Adult Son Is Verbally Abusive

by Marilyn

I have a 31 year old son who is married with a 3 month old baby. He was always a difficult child who had many temper tantrums as a child with anger issues as a teenager. He would punch holes in walls and go into extreme rages.

We have been to family counseling when he was a teenager, and I as his mother have had my own counseling and he as a young adult had some counseling as well as anger management classes. Things settled down for a while but since he has had the baby his anger has resurfaced. He actually threw something when he had the baby in his arms.

He got into an argument with me and the language and name calling was horrible. He has crossed a line that I think a child should never do with a parent. I don't deserve this. I asked him to leave the house and told him he needed to go back into counseling. He told me he wasn't going to and if I thought by not talking to him would accomplish that it wouldn't work.

I take responsibility for my part in all of this but I do not want him around anymore. I would like to have a relationship with my grandson but he has used that against me as well, telling me I won't be a part of life, so I'm afraid to get attached to the baby for fear that he will do that someday.

Am I doing the right thing by not talking to him and telling him he is not welcome in my home anymore? What should I do if he won't go for help?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Marilyn, and thanks for telling your story here. I think you're definitely doing the right thing. You can add, when you talk to him, that he is allowed into your home after (you set the period of time), when he has gotten some help and decided that he can treat you with respect.

Your message, spoken and unspoken, needs to be that he will either treat you with respect or he will not see you. While that may seem harsh, it is actually the most loving thing you can do. To allow him to be abusive to you is not love, and it hurts him as well as you.

Unfortunately, this will probably mean loss of contact with your grandson, for a short or long while. This is still better than allowing him to be abusive. You can't control his behavior. Just set boundaries around his relationship with you. That is the best you can do.

Meanwhile, every time you think of your son, picture him in your mind's eye healing and waking up to the good person he is inside. If you are oriented to prayer, pray for him. Believe in the goodness within him to rise to the surface, and let go. Find the distance from which you can love him, and let the rest go.

This page will help: letting go of a relationship.

Focus on creating a healthy, loving, joyful life for yourself.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

P.S. If you found this to be helpful, please consider making a donation to this site to support our mission.

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Jun 28, 2016
Bi-Polar Adult 20 Year Old Son With Issues And Anger To Mom
by: Sad Mom

I have a 20 year old son, who was adopted by us at birth. There is some evidence that mental Illness was in his Birth family, Birth Mother had 4 children by age of 21, 2 with husband, and next 2 with boyfriend, while still married.

My son has a loving stable home, however due to some friend's tragedy he went off the deep end at 14, and was diagnosed bipolar and schizoaffective. He has had constant care, was institutionalized for 3 months and takes medication for these issues.

We were able to get him to graduate HS, start some college, but he was not able to complete even his first year of college. He is now in Adult Vocational/Trade school, doing ok, but refuses to study and apply himself.

The worst is how he treats us, especially his mother, with anger, cursing (the worst ever possible). He steals tools, cameras, his mother's jewelry.

He broke his car twice, so he has no car, even when he does use ours, he uses all the gas and trashes our cars. Also he is very racist and against all others and police. He has some other sexual issues.

He still sees a therapist who has been with him since 15, and is on a lot of medication. So what now? How do we get him to conform? He seems to not understand consequences.

Is there any tough love or removing him from house when he is on medication to keep him level?

I (Mom) feel abused, depressed and a prisoner in my home with his behavior.

Any ideas anyone?

Please help.

Jun 10, 2016
My Son Won't Leave My Home
by: Anonymous

My 28 year old son has now lived in my house for the past 10 years, on and off, since finishing university. He never keeps a job for more than a few weeks, he hates everyone, and thinks the whole world is against him.

He seems to hate me. Whenever I say anything to him he thinks I am either criticizing him, trying to control him or making him feel bad about himself.

He is breaking my heart and I now do anything to avoid going home. He says he won't leave my house as he can't afford it.

I have offered him money to leave, but he refuses. I am about to retire, and want to enjoy my retirement, but I dread being at home and cannot invite friends home in case he kicks off.

How can I get him to leave without being eaten up with guilt?

May 18, 2016
Parental Alienation - The Evil Culprit
by: Anonymous

My 19 year old son became abusive at age 14. However, the problem escalated during the course of 12 years. He was gradually alienated from me due to his father's custody battle which started when he was six.

Parental Alienation plays a significant role in the blame, a total rejection and denigration campaign against the rejected parent. I'm a single mom, and when I do see him, the abuse is unbearable. From one visit to the next, he shifts from kindness to insults, eye rolling, arrogance and belittling the next time I see him.

The underlying threat always seems to be, "tip toe around me, or I'll abandon you." In the end, the tragedy always lies in having to make an impossible choice. To endure the abuse is not possible. To let him go seemed impossible too.

He's my son. He's the son who was once my little boy with a kind character and a deep bond toward me. Still, I chose to let him go. No one deserves to be abused. I don't know what the future will bring, but at least I know that in the present, as heart-wrenching as this choice may be, my self-worth and self-respect have to come first.

I have to save myself and hope that sooner or later, he'll approach me with a kind heart and find his mother again. For now, I'm sending him off with love.

May 04, 2016
Adult Son With Three Children I Want To Protect
by: Anonymous

I feel I am living in 3 different soap operas at the same time. My son is 26, always had a temper. Counseling, self-medicating, etc. He has 3 children. The now 6 year old girl told my son that her mom's boyfriend abused her, this was last year (Jan 2015) when she just turned 5.

Of course, we had emergency services, and we go to trial in July. He has filed for custody. He lives with a woman, who is just as verbally abusive as him. They lost their 8 month old son in July, 2015. They have a 3 year old girl and now a 5 month old boy (she was pregnant again when other son died). Also she has a 6 year old that lives with his dad.

I cannot do anything right in their eyes, I play 'favorites' per them. The past 24 hours have been nothing but verbal, foul, hateful abuse. The problem I have is I am the only stability my 6 year old sexually abused granddaughter has. But I cannot go on like this with him.

I talked to her therapist yesterday, she feels he is self-medicating again. I left his biological father when he was 2, and he turned out just like him, sight unseen.

I'm not the best mom, but I do not deserve this abuse.

May 04, 2016
Out Of Control Abusive Son
by: Anonymous

I have been very verbally abused. My adult son is so full of hate it is heartbreaking.

I am trying to get over his tirade from 2 years ago, but it whirls round and round, day and night in my head. I feel like killing myself following the realization of how much he hates me.

He has a sort of split personality, it seems. He lured me into to a false sense of overwhelming love just to lash out unexpectedly.

I am trying to remove myself from the thoughts now, and worry about his children whom I am not allowed access to for 15 years, even when he was coming around.

It is a total mystery. But that is my lot in life, I have to live with it.

Apr 29, 2016
To the author of "My Adult Son Reneged..."
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hello - You may not be able to do anything about this, since you put the property in your son's name. But consult with an attorney to be sure whether you have any rights regarding the mobile home.

I think that's your next best step at this point. You can find some free legal advice by just searching online with the search terms, "free online legal advice"

Good luck!

Dr. DeFoore

Apr 25, 2016
My Adult Son Reneged On Our Agreement
by: Anonymous

I bought and paid for a mobile home. I let my son come to stay until he found a place. I hid it once in his name, temporarily. We agreed to switch it back to my name, when I was ready. He reneged on our agreement.

It’s still in his name, and now he doesn’t want me there at all. He’s very rude, keeps threatening to throw me out, and runs my guests off if they stop by. He calls the shots and treats me like the child. I’ve told him there are laws about this, but he keeps threatening to put me in a home.

I take care of myself, and I’m completely independent. I need someone to remind him he can’t just throw me out because he doesn’t want me there. I know there are laws. Please help. Thank you.

Apr 14, 2016
I Stood Up To My Son's Verbal Abuse With A Positive Outcome
by: Anonymous

My adult son who is normally lovely - has, or had on several occasions completely over-reacted to something I have said or done that under normal circumstances would never have provoked such an abusive verbal reaction.

These confrontations really shocked me. He did apologize and explained that at the time he was dealing with other issues at work and other stuff. This happened later, when he had sorted out the real problem and in his eyes everything was fine. He saw that the way he had spoken and shouted at me had really upset me.

I am now almost 70 years of age, retired and living alone. I said that as much as I love him and all my children, I will not put up with being spoken to and shouted at in that way, and that it was totally unacceptable.

I wanted him to realize just how much he had upset me. Eventually, he realized that whereas to him it was just a 'temper tantrum,' to me it was very distressing and upset me for several days.

I do think that in these situations you should not just ignore it. Wait a few days and then make time to talk it through calmly.

I said that I am always here to support him - but I will not be used as a whipping boy. He did get the message and the situation has never been repeated. Our relationship is really good now.

Apr 13, 2016
To the author of "Out Of Control 21 Year Old..."
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thank you for asking for help here. Your situation is very challenging, but I assure you that there are solutions. You do not have to remain a victim to this abuse.

I know you love your son, but it is not a loving act for you to allow him to continue to live in your home and abuse you.

I suggest you visit this web site and call their crisis hotline number. They will help you find help/support in your area. That's what they are there for...but you have to take the action.

Remember...the most loving thing you can do for your son is to get him out of your home. The reason for that is that your current situation is deteriorating, and at a deep level he is filled with self-loathing, or he would not be treating his own mother like this.

You can do this...believe in yourself and take action.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Apr 12, 2016
Out Of Control 21 Year Old Son
by: Anonymous

I am 55, a single mother and disabled. My son, who has never wanted for anything, seems to think it is appropriate to belittle, ignore, degrade and swear at me. He has no friends. He didn't get a license or a job until last summer.

It doesn't matter what I do or say I am wrong. He refuses to clean up after himself. He has put holes in walls and even broke my bedroom door coming after me, because he got a medical bill he was not happy with. He is completely disrespectful and just plain mean.

I am single because I refuse to be abused by a man again. But, now I am being abused regularly by my own child. It makes it very difficult to have any kind of life or happiness living this way. My other two boys are not like this. They have spoken to him about it. They can't get him to change at all.

I have told him several times to respect me or get out of my house. He just swears at me and shuts his bedroom door. I cannot continue in this manner. I have several health issues as well as chronic depression. I just don't know what to do anymore.

He won't change and he won't leave. He will not allow me to be who I am without degradation. What do I do and how do I go from here. It is just so depressing and I spend a lot of days crying. And he even makes fun of me for that.

Mar 18, 2016
Selfish 39 Year Old Son
by: Anonymous

I have a very selfish 39 year old son. I have been in physical pain and begged him to take me to the hospital. He flatly said no.

He tells me he only does what he wants, when he wants. His wife has told him how poorly he treats me and he tells her he doesn't care. He treats his mother-in-law’s dogs better than he does me. He calls me nasty names and I am only allowed to say positive things. If I say I am ill he says that's not positive and hangs up.

Yet he says whatever he wants and when I say he is not being positive he tells me I am wrong. My heart is so broken. I have to walk on egg shells around him. All he does is tell me I am wrong.

I am 67 and have a disability. I am not "allowed" to ask for help from him because it's not positive. Who lives in positive fantasy all the time? Life is not always positive. I wish I could just drop dead. Maybe then he might see the errors of his ways, but I doubt it.

Mar 10, 2016
19 Year Old Know It All
by: Anonymous

Wow! After reading your stories, you all have clearly defined my now 19 year old about 13 years when he was about 6. At that age, he was ADHD and was ok when he took his meds, but I could not keep him in a stable elementary school because the teachers did not know how to handle him. Me being a single mom, raised his younger brother by the same standards as the first.

By the grace of God, the younger is graduating HS and was accepted into a local university to study nursing. My 19 year old just got his GED. The stories I could share with you about the 19 year old. However, I am in the present with this larger than life, know-it-all and I know nothing. Worse, he is behaving a lot like your 23 and 28 year old's that I have read about on this blog. This means I need to nip his behavior in the bud now. Fortunately, my fiancé can afford to rent him his own place where he lives with his HS sweetheart of 4 years. Yet, he still feels that he can come over and rant, rave, verbally abuse and push me whenever he feels.

So I told him not to come over again for 60 days. We enjoy family dinners -- not family feuds! Now my oldest is ticked with me, blows my phone up, texting non-stop, wanting me to take blame for the argument (which I did under duress so he could move on). It's like if I have to spend another 25 years the way I have spent the last 13 he is higher than the crap he is toking! He has already threatened that he does not want his children around me --- you know what? He does not have any yet!! To some regard, if they are anywhere close to how he behaved growing up he is doing me a favor! One less anxiety attack!

When he came in the house this past Sunday for a "family lunch with my 70 yr old parents", I could tell when he entered the house --- something heavy came along with him that I could not see -- only feel. Within 1 1/2 hours, I had to ask him to leave before there was a physical fight. That is when the non-stop text messages starting blowing up my phone and I had to cut it off. Ignoring him seemed to tick him off more -- guess I need to remember that tactic.

It has been 3 days and we have not spoken. He sent me an email yesterday letting me know he was cancelling his lease on his house. Not exactly sure what he wants to accomplish by doing that? However, there is "no room in the inn" at this house. I remember dating a guy that was controlling, and somehow would manage to twist the truth in a way that only he could believe it. The way I managed him was by keeping my distance, being nice, but not encouraging -- eventually, he found another woman to torment.

It is like he had a method or circle or something to where he was not happy unless some kind of drama was in his life. I saw it with his son, his mother, his ex-girlfriend, toward my sons when they were younger --- like a cycle of some sort. Maybe your sons too have a cycle which seems normal to them. It goes something like this: Friendly -- then something is said that triggers agitation in them and they start to become irritated -- his voice my start to raise because now he has taken offense to what you said -- you try to explain then they think you are calling them a liar or you are disrespecting them -- then you try to explain more or walk away -- then they follow you and push you, curse you --- yep. Describes one of the guys I have dated many years ago.

Guess this means I need to disengage my son the way I disengaged that bad date. Trying to win an argument or stance with my son is like trying to convince the KGB you are not a spy under tormenting circumstances. Moot point. Finally, I told him to go be lobbyist, make a sign and walk somewhere holding up, go sit on the steps of Washington, call your congressman --- just go do something so someone can help you. I am not the person who can.

Well, I guess to say this... it looks like instead of a 6 year old giving me fits in school --- I have a 19 year old millennium that should have been raised during the Woodstock era. I am 50 years old and way too old for this crap. From the sounds of it, things are not going to change much going forward unless there is divine intervention. He is a Christian --maybe I should start responding to his behavior the way Jesus would --- along with setting up boundaries! Thank you guys for this site. For years I felt all alone and it is nice to be able to vent to someone who can actually relate. Hope I have not offended anyone in this post. Godspeed to you all.

Mar 08, 2016
To the author of "I've Had It..."
by: Dr. DeFoore

Good for you. Now, be sure you follow through with your plan. You'll have to set clear and consistent boundaries with your son, so that he no longer takes advantage of you or abuses you.

It will help you to read about personal boundaries here.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Mar 07, 2016
I've Had It With My Son And His Temper
by: Anonymous

My 26 year old son just left my home after calling me several vulgar names, flipping me off because I didn't take him where he needed to go this morning.

Mind you I texted him early this morning letting him know that I wasn't feeling well and I was going back to bed.

I informed him this is verbal abuse and as far as I'm concerned it's elder abuse also. This has been going on for years. I have had it.

No one should be subjected to this kind of treatment by anyone. I am not taking it any longer.

Mar 01, 2016
My Son Is Verbally Abusive To Me & Won't Stop
by: Worried Mother

My son is 27 and doesn't live with me. He talks to me everynight as he drives his bike to work and every morning coming home. He complains and yells at me the entire time. He tells me I am awful and was a horrible mother. He yells vulgar obsentities even though he is on a public street. When I hang up he threatens to remove his love and never call again. He gets angry when I don't call him or when I have to hang up after an hour of talking because I very often am sick and have fatigue due to an illness. He has even gotten hit by a car from not paying attention because he was cussing me on the phone. I worry about him because he does have a mental illness and a past history of abuse but I can't keep living like this. What do I do?

Feb 15, 2016
Adult Son Hurting And So Is His Mom
by: Anonymous

Sadly, I can identify to a number of these stories as my 30 something only son is emotionally and verbally abusive to me. My ex and I separated when he was only 13/14 and he then became rebellious. His father and I made the decision to put a PINs petition for him when he was 15 as would not go to school and was verbally abusive.

As a single Mom I try in the mornings to get him up for school, to no avail. Went to work stressed to the max, don't know how I survived as a single parent with no help from my ex, bit I did, kept our home, welcomed his friends and tried to build a relationship for him and his father to be together. That never worked.

Skip ahead several years, 3 grandchildren whom I love dearly, 19, 17, and 8 and who have all witnessed the hatred that my son seems to harbor. I know I overcompensated for the lack of his father's relationship. Gave all I could. I bought his 1st car at 16 and at least 3 or more over the yrs. This evening was a mega fight and both of my youngest grands had to witness and I am so sorry about.

I totally lost it and told him to leave my home, he did but in a tirade. I know I have to be strong when he finally calls me again, and say no. I watch my 8 year old grand on the weekends when he works but I just can’t continue any longer as I am drained and am mentally, emotionally, and financially kaput. The only thing keeping me going is my spirit which at the moment is a little down, but will come back stronger.

I pray for guidance and know I was the best Mom I knew how to be, not perfect, as none of us are. I offered to go to a counselor for family communications and he has refused, so be it. My heart has a big hole in it but I need some peace or I will make myself sick. You always feel you are the only one, but I take some comfort in knowing I am not alone and will keep you all in my thoughts and prayers.

Stay strong ladies, and bless you all.

Dec 20, 2015
To the Author of "31 Year Old..."
by: Dr. DeFoore


Yours is not an easy road. You have chosen to take custody of your granddaughter, so there's no question about that relationship and your responsibility.

Your son and daughter, however, are adults. The longer you treat them as dependents, the worse things will get. In my 42 years of professional counseling experience, this is always what I have seen.

Regardless of their problems, they need to fend for themselves. That's the only chance they have for making it in the world...and there are no guarantees.

My suggestion is that you do whatever it takes to get them out of your home, even if it means moving yourself and your granddaughter to another residence.

Then, make up your mind to only spend time with people (family included) who are respectful and kind to you and your granddaughter.

You can do this...but it's going to take some boundary setting first.

Believe in yourself, and make the next best step. Trust in your own wisdom.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Dec 18, 2015
31 Year Old Ex Addict & Type 1 Diabetic
by: Anonymous

My son has always been prone to outbursts that almost always include bad language and physical threats and often physical abuse. He loves his 4 yr. old niece and spends countless hours playing with her and being an all-around great uncle.

Occasionally, he loses control of his temper and gets into loud and abusive rants with his sister, the mother of my granddaughter. He is horribly abusive to her about her bad parenting. I as her grandpa have had permanent custody of my Granddaughter.

I have raised her since birth as my daughter, (the 4 yr. old’s biological Mom). She is incapable of caring for her child and is in and out of her life with a terrible addiction to alcohol. I shield my little 4 yr. old doll from the BS those two start, but tonight the volume of the fight and the extent of the physical part got out of hand.

I can't take it anymore, I just can't! He is sick with diabetes type 1 and she has terrible mental issues. I don't know what to do, and I'm so sad. My own health is taking a turn for the worse as a result. Please impart some words of wisdom to me as I am close to the edge. Thank you in advance.

Oct 10, 2015
What Just Happened?
by: Zoohouse

I have 2 grown sons that I have always been proud of. I admit that their father and I were quite strict with them as they grew up, but not abusive. I was raised in a physically, mentally and sexually abusive home, but was determined to break the cycle. I left home at 18 to go into nursing training and found the psychology courses very helpful in teaching how to set boundaries and communicate. My ex-husband and I had a tumultuous relationship, with a fair bit of anger exampled admittedly. After 23 years of marriage my husband left, and our sons 15 & 19 stayed with me. Just about that time I lost my only brother to cancer, and went into a deep depression. I went into counselling and started anti-depressants and after a year got back onto my feet emotionally. During this time I allowed my oldest son to live with me and pay $500/mo. which I put in an account for his education. His father and I were able to talk and coparent with little problem, but at that time his father asked him to move in with him and pay him $500/mo. so that he could afford a house with a garage for his antic car, in exchange for allowing him to have girls over night as he wished, which not allowed in my home.
I wasn't pleased but realized that my son was an adult and could make his own decisions. Years went by and I watched him work at a very good paying job, that I knew wasn't challenging him. He complained often that he would go insane with boredom, but I told him to save and go to university then. He lived the high life going to parties, taking a couple of expensive vacations a year, and basically rack up debt instead of savings. After 5 years I told him that I was going to give him one more year to go back to school and if he didn't spend the money that I had kept for him on myself, as he didn't seem all that interested in furthering his education and I was not giving it to him to party away. I had scrimped and saved to support him that year and support his younger brother and pay the mortgage.
That seemed to do the trick and he went into paramedic training and he seemed to really be enjoying that, but did have some dept to deal with inspire of the money that I gave him. I had remarried, but that only lasted 4 ½ years and I was on my own again with a huge debt incurred in that marriage. I have never found it difficult to save, as being in the outdoors is pretty much all the entertainment and holiday that I need. My son did see that I was extremely lonely and moved in with me to help with the chores and give me company. I did not ask for room and board as I wanted him to pay off his debts. We got along well, but we lived pretty independently of each other. At one point my ex-husband called saying that since our youngest son's wedding our oldest had seemed extremely angry and had shut him out. About this time my son had decided that he wanted to go out on his own and move in with some friends and I was doing a whole lot better. We sat down and talked as I helped him pack and he expressed that he had felt very suppressed for lack of a better term, growing up and had decided that he wasn't going to hold back anymore. He was angry at his father as he didn't feel that he was involved enough. I admitted that we had been harder on him while he was growing up and that I was sorry that I hadn't done better. I recognized that I struggled for much of my married life due to depression, and probably was very difficult to live with. He said that he had noticed a huge change and improvement in me after starting the anti-depressant and felt much more comfortable being around me. So what is the problem?
In the last year there have been a lot of changes in his life. I had remarried a 2 years prior to a man that he really liked and respected, only to discover that he had developed ALS a devastating neurological wasting disease. My son became very angry at the time and turned his back "on a god that would allow such a horrible thing to happen." My husband and I have actually managed very well, mostly because of our faith and that he is an amazing man who finds happiness in just about any circumstance. My son bought a house with a friend, and a year ago met the girl he is still with to this day, but I have seen him get increasingly sullen and started posting quite profane things on Facebook. The house they bought it pretty much a frat house where they party hard very often. He took another job that pays more in another field but takes him out of town. When he is back in town he works with the ambulance to keep his skills up. I am very proud of how hard he is working and have told him and written him to that affect. But at one point he put something on FB that I found extremely insulting to my faith and embarrassing with its profanity. I did not confront him there but tried to call him unsuccessfully, then texted him that I was disappointed that he had chosen to put something like that on FB, and that the facts were even incorrect. Almost immediately I received a tirade and called a Troll among other things. I was told that he didn't want to hear anymore of my Christian BS and if I said anything more while he was visiting that he would cut me out of his life. When I texted that I found that very hurtful, he made fun of my feelings and accused me of being dramatic and to "pick the pieces of my broken heart up, and try and get some sleep."
He did text the next day that he felt bad for what he said, and could not stand the thought that his mother was sad because of him, and would hate a life with out me in it. He would talk with me again when got his thoughts together. Weeks went by and I called him to let him know that his promised birthday present had finally arrived and could he come and pick it up. He did, giving me a very long strong hug, but did not bring up the conversation. A couple of weeks go by and I am trying to make plans for what will probably be my husband's last Christmas, and there is problems with his 4 kids as the 2 oldest do not get along. When his oldest son starts yelling and swearing about his older sister I tell him that we will not tolerate the tone, the profanity, and utter lack of respect of his father and or sister. He hung up, and called my son, and the next thing I know I am being berated by my son again, but this time he is saying horrible things about me. He completely reversed all that he had always said about me in the past including things that he had even defended me of. Saying that I deserved all the abuse that I had had and that I was unbearable to be around, and that include all of my family. I had ruined his life, pushed him down, made his father's life unbearable and was showing the ultimate in stupidity by being a Christian, all the while using the most foul language he could, knowing that I had put up with that with my father and would not allow it in my home. Finally his rant came to a fever pitch, I was in tears and he hung up. I have not heard from him since, and my heart is heavy with rejection. Two of my sisters have visited or called as they often do and reassured me that what he said was not true, and the enjoyed being with me. I have been doing a lot of research on line about why adult children become abusive and what I might have done to contribute to the situation, but I am finding it all very confusing and circular. I would love to suggest family counselling but am my husbands only care giver, and he is now a quadriplegic and on a ventilator, getting out of the house once a week for groceries is difficult.

Sep 27, 2015
Too Old For This
by: Anonymous

We have a 55 yr old son who is living with us. He is a verbal abuser, and controller of the worst kind. He was not abused as a child. His father is a gentle man. Maybe too gentle.

My husband worked three jobs to get our son through the very best law school. Five years ago we learned our son who was by now very successful, had been stealing. This from a man who earns a million dollars a year. He was caught, and incarcerated. His wife divorced him, and there is constant turmoil over the grandchildren. He wants to manage every phase of our ability to see the grandchildren, therefore we do not see them.

We allowed him to live with us after he served his time. The verbal abuse that his father and I suffer are unbelievable. I can tell his parole officer, but that would mean he would need to return to prison. I really don't want to do that. We have asked him to leave. He refuses. He says he has no money. We are in our eighties.

We should not have to live like this. He makes threats against siblings. Are they real or bluster, I’m not sure. Just sure that his anger is somehow directed toward us, since his arrest, and incarceration. That's hard to understand, since he committed the crime. We have tried to help him in every way, but each day the situation grows worse.

Will this soon turn to physical abuse? We asked him to seek medical help, and he refuses. We are devastated, and bitter.

From Dr. DeFoore Take action now, instead of wondering if it's going to get worse. Report him to his parole officer, and let him take the consequences. These situations do not get better until the abuser is out of your home.

I wish you all the best,

Dr. DeFoore

Sep 21, 2015
Abusive Son Who Is Married With 8 Month Old Daughter
by: Anonymous

My son is 23 and has been verbally abusive to me since he was 14. He now lives with his girlfriend and they have an 8 month old daughter. He is both physically and verbally abusive to his partner. She confides in me and I'm heartbroken. She wants him to leave but he won't go. He does nothing. All he thinks about is himself. I don't want my granddaughter growing up living in fear. The names he calls her are disgusting. And I know how she feels because that's what I used to get from him too. I want him to get help before it's too late but he blames everyone else for this. I have another son who is kind and thoughtful. I'm at my wits end with worry.

From Dr. DeFoore: Please be sure and read the other comments on this page, as well as my responses and recommendations. You do have some positive choices about how to deal with your difficult situation.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Sep 17, 2015
I See Our Situation In Almost All Of These Stories
by: Anonymous

Looking for self-help I found this page. As I read each entry I would check boxes off in my head because the situations sounded similar to mine in regard to my difficult relationship with an adult child. So, even though I feel very much alone, I guess I am not.

The feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment prohibit me from having a normal existence anymore. I was the very best parent I could possibly be to my son and his three siblings. My other children and I have very good relations but unfortunately my oldest son is a different story. He has always been very anxious, impulsive, quick to anger, explosive & aggressive. He played and excelled at sports growing up. He was also a good student and had many friends.

On the surface we are the all American family. Yet, that is far from reality. He is in his mid-twenties, lives at home and is trying to finish his degree. He has had physical problems of late, some of which are somewhat serious and require monitoring and follow up. We have seen many specialists and have more appointments planned for the near future - which in and of itself is stressful for him. He has also been having relationship problems with his on and off girlfriend of the past few years. So, those are the current issues. I understand he is not feeling well and is understandably distraught. I try with every fiber of my being to be patient, supportive and helpful. Yet, regardless, he works himself up into a daily tizzy and it never ends well.

For the life of me I don't know how he can feel unwell yet still have enough energy for daily hysterics. I am exhausted and at my wits end. When he isn't doing well, we all must be in agony right along with him. This is nothing new though, it has always been like this but only with different issues. His coping skills are poor and always have been despite years and years of trying to help him become mentally strong and self-sufficient. If you ever have read the definition of a narcissistic personality, the description fits him in every way. I cannot seem to do or say anything right.

No matter what angle I try with him it always ends in a blow up. I try to make myself scarce so that he doesn't go after me, but he finds me or calls repeatedly until I finally answer. Everything is always everyone else's fault, the world isn't fair etc. etc. etc. Anyone reading this will probably be checking off their own mental boxes too. There is no one in which I can confide because I do not want my friends or neighbors to know how bad things have become. He told me that I was a disappointment to him. That I should be able to fix his problems. He is angry that I am so weak that I cannot just take his wrath. What does he expect though? I feel totally beaten down.

Until I began looking for help I didn't realize parental abuse was even a thing. I told him that I just couldn't go on living on eggshells every moment. I am strong but I have my own share of problems that I never talk about - ever. Until this moment. I am watching my mother die slowly of Alzheimer’s. I am heartbroken and haunted by the image of her face frozen in a contorted and unnatural manner. I lie awake night after night feeling very sad and alone because the one person that would have been able to help me to make sense of him is laying in a nursing home laboring for each breath. I gave up my career to take care of my mother and family. Some who know my history tell me that I am "strong and inspiring". I am just regular, not exemplary or subpar, and that is ok.

I am simply a person that takes life as it comes and figure it out as I go. I try not to think too deeply about certain things and express gratitude for the positive things in life. I lived through losing a three year old son to pneumonia. I have Crohn's disease myself and despite being under control, still battle fatigue, sore joints and nausea. My life hasn't been perfect, but I have always tried to be upbeat and convey positive thoughts to my children.

After today's blow up I really felt done. I wanted to grab my keys and leave - to where I have no idea. The object was just to go as far away from the noise as possible. I sat in my car, parked in the garage with the door shut. I thought about turning on the ignition for a moment but then sat there for another hour in silence. I just needed to hear nothing - no yelling, no cursing, no screaming, no objects being thrown, chairs pushed over, and cabinets slammed or broken. Just peace. Fleeting as it was, it gave me a moment to realize that I have reached the end and now must make moves to save myself. I cannot be helpful to anyone if I am empty inside. I am thankful to have found this site.

Aug 12, 2015
Afraid For His Safety
by: Anonymous

I am 54 yrs old, I have a son who is 34 yrs old, he is verbally and sometimes physically abusive. He has choked me and bit me in the past. He has put holes in the walls, damaged my appliance and my car. I see no way out. I have thrown him out, but allowed him back. Now I can't get rid of him. On the streets alone I'm afraid someone may kill him. I want him to go to Rehab.

Aug 05, 2015
My Son is Bipolar and Abusive
by: Lynn

Our son is 37 and bipolar. Right now we're going through one of his melt downs since July 2, 2015. He's not on any meds.

We're retired and on a fixed income. Also my husband is a 100% disabled Vietnam vet due to Agent Orange. His ex-wife left him because of his abuse but I think she has forgotten that. She believes everything he tells her.

All he does is lie. He's told her we are not to be trusted with our 8 year old grandson. That we are out of control and crazy. We're very close to our grandson and I'm sure he's asking for us. The pain is incredible.

He yells at us and swears at us and calls us awful names. He's been like this since he was around 13. He needs us to survive and this is killing us to cut him off.

He has no car so we were driving him to work. Handling his money and taking him food shopping. We don't know what to do to help him anymore. Unless he decides he needs help there is nothing we can do. In the meantime we are cut off from our grandson.

May 12, 2015
by: Anonymous

No matter what his Father and I do he seems to be irritated by our very existence. When my son was in hospital with viral meningitis his wife called us on my husband's birthday to inform us he was in hospital.

He has done this and other similar things before. Very spiteful with his words. I have chosen not to challenge him, hoping he would 'grow up' but at 32 this seems unlikely.

I asked how he was a week ago and why he hadn't replied to me. He hasn't called his father either. Again, I just get verbal abuse saying this is why he never tells me anything. I do not see him often, which is his choice. I never phone, his choice.

We try to keep the peace as we have a lovely grandson who is totally controlled in every way. His other grandma does babysit one day a week and says it is very difficult as they phone up and tell her off most weeks.

What to do? Please help.

Mar 01, 2015
A Similar Story
by: Anonymous

Your story and so many of the other comments directly reflect what I have been going through. My only son began to express resentment and hatred towards everything in life when he became a teenager. He is now 33, wirh 2 children. I have struggled with the "What did I do wrong" question and always felt if I was only more understanding, he would change.

Embarrassment is huge, as he is a totally different person when around others. I feel as if people would judge me as the crazy one if I were to cut him out of my life.

I have bailed him out financially over the years, even most recently co-signing for his apartment lease.

I feel that by letting him go, I will be left paying the remainder of his lease (6 mo). I am retired now and on a fixed income. This would be extremely difficult to do.

I know that I can't take the stress of this toxic relationship any longer, however the financial and potential loss of access to my grandchildren consumes me and causes great sorrow.

Thank you for reading this.

Nov 30, 2014
No diagnosis that fits all situations
by: Dr. DeFoore


In response to your question, there is no one diagnosis that would fit each individual, because many different types of problems can lead to young adults not leaving home, becoming independent, and becoming abusive to their parents.

The closest you can come to a diagnosis is by understanding the whole scenario of young adults "failing to launch." This book does a good job of explaining the problem and guiding parents on how to take steps toward resolution:

I strongly encourage you and other parents reading this to read this book. You don't have to be frustrated and helpless about this problem.

My best,

Dr. DeFoore

Nov 29, 2014
Add me to the list!
by: Anonymous

Is there a diagnosis for these abusive adult children who display this unacceptable behavior? I have a 28 yr old who fits right in with all of yours. Is there an end to this insanity that isn't jail or hospitalization?

Nov 07, 2014
Thank you for this
by: Anonymous

I too have a son (one of four children) who is quite unlike the others. He has always been quick to anger and sees others' actions as a direct attack. I have tried counselling and behavior therapy, all of which have left me frustrated. He and I are living in the same house with his 2 year old daughter.

His girlfriend got tired of the abuse and left him. And he isn't capable of caring for the child on his own. The sad part is that when he is not angry he is a very caring loving person, but the anger comes so quickly and the language is very upsetting.

Recently my son in law and daughter moved in during renovations to their home. This has caused even more anger and obviously my son is feeling inadequate but regardless of what I try to say he attacks me verbally.

I would like to have him leave, however my granddaughter would go with him and that would be a real problem so I am trying to figure out how to work with this situation.

Sep 01, 2014
Everyone has the right to be respected and valued
by: Anonymous

I am so saddened to hear these stories. My husband and I are 60 years of age and found it the norm to be verbally abused by our younger adult son 22. This anger was not only towards us, but often he became very animated with anger, pacing, venting about his friends' deficiencies as well. When his elderly grandparents came to visit he was and is conversational and shows great respect, but when we were alone as a family he would incite an argument, or just be contrary.

I am a believer that if you show love and kindness, it will work itself out. But it doesn't, and I know just beneath the surface an angry demeanour is simmering. We went to a family counsellor once, it was expensive. The counsellor asked why we were there. We explained that we wanted to get together and talk with my sons to find out how we can find our way back to having a peaceful life again.

He turned to each son and asked what they wanted. The younger one shrugged mostly, but offered that he felt bullied by the older son, which later he admitted to us was not true. The counsellor, mostly guided my sons' responses by asking do they have enough privacy? Why don't they move out of the home?

They both study full time with only 1 working part time. I said to the counsellor I am concerned about the level of threat that the one son asserts to the other - that at times he says to him that he wants to kill him. The counsellor then looked at my son and said - then why don't you? (another shrug).

Then he launched into anecdotes about his own sons and he raised them alone etc. We came away thinking we had made a big mistake going there. Even my son laughs about the experience at our expense. Then one day after my husband fell ill, and without any consideration of my worry, my son's behaviour continued.

When I went to leave the room, he said, don't play the victim, now you want me to feel bad. Always the victim, mom! God must have had his hand on my shoulder, because I can be quite intimidated by him. I said - Leave! Pack a bag and go. Don't phone me, don't speak to me, just go. Today I don't care if you're a student or not, get a job and go back to your studies in a few years time - just go.

He was so shocked he did! When he returned 2 days later he was subdued and since the tantrums have become less. So for now, while my husband is recovering I have found strength to stand up to him I will keep doing what I need to do. The above person's advice is right. Set some ground rules and stick to them. Everyone deserves to be respected and valued.

Jul 02, 2014
Thank you
by: CAS

I wish there was more research and resources for parents of abusive adult children. I can say from experience it's embarrassing, humiliating and shameful to have a son who can be so filled with rage. If I didn't have three other adult children who are not like this son, I would seriously question our parenting.

And still, we wrack our brains trying to figure out where we went wrong. It was so bad we considered a protection order but didn't follow through so as not to ruin his career.

Rightfully so, there is much info on child abuse, but it would be helpful if there was something professional about parent abuse. At a time we should be enjoying our retirement, It's become a nightmare. And more so when people look at us as if we are the perpetrators and not the victims.

I've had counselors say to me, "so, where do you think you went wrong?" And "what could you have done to make this turn out different?" I leave feeling beat up all over again.

So, thank you for shedding some light on this growing problem.

Kind regards to each of you.

Jul 02, 2014
Broken Heart
by: Anonymous

I am an 81 year old woman who has just lost my youngest son age 49 to suicide. He was a beautiful person and a great son. My grief is beyond words. Because of his death, my oldest son has become not only verbally abusive toward me and his step-father, but physically abusive as well. Recently he wrote to me in the most hurtful words that I never expected to read. He has always been a person with a trigger temper and has been in many skirmishes because of it. Not only am I in such deep despair over the loss of my son, but I am so sad for my anger stricken son. It feels as if I have lost two sons. In my heart I feel that it is best to distance myself from him. This has made me so terribly, terribly sad. I'm not sure what is the right thing to do.
Thank you.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

I'm so sorry for your loss. And for the difficulty you're having with your other son. As sad as it is, you are correct about the need for distance. You do him no favors by allowing him to abuse you. And you do yourself and him a service by making sure it does not continue.

My very best to you in your time of grief.

Dr. DeFoore

Dec 06, 2013
Abusive son
by: Anonymous

I also have a grown son with problems. He is blaming everyone else including me for his problems. He blows up and most recently physically hurt me and threatened to kill me. He called me names I would never repeat and he did it all to hurt me because he is unhappy with himself. I finally told him not to come back. To get help. I don't want to see him and don't want him to be around me or my grandchildren. I am afraid. I need to change the locks on my doors. I am going to find out how much it costs. Thanks for your website. God Bless all of us.

Jul 08, 2013
only God is there to help
by: Anonymous

I'm mother of a 17 year old son. Recently we moved to Canada and he is an only child. He had a very calm and peaceful childhood. After 15, he started behaving very aggressive and violent. He doesn't listen to us. If you say something he starts making funny faces and uses abusive language. Most of the time he threatens to break walls and things. What to do with this boy. All day and night he is on Facebook and messaging on the phone. If I say something he won't listen.

Jun 12, 2013
by: linda

I have had abuse from my son for years he is now 28 with 2 young children,his temper is explosive at the smallest things, he swears and screams at me at the top of his voice in front of my friends family neighbours and strangers, and has me believing im the one at fault, I find myself questioning myself and thinking yes it is me, he thinks the world owes him, terrified of him. today I made the diction to totally put him out of my life and that alone is heart breaking to add to that I am told I cant see the grand children, but told him I wont allow him to use them to control me. to remove my pain I have inflicted even more pain upon myself. just wish I was stronger and not hurting so bad, my husband has passed away so hard doing this alone but my 2 other sons have also backed me up by taking him out of there life too [is this too much for him] guess this is a cry for help than a comment.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Linda

It sounds like you have definitely done the right thing. Your sons that are backing you up would not be doing that if you were not on track. Your son that you can cut yourself off from needs to feel the natural consequences of his actions, and he needs to get the clear message from you that he either treats you with respect or he does not get to be with you or communicate with you. The pain you're going through is understandable. It is grief, and it's deep, because of what has happened. But it will pass over time, and the pain of continuing to allow him to abuse and manipulate you with his children would be ongoing, and it would get worse. Hang in there. You're on track, and it will get better.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Apr 08, 2013
Abusive Adult Children
by: Anonymous

When I was a child, the abuse I went through was most definitely at the high end of the spectrum.

Now I am in a situation where my bf's adult son is calling the shots. I am not allowed in the house, or in the same room as him. He has threatened me, and I have threatened to call the police. I am actively looking for work; he smokes everything and plays online games all day.

You have heard it all before.

His father and I have talked it over and he is at his wit's end. He doesn't know what to do.

But I do. The key is to get out - at any cost, irrespective of the ties I might break. I don't care if the son "wins" or loses. I care about my own peace of mind. When you are doing your "business" in a bucket because you can't go in the house to use the toilet, you will know what I mean. Anything is an improvement.

I feel badly that I have let myself down after all these years, but at least I can do something about it now.

Feb 16, 2013
Abusive Son
by: Anonymous

My problem is similar to many of the others I have read. I have a 30yo son who verbally abuses me. He is married with 4 kids. I have helped with the care of the 2 oldest for 11yrs. I used to have them every weekend. They were horribly abused by his ex and he has custody. I have put a distance b/w us before for a few months and he changed for a year. He has started the abuse again and I have cut off from him again. He is now more angry that ever and says he will see me at my funeral. I have ignored all his threats and to tell you the truth I'm really not caring to much if I see him at all. I do however feel sad about my 2 Grandies who have been abandoned by their mother and her family. I have told his wife she and kids r always welcome but I know he wont allow this. He is angry that I wont do weekend respite anymore. He always brings up the past and tells me I was a bad mum. This is his excuse to abuse me. What do u all think?

Apr 21, 2012
Family Heartache
by: Anonymous

I have a abusive relationship with a grow granddaughter. My daughter never says a word when she is doing it. And when I do speak up, then her father and I are not included in get togethers. I stand my ground until my husband tries to make me the bad guy because he says he will not lose his girls (my 2 daughters). My son agrees on how I feel it is abuse. Lost. Help

Jul 02, 2011
Abusive Son
by: Anonymous

This is a similar situation to mine. Trying to be kind and compassionate with the new baby only made the verbal and emotion abuse worse. I have set boundaries and am moving on with my life. My son wants nothing more to do with me or my husband, that's his choice. It's a wonder how peaceful life has become. The heartbreak is still there, but heals more with time. Good advice, if you don't speak up the abuse will most likely just accelerate.

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