My son is 28 years old.  He has spent a good part of the last ten years instructing me about how I need to change my ways and live by God's word.  I believe that his intentions are sincere; however, I feel as though he looks for fault in everything I do.  I am his mother, I unfortunately did not have a close relationship with God in my younger years, and have been developing a relationship with God and Jesus over the last decade through the guidance of my son. If I step one foot out of line (according to my son) he sits in judgment and chastises me and berates me with a very sharp tongue.  He doesn't allow me to speak or explain, he just gets louder and lectures constantly about what I'm doing wrong. I feel as though he actually sets me up to fall and looks for every little thing he can find to point out how I'm not on the right path. 

Of course, I have other children who are younger.  They are middle school and high school age.  These children are the sweetest things in my life.  They are dedicated students and have reputations for being good people in our community, as do myself and my husband. I work hard every day to become closer to God and, of course, slip up occasionally or forget to acknowledge God. I do not claim that everything I do is in God's name.  I know that I have a long way to go. 

I feel that my son will never allow me to have a moments peace or ever see me following the right path. He claims that it's because he loves us and must be heavy handed.  His tongue is very sharp and accusing and he allows no room for human error. I actually worry that he uses God in the wrong way.  He and his wife have become vegetarians over the past 3 or 4 years and are now purchasing all organic food. I have absolutely no problem with their lifestyle, other than the fact that my son smokes pot and claims it to be the "herb of the earth." The current lectures is about my food, that I am not eating from the table of God and I am feeding my children poisons and toxins (like milk, MSG, pesticides on fruits and vegetables, toothpaste with fluoride, etc).  He addresses most of these topics in arrogance and condemnation. He exhausts me.  He upsets me.  He hurts me with his words. 

I have an older daughter who will be 30 next month. She and her husband and son lived with us for 18 months.  At first it was working out fine, but then I became a meddler because I gave my daughter instruction regarding care of her son, and spending of money fruitlessly.  Perhaps I was wrong, but I was only trying to give them the wisdom of my experience with spending and caring for children.  I have made mistakes in my past as a mother and caregiver and made stupid and irresponsible choices.  My intention was to save them from the same suffering and hard lessons. The funny thing is, my daughter and I have had our share of arguments and falling outs, but we always forgive and forget and move on. My son, however, continually punishes me for everything I have ever done -- and I did nothing to him. 

I am 47 years old, a mother of 5, and a grandmother of 3.  In my life, I have not been perfect, but I have always been there for my children when they've asked for help or guidance, I don't do drugs, I'm not an alcoholic, I don't beat my children, I provide a good clean home and loving surroundings.  I participate and attend all of their activities, teach them about God and instruct them that they are accountable for their actions. I'm not chastising nor looking for my son to be wrong. I'm just concerned that he is heavier handed that one needs to be.  It concerns me that in his attempt to bring his family closer to God he may actually be driving them away. He has actually yelled and screamed in our backyard accusing my older daughter of being a whore and a sinner.  Yelling at the top of his lungs that she is full of demons and needs to cast them out. 

When my youngest son was 7, he had a bout of anxiety disorder where he worried that if he wasn't with his mommy something might happen to me.  It was a bit extreme, I even had to go to school with him for a few months until I weaned him away from the worry and he gained confidence back. Through this traumatic situation my son accused him of being possessed by a demon and has since referred to him as the EVIL 666 child.  My younger son is now a typical 13 year old.  He is annoying sometimes, defiant occasionally, but has more love and kindness in his heart than most 13 year old boys I know. 

Please help me to understand what is going on here and if you have every dealt with this type of situation before. 

I pray a lot about this!

The situation you describe has a number of dynamics, and likely you have only mentioned only a portion of what is going on. The best thing to do is break each issue down and treat it independent of all other issues.

First, you are making excuses for yourself and others because you acted poorly in your past. Paul was once a blasphemer and a persecutor of the church, but he was converted. Listen to what he said, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14). Your past is over and done with. What matters is who you are. Yes, we all make mistakes. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:9). The difference between a child of God and a child of the world is that the child of God doesn't stay in sin. A worldly minded person will at times do a righteous thing, but continues to do wicked things. A godly minded person will at times do sinful things, but repents of them and continues to do righteous things.

Second, your son, despite your claims, is not a righteous man. Marijuana is an illegal substance. A Christian knows, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Romans 13:1-2). In addition, the government did not make marijuana illegal arbitrarily. The chemicals in it causes harm (see the sermon "Legalizing Drugs" for more details). You also describe him as an angry man. "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). His treatment of your thirteen year old and your eldest daughter shows he is not a sympathetic man. "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another" (Romans 12:10). Please stop making excuses for him. Your tolerance of his sins is encouraging him to sin further.

Third, the motivation behind all of this is pride. Your son likes to berate others because it makes him appear more righteous to himself."For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (II Corinthians 10:12). The reason he doesn't listen is because he doesn't care. All he is interested in is being "better" than you.

My personal sadness is that you know all this. I'm going to recommend something that you are going to find very hard to do, but you must do it for your family's sake. In the past, I've seen this advice ignored over and over and it always leads to further pain and suffering. It is my prayer that you have the strength to do this because it is the only way to protect your family and possibly save your 28-year-old son. You must calmly, clearly, and firmly tell your wayward son that he is not to contact you or your family again until he drops his drug use, gets a handle on his anger problem, and learns to treat others with respect. After he makes his life right with the Lord over these issues, he is welcomed to contact you again, but not before. If this is too hard to say to his face or over the phone, then write it in a letter. If he persists, get a restraining order if you must, but you must remove him from your life and that of your children. "Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul" (Proverbs 22:24-25).

Thank you and God Bless you! I have already taken your advice and I thank you for your prayers. 

Again, thank you so very much for taking the time to answer my email.  I am moving on and continuing to strengthen my relationship with God.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Family Relationships