MaryZ's support thread for parents of troubled teenagers - Part 2 here's to a peaceful 2013

(810 Posts)
Maryz Tue 01-Jan-13 15:57:49

This is a continuation of this thread which I set up as a safe space for struggling parents of challenging teenagers.

This is meant to be a welcoming thread, where everyone can come and moan, whinge, bash ideas off each other and support each other as we face a new year and new challenges

Newbies in particular - come and join in. When ds1 started going off the rails I felt very lonely as there was no-one in real life I could talk to. Being able to be open and honest on here has helped me cope over the last few years.

Many of us have extremely challenging teenagers, some are involved in alcohol and drugs, some are violent, some are struggling with depression, anxiety and various SN. This thread isn't here to judge people and tell them how to parent or to simplify and minimise their difficulties.

So if you think we should simply tell them to come home and night, and take their phones away if they don't, you are probably in the wrong place. Also if you think a few joints or a couple of pills are harmless, go and start a thread about it somewhere else.

The mantra of this thread is - don't look back, guilt is a wasted emotion. You are where you are now, carry on from here. You may not be able to change them, but you can change how you react to their behaviour, so pick your battles, take a step back and try not be too emotionally involved, and FFS, be nice to yourself.

So here goes: here's to a calm, peaceful and positive 2013.

thriftychic Tue 05-Feb-13 11:33:36

i really need someone today , this is a very bad day sad
ds2 was upset and stressing this morning over something trivial , not trivial to him obviously probably because of his aspergers. it resulted in him threatening to smash my face in and although he didnt hurt me he threw me on the bed , poked me in the face , tipped my furniture up and broke a mirror.
i rang 999 sad
i told the police i was sorry i had rung , i am sorry i rang but i had decided on natural consequences so , swearing we created a swear jar , damaging things he has to pay and aggression the police .
the police came but ds2 had legged it by then . They went for a look around and said if he doesnt show in a reasonable amount of time report him missing .
he has turned up at school which i thought was the last place . slotted into his lesson like nothings happened it seems.
hes been texting me though saying that he hates me and we are finished etc etc
the way his aspergers brain works he will mean it and never forgive me i am sure and also it wont change his behaviour i dont think.
i am dreading him coming home i have no idea what to do anymore and i feel physically sick.

Maryz Tue 05-Feb-13 14:18:19

Hi thrifty, sorry you are having a shit time.

Will the police come and talk to him when he gets home? Even if he doesn't really appreciate why and even if he is still angry with you, seeing them might give him a wake-up call.

I know what you mean about him never forgiving you - I know ds hated me for a long time, he really did. His life was entirely my fault. And it wasn't that he was just saying it (like another child would), he really did. But I know that over the last year or so that is blurring a bit, and he now knows (in his more reasonable moments) that he doesn't really hate me.

So, again, you have to be less emotional. You really do. Stop caring about what he is texting, just carry on with the "you frightened me, so I called the police. Not only to protect myself, but to protect you because you will be in a lot of trouble if you hurt me badly".

That's a statement. Not an emotional "see what you are doing to me, you are ruining my life and upsetting me" comment, but a statement of fact. "You are not allowed to hurt anyone, and to stop you I will call reinforcements".

When ds was first diagnosed I went to a talk on AS by Tony Attwood, and one of the things that came up was emotion, and how people with AS find it hard to display degrees of emotion, so they go from ok to furious, ok to miserable, all in one go, rather than being narky, then cross, then angry, then furious, iyswim.

Also that anger is an easy emotion for children to have, and that for children who fear their own emotions the easiest thing to do is to get angry. So you are confused, you get angry, you are down, you get angry, you can't do your homework, you get angry. The anger releases a burst of tension, and you can get the other emotions out of your system and feel very much better very quickly. So children learn anger as the "get out" reaction to everything.

This follows them through to adulthood, and they can get so angry they actually frighten themselves. They then have to justify their anger, by blaming someone else for it.

I'm not explaining this very well, but while his fury is understandable (and you can tell him that) physical violence against people is NOT ok.

Now, be nice to yourself, when he comes in call the police to come and talk to him, tell him why you called them, and let them explain what will happen if he does it again.

Don't worry about him hating you, or not forgiving you. That's worrying about the future and what-ifs, which we aren't doing here. Here we are dealing with now, just now.

Be nice to yourself. Don't blame yourself, you are doing the right thing.

Midwife99 Tue 05-Feb-13 14:40:25

Thrifty - you should be apologising for calling the police when he attacked you!! He should apologising not sending you abusive texts! I don't think that just because our teens have ADHD or AS or whatever they shouldn't have to face the consequences of their actions. Dial 101 & arrange for a local officer to come & give him a talking to. You must feel pretty shaken up so I hope you have RL support today.

Midwife99 Tue 05-Feb-13 15:00:01

Sorry thrifty - I meant to say you should NOT be apologising for calling the police!!

flow4 Tue 05-Feb-13 18:16:23

Thrifty, you say you are dreading him coming home. Is he back by now? If not, do you have to let him back? I refused for several days after I had my son arrested, because I knew he was still very angry and I did not know whether it would be safe. I felt like I was a very Bad Mother (and he and others reinforced that) but I did not know what else to do. And it did at least show him clearly how desperate and serious I was. sad

With luck, even though he's brazening it out, he will have realised you're serious about the 'no aggression' rule.

It is very, very, very hard, but (if it's any consequence) it sounds like you're doing the right thing. I think your natural consequences idea sounds excellent (though I wouldn't do the swearing one - partly because it would cost me a fortune! blush ) - really simple and clear to understand and follow.

After his arrest, my DS texted me with "I'm in the back of a police car thanks to you bitch". He followed that over the course of the next 4-5 days with loads of other angry, abusive messages about how everything was my fault and how he'd never forgive me. I think many people (not just teens) say "I hat you" when really they mean "I am furious with you". Like Maryz says, you can ignore, or counter these with calm facts, e.g.:

"I'm in the back of a police car thanks to you bitch" --> "No, you're in the back of a police car because you smashed the house up and threatened me".

"I can't believe you had me arrested c*nt" --> "I told you I would if you were violent again".

"I hate you, you're ruining my life" --> "I know you are very angry with me. But the only person who can ruin your life is you".

"What kind of mother calls the police on her own son" --> "I can't control you - you have to control yourself. And if you don't, I have to call for reinforcements".

Like Maryz says, his anger will die down. Deep down he probably knows he was out of order. I have come to realise that my son get more angry if he knows he's in the wrong. hmm

Hope tonight is calmer.

Midwife99 Tue 05-Feb-13 20:08:34

Totally agree with all that flow says.

Doinmummy Wed 06-Feb-13 19:03:55

Hi all, My worse fears have been realised. I found drugs in DDs bedroom. I have contacted the school and they are trying to put some help in place. I can hardly speak to anyone, I feel sick to my stomach.

Maryz Wed 06-Feb-13 19:10:28

Doin, you kind of knew that from his behaviour, didn't you?

In a way, now you know he can no longer pretend he isn't, if that makes sense. I do understand the shock and the feeling sick, but if you can look at it dispassionately you finding them makes no difference - he was still using.

Do be careful with the school. We contacted the school about ds and their answer was to expel him sad while his supplier (older boy, same school) got away with it because his parents just lied.

Mrscupcake23 Wed 06-Feb-13 19:15:13

Agree try and keep it quiet from the school, they really will not be helpful.

Have no experience of drugs but there must be a helpline.

Doinmummy Wed 06-Feb-13 19:19:45

Maryz I think you've muddled me with someone else. I have had no idea about drugs and while DD behaviour has been challenging I really dont think it was drugs related. This is totally new. She has admitted to smoking weed twice.

The school seem to think that someone has given them to her and have said that she will not be expelled unless she brings them into school.

She has been spoken to by the police who are going along the lines of prevention rather than arresting her.

Mrscupcake23 Wed 06-Feb-13 19:26:21

What sort of drugs were they? My sympathy is with you it's every parents nightmare. What has your daughter said about it?

Doinmummy Thu 07-Feb-13 14:01:52

I found wrappers that looked like white powder had been in it and another had weed in it. DD has said she's smoked weed twice. Her boyfriend smokes it. She had a load of kids round but won't say who they were. I smelt it as soon as I walked in.

flow4 Thu 07-Feb-13 17:11:53

I'm sorry Doin, you must be very worried about this. Dunno if information helps, but in case it does...

The white powder is probably M-CAT/mephedrone but could also be MDMA, aphetamines/speed or (if someone in your DD's circle has plenty of money) cocaine.

The weed, if it smells strong, is probably skunk. Skunk is a form of cannabis, as you probably know. It has been chemically modified to add more of the 'psycho-active' ingredient THC. It can be nasty stuff imo.

In my experience, there are two very different types of drug user: ones who use drugs at weekends or at the end of a day to 'wind down', and ones who use drugs daily and throughout a day to 'block out'. Many teens manage to use drugs to 'wind down' and still keep their lives, work, relationships and studies on track. Other teens over-use and mis-use drugs to 'block out' the bits of their lives they do not like, and often end up with serious problems.

It is probably worth trying to work out which group your DD belongs to. If it's the first, then she will probably be OK. If she's in the second group, this is more worrying. I know many teens, including my son, who have gone badly off track, and drugs have played a major part in this.

It seems to me that the 'key factor' is whether on not a teen has things in his/her life that motivate him/her enough not to let drug misuse ruin anything. Once they find a 'passion' or something they really want to do, they seem to be able to stop using drugs, or keep any drug use under control. If your DD (or any teen) doesn't have something in her life that she loves, then she's more at risk I think.

Doinmummy Thu 07-Feb-13 22:09:12

Thank you flow . I'm still reeling at the moment . I think ( and I stress think) that its a bit of experimenting . She said she has tried weed twice and has promised never to do so again . I don't know if I believe her and am not so naive as to take my eye off the ball. She denies all knowledge of the bag of white powder . I am questioning her in dribs and drabs as it inflames things if I interrogate her too much. I need to keep everything as calm as possible.

thriftychic Thu 07-Feb-13 22:17:25

not had chance to get back on here until now but thanks for the advice and kind words. I was gobsmacked he had gone to school on Tuesday , i thought he had probably gone in the end because it was snowing and he was too scared of the police to come home but he says he went straight to school . another brilliant one by school who failed to let me know he had arrived there even though i had let them know what was happening.
when he came home he was all sorry , i just couldnt face ringing the police again , i know stupid , but i am so knackered and mixed up with it all. He wanted to hug me and then play xbos !
I am sticking to my guns with the damage , he has a gift card from xmas so ive taken that to use to buy a new mirror with and he has been told he has to go out with his dad to get it on saturday.
hes asked me to buy him a punch bag , saying that it might help him when hes angry but tbh im not sure it will.
He gets some money each day providing hes been behaving but tonight he was shouting at us about something and being generally arsy so i told him he hadnt earned it today , he has to be 100 % polite and he started getting crazy about it being unfair etc etc . i thought we were in for another meltdown but managed to ignore it and then create a distraction.
maryz , i can get what your saying about the anger thing and also trying to be less emotional . hard though as i am a very emotional sort of person at the best of times !
flow , i have to have him back . theres nowhere else for him and tbh i cant stop worrying when hes anywhere else anyway as he relies on me alot with having AS i think and also epilepsy worries me . He seems to be more like a 10 year old than a 13 year old in some ways .
i am wondering if the fact that i actually called the police might have some effect , probably deluding myself but we will see..

Maryz Thu 07-Feb-13 22:32:28

Sorry, Doin, I was mixing you up with someone from the earlier thread.

If you didn't have any idea, then it must have come as a shock. I would be a bit worried about her denying knowledge. In my experience kids only admit what you know already - the chances are that if they admit to trying weed a couple of times that actually means they are smoking a lot.

Obviously there are exceptions, where the parent finds it the first time they use it, but that isn't generally the case.

Flow is our resident expert on teenage drug use, listen to her. I do agree, though, that teenagers stop using drugs, not when they are caught, not when the run out of money, not when their parents punish them, but when the find something else in life more interesting and important than the drugs. So trying to get her to do things rather than stop doing things is likely to be more successful.

Maryz Thu 07-Feb-13 22:35:06

thrifty, that actually sounds quite encouraging. He may well have frightened himself, and the fact that you did call the police might just be enough to stop him next time. And the fact that he could control himself today is also a good sign.

I presume you've read the bit above about looking at our kids (with AS, ADHD etc) as though they are 2/3rds their chronological age, haven't you? That would make your ds a 9 year old in a 13 year old's body, which is very confusing for him.

Do try to be less emotional if you can - it really has helped an awful lot with ds, because he no longer has to worry about me being up and down, which helps him control his own emotions better iykwim.

shoppingtrolley Fri 08-Feb-13 10:10:24

My DD has deteriorated since turning 13 and is now falling out with everyone, terrible mood swings, obnoxious at home, hormonal and addicted to the internet. She has started refusing to go to school and I fail to make her go, and now she is missing out on substantial quantities of work. She has a 17 year old boyfriend who she met online and seems to have no ambitions, no aims or dreams. She looks terrible and sometimes cuts her arms. Is this normal or teenage stuff or are we having it particularly bad? I don't know as I don't have many friends with kids the same age.

Maryz Fri 08-Feb-13 10:33:30

It isn't "normal" for most teenagers, shopping. Sadly it becomes normal for some.

Are the school any help? Would a trip to the gp and possibly the pill help the moods? It is difficult - the 17 year old boyfriend would ring enough alarm bells to make me start worrying.

I keep saying this - I think we as parents need help for us - to a certain extent we can only stand on the sidelines and watch. For many children discipline, boundaries, rules, punishment etc works and keeps them on the straight and narrow. But if it doesn't work, it is very hard to make kids of this age actually do anything.

If you think she is depressed, a trip to the gp would be a good idea (and the gp might be able to suggest some help for you as well). If the school can help you or her, then that might be the way to go.

shoppingtrolley Fri 08-Feb-13 11:11:13

Do you think the pill would help? I only have experience of me taking it, and it drove me crazy! Do most kids like this come right in the end or can it all carry on in to adulthood? I am worried she will ruin the start of her adult life :-(

Hi everyone, I just thought I'd come back and tell you that ds was diagnosed with autism on Wednesday. Although I suspected he was asd I honestly thought that the results would come back inconclusive as he's very clever at appearing normal when he has to.

But they came back very clear, the assessor says it was obvious to them that he was autistic he met all the criteria and they had specific concerns about his lack of empathy and his social understanding amongst other things

I am relieved. And gutted. And I don't know where to go from here. Poor boy also had ADHD.

Has not had

Maryz Fri 08-Feb-13 12:40:19

Ghost, sorry to post and run, but you know a diagnosis might well help him. And it will certainly help you, it really will.

Even if it only helps you to detatch a bit, knowing that he can't help how he is iyswim. He can, however, learn to help what he does, but that will take him longer than other kids. The diagnosis may well also rule out drug use, which is a good thing (the first time ds was arrested they thought he was on drugs, he wasn't, he was just autistic and they couldn't understand his ranting at all).

Go back up this thread and read flow4 Tue 08-Jan-13 10:18:23 especially the bit about it not being your fault. Because it is even more applicable if he is on the autistic spectrum.

I will be here later, and I'll give you a couple of links to websites that might help. And I'll leave you with a story (which I might have told here before). When my kids were younger, one of the biggest problems I had was ds1 walking into the sitting room, picking up the remote and changing the tv channel, resulting in uproar from ds2 and dd who would be happily watching tv. It was years before I discovered that children with ASD have difficulty understanding that other people think differently from them. So ds1 genuinely thought he was doing the others a favour - he would walk in, they would be watching something stupid or boring, and he would change to something more interesting, assuming that they would also find it interesting. It made me understand him so much more when I realised this, because it suddenly struck me that little of his behaviour was deliberately provocative, much of it was self centred (not selfish, there is a subtle difference).

For your son, for example, he may genuinely not realise how much impact his noise has on the little ones; and on the other hand he will genuinely think that their noise is done deliberately to annoy him. It's weird to get your head around, but if you can, it does help.

shopping, I don't really know for sure, but there have been posters on here whose girls' behaviour has been transformed by being put on the pill.

njaw Fri 08-Feb-13 17:31:01

I've been reading for weeks now and thinking to myself "at least I don't have to call the police". Now I'm in a whole other place

DS2 has got in a furious rage with his brother whilst I was at work and has pulled a knife on him. The way the pair of them told me when I got a hysterical call from DS2 (I think he's scared the living daylights out of himself) was that he stopped before he did any damage but the cuts in DS1's jacket have made me realise he was a lot closer to damage than either of them realised.

I called TAHMS, they work term time (seriously???) and we've not been allocated a case worker yet. They recommend I call the Police if I think any of us are in danger and that I call the GP to see if we can get tracked to CAHMS instead, though she doesn't think it will happen and my request will get bounced back to TAHMS. The way DS2 tells it, he hardly remembers anything, he's terrified about what he did and was sobbing in my arms that he needed help. He's now totally calm and I don't have the strength to start a debate just yet, believe it or not he's curled up on the sofa next to DS1 and they are happy as larry. I know I should do something but I'm in such deep shock I've been rendered numb.

The "What if's?" are utterly terrifying.. The realisation that this isn't anything like teenage angst is startlingly clear, I have no idea what to do and I'm in so much fear for his future, I can't think straight.

Maryz Fri 08-Feb-13 21:01:18

njaw, I think you should go to the gp while he still remembers the episode.

From what you have said above, his father has been involved with drugs and has mh issues. I have learned that sometimes it isn't that drug ues causes bad behaviour and mh problems; it can be the other way around. I used to think that if ds would stop using drugs, he'd be fine, but then I came to realise that he wasn't fine before he started using - he started smoking dope as a form of self-medication, because he couldn't cope with anxiety, depression and other issues.

It's possible your ex did the same, and there is some treatable mental illness that your ds has inherited - much of the time these illnesses can be heriditary, and can come to the fore in the teenage years. We are trying to find out about ds's medical background, and it does seem that there is some incidence of depression and possibly bi-polar in his gene pool.

I used to think that medicating children was appalling - now I think that had ds been taken seriously and treated medically for depression and especially for anxiety, he wouldn't possibly have become so dependent on various street drugs.

Go and have a chat with your gp - see if you can find a sympathetic one, and try to talk to your son from the point of view that it is scary for him (whatever about anyone else) and that he needs some help to make sure it doesn't happen again.

And lock away the knives.

ds2, by the way, has been furiously angry a lot in the last few weeks, since starting his ADHD medication [sigh]. So I'm in the opposite position to you, considering stopping it. I can't make up my mind which is worse - his inability to concentrate without the medication, or the fury in the evenings when it wears off.

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