This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Communication problem with 23yo son(86 Posts)
Not sure if I'm posting this is right place or even if I can explain things properly. My 23yo son iscaway at uni and doing well. It's my husbands 60th birthday and we are with our 2 sons (the other is 19) in Spain. 23yo Sam is non communicative. Ask him a basic question and he can barely answer. It's as if he begrudges every word. I feel that I irritate him. When he decides to talk I'm expected to listen and when he decides topic is closed it's closed. If I say too much he will tell me to shut up. My nerves are on edge. I don't have a problem chatting to other people.
This is not a new problem but I've made things worse this time by confronting him when we were out, I asked him what right he had to be so rude to me? He blamed me for interupting him with stupid nonsense (I thought we were having a conversation). I got upset in the street. I couldnt stop the tears after that. What I've gathered from his messages to me after is that he's not my girlie best friend, that I should listen to him and not comment. I should do parent stuff like help him, feed him etc but not to try to chat to him. I feel rejected. I find it hard to be around someone with whom you have to monitor yourself. And I wonder if I overstepped a boundary with him. My husband is no support. Last night when we were alone he said this is his worst birthday and he might as well be dead. My 19yo has been a darling but I can't put a burden on him. I'd appreciate any response. Thank you.
Is he depressed/ anxious about uni?.... How long till he graduates? ....are you helping him financially?.... If so maybe he needs some ground rules/ reality check!... Sounds like a proper diva!
I would have torn a strip off him,how dare he be so rude! I would take himat his word and not bother speaking to him, of course that means you don't need to invite him to join you for meals or on trips out either.
When you get home it's time for a chat about whether or not he is going to pay you the simple courtesy of being a polite and pleasant member of your family in return for your continued support.
Tricky OP, must be very sad for you. I think I'd just take a step back from him at the moment. Let things settle a bit. Focus on the good relationships - Dh, ds2 -, keep lines of communication open with ds1 but just back off for now.
Thanks for your replies it helps to have someone to talk to. Today we went out around the city and DS1 stayed in his hotel room. He was OK I was told. He's gone out with DH now this evening. He came into my room a little while ago but not so far in thay I could see him.
On and off today I've been thinking trying to work out if I really have been a bad mother. DS1 graduates this July. When he tokd me he's moving back home he asked me not to nag him to get a job because it will take time. I apologised for nagging when he wad in college. I wanted him to get a job brcause he was stuck in his room. I've been told that I have a tendency to go on a bit and I repeat myself. I know I get frustrated. Anyway I apologised for nagging and snything else I may have done. My own mother was not that nice to me. I never thought she liked me but no one else ever heard her being nasty and no one ever hears DS1 pick at me.
I was so scared if I had a girl I would be nasty to her. I had two sons and absolutely love them. My biggest fear is they wouldnt know I loved them. To find myself in this situ now hurts so much. I know I have to cut the cord but the thought of losing my son is horrible. Today I've been reading stories about parents estranged from their children. I supposed it hadnt really occurred to me that my boys will eventually leave and start their own lives.
I'm going to step on back from DS1. We keep in touch via facebook messenger occassionally and Skype where strangly he is nice to talk to. I thought i was doing right - my mother wasn't interested in me, I moved around and it would have been easy to disappear. I do wonder if I've been a a helecopter parent.
The bottom line is if I hadnt got upset yesterday, if I'd ignored DS1 the holiday would not have been spolied.
If amy of you have read this, I'm sorry it's long and thank you.
I am with insanity here! I think your son is old enough for you to be able to tell him how it is straight and not to thread on eggshells. He is not a teenager, so should be able to take the criticism and all. Do not allow him to walk all over you, OP! Show him that you are offended and you will not tolerate him talking to you like this.
Nashelle, I think you are trying so hard not to be like your mum that you are being much too soft. Your ds1 isn't treating you well and instead of letting him know that he is upsetting and offending you you are trying to pacify him.
He's an adult,if he wants to live in your home he needs to show you some respect,he needs to get off his backside and contribute and if he's not going to do both of those things from the off then he needs to live elsewhere.
He's forewarning you that he has no intention to find work in a hurry that's why he's trying to make you feel bad so as to stave off any complaints when he's back home and dossing around your home rent free. Do you really want this? I'd be warning him now he needs to find alternative accommodation after university as he obviously finds your presence in his life taxing.
I'm not at all a soft touch with my dc (most of them adults) they wouldn't dare speak to me like your ds spoke to you,they treat me like a queen and love me dearly like I love them. You don't have to bend over backwards to keep in ds1's favour and you shouldn't either. You are his mum not his emotional punchbag and it's time you let him know that in no uncertain terms
I'm horrified for you, why are you not standing up for yourself?! He tells you how it's going to be when HE moves into YOUR home. You need to set some clear boundaries and its up to him to live with the rules. This should include him never telling you to shut up, paying x amount of rent, helping with housework and generally being more respectful. It's your house and you shouldn't walk around on eggshells.
It's not you that has ruined the whole holiday - he deserves some of the blame too...
Everyone has bad days occasionally, but if this is a very regular occurrence then you need to think about where your limits lie.
Thank you Insanity and Salmiak. I know you are right I've been too afraid to upset my kids. My husband is even softer, if I try to implement rules he turns grey. He worries about suicide or splitting the family so I've been on my own as far as discipline is concerned. My DS2 has just got over a gaming addiction that came with verbal and physical agression. We're a bit of a mess aren't we! DS2 has no job but at least hes in college now so things have vastly inproved and I have my son back from his internet world.
I am going to lay down some rules for DS1. It will be hard and he probably wont take me seriously but I'll have to show I am somehow. I've actually considered moving out myself! Would it be a stupid thing to write the rules down?
Your ADULT SON speaks to you like shit and tells you when you are allowed to speak, he is then intending to move into your house but continue to control you, expect "parenting stuff like meals" but not work for a bit. Seriously!
I think you need to talk this through with someone other thsn your husband for perspective.
You are risking your sanity and self respect here.
I have 3 adult sons and I am truly shocked by yours.
If you want the best for him then stand up for yourself because he won't find many girls who will put up with this kind of arrogance and control so is going to be a very lonely Young man.
and 23yr olds do not need "parenting" either. Certainly not in the way you describe.
At that age and with that attitude the only parenting he needs is in social etiquette.
PLEASE don't let him move back in, your life will be a misery.
If I'm honest I think after 23 years he's not going to be taking notice of any of your rules whether verbal,written down or even tattoed on his chest and without any back up from your dh there is no reason for him to either.
I would be telling him he isn't coming back home after university,it's time he learned about the real world and started standing on his own two feet especially with the bloody awful attitude problem he's got.
You are doing him no favours allowing him to behave towards you like he does. Do you think a future employer would allow him to be so disrespectful? What about any poor wife who gets saddled with him? Or does he save the attitude just for you?If he does then it just shows he is targeting you especially and you can't allow that.
My daughter is the same age almost as your son, (my sons are a little older) dd still lives at home there are no rules for her because she has grown up knowing what is expected as part of our family. So she works hard in Local Government,she pays her board and she contributes to the chores without being asked, she lets me know if she wants to eat with us after work and whether or not she's coming home after her nights out and she's good company and we enjoy our chats and days out together. As a child/teen she's been grounded,she's had her pocket money stopped,she's had her phone confiscated,she's sat on the naughty step that's all normal she's not been harmed by it and it hasn't made her love me any less but it all shaped her into the thoroughly nice and decent adult she is now.
It sounds like your son hasn't had all that and so he's not going to start taking your authority at 23 and to be honest would you have as an adult? For that reason he needs to live elsewhere and learn life's lessons, that you haven't given him at home,in the real world.
He's 23, so time he lived in the real world. It's going to be harder than he thinks, and he may appreciate his family more if he has something to contrast it with.
He's been an adult for 5 years, but doesn't seem to have moved on from being an unpleasant teenager.
'I should do parent stuff like help him, feed him etc '
Yes, our kitten thought that, until he tried to snaffle another meal from his mother and she swatted him, claws out. Time to be independent. Time to build a relationship as adult and parent. Time you stopped feeling guilty, and that all the giving should be on your part.
I have adult children living at home. It wouldn't work if they weren't civil and reasonable most of the time.
Thank you again for your replies. I am mostly the target. For instance if I asked him if he wants a sandwich he will just about answer no, it's as if he's seething as if answering me causes his teeth to hurt. About fifteen or so minutes later he'll appear and ask for something to eat. I don't understand what's going on. There are lots of examples like this. If he's watched a film amd I ask what it was about he won't tell me. If I cant hear what he's saying he will not repeat it. It's as if he begrudges every word he says to me. He also tends to spite himself. Yet when he does talk properly he's a lovely boy with a nice humour. We Skype sometimes when he's at uni and he talks like a normal human being. Your right he's still in teenage mode.
OP, seriously you need to man up and set boundaries.
If he does not want a sandwich, don't make him anything to eat when he reappears after 15 mins. Stop doing things for him if he's rude or ungrateful.
He's 23 - you do NOT need to feed/house/parent him etc. Tell him if he wants to live at home then he will have to abide by the house rules and show respect for you. Better still tell him its time for him to be fully independent.
"When he told me he was moving back in" -
I think you need to say "oh darling, I don't think moving back in is such a great idea you know, what with me being such an annoying nag. I'm confident you will fix yourself up with digs and a job after you leave uni. Give me a call when you've settled into your new place if you like?"
Do NOT let him move back in. That will be his ticket to continue being an arse.
Stop doubting yourself. Of course you're a lovely person who has bust a gut - uni places aren't free apart from anything - you will be doing him a favour by sticking up for yourself and not letting him dictate terms and conditions.
And it's not a communication problem. He's communicating very well that he wants you to be his Dobby slave while he lounges around dictating what he will and won't do. It is entirely a power thing.
Jesus you need to stand up to him.
Presumably you paid for his holiday?
I'd have told him to grow up and start acting like an adult, that he wasn't brought up to speak to people as if they're a piece of dirt and that I was ashamed of him and his attitude. If he doesn't like it then frankly you'd rather not have him around.
Would you put up with this from someone you were in a relationship with? Maybe you would, I don't know. But you get the relationships you're prepared to put up with (goes for kids as well as partners) and if you put up with him treating you like shit, he will treat you like shit.
You don't need to parent him at 23 so fuck that will you be feeding him and providing shelter for him. At his age your relationship should be one more of equals, and of friends. If he doesn't want to be friends and treat you with basic respect then I'd be making it very clear to him that he isn't welcome until he decides he does want to treat you like that.
You need to stand up for yourself or this won't get any better
I see that you're afraid to lose him but honestly, if you love someone you've got to let them go. Trying to keep on his good side just means he has no respect for you and no reason to want to be around you. Once you start respecting yourself then it's up to him to take his lead from you.
He doesn't sound like he actually wants to bugger off and cut all ties - who would he? He's got it way too cushy for that. So basically he's just acting like a spoiled kid. And should therefore be treated like one. Like it DS1, or lump it, or go your own way.
He is an adult! Do not let him move back in if he can't either respect you or get a job.
He clearly wants to mooch off you! Wake up!!! He is abusing you.
TELL HIM that IF you allow him ton,over back in he will be actively seeking a job every single day even if it is stacking shelves as a stop gap to bring in money.
He WILL be paying you money to stay, he WILL be keeping the house in a clean condition and you will not be making any extra food other than family meals.
Also add that if he can't even bare to have a civil conversation without he is better off living somewhere else.
Seriously it's terrifying that this childish idiot could become someone's OH.
Why do you allow that? If one of mine was offered a sandwich and refused it,that would be the end of any expectation on either part. If fifteen minutes later they were hungry then they'd make something themselves, they sure as hell wouldn't be expecting me to make them something.
He's got you pandering to his whims,he's abusive to you,you need to see thisis the case, the occasional pleasantness is to make you believe that if you treated him better he would be nicer.
Do not allow him back in your house,he needs to see that his behaviour is reprehensible instead of you allowing him to use you to hone his abuse in preparation for any poor woman who gets tangled up with him.
Just answered your other thread. Basically, I think you need to step away from the emotional side of it: this is not about trying to gauge his love for you (doomed to fail).
It is about the fact that any adult who intends to live in your house has to stick to certain rules: those include speaking politely (if briefly), contributing to the household either financially or through housework (ideally both), and not expecting to be waited on. It is also reasonable to expect that he does get a job, even if not at the level he would like, in order to be able to contribute financially.
Your part of the bargain is to trust him to do this. Be aware that it does take time to get a job and that nagging him or seeming anxious will not help. My dd who is currently living at home had to do at least 50 applications to get her (very basic) job; she is also receiving rejections for HE for the second year running (not unusual for the kind of course). I find staying very calm and not forcing conversations helps her, even when I am screaming inwardly (rejection letter last night again, and I was upset for her). Otoh she knows she cannot get away with rudeness, and that though our love is unconditional, living at home at her age is actually conditional.
It may be that he perceives you (however unfairly) as hovering anxiously around him, wanting confirmation and emotional input which he is not able to give. So I would cut right back on anything that might be described as fussing around him. His life choices are his own, but this is what you expect, and how he sets about achieving this is his business. Treat him as a lodger. You have no right to know the details of his life, but you have a right to expect him to behave as an adult would in any other type of shared accommodation.
I don't know where to begin with this! Sorry, but your DS sounds really quite unpleasant.
OP... you need to stop being so servile with him. Ditto on your DH. You both need to grow a bit of backbone, stop treating on eggshells, stop running around treating him like The Last Emporor. He isn't. He is a grown adult who needs to treat his parents with the respect they undoubtedly deserve, especially if he wants to carry on living at home.
Re the job applications. I went through this with my DCs after Uni. I knew it could take a long time, and one of them it took a lot of applications, but I told her she had to treat getting a job, like a job in itself, i.e. start at 9am and work away at it ALL DAY. She did on the whole and it paid off.
My DCs have had all manner of punishments in their time, they are now independent adults and we have a grown up relationship based on respect. Your DS saying that he speaks and you listen... well, I have steam coming out my ears on that one and he ain't my son! Tell him a conversation is two people talking, two people contributing to it, give and take, listening, hearing, answering, ... not him expecting you to nod along to whatever he says! If you don't hear what he says nd he won't repeat it, well... I would go apeshit to be honest..
OP he is treating you with absolute disdain. He is 23 FFS. He should be helping you with computer problems, telling you plots of films, laughing with you about family stuff, cooking you a meal for a treat, generally being part of the family. It's what my DSS does and my DDs too. Your DS is acting like a sulky 13 year old.
I have a friend who has treated her now grown up sons like this, she never even dared ask them a question when they were teens, because she wanted everything to be perfect so didn't like to! (she couldn't even say "how was school" for fear of upsetting them). Now, they are OK with her if they get their own way about absolutely everything. If she dares to question anything, however small, one of them in particular will freeze her out for weeks or months. He lives away now and will literally cut contact over something minor until she grovels. The other treats her like some sort of servant and thinks women should keep quiet and be stood at the sink or cooking. What delightful boys she's raised. Not.
I wouldn't suggest writing out a list of rules. To go from nothing to that is too confronational. However, you should change your mindset and your responses to him starting now!
Again thank you, I'm taking your responses onboard. Today I haven't tried to converse with DS1 but we've had exchanges on and off and is been civil. Being with three men is actually pretty boring because these men don't chat. I expect it will take time to get a job after uni and that can't be helped. He isn't a bad lad he's just very odd with me. An example I asked him to wash up one day and he said no because I hadn't done it as if it was a competition. One thing I know is I have to retrain my DH because he is like a third child habing everthing done for him and I have to at some point tell DS1 some 'house rules for adults'. My nerves are shot and is not a nice feeling.
Lol I should get all three together and give them all a talking to!
Well if your DS is getting his cues from your DH then I'm not hugely surprised you've got problems. Yes you definitely need to speak to your DH.
As far as your DS is concerned I think the best way forward is to simply start asserting yourself. Don't bother with long winded chats which he'll interpret as nagging and ignore,