My son is out of control and I don't know what to do

My son lives in a city over an hour and half away from his family home. He has been telling us lie after lie. We thought he was on his medication and doing well at a new job. Then recently I got a call from a girl telling me about all the things he has been doing to her (financially) and she has been doing some “detective” work and found out that he is trying to scam some other girl too. This girl checks out. This is not the first time he has done this kind of thing. He activated a couple of credit cards in my husband’s name and wracked up thousands and thousands of dollars of debt. We actually thought he was on the right track now. We have been very stupid to believe him (especially me, his mom) knowing his past track record. He is just so convincing and I think I wanted to believe him so badly. Our son has had schizophrenia for over 10 years and he is only 22 . He has visual hallucinations and auditory through-out each day. We so desperately want to get him some help before he ends up in jail. He is not violent, but he is hurting people emotionally and financially and needs to be stopped!
I want him to get back on his meds and going to counseling regularly again, but I have no way of holding him accountable. We talk with him most everyday, but obviously he’s just lieing to us.
These are some of my ideas: Let him know they we know he’s in serious legal trouble and that we will stand with him if he downloads an app on his phone so we know that he actually is going and living where he says he is. Give us power of attorney and healthcare. Allow us to go with him to his initial counseling sessions and then check in once in a while thereafter. And try to get him on the once a month shot so he doesn’t have to remember to take his medication.
I don’t think he has a clue he is in as much “hot” water as he is with the law. I know he’s very afraid to go to jail. He’s very small and jail would be very very frightening. However, I’m also always worried that he might harm himself. He has come close a few times in the past.
Is there any legal way we can make him accountable? How do we help him before he hurts anyone else or himself?

Maybe if there was some way to scare your son - make him think he was going to jail. This kind of a problem can be intractable. As long as people are willing to trust your son he is going to take advantage of them. Maybe he’ll grow out of it.

Maybe you could work with this girl, give her her money back if the second part doesn’t work, and exchange have her press charges. You would probably need to talk to a lawyer about this to make sure this second part is not illegal. Maybe if you and the girl told the prosecuting attorney what you were planning. No idea though. Have them throw him in jail for a few days and then be let out on parole under the terms that he repays her. If he still doesn’t straighten up after that scare there might be nothing you can do to help him.

I read this wonderful book called Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend. They are both religious and there are a lot of Bible verses in there, so be prepared for that. But this book has helped me immensely and I think it could help you figure out how to deal with your son too. Please get it and read it before taking any action though. One of the things they talk about his how to set boundaries with you kids. One of the examples (if I remember it right) was almost just like what you were going through. Someone had a son that kept getting in trouble, but because his parents kept bailing him out he just kept getting in worse and worse trouble. I really recommend this book to everyone and anyone.

CAn you get him admitted to psych hospital. You could talk to his psychiatrist if he has one. Try and get him admitted to psychiatric hospital.

Welcome to the forum @nelsocat

My son is 20 and currently living with me and my husband. I have been tossing around the idea of power of attorney for some time. I haven’t done it yet however I have looked into just in case.

Money is actually what my son and I seem to butt heads over the most and drugs and alcohol :smile: . He just doesn’t get it. I have allowed myself to go into a fair amount of dept to help him and give him a better life. It never seems to be enough. He currently has two cell phone bills, one going into collections… Do I pay them for him or let them go? On one hand if I let it go into collections than chances of him being able to run up more dept becomes less.

I wish I had some answers…

I’m doing my best to put in what safe guards I can but in the end he will do what he wants even to his own detriment or harm.

Thank you for your suggestions, particularly the book idea. I just downloaded the audible version (hopefully I can get it working) and I plan on listening to it right away. I love the idea that it has a lot of scripture in it as I need God’s guidance for sure! Thanks again:)

I can certainly relate. If you let it go to collections, they will sometimes work with you (your son that is) to get it paid down. I know as we’ve been in that situation also.

I’m a schizophrenic who was emotionally immature at age 20 and again at age 30. Hobbit-like, I seem at last to have gained some emotional maturity.


I am suffering from the same thing. My son is 18. He is robbing us blind. I am completely at a loss on what to do. It’s so frustrating because I care but we can’t go to the bathroom or even the back yard without being robbed. I don’t want to throw him out on the streets because i know he’s sick but my husband and his three brothers can’t take much more. I have no idea what to do or where to start.

I have been willing and able to tolerate and accept a lot of behavior, but I would definitely not be able to tolerate theft - likewise, property destruction. My son would not have the option to live at home with me, nor would I provide access to money. I’d put him up somewhere - some people go the route of long term motel stays - but not with me. I would provide food or gift cards for grocery stores, and a basic phone.

I would let the debt go to collections. They can’t get water out of a rock - if the money isn’t there, there isn’t a whole lot that they could do about it. It isn’t, and shouldn’t be, your debt.

I’m in this for the long haul, and in order to be so, I have to set some boundaries that I can tolerate myself - otherwise I would be in the poor house myself, and wouldn’t be able to help him one bit.

In regard to how your son is using other people - I would be sympathetic, and provide advice, but young people get themselves into all kinds of messes on their own accord, and the women have probably just learned a difficult life lesson. My suggestion is to do what you think is right, but only as much as you feel comfortable doing - it was not your doing that created the problem, and should not be your undoing to fix it.

Finally, I did seek and get guardianship of my son - mostly because of lack of compliance with his meds resulting in repeated hospitalizations and problems in the community. It is not always easy, but it has allowed me to help my son gain a measure of stability. I hope that as he matures he will some day regain his own guardianship, but he has for the most part come to see me as a benevolent guardian, who really does do things that result in his life getting better.

Welcome to the forum @abenadiva

In the past my son has stole from me. I keep money and medications that can be abused in my purse and my purse will go everywhere with me if needed. Not ideal I know.

Make sure you get the unabridged version. I don’t know if there is an abridged version of that book, but when I bought my first (and only) audio book it didn’t say abridged in big letters. I had to hunt for it.

I agree with Valleypenne.
My son did the exact same thing-over and over again. He got pretty clever. I dont think he paid any consequences for things he did. But they did come back on him whenever he tried to get help. He weaved a tangled web all over the place--and we kept bailing him out and helping. I know theres the concern about the mental disorder, but there is no excuse for these other things. My son was doing some awful chemicals. He hocked quitars that I let him borrow, stole from everyone in the family, was kicked out of 5 different apartment buildings that I put the money up for-and also paid double for bills he did not pay…on and on.
If your son is 22, let him pay now-
I would have gone bankrupt if it had not been for my sister…
Everyone else saw through this except me–the mom.
Its very easy and natural to try and help or save your children. This disease requires you at times----to do the opposite of what your mothers intuition tells you to do.
Ive had some very good advice from people on this site. Let go.** Abenadiva----if he cant stop stealing from you, maybe try a homeless shelter for one night. I dont mean to sound harsh. I have been through every possible door with my son and it didnt make a bit of difference.
He stole from so many people-not just the family…he also hung out with people who did the same to him.
Please do not accept bad behavior!

Jayster, I’ve been coming to this site off and on since my son was diagnosed around the year 2000. I want you to know that in the past whenever things were at their worst, your blogs always gave me hope that my son could improve and have a good life. Thanks for that. Although he continues to have relapses (always when missing his meds) right now he is doing well. I am thankful for every day that’s a good day.

Try not to rescue your son from the consequences of his own actions, unless the consequences are too damaging. I don’t think you need to pay his cell phone bill. He will just run up another one. In Al anon they talk about “detachment with love”. Help your son, but protect yourself. Your son needs help with the drugs, and he won’t get help until he has been hurt by drugs worse than he can tolerate. That won’t happen if you protect him from the consequences of his own actions.