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Story of an Adult Son

I went to Changes after my oldest son (then age 16) was arrested for theft and possession of alcohol. For at least a year, he had been drinking alcohol, smoking weed, skipping school, missing curfew, and being verbally abusive to me and his brothers. I was a single Mom after a difficult divorce. Our son’s father and new wife denied that there were problems, enabled our son to get weed and miss school, and tried to convince our son I was a bad parent and in the wrong. I was full of fear for our son’s future, had tried unsuccessfully to get him to change his behavior, feared losing all contact with my son, and felt powerless to help him.

Changes helped me figure out rational, constructive steps to take to let our son know how much I love him, endorse his capabilities, and let him experience the consequences of his choices. It was difficult and scary, especially when I knew my son was being encouraged to be angry at me and might cut me off completely. For a long time, it seemed like our son wouldn’t be okay, but I was able to manage, with ongoing support from Changes. Our son did not finish high school, was arrested again and court-ordered to attend short-term outpatient treatment for substance use, got fired from several jobs, and got evicted. However, my Team helped me to see that these were consequences of his choices, and gradually, my son started to learn that he needed to make different choices. Whenever I could, I expressed my love for him and my firm belief that he is a very capable young man. I used the Changes words, “I know you can figure this out” often and meant them.

An important step was when his father’s new wife, who had dismissed me as “crazy” based on what she was told, confided to me that it was “absolute chaos” at their house due to our by-then-18-year-old son’s behaviors. I petitioned family court for protection of our 2 younger children, and the court’s finding was that our son would have to move out of his father’s home, or his younger brothers would have to live full-time with me. His father chose to move our son to an apartment and require him to get a job, thus introducing our son to real-world expectations. I was able to take our son and his new roommate to a thrift store to buy essentials; a Team member kindly arranged to be at the store to help me stick to positive messages and a budget.

After a few false starts, our son figured out what he had to do to keep a job and an apartment, and to pay his bills. He also asked me if what his father had told him about me was true. My Team helped me plan how to answer his questions without being negative about his father. He and I talked a little, then a little more, and began to see each other more often.

I think the process took longer than if his father was not enabling and actively trying to alienate me from our son, but we got there eventually. Our son has now been gainfully employed and living independently for more than 6 years, and we have a loving relationship. I am very proud of him, but more importantly, he is proud of himself.

– Mother of adult son