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MaryZ's support thread for parents of troubled teenagers

(480 Posts)
MaryZcary Sun 28-Oct-12 10:12:41

I am starting this thread in the hope that it will become a safe space for those of us strugging with very challenging teenage behaviour.

I'm hoping that it will be a support thread, rather than descend as so many threads do into a "criticism of the parents". Those of us in this situation know that it is pretty much impossible to just "tell them to stop" or to "ground them", and taking away phones, money and gadgets leads to lying stealing and running away sad.

Sadly it seems cannabis is at the bottom of an awful lot of these children's problems, and I'm hoping we can talk about that here without having to defend ourselves against the "cannabis does no harm" brigade. So if anyone tries to turn it into an argument about whether cannabis is addictive or harmful, could you please just ignore them and hope they go away - or start another thread which I can hide where they can argue away happily.

Anyway, sign in if you are interested. I'll be back later.

HansieMom Thu 27-Dec-12 00:46:43

Tore, does he know you are moving? Have you told him you do not want him to move with you, or have you told him he is NOT moving with you? There is quite a difference.

Toredig Thu 27-Dec-12 13:21:57

I spent a long time hiding his behaviour but can't be bothered any more. I was rather surprised when I started telling people that DS had a drink & drugs problem, as they were always so sympathetic - much more so than I am. This is a huge cultural change which is good in some ways, but I think DS has to ultimately take responsibility for himself.
So I do tell people now, and that is part of the process of separating myself from my guilt and feeling that I am responsible for him. However, my parents are in their late 80s and I just don't want them to worry. It's totally out of their experience,as when I went off the rails I left home and they knew nothing about what I did. I find it hard not to project my experiences onto my son, as I was so vulnerable and was in many dangerous situations. I just don't understand how he can behave in such a hurtful way.
I am coming to terms with it all, but am very nervous of drunken men, as I said before, so find that immensely stressful
Thank you for the comments. Stupidly, I thought it was just me. I really am old enough to know better!confused

MaryChristmaZEverybody Thu 27-Dec-12 19:15:38

Stay around Toredig, and come here when you are stressed.

Are you alone at home with him? You really shouldn't be alone in a house with someone you are afraid of, so would it help if you had a really good lock on your bedroom door, and make sure you always have a phone in your bedroom?

I found that ds treated me with an awful lot more respect (even when out of it) once he knew that I would not put up with violence.

Isabella, the Al-Anon approach is very good, but sometimes meetings can be hard when your teenager is young, as you have the conflict of actually being responsible for them, despite their behaviour. Once your child reaches 18, stepping back, absolving yourself of responsibility etc becomes easier.

It's so difficult to be the parent of an addict, as it's hard not to spend your whole time looking back to see where it all went wrong. Which of course is such a waste of emotional energy.

Mrsrudolphduvall Thu 27-Dec-12 19:22:16

I am here with dd 16 for 2 weeks as dh and ds are in Australia.
And it is so calm.

Dh has not learned to let some things go, and so every day there are raised voices and stomping off. Christmas morning, she announced we were all cunts and went to her room for 3 hours.

I'm looking at holiday destinations, knowing we won't be going as we can't do " family" things li,e normal people. Have wasted too much money and time in the past trying to do it.
Sad though.

MaryChristmaZEverybody Thu 27-Dec-12 19:25:20

It is sad.

I'm currently looking for a cheap holiday for me and dd and ds2 for early summer, because I am feeling the lack of sunshine.

But dh will just have to stay here and take care of the house. I'm not leaving it to ds1, and he certainly wouldn't come with us.

I should have done it years ago.

flow4 Thu 27-Dec-12 22:55:32

Toredig, you are very definitely not alone. I could have written that first post of yours, more or less, over the last year or two. Look at this list of the threads I started. See all the similarities? It might be worth having a read: you'll see it's not just you and me, too, but lots of other parents here.

This was the first post where I acknowledged I was afraid of my own son.

In this particular thread, I said I thought I was going mad with the strain of it all - feeling broken and lost, like you.

This is the thread where I talked about him letting people into my house against my wishes, and how out of control and unsafe I felt.

In other threads, I talk about him stealing from me, taking drugs, getting arrested, and me calling the police on him and getting him arrested. Without a doubt, because of all this, this has been the worst year of my life. sad

The point that is worth emphasising now is that things are a hundred times better than they were even four months ago. My DS is back in college and doing a course he wants to do, and this has made the biggest difference to his behaviour. There are other changes I have made, including the ones MaryZ recommends: be nice to yourself, detach, protect yourself, find someone to talk to...

I would strongly recommend fitting a lock on your bedroom door, if you don't have one already. I wish I'd done it sooner (I didn't, because it felt like such an admission of failure, I think). When I got one, it gave me back so much control: it stopped all the stealing. It stopped me feeling afraid of my son - or worse, strange youths - coming into my room, especially when I'm asleep. When I was burgled - and even now, if ever I feel afraid - I can lock myself in my room with my mobile phone, and know I am pretty safe. It was a desperate measure, but living with a teenager who is like this is desperate.

Hang on in there, and keep coming back here for support. It will get better.

MaryChristmaZEverybody Thu 27-Dec-12 23:24:01

You have come a long way Flow [proud mentor emoticon]


<passes baton>

<heads into teenage years with ds2>


flow4 Fri 28-Dec-12 00:27:54

smile MaryZ

How about a relay?! wink

I'm heading into the teenage years with DS2 too.


foxy6 Fri 28-Dec-12 18:31:12

Hi all I haven't been here for a while as now ds 2 doesn't go to school anymore things have calmed and improved. They are not perfect but better ds2 has been less stressed himself and therefore calmer. We have found out that he tryed weed once with his friends, but as he doesn't spend as much time with them, I hoping that the once was enough. His smoking problem is still an on off thing he seems to manage for a while without a fag and then starts again.
All that said Christmas has been one problem after another, he's wound tight up and we've had lost of arguments, nasty behaviour towards his siblings, shouting and slaming of things. I'll be glad when Christmas season is over and things calm down again.
He is not happy with his presents he didn't get a new phone( he has been told he needs to prove he can look after a cheep one first as they never last more than a couple of months, I don't know what he does to them). And he doesn't like the bike he got ( the one he chose ) and is making plans on respraying it, getting new grips and seat. Basically a different bike.
Ah well what can you do with them?
" love me, feed me, never leave me." As ds always says grin

Toredig Fri 28-Dec-12 22:40:02

New to this so expect I'll do it wrong, but thanks to Flow4 for threads. I've read them all and am much cheered. My boy is asleep on the settee after having eaten two meals - Cat suppresses the appetite I imagine - and having stayed up all night rescuing his friends. My next door neighbour is terribly ill, & even thro his drug taking he remembered and was quiet.
Think it so significant the stuff about recording the positives - it's true that it isn't every day - and I do think we may have turned a corner.
Or perhaps I have
Although it was very busy and druggy here l was calmer ENTIRELY because I discovered Mumsnet. How I have sneered, but I was wrong.
So thank you MaryZ(?) & Flow4(?) - isn't there an easier way of doing this? I am truly grateful

MaryChristmaZEverybody Fri 28-Dec-12 22:55:01

Just keep posting Toredig.

The trouble with having kids like this, is that you sort of live in a bubble. On the outside everything appears normal; inside the bubble is and out of control chaotic human being screaming for help. But of course no-one sees that, so you get more and more incapable of coping until finally something has to snap.

I find being able to post here, realising that others have been there, being able to hash out some positive steps (even if they are teeny tiny baby steps), taking control a bit, really helps.

Christmas is a bad time for stressed kids foxy. I find there is always at least one blow-up around Christmas with ds. We aren't out of the woods by a long way with him - I wait to see when and if he goes back to college in January and catches up on his outstanding coursework in time.


On the other hand, two years ago I was wondering would he be alive in January, so I have come a long way smile

MaryChristmaZEverybody Fri 28-Dec-12 22:57:53

Laura, I was thinking of you on Christmas day - it must be sad knowing he is locked up and you won't see him. Do you get to visit him at all or is it too hard?

One of ds's friends was let out of juvie on Christmas eve, with nowhere to go and noone to spend Christmas with (both his parents were heroin addicts who died when he was young, and his granny died while he was inside).

ds spent part of Christmas day with him - he wouldn't come here sadly. I suspect he'll be back inside very soon, he knows no other life.

And he is only 17 sad

brighterfuture Sat 29-Dec-12 09:16:09

My Ds has spent all christmas stoned. He has also taken hallucinogens and speed. (these he admitted to) He denies he is smoking all the time but it's obvious from his inane grin and bleary eyes. When he's not out and about getting stoned with his friends he's sitting in his skanky stinky room.

I suspect he's already blown all his christmas money . It really upsets me to know he's spent money his grandparents have given on dope. I tried to keep the cash gifts down for this reason. He's not interested in engaging in family life or even remotely looking at or talking about any school work he has to do.

He already has a warning from school because of his poor attendance and would be out already if it wasn't for one teacher who amazingly went against the flow and said that ds shows signs of brilliance in his subject. smile

I'm getting to the point where I don't want him in my day to day life any more. He accuses me of being paranoid and crazy and insists that his behaviour is perfectly normal. I know if I kick him out he will go and couch surf with dodgy friends who are mostly older and take a lot of hard drugs.

There's an illegal rave scene which is glamorous in a grungy smack head way and he is more and more drawn towards its centre. All the friends he is choosing to hang out with have dropped out of school.

flow4 Sat 29-Dec-12 10:33:22

Toredig, I'm glad you're feeling calmer. Finding that you aren't the only parent going through this stuff - and that your child isn't the only young person who is so troubled and difficult - is very reassuring, isn't it?

foxy, I'm glad that withdrawing your son from school has helped. I'm not surprised. I think school is a major problem for lots of young people, and I thought about withdrawing my own DS more than once, but I knew I couldn't stand it - I needed those hours away from him, and the very worst times we had were earlier this year when he stopped attending college at all, and I got no respite. You're a braver woman than me!

mary, how awful for your DS's friend. And how hopeless. It almost seems inevitable that he'll fail. We've got something badly wrong, as a society, somehow, if young people are left so isolated when they so obviously need support.

brighter, you sound like you are exactly where I was between Easter and September. You say "I'm getting to the point where I don't want him in my day to day life any more" - I was like that for 6-9 months. At the beginning of September, when it looked like he wasn't going to go back to college after all - and he'd left it too late, and had no motivation, to do anything else - I realised I was no longer 'getting' to that point but had 'got' there. I realised I absolutely could not face any more, and had just been hanging on in there since term finished in May, with my sights set on 4th September as the day he would at least have something constructive to do. When he said he wasn't going to enrol after all, my resolve hardened, and I set him an ultimatum I knew I meant.

Thank fuck goodness he did enrol. And the buzz it gave him to be accepted on the course he wanted to do, rather than rejected - which was what he expected, and which has been his big fear all through his teenage years - was enough to re-motivate him, and (so far, touch wood) 4 months later he's still engaged and seems now to be just an averagely-tricky boy, rather than a completely off-the-wall disaster zone.

The trouble is, 'giving an ultimatum' isn't a magic wand. He didn't sort himself out because I told him I would throw him out if he didn't. If he hadn't got onto that course, it would all have gone disastrously wrong. I might not have pushed if I hadn't known there was something he could do, if only he'd get his act together... But really, I pushed because I couldn't stand it any more. Like you, brighter, I knew "if I kick(ed) him out he will go and couch surf with dodgy friends who are mostly older and take a lot of hard drugs", but I honestly think I'd finally got to the point where that option was better than him staying, if nothing changed. So really, it wasn't an ultimatum for him, but for me.

Until you get to that desperate point, where kicking them out feels like the only course of action you can bear, then I think your only option is to hang on in there...

And of course, be nice to yourself, detach, protect yourself, find someone to talk to... smile

brighterfuture Sat 29-Dec-12 18:21:40

It's good to be reminded of positive turn arounds like your ds flow We have to see a brighter future if we want our dc to belive in one.

I too was so sad to read about your ds's friend maryz. it reminded me of a boy who lived next door to us (moved on now) who was left alone by his dad for weeks on end . He came over to ours for Christmas dinner but otherwise was on his own without family or presents sad.

Some dc have so much to contend with it pisses me off even more that my ds with a solid, loving family behind him is making such unhappy choices for himself and is so unwilling to explore his potential.

Anyway I am choosing to take maryz advice and not preempt the disasters before they happen. I am going to change my name to brighternow in the hope of better times smile

flow4 Sat 29-Dec-12 18:48:43

Funnily enough, I've been thinking of you as brighternow for a while smile

MaryChristmaZEverybody Sat 29-Dec-12 18:54:22

How about MuchBrighterNow (with capitals to keep Chaos happy) [hopeful]

MuchBrighterNow Sat 29-Dec-12 19:20:33

Great idea ! Hopefully it will manifest into reality grin

flow4 Sat 29-Dec-12 19:41:03

Yup! grin

Brightspark1 Sat 29-Dec-12 20:48:11

Just signing in, brighter I know exactly what you mean, DD also has a loving, solid family behind her, no family traumas to explain her behaviour. Yet she chooses to stay away from us. She came home for Christmas, which has always been a happy time for us, and it went really well but as soon as my parents left so did she... I held it together until we left her and then cried. I never thought that when she went into care she would still be there come Christmas. It seems so much harder as we go into a New Year.
Still, this time last year she nicked some razor blades and razored her arms to bits on new years day, so it was spent down at A&E trying to persuade them that she wasn't suicidal. Not easy when she was talking about voices telling her to hurt me sad
She has come a long way, and is still working hard at college, even though most of the others she is living with have been suspended or dropped out; I just hope she can keep going.
foxy a friend has a teenager who can't cope with school, he is now enrolled in an 'online' school and that seems to work for him, I can find out details if you are interested.
Just in case I don't get another chance to log on, I wish everyone on this thread a more hopeful and positive New Year. For many of us things can only get better, no matter how bad things are, my tiny grain of hope and optimism keeps me going. That and the support you have all given me thanks

Spidermama Sat 29-Dec-12 20:50:12

Flow4 loving this thread and your work on it.
I'm sending out lots of love and good vibes to all you amazing women coping with really difficult teens. I have a whirlwind downstairs in my kitchen as we speak.
She tells me she wants to 'talk about what happened today' which sounds encouraging until I realise she really just wants to hurl further abuse at me as if that will somehow rescue our now threatened NYE gathering.

Anyway, I'm staying calm and detatched from the emotions of the situation and will dig out my copy of 'Get Out of My Life: But First ...' to brush up and further remind myself I am not alone.

Hang in.

MaryChristmaZEverybody Sat 29-Dec-12 21:09:12

I'm glad everyone is sounding so positive (even if they are crossing fingers and gritting teeth).

I am going to start a new thread on New Year's Day (new year, new start). This is getting very long to load on phones. I will link to this one, if that is ok with everyone, so we can look back and have a record of where we all are.

I don't want to seem as though I'm trying to "run" the thread though - has anyone any suggestions for a better title or shall I just go "part 2"?

jkgirl Sat 29-Dec-12 22:16:12

My Daughter had a melt down when she started secondary school.
she refused to go to school, wouldnt even get out of bed in the morning.
People said to me just make her go to school, but it wasnt that easy.
two years on, and lots of counselling later, she is much better, but still has anxieties. we are getting there, but its been a long haul, and we still have bad days and the OCD is there, but we are getting there slowly

flow4 Sun 30-Dec-12 06:41:21

Yes to new thread, Mary; yes to linking; and title is fine smile

It sounds like you and your DD have come a long way, jk smile

Toredig Sun 30-Dec-12 23:23:59

Oh heavens, don't know what all that linking stuff is. Must do homework

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