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.

Maryz Sun 30-Dec-12 23:32:21

It simply means that I will start a new thread, but put a link in so that people can access this one easily if they want to work out who we all are smile

flow4 Sun 30-Dec-12 23:38:45

Can you stick one here too please, to direct people to the new thread? I'm still telling folk about this one... smile

Fedupnagging Mon 31-Dec-12 00:26:06

Great thread MaryZ.

I tend to dip in and out of MN so don't always keep upto date with threads but do remember one of yours Flow4 and MaryZ.

I fully understand that some children follow their own destructive path despite coming from stable, loving families and judging harshly is no help - a close friend is struggling with her DS and there is no way she should shoulder any blame.

At the moment we are working very hard to keep ds2 (16) on the straight and narrow. He has spent most of 2012 with one sanction or another in place, mostly for drinking related incidents! The day the police knocked at our door was not his finest hour either.

So, I will keep reading this thread and its new one to get help, advice and offer support where I can. I think all of you are coping with extreme situations -ones you never imagined when holding your new born all those years ago, brilliantly.

GeorgyF Mon 31-Dec-12 11:50:40

I am desperately worried about my 16yo dd. She can behave wonderfully, the seems to get together with some friends and starts behaving like a she-devil.
Latest episode ended up with us both screaming and hitting out at each other.
Her school work is falling way behind with GCSES looming (she was always predicted to get A's across the board, now will be lucky to pass most with a C)
She seems to think that she can do exactly as she pleases, without any consequences. I am typing and crying, so please excuse spelling.

humptydidit Mon 31-Dec-12 12:07:19

georgyf sorry have no words of wisdom, but here is a <<hug>>

Shagmundfreud Mon 31-Dec-12 12:09:19

I think one of the things I find hardest is feeling terrible about the fact that all the other children in the family (dd has 9 cousins on DH's side all aged 12 and older - we see most of them regularly), only my dd is a massive underachiever.

I have to hear about all the brilliant things her cousins are doing at family gatherings - the fantastic achievements in sport and at school, and how helpful they are at home, and I feel like locking myself in a cupboard and never coming out. I DREAD them asking me what dd does and how she's getting on at school. I feel such a failure as a parent when SIL tells me about her kids helping her clean the house and how much time they spend on their homework.

I keep thinking - where have I gone wrong? Whatever people tell me I can't help feeling it's something I've done, or not done, that's resulted in dd being the way she is.

Doesn't help that dd blames everything on me - always. Whatever it is, somehow she'll find a way to put the responsibility on me. Her untidy room, her not doing her homework, her daily forgetting her house keys/oyster card/homework diary - all my fault.

I never felt guilty or inadequate when they were tiny, even though I made all the usual mistakes that parents make. But I sometimes feel almost ill with it now. What makes it worse is that I've invested so much of myself in parenting, having given up a good job to be at home and only working part-time in a self employed job in order to look after the children. Both my SIL's work - one full time, one nearly full time, and have so much pressure on them. And yet they still manage to manage family life in such a way that their children are achieving and busy. I feel like I'm failing on all fronts - by not having much of a career, and by home life being so unsatisfactory.

DD is sharp and she knows how bad all this makes me feel - she really turns the knife at every opportunity. Makes lots of comments about me not earning much money, being a failure and having a shit career (actually the work I do do is very satisfying and quite well-paid, albeit part time). She loves pointing out that most things in the house were bought with DH's salary. sad

Maryz Mon 31-Dec-12 14:30:07

Shag, you have to stop minding so much. Or at least you have to pretend convincingly not to mind so much.

When I stepped back and became more dispassionate in my dealings with ds1, he stopped a lot of his behaviour - not all of it by any means, but a lot of the smaller stuff that we were fighting about on a day to day basis. Don't take responsibility, don't get cross. Cultivate the art of saying "oh dear what a pity" a lot and changing the subject.

Don't fight about her room. Leave school problems to the school. Don't compare here (even in your head). My children also have high-achieving cousins, and I have loads of friends whose children seem to be angels, but comparing will drive you to despair. You will only know in 50 years' time whose children have actually done ok.

And the more I see this type of situation, the less I believe that it is failing parents who cause difficult kids - it's the other way around. If your children were happy, successful, contented children, you wouldn't be so stressed and you wouldn't feel a failure. In the old days, (especially with ADHD, Asperger's, children with depression, learning difficulties etc) society blamed the parents. The parents were an easy target - talk about inadequate parenting or refrigerator mothers, and society can opt out of all responsibility hmm. But if you look at it the other way around, and realise that children with difficulties cause their parents so much stress (especially their mothers) that life becomes almost impossible, it is easier to understand.

You have to remember that we cannot change our kids when their behaviour is entrenched (of course if you have an easygoing, persuadable child you can, but most of the children we are talking about on this thread aren't like that - God knows we have all tried).

But you can change the way you react. You can disengage, not react emotionally, deal with things pragmatically. You can pick your battles, you can decide what to fight about and what to deal with yourself and what to ignore.

And for me just simply refusing to engage has made life simpler. ds still got angry, but I would walk away. I don't argue with him, I don't react to his provocation. And because of that, the younger two are much happier, and life is calmer.

Of course his room is a tip, I have no idea where he is most of the time, he is using alcohol and drugs, and I don't like any of his so-called friends, but none of those things impact on me unless I let them. When I think about it now, I don't let myself think "what could happen, what should I say, how can I stop this, etc etc". Because ultmately I can't - I can only live my life and hope he will grow up some time.

I also gave up work to look after the kids, and because of ds's issues I never went back at all. I too get the "you sit on your arse all day" comments, but so what? I don't care. He can think that if he wants to, I know that what I do is of value (even if it is just making sure that he doesn't let his druggie friends in to trash my house hmm).

Maryz Mon 31-Dec-12 14:34:36

Sorry, Georgy, I missed you out smile.

A lot of what I said to Shag applies to you too. You have to be the adult here. You can't end up screaming and hitting each other - you have to take a step back and walk away from the argument. And especially, you need to have a no violence, no hitting, no touching rule.

All of us with difficult teenagers need that, because violence is the one thing we must draw the line in the sand about.

You need to work out what you can control and what you can't. Make a list of her behaviour, and also a list of what consequences she would mind. Keep school and home behaviour separate on your lists, and try to involve the school in the schoolwork part of it - let them issue consequences for work not done, you stay out of it.

Do you have anyone who would mediate a meeting whereby you could come up with rules that she would stick to?

You need few rules, but the ability to enforce them. Rather than lots of rules, all of which she breaks, if you see what I mean.

It's tough, but hang in there.

Thanks for the support Fedup smile

xxDebstarxx Mon 31-Dec-12 14:41:33

CAMHS appointment on Wednesday. We started going in August but then the person my son was assigned to went off sick and is only just back at work. It's been a hell of a ride these few months. I just want someone to recognise what is going on cos I'm sick of being a lone voice battling against the professionals. They don't see what I see and are quick to blame me!

Maryz Mon 31-Dec-12 14:52:44

I hope your visit goes well.

Before you go, sit down and make a list of exactly why you are there (I know it sounds silly, but I used to end up waffling about silly things like tidy bedrooms and tv programmes and would get sidetracked easily).

Work out what you want - extra support at school, mh assessment, whatever.

Mention if you think he is suffering from depression. Try to remember where this all started, whether there was a trigger, when things started going downhill.

Do you have a dh/dp? Because I know it's better when I go with dh - he keeps me on track, and also we can sit down together and discuss what has been said afterwards.

Finally, try to make sure you son knows that you are on his side and trying to help. If you can get him to realise that, it's half the battle. If he is very resistant to going and looks on it as a punishment it's much harder.

xxDebstarxx Mon 31-Dec-12 15:28:29

Thank you Maryz that's advice I will definitely be taking on board.

LauraShigihara Mon 31-Dec-12 15:44:13

Wow, this thread is extremely long now grin I wouldn't wish troublesome offspring on anyone but it is such a comfort to know that I am not alone. At the risk of sounding like a maudlin drunk (I wish - I am actually in bed with the lurgy cough cough ) I am glad to have such good company on such a dark road.

Thank you Mary for sending me kind thoughts over Christmas. It was the first .year that we haven't been all together and we missed DS1 like crazy. We visited him in the week but he was so sad to be apart from us that it was heartbreaking to leave him there.

Funnily enough, I met someone I knew visiting their son while we were there. I knew the family for many years but lost touch recently. Their son was the long- awaited only child and their lives revolved around him. I am quite stunned and feel desperately sad for them (he has quite a long sentence) but at the same time, it has confirmed to me that children from what looks from the outside to be the most stable, supportive background,, can fall spectacularly off the rails.

I hope you all have a peaceful, quiet New Year (unless you have planned otherwise wink )

Shagmundfreud Mon 31-Dec-12 16:25:46

I know you're right Maryz.

I think the problem is my own moods - I have been very down the last few months and emotionally exhausted from it all, and having to deal with the battle to get a diagnosis of ASD for my youngest. (battle for diagnosis won; now the harder one to get him appropriate support at school starts....)

I really need to focus on being strong in myself....

flow4 Mon 31-Dec-12 17:09:52

Ohh, it feels like everyone is having a little flurry of grief as the year ends. sad It is so dark and cold and miserable... And the weather is pretty lousy too! hmm

Good wishes to everyone for 2013. Let's hope it's better for all of us. smile

BTW Shag, your DD's jibes about you not earning much, being a failure and depending on DH feel personal, but they're not... Our little darlings just use whatever ammunition is available : I work and am a single parent, and my DS uses this in exactly the same way... He has told me that I am rubbish as a mum and a worker, and since I obviously find it too hard to do both, I should just pack in my job and "the state would give us loads of money"! hmm grin

Witco Mon 31-Dec-12 17:43:53

I have lurked, learned and posted the odd time but this thread has kept me sane this year. Our DS has a full-time job now and we are very proud of him. We hope but don't assume it will continue however he has been employed for 3 months do, so far so good. The main thing I have learned from Maryz and you wise ladies has been to disassociate myself from his bad behaviour - his issues are not mine - it is the only way I can function. Thank you Mumsnetters, roll on a better 2013 for us all!

Brightspark1 Mon 31-Dec-12 21:02:24

shag your post reminds me of the song 'My Perfect Cousin' by the Undertones! We have similar with D's cousin who is similar in age , we get frequent update on how wonderful she is, which my DD finds really hard to listen to. Be very wary of taking all the talk of their achievements to heart. The reality may well be very different. After all I bet many of us on this thread put up a front and pretend to the world that all is wonderful. I'm reminded of three sisters I knew who were high achieving and seemed to swan through adolescence unscathed. Fast forward ten years and they are all still high achieving, but trapped in a competitive struggle with each other (it transpired they are all competitively anorexic) and aren't fulfilled or happy- not what I would wish for mine
. deb I remember your original post, I echo what maryz advises but would also add that you remind them that you are not a professional (repeatedly if necessary) and that you do not understand jargon, ask them to explain anything you don't understand. And don't let them blame you, remind them that you are doing your best in difficult circumstances and would appreciate their support, not their judgement, as that is the only way your DC will make progress. Good luck and I'll see you on the new thread.

xxDebstarxx Tue 01-Jan-13 13:10:26

Thank you Brightspark see you on the new thread hopefully with some positive news. Am already panicking about him refusing to leave the's months since he went outside. Have set up bribes of going to buy an xbox game after the appointment just to get him to go.

Maryz Tue 01-Jan-13 15:58:23

New year, new thread


flow4 Tue 01-Jan-13 16:36:55

I can't make that link work Mary, so am just pasting it in full below in case anyone else has the same problem...

Maryz Tue 01-Jan-13 17:58:08

Oops, sorry, how did that happen.

Try this


flow4 Tue 01-Jan-13 22:34:06

Yay! grin

jkgirl Fri 04-Jan-13 00:15:02

flow4, yes we have come a long way, and Iam very proud of what she has achieved in two years.
we still have wobbly days, but she is definetly getting there, and loves going to school now, and has made lots of friends, who understand her, which makes all the difference.
she still struggles with being independent, but hopefully that will come in time.

flow4 Fri 04-Jan-13 01:33:42

I hope you're a bit proud of yourself, too smile

BTW, we're here now!

Sugarplumsilver Tue 08-Jan-13 02:40:09

Hi all, I'm new to forum life and must admit I don't understand the Dd and all that jazz.. Could someone explain please?
Anyway I have a very troubled teenage boy who has been using cannabis. His behaviour at home and school is terrible. Constant phone calls and visits to school. We moved to a better area for schools about 18 month ago as my son said this would help snd also as he is a fantastic golfer and his golf club was in the area we thought we would go for it. We borrowed a lot of money for the purchase deposit and made the move. All was great for the first six months. Then my boy was coming in red eyed I had a good idea what was going on but when I asked him why his eyes were red he would say it was due to the wind from riding his bike or his friend has a cat (he has allergies to cats) in the end I confronted him and he admitted it. To cut a long story short he got arrested with 3 bags of the stuff a few months ago. His behaviour has got worse. On the 22nd of November 2012 he pushed me so much I told him to find somewhere to live that would except his behaviour( not really meaning to leave home) well he did, he is now living with his dads family that he has not seen in a long while. As much as he was a pain at school when living at home he did have 100% attendance. Since living with his auntie he has not been to school to date. I had my suspicions he was running drugs for someone as I had totally limited any money to the odd £1 so he couldn't buy weed. I know he is selling for his cousin on his dads side as i had a phone call With my son and he didn't hang up properly and I could hear him talking about how much he had shifted that day. So this confirmed to me that he was obviously being given theweed in payment for dropping the drugs.My son won't talk to me on the phone and when he does sometimes pick up he is just rude. He now has a social worker, drug worker and a mental health worker. The worst of it is that his auntie is telling the school and social services that he is living with her( she is a mental health nurse) but in fact his is living with her sister another aunt that I know smokes weed. My son is only 15 and very vulnerable what can be done if an adult is using a minor to ferry drugs I have looked on the net and asked the police but got no joy with out proof. Advice please. He has gone to the tight place in his mind as he can go in stoned and Even smoke it with his family. Even the nan smokes the stuff. I'm very desperate x what to do? I don't know anymore. Xxx

Doinmummy Tue 08-Jan-13 23:15:33

You poor thing sugar . I'm ' lucky' in that I just have a difficult daughter. I have no advice but do hang on and I'm sure someone will be along soon with some wise words. You ave my utmost heartfelt sympathy though.

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