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Father (Recovering Addict) vs Mother (Victim of Addict) - How Do We Handle Our Son?

I have a 19-year-old son that has had a history of making bad choices. I am at a complete and total loss, according to some of post, drug use or "experimenting", makes it sound like a "right of passage" type of behavior that is OK for our children to display, they'll grow out of it. I cannot totally agree with that answer.

I've had to sit down and write the various infractions that our son has attained since his Freshman year of high school. It appears to have progressed over time, like addiction.

I am a 15-year recovering addict myself and he knows that I am. I do not want to see him go down the same path I went down. I have a wife who was a victim of her mothers drug abuse growing up.

I feel our son has not been held accountable and she has completely enabled him and not allowed him to be accountable for any of his actions, the classic "drill sergeant vs helicopter" scenario.
Where is the middle of the road when it comes to parents needing to decide what is best for their child? We have two polar opposite points of view (the recovering addict vs. the victim of an addict).

Our son is totally capable of doing the right thing, however, he has never been held accountable for his actions, I feel he is very complacent on wanting to strive to become a productive member of society.

Any Feedback is much appreciated.


First of all - you and your wife both need to get on the same page - because if you don't have a 'unified front' and your son is getting mixed messages from you both, nothing you do will work. He'll just manipulate the situation to get the result he wants by playing you off against each other.

You're absolutely right - your son does need to be held accountable for the choices he makes - and you need to enforce consequences if he continues making bad choices. Drug/Alcohol Abuse should never be encouraged, but the reality is that for many teenagers and adolescents it is unfortunately part of their lives.

When it stays at the fairly 'harmless' level, then as a parent you don't want to be overly strict because that can just alienate a child and possibly force them to rebel further. But if it does start getting out of hand and becoming progressive like it has with your son, then of course you need to step in and start taking action. (And that's where your judgement as parent comes into it)

So you need to sit down with your wife and agree on the way forward. Decide on the boundaries you're going to put in place - and what the consequences are for breaking those. And then they have to be equally enforced so that your son knows you're on the same page.

And make sure he does start being held accountable for his actions so if he gets in trouble at school or breaks the law - he's got to bear the consequences. Otherwise he'll simply never learn. But until you get on the same page as your wife, nothing is likely to work.

Best of Luck

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