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22 year old son is in jail

Started by Anonymom, December 10, 2014, 07:51:17 pm

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Hi everyone! First, I would like to say that this board has already been a big help to me. I have been dealing with guilt from my middle son recently and have nobody to talk to about him (or get advice from).  I'm 42, he is 22. Long story short, I was a single parent for most of his life. He has an older sister and younger brother. He was ADHD when younger and constantly in "trouble". I did the best I could with the ADHD and did my best to be a good provider (they never complained or went without), even coached his baseball team.  Well, he never had any complaints toward me until he got kicked out of my house when he was 18-19 (after his first couple of semesters of college). 

He was smoking pot in my house, eating all the food we bought, while spending his paycheck on pot. This went on for a few months till I finally put my foot down and told him he has to get out. He went to his sisters apartment and disrespected her and her place till SHE kicked him out. He had a couple of issues with the law (unpaid tickets, with a guy that had broke in a car...he cleared that up after community service).  He finally left the area and went to where my family is from. "We" all worked together and got him a very good job, which he got fired from for smoking pot ON THE JOB and telling them off when they confronted him on it. He "thinks it should be legal" and very "in your face" about it.  He decided to fly back to the state we live in and was living in his car for awhile.

Well, he got a DUI within about a month of coming back and got put on probation. I did use HIS money to get him out after a week (only because it was his money...actually my husband/his sf did the bail out).  He couldn't/wouldn't get a job and his unemployment ran out so he quit going to probation officer.  At the same time, he got in BIG trouble for neglecting (abusing) a dog that he was pet sitting. I guess he was not feeding it and bragged to someone that he hit the dog. He got charged on that and the probation violation and is now in jail. 

Now, he knows I am no nonsense and am not going to bail him out. I feel like he NEEDS to be in jail for what he did and that he really has to learn a lesson about being held accountable for his actions.  I have not heard from him by mail but he was trying to call my phone collect during the first week.

Before going in, he was verbally abusing me and sending hateful emails telling me to "leave him the (blank) alone" and that I am the worst and most hateful person he ever knew (I had sent him an email saying the police had come here looking for him and he needs to turn himself in). 

That is most of the main points of the back story. I'm wondering if I should be writing him or helping him in any way (he ONLY has me in life). His dad has never been involved and he has few friends. He has always had a HUGE chip on his shoulders (about being small for his age...was always picked on/made fun of).  I tried my best to be his best friend and always doing stuff with him because I knew how he felt and how others (even adults) made him feel. I don't know if I should be taking this time to write him and work things out or if I should leave him alone (as he asked).  Half of me is fine to leave him alone but the other half says now is the time that a parent SHOULD be there for the child. My parents were never, ever, there for me so I know how it feels to be "abandoned" but at the same time, I do not want to enable him in any way, especially after the dog thing (which I am infuriated about).

He never had any anger issues toward me at all till I gave him tough love about my house rules (after he turned 18) and would not back down. My daughter acted the same way after she got the tough love at 18 (super hateful toward me) but I didn't back down and now she is 24 and we get along (she has a family now and all).   

I'm hoping he is just lashing out because he is getting a reality check but I'm not sure if I should even be writing him letters of support while he is in jail. My intuition is telling me "no" but I don't want him feeling hopeless in jail. I wonder if I should have another person contact him, instead of me?  Any advice would be great. Like I said, I have NO friends that I can talk to and have already lost about 10 lbs since he was arrested a month ago.


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My take is that your issue requires professional support, something we are not qualified to offer. We can listen and we can care and share but I would suggest your seek a counselor to guide you through this. I personally feel you have stretched yourself to the max. Your son is an adult. Every one of us has to learn to live within our limitations and move past our history. If we refuse to do that, is is a choice and we have no one to blame but ourselves. You did your best. Now, it's his turn.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Ok, I was thinking a counselor might be needed with this issue. I'll try and find one tomorrow.

The posts here have really helped me get my feelings about this in check. I try to be strong and draw a line with them but also want to make sure I'm not being "too hard", especially if it really is a time of need. I have a feeling that I'm doing right by not writing him. I haven't heard from him so I'm taking that as a sign that he might have figured out to handle his situation and not depend on me to clean up after him.

fingers crossed! I'll keep checking in here on other posts as well! Thanks!


T I totally support you in your stance.  The only problem I have is how will you know where his mind is if you have no contact?  I think I would write him a letter in jail and tell him why I would not answer the phone....his last words to you were very hurtful and you are not necessarily up to having him lash out at you again.  Then I would follow whatever rules are there to get him some stamps and envelopes, a pen and paper.  I would ask him to write what he is thinking.  Tell him you will reply if he does not lash out at you.  Do not offer anything else but that you will read them and if he does not get a reply for one he should just keep writing.   When he writes you can wait until you feel ready to open them or open them with your counselor if you want.  This way both you and your counselor can figure out what he is thinking and doing and you can discuss what to do from there. 

Good luck!! 
Your mind is a garden your thoughts are the seeds
You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds.
Author unknown


Dearest T,
I am so sorry for your struggles! I have an only child/son who is now 29 and married with children.  I raised him alone and when he was 18- 19, after HS graduation, he decided to show out in irresponsible ways without any lifeplan.  At 19, almost 20 I asked him to leave the nest.  He reluctantly and bitterly left and had to sleep in his car for a while.  (he ignored the 3 month notice) He got a basement apt and later a regular apt with a roomate.  He did a complete transformation and his life now shows the fruit of his early efforts.

My heart was broken and it was so hard to "throw him to his adulthood".  We had a lot of struggle after that because he couldn't believe I would throw him out.  He was upset because I changed the locks and asked him if he was dealing drugs.  He was not but I had to ask and I believed him but how dare I imply/ask.  Why did I change the locks, he is no criminal.  I told him the truth in that I had no idea if he would improve or go deeper into poor choices.

It was what he needed to get his life launched.  His father set an example of pathological lies, irresponsibility, selfishness and disrespect to himself and others that i did not want DS to follow!

I told DS I would always be here to talk and love him.  I would feed him if he is hungry and try and get him medicine/ Dr visits if he gets sick but I would give no money.  i would pay half of the apt dept but it would be pd directly to the landlord.  i transferred the title to a car w/ 6 mos insurance prepaid.  (title transfer is important because car owner can be liable in accidents when violator has no assets) and cancelled my umbrella policy to cover DS if he did something stupid.  He never stole from me but I changed the locks anyway.  I had to protect myself.  No other adult, besides DH has a key to the home, right?

You are now at a similar crossroads. Begin today in treating him as an adult.  Abide by his boundaries and do NOT contact him.  Let him reach out to you once he has had time to settle into his new environment. 22 is a special birthday/age as all double numbers.  What i have seen in myself and so many others is that 22 can be a make or break year.  Luckily, most of my young friends have stepped up.

One, my nephew, never has grown up at 30 and is in a very similar situation as your son.  This guy has had all the "help" and stroking and pity from his mom, along with rehab and half way house and probation.  He still has not grown mentally where he keeps a full time. regular job and can take care of himself and all the bills that come with.  He tells me he needs a vacation.  I tell him he needs a job.

My ex husb never grew up to the point of handling all of his own affairs.  His father handled it all so well that this man child never grew up.  He died at age 57 and was still under his father's support, always depressed and angry at the life he could have had but never really thought he deserved due to his total lack of accomplishments.  xDH's dad was 86 and caring for a wheelchair bound, mentally ill 86 yo wife.

You are still his mother and always will be but that full time role and responsibility has ended.  He is on his own with the skills he was given.  Now he simply has to use them.  Please let your son accomplish or fail this life test and learning opportunity. He has all the control over his own life based on what any of us control; Attitude and Behaviors. 

Out of failure comes GROWTH! or just more failure....we choose for ourselves.

I don't know if your son reads but mine found this to be a great read and tool to find balance in his path to adulthood. I buy this for all young people who are on a journey of enlightenment and personal growth. 

The way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.  Part-fictional, part-autobiographical book based upon the early life of the author Dan Millman. The book has been a bestseller in many countries since its first publication in 1980. The story tells of a chance meeting with a service station attendant who becomes a spiritual teacher to the young gymnast, Dan Millman. The attendant, whom Millman names Socrates, becomes a kind of father figure and teaches Millman how to become a "peaceful warrior."

I enjoyed this book so much, I have read all of them :) I especially liked the Journey of Socrates.

Hugs, my dear sister in pain.  You have come to the right place but as Luise said, counseling would be a good idea.  I use counseling as needed and it works for me!


Thanks for all of the helpful advice, I need the input!

I think I will go with my gut and not contact him at all.  I'm really hoping this jail time will be the wake up call he needs!

I was thinking back to a few years ago when he told my DH that I was "full of empty threats". That's when I got tough with him and put my foot down, for real.  I am pretty sure his is a natural reaction to the reality that I followed through and now he has to grow up.  I wish him the best. I feel like I did as much as possible to get him set on the right path. I helped him enroll in school, he got financial aid and got a car and other things he needed for school. Pretty much had it made in my house until he kept up the disrespect and kept smoking pot in my house.  I can't change the conversations he has with himself in his head or the low self esteem/negative outlook on life. That's something he has to do for himself. He is a good looking kid and does well when he wants to. I wonder if the ADHD thing is still an issue since he did stop taking medication for it in 9th grade (when he started smoking pot).  Also, I have told him the effects that long term pot use has on his brain. I can't make him stop but I do warn him of how it can change his mood for the worse.  *calling counselors this afternoon*


Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


Thanks so much for the love and advice and FYI changed my username since I have a feeling I will be consulting this site- A LOT!  ;)


I'm very glad you are seeking a counselor for yourself.  I think when things cross over to illegal and abuse, that is truly the best thing you can do.  You need someone to sound off to that can give you professional advice.  You have done your best, he has dug this hole himself.  I wouldn't contact him and I would just work on yourself with a counselor on how YOU get through this.  That may sound harsh of me to say let him be, but it is a fact that statistics show, people that abuse animals usually get worse and start abusing people.  Sorry to say that, but it is true.

Take care of yourself.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Exactly why I am so upset about this. I feel like he will get worse if he does not get help and also learn consequences right now. His court apt attorney called me, practically begging me to bail him out (I'm assuming so it will make HIS life and case load easier). I told him there is NO WAY I'm getting him out and told him not to even mention that he spoke to me. His friend sent me a text, I didn't respond. I think I'm doing good so far. I want to call the prosecutor to see if he can court order him to a treatment facility (in patient) because the abuse thing HAS to be dealt with. I know he probably thinks it's no big deal, his friends online all act like "he didn't even do anything" but that is the thing, their mentality at that age is so *out there*.   I will not help him until he helps himself. If he chooses not to help himself, I have to cut ties with him.  Hopefully he'll get to sit in jail for a good 6 months. *sigh*