As mentioned previously there are two issues implicit to this question. I previously addressed the motivation of an adult child when affirming the desired behavior has not worked and “tough love” is not practical because the reaction of the non conforming child is intolerable.  Unfortunately there are not many options other than what I described: avoiding confrontations to maintain a relationship while conveying “be respectful because your current behavior will impact your access to my estate after my death”.

The second issue relates to this part of the question, “how do I control my son”? Don’t you think it sounds bizarre for a 58 year old to suddenly be acting like a fifteen year old? Based upon my experience rebellious, defiant behavior in an adult is commonly code for, “I am over being controlled by you.” A big clue to this unfortunate situation would be an “I don’t give a damn” response to a statement that “your current behavior will impact your access to my estate”. Consequently your son could have concluded that he is going to do what he wants, irrespective of the consequences.

Based upon my experience, this craziness could be byproduct of a long term build-up of constructive criticism that was interpreted as personal put-downs because your son agrees with me that, criticism is criticism irrespective of intentions. In other words, you never legitimately tried motivating your son with “at-a-boys”. Tough-love may no longer works because your son has been desensitized to your negativity. Consequently, he could have concluded that he has wasted far too much of his life trying to please you and with no motivation to hang out and endure more put-downs he has absolutely nothing to lose doing exactly as he pleases.

So the second issue could be the root of your problem, you are a control freak who has projected your son with your insecurities on your son in the form of unrelenting criticism. If this is your situation, don’t even start with excuses that focus on your son’s shortcomings. Irrespective of whether your son is a good business person, he minimally deserves your affirmation and blessing which is the foundation of parental respect and self esteem.

If this situation applies to you, there is nothing you can do today that will erase 50 years of “put-down”. Best you can do is first, not mention estate planning punishment as discussed previously. You gotta do what you gotta do but there is no justification for another indirect put down. Stop any form of criticism. Recognize what you have been doing and ask for your son’s forgiveness. Engage an adviser to help you deal with your problem because it is a hell of a lot bigger than your son’s problem. Don’t beg for his respect and don’t try to buy his favor. Seek out every opportunity to recognize the good things your son is doing and hope that he will want to hang out with a supporter. Whenever you cannot say something positive keep your mouth shut.

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