Accepting my adult son as he is

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jsm0807
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Accepting my adult son as he is

I joined this site over 10 years ago because my then 16 year old son was failing school because of video gaming. It was always helpful to vent and listen to others who have gone through similar problems. Today I am here because I still don't understand my son's addiction, but at age 29, I have to accept him as he is. A hard core gamer. Who has become a very successful adult life in many ways. 

A synopsis. From age 8, he was fascinated with all things gaming. Father and I would indulge his gaming to a point. Purchased the various systems, allowed him time to play. However, we also insisted on good grades and other social and physical outlets like Boy Scouts, soccer, tennis, band. Around age 17, he rebelled against our plans, dropped out of all activities, started failing in school. We worked with the teachers and counselors, limited his gaming, dealt with his anger, tried to encourage other behaviors, but gaming had its claws in him and wasn't letting go. And he didn't want to let go.

He turned 18 in October 2007 of his senior year of high school, and left home that week. Rented an apartment with some friends. Paid for it with his paltry savings and his fast food restaurant job. Failed most of the classes in that semester, and didn't go back for the second semester. We convinced him to attend a summer self-paced program to make up his high school credits. He had mentioned wanting to join the Air Force and they required a diploma. He finished the self-paced program in about two weeks. That is because he is really, really smart. He joined the Air Force by age 19 and we were relieved and thought OK, the military will make him grow up. He made it through basic training, met a girl at tech school, had a long distance romance, married her in 2014. She is a go getter and I think that he was motivated to live up to her expectations of him. And he did.

He did not like his AF career. He was a lowly airman which was boring and unchallenging. He was too smart for the jobs he had. And, he also did not excel at any of the physical requirements and did not progress in his AF career because he had gained weight and often failed his PT tests. So he didn't get any recognition or promotions. But, he did attend college classes and occasionally got assigned work duties that were commensurate with his abilities. But he kept gaining weight which kept him from getting promoted.  And somewhere along the way, got diagnosed with depression. He kept that from me so I don't know the timeline. He got out of the AF after 4 years and went to college full time, studying electrical engineering, then computer engineering. VA also approved his disability claim for depression. He graduated in December 2017. He had multiple job offers immediately. Because he still had top secret clearance, various military contracting companies found him a desirable candidate. He chose a job with a starting salary of over $90,000 a year. Yes, That much. I said he is very, very smart. 

His wife adores him. She was never active duty AF, but was in the reserves and the guard and now has a challenging and good paying full time job as well. They are financially way ahead of their peers. She is close to her extended family and they have accepted him as a one of them.

On the surface, I have a very successful son. A good and challenging job, a good wife, a house worth more than mine, plenty of security. But...

He continues to gain weight and eat terribly. He says he doesn't need to exercise because even if it takes away years from his life, he would rather use his short years on gaming. He doesn't socialize hardly at all, not interested in people, although there seems to be a glimmer of hope that he has met kindred souls at work now. The military approved his VA disability claim because of depression. He has only one hobby, gaming, and his systems take up most of their basement room and nearly all of his time at home. He does little else when he is home. His wife does all the cooking and shopping and most of the housework. She is also a gamer, not the same level as he is. She has said that she wishes he would exercise more, help around the house more, be more social. But they don't seem to fight over these things and they are pretty happy with each other. They both say the other is their best friend. 

He has become estranged from his father, who is now my ex husband. Father had and continues to have high expectations. He refuses to talk about his father to me. Our marriage broke up after he left home. The problems in the marriage were there before and I wonder if any of that was a factor in his addiction, but I know I did my best with him. 

They live three states away from me, so I only see him about once a year. He rarely answers the phone when I call, but when we do talk, I let him lead the conversations. He has developed strong opinions. He has become agnostic. Does not listen to current events. Not sure he votes. Has kinda become stridently opposed to capitalism and advertising and can rant about those topics for a long time. During one of his recent rants, he admitted that his disallusionment with the way the world is part of his depression. He does not accept any advice from me, actually gets mad if I give any. I have to be careful about how and what I say to him. 

They don't have children yet. That will be another worry for me. Also worry about how long his wife will put up with him. I would not want to be married to man like him. 

Somehow, getting this all out of my head and into print is cathartic and I hope helpful to me. I cannot change him. I guess all I can do is love him and pray for him and lead my own life and keep the communication lines open and resist being judgemental. I wish, oh how I wish, he wasn't a gamer. 

Janet

Polga
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Hi Janet

Hi Janet

Thank you for sharing that very salient story with us.

I can so relate to your conclusions. We are powerless !

I can see many postitive things about him having a job and partner, but I hear your underlying concern ... that gaming has affected his cognitive function in some way to make a long term change of character/personality that is not healthy for his whole being.

I understand and agree with your conclusions. I am re-reading the book "when our grown up kids disappoint us" or title something similar like that. I hope you are able to get over the worry so that it does not spoil you life. It is possible to really enjoy life when are kids have problems. Infact i think it is good modelling for them to see that you are a dynamic mom who really knows how to live life to the max without gaming   Try not to get hung up on the 'what if's' off life until they happen. One day at a time.

If you find a way to reach your son, please let us know. Some parents find an opportunity may present when a careful word leads to an aha moment.  I think like you say you just have to be open to contact and know where those invisible boundaries are that you cannot cross or risk shut-down. On the other hand, you can also think about your boundries too about how he treats you. The relationship has got to work for you too. Have you see the website conductdisorders.com ? There is quite a lot written about difficult relationships in the parents emeritus forum. Also  therapist can help you work though healthy choices for you.

Big hugs xx

 

 

INFO

Parent's online meeting THURSDAY 9pmEST/EDT click here

Online meetings gaming addicts click here

Spouses/SO's of addicts click here

Parents of addicts click here for advice

Help for video game addicts click here

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jsm0807
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Thanks Polga for your support

Thanks Polga for your support and kind words. I am spending the Thanksgiving holiday with them but I am so ready to go home. It is one thing to know how he spends his days, it is another thing to live with him doing it. I will say that he has done a few other activities with me (hiking, sight-seeing, mini-golf at the Christmas tree place) while I am here. I agreed to play one video game with him and he really wanted me to have fun doing it. I found it so-so on the entertainment scale but didn't tell him that. 

I have also been crying when I am alone.

I said this a long time ago and I have to remember that I am grieving for the man I wanted him to be, but I have to accept him as he is. DIL said he is on depression medication although he doesn't always take it, and he does have a therapist at the VA. I asked if she thought it would be helpful for me to attend a therapy session. She said he told her that he was over being mad at me. For whatever bad things I did which I may never understand or know. 

Didn't plan to go into my senior years alone (he is my only child and I divorced his father), but that is my reality and it is my job to make the best of it.  I will continue to reach out to him and to express my love for him, but need to keep my distance and lead my own life.

Janet

Polga
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If it is any help to you to

If it is any help to you to know, if he sticks with therapy, " progress" can be observed as the client stopping putting the blame on others, being more accepting of others and the client starting to take some responsibility for actions and choices about how a situation is perceived. It sounds like that process has started to happen; I hope maybe it can shift some more to imrpove your relationship. I hope he has a lovely therapist. Good that he wants to attend.

What he is taking offense to from the past may be all in his perception of what 'went wrong', it doesn't mean that you actually did wrong.

I wish i knew what went wrong with my own son. I don't think I will ever know. But what ever it was only he can fix it now. It's not in my power. i just hope he can find healing and a purpose for his life. I'm getting on with my life but I pray for him every night.It sounds like he is having anxiety and or depression symptoms but he only has them when he is lving his life dependant on screen. He has always improved when abstinence was enforced when he lived with us because he could hardly function before he came home. yet he will not see where the problem lies.

I hope you can find face to face human support for you and take good care. There are people out there who will value and support you. We all need some real connection in our lives.

I think he is lucky to have you as a mom. I hope one day you will feel his appreciation. In the meantime, live your life.

INFO

Parent's online meeting THURSDAY 9pmEST/EDT click here

Online meetings gaming addicts click here

Spouses/SO's of addicts click here

Parents of addicts click here for advice

Help for video game addicts click here

Please help! Donate here

jsm0807
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Last seen: 5 days 12 hours ago
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Joined: 10/08/2007 - 2:41am
Thank you. Quite elegantly

Thank you. Quite elegantly stated. 

 

Janet

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