I am terrified that my 20 year old son is going to be as sick as his dad. They are both abusive and dangerous. I think my son has schizophrenia. I can’t afford to take responsibility for him and neither can his foster parents, financially or risk my safety. My son hasn’t hit me yet, but his father has. I feel I have to leave for my safety because if my son doesn’t get what he wants, he becomes violent and verbally abusive. Before my visit, I talked to him on the phone. He said he was hallucinating. I guess it’s out of my hands but if there is anything I can do to save the relationship, I’m willing to try. I was unable to save the relationship with his father. He’s sick but he’s my son.

A: What a heartbreaking situation. As you said so eloquently: He may be sick but he’s still your boy. The first thing you need to do is to keep yourself safe. You can’t help anyone if you aren’t okay yourself.

Your son needs an evaluation by a qualified mental health professional. If you are correct that he is suffering from schizophrenia, there are medicines that can help him. Do some research and talk (on the phone) to your son about the very good possibility that with the right treatment, the hallucinations can be brought under control. Set up an appointment for him and see if you can persuade him to go. If he won’t, and you continue to fear for his and your own safety, ask your doctor to explain the laws in your state for involuntary hospitalization and whether it would be a wise course of action to explore.

Beyond that, all you can do as a mother is love your son. You can’t make a relationship with someone who is unable or unwilling to have one. But you can continue to keep a tender spot in your own heart for the little boy you raised and trust that on some level he knows it. Sometimes that’s all we moms can do.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). How Do I save what is left of the relationship and stay safe?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/15/how-do-i-save-what-is-left-of-the-relationship-and-stay-safe/