Relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist Mary O'Conor offers relationship advice in her weekly column.
Question: I am a separated woman in my 60s. I worked very hard all my life holding down a full time job and raising my children without any support - except for financial - from my ex-husband. My ex was a very harsh, uncaring man. He was the life and soul of a party, had many affairs and had no feelings for his children. He hasn't seen the children for years, even though he does not live far away.
I have suffered from a number of serious illnesses, including heart disease. I have a great circle of loving friends, am involved in the community and should be really happy but the big problem is my son. He was the perfect child. He adored his sisters, and they him. He was not a diligent student but went on to study at college and did his post-grad.
He started working and the problems began. If the boss looked at him sideways, if he didn't like the decor - he just walked out. This happened at least 20 times. He never held down a job so he was always in financial trouble and getting 'loans' from me and his sisters.
On one occasion when he was in serious trouble he agreed to go for assessment. He was in his mid-20s. I was told by the professor that my son had a personality disorder - that academically he was very smart but had a maturity age of 12/13.
My son refused to accept that diagnosis and would not agree to treatment. So he carried on and bought a house and then two more and ran deeper and deeper into debt and could not, or would not, hold down a job.
A few years later, he met a lovely girl. She was pregnant almost immediately and they married. Of course she didn't know my son at all. When the kids arrived he fell apart. He couldn't handle the pressures. The past few years have been a nightmare for all of us and my son too. He refuses to seek help. His caring doctor says he is in urgent need of medical care but my son refuses. You can bring a horse to water...
In recent times, he has started shouting and become abusive. When I begged him to go back to the GP he lunged forward and hurt himself. One of the children witnessed this. I am so afraid of what he might do to himself and the children and his wife and me too. Have you any suggestions, Mary please?
Mary O'Conor replies: This is indeed a very serious situation given that there is a danger of physical harm to both you and your son's wife, and also to the children. It is also very damaging for the children to witness his behaviour, and this cannot be allowed to happen again.
It is now time for you to contact your son's GP and ask for his intervention. Your son is obviously in need of psychiatric help and if he doesn't agree to this himself then it can be taken out of his hands at the request of the family.
I know that this sounds pretty drastic, but you would never forgive yourself if he were to do some permanent damage to either himself or a loved one. You don't tell me what your relationship is like with his wife, but you may wish to discuss this with her before you go to see the GP. If it is the case that she doesn't want you to go down this route I think it is imperative that you do, no matter what she says.
I appreciate that you don't have a husband with whom you can talk and rely on for support. I am very happy that you have a close circle of friends who are there for you because you certainly need them at a time like this. Sometimes life is very hard and I hope that there are some good times ahead for you.