tenancy as requested. This was after getting them round the table and talking them through options and potential scenarios because in a way transferring the house away from son wasn't one that I'd ever thought would happen. I am not particularly close to DIL and this is not for the want of trying. So this is how I'm supporting her, only in a practical way. I certainly haven't talked about specifics within their relationship; I know it's nothing to do with me and I won't interfere.

Horsetowater - you say my son feels a failure because of the things I've done. I don't know how you can speculate on what son is feeling. The point of me starting the thread was because of his lack of feeling for others by continuing to do peculiar and ultimately unacceptable acts. In fact reading back you've made some assumptions that just aren't there or been implied in any way. Perhaps this thread has touched a nerve with you but whatever your lovely mum did or didn't do with her feckless sons is neither here nor there.

But as many of you have suggested, the apron strings are well and truly cut. I haven't seen him or communicated since last Friday. When I dropped off GC last evening son's car was parked outside the house, but I just handed over the baby, had a little chat with DIL and came home.

But I don't want to be NC forever. He's my only child and I'd like some sort of mutual respect for each other and our boundaries.

I repeat from my opening thread. Where do I go from here?

AKeyFox Thu 01-May-14 11:33:34

Have you discussed the specific concerns you've raised here with him ?

ie that his behaviour amounts to sociopathy rather than for instance spoilt brat/ immaturity/ casual drug user/ layabout.

I think it would be a good idea to have that discussion.

redandchecker Thu 01-May-14 11:53:42

Hi OP.

I can't say whether he's a sociopath or not but from experience I've known a lot of people like this and I don't think they are sociopaths.

One of them being my sister, been awful since a teen and stole from the family home regularly. She seemed evil at times. In trouble with the police a lot.
Now with 2 DC my mum still regularly bails her out and from my point of view it drives me bloody insane to watch but then if it was my DC I can't say I wouldn't want to bail them out.
It must be incredibly difficult.

With my sister, like your son there seems to be an inability to prioritise, going out, buying things for herself before the rent is paid
The world is against her she believes she deserves more. She mentions lack of support, and I don't know how our mum sits there with her mouth shut, she is incredibly lucky to have my mum and is very supported.

I cannot relate to this attitude, take a tiny amount of comfort in the fact that this is none of your fault. My mother has other DC's including me and none of us are like this. I do sometimes think there is a missing link and do not understand how her brain works.

She's a bit better now. She's found a job which has given her some drive and she's got some brave ambitions.

I think it takes really being on your ass to realise the support you have had, if you keep giving it it becomes a norm, they take advantage, they don't realise how supportive you're being - take that away, and they soon realise how lucky they have been. They soon have a drive to do something for themselves when they have no one else to rely on.

You've done the right thing by not letting him stay. I would now have a frank discussion with him and explain to him why, and how you feel and what it is doing to you. I might even ask how he would feel if his DD had came back home at 23 after having a child and was stealing money from his wallet and lying to him. I don't think it's abnormal to say what you think you want your parents to hear. You don't want to disappoint your parents. I would advise counselling, explain he can always talk to you but sometimes it's easier to talk to someone without any ties to the family.

Nomama Thu 01-May-14 11:55:01

Althea (love the name by the way, Hobbs is great [smile)

Niceties over, I am afraid.


Have a read back and put my name wherever you see yours. How do I sound?

Do I sound like a mum who has done her very best to protect her only boy from a horrible time. From a dad who left? From lies he has told? From thefts he has perpetrated? From fecklessness he has enacted? From not having to live in a shitpit until he could afford better, work his way to a more successful life? Am I, mummy and landlord bending over backwards to allow my darling boy to survive?

Do I sound like a mum who has accidentally forgotten to let her only darling boy hit that brick wall and find himself out on his ear because of his own actions?

From my posts here, I most certainly do!

I suppose I need to grow up a bit myself. Grow into an adult woman, a separate human being, no longer a mummy.

I suppose I need to harden my heart and not allow myself to emotionally blackmail myself with 'what ifs'.

I need to let my darling one and only boy grow up too.

That is what you think of me isn't it?

AltheaVestrit Thu 01-May-14 16:05:39

Akey - I couldn't trust him to tell me the truth. He'll tell me what he thinks I want to hear. I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to try and sort things out, it's just that if his lips move, he's probably lying. He'll say he's fine and there's nothing wrong. I can't get through to him.

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