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want to help my 18 y/o son

My son is on a downhill spiral at least in my eyes and I don't know how to handle it. In the last few months

- failed to do his final year assignments and exams

- fired from his school based traineeship because of no shows

- steeling money from us

- lack of respect for us or our property

- taken to smoking dope

- out all hours

- not eating well

- lack motivation etc


Where do I go for help? How do I help him? 

Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

Hey there @helpless dad  sorry things sound so worrying at the moment. I think it's really great that you've posted looking for help here and it sounds like you genuinely care and love your son a lot to be so worrying about him. I hope that some of the other members here who might be a similar age to you your son might be able to shed some light on the situation from a young person's perspective.


One thing I will say though is, sounds like there may have been some conflict and negative communication that's come out of your concerns about him? Keeping the communication flowing between you two is really important - as hard as it may be . No matter how worried and frustrated you are about him, if his positive wellbeing is the goal then keep the communication lines open as much as possible and focus on the things that you love him for. Here are some more tips on this from the Better Health Channel.


The other thing is that it is really normal for guys his age to take risks and try things out, its terrifying for parents, but this type of period happens to many young perople through their development - it's just that some people take risks that are more worrying than others. As much as you can, try to keep being non-judgemental and be patient.


I do hope that some other members give you some insight if they have been through something like this before with their own parents, and another option for you is to have a chat to ParentLine (1300 30 1300).  Parentline helps parents of all young people, so it could help to chat with them one-on-one with them aswell.


You obviously care about him a lot, so I hope that you are able to keep that communication open with him....

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Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

Hi Helpless Dad,


Ahh, parenthood. I feel for you in this situation, because your son is technically an adult.

Are you in a position where you can talk to him, or has he put up, "the wall?" He may be confused himself, or this may be his rebellious stage.

My personal feelings are that I wouldn't want him smoking dope in my house, and I would have to state that. I don't know if that is an option for you.

I'm not sure that you can really do anything except be there and ask if you can do anything to help him?

Let him know that you still love him, but do not agree with some of the choices he is making at the moment.

Support him all you can, but don't let him railroad you into giving him money, if you think he might buy drugs, for example. Be kind, but don't enable him.


I have a 19 yr old daughter, who has her own issues, but different to waht you are dealing with..

We just have to wait and be there for them and help them when they ask.

Please take care and look after yourself, because the hardest thing in the world, is watching your child make poor choices or self destruct. We, and I include myself here, have to believe that they will come out the other side. If it becomes too much for you, ring Lifeline and have a chat. It can make all the world of difference to talk to a third party.

Thinking of you


Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

Hey Helpless Dad,

In response to Sophie's comment, I will comment and try to help shed some light.
Though being a very reserved person, it'll be somewhat of a challenge, so I'm going to throw some suggestions out where I can Smiley Happy

I am also 18, though female.
With the schooling could it be that it is not the right environment for him? I know of people who couldn't do school but excelled out in the workforce.

Reading this, it is obvious he seems like he is on a downward spiral. Does he know you know about the drugs? Or is he hiding it?
If he is hiding it, it could be as simple as waiting for him to come home and have the bong (if you can find it) sitting on the table next to you. I know my uncle did this with my cousin, it soon pulled him into line

I don't know what else I can say. I've hit a wall here, sorry.
I do hope you can figure it out


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Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

Hi Helpless dad

Can I just say, you sound like a really caring father. Even though, your son is going downhill, you still cared and you are noticing the things he is doing different. I just thought you need a pat on the back for what you have done so far. Some parents just turn a blind eye and hope the misbehaviour will go away.
Good on you mate.

All the best!

Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

@Sophie. Thanks for your response. Yes, there is some conflict but the lines of communication are open to some extent. Thanks for the link to the Better Health Channel. Some good advice there.

I have made contact with Headspace and will try to encourage my son to see them.


@Stressed. I know I am not the only parent with challenges. Thanks for your perspective. Appreciate it.


@Bee. Wonderful to hear from someone of my son's age. Schooling has never been a great fit for my son; he is dyslexic and very smart so it was always a challenge for him. Which is why the school based traineeship was a better fit. 2 days of the week was TAFE and work so just 3 days at school. But even that proved too much school. My biggest disappointment for him was him losing his traineeship as there was a good chance it would turn to a full time apprenticeship. We live in a smallish rural community so there are limited opportunities. His employer is very disappointed.. He still has an opportunity to have something to show for the last 2 years. If he sticks with TAFE for next 6 weeks he will obtain a Cert II qualification. I have my fingers crossed. Yes, we know about the drugs and have spoken to him about it and suggested we didn't think it was a great idea... but so far he chooses to continue.


@Doris.Can't turn a blind eye... the kid has too much potential.


Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

Hey Helpless Dad,


Even if your son chose to ignore the message you gave about the drugs, he still heard it. It shows him that you love him. Whether he shows it or not, he heard.


Has he considered talking to a psychologist/ counsellor, or is that a bridge too far at the moment. His behaviour could just be teenage rebellion, but it could also show underlying anxiety and stress. I don't know your son, but it is a thought. Perhaps the traineeship was a bit toomuch at this stage. Has he spoken to his employer about perhaps going back after TAFE finishes?


Hang in there, but try not to let hime rule your life. HArd as that is.


Take care. You sound like a really caring parent,





Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

Hey Helpless Dad,
No problem Smiley Happy always willing to help if I can.
Yes having Dyslexia would prove schooling very difficult! I wonder whether there was any attempt at helping him through his work? Were there special provisions and things to help your son through his work? Or was it just given to him like it was everyone else and expected of him to help himself? I can imagine that if there wasn't help provided by the school and TAFE that things would feel really hard for him.
If you son was willing to go back into the apprenticeship, would there be a chance at bridging the gap with the employer, and working around your sons needs?

Sometimes it can feel really hard for us young people to talk to our own parents about what is going on in our lives, as silly as it sounds, it's true. I wonder whether your son might be feeling the same way, and I would suggest talking to another person, maybe an older trusted adult you both know and see if they can get through to him?? It's just a suggestion but I know myself I am more able to talk about certain things with some of my teachers and adults I know more than I am my own parents. Something to think about Smiley Happy
And as another thought to what I've just said, maybe someone his age can get through to him? if there is a friend of his you can talk to that might help bring your sons attention to your concerns, maybe a push from a friend could enable him to start opening up a bit?

I'm not quite sure what else I can put in this message so I'll just post it as is. I hope this helps Smiley Happy
Hang in there, you're doing great Smiley Happy


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Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

@Bee. Yes, we went through many different programs to assist with the dyslexia at school and he had special provisions for exams etc. In the end it was social media and youtube that helped the most. I'm afraid there is no bridging the gap with the employer and I have no grudge with them. They were let down... 


I had thought about another adult having a chat and have someone in mind. So with your suggestion I will definitely go ahead with this. 


Regarding talking to a friend of his, I think this may be part of the issue. I may be wrong but I see a correclation between certain firends coming on the scene and his downward path.


Again, thanks for bringing a young person's pespective to this.

Re: want to help my 18 y/o son

Hey Helpless dad,
No problem, I'm glad I can at least provide some help Smiley Happy

I hope you can sort it out


We reflected on the joys of 2019

Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart