To think you can't stop a teen from making poor choices(45 Posts)
DS is 18 and is on a slow decline in that he is caring less and less about is studies, is smoking more and more weed and hanging out with people who also have little ambition. Anything we say makes no difference. Articles in the paper shown to him by us about the harms of skunk are met with scorn and suspicion.
AIBU To think all I can do is stay calm, model good behaviour, and pick up the pieces eventually ?
FWIW in years past we have sent him to drug counsellors, had him assessed for depression by a psychiatrist, spoken to teachers, imposed curfews, removed pocket money etc . Nothing ever seems to make any difference.
It all feels so hopeless and unfair when you are the parent.
YANBU. Hard as it is, you have to support him without letting him walk all over you. Be kind, but not a doormat. Be clear on what you expect while at the same time assuring him that you will always love him. It's such a hard line to tread and I really really feel for you.
YANBU though it is very hard, we all learn from our own mistakes, mostly.
Sometimes I just feel resentful as it seems he is choosing this lifestyle and in the process inflicting so much misery and stress on the family. I don't wish to be supporting an 'adult' son simply because he is failing to get on with his life in a way that will give him a better future. ( he is academically able, but can't be bothered to do his best )
You're right, it's hard and you have less options now he's an adult, but it's your home so you can take back a little control and realise that only he can chose to change his life.
I know it's hard, especially when you're in the middle of it, but maybe it's time to take some time out to decide what you will and will not accept.
Are you willing to give him board and take care of hi essentials?
If he never smokes in the house?
Or if he sees a counsellor regularly?
Are you willing to enable him to smoke drugs or is it time to cease all financial support?
Do you need to know if he's taking anything else?
And perhaps the hardest one if you want to support him with this. Is it more important he stops all drug use or he is honest with you?
All the best
What does he do?
Is he at college?
Does he work?
The bottom line is that not being able to access money makes the most difference. The contract with life is that you work and you get money to live. No work, no money.
I would cut everything (and if you need to, hide valuables) and cut off all cash.
It genuinely sounds like you've tried everything so I would cut him off moneterily (move him out to a flat if he'd be entitled to housing benefit if you don't want to live with him anymore)
Thanks for the replies which all make sense.
He's in his last year of sixth form so obviously we will support him and hope he picks up his studies, gets into uni, moves out and changes his lifestyle.
However I am also preparing myself for a scenario where he doesn't apply himself to his exams, refuses to earn any money and contributes nothing to the family.
Turnaround - he does take other stuff sometimes ( so called 'party drugs' ) and in a way his honesty about this makes it worse because I feel I'm in some way enabling it, just because I'm aware of it, but I'm powerless to stop it. He does not ever smoke in the house.
Laurie- I get what you say about money.
It is so frustrating as we are a relatively well resourced family ( time and money ) but there is nothing we can do to help him because he doesn't think there is a problem. He started smoking weed at 14 and I freaked out because I could see where this was leading, unlike some of his mates' parents who were more relaxed thinking it's just a 'phase'. I know my son's personality, he's stubbornly refused to engage in any hobbies and smoking weed ( at the weekends mainly ) is a key part of his life. He refuses to see that it is harming him, although we can see some worrying personality traits emerging ( laziness, inability to enjoy anything, paranoia, suspicion, permanent hostility towards me )
I don't walk in your shoes so I cannot imagine this awful situation - but a thought is that he doesn't see a problem because it isn't. His drug-taking doesn't affect the roof over his head, the food in his stomach or the clothes on his back.
until it does, he's got no reason to change as he is sadly too foolish to think long term.
hard choice. I doubt he'd get state support.
for you. That sounds so tough to see someone you love go through this. It's a worry to cut finances, because then would a person turn to theft/crime to finance their drugs? I hope someone with experience and answers is along soon.
BTW the party drugs can and have killed, you never know what's in them. Is he bothered? Does he have no ambitions in life, no places he wants to see, no non-chemical experiences he wants to have?
I commend you for taking this endless kicking, and I wouldn't blame you if you soon decide to stop.
He's not bothered because he has no real consequences. He's technically an adult but doesn't have to provide for himself, you are always there as a safety net, and he can't see 10+ years into the future and how his actions now will affect the rest of his life because he has the arrogance of youth. It's a hard one because without knowing the teen personally it's hard to know what will work. Could you take a hard line, and completely lose your temper, give him an ultimatum to shape up or ship out. It might work if you are generally a calm parent and it's a shock to see you like that. Or take him to see a recovered drug addict (if you know any, you might not) so they can tell him? Is there someone outside the immediate family he respects like an uncle or family friend that can talk some sense into him? Refuse to cook, wash clothes, give him lifts or money until he improves? Bribery.... Not getting to the root of the problem I know but might make him pass his a levels so the rest of his life isn't so affected by poor choices now?
I don't have teens so feel free to ignore me, I was however the teen from hell!
does he have grandparents/other relatives he might pay for attention to?
he goes to sixth form so he is not completely dossing
I have no answers except yes be calm and supportive when there is need, look at his good points
ask what he wants in his life, without nagging, take a step back
It might be a bit of wait and see as in he is still at 6th form, and he might pass his exams and decide to move out to uni etc. But up until that point you don't really know.
I agree that if it gets to the point where he's dropped out, isn't working, studying or contributing to the household you have to make a choice. Continue to enable this (potentially dangerous) behaviour or tell him you cannot condone him continuing to live rent free and he will have to make his own way in the world.
Difficult, very difficult. How to offer support and be there for him, whilst not actively enabling the behaviour.
Where is he getting the money from to fund this lifestyle?
You could give him vouchers to buy clothes at the local shopping centre. Of course he shouldn't be smoking weed in your house.
Hi OP - I work in an education centre for teens who have dropped out of mainstream education, in a hugely deprived area. There is a massive amount of drug use amongst the young people - mephedrone, skunk, ketamine, you name it. Catch-22 are our go-to service for helping to support our kids with drug issues. I don't know if they operate in your area (you can do a search), but there will be a similar service available in your region if not.
I'd also recommend calling the Frank helpline for some advice www.talktofrank.com/worried-about-a-child
Family Lives have a great helpline, and again if they operate in your area, would be worth getting in touch with
Good luck, I know how destructive this can be, and how diffiult it is to watch a young person lose all interest in life because of drugs. But it's definitely worth talking to the professionals - there is a lot of support available out there if you know where to look.
My brother is a product of parents who felt they were genuinely powerless. They thought he'd get through this phase and grow up. He's now 40 and still financially supported by my parents. The drug use has without doubt contributed to his mental health problems.
They regret their relaxed attitude and with hindsight wish they had tackled it. Given his age I would speak to school and lay down expectations. You want to know if he misses lessons or homework. At home there needs to be consequences. Personally I would be threatening the roof over his head. I would be removing any home comforts that you have paid for e.g. tv in his room etc How is he funding it? Do you have younger children? You need him to see it as a serious problem and he won't while he still has a nice life with parents who 'nag' at him. His choosing to use drugs needs to impact that cushy life and part of that will be withdrawing his home comforts. It is very hard, get some support for you too.
The fact is that without the money, he simply won't be able to smoke weed for very long. Yes, his friends might sub him in the short term, but long term they really won't. That would be my starting point.
Yes its good to allow people to make mistakes but mistakes need consequences otherwise what do you learn?
What does he lose? How is he learning that his choices are mistakes?
When my dad was a troubled teenager, my grandparents sent him off to Brazil as soon as he finished high school! Is there anyway you can send him to a completely different environment e.g. convenient uncles/aunts grandparents that live on a farm abroad? Could you pay for him to do some sort of organised gap year (although not somewhere with a drug culture)?
Does he actually attend his classes? What type of course is he doing? Does he have any ambitions?
This isn't intended to minimise his problems, but if the weed/ other drugs really are confined to weekends (how can you be sure?) then it seems to me that while it may be part of the problem it certainly isn't the whole story. Does he drink? What does he do on weekday evenings at home?
It's pretty common for teenagers to through periods of low motivation - I basically bunked the last two years of school but I did get my act together in the last 6 weeks and swotted like mad (and got straight As which was very very rare in the old days before grade inflation). I'm sure that my mum despaired of me at certain points too.
Wow thanks for all the replies and such understanding.
I think it's is a matter of encouraging him with the last stretch of his Alevel courses, and hoping time and maturity will help him, along with going to university in September for a fresh start and new friends. He has been good at cramming in the past and he has been going to most of his classes lately.
I'll be ceasing the small monthly allowance we currently give him as soon his exams are over next summer, so he will have to get a job if he wants cash.
So worried about his mood, he barely talks to us at home and when we ask if he is ok he says yes, leave me alone, kind of thing. So hard to know if he is actually depressed or just refusing to engage with us.
We have tried to send him away the last two summers on trips but he has flatly refused, and it is hard to think of spending lots of money on someone so ungrateful. We do have other DC's.
He doesn't have a TV in his room, we don't have much leverage like that as he isn't materialistic and never needs stuff like lifts from us. In fact he requires very little 'parenting' which is part of the problem, we have very little to do with each other.
Well don't give him lots of money then. Don't give him any money. He doesn't need much money if you are already clothing and feeding him. Why wait till next summer? Maybe having no money will make him get a job and sort himself out a bit.
He does seem to require some parenting - he'd like to think he's the Lone Ranger but in fact he's relying totally on you.
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