This reply was originally posted by user parentcoachjoyce in ADDitude’s now-retired community.
I feel for you. I know you feel like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
But I think you already know what you SHOULD do, but perhaps you are just not prepared to do it.
In reading your note, it is clear that you already realize that he is not going to follow your “stipulations” (and it’s probably clear to him that he will get away with it if he doesn’t).
The reality is, stipulations or not, in all likelihood he is going to continue to do what he’s always done—until something clicks in his head and he decides he doesn’t want to live that way any more (and obviously that hasn’t happened).
And you are going to continue to do what you’ve always done, until you decide you don’t want to live like that anymore.
The way I see it, you have two choices for how you handle this:
1. You can decide that he can live there no matter what and that you”ll put up with all of it. I know you are probably thinking, “no way, I’m not going to do that.” but really, this is essentially the option you are picking if you set stipulations that you are not prepared to follow through on. If you choose this option, then you need to choose it with the knowledge that you are not helping him by doing this; you are just helping yourself—so you can feel good about ‘helping’ him, and don’t have to feel bad about the prospect of him having to be ‘homeless’.
2. You can set some firm non-negotiable ground rules for your house (not in an attempt to change or control him but to merely state clearly what you will and won’t tolerate in YOUR house, like cleanliness issues, mutual respect issues, financial contributions, etc.) and you make it very clear today the minute he walks in the door that the very split second he breaks any of them, he must leave; no second chances, no listening to excuses.
And then, when it happens (which it likely will), you MUST follow through. You will have to go deaf to his excuses and guilt trips and excuses. You will have to push your bad feelings aside and follow through—for your sake as well as his.
Will that be easy? No, it’ll be the hardest thing you ever do. Of course you don’t WANT him to be homeless. But the fact is, if he breaks the stipulations (stipulations that he knew ahead of time, and knew from you that he would have to leave if he broke them), then HE is deciding to be homeless; you didn’t decide for him.
The bottom line is that it’s normal that you want to help him but you need to realize that sheltering him from consequences is not helping, it’s essentially clipping his wings.
It’s time for you to let him figure his life out for himself, and time for you to decide how you want to live your life (preferably in a way that doesn’t involve you feeling stress, anxiety and dread every day! That’s no way to live!)
All of this reminds me of that saying: sometimes the RIGHT thing to do is not the EASY thing to do. I encourage you to get some help and support for yourself so you can deal with all the feelings that will come up as you follow through and do the hard (but right) things.
I wish you the best.
Parenting Coach, mom of adult son with ADHD, author