When my children (2 boys 2 years apart) were born, I was working and the children were left in the care of their father. He is not the best role model; his constant drinking and gambling has been a issue our entire marriage.

My fault, I feel, in all this was being to scared to divorce him because of what people would think and being the only bread winner in the house made it hard with two small children. Also, I held on the hope that every time I threatened to divorce him he would change but he never did.

At 16, my oldest dropped out of school and also had a felony. At 16, my youngest dropped out of school and had a set of twins with his girlfriend as well as a couple misdemeanors.

I gave my older boy a body shop which he ran with his father; it was shut down for illegally swapping parts, that cost me a good $100,000. Their father went to prison for 6 years for drug trafficking.

I thought with that bad influence out of their lives they could have a chance to do something for themselves.

I started giving them both $2500 a month to invest, live off, make some money out of, which of course they spent on cloths, games, movies, etc. I cut them down to $1000 a month which I thought was pretty harsh but would motivate them, and I gave both of them a dispensary, I figured they smoke weed all day and it was legal in Michigan so they should know a lot about it right? Wrong, the city shut them down due to zoning, which was not their faults, however in the 6 months they were open they made no money. That was another $75000 down the drain.

In a last ditch effort to make something out of them, I leased them both brand new vehicles, the agreement was in order to keep the vehicles they either had to go to school or work and pay be back each month for the cars. They both came to me about month before school was suppose to start to let me know they would not be working or going to school, so I cut off the $1000.

Now they don't talk to me, except when they have talked to their father to let them know I am hording the money and keeping it from them, as well as other poisoning of their brains.

The question(s):

  • Should I pull the cars?
  • What other path can I take?
  • My oldest son has been physical with me in the past and I am scared, what should I do?

They are now 26 and 28.

  • 7
    To be clear is "take the money and run" an option you explicitly reject?
    – user26011
    Sep 6, 2017 at 20:25
  • 5
    Reading in between the lines in the question seems to me that you are in a solid position financially. Good, stop "throwing them money" (even if clearly done with the best intent) and instead give them time doing something that can factually teach them good life values (run a small business?). Giving money to someone young and clearly without business skills is wasting the money and their self-esteem (as a results of the serial business failures). Sep 7, 2017 at 11:45

2 Answers 2


Should I pull the cars?

Yes, unless they take over the contract (payments, responsibilities, etc.) On the off chance they get employment, they'll need cars. Or, if you must, you can pull the cars and gift them with used cars that have a few thousand miles left in them, but make sure the titles are in their names. They may refuse. That's OK. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

My oldest son has been physical with me in the past and i am scared, what should I do?

If you are truly afraid, take out a restraining order against him. You'll have to involve the police and the judicial system, and it's not guaranteed to work, unfortunately, but it might be enough to put your mind at ease, especially if he breaks the order. If he does so repeatedly, he'll go to jail, and you'll be safe then.

What other path can I take?

@Threetimes has already suggested counseling, which is absolutely essential in moving forward/finding a way out of this mess. And it is a terrible, heartbreaking mess. If you haven't been, start asap. If you have and it hasn't helped, find a better counselor; make that a priority.

If you have the money, you might also offer to pay for counseling for your sons. They have suffered - they have suffered - as well. Their father was a drinker and a gambler, they suffered through their parents' bad marriage, and they have a mother (please forgive me for this) who equates help with gifts, bribes, and money.

FWIW, I believe in bribes and gifts if they help, that is, if they actually result in the right behavior. If they don't, it's just not only actively not helping them, but it's throwing good money after bad.

They don't need gifts, bribes or money. They need help. If you don't know how to help them, discuss it with a very good counselor who also does family therapy. You might get some ideas there. But it will be hard for everyone for different reasons.

It will be hard for you because you hurt (and have other unpleasant feelings) seeing them flounder like this. It will be hard for them because they seem to have trouble taking responsibility for their actions and their lives, and it's hard to learn a different way, but it is vital that they do so.

Remember, though, that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.


Have you been in counseling? If not that is your first step. You need to contact an Al-Anon in your area.

What other path can I take?

When you take someone with bad behaviors associated with drug or alcohol usage and then handle their problems for them, clean up their messes, support them when they have no reason they need that (physically capable of working, just not working), etc, you make it possible (enable) them to not change. They have no reason to. It's working well for them. Al-anon can help you with this.

They can also advise you on how to handle the situation of you fearing your son and help you figure out if a restraining order is needed or what your best move is in that regard.

  • 1
    Please read the meta question (and answer) again. Then please edit your answer. Sep 6, 2017 at 21:56
  • 1
    hi @threetimes - I agree with anon that this probably needs some editing as it reads like you are focusing mainly on the OP as cause, rather than the support she will need as victim, but we discussed undeleting. Can you update accordingly.
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 6, 2017 at 22:50

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