Our son has now taken the peace of our life and it has started affecting my professional life as well.

He is 18 and is scheduled to start the university this fall. In the last year and half his behavior has changed dramatically spending more than 12 hours out of home returning in the late night, smoking and drinking. I have caught him many times at homes with alcohol.

Recently he was caught stealing alcohol from store and was arrested. I had to hire attorney to secure SOC and he is now under 2 years watch. We keep saying about good values of life but he seems to forget the next moment.

I was planning to finance his engineering study hoping he would change. Now I come to realize that he has no life skills and it is getting worse. I have been doing all his work including his university application despite reminding many times that it was his job to do. He is in a bad company and all that matters to him are his friends. He has become a pathological liar.

We can't deal with him anymore and would like to stay away from him for ever. I know, he could become violent hearing this, but cannot deal any more stress in our life.

  • 2
    I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Is your son legally an adult? (18 is when you are no longer responsible in most countries, as far as I know.) Unfortunately we can not give you legal advice on the Parenting.SE site -- if you can edit this Question to focus on any non-legal questions you have then I will be happy to re-open it for you.
    – Acire
    Aug 1, 2015 at 13:37
  • 1
    Maybe related: law.stackexchange.com/questions/1089/…
    – Acire
    Aug 1, 2015 at 20:55
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    this would be a better question if you specified the country you live in, and whether you truly want him out of your life completely (for example, if he turned his life around and became a financially secure man who married into a good family and has children of his own, would you still not want anything to do with him?) What is an SOC? What methods of discipline did you use with him when he was younger, and did they work?
    – anongoodnurse
    Aug 1, 2015 at 22:37
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    An [SOC] is a Stipulated Order of Continuance, which appears akin to probation but the end result is the case is dismissed), and seems to be a phrase unique to Washington state, USA. In Washington state, the age of majority is 18, (like most, but not all, US states).
    – user11394
    Aug 3, 2015 at 5:28
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    Jumping from indulgence/control to estrangement is not a remotely healthy way to deal with the situation. You need family counselling. For the whole family, but start with just you and your spouse (if spouse will go, if not go by yourself). It doesn't sound like any of you have a concept of healthy boundaries, and boundaries are what is desparately needed here. On both sides.
    – Aravis
    Aug 6, 2015 at 21:12

3 Answers 3


I might be flamed off the site for this but are you sure your reaction is justified? From your description your son's big transgressions are drinking, smoking, stealing and telling lies. I can think of only a few I've known who have not done one or all of those things when they were young. It's stupid, irresponsible, and can damage your future but it's also a part of being young. You learn your lessons, you mold your life, and if you're lucky your family and friends stand by you even if you screw up.

When you say "stay away from him for ever" it's a tragic horror and so sad to think these are the things that got him disowned from his family. Now it's possible you're not mentioning how bad it actually is. Maybe he really is violent and hurting you physically, or perhaps his friends are the sort that could get everyone killed (like drug dealers using him to make meth in your back yard) or some crimes so bad you can't live with yourself knowing you are letting him do this without turning him in (like murder or rape)

I don't know how bad it is, but I can imagine how bad the whole world would be if it was common for people to give up on their families just because they tried alcohol and cigarettes and happened to like them like most people that try those things, especially at that age. Or maybe they were dared to go on a beer run, or maybe they just wanted to know the thrill. But he's young. He will still be young 5 years from now. He will screw up, he will put his family and friends in a hard place, and he will probably feel sorry about those things. If not now, then someday. That's the normal path of life.

What exactly do you want for your son? Are you sure the path of the university is what HE wants? Nobody wants their kids to be screw ups or end up living under a bridge or worse. But people should be able to choose their own paths. Maybe right now he needs to screw up to really know what he does or doesn't want in life.

I can't tell you what to do. But I think it's beyond extreme to totally disown your son because he's making some mistakes. Maybe you should first try not doing his work for him. If he knows you won't do it, maybe he will.

  • 8
    @anongoodnurse - Reading over the OP's post, I am not sure I even see a question. Just a general "please help" in closing.
    – Kai Qing
    Aug 4, 2015 at 0:32
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    In that case, it's probably better to post a comment asking for clarification. This policy is SE-wide; it's also valid to close as "not a question/unclear what you're asking". Just reminding you of policy easily found in meta.
    – anongoodnurse
    Aug 4, 2015 at 4:33
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    @anon: IMO this is a damn good answer which strikes close to some very central issues of the question. I'd be really sad if this was removed due to some formal policies.
    – sbi
    Mar 1, 2016 at 7:23
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    Excellent answer says what needs to be said and is very gentle on the OP. I don't think I would manage to be that polite.
    – Ola M
    May 6, 2017 at 17:30
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    As a premise disagreement, this looks like a great example of "the greater context of a helpful answer" (deleted this comment and re-posted it without tagging anongoodnurse; sorry if it still alerts you anyway. Didn't realize this was so old when I first commented)
    – Aaron
    Nov 30, 2017 at 0:24

It sounds like he is struggling with addiction issues. Stealing liquor is a huge red flag. With addiction, things like values, ethics and planning for the future go out the window. This is not a reflection of the person underneath but a symptom of the problem. If you can help him work through that problem, you will get the person back. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes serious consequences for the person to want to change. Do not shield him from those consequences - it will only prolong the inevitable.

  • 1
    Do you have any sources to back up this stance? (IE, that it takes a serious consequence to cause a turn around, rather than an intervention, rehab, or therapy?)
    – user11394
    Aug 3, 2015 at 5:22
  • I would consider an intervention or rehab to be, by definition, serious consequences. Aug 3, 2015 at 6:45
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    Therapy can be very effective but it takes willingness from the participant, and time to build trust, both of which are commodities in short supply with the addict. Aug 3, 2015 at 6:56

Don't do your sons work. Yes he may fail his studies because of it, but this will most likely happen eventually anyway.

He needs to take responsibility for his own life, and this will not happen if he knows you're always there to help him out of whatever trouble he's got himself into.

Also if he gets in trouble with the law again, don't hire an attorney for him, or pay his bail money. He's an adult, and needs to understand that if he makes mistakes, he has to to deal with the consequences himself.

  • harsh but fair. From experience being a helicopter parent is a double edged sword, yes your children feel you have their back, but it also makes them not want to try and watch it themselves leaving you with a lifetime of worry.You have to cut the apron strings sometime; I think he needs a shock. Don't do his U application, he'll drop it soon enough anyway. Dec 6, 2017 at 12:30

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