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Advice:
My Adult Son is Starting To Abuse Me
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My son is 22. I've mentioned him often here. He's a great guy, but we are starting to get a problem right now in that he is starting to abuse me verbally as his father does.

My husband has been away for a week now on a 6 week holiday in SE Asia. Ok, that may sound odd, but he's not exactly a regular guy, for whatever reason. I'm sure he has Asperger's too, like my son, but there are other things too, like passive aggression and narcissism which can get sadistic. He (my husband) seems to have limited if any empathy and I think he treats me in a way that is heavily affected by how his parents bullied him. His mother obviously had Aspergers and his father was an alcoholic. There is no team partnership and he is very selfish and one-sided.

The first and previous time my husband went to SE Asia was 5 years ago. It was for 8 weeks. That time my oldest daughter, then 17, took over as resident bully. Now there is just my son and I in the home and my son is starting to bully me.

He criticizes me unpleasantly and it gets worse when I tell him I don't want him to do this. We don't keep at it though; just a couple of interchanges, but I find it very unpleasant. And he does what his father does in that he gets really mad at me when I ask him (nicely) not to speak to me like that - He makes loud dissatisfied and angry noises and storms off, shouting something negative as he goes.

Until my husband left, this wasn't an issue.

Can you think of what I might do?
Posted on 05/06/08, 10:22 am
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Advice:
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Reply #1 - 05/06/08  1:49pm
" Rosie, my friend from what you have said in this post...

I have gathered several things, unkown to me before to do with your situation..

Please bear with me and do not take this as a personal attack on you or your household..

my observations, conclusions, & opinions, are meant only for support and to help you here with this so always remember that I am your friend and also as such

have the guts to stand and be entirely boldly honest with you... (ouch)

#1)in your house hold it has become a sort of normal acepted behavior that you are the doormat/punching bag,

and when the primary abuser, isn't present the secondary and beyond ones will take over this function of distributing abuse to the abusee (you)

this patter is from a long build up ober the years so stopping it isn't going to be easy or happen over night either..

for things to change it means lots of hard work ahead of you

Now the first thing is your son is 22 and although he has AS...

(because it appeasers he has seen Dad use AS as a crutch and excuse for bad behavior he is also soing the same)

now to continue (the above was necessary to foundation my advice)

At 22 in the USA, most young men are expected to get or have a job, most are moving or have already moved out of their parents house..

this being so you are going to get sort of sternly & strongly Alpha with him...

#1) You have to remind him you are his mother and elder and therefore are going to be respected for that alone..

#2) that his in appropriate behavior is going to stop immediately.. (be prepared to follow thru, with appropriate prestated remedy of your choice)

I take it he is living under your roof and recieving Food & Shelter at you & your husbands expense..

so hence the advice is throw him out with his belongings because he is an adult man and can earn an income and provide these things for himself..

he has had thiing too easy, most likely and reality really hits ..

when mom & dad aren't providing the financial security of a home, utilities, food, & a vehicle etc.

the costs of these really hit the pocket books...

kids really change within the first 5 yrs of being out on their own...

most return to mom & dad and appologise for behaviors and being know-it-alls back in their younger years and admit their parents were smartere in lifes things..

BTW with the daughter out of house and away and husband on hiatus is the best time to rapidly get a jump on changing sons behavior because he doesn't have the other abusers as back-up support to continue...

if you need more on this let me know Rosie... I'm you're friend and here to help always remember that!

Walt "
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Reply #2 - 05/06/08  7:07pm
" I don't know Rose. It sounds tough and I feel for ya'.
I agree with Walt in that sometimes these "roles" are learned and then "assumed" when the primary is vacant. It's not a easily overcome. As kids our parents sometimes teach us things that bad or wrong or incorrect or simply just not the best way of handling something. That's poorly stated but if you take the subject of conflict resolution as an example. When we, as children watch our parents argue, yell and/or get physical, even though we hate it that's the way we learn how to deal with conflict resolution. It's our only model. What makes it double-tough is that in our adult years we need to UNlearn the bad way and then also learn the better way. Does that make sense?
Okay, here's a commercial to shift to a second point.
When I was young my father was a drunk, a full-blown alcoholic. As a result of his behavior, we kids tended to side with mom whenever "sides" needed to be taken. But once, long ago, I remember my mom going on a rant about something... can't remember just what it was, but I had one of those (seemingly) out-of-body experiences. You know, when you're in the midst of something and then this other part of you comes along and sort of shows you the same experience but from a different perspective?? Any of you ever do/have that? Anyway, the thrust of what this "other self" said was "So this is why he drinks so much. She could drive a man to it." Not a really fair thing to say because he drank for his own reasons. But the point was that she wasnít as innocent and pure as I had once believed.
I guess my point is this Rose (and maybe itís more of a question for you to ask yourself), what role do you play that irritates these folks so much? So much that they begin to criticize you in the first place? Or maybe a better question, is there a different way of handling these conflicts with your son than you use with your hubby? Maybe bring the point up in a discussion with him and flat out ask him what it is that you (Rose) do that irritates him. And especially that part about ď...it gets worse when I tell him I donít want him to do this.Ē Why Rose? Why does that, of all things, bother him so?
Just thinkiní out loud here, no harm intended.
I know that youíre a loving, caring woman Rose... youíll figure this out. GL. "
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Reply #3 - 05/07/08  12:38am
" Thanks very much, Walt. No problems and I appreciate it very much.

I'll address what you said so you know:

1. I am glad to say my son got a job a year ago. He is a help desk computer guy in a government department and earns a good wage.

2. I don't mind him living at home and I like (liked?) the guy though he was never there for me. But I said to myself "Well, that's ok. He's my son and I should be there for him".

3. He doesn't pay board and I don't think that is a good idea (for various reasons). But my husband set that one up without consulting me (as usual; he is a dictator and sole "ruler" of "his" house. I don't thnk he has a concpt of partner in marriage).

I just accepted that arrangement as there was nothing I could do but I did talk to my husband about it. But I was glad my son could save for a deposit on a unit.

4. Yes, I guess I am the fall guy

5. I think what I can change is between my son and me.

Telling him nicely doesn't work. Indeed it backfires.

I do do all the cooking, washing, shopping and household chores.

I'm still trying to work out what I can do.

But I can't say how much I appreciate your writing.

Rosie "
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Reply #4 - 05/07/08  12:55am
" Thank you

Yes, as usual you get the drift.

And I have been thinking about what I do to "bring this on myself".

Well, to go back to the beginning, my husband has always bullied me, from when we were just a couple of students sharing a house. Two of the earliest things he said to me were:

1. When I did my washing but hadn't done his - we had dated a bit but that was it- he said "Why haven't you done MY washing?".

I innocently asked "Why?", not at all natily.

He snapped angrily, "You must have read that in "The Women's Weekly". It's the top popular, light women's magazine here.

2. Somewhere around this time he wanted sex. I said no. Again he snapped angrily "You must be frigid !"


And really it has been like that ever since. He is very negative. When he doesn't like something, anything, he gets angry at me. He also does other things like criticizes me constantly; handles all the money; does the shopping to please himself (he doesn't buy well or healthily); controls everything he can; seems to think I am trying to control him if I ask him for or to do something and so he starts to argue and often says no from the beginning, regardless...

There is much more but that is all I can handle itemising right now.

There are characteristics of mine he doesn't like:

1. Showing emotions

2. Saying no to sex

3. Saying I don't agree (over anything; he takes it as a personal put down)

4. If I ask for something to happen differently (even trivial things)

I'm sure there is more.

I've tried to get my head around this but obviously haven't succeeded that well.

Since I married my husband, I feel I have become sad and hopeless and all wrong. And it really is getting too much for me, those feelings, plus the stress of not feeling I have any security with regard anything. "
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Reply #5 - 05/07/08  10:49am
" You know, I'm reminded of that little analogy about the guy who walks down a road and he doesn't see that there's a ditch in the middle of the road and he falls in. The next day he does the exact same thing and falls in again. The next day he turns down the road he remembers the ditch and tries to navigate around it but falls in still again. Over the next few days he tries different ways to navigate the ditch but again and again he falls in anyway. So what's the logical answer here? Well, that's obvious... find a different road right?
I wish that it was that easy with the ppl in our lives. That'd be great, huh?
Look, Rosie, you're not wrong. Your hubby is truly the "ditch" but your son only looks like the same road. He's a whole different road. And how you handle this situation with him is going to be done with all the previous knowledge that you've gained from dealing with hubby. He's not a ditch tho. (Maybe a Son of a Ditch... harhar) but he's not the same man. A similar problem but youíre going to have to handle it differently
But don't blame yourself. No, no way is that correct. Listen, if any person seems to irritate another person, it doesn't necessarily mean that anyone did anything wrong. Itís just two ppl with different outlooks on something. Itís true that one or both can be wrong but regardless of that, we need to learn to make concessions around that other person. Not to the point where we change our whole "being" or walking on egg shells... nothing like that. But trying to discover what irritates them and then curtailing that behavior when around them. That isn't "surrendering" our will over to them. Itís about making peace even when the other doesnít see the need for peace.
I don't know your religious convictions but I'm sure that you know that even Christ irritated others. He didn't do anything wrong. But He didn't abandon them completely nor did He become their doormat. Later in the New Testament Paul talked about how we can become a "stumbling block" to others by simply being ourselves. He suggested moderation and discretion when around them. But he didnít talk about ďbringing this on myselfĒ stuff. He was talking about when two worlds collide. And I didnít mean that you or my mom brought it on yourself/herself either. Itís more of one of those things that would be started off with the phrase ďYou know, in a perfect world... blah, blah, blah.
So anyway, I don't know what the answer here is for you but I do know that it doesn't involve you having to have sex w/hubby every time he wants it, or never showing emotions, or agreeing w/him all the time. In other words don't change Rosie... and don't try to change the Ditch. Heck Rosie, the topic of this thread isn't even about your hubby... it's your son.
The question seems more along the lines of "How can I deal with my son's poor behavior (which seems to mirror his dad's)?
Well, we already know that whatever you've tried with your hubby has been an abysmal failure (not your fault tho!!) so we need to come up with something new and different. And we know that what didn't work with hubby won't work w/your son because of what Walt and I talked about earlier. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. His dad taught him his behavior simply by living w/him and being the exemplar... no mystery there. Since there are two things that can't change, that is one, you won't leave and the other is that your son's behavior is unjust and therefore unacceptable. You have to focus (in my little stunted brain) on finding what it is that starts his cycle of abuse towards you. And that's a tough conversation to have with him. And then find a compromise for the purpose of living peaceably together.
But don't quit being you.
(of course in my little cartoon world you'd simply castrate your hubby and punch your son in the teeth every time he mouthed off to you that way. joking of course) "
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Reply #6 - 05/07/08  9:21pm
" Thanks Zwill.

"Son of a Ditch", lol. Yeah, funny. I liked that. Humour helps.

Thanks for writing again. I did feel, on reflection, that you were putting it a lot on me in your earlier post but this one shows you see how there are things I can't change.

But you know the serenity prayer? I really like it. And I do try to apply it to my life. So the question becomes what can I change.

And yes, this post was about my son, but he and I are in a context and the context - the other operating variables - make a difference. Obviously my husband is such a variable; a big one.

I've been following the story of the Austrian Fritzl guy who locked her daughter up in a dungeon for 24 years. I don't usually like to read awful stories as they upset me but I am trying to learn from this one as I see similarities.

I read words about Fritzl that are like word-gifts/keys I can take to unlock the puzzle of my life a bit better. For example, there were words like "tyrant" , "terrorise" and "insensitive".

And I have learned from looking at patterns of Fritzl's behavior such as that he does APPARENTLY kind things like take some of his prisoner babies outside to freedom and similarly for his 19 yr old very ill daughter's daughter who seems to have acute kidney failure (I wonder if she took an overdose as my 18 year old did recently - she no longer lives at home).

It can be so confusing trying to understand what is going on in my life. But certain things can help such as other people's stories and talking to people (I also read a lot).

I have always been interested in that St Paul's "stumbling block" lesson. Thank you for drawing it in. I must go and look it up and I'll give it a good think.

I am thinking of leaving my husband though the thought terrifies me. The basic problem is money as he has total control of all his wage and I wrecked my career to care for my son (who was really difficult with others, including my husband, as a child). But I am working a little from home now and this time I am trying to save even though my husband is trying to use the money. Unfortunately I don't earn enough and have expenses and have to support myself as that is how it has always gone in this family. This includes trying to do the thesis to finish off the coursework Master of Theology Degree I am doing. My area is philosophy. There are costs. My husband resents my studying and won't help, but I felt I needed to and had a right too. It is my main money spender. I am pretty frugal generally. He says that he will burn my books if I die. And he says he wants his share of them if we divorce though he never reads such things. I suppose that is a deterrent threat like how he used to say "If you aren't happy here, leave. But don't think you will get the children,"

Anyway, I am trying to think this all through and not to crack up. Despair is always hovering there waiting to get me.

I haven't spoken to my son sice, shortly after his last unpleasantness, I went and told him I would like him to treat me civilly and with respect. He yelled "Jeeze !!!!" angrily, rolled his eyes and threw his hand up in the air and looked very angry. I am afraid I stormed out and slammed his door and I have never done that before and am sorry I did. Now he won't talk to me and was out last night without warning. Luckily I didn't cook a meal that was wasted. I am sure he thinks it is all my fault as that is how it goes here and I often do too, right or wrong. "
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Reply #7 - 09/01/08  4:34pm
" Rosem: PLEASE.. take it from me and these other people. Firstly, you are my hero and the best for realizing you are abused and wanting to leave! 'oh please' was my mother's reaction throughout the 90's to adult children living at home.. he works? for the GOVT?! has a job? and is living at home rent free?! Uh uh. Sorry.My parents paid room and board after age 18.. I offered to pay mine and they refused.. I worked for the govt and i am telling you the honest facts: There is NO JOBIN THIS COUNTRY THAT IS MORE SECURE AND PAYS MORE BENEFITS AND HOLIDAYS THAN A GOVT JOB! I worked for the govt in both city and federal, and was raised in federal govt agency employed house.. I know of whence I speak. You are doing your son no favors by letting him live with you.. if you dont want to charge rent, then help subsidize him if neccessary to get his own PLACE. You work, you get your own place. period. And govt employment is also the most SECURE job you will ever get, as it is nearly impossible to get fired. I made very little on one of my 'govt' jobs , nevertheless, as soon as I gave the agency name and ' I work for -' the smiling landlords breathed 'ohh' in awe and offered me a place right away.. it will be no problem for him to get and most importantly, KEEP a place. He is a grown man and responsible for himself. Yes, sounds like he likely learned to treat you like crap from your husband there, but that is no excuse to continue it. PEOPLE TREAT YOU LIKE YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE TREATED. Isn't it really a selfish reason, like control, to keep your kid 'at home'? and as my mother said to us, what about when mommy and daddy aren't around anymore? I also know about finances, is there no friend or kind relative who would let you stay with them until you can get a GOOD paying job? And you CAN do it.

I saw my father AND brother abuse my 'm',and I had zero respect for her being treated like a doormat. Being honest.
and it is very traumatic. Please let us know how it turns out.. explain to him you are not 'kicking him out' but that grown men do their own laundry and cooking and that if need be you will help him find a place and i'd say assist finanically, but the guy is working a 'good' govt job, you say, and this indicates he can survive on his own! Come on!
Make sure you are not keeping him there for your own reasons.. my cousin FINALLY isleaving home, age 23-24, making over $50 grand a year as an aerospace engineer.. yes, they are crippled emotionally from a disorder or abuse, but If i could leave on $8.50 an hr , they can, too. No one said it was easy.. but waiting only makes it that much harder. "
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Reply #8 - 09/01/08  4:41pm
" Rosem: you mentioned the serenity prayer:

It also states changing the things we can'.. meaning you can tell them both to leave, even if you cant change them.. or you can leave.

There is another 12 step piece about the definition of insanity being doing the same things over and over expecting different results. You indicate how it has already obviously affected your daughter.. we left too, at age 16 and 17, and my mother continues to have a 40 yr old man living at home who still seems to be her fear around which she has scheduled her days for so many yrs.. puh-lease! end this now with a 22 yr old. "
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Reply #9 - 09/01/08  7:42pm
" Thanks for commenting, missxmusic. I read what you said carefully and also reread the similarly fantastic posts I got earlier. I am very grateful for this help and it touches me that you all reached out to me.

I am trying to act as best I can. I guess it is true that I have been pushed aside by my husband and the kids and as if into a hole in the ground. And then my husband showed the kids how to shovel dirt onto me.

Trouble is I vame to this marriage feeling I couldn't look after myself and that I didn't deserve much. I've been trying to "grow" and I know I have, but maybe that just equals not getting totally crushed and dominated or going quite dysfunctional and insane. To elaborate on the being pushed into a hole analogy, I think I have learned how to make it reasonably nice in there, like a little cave - my place. And if they shovel dirt onto my hole, I work on not fretting over it and turning my mind to other things. So, for example, I have adjusted to how my son is becoming, his father's clone. I was shocked and very hurt when he started doing this relatively recently (he treated me well until then). It was pain and grief. But now I think I have adjusted, letting go one more expectation of what I wanted from my life. So I focus now on just being simple and straight and civil with my son - but I have withrawn - he never really was there for me anyway - the only difference is that, if he does something rather callous, etc, I don't take it nearly as personally though somewhere in my heart I feel a pain (but i ignore it as there is no point).

My husband runs this house. I have no power. So I can't do much about a lot of things. But if my son gets bad enough I will refuse to do his laundry.

For various reasons - well, basically because I think my husband is planning to demolish my little "hole" that I have settled into - I am trying to face the issue of divorcing him. Unfortunately the anxiety I feel about that (primarily because I have little money) is paralysing me. So I am stuck in an untenable situation, like a cat frozen in the lights of a car speeding towards it. "

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