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Struggling with my 19 year old son

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Bjkski162

Struggling with my 19 year old son

I am a single 56 year old father of an adopted 19 year old son. I was introduced to my son through a mutual friend who was trying to help the boy who had been abandoned by his mother and was bouncing from friends home to friends home as his welcome wore out. I gave the boy weekend work with my construction company and after a few weeks told him to move into a spare room in my home. I acquired guardianship and eventually legally adopted. We get along very well and he has followed my rules with little problems until recently. He dropped out of school two years ago and was under a doctors care for adhd when he moved in. Not long after moving in he was released from his doctor because his provider felt it was more environmental in nature and he was well adjusted and doing good now. I also felt the same way.
I will say he does get high from the minute he wakes up until he falls a sleep most days. I don’t see a single day of no weed use. He has been studying for his insurance license but not as serious as he should be. He like most teen boys games far too much. I knew taking him in adjustments were needed in his lifestyle but have been doing them slowly seeing he had no parental authority to follow growing up. Father was never in the picture. Mother experiences addiction. And there was no stable home life. They lived in abandoned homes, cars, tents etcetera.
Up until now we have had a good relationship and he has been positive about being an insurance producer. He’s a happy, loving and caring young man who treats his new grandparents and family members well.
The issue is a few online friends. One he gets high with via online video. If I ask why he feels the need to get so high he gets angry and tells me it’s what he does and of course nothing is wrong with it. I grew up using weed also but out grew it when adulthood kicked in so I am cautious about how I approach this subject and have been doing it slowly.
My big issue currently that I really need advice on is this.. He met a girl 5 years ago who was visiting relatives at a school dance. He was 14 and she 12 at that time. She lives 4 hours away from us. They exchanged snapchat info and talked on and off for several years mostly off. Recently this past month all I hear is her and notice the phone is glued to him all day and night. I see her emoji on the top of his phone is I glance over and have confronted him a few times about why they are texting so much. He said she understands him and they like to talk. I asked why she is not talking to boys in her area and he said that she told him they are not as interesting as my son. She is still in high school and has family issues as well according to my son. Memorial day she visited out state with her mother for the weekend and was staying a few hours from us. My son said she was going to come hang out at out house for the weekend. I firmly said no! I don’t know this girl or her family. We are in a pandemic and have 85 and 90 year olds in the family we are with daily. And generally I don’t want him to even attempt to pursue a relationship with someone who one is still in high school for another year but also lives 4 hours away on a good day. We are in the process of looking for a home across the country and he is studying for his insurance license and will be working with me in a family business. Last weekend she invited him down to her house for the weekend. I again said no. And I have not mentioned he does not have a drivers license or vehicle. He said he would take an uber. I told him to take a break from her and focus on getting done what he needs to begin his career.
I know 19 is a tuff time because I was in his shoes once as well. I also know that in my home which was very stable, parents will be 65 years married soon and I had the same home until I moved out in my mid twenties. My father would be making the same requests and decisions with this girl and I would respect his decision while living under his care.
My father is 90 and said to “**bleep** this in the bud” concerning his online relationship that he is very emotionally involved in. I also spoke with several friends who have children with one being a mentor for his studying and hopefully career who all said they would do the same thing I am doing by saying no and put the girl out of your mind and behind you. She is too far away to consider anything with her.
Sorry this was so long, I tried to give you all as much info as possible. Thank you for reading this.

Mod
Jennifer-RO

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

Hi @Bjkski162

 

Thank you so much for sharing what is going on for you. I can hear that this has been something causing you a fair bit of stress.

 

Like you have also noted, it sounds like your son is going through a tough time trying to sort out many personal things. It sounds wonderful that you have been in his life and have a good relationship for him to build that trust.

 

I think taking a cautious approach and trying to understand why your son is using weed daily or what this relationship is really providing him are good steps to start with. I’m hearing that he is looking for someone who understands him on a deeper level and this relationship is meeting some internal need for him. Considering some of the struggles he faced during his childhood that she can relate to, has he received any ongoing mental health support?

 

I understand that you are focused on his future and doing your best to get him into a good career path to set him up for his future. It sounds like you are also getting support from others in your life and are really trying to understand your son. It can be a fine balance trying to talk to him, but he is also an adult that is starting to make life choices. How is he taking the idea of moving across the country?

 

I hope our community have more to add, but we hope to hear more from you!

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Bjkski162

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

Thank you for your response.
My son is very excited about moving across country. He has been asking and anxious about doing this for the past few years wanting to relocate putting his past behind him with the ability for a fresh new start.
He is also excited about obtaining his insurance license and working with myself and a group of individuals that he has got to know the last few years.
We’re making some progress with the weed. Today and yesterday he purposely did not use. Today he is helping at his grandparents and studying.
Our big problem ongoing but I believe we are making progress on is this girl many hours away. I personally think to be so emotionally attached to someone online you don’t really know or spent time with is not healthy and unrealistic. I would be supportive if they spent time at a summer camp or school for a few years getting to know each other then wanting to further build on that relationship but this is not the situation. He texts, video calls and trades pictures all day. Although the last few seam to be less frequent. I think he is starting to understand why I want them to take a break and focus on himself. I’m trying to do this one day at a time for now. I also care take my 85 and 90 year old parents. One with dementia and one starting so my plate is a little full. Putting the most energy right now into my son so he does not make a bad decision and that he respects my decision regarding this long distance girl.
Community Manager
Iona_RO

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

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That's really great to hear that progress is happening, and sounds like the move will have a positive effect on the whole family.

 

I can understand your concern about your son's relationship, it can be really difficult to understand how young people can connect so intensely to people online. I'm wondering what part of their relationship is it you feel is unhealthy? We have this article that talks about teens and romantic relationships that might be helpful.

 

You've mentioned that you're also taking care of your elderly parents, I imagine that's a lot to take on. Is there anything you like to do to make sure you also have time for yourself?

Parent/Carer Community Champion
Birdwings

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

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Greetings Bjkski162,

I am Mum to an 18 year old son and 16 year old daughter. It sounds like you have a heart of gold helping this young man out and adopting him as your son. It sounds like you have a great relationship, but are trying to nut out what are really difficult issues for any parent, but are intensified possibly given your son's history. When I was young, being understood was very important to me, and given what he's been through, having that connection would mean the world. I'm not sure whether seriousness of a connection can be judged by whether they mix online or in real life. I've been in an extended lockdown and iso situation as I'm vulnerable to covid, and I've been going to Church online and made some good connection and attended small groups there. As a [parent, a long distance relationship suits me fine as the physical intimacy thing isn't such an issue. Someone on the moon would suit me just fine! 

There's a danger of building barriers too high. I'm not sure how much say we have in whether they date or not over 18 and being too strict can lead to resentment and not feeling understood. He is a man. That said, guidance is still needed. I also feel that our young people have some catching up after the last two years and we're mindful our son lost a lot of time. We're not putting too much pressure on him. 

The weed issue concerns me more, but I've also never been into it. I'm not sure whether you are familiar with the idea that people taking drugs or alcohol can be self-medicating and using these to deal with their problems. I was familiar with the action but not the terminology but I find the word helpful and it sort of says these people are dealing with some stuff.  

It sounds to me like you communicate well and are very caring and he's so lucky to have you. I also understand the difficulties of caring for your older parents and the impact of dementia. think we're taking after our kids and our parents and at times neither of them are cooperating. I thought it was a hoot when my mum was in the middle and my grandmother and I would bake together while mum was trying to get us both to lose weight. 

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Birdwings

Active scribe
Bjkski162

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

Hi and thank you for your reply.
I am working on time for myself currently. It’s been hard juggling two elderly parents at the same time. It seams we have appointments multiple times a week. I’ve been working with everyone to get these appointments more organized to slow the running down some which helps. And currently we live 30 minutes away in another town. We will be on the same property but different homes when we move.
I feel that the unhealthy part of my sons relationship with this girl is that it came on too strong and very fast for being an online situation. They talk constantly all day every day by text message. Photos **bleep** back and forth and I believe some may be inappropriate. He has completely changed his attitude and ways. He is a handsome kid and always has had a large following of girls. There is no shortage of local girls for him to have relations with. The 4 hour drive between us I believe it not good for one. And there has been an urgency for her to come and spend the weekend here or for him to go there and spend the weekend. He has told me her mom has had several boyfriends who stay weekends at their home so this is how she as raised with men in and out all the time. I told my son firmly no. We are not hosting a 17 year old high school girl and he will not go 4 hours away to spend a weekend with a girl he only talks online with that we know truly nothing about her or her family. I personally try very hard to teach my son that “hooking up” for sex is not healthy. It sounds like this is her main concern. I have had my sons closest friend also alert me to express his concerns about my son and this girl. All of my friends with kids feel the same way I do. He does not have a drivers license, dropped out of high school and is currently studying a course that takes one week to take the first exam. He has been studying this for over a year. But does have strong interest in this. He was studying and doing very well until just a few weeks ago when it abruptly stopped and his phone was glued to him with this girl. This is when I explained that I do not think trying to have a relationship with someone you’ve not known and lives 4 hours away is not a great idea. I take care of him 100% currently and he lives under my roof and probably will need to for some time. Also we are moving even further. Starting a relationship when we are in the process of moving will just complicate his life further. Every one of my friends one being a crisis counselor who deals with kids said he should respect my decision and take a break from this girl. This girl has zero rules or supervision in her home so she does what ever she wants. She is in high school for another year. Just started driving and apparently her mother has no problem with the idea of her driving 4 hours to another state on the weekend to hang out with a 19 year old boy. I have a big issue with this and it is a huge red flag for myself and all of my friends with kids in this general age group.
Active scribe
Bjkski162

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

Hello and thank you,
We are fortunate that we can communicate. I’m not concerned about an online long distant friend. He has many boys and girls all over the world that he speaks with often. My problem with this girl is that we heard nothing of her until this last month and she has an urgency to get together to spend time in person. She lives 4 hours from us. Her mother apparently has no issue letting her 17 year old daughter take the car, drive 4 hours north to another state in heavy traffic to spend a weekend with my 19 year old son. Or she wants him to come to their house for the weekend. They have been talking steady for about a month now. Too fast and too far is how I feel. I had a good talk with him the other night and asked that he take a break and take the urgency out of this situation. He is now coming around and being more like himself. We spent the day together yesterday and had a really good day. Texting was at an extreme minimal except for a few buddies he messages who all communicate to me through him also. It was a great day! Hoping it continues. I think I may have gotten through to him. He also the last few days has used very little weed and is trying and letting me know that he recognizes what i’m asking is important because I love and care for him.
Parent/Carer Community Champion
Birdwings

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

That sounds very encouraging. Wishing you both well.

Best wishes,

Birdwings

Mod
Jacqueline-RO

Re: Struggling with my 19 year old son

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Hi @Bjkski162 


I understand your concerns about your son's relationship with this girl and can only imagine how challenging it is for you as a parent, to try and guide your son into making healthy decisions about relationships whilst he is probably learning all about that himself. I can see that you care about your son's wellbeing, and having his friends and other people in your life validate your reasons for being concerned about this girl would only make you feel more stressed about the whole situation. 

You mentioned a few concerns about this girl, I am wondering what it is about her lack of supervision concerns you? It is great that you have some people in your circle that you can talk about this with. They also sound like experienced parents, I wonder if you could talk with them and perhaps seek some guidance around how to talk with your son about your concerns?

We also have a resource here about how to help teenagers have respectful relationships. There is also an article here about how to talk with teenagers about sex, as you mentioned you have tried teaching your son about healthy relationships. I hope the articles help.

It sounds like you have a lot going on and it must be quite stressful for you at times. Please remember to take care of yourself too!