Our son seems to have some kind of personality disorder. He has been a sleep-walker since childhood. He is intelligent, creative, physically adept, handy and a quick learner. He has gotten and lost numerous jobs. He has gotten 2 DUIs and after finally getting his license back after the last one, quickly lost it again by not taking care of a couple of tickets.
He can’t seem to take responsibility for his actions. It is never his fault. He can be charming and helpful or moody and testy. He has sleep problems. He has an incredibly messy room that leaks out into the rest of the house at times. He doesn’t seem to be able to throw trash away on a regular basis.
He has friends, though his lack of mobility and money hinders his social life. He can spend an entire day in his room only coming out to eat. He sometimes over reacts to situations. It is often a trial to get him to cooperate with chores.
He is 35 and still lives with us. He has no job now and hasn’t for a while. He helps out with our business sometimes. He babysits for friends. He is actually very good and kind with children and has 2 god-daughters who call to chat with him and call him their best friend.
What can we do to help him move on with his life? He is stuck. And he is driving me to distraction.
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
The only way you can help your son is by taking care of yourself. The fact is that, at age 35, your son should have been out of the house long ago. I do not mean to appear harsh but the bottom line is that you and your husband are “enabling him.” The term “enabling” comes from the psychology of addictions. It refers to the fact that well meaning friends and family make it easy for an addicted person to continue abusing substances by not allowing them to take the consequences of their actions.
It is fairly safe to assume, from what you write, that your son has a problem with alcohol. In fact, he may be addicted to more than alcohol alone. The reason I point this out stems from the fact that you mention several symptoms of addictions: 1. He does not leave his room, 2. He does not work and has no money, 3. He has several DUIs and tickets and, 4, He takes no responsibility for his actions, typical of substance and alcohol abusers.
At age 35 he is capable of getting and holding a job and living on his own. It is too easy for him to remain at home and drink and possibily do other drugs (maybe).
It’s a hard thing for parents to do but you need to confront him with the fact that he must move out and live on his own. By the way, I’m assuming that he does not pay rent to you and that he eats your food. He is an adult and must face adult responsibilites. As long as he lives at home and does not work, he is living like a child. It’s time to grow up.
Finally, he can attend AA meetings or go for alcohol treatment but you can only suggest this.
Best of Luck