20 year old son being a problem

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20 year old son being a problem

Postby prudence » Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:53 pm

Hello I am new to this forum and at my wits end. My 20 year old son, whi has always been strong willed and a bit if a challenge has recently (past 12 months) gone completely off the rails. He has a warm and loving homelife his dad and I are supportive and his elder sister loves him to bits. Everybody loves our son he has many friends and has always got on well with adults being polite, helpful and respectful.
He left school at 16 and immediately started a specialist course which took him away from home in the week. The course, accomodation was expensive but his dad and I were happy to support him. After the 12 month course he secured a four and a half year apprenticeship which kept him away from home. For the first couple of years all was good he came home some weekends and was honest and relaible and managed the small amount of money he had reasonably well. But around 12 months ago all started to change he started to spend all of his money regardless of his commitments etc. His dad and I bailed him out several times thinking the shock would make him see sense but it did not and we did not find out about this until he was a more than £1500 in debt with no hope of paying his mountain of bills.
After a teary chat (him) and a promise of reform I agreed to take out a loan in his name so long as he agreed to let his father take control of his accounts. This was agreed, having taken out the loan he avoided changing the bank details etc so his dad was unable to log on. He spouted a plethora of excuses and continued to promise that he would sort it, he avoided our calls emails etc for weeks. Eventually after a surprise visit to his rented house (he lives nearly 100 miles away from us)he had no choice but to hand out his details. My husband then took over his accounts for several weeks, he had to place several hundred pounds into his account as, once again our son had spent the lot. His job required him to have a car so his insurance would have remained unpaid and I am sure that he would have driven without. After several weeks my husband had difficulty logging on and it transpired that our son had tried (without success) to hack into the accounts, this blocking the accounts for all.
The latest is that he has telephoned us today saying he is hungry and would like to come home but can't afford the fuel, so muggins (soft mother) has transfered his fuel money for him, but guess what he has not turned up as promised, no call no email. We have no idea where he is or what he is up to. Does anyone have any suggestions as to where we could go from here? Just so that you know, most of his money seems to go on pub nights and smoking. He works hard is doing very well on his apprenticeship (due to complete this in May)
This is just a tiny snapshot of the last year, obviously we could say stand on your own two feet but he owes us money, we have a loan in his name but also I am worried about him and ultimately want him to come out of this.
We want our old son back
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Re: 20 year old son being a problem

Postby snail » Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:30 pm

Well, drugs is the obvious thing that springs to mind :( This sounds like more than just being spendthrift. I don't think there's much you can do - he has to get through it himself and get to the point where he wants to change. I wouldn't give him any more money, no matter what he says it's for.
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Re: 20 year old son being a problem

Postby prudence » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:04 am

Hi thanks for your reply, i'm not being naive but i don't think it's drugs (i may be wrong), he mixes with a lot of very wealthy people and i think he may well be trying to keep up with them. I certainly won't be giving him anymore money. Despite calling and emailing him countless time tonight we have received no reply. I also forgot to mention, I suffer from stress and anxiety, he knows this but doesn't seem to care. I am worried to death about him - he has become selfish and self absorbed.
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Re: 20 year old son being a problem

Postby Bel Bel » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:46 pm

I'm afraid selfishness and self absorbtion are also signs of drugs.
Don't be fooled plenty of people on drugs can lead very normal lives, lots od doctors cope with long hours using drugs.
In wealthy circles cocaine is often the drug of choice and it may not be obvious at all to look at your son
Either way as snail says no more money at all no matter what the excuse. Drug addicts get very good at lying.
Eventually when he hits rock bottom he will probably ask for hel. That's when you can get him some help from addition specialist either through the doctor or paid for privately, either way still no more money
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Re: 20 year old son being a problem

Postby Jo » Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:56 pm

Apart from the obvious worries about drugs and trying to keep up with his wealthy crowd I think the best thing you can do for him now is to stop bailing him out - otherwise he's never going to learn. I know this is difficult - I've got two children in their 20s and I help them out now and again, but I know they're not being irresponsible. If they were then I wouldn't actually be able to afford to help them out - so they'd just have to face the consequences; they both know this - maybe he's lacking that extra bit of fear because he's always been able to rely on you bailing him out in the past. It's horrible watching your children make mistakes but at some point you just have to sit tight, grit your teeth and let them learn from the consequences.

It's possible that he's not contacting you because he's ashamed of his behaviour so doesn't want to face you, especially if the whole issue of money and finances has become a big horrible subject that dominates your conversations. I'd suggest keeping up with the contact, but in a very low key way (i.e. no guilt trips or searching questions). He needs to know that if he gets in touch he won't be made to feel guilty. He needs to know that you're there for him but at the same time not about to get involved with his finances or get all preachy on him - it might be best not to mention his finances at all; by that I mean write off what's happened in the past (for now) and completely cut yourself off from any involvement with his finances in the future.

I think my stance would be "I'm here if you need me in an emergency but you're a grown up now and are responsible for your own finances so I'm not going to help with them or even ask about them." As for what constitutes an emergency; I'd say that if he was made homeless he could come home, but I wouldn't be prepared to pay his rent to prevent him from becoming homeless, or having the power cut off, or having the bailiffs round, or any of those horrible consequences that come from not paying your bills! He's lost the privilege of having his parents help him out because he's taken advantage of it.

It all sounds so easy when you write it down doesn't it? I wish it was that simple in real life!
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Re: 20 year old son being a problem

Postby Ticktock » Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:48 pm

I come at this from a slightly different angle. As you say his apprenticeship is due to complete in May, the danger is that in trying to teach him a lesson you derail this completely and the last four and a half years go up in smoke.

My younger brother did similar things when he hit uni, back in the days of student grants! He was mixing with a lot of upper middle class kids and coming from a working class background like ours he spent money like water to impress them, that and he got a very demanding girlfriend. No drugs were involved but every time my parents bailed him out he would blow through it immediately. This continued into his working life and eventually he ended up with the baliffs and moving back in with my parents, who at a rough estimate had gone through £10,000 of savings... That was the turning point for him and shortly afterward he met a nice sensible girl who took control of his finances!

What I would do is say you will help him out each month until he has finished his apprenticeship and set a price on this, that way you limit the damage and give him a reason not to throw everything away.

At the end he will hopefully grow past this, but if not then if you only partially close the door on him then he will ask for help, rather than think he has been abandoned (which he will, going on the usual reactions from self absorbed 20 years olds I get (stepsons!!))
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Re: 20 year old son being a problem

Postby prudence » Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:02 pm

Thank you so much for your replies. I have to agree with Ticktock I think that you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. Things have clamed down considerably, I will keep you posted
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