My 20 Year Old Son Is Very Disrespectful

by Sonia
(Dallas Tx)

My son is 20 years old. He left a prestigious college in his 5th semester and came home.

He gets angry easily, breaks things and tears his clothes, but does not hit anyone. He does not tell us why he left school and his fraternity, only that he does not have friends there. He says he is ashamed of his father’s job, which is manager of a fast food store.

He calls us names and says f___ you and all women are b____ and so on.

We bought him a truck. He wants to go to California to get a job and find a way back to school. But he does not know how he is going to pay for his way.

It seems he has many dreams but no action. He says he has no motivation, but he is extremely smart. I forgive him a lot and it seems he is slightly better with me now but dislikes his father’s eating, dressing up, berating pattern.

His father is not abusive in any way, and has never raised a hand to him. His father is very kind, with no questions asked. Does not advise him or communicate on issues with him and has a poor listening habit.

What am I to do? Let him go, or keep on and try to find out what happened? He says he does not have ADHD, and is not bipolar, and does not have severe anxiety disorder or severe depression, just situational anxiety. What am I to do?

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Sonia, and thanks for telling your story on this site. I will try to help you figure out what to do about your relationship with your son.

He will either tell you about what happened, or he won't. That's totally up to him, and there isn't anything you can do to speed up the process. The more you relax and let go, the more likely he will be to open up with you.

It is not uncommon for these types of problems to develop with young adults like your son living at home after having some kind of difficulty out in the world. It is very important, however, that you give him a clear message about what is acceptable in your home.

He is being abusive to you (the language you referred to), and you're not doing him any favors by allowing that behavior. And he is not respecting the hard work of his father by judging his type of employment.

You and your husband need to get together and find a way to communicate to him that he cannot stay in your home and be abusive.

Without intending to, you may be spoiling your son. You mentioned that you bought him a truck. Is it possible that you're giving him the message that his abusive, irresponsible behavior is acceptable by rewarding him with the gift of a truck?

Letting go is often the most loving thing you can do. But do not let go of control of your home. Your son has his own journey, and he has to figure things out for himself. You can't do that for him. Your job is to maintain order and respect in your home, and it is important that you take full responsibility for that.

He needs to move out and support himself, as soon as it is possible. This will be good for him, and for your own household. He will not respect himself or you as long as the current situation continues.

Talk to your husband and come up with a plan that you both feel good about. You will do the right thing.

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.

P.P.S. If you got something of value here, We would also greatly appreciate it if you would provide a written testimonial about the site, Dr. DeFoore's help, or one of our products.

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Dec 03, 2014
Good For You --That's Why They Call It Tough Love
by: Dr. DeFoore


I know what you're doing is very difficult, and there are no guaranteed outcomes. But everything we've learned about these situations tells us that what you've done (putting up boundaries for your son and requiring him to respect you) is the best possible course of action. You have inspired other parents...thank you for your contribution.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Dec 02, 2014
Disrespectful Son And How We've Handled It
by: Anonymous

I have a similar problem with my 29 year old son who has just returned home after living away for about 18 months. He has been extremely disrespectful to my husband and myself and friends. It has now gotten so bad that we told him to leave. I love him very much, but I've said that until he decides to change we don't want him visiting or even contacting us. We have told him our door is always open when he us ready to talk and make some changes but he has not answered. I worry and am very sad and hope I am doing this for his own good to allow him to be responsible for his actions. It is very upsetting though.

Sep 05, 2013
by: Anonymous

I was so happy to get him home safe and to help him look for work. He met a girl his first day back and she sleeps here bringing her young child and I never see my son alone. He is so consumed with her he doesn't show appreciation or much motivation to find a job and makes me feel like a stranger in my own house. I cried tonight telling him how I felt, he refused to discuss my feelings then laughing with her a few minutes later. I feel all is lost because to him I have no value. Tough choices ahead and much pain. Why does this have to be? I just wanted a family and I had missed him for three long years.

Jul 07, 2013
Same here
by: Anonymous

I have a 22 year old son, came home from college, cause he couldn't make it there. Question was why? Loans are there, part time job was good. There is never an answer for him. I later got the bills, apt , car, 6 months not paid. Car under my name a 2012 was trashed. After being told by him many times he was to clean out car I decided to see the inside. This is the day I pledged that I would take no more. He put me in a head lock, pushed me around. No mother should have to put up with this type of abuse. After this I took away the car & asked him not to come home and to get a life. As a single parent, 59 year old retired firefighter. I was not going to allow him to do this.

Feb 20, 2013
I have the same in a daughter.
by: Anonymous

I feel what you are saying. I have and an almost 20 year old daughter whom has become so disrespectful over the last few years. Unfortunately I have to take some responsibility for this. At some level I must have tolerated it for her to think this could possibly go on. I usually say "No swearing" or "Whatch your mouth" and she just blows it off. I love her to death but want her OUT! I feel that I have done her no favors what so ever letting her live under my roof and behave as she does. She showers with her b.f and has him in her room and I have nobody to blame but myself for allowing this and now she feels its always okay. I'll take my knocks but I think b/c she didn't have a dad around all the time this is a huge part of the disrespect which I think is deep anger.

Sep 19, 2011
Very disrespectful 20 year old son
by: Anonymous

I agree. I have a son who is verbally abusive, breaks my things and thinks he can do whatever to me and disrespect my home. He has been doing this for the past 5 years. The last straw was the other day when he broke up things in my home and made me feel as though he could of hit me. I had to tell him to leave mentally and physically. I am a wreck and can't do it anymore. I usually feel bad and forgive him and allow him to stay no matter what because I feel guilty, but i know this is not good.

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