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Disrespectful Nearly 20 Year Old Son

by Rushda

I have been a single parent since near the birth of my youngest child who is now close to 20. I have an older child who is 23 and at Med School.

My older adult child is clever, funny and focused on his career to be a doctor. The younger one is clever too and now at University studying Economics.

From 2 years old he has presented an angry side, but can also be very loving

I have tried my best to ignore his bad behaviour and praise his positive behaviour. When he got into his teens he became really disrespectful and abusive.

I kept on trying to think this is just a phase and he will come out of it, but although at times he is better he does still have this disrespectful and sometimes abusive side. I find it unbearable and it has made me very upset ànd depressed.

He had problems when he was 12, he lost my mother who he was close to and then his father. His father was abusive to me, and he was an unemployed alcoholic.

Later my son also found that he had a genetic condition which could seriously affect his lower limbs, he could even lose them later in life (Poplietial Artery Symdrome).

He has wrecked his bedroom, broken stuff in my home and put holes in the walls. He doesn’t think he needs help. He sees each time as a single event and it is never his fault, but mine or his brother’s or someone else’s.

He will on occasion speak to me with expletives and I'm at my wits end on how to deal with him. He is also sometimes very reckless and was knocked over while skateboarding on the road without a helmet. That was this weekend when he came home from University for 2 days.

He loses things, breaks things and then asks me to replace them, saying he can't do without them. I love him so much but feel very fearful for his future.

What can I do to help him? Could you give me some good advice?

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Oct 07, 2019
Boundaries Might Be The Key
by: Dr. DeFoore

Hi Rushda - Thanks for telling your story here, where others might benefit as well.

I encourage you to read about personal boundaries, and think of how that applies to your relationship with your son.

You have to communicate with him not only in words but in actions that he cannot treat you with disrespect. If you continue to tolerate, allow or even unintentionally enable this behavior, he will likely only get worse.

He's an adult, and it's up to him to decide to change. You really can't fix this for him.

The best help you can give him is to let him know in words and actions that he will either treat you with respect or he will no longer be welcome in your home. And...I strongly suggest that you never, ever replace the items that he has destroyed because of his out of control behavior.

Focus on his best qualities, and create the space and distance that allows you to feel safe and comfortable with the relationship.

I know this is not easy, but you can do it. Believe in yourself and believe in your son.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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