Adult Child Inappropriate Sexting

Updated on August 01, 2012
S.G. asks from Katy, TX
24 answers

My 23-year old son (oldest of 3) is living back home temporarily because of depression and other issues but is working full time. The other nite, my best friend spent the nite due to a pending divorce. My son shocked and disgusted both my friend and I by texting her in the middle of the nite for several hours, toying with her, asking for pictures, etc. and then finally divulging who he was. Oh course my friend should have turned her phone off but that does not excuse my son's behavior. My husband (at my insistence) kicked my son out of the house the following day. My question is what would cause my son to do this? He never has liked this friend of mine, so it's not a "crush" thing. She is going through a terrible time in her life and he apparently has no empathy for her and did not care that I found out. In addition, my husband was not even very mad, telling my son "don't text anyone after midnight again". at this point my husband is still carrying on a relationship with my son but I am not because my son has no explanation for why he did what he did. Any help or comments would be appreciated. My son also drinks alcohol, some nites to excess.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the responses. You have all given me great advice. I agree with many of you that I should have held my friend more accountable. My son did apologize to me and my friend but I did not feel it was sincere. He has since apologized again at the insistence of my husband. After your advice, I do plan on going to see him and sitting down with him and discussing him moving back in under the stipulation of receiving counseling. He is on an antidepressant but I feel their may be something more going on here, such as manic behavior. We have a history of mental illness on my husbands side and my husband has major depression.

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answers from New York on

The reasoning is pretty clear- he has some fairly profound mental health issues going on. I would strongly suggest helping him find an inpatient program where he can address his depression, attention-seeking behavior and the self-medicating.

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answers from St. Louis on

Wasn't this something between your son and your friend?

They texted for several hours, sounds like she enjoyed it. Sounds like she didn't enjoy finding out it was your son. Thing is your friend conversed for several hours with someone she didn't know! I get your embarrassed but think about what your friend did.

Sorry but when I look at the big picture no one did anything wrong. Your son has a right to be upset because you took your friends side over his.

I mean for crying out loud! Your friend could have been sexting with a 14 year old for all she knew. She is the one who needs to grow up!

17 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

First, your son is 23 year old. An adult, I agree that he was inappropriate and of course you should have talked to him about it, but it really should have been handled between him and the person he did it with; your friend.

I think kicking your son out and ignoring the issue was/is wrong. You have in a sense picked your friend, over your son who is also having issue's. If you want to know why he did it you should have sat down with him and asked him why.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

She replied for several hours and then he gets kicked out? I don't get it. I'd be furious with BOTH of them. But I would have sent her packing and not him. He is your SON and she is your FRIEND. Maybe he shouldn't have done that, but he is an adult and so is she. What adult in their right mind replies to things like that with someone they don't know?

I think you're placing all of the blame on your son and none on your friend and I think that is wrong. I think kicking a depressed "child" out and not the friend is also very wrong.

I hope you guys can figure this out - but my friend would be out WAY before any of my kids.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

No one suffering from depression, especially if they drink, is going to make sound ethical decisions. I wouldn't have kicked out my son, I would have made him talk to my friend and apologize, and then insist he get the help he needs (counseling, meds). You should change your title, this isn't about children, your son is an adult, and he needs help, and instead you put him out on the street? That was a mistake.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I am curious as to what kind of relationship you had previously with your son that you could cut him off for sexting. Yes, it was crude, rude and immature. But to not have a relationship with your son any more? And you say he is suffering from depression and yet accuse him of not being empathetic to your friend? Sounds like your son needs help and support. I'm not saying to condone his behavior which is reprehensible but to actively seek help for him possibly through his physician. He is your son, he needs your help. I'm sorry, not meaning to judge, just trying to understand. Is there more to the story that you are not sharing?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

I'm sorry, I can't help but wonder if there isn't more to this story then you and your husband know about.

Both your son and your friend are adults.

I guess maybe if you really NEED to, get to the bottom of it? OR let it go, since it's an exchange between two adults.....?


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

Welcome to Mamapedia - very intriguing first question!

You sound like other people's actions that you don't approve of cause you stress.

So you can continue to cut off relationships when people don't please you, or you can realize that their actions are out of your control.

Your husband disagrees with you, yet you haven't ended that relationship.

Your friend participated, yet you haven't ended that relationship.

Perhaps it's time to cut the apron strings, and let your grown up son make grown up mistakes?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I know its crazy to have an adult child move back in. Mine did it for about a year. You have to remember that they are adults.
If your fool son wants to text people at 2 in the morning, he is an adult and can choose to do such stupid things. If your friend isn't bothered by it (if she were, she would have turned her phone off right away) then it is between the two of them. I have a feeling she wasn't as shocked and disgusted as you think.
Your son did what he did because he is 23 years old, suffering from depression, drinks too much and makes bad choices. I am not sure you need much more explanation than that. Now, I suggest if you want to help your son, you let him move back in on the provision that the drinking stop and the mental health care start. It would be the most loving thing you could do as a mom. Hang in there!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Doesn't add up to me.

Your friend obviously entertained this sexting session for "hours", so she's as much to blame as he is. If it went on for hours, doesn't sound like she was all that "disgusted" with it, or did she just tell you that to ease her conscious?

Also, he's 23. Of course he drinks alcohol. What does that have to do with this? You said he's depressed. So much so that he had to move back in with you. Depression makes us act in ways we wouldn't normally act. Is he medicated or being treated? What made you think that kicking him out of the house and cutting off your relationship with him was effective "punishment"??? I can't think of a reason in the world that would make me sever my relationship with one of my children.

This post is FULL of contempt for your son. I don't know the whole story, obviously, but if I were him I'd be depressed too. :(

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answers from Boston on

If she didn't respond, or turn her phone off it would have stopped. So, your son although probably shouldn't have been toying with your friend, considering the circumstances, shouldn't be blamed and kicked out of the house. Especially since it went on for several hours. They both are adults, and it sounded like it didn't bother her enough to stop responding.

Your decision was to alienate your son even further. If he truly is depressed, this was not the way to handle this situation at all.

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answers from New York on

Your son should be your son for life.

My questions lie with the friend, who by your admission, "by texting her in the middle of the nite for several hours". My questions would be why is she so pitiful that she would engage in the texting for hours without knowing who she was communicating with? Your son is 23 and grown. Your friend is also grown. Stay out of grown peoples business.

While your son may be depressed, alcohol is also a depressant too and doesn't help his case. He is a grown man and should be treated as such.

While you may be embarrassed and your friend may be embarrassed too, the incident was not cause for you to get rid of your son or not to speak to him. Talk to him about how you are feeling and what you think about what happened with the understanding that he is an adult and so is she.

Honestly your "friend" wasn't disgusted by the messenges but by the messenger. Again this isn't your problem but something they need to work out as grown people.

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answers from Washington DC on

The whole thing seems a little weird. I think I would probably be annoyed or angry at my son, the way you are. BUT, was your friend replying to these texts? If it went on for hours I think she must've been. Doesn't that put as much blame on her? How did you find out about it? I guess your friend told you? Was she upset about it? If so, WHY did she respond, or like you mentioned, not turn her phone off? Something doesn't make sense.

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answers from Hartford on

It sounds like he could have been (not assuming he was) drunk texting. Maybe thinking that it would help boost your friend's esteem (wrongly, of course). He has no reasoning/excuse because nothing he says to explain it will be acceptable to you.

I don't see why you would stop having a relationship with your son or why you'd expect your husband to stop having a relationship with him. That's very extreme, as is kicking him out of the house.

I probably would have tried having a conversation with him and, you know, made an effort to listen to him. If he's depressed and it's clinical depression, then he should be in treatment and not kicked out on the street for having made a stupid mistake that didn't actually harm anyone or ruin anyone's life.

I hope your friend didn't expect you to kick him out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Your son is an adult, your friend is an adult. I would stay out of it. How did he even have your friends number?? I think there might be more going on in the story than you know. And was she returning the texts or ignoring? If someone was repeatedly sending me sex texts I would turn my phone off. Also how did she not know it was him? Peoples names show up when they text me if its someone I know. If it was from another number I would ask who the hell it was and tell them to knock it off immediately.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Your son didn't use good judgement by choosing your best friend to flirt/sext with. He embarrassed you and made things particularly awkward since both your friend and your son were under your roof. Your friend is also embarrased now that she knows who she was communicating with. You say she is "disgusted" But she DID hold up her end of the conversation for HOURS willingly, not knowing who she was communicating with so she DOES share some of the blame. She could have turned off her phone. I'm willing to bet she may had at least a good guess who she was texting with. Or maybe didn't care. Part of her sharing how "disgusted" she is with you, is probably partially her way of dealing with feeling guilty about what happened. I'm not sure what more explanation you want from your son. Obviously, he was attracted to her and acting on that impulse. He's thinking only of his attraction to her, not her as a person where she is at now in her life that should make such behavior off limits. Bad judgement yes, but enough to discontinue your relationship with him? I would say no. I'd tell him you were embarrassed by his behavior and it shows a lack of character to pursue a woman at such a vulnerable time in her life, especially when she has come to your home to get away during such a difficult time. Encourage him to meet available people in a more respectable way instead of hiding behind electronic interaction. And apologize for over-reacting due how shocked you were and let him back home. You don't really owe your friend an apology, it sounds like your son does. Hopefully he will come to that realization on his own. I wouldn't force it. The interaction between them is for them to sort out and decide if any apologies are necessary, as they are adults and what happened was between the two of them.

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answers from Seattle on

Well, first, he's 23. He's an adult, but I think 23 year olds can still do some pretty stupid attention-seeking, shock factor behaviors and it's pretty "typical" - and if there was liquid courage involved, the stupid behavior is guaranteed to double. Especially since he's depressed. He may be seeking even more attention, from ANYONE who will give it to him, than a 23 year old kid would normally. You say he drinks excessively at times. Is he alone or is it going out with his friends? I know people are saying they're worried and if he's sitting in his room drinking a bottle of booze - yeah, worrisome. If he's going out with his friends and drinking excessively - hmm, annoying, inappropriate if he wants to live with you, but not atypical of a young guy, living at home, depressed with no girlfriend/boyfriend.

I don't blame you for being upset, but to cut your relationship off with your son because of it? I think that's a little over the top. In my opinion, you should have apologized profusely to your friend and told your son how embarrassed you were because of his behavior and that behavior is not allowed at your house; if it happened again he would need to find new accommodations. I don't know the history of your relationship, so maybe this is like a "last straw" situation. In that case, I wouldn't blame you. But I guarantee you he's not the first young guy to "drunk text" inappropriate things to get a reaction - most of them have probably done it. Yes, it was your friend (but she could have turned her phone off - she was at least a bit intrigued) and it was totally unacceptable, but I think you'll regret it if you cut him out of your life because of it. When push comes to shove he is your son and this is one screw up that he made when he was in a bad place in his life. You know? Good luck to you... So sorry.

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answers from Beaumont on

To me it is a cry for help. He is troubled and very unhappy, for reasons you may not even know or begin to understand.
I would never reject my children no matter what they did. That is conditional love. I will love you only if you do everything I approve of. I would express my reaction to what he did in no uncertain terms, but I would never let him feel that I value someone else over him.
He needs professional help.
Your "friend" needs somewhere else to stay not him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like your son has many issues to deal with. And sounds like your hubby missed the boat altogether! Sorry this happened and really sorry for the rift it has created between you and your son.



answers from Washington DC on

You mention depression -- but is he officially medically diagnosed? If not, he needs to be. And then he needs both "talk therapy" and medication if warranted. If he is just saying "I'm depressed" but has not seen any professional about it, or if he has a diagnosis but has done nothing else (is not attending regular therapy and/or is not taking prescribed medications) -- I would tell him that he can live in your home only if he does EVERYTHING the doctor requires, every day, toward treating his depression. Offer to drive him to appointments if you must; offer to pick up his meds if you must.

I would bet he is not taking his meds (if they've been prescribed) or not going to therapy or both. And his doctor needs to know immediately that he is drinking to excess -- that is "self-medication" and will lead him into addiction (yep, alcoholism). Just because he drinks to excess "some nights" and not every night does not matter -- a person can be an alcoholic if he only drinks at weekends but just MUST have that to get through the weekend, for instance.

The sexting issue and your embarrassment and upset over it are preventing you from seeing the much, much bigger issue: Your son is sick and hurting and very likely not getting the treatment he needs, or not followiing through on any treatment he is getting already.

You are wanting an explanation and an apology but do not look for either. There is no explanation other than probably drunkenness and the fact that depressed people often do very bizarre things, even things that are hurtful and make them seem to lack empathy.

You also mention "other issues" that you don't specify. Look at those and think whether they are indications of depression or manic-depression (bipolar disorder, where people have intense, busy, overly-happy "high" states and then crash into very low depressed states and it cycles over and over). If he has been diagnosed as depressed but seems to have manic, "I'm king of the world" high periods, he very well may be bipolar - and the treatment is very different, so he would need to be diagnosed again.

Please stop letting the embarrassment over this incident prevent you from seeing the real problem in front of you. He is sick and needs help or he will get worse. Kicking him out was a gut reaction but where will he live? If he needs medication and doctor visits, he needs a stable and regular home, not nights crashed on the couches of friends who will possibly encourage the self-medication of drinking. I would have wanted to throw him out too, believe me, but please take a step back from your emotions and tell him he can come home and live with you and together you AND your husband and he will work on this IF your son sticks to his treatment plan.

I would also eventually require him to pay some minimal rent each month; to do specific daily chores that help the whole household run; and to contribute in other ways to your life in that house together.

Consider seeing a counselor yourself to find out what you can do for your son and how far you should go - you want to help him but not enable bad behavior or drinking. I'd ask a professional about where help ends and enabling begins.


answers from Augusta on

Well, your son should have showed some empathy, and I would kind of find it awkward for him to be doing that. Yes I know you would be upset but you should still at least try to rebuild a relationship.



answers from Appleton on

You need to have your son commited to a mental health facility. Contact Social Services or Human Services for your county and find out what steps you need to take to have him involuntarily committed. It sounds like he is self medicating with alcohol. And covering up a much deeper mental illness than depression.


answers from Austin on

Welcome to mamapedia.

Sounds like lot is going on. I think you need to have a conversation between you, husband and son, come to agreement about his behaviors if he is going to live with you.

I do find the sex ting between your friend and son interesting.... Why would it be ok for hr to be setting but not your son. Sure he texted her, but she could have declined the text of this "stranger" don't you think it is odd?

Make sure your son does have a safe place to live if he is depressed. Make sure you all as a family attend excuses.... Sounds like a lot of issues.



answers from Houston on

It would seem that your son is in need of support and love at this point in his life. Perhaps his actions with your friend were a "call" for help. It's good that at least one of his parents is still on speaking terms and has not completely turned their back on him, so that someday soon you won't get a call from the police when they find his body, either in a crashed vehicle or swinging from whatever rope he manages to hang himself with.

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