Bad with Dad but Ok with others

My son, 26 yo, moved 6 months ago to our home. He was homeless before that. Was put on probation due to braking into a home hiding from people he thought were following him under a very bad paranoic episode. Got 5 years probation and requirement to follow treatment.
He is generally ok with treatment. He has always had animosity agiants his Dad. But after a couple of months dealing well with his Dad now he is back on hating him, ignoring him when he talks, not talking to him, and doing some micro acts of aggresion. Anything his dad says my son constructs it like a huge thing. For instance, if Dad says, close the door after coming in, son later tells me his Dad is yelling to him. I am looking for a place for him since we cannot live in the same house like that. I do not know from where his anger and hate toward Dad come from since his Dad has always been supportive of him. I feel like I have to always been in the middle and is affecting me. Have any of you experienced that situation where it is more or less tolerant with you but not with another member of the home?


Yes. Our son’s violent outbursts have been 98% focused on me (dad). Years of therapy, reading, and reflecting have led me to believe the following factors have contributed to this unwanted negative focus:

  1. I’m the disciplinarian. Rule setter. Line drawer. The enforcer of house rules. He can manipulate mom through fear/intimidation but not typically me. Not attempting a debate in parenting roles - just stating facts.

  2. Our child was adopted at birth. His birth father never acknowledged him or responded to his attempts to connect. He HATES his birth father for abandoning him (his words). That hatred is likely transferred to me.

  3. I try to use LEAP, CBT, and other relationship skills to interact and engage. But I choose to draw the line on accepting ALL of his beliefs (flat earth, new world order, satanic cabals running our government, etc). Clearly there is some truth mixed in with all of his extreme positions and I try to affirm his beliefs. But sometimes I can’t. So I gently hold my beliefs and remind him that ‘we’ll just have to love and respect each other’s position’.

In some protective way, I’m really glad his violence is focused on me. This fact has kept my wife and two other kids much safer. But I’m closing in on 60 years of age and my son is early 20’s, 6’0 tall and 240 pounds. It can be scary.

I don’t know if I could cope with this illness without a strong faith. Peace and love to your husband and all of us who are the targets of wrath from our affected loved ones.


Yes this happened in our house as well. We were in the same situation where we considered having my husband move out for awhile. Things escalated before this happened which ended up with our son being involuntarily committed to the hospital. His aggression towards his father was a big factor in the magistrate’s decision to grant that.
That was the start of our son’s recovery. 2 years now of med compliance as it was a condition of him coming home. Clozapine.
It turns out that all that anger towards his father was part of a delusion. A deep seated one where he believed his dad was not his real father but someone trying to control his brain.
Once he was on the right meds; things are thankfully back to where they should be and they have a close relationship.
Things were pretty scary for awhile though.
My son never actually attacked his father but I think it was headed there; just want you to be aware that there might be the potential for that anger to go physical.

Wow these posts ring true for me so so much. My ex’s solution was to move 3k miles away. Then it got 10 times worse yet I am out of the picture. Not alot to say but yea. It first started when he was 15 or so. I would tell my friends and coworkers about it and the consensus was yea well, welcome to the teenage years… But in my heart I knew something much more sinister was happening. I can’t believe he graduated from high school. At first, in trying to retain masculinity I would fight him and restrain him/defeat him but when I realized this activity was every night, I succumbed. I began kind of hiding, trying to be very quiet and going to bed when he told me to. GO TO BED LITTLE MAN! He would say. Yelling and screaming at me, in my face. Then it was full on violence, think dirty wrestling on hard concrete (tile) floor. Both of my elbows are chipped from being taken to the ground so many times, that’s forever. I’ve never been in a fight in my life but my son was obsessed with wrestling, mma and boxing and learned how to do it, and enjoyed practicing it on me. Since they left, that violence has now turned on his mother and shes filed a protective order on him. Sando- flat earth, new world order, satanic cabals running our government, etc yes, same with my son. He also believes he is living in a simulation- some kind of matrix type thing or something. The other day he called and said Dad I want you to come get me out of this place and then kill me. I said no that isn’t going to happen. He called last night crying and apologizing like crazy for his mom and I breakup. Sure hope they don’t put him out in the street to sleep on a park bench like he did for 3 weeks earlier in the summer because it will not be good for him or society in general.

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It’s so very hard, isn’t it?

I observed this with my brother, diagnosed decades ago and now in his 60s, medicated and relatively stable. Unfortunately (for me) my father–the lightening rod, so to speak–died this spring. Prior to that, my brother was simply stuffed with angry things to say about him. My dad in turn had practically given up on his son. As my dad was winding down his life this year, he softened toward my brother. In turn, my brother talked about my dad even more relentlessly, alternately hateful but also with much new effort to understand and forgive him, to come up with a new mental scheme, I would call it, to accept that basically, my dad was an okay guy. No better or worse than all of us. My brother was the very first to cry at the burial when we started the service, for what it’s worth.

I’m no doctor but I know that the onset of schizophrenia (the 20s usually for males) coincides with the natural breaking-away desire in most humans, so there is an inherent conflict between sons and fathers. In a perfect world this is healthy and gets resolved. With mental illness, it can get frozen. My brother was certainly frozen or stuck in that dynamic. I did observe that my dad over the years contributed to the stuck status, too, by not moving much beyond how disappointed he was that my brother, so many years ago, turned away from the life my dad wanted him to lead, that is, a successful life of goodness and accomplishment. My dad did very little to learn about schizophrenia, even though my mom was involved up to her neck in NAMI at a local, state and national level, among other things.

It was hard to be involved. I didn’t pick sides. Truthfully, I fled the family mess for several years. Not proud but it was how I coped.

My mother was simply tortured by the situation.

I think that when someone is suffering from mental illness, he or she looks for someone or something to blame things on, and for that reason, I now tread carefully so as to not become the new “it” for my brother. A benign example: my dad and brother disagreed for years about short versus long hair. One day this spring, as my dad lay dying, my brother tried to coax ME into a discussion on whether he (brother) should cut his hair or not. I wanted to shout “Heck yeah, you look a mess!” but I just shrugged. Not my battle. He let it go and got a hair cut the very next week.

I felt so bad for my dad being the target, and I also sympathized with my brother and his pain. Yes, there were valid reasons that they sparred, but did it need to be so violent? I say no. As a sibling who watched this unfold for decades, I now think that fathers often have to do the lion’s share of the work in becoming even more mentally flexible in trying to understand their sons. Then, maybe then, the son will see a shift in his opponent and drop it or try to change a little.

It’s not fair.

I wish you peace dealing with this.

(Just reread your post and you say the father is supportive. How very difficult and complicated that must be.)

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Long time ago in a therapy session, the pschologist told us that the most difficult relationships ever are father and son. Add a mental illness to that and it really can get chaotic.


I have 2 stories to share, hopefully one will be useful.
I have an elder brother who is schizophrenic. He can be violent and at one point nearly killed my father. The solution was to take him off my father’s hand and moved him away to a city where I lived. Eventually, the violence became directed to me and the solution was to put him up in a psychiatric home. Nowadays, when my brother and I talked, he would reminisce about his childhood with dad who has since passed away.
My daughter who has Sz was also at times angry and blaming her mum. I found that the frustration my wife had when the stove is dirty, or when the food went wasted, or we have to wash loads of her laundry in a day may have been the cause of the animosity. At times it’s not what my wife said but the tone can become a flashpoint to start an argument. What seems to have worked over time is to explain why mum is angry and to explain to my wife how our daughter wants to feel useful and appreciated. It took a while. Now, my daughter puts the dishes away after the dishwasher, tips out the rubbish, does her own laundry. If the stove is dirty or the pots and pans were left in the basin, we will clean it after her. All in all, it came to a good arrangement. My daughter helped out around the house, and we are happy to clean up after her. Now, I am happy seeing mother and daughter bonding over makeups, skin care and stuff, or when they started laughing together talking about me behind my back :slight_smile:

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My daughter’s animosity was directed at my husband, her step father. She made up sexual events and reported him to the police who investigated and then dropped the investigation. Other arguments happened. She called the police on him regularly for awhile. None of that would have gotten better without her getting arrested out in town (nothing to do with us) court ordered onto Haldol. I told the judge "she can read your mind and talks to people ‘up there’ " so he knew she was severely mentally ill, and ordered medication if she wanted out of jail. She continued the Haldol injections after the court order wore off. Slow steady improvement on the medicine. Now they get along just fine. She still lives with us and we have a happy life compared to the hell life it used to be.


So sorry to hear your story- I assume he has been hospitalized in the past without any relief?

My son (30) also had a psychosis that centered around his father (among others). As Sando mentioned it does seem to spring from a deep uncertaintly/ unresolved conflicts with his dad. I think a lot of the delusions work that way. They come from something subconscious but just like dreams they aren’t completely random. If you work on the relationship I think it can help. Of course when someone is that psychotic you can’t really manage it. You need help and that means meds/ involuntary hospitalization. Our story sounds so much like Hanginginthere’s. My son is now stable and mostly at peace thanks to medication (clozapine) and rehab.

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We had the same thing happen with my son. He couldn’t get along with his stepdad, so we found him a board and care. It made a huge difference in our lives and relationship.

Yes pretty much. He has been more than 10 times in 4 years, in jail twice. They keep him in psych hospital for less than a week and let him go with meds, then he gets home and refuses to take them and repeat the process. They are starting him on clozapine now, I understand is kind of a last resort. Trying to be hopeful but I have basically run out of hope.

Sorry I hijacked your post with my long response earlier. Guess I have a lot of thoughts on this topic. I did see a lot of chaos.

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No worries. That’s the udea. Share our experiences and learnings.

@Billy wow - our experiences sound so similar. I’ve got permanent pain in my neck from some particularly violent attacks. So damn tragic and sad.

And so many stories here that are comforting- in the most ironic of ways- to learn we’re not alone in this shit. SZ sucks. Learning how best to love our affected one - and how best to live for the rest of us - is a daily battle.

So here’s a fun, very real question for this group of fellow, wounded, warriors: I’ll keep the facts true but disguised to protect all parties.

I took the opportunity to spend ALL of my time these last several months to focus on our SZ, 22 YO son. He’s doing much better. Moved back home. Med compliant. Working 20 hours a week.

But it takes my constant involvement and engagement to perpetuate. For all the father-son dynamics referenced above, I seem to be uniquely able to calm him. It takes a huge toll on me, but he’s living his best life. By outward appearances, I’m NOT living my best life.

Recently I was provided the opportunity to re-engage professionally. A multi-million $ opportunity to jump back in. It would be an amazing opportunity for me. It would require ALL of my time and attention to get back into shape. But when I succeed (because I would!!), it would be SOOO rewarding- personally, professionally. And I can easily argue that all the additional money would help us take care of our child.


My son would suffer. My wife would be forced to step back into her role as primary care giver. A role she did for over 7 years - and it nearly killed her. It would likely end up like it had for years - elevated stress and anxiety leading to non-compliance or other drugs and then a major episode. It would likely end with him back in a psych unit.

Even as I type these words… I see the answer. But I’ll ask it anyway- should I focus on living my life and providing resources for our family- or focus on my son and keep my needs/ego buried?

Remember- we all face this same question daily!!! Perhaps my current example makes it more obvious - a bright line of choice with such a big professional opportunity. I must answer within 24 hours.

Love wins. But at what cost?


My advise would be the following, and I know I do not know all the details regarding this opportunity that is opening to you, so maybe nothing here you have not thought already. Here my ten cents advise.

  1. Take that opportunity and push for what you want. If you want remote work, flexible hours, part time, 4 days a week, etc. Be upfront and don’t be shy to ask. The labor market is tight, it is a good environment to make demands. There is more people in a similar position than what you think.
  2. Everyday or so do a self-care activity, some alone, some with wife.
  3. Remember, we cannot solve all the problems and we cannot afford to die in trying.
  4. Make sure you are attentive to the early signs of crises and act accordingly.
  5. Alternate daily care with wife.
  6. Take a daily time to be with son, 15 mins or so.

Your son has a job!!! Thats great!


This is so hard. He probably needs a lot more time in hospital (obvious statement sorry!)
In our case we were able to bribe our to enter a private supportive housing and dual diagnosis treatment place by telling him that if he did so we would get him his own apartment
He ended up staying there for about 6 months. We had to spend retirement money to fund it and that taught me that treatment really is out there but just inaccessible for most.

Clozapine requires a lot of help from family or caseworkers due to the frequent blood draws and it takes a long time (for many) to see real improvement but try not to lose hope. Even without treatment I’ve read that many people with sz/ sza see improvement as they get older and also violence becomes less common.
I really hope your family will see some relief soon. Living in that state of crisis for so long is just so unbelievably stressful.

What a dilemma. My quick opinion, to be taken lightly, is that you already know that this professional opportunity would have the extrinsic rewards, like accomplishment and money, that we all desire as modern humans. But there are just as many measures, including the highest for some people–spiritual–that point to staying in place overseeing your son, especially as he navigates his 20s.

The deeper intrinsic rewards aren’t always noticed. (One of these days, I’m going to pop my shoulder out while patting myself on the back for staying engaged with my brother. I have to. Society doesn’t often reward me.)

At some point, reengage with something, though. Decide if this is the time. Your wife will want you to continue to be stable, and engaging with others at your level would probably do that. I watched my super smart mom devote so much of herself to her son, one could argue it was too much. I’m not sure. I think she was/is amazing. Depends maybe who your ultimate audience, or judge, is.

Good luck.

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@Sando Sando, we have all witnessed how much you love your son, you are a dedicated parent. I suspect you are doing what is necessary to satisfy yourself that you are giving the attempt to save your son from his scz your utmost effort. To be frank, your effort is above and beyond anything required from a parent. To some extent, you are doing this for yourself - and I do understand the importance of that to you and I know that that alone is reason enough for you to continue your efforts.

“Surviving Schizophrenia A Family Manual” was written by Dr E. Fuller Torrey. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, Dr Torrey is the leading authority on schizophrenia and its impact on our family members. I am sure you have Dr Torrey’s book in your collection - its the first book we should all read after we find out about our family members.

In the book, Dr Torrey lists predictors for outcome for our family members. Dr Torrey is direct, its not a pretty accounting of the reality for my child. Dr Torrey also says something like we should bear in mind that he has seen enough cases that finished differently from predictions to make anyone humble about making predictions.

Having said that, for me personally, I do believe in being realistic. I believe in hoping for the best while preparing for the worst.

I believe in the family structure -a family structure that supports all members of the family equally.

This business makes us have to look at our lives and organize our priorities with much harsher scores and deeper despair than families who don’t deal with our issues. Do such priorities hurt us? Oh my yes, they break our hearts, they bring us to our knees. Still, I believe, we must limit the damage to ourselves and the rest of our family. We must get up off our knees and get back at it fighting the good fight with the best interests of ALL parties in mind.

The right answer must be something else. Get your life back. I think you will be surprised that there is a workable solution, you just haven’t found it yet.

The current new normal is not working for everyone, it won’t last long, it never does. Each new normal needs to work for everyone. Paid professional companion in their own space? It may take a while to find the right person for the job, but I believe they are out there.

Good luck!


Hi @Sando, imho after 20 plus years of this, i agree with the others who say this journey is usually one of ups and downs. I dont know yr financial position but the rewards from this opportunity would help all of you greatly in meeting the needs of son and you all over the years. With hindsight I can see most of my efforts helped in the short term but really didnt make a lasting difference so it wouldnt have been so bad to prioritise myself and younger son at times :smirk:. All the best with your decision, i hope it all works out for you