My husband and I have two children, a nineteen-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter. My son came home drunk. I served his dinner, and he began to eat with his hands. I brought it to his attention and he reacted badly, to the extent that he wanted to attack me. My husband told him to behave himself…. On hearing this, our son threatened us by drawing back his arms (as if to hit us.) Our daughter got scared and ran to call my sister. I don’t know what to do nor what steps to take.

Dear Friend,

When you dedicate your life to caring for a child, the last thing you expect is that the child will turn on you. Your motherly instinct tells you to protect the child (who is now an adult) from negative consequences, and yet, if you do, you will put the entire family in danger. If your son suffers no negative consequences from what he did, he will do it again and again, each time getting more and more serious. He has clearly demonstrated that he plans to have the power in the house and do what he pleases.

The fact that he was under the influence of alcohol makes no difference whatsoever. When he chose to drink, he also chose to pay whatever consequences would come from his behavior under the influence. Even though he may be kind and gentle when not drinking and apologize profusely when he is, and even though your heart breaks for the direction his life is taking, you must take quick and decisive action.

Decide with your husband on which of the following steps you will take together. It is critically important that the two of you agree completely; otherwise, taking any of these steps will only complicate the situation. When parents threaten consequences and then do not carry them out, they teach their children (and young adults) that the threats are empty.

When your son is sober, both you and your husband must give him an ultimatum. You will not allow him to live in your house (nor will you pay for his expenses) if he chooses to ever come home drunk again. He obviously gets out of control when drinking, and you will not allow this kind of influence in your young daughter’s life, nor will you live in fear that he will actually physically harm anyone in the house.

When you tell him your decision, be ready to take the next steps. Have a plan of action including packing up his belongings, changing the locks of the house so that he cannot get in, and being ready to call the authorities if he tries to come in by force. Your son will hate you now, but in the future he will know that you did the right thing.

We once had to put a son out of the house, not for drinking but for refusing to comply with the house rules. He was homeless for a while and it was extremely difficult to see, but now he is a wonderful father and professional who loves and respects his parents.

You and your husband need God’s wisdom and strength to deal with this situation. We recommend that you pray together, telling God all your frustrations and fears. Also tell him that you are sorry for your sins and that you accept His forgiveness in His Son Jesus Christ’s name. Ask God to come into your home and help each of you act with love and strength.

We wish you well,