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.

I also praise the police too. In fact the first time I called them one of the pcs turned to me and said I do know what your going through, I have an ADHD/ aspergers teen myself and I know how difficult it can be.

I found them a lot more useful than TAC for a start, who did nothing but try and find ways to blame me and his sisters and asked me if I thought calling the police was necessary and think of my poor traumatised son. Thank god I'm not with them now.

Oh wishing I don't know what to say but <<hugs>>,

Maryz Sat 12-Jan-13 10:30:12

ds spent a lot of nights at our local dealers as well, when he was 14/15 and useful for running drugs hmm. The first couple of times the police would bring him home. Then there was a memorable evening when the police informed me it was normal for 14 year olds to have "sleepovers" with friends, and I was basically controlling to call the police about it hmm. That was the only bad experience I had with the police and ironically it was a young police woman who said it.

Once ds became a "habitual runaway", i.e. once he had stayed away all night a few times, the police no longer got involved.

I had to accept that he wouldn't come home on a Friday night. And after a while I managed to rationalise it by saying to myself that there were two possibilities. Firstly he was fine and would wander back in the following morning - and there wasn't much I could do about it. Or secondly he wasn't fine (he was dead or beaten up or badly hurt in some way), but there wasn't anything I could do about that either.

So eventually I trained myself to be able to sleep.

We are back to the - deal with them when they are there and you have to deal with them. When they aren't there, get on with the rest of your life and stop with the "what if's". If you can't physically stop the behaviour, worrying about it certainly won't stop it.

Midwife99 Sat 12-Jan-13 10:49:37

I agree - the police have been very supportive to me over the last 3 years. Also there's a local police officer who works in a new field trying to prevent reoffending after prison release who is doing everything he can to help DS with benefits, accomm & getting his life back on track. Much more useful than SS have ever been.

Wishinglifeaway Sat 12-Jan-13 11:03:43

Once again thank you all so very much for your support, I just don't know what the next step is.

He's back now after a few txts/phone calls if you don't come back we'll call the police. But, in a foul mood obviously, and planning his next tirade, with his usual vile verbal abuse.

Maryz Sat 12-Jan-13 11:08:06

How old is he wishing? I'm getting a bit confused and I can't remember.

Wishinglifeaway Sat 12-Jan-13 11:24:04

Maryz, he's a very immature 15 year old.

Who denies it all and intimidates us to get his own way, there finally said it.

Hello wishing . Your son sounds like mine did at 15 - he is ten years older and still incredibly immature. We tried to deal with him for a long, long time within the family and only called the police after he tried to stab DH. He was eighteen by this point. The police were terrific and we never regretted it. In fact, they were more supportive than our useless GP and the school, who downplayed everything with a 'Teenagers, what d'ya expect? attitude. And more to the point, the shock of bring arrested stopped him attacking us.

As for the insults, things got better when I learned to tune them out. I became an expert at saying 'Oh sweetie, I can hear you are a little out of sorts today' grin It saved my sanity...

It's so incredibly tough.

Wishinglifeaway Sat 12-Jan-13 14:16:53

Laura Respect to you I'm really not managing very well.

He's sold some of his possessions today & announced he's going to live elsewhere.

flow4 Sat 12-Jan-13 17:32:49

Remind me how old he is Wishing?

Sadly, unless he is a young teen - 13 or possibly 14 - the police are very unlikely to be interested. They will take the view (in my experience) that he isn't 'missing', he's at a friend's house and just hasn't told you where, and that it's a parenting matter rather than a police one.

If he's under 16, and you know the approximate address, and have good reason to think drugs are being supplied to him there, or he is being put at risk in other ways, then you could report this to them, and ask for action on child protection grounds. That might work. But it might not, and it will certainly make him angry, so it's not a straightforward decision...

I have been in exactly this situation many times. Generally, I think the houses where young people hang out do not belong to the dealers (who are usually more careful) but belong to other young people who are involved in drug-taking and have access to 'unsupervised' space. Round here, there seemed to be no shortage of places for them to go. For example, my DS had a 19 yo 'friend' who had been kicked out of the army and whose mum had an empty house up for sale because she'd moved in with her bf - so all the teens hung out there. There was also an 18yo girl who had a council house because she had two children, but her kids had been taken into care. There were a couple of houses where parents worked nights. There was one where mum was out a lot, staying overnight with a boyfriend. There were a couple where 'weekend dads' let the kids do whatever they liked, and were often more off-their-heads than the teenagers themselves.

When I had had my son arrested, he didn't come home for a week. I knew he was at one (or more) of these places. This was one of the main reasons I didn't throw him out permanently: I knew he had plenty of places to go where I did not want him to be, and where he would do more of the stuff I was trying to steer him away from - drugs especially. In the end it seemed the 'least-worst' option, to 'hang on in there', and wait for him to grow up... Thankfully, it seems like he is beginning to...

flow4 Sat 12-Jan-13 17:34:00

Oh, sorry... I started that post early this morning, then went out today and posted it without refreshing the thread, so I see you've already answered that Q... blush

flow4 Sat 12-Jan-13 18:00:44

The difficult thing, Wishing, is that probably isn't a 'next step'. My experience (and many other people posting on here) is that once they get to this stage, there is nothing you can do to stop them or change their behaviour.

That's why we say things like 'detach' and 'look after yourself' - because you can't change him, but you can change yourself. If there's any 'next step', it's that - realising that you need to be kind to yourself, or you risk going under.

Other than that, the choice is really just whether to hang on in there, or throw him out... sad

He will (more than likely) grow up eventually...

OneWaySystemBlues Sat 12-Jan-13 18:25:00

I'm introducing myself to this thread, having lurked on this and the last one. I have a 16 year old ASD son who is aggressive and violent at times. I've found CAMHS to be fairly useless, same with SS. We managed to get direct payments, and I realise we're lucky, but once they agreed they closed the case and only review us every so often to make sure we're not ripping them off. No help with how to spend it or any help with dealing with anger. My son has done a social skills group and has also been on a course for teens at risk of offending, which may or may not have helped. He did enjoy it though. He has improved a bit, with age, but when he goes off on one, it is really big still. We have holes in walls and doors and he has hit both my and my husband. I've thought about a punch bag before, and want to ask people on this thread who've suggested them what sort they think is best. I'm not sure we have the room/strong enough walls or ceiling to get one you hang - are the free standing ones any good and if so can you recommend one? We've had a pretty shitty weekend so far - probably following a stressful week at school with a GCSE that didn't go very well - but even though it's shitty, these times have been happening less frequently in the last few months. I'm really hoping we're not have a regression at the moment. It puts so much strain on us - you sometimes feel like it's just not worth living because there is nothing nice in your life and you're constantly micromanaging to try and keep your son on an even keel... I've found these threads to be very encouraging and I'm trying to get the 'detach' thing into my head so that it sticks.

I know that there is a tipping point where one day we won't be able to do any more to make it right and he's just going to have to deal with the consequences of his actions himself. The thing is, he is very immature and isn't into drugs/stealing etc. Almost the opposite. He has no friends because he's immature and socially very behind because of his ASD - we are his life. We take him out, we listen to him, we talk to him, we sort his problems etc etc. I worry because getting him arrested would be almost like getting a 10 year old arrested. It would stress him enormously. But one day we will reach that tipping point and I won't care any more about that because we can't deal with it any more. I don't know when it will be, but it will come one way or another. Anyway - that was a bit of a brain dump, but I'll be back on here I'm sure. Would appreciate any input about punch bags.

Hi, can I join you? I'm not sure I have any wisdom to impart that will help anyone else (although I am a primary teacher and SENCO, so you never know...) but this seems like a good place to talk about my eldest DD who is 15.

She has just had her first CAMHS appt and has very low self esteem and over the last six months has done a little self-harm (only scratching herself until she bleeds, but it is leaving scars on her arms). I didn't go to the appt as she is at boarding school and the Health Centre staff didn't tell me until the day before. She chose to go to boarding school at age 11 but has since said she wishes she'd left after Yr 9 to do her GCSEs locally. She is academically gifted, having got A*s in all her modules so far and has a place in a local 6th form college for September to do Further Maths, Physics, History and Critical Thinking A levels. She is the youngest in her academic year.

She has issues with body image, having been overweight (now 5ft 7 and a size 14) most of her high school years. She cannot say anything that she likes about herself. Her dad and I split 4 years ago and she has always seemed supportive of that, at times she seems very wise and she can see that I am much happier. He was emotionally, financially and sexually abusive to me and now that I have distanced myself he has turned on her and there have been numerous instances of emotional abuse. A few months ago she refused to see him at all for a month and her housemistress was a tremendous help and support in acting as a buffer between DD and her dad, even keeping DD's mobile in the office as she felt overwhelmed by his bombardment of texts, calls and emails. She tells me that he badmouths me to her and any opinion of hers he disagrees with is attributed to me.

I live with DP, who she adores and who has a fantastic relationship with her, and DD2, who is 13. DD2 is also on receiving end of exH's unpleasantness, but says little and takes the path of least resistance rather than risk inflaming him.

So, any experience of successfully boosting a teen's self esteem would be welcome. We did a makeover thing two years ago and she looked amazing, but I wonder if I were to book another would it seem too obvious what I was trying to do.

Wishinglifeaway Sun 13-Jan-13 00:03:05

Flow he's 15 and thank you for your reply yes I can see what you mean re changing our behaviour towards the situation.

Midwife99 Sun 13-Jan-13 11:08:53

Postmanpatscat - I think maybe her self esteem will grow when she's back home full time & settled in at 6th form college, although the initial transition may be difficult. Are the other girls at boarding school rich & "perfect" which makes her feel bad about herself?

Hello to the newcomers. I have no wisdom to impart this morning (or, indeed, ever wink ) but there is a range of experience here on this thread and I hope you find some ideas.

I'm off to visit my son this morning, currently living c/o Her Majesty. It is taking a large chunk out of our lives at the moment and I feel horribly low at the moment. It takes up the whole day as it's a three hour drive to get there and I am so weary of it. The sun is shining today and my youngest son would like to go and play on the beach, but I know my DS1 looks forward to seeing us and would be devastated if we didn't appear. Plus, he needs to know he has a family to come back to, otherwise he might just tip completely into a criminal life. Bugger.

I try to be positive but it still feels that our lives are revolving too much around what DS1 needs and less about what the rest of us would like. And there is no end to it in sight because he hasn't been sentenced yet <sigh>

I am training up other family members to come with us on visits in the hope that they might feel comfortable enough to take over the odd turn, if they know where to go and what to do.

Sorry for being dismal lump this morning. I'm sure I'll feel better later...

Midwife99 Sun 13-Jan-13 12:03:08

Laura - I really feel for you. I only ever made one visit to prison although DS has been in 3 times, 2 were very short sentences of only 3 weeks & I didn't know where he was until at least a week in anyway but he got 8 months the first time but only had to serve 3. I sobbed my way through the visit but luckily my cousin came with me & kept the conversation going while I got a grip. It's devastating - you feel like a criminal yourself in amongst all the "bravado" families who seem to be enjoying themselves. hmm

Maryz Sun 13-Jan-13 13:12:35

Oh, I feel for you Laura. I suspect (going on ds's recent activities) that I might be asking your advice soon sad.

postman, your dd sounds a bit like mine - and I suspect that a lot of dd's lack of confidence is due to a lifetime of comparing herself with her brothers and never quite living up to their activities - both good and bad hmm. I find now she is older just spending time with her helps. What doesn't help (I have found) is trying to solve her problems - when I come up with simple solutions she gets really stroppy, whereas if I just listen she often comes up with solutions herself.

You also have to remember that with her being away a lot you will only get the negatives from her when you see and talk to her. The few gripes she might relay to you after a day at school will be multiplied up after a week, iyswim. I have introduced a rule with dd atm that for every horrible thing she tells me about (work too hard, her being too fat, her friends not being nice etc) she has to tell me one nice thing, no matter how small. That usually makes her laugh (in a stroppy teenagery way).

I enjoy her company though, and I think she knows that, so I expect her to improve as she matures. She is also the youngest in her class - she is only 16 and her best friend turns 18 next month. So many of her friends are doing the nightclub/drink/boys bit that she is still a little too young to cope with.

OneWay - did you read the bit above about the 2/3rds chronological age? If you can look at your son as being an 11/12 year old in a 16 year old body, and mark time, you may find that by 21/22 he will have reached the maturity of a 16/17 year old and be starting to look more outwards.

Maryz Sun 13-Jan-13 13:16:56

Wishing, your son is very like mine was. The only advice I have is to reitterate what Flow said - be nice to yourself. Deal with what you can deal with. Put what you can't deal with out of your mind to stop you going mad. Only think about what is actually happening, not what might happen.

One idea I found great was keeping a diary of ds's behaviour (and later my reaction to it). I discovered that although I thought he was always awful, and that we had rows every day, when I started writing it down there were sometimes only a couple of incidences a week - but I spent the rest of the time anticipating them.

Write down good as well as bad things, to remind you that there are good things. At one stage I was writing down things like "he didn't slam his door" and "he went to work" - very basic. And then one day I found myself writing "he said thanks when I dropped him off" and "he put his washing out".

Tiny, tiny things, but they really helped my mood and my ability to cope with the really awful stuff.

Ultimately, our choice is to hang on in there, or to chuck him out. I have hung on (despite many times when I thought I should have chucked him out). He is, very slowly, coming round.

If I can just keep him out of jail and in college until June, he might, just might have a future.

Five years ago his best friend killed himself - they were just 15. I didn't think ds would see his 16th birthday, but he did. So there is hope.

Midwife99 Sun 13-Jan-13 13:47:33

The 2/3 chronological age theory is interesting - my 19 yo DS def only has the maturity of a 13 year old. Interestingly I told the nursing staff to treat him like a naughty toddler, stay calm & just keep repeating things - no you can't have more morphine, no you can't have more morphine, if you're rude to me I won't help you anymore. Etc etc!!

Maryz Sun 13-Jan-13 13:55:57

Yes, short simple instructions. Short questions with yes/no answers. Statements about what will happen etc. It is very like dealing with a toddler (a 6 foot 2, fit, strong and rather frightening toddler though).

But it does help me anyway to realise that ds is struggling. That although he looks like an adult, his brain is still that of a very confused young teenager.

My brother was very like my son - in fact nowadays I'm sure he would be diagnosed with AS (then he was a delinquent). He left school and home early, and only went back to college and found his calling when he was in his mid-30's. He's almost 50 now, and although still has many of the self-centred attitudes and lack of empathy, he lives a productive and relatively happy life.

Midwife99 Sun 13-Jan-13 14:38:59

Maryz - let's hope they'll be ok by the time they're mid 30s too eh?!!blush
I used to think - he'll be ok by the time he's 25. I think I need to move the goalposts!!

Maryz Sun 13-Jan-13 15:25:16

My goal is to still be (relatively) sane myself by the time he is 30 grin

Wishinglifeaway Sun 13-Jan-13 15:51:50

Thank you for all your very wise words I have so much respect for what you have all gone through....I really don't know how you have managed for the length of time that you all have.

Maryz how awful your son's friend killed himself, it must've been an horrendous time. My son has mentioned statements about me outliving him; whether this is how he feels re the situation he's in or seeking attention I couldn't say. When pressed he moves out of the room so who knows.

The diary idea does make a lot sense, it was mentioned to me from the Young Minds site also. Might need a large one, as he changes by the minute.....

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