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MaryZ's support thread for parents of troubled teenagers - Part 2 here's to a peaceful 2013

(811 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.

Ghostsgowoooh Fri 11-Jan-13 14:30:57

This is such a good thread and thank you Maryz for starting it, I've just spent the last few days rereading it and thinking about what should happen next with ds. Apologies for not updating sooner.

Ds is still at his dads and afaik doesn't want to come back just yet. I've text him, no reply and I've talked to his dad who says he's fine, no problems which is good but makes me feel as if the problem is me.

I've been thinking on what needs to happen and what I can or can't tolerate. I think no violence or smashing doors or walls is a biggie. I can't have that anymore, the police seem to agree with me. Keeping the noise down at bedtime too is important.

I don't know what to do about the bedroom thing. Ds is in the box and my girls, all three share a room which is the biggest.

Detaching is the hardest part and the bit I struggle with, if I don't respond to him it's then he starts smashing things.

I am ok, the week had been peaceful and a much needed break.

Ghostsgowoooh Fri 11-Jan-13 14:32:36

And the kids rooms are next to each other

Wishinglifeaway Fri 11-Jan-13 14:40:22

Yes I will try and thank you for your wise words, how on earth you managed. So much respect, I am slowly crumbling under the stress of it all and I feel so sorry for DS1 who has to listen/cope/ignore all the turmoil, so I will need to try and not engage with DS2.

I'll ask the GP or google family counselling locally. They may do it under the CAMHS umbrella, but difficult to get hold of them as they're inundated with case loads , which speaks vloume.

Timetoask Fri 11-Jan-13 14:45:28

Just wanted to say, good luck to you all. I hope your children overcome their problems.
I don't have teenagers (yet), I know how difficult the teenage years are.
In hindsight and with the steep learning curve you've had in helping your own children, is there any advice you would give parents of younger children, is there anything you would have done differently? Is there anything any of us can do to avoid these troubles?

Maryz Fri 11-Jan-13 15:46:43

I don't know Time, I really don't.

It might be the child, it might be the parent, it might be the circumstance, it might be a combination of these and/or peer group and/or school and/or bad luck.

But one thing I do know is that for us who are here now, looking back is a disaster. There is nothing worse than for someone in my position to say "I wonder had I stopped it earlier/moved house/moved school/put him into care/thrown him out/kept him at home/been more strict/been more liberal would things have been different?"

Because thinking like that leads to such immense regret, guilt and grief that I can't bear it. And it makes my life as it is now impossible.

So I no longer (after years of counselling) look back.

Maryz Fri 11-Jan-13 15:53:28

Ghosts, I'm not sure about the bedrooms.

Can you have time limits or is he not willing to compromise at all? Can your younger ones have white noise to minimise them waking? Can ds stay at his dad's for a while - what is the situation there? Because it is not a failure to admit that you both need a break, and if staying there for a bit is the price you pay for him to calm down enough to reason with, maybe that is the answer.

By the way, ds2 is really calming down with medication - I'm amazed at the difference in him (even though he refuses to admit it makes any difference). He is so easy to talk to at the moment - except in the evening when he is like a bear. So that may be the medication wearing off, possibly.

I would never have thought I would say this, but I'm now in favour of trialling medication with children - for anxiety, depression, ADHD, whatever. If they themselves are unhappy with their lives (and so many of them are), where is the harm? As ds2 himself said, if he had epilepsy or cancer, we wouldn't hesitate.

I still think if the gp had given ds1 anti-depressants/anti-anxiolytics at the age of 11/12 he might never have been desperate enough to go the illegal vallium/cannabis route.

In fact, that is my only regret (and I try not to think about it) - I should have pushed for more intervention when he was much, much younger, when he was still willing enough (or young enough to be persuaded) to accept help.

Of course, had I pushed for it and he had gone off the rails anyway it would have been all my fault for drugging him (bad parent that I am) grin.

flow4 Fri 11-Jan-13 18:52:45

Evenin' all smile

Ghosts, I think no physical violence against people is absolutely non-negotiable: I'd suggest you tell him you will call the police if he is ever physically violent or threatening, and do it.

I think insisting there's no physical violence against things is harder. It seems to me that these angry teens have so much pent-up frustration, and that they need some way to let it out. I got DS1 a punch bag, but it was after he most needed it, and he was already calming down. I think it might have made a big difference if I'd thought of it earlier, so it might be worth a try... Also, after I'd introduced the 'no violence' rule, DS almost-lost-it a couple of times, and smashed bowls/plates, though he controlled himself enough not to hit me or walls... And I didn't call the police then, because it seemed unhelpful. It was as if he needed a bit of extra 'practice' before he could control himself completely.

Wishinglifeaway Fri 11-Jan-13 19:02:42

MaryzI agree with med route fully. I have read so much on nutrition etc affecting brain chemicals etc, why not try with meds for our teens to try and change their brain pattern links.

DS2 came home from school trashed his room, pulled out a knife on us, fought us all, and has then taken his laptop to sell on to the family down the road!

CAMHS got back to DH and said , well you know what teenagers are like.

Wishinglifeaway Fri 11-Jan-13 19:14:47

Sorry just read my last post and thought god I sound like I'm condoning this by my blase response, which I'm not, just exhausted/scared/exasperated/resigned/frightened.

Just reading everyone's posts previous, and thinking I wish I was stronger.

Phoned the police, not the emergency number, no-one available, next time we call he will be locked up their words.

I'm rambling now.....

Maryz Fri 11-Jan-13 19:21:47

Don't worry about rambling. We've all done it - and this is a great place to do it.

Was it a kitchen knife (I had to lock mine away for a bit)? I think you should call 999 next time he has a knife as that has to be a complete no.

Selling his laptop sounds like he really needs money, which to me says probably drugs sad. Do you think that might be it? ds used to go berserk when he owed money to dealers, because he knew he had to pay or would be beaten up badly - and Friday night was settling up night. The fuckers would give drugs to the kids on the understanding that they would pay next Friday hmm, which meant that Friday was a day for stealing/lying/running away/smashing up the house.

flow4 Fri 11-Jan-13 19:34:49

Wishing, don't apologise. You have nothing to apologise for. There is no way to deal with that sort of behaviour and not be "exhausted/scared/exasperated/resigned/frightened". sad

But seriously, you should not be living like this. You need to draw a line in the sand - your bottom line. Pulling a knife on you and fighting you is not OK. It doesn't matter at this point what the reasons are, or what support you are trying to put in place for him: what matters is stopping this. Next time he is violent or threatens you physically, call 999.

When he comes home - when you next speak to him - tell him you are going to do this. Mean it. And then do it.

Don't faff around with the non-emergency number. Call 999.

You don't need me to tell you that pulling a knife on you is an emergency. One day he will just go that little bit further, and one of you will be stabbed. Or dead.

Maybe you need to hear what I said to my DS after I called 999 the third time, and had him arrested and charged with assault and criminal damage (because it was the third time)... I said "I can't control you any more. You need to control yourself. And if you don't, I have to call in reinforcements to control you".

That's what I had to do. I think it's what you have to do.

I'm sorry if I sound hard, Wishing. I am not. I am very, very sympathetic. And I know from direct experience how incredibly hard it is, and how impossible it is to do the 'right' thing. And how you are 'damned if you do and damned if you don't'.

And I understand that it will nearly destroy you to call the police and have your own son arrested.

But I also understand that it will destroy you if you allow him to continue to be violent towards you.

You do not deserve this.

You can stop it.

We can be here to hold your hand.

flow4 Fri 11-Jan-13 19:41:28

Cross-posted with Mary.

Also, it might help to know that when I finally had my DS arrested, his violence towards me stopped. He never did it again. It has been about 9 months now.

Maryz Fri 11-Jan-13 19:48:58

ds never threatened me after I called 999 either.

He did punch holes in walls. A lot. But then can be fixed. And I never, ever tried to stop him leaving as the one time when I was really scared (the knife episode) was when I had tried to stop him going out.

willwegetthrough Fri 11-Jan-13 20:11:33

Haven't posted for a while as dd has been pretty ok for the last month or so. I hope that is the CAHMS counselling helping, but have been upset today to see a really horrible cut on her arm but tried to deal with it in a matter of fact way so asked her when she'd done it so I could figure out if there was any possible infection there. She completely blanked me, so I just gave her a tube of antiseptic and suggested she make sure it was clean. Now feel guilty about that. I really thought she'd got past some hurdle, but that has brought me back to reality. I don't even know if her counsellor knows about the cutting (referral was a result of an o/d).

I'm sorry I can't be helpful to others dealing with really difficult situations and am so glad there are others so willing to give of their time and experiences to help everyone else. I hope 2013 gets better for everyone.

Wishinglifeaway Fri 11-Jan-13 21:52:59

Flow Maryz Thank you both so very very much for your replies, having people who understand and have been through this is really comforting. You are both amazing .Oh he's announced he's not coming home tonight.

Maryz, yes I think you're right he must be on drugs.

Question : If you call 999 and have your 15 yr old arrested do they have a record for how long is it until 18?

Wishinglifeaway Fri 11-Jan-13 22:20:45

Flow,*Maryz*, we confiscated the knives a few months ago, and then reinstated them, but obviously now, we now need to do it again. sad

I am on the floor right now. He has assaulted us/house etc. and yes Flow you're right zero tolerance.

I am just really frightened about calling the police - record etc?!

Maryz Fri 11-Jan-13 22:53:54

ds1 has no police record. Despite being picked up with cannabis a few times, losing his temper and smashing up a police cell, abusing police, being involved in a fight and having us call 999 on him (all over a period of about three years when he was 13 to 16).

The police will try very hard to give him a fright, not a record.

If you do nothing and let him behave like this, then he will end up with a record anyway sad. But your safety has to be more important.

Ghostsgowoooh Fri 11-Jan-13 23:47:45

Wishing, I'm not very good with words and flow4 and Maryz can say it much better than I can but ringing the police is a must if your ds is violent. No matter what problems they have, diagnosed or not, does not give our children the right to cause us physical harm. We have a right to be safe in our own homes and we wouldn't put up with violence from another adult.

It took me a long long time to see this and lots of time spent on the Sn board on this site and lots of talking with others that have been through it (I have name changed since last year though). My ds would lose his temper and throw things at me, punch me till I was bruised, shove me over and hurt his little sisters. Once he tried to sever his four year old sisters finger in his door, I try not to think about that day too much.

The first time I called the police I was heartbroken. It was horrible, just horrible and it caused a rift between my ex and myself for a while until the police explained to him that what ds was doing was assault and it was better nipped in the bud now and not 16 when he was much bigger and could cause more harm.

Ds was totally shocked, did the whole crying and shaking thing and the promises thing. He apparently wet the bed that night too but he was at my exs that night so I don't know how true that was.

Did things get better after that? Yes they did for a while, although I've had police to him twice more the level of violence has decreased and I think the message is sinking in, although he did shove me quite hard last week.

I just have problems now with him being aggressive to his sisters, to doors and walls and verbal abuse and pushing boundaries all the time. I feel like I'm a failure to him but I'm not having violence shown towards the members of our family.

Interestingly he has never been violent towards his dad ( who is smaller than him) only towards the female members of the family. I often wonder why that is,

Brightspark1 Fri 11-Jan-13 23:48:10

Most of my kitchen knives and skewers are still up in the loft more than six months on, DD used them on herself more than threatening us sad
Having DC arrested won't necessarily result in a police record, in our area the police have a policy of reparation for adolescents, where they're made to face what they have done, and either make reparation to the victim or to the community without going to the courts. It's not an easy option, but the aim is to avoid bollocksing up their future more than it is already by adding a record into the mix. In my case the reparation bit didn't quite fit as I found it difficult to see myself as a victim of my own DD. sorry if this rambles a bit, but I'm tired. I didn't actually call 999, social services did as they phoned me in the middle of DD attacking me, so it wasn't my call. Calling the police on your own child is a horrible thing to do but it is necessary your DCs don't gain anything from believing that violence against you can be carried out without impunity.
willwe I do feel for you and your DD, if your DD is self harming, keeping a supply of antiseptic wipes, wound dressings and steristrips to hand is important, watch for any on the wrist or hand as if they are deep they can cause tendon damage, they would need A&E attention. Most importantly, try not to show panic or distress at their SH, the only way to avoid escalation is to show calm. Pleas feel free to PM me if you think it will help, DD has finally managed to mostly stop cutting (fingers tightly crossed behind my back)

Maryz Fri 11-Jan-13 23:50:34

God, this thread is ridiculous, isn't it?

Did we ever think when they were babies that it would come to this sad.

Maryz Fri 11-Jan-13 23:51:37

Sorry, sorry.

<kicks self up arse>

We are looking onwards and upwards, not back!

Ghostsgowoooh Sat 12-Jan-13 00:13:13

Hi flow4 and Maryz
Ds is on meds, atomoxetine 60 mg and I'm am going to ask for another review even though he's just had one as I don't think his tabs are as effective anymore, he will only take one tablet at a time so if they were increased he would have to take two..

I like the idea of a punch bag too, worth a go. He isn't rolling to compromise either but I thought I'd change the dds room around a bit, move all the beds away from his wall, they are in the best position there as there is more space but there must be another way to fit the beds in.
Ds dad suggested taking the Xbox out of his room altogether and putting in the back room downstairs but that's going to need some careful handling!

White noise? Do you mean something in the background like a radio playing or headphones maybe?

I think with regards to breaking things or damaging walls and doors then I have still got to be firm and not accept this. I can cope with cups and bowls being broken or his own possessions but I can't deal with structural damage. I live in a council house and I've already had a warning from the council over damage to the doors, the inspector came to thr house for a different matter and reported the damaged doors. I've had to spend hundreds on replacing nine doors, out of the dla money and now he's gone and damaged two more. I'm in the middle of a house swap and its important he does nothing else.

He's back. His dad dropped him off at ten pm and he's not allowed to play on his Xbox in his room. He thinks he's got one over on me because he's playing on the ancient family one downstairs, but it's a win win because he's not in his room disturbing his sisters!

He also spent half an hour discussing the merits and the different wash cycles on our new washing machine, he actually sat on the fridge and waited for it to stop so he could put a load on himself! He baffles me.

Maryz Sat 12-Jan-13 00:16:04

The washing machine thing sounds very aspie, doesn't it?

I'd let him have his xbox downstairs you know.

good luck. I'll be back tomorrow (to try and sort out who is who, I'm getting a bit confused). It's great, but also sad, that there are so many of us.

flow4 Sat 12-Jan-13 01:42:13

Wishing, it's too late for me to be coherent now, so I'll come back tomorrow or Sunday and tell you more about what's happened when my son has been arrested.

But I echo what others have said: the police were not heavy-handed. In fact I think they have been more use than any of the many other services DS has had contact with...

Wishinglifeaway Sat 12-Jan-13 09:26:01

Thank you for your support all of you. As he hasn't come home and probably won't this weekend like he used to do before, we are at the stage of whether to call the police and report him missing.

Technically he is as we really don't where he is, I know he said he was at this particular house, but we don't know which one and whether it's the "dealer's" house or elsewhere.

I say the dealer's as I strongly suspect that they are and if I mention them as dealer's he goes beserk, but I have no real hard evidence, and could be completely barking up the wrong tree, but sadly I think not. sad

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