MaryZ's support thread for parents of troubled teenagers - Part 2 here's to a peaceful 2013(810 Posts)
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.
I posted about my son a few weeks ago now, and thank you for your replies. I didn't reply then as I have just not had chance to post again until now as I have been so busy. My son as some of you may know started to abuse drugs from the age of aroung 12/ 13 I would say but at the time I was ignorant and clueless. By the age of 14 we were having terrible problems with, violence, police involvement, expelled from school, not coming home etc etc. By the age of 18 we now know he was using Heroin. He is now 23. We have literally been to hell and back as I mentioned on my previous post he was admitted into hospital on xmas eve and was very lucky to live.
As an update on the situation he has completed rehab for the second time as he completed nine weeks initially, then relapsed. He attended again for the second time after being in hospital. He is now clean and graduated. He has completed the first thing ever in his life. His life before had become unmanageable. He has now gained a job where he is because he is doing so well, working in the detox house looking after others that come in addicted to drugs. The plan is that he attends college and then university to achieve counselling so that he can help others. He can only take his life one day at a time.
Apparently drug addiction is an illness / disease that can never be cured. A drug addict is powerless to his addiction and can only combat this by taking each day following a programme. A drug addicts brain is different to a non addict this has been scientifically proven. A drug addict is born with this and will probably find drug addiction no matter what. I found this to be arguable as I blamed a lot of people for my sons addiction. Somebody who has addiction cannot really be helped until they are ready to admit it or have hit absolute rock bottom. They have to really want to give drugs up.
My son is clean but will always be a drug addict. He could fall at any moment. The programme at rehab has been amazing and I understand addiction a lot more than I did before. I feel like I handled everything wrong now looking back.
An interesting book to read is Alcoholics Anonymous as it is about alcohol addiction it applies to all addiction. Also there are support groups up and down the country for families of drug / alcohol addicts called alanon.
Wise words from you Maryz as usual. I know you are right and I have had to relax a bit about what is worth fighting about.
I actually feel like I live in a loony bin already!!
It's hard when you are surrounded by well meaning family members with children who are text book perfect grrrrrrr
Anyway onwards and upwards......
I know what I am going to post is nothing compared to what a lot of you are going through but I fear if we don't get a grip on things sooner, he may end up in trouble.
DS2 nearly 14 has always been "spirited". One of my friends described his primary school as trying to put DS into a round hole when actually he is a square shape. We were constantly called into school. We had a behaviour person go in (twice - at our request on the advice of my said friend who works in a similar occupation). It was deemed that although sometimes DS was responsible for some of the stuff more often than not he was set up by his peers and because he thought if he argued and said it wasn't him, he would be punished anyway so took the rap for a lot of stuff. So going on to Secondary, he has taken on the role of the class clown.
He has done some really stupid things at home when he was in primary, poured paint into the petrol bit of the lawn mower. Taken scissors to my new window blinds (scissors out of reach but he could climb like a bloody monkey). Cut the stitching on my new leather sofa, taken stuff out of a neighbours garage, helped himself to icepops from said neighbours freezer - even though we have our own lollies and icepops. The list is endless.
We had his parent consultation day. Form tutor, DH and me had a really good talk to him - he turned on the waterworks. Tutor said he is a very bright and capable boy. He gets lots of comments in his planner about lack of homework. We always ask about it and he says he has done it at school over lunch so agreement is he cannot do it at school, needs to be done at home. Tutor knows we are very supportive of the school. A lot of other comments are for "silly disruptive behaviour".
We ground him, take his phone/ laptop off him.
So last night he went to a party. When I went to pick him up I waited near the door (village hall) as although I had texted to say I was in the car park (parking was limited and he knew I may have to park a little way off) the reception for phones is not so good and I did wonder if he had received it (it actually came through on our way home). The dad to the girl whose party it was came out and asked if I was x's mum. He said there had been an incident earlier of throwing food around in the toilets. The other boys (some of them he went to primary with) said it was DS. Now this parent said to me he had no proof and apologised to me if he had got it wrong but said he had shouted at DS and had made him cry, but wanted to explain to my what had happened. Now a couple of these boys were stood around and wouldn't even make eye contact with me and I have known them since nursery. The dad went back to find DS who came out very tearful, not sure if it was embarrassment at being shouted at or embarrassment of actually throwing food or feeling sorry for himself because he didn't do it, I asked him, he didn't want to talk about it just that it wasn't him (he has lied before...).
Yesterday during the day he came in and smelt of cigarettes. I asked to smell his breath and being a non smoker, I could smell the fag breath straight away. He was adamant that he hadn't smoked... I said he had he sad he hadn't. He is taking me for a fool.
So today I have grounded him. Whilst I was upstairs cleaning the bathroom he has gone out. I am bloody livid. DH is away until tonight (he would have gone out to look for him as he has done this numerous times before), I just feel like he is laughing in my face.
One thing he does say quite often is "you never tell DS1 off". Well no we don't have to because a) he never goes out and b) he bloody well behaves at school and at home. In the five years Ds1 has been at secondary school, he has only ever had three comments in his planner, one was for not taking the correct science book and the other two were for forgetting homework.
How else can we punish DS2?
I'm in a hurry, so can't answer in detail, but my first thought is not to think of a "worse" punishment, but to rather think of a way of rewarding good behaviour if that is possible.
The thing I discovered is that once they are teenagers you can't physically keep them grounded. And if they don't care about phones/money etc you can't punish them into conforming. And if you keep escalating punishment they are likely to escalate behaviour.
I really don't know what the answer is, but if he is willing to sit down with you and make some type of contract of behaviour where he agrees to certain curfews and times to do homework, and in return you agree to financial rewards (pocket money) and backing off on some other things?
Of course all that is theoretical. When it comes to smoking you can't actually stop him.
I worry about the class clown/taking the blame thing with ds2. He always owns up, he often gets set up and he is absolutely stupid about dares/messing/acting the clown. But he trusts me so will tell me the truth and let me intervene. Whereas ds1 didn't trust me to take his side, so lied to me too .
One thing I do say to everyone is: if it gets to the stage that you are punishing at home all the time for things that are happening in school, then stop. Because in the end, no matter what happens from an educational/school point of view, you still have to live with him. Let the school punish him, use your sanctions for things that happen at home, because in the end they are more important. And you don't want to use "taking phone" for not doing homework, if you need to have that sanction for staying out until all hours, if that makes sense.
Oh Maryz thank you for replying, you talk a lot of sense.
Re the smoking thing, I know I cannot stop him but all he had to say was yes I did rather than blatantly lie.
I will show DH your post tonight when he gets back and see if we can come up with something. It cannot be money I don't think as DS already earns £30 plus a week doing a paper round and he also gets pocket money too.
He has also gone into my purse and taken details of my credit card (found a post it note in his room with the details on), has racked up £££ on our phone bill when he had run out of credit on his phone and downloaded ££ apps using my iTunes account. God knows how he thought he would get away with that one as iTunes sent receipts to my email address.
God I feel so bloody tearful today.
Ok, it's escallating then.
So the first thing you have to do is stop easy access to things - change your passwords, lock up your valuables. Really, it's simpler to do that rather than argue after the event.
If he is going through loads of money and is smoking, don't rule out smoking dope.
Take a deep breath and a step back, and just think about what are the most serious issues (lying, smoking whatever he is smoking, and knowing where he is/curfew would be the ones that would stick out to me) and work on those.
What are his friends like? What outside interests has he? If you can channel him into something he really enjoys that works much better than stopping him trying to do things, iyswim. I'm lucky with ds2 (who can be very challenging and has ADHD, but loves sport so will stay pretty much on the straight and narrow for the sake of his sport - I hope).
Just back from visiting DS in HMYOI. Hope none of you ever have to do that
All passwords were changed and I try not to leave my handbag lying about.
We never know where he is... He will say one place and go somewhere entirely different and he never bloody comes back on time. When we try and ring him it goes to voicemail - he switches us off . So yes I would be happy with a) knowing where he is and b) him coming home when we ask.
Some friends I do know and some I don't (from another village but go to the same school).
He is very interested in motor cross bikes and jumps etc, he would like his own bike - with the money he earns he could get one in say 3 or 4 months, but he just cannot save. I took to taking money off him from his paper round, to be fair I saved it and he bought some clothes and took some money on the holiday we have just had and saved some for his skiing trip he went on in Feb half term with the school, but he does resent us taking the money and saving it for him. BUT it still leaves him with about £18 a week (inc pocket money) so how a 13 year old cannot survive on this, god only knows....DH has told him he will buy a bike rack for the back of the car but he has to be wiling too and not expect us to pay the cost of the bike.
He has just turned up like a bad penny. Part of his paper round is to collect the money in and an adult has to go with him. After his tantrum yesterday over the smoking he decided he wasn't going to go and collect so DS1 and I went out collecting and the same today. He turned up when we were at the last house with no explanation as to where he has been. I am bearing a grudge and can barely speak to him (I know I am being childish with this).
Thank you again, you have helped put things in perspective.
I'm sorry midwife
Are you managing to put it out of your mind when you aren't actually there? Are you looking after yourself in all this?
Bella, I would also worry what a 13 year old is doing with that money if you don't see the proceeds. And I hope if you collect the paper money with ds1, you don't just hand it all over. Having said that, I'm not sure that taking his earnings to "save" will help - he will feel resentful.
I could weep when I think of all the money ds has pissed away (or smoked ) over the last five years. He could have bought a car and had a couple of great holidays [sigh]
So sorry to hear that Midwife, some of us are just a whisker away from that and hanging on by our fingernails.
DS (addicted to weed but currently employed full-time and making a real effort) has a week off and is flying off to Ansterdam with a weed-smoking friend in the morning for a few days. I'm a nervous wreck! I have a horrible feeling something bad will happen. I hope not obv and he has made huge progress in the past 8 months but I can't shake it. Oh god!
Thanks everyone. I do try to put it out of my mind as much as I can & focus on other things in between.
Having a really shit morning with dd1 (13), who has decided to use the time her dad is away (he's on a business trip for the first time in a couple of years) to opt of of following any of the rules we'd agreed and put in place, and she's decided not to go to school today.
I've phoned the school and had a call from head of year, who has told me to phone CAMHS and try to get them to arrange an emergency appointment. She's already had one of those recently - last week, following us calling the police for the second time in a fortnight after she physically attacked DH and I. I'm really not sure that CAMHS can do anything. She has seen the consultant psychiatrist there twice, who has come to the same conclusion that I have: that she's not suffering from depression, anxiety, undiagnosed ADHD or ADD or ASD, bi-polar, or actually any other psychiatric or developmental disorder, and that what's going on here is just adolescence. And has suggested family therapy.
We have a few rules in place and she'd agreed she was going to follow them: hand over phone and be in bed at 10pm on a school night; leave the house by 8am so she is on time for school (or forfeit her phone for the day if she's late); homework done and handed in on time; no violence.
First night at home since DH left on Sunday (Sunday night she stayed at SIL's) she decides not to hand her phone over or go to bed at the time we'd agreed . She said that had I been 'reasonable' about renegotiating a later bed time for her she would have given me the phone, but as I insisted that she should go to bed at the time we'd previous agreed, she was going to hang on to her phone instead. Should add - she didn't go to bed until 11pm.
This morning she refused to get up until I walked into her room and took her phone at 8.05. At which point she got up and tried to wrestle the phone off me, putting her arm around my neck while I was standing on the stairs. I calmly pointed out that if I phoned the police they would take her to the cells for the day (as I'd phoned them twice previously about her violence) and that this might stay on her record long enough to stop her working with children, which is something she's always said she wants to do (and something she'll need an advanced crb for I assume, if she applies for work experience in an nursery). At this point she backed off, took my iphone and went back to bed. Luckily my iphone has a code lock on it and she got bored of hanging on to it after half an hour and let me have it back.
She is lying in bed doing nothing. I really don't know what to do at this point. She doesn't hate school and she has friends there. She is not going because to make a point that she can do what she feels like and there is nothing I can do about it. :-(
You can take her phone and go out, and pretend not to care. Simply ignore her, don't get into an argument, carry on with the rest of your day (preferably give the phone to someone else so you physically can't give it back to her.
The agreement was bed on time, school on time. She broke it, she doesn't get the phone back until she does a full (on time) day at school.
Just keep repeating: If you go to school on time you can have your phone.
Keep out of the house as much as possible. Do something nice for yourself, leave her to stew.
When is dh back? ds used to do something dreadful every time dh was away or every time I had arranged to go out. Eventually I grew to expect it and was able to disassociate myself from it.
Oh - and keep a diary - exactly what she said/did, times and dates. Factual, not emotional. But it must be exact so she can't pick on one little thing (for example, "I went to bed at 10.59 so it was before 11.00" would be the way ds would nitpick if I said "you didn't go to bed until after 11"). And by proving me to be "lying" on one little thing he would convince himself he was justified in the entire argument.
I feel at breaking point tonight.
She is at my mum's to give me a bit of respite (she doesn't see it that way - she would never go if she thought it was what I wanted, she wants to be there because my mum and sister give her money and question her less). But I can see the bad behaviour is getting worse and worse. She has been in trouble at school this week for being rude to her English teacher, who has been really supportive of her. Not doing homework. She made herself late for school again. Half an hour late. She went off somewhere after school and has only just pitched up at my mum's. She told me I was 'getting cocky' when I took issue with her going off with people after school and not letting us know where she is.
I just want to lie down and cry and give up. It's too much.
She'd love that.
Has she got her phone at the moment?
Is there anything she really wants, or wants to do?
What are the school's consequences for being late or rude? ds2 is kept in line by a very inventive housemaster who makes him tidy up the changing rooms and pick up litter if he is late (not that it always stops him, but at least I don't have to do the punishing).
Let her be at your mums. Have a break and relax a bit. Put her out of your mind when she isn't right there in front of you, it's the only way to survive, really it is.
No solutions but I sure can emphasise. It is so frustrating trying to get co-operation from a teenager who doesn't feel they need to. Mine is going to school, does get up on time (has a paper round - new thing and a very positive step in my view) but feels he can go to bed anytime he likes and make as much noise as he likes. I am leaving school to deal with school issues and am lucky to have a supportive head of year.
I am finding it really hard to let things go and my Mrs feels we are giving in all the time. (Being selective in battles is kind of giving in I guess.)
CAMHS don't want to know, the school will only help with school stuff, the GP can't help, Famiiy Therapist can't help because he won't attend. So back to muddling through.
As Mary says though it is worth keeping a diary. Useful for showing to the professionals but also therapeutic. When things are really crap and I feel there is nothing I can do writing in it is at least one small thing I can do...
It's been ages since I've been on here but I am feeling crap and I'm very sorry but I am going to inflict my boring stream of nonsense on you all...
Some of you might remember that my son is a bit older than your's - mid twenties but like a sixteen year old emotionally and I strongly suspect is on the autistic spectrum. He is in the care of HMP service at the moment, serving a two year sentence.
We have been on roller-coaster journey with him since he was fifiteen and discovered skunk and started smoking it all day, every day. And his impulsive, slightly risky personality morphed into reckless and wild behaviour. He is, by turns, earnest and anxious but coupled with this terrifying impulsive need to do the most crazy thing he can think of.
Give him a burning building and he would rescue everyone in it without a moments hesitation. Come the Zombie Apocolypse, he will be the one cutting down a swathe of zombies and leading us all to freedom
But in the real world, one that contains nine-to-fives, bills to be paid, shopping to be done, he can't cope at all. He is bright and articulate (when he chooses) and employable - he just can't fit in anywhere.
DH and I are by nature problem solvers and we have done everything we can think of so far. School, no school, sixthform, several jobs, a very expensive move to another part of the country for a fresh start, more jobs, college, university, home again when he decided he hated uni life (or, more realistically, he had to do a work placement and fell apart at the thought of it).
And another string of jobs, the last, most ill-judged one being a very well paid one that DH had to pull strings to get him into, which DS totally fucked up with his drinking. He is now the only employee in that firm who has ever been arrested in the workplace. Twice. <sob>
Then there has been several bouts of counselling, all the holidays we didn't have - the rare times we left him overnight during the last ten years we would come back to a completely trashed house, often with several windows smashed in and equipment broken. The police once had to talk him down off the roof, they have arrested him for threatening to stab the neighbours. He has seriously never had a night out that didn't include some huge drama.
I have sat in A&E countless times (including the whole day before my youngest was born) while they stitched him up, and xrayed him. I've talked to solicitors, police officers, sat in on police interviews with him, fended off drug dealers, loser friends and debt collectors. We've chucked him out without a penny, set him up in flat of his own (twice) and given him support.
Sometimes things are calm for months on end and we think it's all over. Then it just flares up again. And, if you like a bit of Metaphor Madness, imagine him launching off into the world, only to fizzle out like a damp squib, then launch off again but explode in mid-air like a bloody hand grenade going off. Like that...
Last year, after a particularly horrible few months, full of rows and drunken behaviour, where no counsellor would help him because of the drinking, where we couldn't go out for the day, we set him up in flat and cut him out of our lives for a while. I was at the end of my tether and about to walk out on my long and happy marriage so we were desperate .
I spent months grieving for my son, my sunny little boy who was such a vulnerable little thing and couldn't find his place in the world so drank and got stoned instead. My rock-solid, practical DH had a complete mental health 'crisis' (ie breakdown)and couldn't get out of bed, let alone go to work, for months.
Six months after we moved him out, just when we were starting to slowly rebuild a relationship with him, he was arrested, slung in prison and there he still is. DH and I go to see him once a month and he tells us matter-of-factly the most horrifying stories of prison life. Then we talk about trivia and drink a cup of canteen tea, give him a hug and go home. And cry. And cry and cry.
It's just caught up with me today after a prison visit, where DS was telling us his plans for when he gets out which include hostel living with other ex cons in a very troubled part of the country. He has not a friend left and his 'girlfriend' (who is more like a prison groupie), is messing him around terribly. He is medicated up to the eyeballs (legally this time) but still anxious and twitchy. And we can't help him at all.
I'm sorry to dump this crap all over this supportive thread. I know he isn't a troubled teen but we don't fit anywhere really. We are just adrift. Sorry.
Oh Laura (((((((((((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))))))))
I really feel for you. Especially the grieving bit. I have cried many tears for the son I thought I had, the person he should have been.
I have grieved for him and for his future, for the grandchildren I won't have. He is my child, my baby, and yet I know that I am likely to stand by his grave. And there are times when I believe that might be easier - to have it all over. To not have to lie awake at night and worry every time the phone rings. To not have to make the awful decision - live with him or kick him out. Letting him stay here will eventually destroy me. Kicking him out will destroy him
Last week and this ds (who for the last year I have thought just might have "rejoined" mainstream society) has been trying desperately to cause a fight. To make me lose my temper, to make me give him an excuse and a reason to walk out, to go back full time on stronger drugs, to walk away from everything. Because he has one more week, some exams, and he is finished, he has achieved something. But he can't (or won't) do it - he won't just grit his teeth and finish up. It's like there is a bit of him missing, and it is replaced by this awful wish for self-destruction. He is living down to his spectacularly low expectations of himself.
I too have spent the morning crying - not with a good excuse as you have, but with a self-pitying misery of "why can't he just be normal". And I don't mean normal mentally, I mean why can't he just be human. Let himself achieve. Let himself be nice. Let himself be happy. He just seems to be unable to do that.
He hates himself. He hates me. He tries to wipe out the whole world with drugs. And every time he sees the light at the end of the tunnel he firmly puts it out and the whole circle starts again.
((((hugs))))) for you too Mary. I'm sorry you are having a tearful morning too.
My DS is like yours- he gets so far in his job/course/relationship and then it all implodes, usually spectacularly. And then he doesn't go off quietly and lick his wounds - nope, he creates chaos, which then has to be sorted out...
Mine thinks he is worth nothing. He has witten himself off as a failure, can't see a future for himself, can't fit in anywhere. He can't contemplate a life where he works all week, washes the car at the weekend ready to take a nice girlfriend out. He wants to sit in a nice warm fug of booze or drugs and have nobody relying on him in any way whatsover.A life with no pressure, which is impossible.
He is more a danger to himself than to anyone else - he is covered in scars and remended limbs, long slashes on his arms from selfharming, lighter burns. When he trashes the house, he'll break his own stuff first.
He doesn't hate me - he hates himself. Actually, I think he loves me very much - he worries terribly about what I think of him and still hugs me and looks to me to talk him down -but it isn't enough to stop him.
I worry too, about him dying. I strongly feel that he might kill himself, either accidently or otherwise. He was telling me about a suicide in the prison yesterday and he was shaking and twitching, and I had to hold his hand and calm him down. I can't think how he will cope with a hostel - I really don't.
On on my fifth coffee and my second packet of biscuits...
Laura and Mary, I so feel for you both. It is so sad to think that our sons are ticking time bombs but that is what it feels like. DS told me a couple of years ago to "stop trying to fix me mum" so I have stepped aside and allowed him more space but it is so hard to watch him slowly destroy himself. I have no answers, I just wanted to confirm we are all in this together x
Thanks witco xxxx
I had it easy with my eldest - a bit of stroppy behaviour and some backchat, then it was all over by the time she was eighteen.
DS1 is completely different, it never ends. I am so tired now. The atmosphere is so different at home without him. There are
less no rows, no nightime phone calls from him or the police ('Sorry to disturb you in the middle of the night, Mrs Shigihara, but this is X police station and we have your son in custody again...')
The knives are out from their hiding place, we even have a couple of bottles of wine in the sideboard to open if the mood takes us. I can sleep through the night without being woken by drunken antics or shouting or the sound of stuff being broken.
But the worry is still there and the guilt and the endless What-ifs. I think he has a problem understanding the world but he doesn't present anything out of the ordinary to professionals, so how can anyone help?
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