Question – My son has been changing over the last couple of years – he is now unemployed, generally dirty and unkempt with poor personal hygiene, he is not looking after his teeth and gets irritable and aggressive if I try to speak to him about any of this. He has started stealing from me – he breaks into my house when I am at work and takes anything that he thinks he can sell. He denies using drugs, but I don’t have any other explanation. What should I do?
[expand title=”T8 Response”]
Firstly unacceptable behaviour is always unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if it’s your son or someone else’s son. So, if you believe it is unacceptable behaviour for someone to break into your house and steal your belongings then your response must be the same as if it was another person, unknown to you, who has committed this crime. If a person breaks into your house and steals from you – the normal response is to contact the Police and report the crime. Then you file your insurance claim because the reality is that it is very unlikely that your belongings will come back to you. It doesn’t matter who steals your belongings you must follow the same process. Report to the Police, lodge an insurance claim as if it were someone else.
Doing this may also mean that you have to take an apprehended violence order, a domestic violence order or some other type of order that makes it clear to him that he cannot behave in ways that are unacceptable.
To show him that you are serious you may have to pursue charges against him. Think of it this way, if it were another person you didn’t know, you would have no problem. At this time, you really don’t know your son. He is using drugs and his behaviour is not acceptable. You should always let him know that you care for him and love him BUT that you will NOT put up with his bad behaviour and that you will treat him as you would any other person who did these things to you.
This will create a crisis for him. This confrontation may cause some short-term problems, he may become angry and aggressive, so it is a good idea to have another person or two, with you when you do this. If it is possible for you to get information about what kind of options he has and have it available for him then that is recommended. Remember though he is likely to be angry that you are confronting his bad behaviour and you are letting him know that you don’t want that that behaviour around you. This means that he may not want that information immediately. But he now knows that you know what he can do and he knows that you will not put up with his unacceptable behaviour.
I would suggest you place a boundary around his contact with you. He cannot just turn up at your house, but he can ring you and then either come over or meet you somewhere. Do not give him money but if he is hungry then by all means buy him a hamburger. If you give him the money he will not buy food, if you buy him the food he might eat it.
Lastly it is important to remember that you did not cause him to have this disease, nor is it his fault that he has this disease. Without any information he is not going to change. If we protect our loved ones from the damage that occurs because of alcoholism / addiction then they have no reason to want to change their behaviour. It would be hoped that he can experience this crisis and ask for help before it becomes too late.