Son left home last night, what to do?(24 Posts)
Hi, just wondered if anyone has experience of teenage boy leaving? I am sure it is my fault we have got to this point but can't work out what I have done differently to dozens of parents I know whose children don't have these problems.
Son (17) has been moody, verbally aggressive (and some physical, shoving etc), disruptive at home and at college. Calls from and visits to college recently to be told he isn't working, is actively challenging teaching staff and is on last chance before being thrown out (this is his second attempt at FE so would be pretty dire for future prospects). He constantly tries to dominate household, is constantly critical of me (very wearing) and though we are non smoking hh, he has taken up smoking outside the home. The night before last he smoked in his bed during the night (room shared with asthmatic younger brother). I was really shocked by this incident, disregard for family norms and threatening the health of his brother. Plus house smelt foul, all my younger son's clothes and a brand new carpet infused with smoke and could have been a huge fire risk.
This is deliberately provocative behaviour to get me to react and I'm afraid I did. Yesterday I told him he was welcome at home if stopped smoking in house, stopped swearing (not just the odd f or b but the worst stuff directed at me in front of younger brother and sister), and just cooperated at college to work towards the quals he says he wants. But also said if he couldn't do this, here was address of local housing office and would have to find himself somewhere else to live. He protested and said I couldn't throw him out, he would break back in and be in his bed again in the morning (smoking if he wanted to) but that if I was serious to leave overnight bag in drive. I did and he collected this and has disappeared.
His father lives a couple of hours away, grandparents a few miles but I suspect he has gone to friends. Does anyone have experience of this, should I stand firm? On the smoking, I feel I have to because of younger son's health. But overall, I am worried about him (not so much physically, he has a network of friends, though I don't know most of them or where they live) but am I am making it easier for him to leave college and carry on being destructive towards his own future? At the moment, feeling bit relived at prospect of couple of days respite from the stress of it all but also very worried that I am letting him down. Maybe he will never come back of his own accord and I will have destroyed his future at a time when he is vulnerable and needed more support? Any suggestions very welcome, thanks!
I think your son pushed you one step to far and you reacted the way you did as a last resort. I think I would have done the same tbh.
So are his siblings step siblings? Does he have a step dad in the house? Could he be upset by something to do with this? He does sound like an angry young man but where is the anger coming from? Can you think of anything?
Hi, thanks for suggestions, he doesn't have a stepdad, his father (16yrs living together and father of all three dc left when son was turning 14). Split has not been good and I know he is affected by this. He has always been a boundary pusher since toddlerhood and though he can be lovely home on occasion (and has some great qualities and lots of potential), he has often made family life very difficult or triggered various incidents at school. His father lived locally after split but has now moved a considerable distance away and son hardly sees him (in part due to his own social life). Ex has now started new relationship and very critical of everything I do but us not really willing to be firm with him either. Son almost seems to have been angry since birth (I blame the Keillands! - other two were waterbirths and they are fine)
No personal experience but a close friend experienced something similar with her DS.
After she asked him to leave he slept rough for a week before coming home and they haven't looked back.
A year later he has a lovely girlfriend, a job and a much healthier relationship with his mum.
Obviously I don't know how your story will end, but I wanted to post something positive. It sounds like he pushed you to your limit and you reacted as many would, not least out of consideration for your younger DC.
You've made it clear that he's welcome with certain reasonable conditions, so it's his choice to reject these and leave. He is very nearly an adult and my guess is that he will quickly realise how lucky he was and what he stands to lose.
We had a cpl of instances where DSD decided she would go and stay at her dad's rather than face the music for being hours late, behaviour etc.
Last tme it happened we told her to stay there and have a think about why she found it so hard to be a civil human being to us, and when she was ready, she could come back.
She was away for 3 days.
It did help that her dad told her life would be more unpleasant with him.
Perhaps your son just needs some space ? I guess you ahve a mobile number for him, so I would text him and explain you understand he finds it difficult to live in the house, you love him and he's welcome back.
meant to say, she came back and has been good as gold 95% of the time since.
Thanks mouse and enquiry, it is getting them to understand the conditions bit isn't it, even that we all have to live under certain conditions to get along. Wonder why some don't seem to go through this? Anyway will keep wondering while at work and update tonight...thanks so much, helps to know others would do the same and I am not crazed disciplinarian ruining his life!!
It sounds to me like your son has been verbally abusing you for some time, and while you are his parent and you do have a responsibility towards him, 17 is old enough to know that treating your family this way is wrong. Him behaving this way towards you and towards the household is unacceptable, and you have younger DCs to consider.
I think you have done the right thing. And it sounds a bit like the voice of doubt you have is maybe fueled by his verbal abuse?
Either way, him smoking in the bed to me seems like a final push to see what you will do. If you had pleaded and begged and ultimately let him continue with this behaviour then he would have escalated to the next boundary stepping behaviour and so on. You have set the boundary now, and he has chosen to leave. You did not forcibly remove him. The choice you gave him (stop smoking and swearing or leave) was not an unreasonable one.
Fortunately I haven't had to go through this, but would like to think I would have handled this as well as you have. I have tried to be a 'don't sweat the small stuff' type of parent and consider your (few) rules extremely reasonable. It is highly likely that his friend's families won't want him smoking and swearing in their homes either and he will be forced into a retreat. Stand firm and good luck.
Hi everyone, yes thanks, I did get texts from him yesterday while at work. I started with the text LeftHandedMouse suggested.... said that we all loved him and missed him but could not have him home unless complied with basic conditions and that everyone had to live within certain conditions in life ...if he agreed to meet those for home he was welcome back. He responded that it doesn't feel like that, it feels like I have 'kicked him out' (at least he is showing some feelings). Then there were texts asking for more clothes from home, then a text asking for '£50 and would not bother me again': when I declined this I got a text saying he was not 'f....ing coming back'. I asked him to continue going to college and told him I would pay for bus fares from wherever he was staying to college and back plus lunches, money to go direct into bank account or onto pre-paid bus card. Then he texted asking for next week's lunch money up front now (it was Friday pm...so would be spent over the weekend...I've said can have into his account on Sunday night (teenagers really do think we are stupid, don't they!). No more texts after that but from furious email from his father, I now know he is staying with paternal grandparents. So phew, he is safe but now his father wants to know why I am mistreating his son "turning him onto the streets with 5p in his pockets' and not supporting him adequately. Thinks I am picking on my eldest. No mention from father of impact on younger two (who are also his children!).
Probably too much personal detail there but to stand back, DC1 is upset and angry but safe, two younger DC's are enjoying the respite and I feel so much happier when not being criticised and called names in my own home (usually try to ignore it but (agree with soupslice), it really grinds me down over time) . If after a few days he wants to come back, how do I make an agreement with him strong enough that he sticks to those few rules. I am sure he would be ok for a day or two but he seems to have something in him that makes him constantly challenging. Have younger two in mind really, am on my own with the three of them and DC1 always takes most attention and resources. When he's not here, things are more relaxed all round. Feel happier that I am standing firm for a couple of days and getting a bit of parenting confidence back but have to work out a way to integrate him again if he comes back next week. Think my main worries are about my other two, DC1 messing up his his future at college, and effect of rows and verbal abuse on me. I would like to think it is in that order but the last one keeps welling up in my mind and I think sub consciously, it may be the first, is that selfish? Sorry for long posts but each one is helping me think!
I wasn't going to post but then I read your last and had to.
I have two 17 yo boys at home
one of whom was dumped on us by his mother at 12 as she couldn't cope after never setting him boundaries and there is no way I would have reacted any differently to you in those circumstances. Your responses since he left are also entirely appropriate, stick to your guns as those parenting instincts are correct. He needs to respect rules to be able to function in a civilised society, and that is something you have been trying to teach him for a long time.
If you haven't replied to your ex yet- who's probably pissed off because his parents are taking up his slack- then tell him to fuck off. He is not living with the chaos and misery your DS's behaviour is causing, so has no right to castigate you. If you're feeling more polite, suggest DS moves in with him for a bit so he can show you how it's done! I know from bitter experience that it's bloody hard work.
Your sanity and the wellbeing of your entire family comes first
Yes,yes, yes to everything marriednotdead has said!
Marriednotdead, your comments are great (though was wondering if you wanted another 17 yo to complete the set!! ) I read them mid-morning running around doing the Saturday stuff, though there was no time to reply then, but they have helped me stay strong all day.
His father is still saying I have mistreated his son by 'turning him out into the street with 5p and details of the housing office' (making it sound like a scene from Oliver!) and emailed to say firstly that I would have to pay to have him stay with grandparents (they are his parents), and when I said 'yes, give me the bank details', he suddenly about faced and another email arrived to say he cannot possibly stay with them and same grandparents now emailing me too saying he cannot stay there and I must make other arrangements for him! Why me, why not their son? Both ex and gp's are blaming me, seem to think I have to put up with anything and still have not mentioned anything about the welfare of the two younger children/grandchildren!
I am trying to stick to the point that this is a choice my son made through his behaviour and he can choose to come back if modifies behaviour and sticks to it. The panic among my ex's family would be hilarious if there wasn't a child's future at stake. After blaming me for years suddenly they don't want a chance to do any better.
I have asked ex to arrange for son to stay away for few days so younger chn have some respite (atmosphere always much lighter when DD1 is not here) but practically he lives too far away to have him and for son to continue college. GP's are refusing to have him so family consensus is I must have him back. My family live several counties away so are not involved.
Right now son is adamant never coming home, seems happy staying with grandparents and asking for all worldly goods to be taken over, I don't think he knows yet that they don't want him to stay. I am worried that he will feel really rejected and angry when he finds out and come back home for wrong reasons with no addressing of behaviour.
It is feeling like a horrible game of chess between the adults involved when all I want to do is get my son to understand that he can come home if he stops the behaviour. This is hard when ex's family are not recognising my right to have boundaries in my own home.
Legally must I provide home or arrangements until 18, regardless of behaviour?
There is no legal requirements for you to provide a home for your son and over 16's can choose where they want to live.
His situation is the direct consequence of his actions. His DG is taking the easy way out and trying to blame you rather than take some responsibility for his son.
DS should present himself at Local Aithority Homelessness and they will then assess, possibly Social Services will do an assessment on him. Maybe a few nights in a hostel or emergency accommodation will do him good - and he will realise that his home situation is not so bad after all.
I work with 16-18 in college and this situation is not unusual. Parents do not have to put up with this behavior and have to consider the risk to their younger siblings and themselves.
Thanks DameEdna, I have to let college know tomorrow what is happening so it is good to know it is not unusual. I don't really want him to have to go into a hostel and hope he choses to change and come home rather than go that far. But certainly being assessed and probably turned down would be a wake up call. I am leaving him to it and enjoying the peace and quiet tonight! Thanks so much for everybody's comments above, they have helped me stand firm without feeling guilty.
Oh my goodness.....what you are going through xxx. I can't add anything that hasn't already been suggested. It strikes me that your ex & his parents need to be honest with him.....cos they're not at the moment. Acting one way while emailing you. I would leave him with them and let them tell your DS he can't stay. I think it suits them to bad mouth you & make you the baddie. If they were honest with him instead of putting you in the wrong he would realise his behaviour cannot continue. In addition, I would let him live with his dad, regardless of college, it would be his dad's problem to sort out. It will give him insight on how difficult your DS is being.
You have on every level been an excellent parent don't be bullied, your 2 other children need to feel safe in their home.
Hi, that is so accurate, ex's family are totally blaming me and in a string of emails have not mentioned a word about my son's behaviour or my younger DS and DD. I hope this is just a front they are putting on for me and that 'behind the scenes' they are talking to DS1 about behaviour. I think the whole process of my son coming to realise he has to change his behaviour in the house will take longer than it did for some others because he has grandparents and father telling him I am wrong and will cling to that for a while first.
His father is emailing to say he cannot stay with grandparents much longer, that he is not having his son in a hostel and he must come home to me (or stay with him - another city and means giving up college ( he is A2), but he says he will not have him long term anyway). They all know education is really important to me and I am a bit worried they will say he is leaving college to prompt me to take him back to complete A Levels. I do not want my son to be a puppet in all this, I want him to take some responsibility for his own actions.
If he does apologise , agree the basic house rules etc, it is likely he will backslide within a week and we will be back where we were. I. can't do this again, I didn't do it for effect and don't want to have to threaten him with it all the time. We all need to feel secure. Younger two are missing him but not missing the stress! His moods dominate the house...in an instant he can put the whole house in turmoil.....shouting, shoving, slamming doors, following me around, haranging me about 'my faults'. Meanwhile I am trying to bring up the three of them and work full time. I think a lot of this is still fallout from the family split when he was 13 and the boundary pushing is another way of him expressing this (and also part of his general personality from early age anyway). I don't think we're going to resolve this in the six months or year he would be back home for, yet I still want to support him. Does anyone have any experience of managing this sort of thing and lessening impact on younger children?
Thought it might be useful for you to know that hostels and emergency accommodation are not necessarily a bad thing. There are charities which specialise in providing housing for young people of your son's age. Under 18s are actually the responsibility of children's services not the housing team, and majority of councils should prioritise their support and housing needs. A stay somewhere like this can often be a turning point for a young person, and they should be offered support to maintain their education or training, life skills programmes, counselling and if possible, family mediation. The best outcome is to enable a young person to return home or prepare for the move to independent living. Do any charities in your local area offer counselling or family mediation?
This information might be useful:
Hi .....I think from reading your messages that you would rather DS LIVED with his dad rather than be in a hostel. If college is the sticking point (& you'd ex & family know it) then call their bluff. You need to show strength & not let them bully you. If DS has to change college it's a result of HIS behaviour. He is responsible for this outcome, not you or your other DC.
His dad doesn't seem very responsible or interested in your son only himself, I think if your son were to live with his dad then he might realise how good you are .
Have you thought of forwarding their texts/emails to your son. He will then at least be in control of all the facts, although part of me thinks "oh , God would he cope with that"
If it was my DS(& God knows I have had so much crap from him) I would just send him a text along the lines of .......how are you?, hope you well, just to let you know you are always loved.
No conversation, no discussion, just remind that he is loved. I did this with my son . Got response"x" it was a starting point.
You are right though, this has to be a one off, he will learn a lot from this, you have been through too much now & it sounds as though your other children are enjoying a the space & more importantly your attention.
Keep in touch xx
I have in the recent past been through something similar, as has my OH (who is also a single resident parent). It really is not that unusual.
You have to stand firm, with both the teenager and the absent parent. Be calm, be repetitive. The behaviour is not acceptable. The teenager can come home when all agree and guarantee that the behaviour will be acceptable and will remain acceptable. Be clear what has to stop and what has to happen. Repeat.
By the way, it is pretty awful for the teenager when they realise that the other parent doesn't actually want them to live with them, but rather just wants to slag off the long-suffering resident parent. It's a painful growing up experience, but often presages more mature behaviour at home.
I agree. Don't have him back at the moment. College is important, but not as important as you and your younger children's safety and wellbeing. If his grandparents don't want him staying then his father will have to step up. He can sort out his education at a later stage when he has grown up a bit. Perhaps when he realises the grass isn't greener he will come back and behave, but I would leave it until he decides to because at that age you can't make him.
I had a very similar situation with my son a couple of years ago. He was getting abusive towards me. So I sent him to his Dad's, just around the corner. Told him that he was not coming back unless he changed his attitude. I did not speak to him for two weeks, then asked him over for supper. We had a nice meal and arranged for him to come back the next week for half term.
He is still a challenge at times, but it did all work out and the abusiveness stopped.
Now you have made your stand and had a break from him, it is probably time to start getting him home. Maybe invite him over for a meal and see how that goes.
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