18 yr old son shows no respect(39 Posts)
My 18 yr old son dropped out of school after Christmas before completing his A levels and Btec 3. I'm separated from his father, with whom DS has no real relationship with and refuses to visit (even though he only lives down the road). My ex still gives me a voluntary allowance for our son but is planning to stop this now that he is 18, which is what we agreed when we separated.
This means that it will be just me supporting DS (I have a 16 yr old DD too, who is delightful) and I will find, am finding, it very difficult financially.
I work everyday, am self employed, but only bring in just enough to manage week to week.
My son will not work and will not sign on. He has the run of the house, unlimited access to the food cupboard and fridge yet moans continuously that there is no food for him to eat. (no food means no flat, square boxes in the fridge!)
He had the use of my old studio in the garden to play his guitar and drums, with heating and electrics. He now has mates in the studio most evenings, drinking and smoking fags and weed (insists he doesn't but I can smell it - he says I don't have a clue, that I'm old, 57, and out of touch, but I know the smell of weed..); he also has band practice in there twice a week. Neighbours have complained a couple of times about the drums.
He will take food to the studio or his bedroom, and all my china, cups and cutlery keep disappearing. This weekend we had no bowls, spoons or forks left! Then moaned like hell when I asked him to fetch them to be washed up (...by me!)
He does absolutely nothing in the house - no washing up, tidying or cleaning up the kitchen behind himself and will leave his revolting skidmarks all down the toilet, refusing to clean it. His bedroom is a shit hole - strewn with clothes, 'used' tissue, guitar magazines, art materials and china/left over food - it's knee deep in places.
Yet he has the gaul to keep asking me for money - to go to the pub, to pay his mates some petrol money(ha!), to pay someone back, etc, etc.
He'll mow the lawn occasionally, and I'm stupid enough to pay him a tenner, but he's always asking me for more and tells me how bad a mother I am for not giving him any. More often than not I give in and hand him a fiver just to get him off my back. I know I'm a mug and I know what a lot of you might say, but there are times when there is just a glimmer of niceness and we have a decent conversation, and I think OK you are not a bad lad, but I only have to say one thing out of place and he starts yelling and telling me to shut up.
This is such a long post - sorry - but just wondered if anyone has any suggestions how I insist he finds work, or signs on, therefore getting him out of the house during the day and earning his own money and contributing towards his keep? How do I get him to show more respect for me and my home?
Tell him to leave?
At 18 he is old enough to learn from the school of hard knocks.
He will soon realise that nothing in life comes for free.
So I tell him to leave?
I have considered this already and gave him a month to find a job or sign on (that was at beg. of June), but do I really want him on the streets?
It's a miserable way to be living, isn't it willo? Thankfully now my DS has turned 18, he has improved markedly, and seems to be growing up.
IME, teenagers like this take the piss because they can, and because they are angry about something in their lives and are dumping that on you, as their nearest and dearest. Drug use also disinhibits them from acting like arses.
You need to work out your 'bottom line'. If you are like I was, you will already be putting up with far more than you ever thought you would. You now need to work out what bits of his attitude and behaviour you absolutely cannot tolerate. For me, it was violence towards me, and sitting around all day doing nothing. I realised I could not bear these, and although I did not want to throw him out, I was desperate enough that I would, if those things continued.
The very difficult truth is that your 'choices' are extremely limited: it is, basically, throw him out or hang on in there. Once you have worked out what your bottom line is, you can communicate this/these things to your son, and insist he makes some changes.
You also need to realise that you can't change him; he needs to change himself, and you can only change yourself. Actually, crucially, he needs to realise that. My DS, certainly, is only just starting to take responsibility for himself, and until he did, it was a terrible vicious circle, wherein he didn't have the maturity to sort himself out, and was sort of expecting me to do it, but I didn't have the ability.
Beyond the 'bottom line', all the other things - all the stuff that drives you mad but you wouldn't actually throw him out for - the infuriating dirty pots for instance - you just have to ignore, at least for now. However, IME, some of that will also start to improve once your DS makes some changes, starts to repair his self-respect and motivation, and feel happier about himself generally.
Have a look at this website - it has some good advice I think for "adult" children.
Thank you Flow, your answer says everything I know I should have been doing for a long while - seeing it written down feels like a kick start.
Thankfully Ds has never, nor will he be, violent towards me. He is very anti physical violence, but it is the aggressive manner in which he speaks to me that so upsets me.
I have already spoken to him since my last post and told him there is no more money for him, he must find a job or sign on for JSA. There will be no extra food for him to help himself to and he wont have a meal cooked for him unless all crockery is returned, he helps with the washing up, tidying behind himself, etc.
I agree he needs to develop some self respect, and have often suggested to him he would feel much happier if he looked for a job, or returned to college. He has friends who are achievers, they work part time, are off to uni, have travelled Europe for six weeks and I thought they might influence him somehow to get off his backside and do something!
One breakthrough, though, is that he wants to sell some of his illustrations, so asked me to help him set up a blog. Trouble is that's as far as its gone - he can't be bothered to do it himself, he wants me to do it whilst he still sits on his backside in front of the TV.
That website looks brilliant HeavenLady, I shall spend a few evenings reading the articles.
* do I really want him on the streets?*
He won't be, he will be on the floor or sofa of a friend doing the, 'my mum kicked me out' sad eyes routine.
Did he ever help with chores/jobs? If not then he won't really see why he should try.
If he has a band then send him out busking.
I'd lock the studio up, if he want access to it make him work for it.
Introduce a new rule, anything on the bedroom floor you can dispose of any way you want. Bin / sell / lock away / charge him to have back.
It will be horrible to pick up the first time, but when he runs out of clothes he will realise you are serious.
At the moment he has a really easy life, so why should he change anything?
You are not making he be on the streets if you give him a time limit, by not complying with your wishes he is making that decision.
You need to stick your big girl pants on and stop letting him walk all over you.
I would be cheerfully leaving the house with the fuses for the garden office in my pocket and making sure I buy good on a daily basis too so he can't take advantage of my hospitality.
By not getting tough you are allowing him to not take responsibility, which is actually more of a failing than giving him an ultimatum and making him grow up.
I have two sons of this age so I know ho hard it can be to make serious changes, as you usually want to cave in before they do, but you need to get really really tough with him. It will mean making changes that are a pain in the arse for you in the short term, but hopefully they will pay off.
Firstly you must insist that he signs on - I can't see why he's so reluctant to do something so painless that will give him money in his hand. Then, when he does sign on, you must take something off him each week for housekeeping. If he refuses to hand it over then you lock up this studio and/or have the power disconnected in there.
You need to stop filling the cupboards with stuff that he can just open and eat with no effort. Buy food for yourself and your daughter, cook and prepare it in small amounts and if your son is not home for meals then do not save him any but freeze the rest.
Do not have endless handy oven chips, beans, bread, eggs, crisps, or junk available constantly for him to graze at. Make it difficult for him to eat unless it is part of a sit-down meal with the family. Get your daughter to back you up, and to help you in the kitchen (cooking and clearing away) if she doesn't already. Sit her down and explain to her that as all three of you are now adults, all the chores have to be split equally, and she must help you to show him that this is the way things will be from now on.
Stop doing his washing and ironing. Just stop. Today. Print out some basic instructions and stick them to the wall above the machine, and just leave him to it.
Clear out your kitchen cupboards so that there are fewer plates and cups available. He can only leave ten dirty mugs in his room if you have ten clean mugs available. Have four, and keep one for you and one for your daughter in a separate place where he won't think to look. You'll still have to go into his room to get stuff, but he can't let it get so out of hand without needing to wash something up himself occasionally.
Sorry that sounded like I was expecting your DD to help you more just because he is a girl and to make up for the fact your son refuses to do anything. I didn't mean it like that, and I'd have said the same if your other child had been a boy too. I just meant that if she can see how unreasonable he is, and how much pressure you are under, then ask her to get onside and show a united front with you, to set a good example to her brother.
Also, in my experience paying your own child for chores/gardening etc rarely works out well. They never work as hard for you as they will for other people, and it's too easy to say 'yeah yeah, later' or wheedle their way around you for some money in advance, and leave a job half done, or not even started.
Besides, once he's over 18 why should he be being paid for clearing up his own mess and making his own surroundings a clean and more pleasant place to be, when he isn't even paying any rent to be there?
in your position I would chuck him out and change the locks... if you are feeling a little more merciful:
- lock the studio and turn off the power. He and his druggy pals can go somewhere else.
- no more washing or ironing
- one week warning about room, then stuff gets binned.
- no more money for ANYTHING.
tell him what you want to change and how long he has to change in. And if nothing changes, he's out.
good luck. what a disgusting little sod.
My ds was like this and is now lovely. He literally changed overnight to become like that and then changed back. We threw him out one day and he stayed at a mates for a day or 2 and came back all repentant but it didn't last. I withdrew all money and basically ignored him at times and one day I think he just woke up. No advice from anyone had any effect online or irl we just had to ride it out.
"No advice from anyone had any effect online or irl we just had to ride it out".
Yes. I absolutely agree, noddy. The only useful advice I have found is about how to look after yourself and change your own reactions. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you can't change them, they have to change themselves. Meanwhile, you have to decide whether you're going to kick 'em out or hand on in there...
Mine seems to be becoming a decent human being again too. So there is hope.
I found saying I was disappointed and still loving him regardless was the closest thing I got to a solution. But I am loathe to advise as it is just one of those things. My ds doesn't even know why he was such a little shit
Thank you all for your replies to my message. They have certainly opened my eyes to the way I have parented my Ds.
Some made me laugh - 'good luck. what a disgusting little sod.' (specialsubject!)
and others have made me see what a woos I have been, frightened to be tough in case of repercussions and upsets and making continual excuses for him - 'his dad never did anything with/relate to him' etc. (but that's a whole other issue!).
It's interesting to see most of you have made the same or similar comments, I have made notes (is that sad?) and am in the process of planning how I start to change the way I parent him.
I shall be in charge - I shall tell him what I expect him to do and what will happen if he doesn't - he will have to make choices, and suffer the consequences if he makes the wrong ones.
I have just felt so worn down with all his grasping, selfish behaviour - reading the comments has made me feel empowered - so onwards and upwards.....
Glad you're feeling empowered, willo. That's a good way to feel when you're parenting teenagers!
Once you have made the decision to make some changes you MUST follow through and mean what you say. He will look for ANY sign of weakness on your part, do not show any, even if you feel it.
I have been in the same position as you and just want to say that I was given all the 'kick him out' advice ...it was almost akin to LTB
What I did in the end was sit down one night and have the conversation along the lines of 'why are driving each other nuts how do we fix this;
In my experience, and on;y my experience this really worked for me
Everyone here told me to kick him to the curb and I'm glad I did not follow that advice for the sake of the relationship we have now
18 is still young
Still loads to be addressed with him but at least he wasnt thrown out the house at his most vulerenable
...'I have just felt so worn down with all his grasping, selfish behaviour - reading the comments has made me feel empowered - so onwards and upwards.....'
I think it is this behaviour that has the most upsetting effect on us Mum's.
It is just such a kick in the gut to be spoken to so nastily and aggresively for daring to ask a question etc and I also find this very upsetting.
I have just spent all day (as well as the past few weeks) driving my 16 yr son around to hand out cv's and try to get a part time job.
He is really keen to get one but it has been such a task of endurance on my part with him speaking to me like dirt at every opportunity.
Thankfully he has a trial in a cafe tomorrow as a result but cue buckets more abuse when we got home today I feel really tearful when I should be so happy.
I'm taking a small stand and only making tea for my other son tonight!
That will make me feel bad but I want to show him life isn't so easy if he can't be decent to me.
tuttifrootie you are going to be sending your older son mixed messages though
How do you think your older son will feel to come home after looking for for work only to find you're not making him dinner but you'll make make it for your younger son
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