I have a nineteen-year-old son who smokes pot. When I found out, I worried about it a lot and thought that I could solve the problem myself by talking to him about it. However, my son has continued smoking marijuana, and has become very violent. I haven’t been able to get him to give it up, and he has even smoked it in our home. Before, my son was a different person, very thoughtful and good. I don’t know how this got so far out of hand.

Dear Friend,

It is heartbreaking for any parent to see their child making dangerous choices. Parents dedicate years of their lives teaching their children to make good decisions and healthy choices, but once a child becomes a legal adult, the parent’s role changes. Instead of being the authority, the parent becomes only one influence among many other influences.

Parents should continue to show love and care for their adult children. However, they should not continue to finance bad choices. By allowing your son to live in your home, you are helping him continue to smoke marijuana. By paying for his meals, you are giving him more money with which to buy pot. And if you are giving him money for college or transportation or clothing, you are allowing him to continue to do what you know is so dangerous for him.

Have a discussion with your son in which you tell him that because you love him so much, he can choose to continue to live in your home or he can choose to continue to smoke pot, but he cannot choose both. If he chooses pot, he must take his belongings and move out of your home. You will change the locks on the doors so that he cannot get back in. And you will no longer pay for any of his expenses, though you will invite him to have dinner at your home once each week.

Never threaten something unless you are willing to go through with it. Never give second chances unless you have said that you would give a certain number of chances. And never give in just because the adult child begs and pleads.

Your wife will probably not agree with this plan. Mothers want to believe the best about their children, and want to protect them from the harsh lessons that they will learn in the real world. But if you let this son continue to live in your home while smoking pot, he will likely steal from you, will verbally abuse you, and will turn your whole family upside down. If you have younger children, they will learn from his example that they don’t have to follow the house rules either.

When one of our sons was eighteen, we had this same kind of conversation with him. It was heartrending to tell him that he could no longer live in our home because he refused to follow the rules that we had established. He lived with friends and even on the streets for a while after that, but eventually he took responsibility for his own life and started making good choices.

In order to go through with this, you will need the strength and wisdom that only God can give you. Pray and ask God to be your Friend and Guide. Ask Him to forgive you for the ways that you have sinned against Him, and to help you show love to your son even while you are setting boundaries for the good of your entire household.

We wish you well,