Demanding My Son Repay Loan Has Caused Us To Stop Speaking

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011
Demanding My Son Repay Loan Has Caused Us To Stop Speaking
Thu, 11-29-2012 - 10:23am

Back story:

I have a 29 year old son and we have always been close and we talk on the phone almost everyday, he lives about 900 miles away and comes home for Xmas. And I usually visit him in the spring. But he has had been selfish and thoughtless  towards me throughout the years, ie not getting me a card or gift for mother’s day, Xmas or my birthday. I had let it go for years and suffered in silence with hurt feelings. And when I talked to others about it they complained of the same behaviors from their adult children and said they thought it was a generational thing.Finally I told my son how I felt and how it hurt me when he would tell me what he had gotten one of his friend for their birthday or Xmas and gotten me nothing. So he started to do better.

My son had borrowed $950 dollars from me 3 years ago and I didn’t brother him about it hoping he would repay me when he got on his feet. Ok now he is on his feet and recently sold the car I paid for and got a new car. He didn’t use the proceeds from the sale of the car I brought for the down payment of the new car, in fact he had two cars for about two months. But he never thought to pay me back my money. I keep wanting him to do right by me without me telling him, but it didn’t happen. (My wishful thinking)

So the final straw was when he called me telling me he was waiting outside the jail to post $500 for a friend’s bail who had been stopped for driving drunk.

I told him if you have $500 to post bail for someone then you can pay me back my money and I want my money. He then tells me he does not have it all and he will have to pay me in installments. So we agreed he would pay me $85 every week when he gets paid and he would transfer it into my pay pal account and that was over two months ago. By now he should have made at least 8 payments but has only made 4 and that has been only after I sent him a reminder text.

2 weeks ago he not only did not make the payment but asked me to make him another loan of $45 to have his cell phone turned back on. He said there was a mix up with his direct deposit and the company was going to issue him a paper check and as soon as it cleared he was going to pay me my regular payment plus the $45. I paid the $45 to the phone company to have his phone turned back on and waited patiently knowing full well he had gotten his money and still had not repaid me. So after two weeks I asked him when he was going to deposit the money in my account and he says I am going to do it as soon as I get home and that was on a Tuesday and he never sent it. Then he calls me that Saturday telling me he had gone to an outlet mall in Orlando for black Friday and had brought himself all these clothes. So I’m pretty pissed by now. I ask him why have you not sent my money? And he says oh I’m going to transfer it on Monday. Monday comes and goes no transfer, so now I’m really pissed. Because once again I come to his aid and help him out and at a time when I really didn’t have it to spare, but I charged his phone payment to my credit card. Then he goes shopping before he pays me my money, once again not honoring his word to me. So I sent him a text saying… next time you get your phone cut off don’t call me to have it turned back on, you are not a man of your word and are behaving like a thoughtless, spoiled brat. Send me my money like you said you would.

He replies…I don’t need to wake up to my mother insulting me and telling me what a terrible person I am. I won’t stand for it and I won’t be speaking to you for a while.

So that really pisses me off, since when can’t a mother tell her child they are behaving badly, especially when it is towards them. Plus he has never in his life spoken to me in that manner and I didn‘t appreciate him trying to turn this around on me like I am wrong. So I text him back saying…and I don’t need someone borrowing money from me and not paying it back. Speak to me or not, just honor your word and pay me back my money. You should have paid me 1stwhen your check cleared. Then he text me back saying…Pz stop texting me, I don’t want to talk to you. I have sent your money, goodbye mom.

For me it was not so much about the money but wanting him to be a man of his word and do the right thing by me. Now he is treating me like I am wrong for calling him on his crap. I feel a deep hurt and I can’t shake the anger I feels towards him. I know our relationship has changed forever and I love him but I don’t like who he has become. I don’t know how we can continue from here especially if he does not accept responsibility for his behavior and apologize to me.

Sorry for the long post and thanks for taking the time to read it.


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011

All may not be lost shorty, as it gets closer to Christmas they may have a change of heart. My son called me about an hour ago and actually gave me a heartfelt apology. He said he was sorry and that after having some time to think about what he had said to  me realized he had been disrespectful even though it was not his intention. He said he loved and respected me and that he just wants us to be back to our relationship and that he was sorry he had hurt me. Afterwards we had a really good and enjoyable conversation and even laughed.

To tell you the truth your plan of being a hermit and watching movies sounds good to me. I wish I could stay in and not have to go out of my home on Christmas. Try not to be too depressed Christmas is only one day out of the year and we have take it way out of the context it was meant to be. Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ, so hang in there and try to focus on your blessings. If you do that you will feel much better. Hope everything works out for you like it did with me and my son.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-05-2008

wow keepingitreal1    I think your son and my family should get together.... and I will join your family.  My family are the ones that just want to sweep it under the rug after the verbal attack they put on me  1 1/2 yrs ago.  They feel they haven't done anything wrong.....and now bc of it I don't get to see my neices and nephews... and this Christmas I will be spending alone bc my bf or ex now just broke up with me... So after work on Saturday... I will go to the grocery store for some movies and become a hermit for the following 4 days after Saturday.... and there is not a darn thing I can do about it....

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011

Thanks for your input. I recently spoke to my son and it did not go so well, I felt he still did not get it and his excuses just angered me even more. So we are not speaking again and I decided not to give him a gift this year; I feel that I have given him enough and it is not appreciated. I just can't reward him for his disrespect and let him think it is business as usual. At this point it is not about the money it is about how I will not be treated by my child. He wanted to sweep it all under the rug and act like he did nothing wrong. Until he can accept that he does not get to borrow from me and then disrespect me because I expected him to honor our repayment plan; I have nothing to say to him. It really hurts me that we are at odds especially at this time of year but I am making a stand and trying to teach him a lesson in life.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2009

Wow, this is a great thread that I can relate to on many levels.

I am 57 and I have two kids (23 and 27).   Their dad and I divorced when they were in highschool (son) and college (daughter) and this situation aggravated all kinds of issues for us.(Their father gave them everything they asked for for about four years than ran out of money, having totally spoiled them, and left me to pick up the pieces.)

Anyway, I have a son a lot like yours, Keepingitreal1.   About two years ago, after his father announced that he was too broke to help the kids any more, my son "borrowed" 1500 dollars from me.  He needed the money because he had court costs to pay because (to my great shame) he had gotten in trouble with the law over some stupid partying stuff.  At the time my son had just started with a good job and he assured me that he would pay me back.  I decided to give him a chance to prove that he was ready to be a man.  (Three years earlier, when he turned 18, he had left my house in anger because I kept "nagging" him to remember things like locking the doors, turning off lights and picking up his stuff from the living room.  His dad rewarded him for this bad behavior by getting him an apartment all to himself.  But that's another story.)

I was disappointed.  He apologized but he couldn't pay the money and he made no offer to pay it gradually. He explained that he had miscalculated how much it would cost him to live without his father's help.  I told him that if he wanted, we could take it "off" the Christmas and birthday gifts that I would give him for the next five years. That is, he would 300 dollars less each year than I would give his sister for Xmas and birthdays.

Many years ago, my father lent me money for a car which I partly "paid off" in this fashion.  I paid him some money, but about half the car ended up being a present.  Each Christmas he would give me a card that said "your gift is that you now owe me X less."  Since I was also paying him back $50 a month, I recognized the value of what he was giving me and appreciated it.  So I thought my son would feel the same.

But it turned out that he saw my "you now owe me X less" notes as "rubbing it in" that he had failed to pay.  He got sulky about it.  So I just say nothing, but I continue to figure out his debt to me when I give gifts.  My daughter therefore gets about $400 worth of presents every year (usually I give her about 200 in gift cards and the rest in gifts) but my son only gets around $100.  He has never asked or complained about the discrepancy.

So maybe this is something you may want to try with your son.  I agree with the others that you should not lend him any more money, but you don't really want to be fighting with him, so one way to deal with it and still hold your own is to say something like:

"I love you.  I don't like how you are behaving but I still love you.  It hurts that you owe me money and that you are thoughtless about paying it back.  But I am not going to remind you of it again.  Instead, I am going to take the money you owe me out of future gifts I might have bought you. So don't think I don't love you when I don't give you gifts, I just need to save back the money."

From this point on, continue being friendly and affectionate, but never lend him money. If he asks for money, don't make an issue of how he never paid you back etc.  Just tell him that you are very sorry but you can't get your hand on the money at the moment.  If he accuses you of being a bad mother tell him that you are not as young as you were and you have to safe for old age.  If he promises to pay you back, tell him that you don't want to get into that kind of relationship with him and that since you can't afford to give it outright, you can't give it, period.  And stay firm.  This is not a child. This is a 29 year old behaving like a child.  The only way we can help our children grow up is to stop cutting them slack.

I disagree with the poster who wrote: "On the other hand, you are Mom..and that means you are there to rescue him when he needs you, no strings attached."

We don't do our children any favors when we come in to the rescue with "no strings attached."  Unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance of everything kids do, nor does it mean an unconditionally open pocketbook.

I love my children greatly, and I help them as much as I can.  My son lived with me for half a year recently (rent free, though I asked him to contribute to expenses and he did) because he manages his money badly, he made less money than he expected, and he had to choose between digging himself into deeper debt and coming to live in my house.  This time around he remembered to lock the doors, set the alarm and not leave his belonging strewn all over the house. (He still didn't master keeping his room in order or turning off all the lights. I'll leave that for his future wife to tackle.)  I didn't nag--I have learned a lot since he was 18.  I will not treat my adult offspring as kids.  They are expected to be adults.

My son is still a problem. He will always be pushing the boundaries.  For example, he borrowed 40 dollars just before he moved out.  It was a "I have the money in the bank but no time to go there, I'll pay you when I get home."  I know he meant to pay me, but he didn't remember that day, and then another day passed and then he asked me to let him carry the debt a little longer because of the cost of moving.  That was in July.  He also had not finished cleaning his room after he moved out.  So about two weeks ago, I wrote him an e-mail saying, in effect, "It's not the money, it's that I feel used.  And I don't feel that it is fair that you lived with me rent free and now I have to clean your room."   He never replied, but the following weekend he showed up with the 40 dollars and cleaned most of his room.   I feel encouraged.

His sister went through a period of "I am entitled to everything," but when she graduated from college and realized that Daddy was not going to give any more and that mom would help but not spoil, she got her act together.  She lived with me for almost 2 years while looking for a job and saving for her own apartment.  Now I help her by paying her generously for coming over to clean my house once a week.  I have less work and she has more money.  She is always thoughtful and if she borrows money, she pays it back.  But even so, I am careful of how much I lend.  As someone else pointed out, lending money to family often ends up being a gift.

I have gone through a lot of the feelings that others here have mentioned. This generation does seem to have a strange sense of "entitlement" to help from their parents that my generation didn't have.  I moved out and went on my own when I was 21 because in my family nothing that was given was without strings attached. If I had taken money from my parents (other than the loan for the car, for example) they would have felt entitled to meddle in my life (where I lived and how).  As it was, they meddled anyway, but I could tell them to leave me alone with a clear conscience. :)

The difference I see between this generation and mine is that our children seem to feel that we should give with no strings.  But there are always strings.  Parents give because they feel connected with their children.  The children need to return that sense of connection by wanting to give to their parents, not just take.

Sometimes all our kids (or parents) need to give us is love and appreciation for who we are.  And sometimes all we need to give is love and acceptance of who they are.  That may include accepting that a person is a selfish spendthrift, but it does not include enabling it.

Sorry to go on so long, but this is a topic near to my heart.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2009

Startingover, you should start your own thread.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010

  Excellent advice as always, Wisdom!  Thanks!

  I have my first counseling session this week with a new therapist.  I struggle with helping ANY of my children when they don't seem to want a relationship with their mother and make little effort to keep in touch.  I know DD21 will come home for a month at Christmas, stay at her father's as she has a bedroom there and not EVEN contact me.  So, my question will be...WHY should I help someone who doesn't even care about me?  Just because she's my child, does that mean I OWE her something JUST because she's my child??  Of course I want to help her...I love her...but again...when she has pulled away and I only hear from her when she needs money...does that make it right?  I'm hoping this therapist can help me with these questions because right now, I'm at a loss.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-11-2012

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011

Thanks for your input and I will take it to heart. It's just the last time I took a hard stand with my son and told him I would not help him anymore and not to ask me for anymore money. I later learned he was homeless and living out of his car. I had paid for him to come home for Xmas and he did not show at the airport and because his phone was off I could not contact him. I called all the numbers in my caller ID that my son had called from and all his friends said he had borrowed money from them and after that they did not see him anymore and they all said it had  been any where from a month to two weeks since they had seen or spoken to him. It had been two weeks since I had spoken to him and he had never missed a flight nor I had I ever been unable to contact him, so I really freaked out and thought something terrible had happened to him. One of his friends that I called told me that my son was homeless and living out of his non running car,and had lost his job at Blockbuster Video and had been out of work for two months. I ended up filing a missing persons report, which they were nice enough to take even though it had not been 24 hours since he was a no show at the airport, because I had not spoken to him in 2 weeks and he did not show for his flight they took the report. I was preparing to go to the state  where he lived to lanch a search, when he called me collect the next day. One of his friends that I had called had gotten  a message to him on one of those social websites and he called me. As it turned out he thought his flight was the following day and he had no money to catch a cab to the airport and because he had burned through all his friends by borrowing money he could not pay back he could not ask them to take him to the airport. Because I had told him not to ask me for anything else he felt he could not ask me and he was ashamed to let me know he had become homeless and had lost his job. He was trying to find a way to work it out without asking me for help or telling me how low he had fallen. Naturally I felt terrible and guilty that my son was homeless and because I had told him not to ask me for anything else he didn't and he ended up homeless and felt he could not ask me for help.

 Long story short I helped him get back on his feet but I have still been living with that guilt every since. But I think that experience of being homeless did teach him something because that was 7 years ago and he has managed to keep a roof over his head, stay employed and  is back in school completing his degree in softwear engineering. But unfortunately he still has problems with money management. I guess when I stop helping him he will learn how to manage his money as well.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004

Put her on a budget. Agree to pay her car insurance UNTIL she graduates college (job or not). STOP paying her cell phone bill and STOP bailing her out when she "runs out of money." She'll never learn to take care of her money if you keep bailing her out.

You can start the weaning process by putting her on a budget: i.e. "Here's the amount I'm willing to provide you each month. When it's gone; it's gone." Then DO NOT rescue her (because you know she won't be wise with it) and give her more. Again, the rule of thumb is this: When it's gone, it's gone. Until you do your DD has no incentive to take responsibility for her choices. One day she'll have to. Start now.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004


Dry your tears and hold your head up. Your challenge isn't gaining the love and acceptance of your dysfunctional family; it's accepting the fact you won't get that approval from them. Ever. They aren't capable of giving it.

You'll find peace and joy when you iberate yourself from this bondage by releasing your expectations of a "normal" family relationship with them. I encourage you to seek counseling in this regard and work at developing a new "family" who can provide the affirmation and unconditional love  you need. That might come through a place of worship, hobbies, social organizations, etc.

I also encourage you to pick up any book by John Bradshaw. His book, "Family Secrets" will be eye-opening to you and help you understand why your family behaves the way it does. It will also show you that your younger sister is merely playing a role in your family and that you are also. Your role is of the "black sheep." You didn't follow familial expectations, i.e. marrying and getting pregnant straight out of high school. You established your independence and followed a different path. So, you are "punished" for not toeing the line. Odds are your parents don't even realize they are playing this role and they would see nothing wrong with trying to bring you "in line" with their expectations by critizing you, and praising your sister.

Lots of successful people have had to overcome their family of origins dysfunction to be happy. You can, too. I won't promise it won't always hurt, but it will be easier to get on with your life.