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A bit of HOPE for those really struggling with their teen (and hello from flow4 to any old-timers still around!)

(56 Posts)
flow4 Sun 02-Aug-15 11:15:16

I haven't been here for a long time - almost two years, probably. I'm just passing through, but I thought I'd post a message that might give some hope to those of you currently struggling with a really difficult teen...

Between about 2010 and 2013, I had unbelievable problems with my DS, who was about 14-17. Just about every major problem you can think of, short of death, getting someone pregnant or going to jail... Truancy, under-achievement, school exclusion, smoking, drug abuse, going AWOL, stealing from me, criminal behaviour (or as near as dammit), arrests, arrests following me phoning 999, abusive behaviour towards me... I tried everything and nothing much seemed to work... I started lots of threads and made hundreds of posts over those years, and got some great support and advice (and very few judgmental fools)... I learned lots and hope I gave some good advice too...

My 'headlines' were things that remain excellent bits of advice, albeit perhaps unfashionable: detach emotionally - it's not personal; some of them seem to need to behave appallingly, in order to grow up and away; look after YOURSELF, especially when things are tough; if you've got a 'challenging' teen, you can't control them - your only hope is to help them learn to control themselves ; you can keep your influence even when you lose your control; and this shit WILL pass.

I left MN because I had some serious health issues, and these are ongoing... But I can see that fewer people are posting about really difficult teens these days. I very much doubt that this is because teens have suddenly become less challenging, so I guess that it's because there is a sort of 'rolling stone gathering moss' effect: there were a few of us back then posting about serious problems, so we broke the taboo, and gave each other the confidence to share our experiences. Personally, that was incredibly important for me... I'm thinking of you (if you're still around) Maryz, Cory, MuchBrighter, Brightspark and many more. Thank you all. smile

Two years on, DS1 is now 20, and still not the Perfect Boy. grin BUT...

He stopped being aggressive and is still living at home.

He stopped being a total arse and getting involved in criminal/near-criminal activity.

He stopped taking M-CAT and the other drugs that were making him crazy (though he does still smoke cannabis, and it does IMO contribute to some depression).

He stopped hanging around with the people who were still being total arses.

He got enough GCSEs to get into college, got a Merit in his level 3 qualification, and got himself a university place (though he has now decided not to go - and I think that's the right choice for him, at least for now).

He got himself a job, where he has now been working for 2 years. He does it well and copes with getting up at 5am some mornings and not getting home til 11:30pm some nights. He has never been late. He is well-regarded.

He knows this job is not his future, but he doesn't yet know what he wants to do with his life... But he is engaged rather than disengaged, and I now feel sure he'll find his way, just later rather than sooner.

Also, DS2 (now 15) - who has watched and learned a lot from his big brother over the years - hasn't used that learning to become an arse himself... Instead, he is a pleasant, bright, articulate, challenging-but-polite, mostly co-operative, A/A*pupil, with lots of friends and interests... I often think 'Thank Goodness', because I don't know if I could have coped with doing all the difficult stuff again... But also, it proves to me what people with just one difficult teen sometimes never know: it's not you, it's them. That guilt can be terribly disempowering, sometimes.

So, for those of you who are currently struggling... THERE IS HOPE!
Best wishes to you all. smile

sillygiraffe Sun 02-Aug-15 16:18:08

Thank you. Its nice to hear that things do get better. My struggles are nothing compared to what you have mentioned and I can't cope with my dd. So how you got through I can only imagine. So well done to you. I don't know what I would do without the support of folks on MN who always seem to be there with good advice and sympathy.

Noteventhebestdrummer Sun 02-Aug-15 16:29:05

I remember you. Really glad things are better for you all! We are in a good place with DS these days too - hard to believe when I think back!

wump Sun 02-Aug-15 16:32:47

Thank you flow4, i am mostly a lurker and i do remember you, its nice hear there is light at the end of the tunnel, i am about half way through.

OccamsLadyshave Sun 02-Aug-15 16:35:04

Flow4 it's great to hear your update and well done to your ds (and you!)

I remember you well from when i first joined mn although I mostly lurked and have name changed a few times.

I have a 14yo who has her moments but is mostly ok so far, but I have benefited massively from advice from you and others so thank you and best wishes for your health problems.

hadagutsfull Sun 02-Aug-15 17:17:27

Hi flow i remember your posts and they gave me hope during some difficult times. Things could still be better but are getting there. I'm so pleased to hear things have worked out with your son & hope your health continues to improve.

AnyFucker Sun 02-Aug-15 18:04:41

flow thanks

I hope your own health worries ease very soon.

flow4 Sun 02-Aug-15 19:00:08

Ooo, there are lots of familiar names still here! Hello everyone, good to see you all smile AnyFucker - you're still here and you haven't name-changed! Whoop!

It's kind of you to say I helped, Occams and hadaguts smile I'm glad. I got a lot of support here, so it's good to know I was useful too. I was making a lot of it up as I went along, but I learned a loads as I went, including a bit of wisdom, I think. sillygiraffe, you get through mostly by default - if things get really bad, you can really only survive or go under, and thankfully I survived. smile Most kids don't cause anything like as much trouble as my DS1, and I'm still clinging on to the possibly deluded hope that the same energy and determination that made him a bloody nightmare when he was 15-17 will one day make him a great success! grin

Thanks for your good wishes everyone. My health stuff doesn't look like it's going to go away - it's nasty and long-standing - but it's not life-threatening smile And once I get it under control, I'm hoping it will get at least a bit better... See you around, maybe!

Secretsquirrels Sun 02-Aug-15 19:01:03

Hello flow. I remember your threads and posts and being in awe of the fact that you could help so many others while having such difficult times yourself.

WillIEverBeASizeTen Sun 02-Aug-15 21:45:51

I remember your threads too Flow..I have a 17 yo DS who has always been difficult (nowhere near what you've had to endure though) and he's now thoroughly obnoxious. I feel I'll never have a relationship with him because he has no respect for me..so..this thread has given me hopesmile
Thank you for sharing your good news.

I sincerely hope your health issues get better thanks

Clare1971 Sun 02-Aug-15 22:46:23

Thank you Flow - I am in sore need of this message tonight. sad

tsonlyme Sun 02-Aug-15 23:00:26

I think I remember you although you won't remember me as I regularly name change. I can feel the relief and joy in your post and that's because I have a similar tale. The drugs, drink, going AWOL, getting kicked out of more than one school, dropping out of college, serious self harm involving hospital visits, several suicide attempts, arrest and section to place of safety (X2) and lots more that I have successfully blocked out...

Now working and has been for over six months, has a nice enough boyfriend, is quite good company (!) and if she's rude she apologises shock. Drug use is now minimal and doesn't include psychedelics to my knowledge, I think I would know as I have learned all the warning signs.

She's 18 btw. She was 13 when the shit started hitting the fan and just turned 18 when things took a sudden turn for the better, so five years of hell.

Go us, we survived! grin

I have noticed that there are fewer awful teen threads, I wonder if it's because there are quite a few people around now who like to blame the parents, who don't understand that you can provide a perfectly decent loving home and still have one that goes off the rails, who don't understand that it hasn't happened to them because of luck not circumstance and had nothing to do with their amazing parenting skillz.

Anyway, congrats on coming out of the other side smile

rogueantimatter Sun 02-Aug-15 23:17:02

Hello Flow4 - lovely to hear from you - especially with good news. Think I was wrathomumma when you were here regularly. possibly chocoluvva (what a rubbish name!)

You were kind enough to post helpful replies on my threads (about fairly trivial subjects usually) I remember you well.

(Happily, I'm no longer wrathful - older, wiser and so saturated with worry about my stubborn older teen that there's no room left for any new worries grin. Seriously though, I unexpectedly discovered Buddhism!)

Sorry to hear that your health issues are ongoing.

Good luck to all the parents of troubled or stubborn teenagers who need a light touch, when your instinct is to tuck them safely up in bed at 10.30 and lock 'em in. grin (having confiscated all contraband and put their 'electronic devices safely on the mantelpiece of course)

DieselSpillages Mon 03-Aug-15 10:54:24

Hi Flow. I am so sorry to hear about your health issues. It's so lovely to hear about the positive progress your Ds has made in his life. I'm sure your love and support made all the difference.

You and Maryz gave me such good advice and support in the darker days when I was really struggling with my DS1.

At 17 he decided to leave behind his life and dodgy friends, took himself to another country where he's lived independently since . He's completed 2 years at college whilst working to support himself, and is now working full time. He has completely stopped all drugs and alcohol. I can't begin to describe how proud I am of him.

It was a delicate balance between realising I had to let go so he could have complete autonomy, whilst at the same time never giving up on him. The amazing support I had on MN really helped me through the darker days

DS 2 is now sometimes pretty challenging , but not nearly to the same extremes and I have more faith in the knowlege that teens can walk the tight rope and make it through to the other side.

For me things really are muchbrighter now. wink

rogueantimatter Mon 03-Aug-15 11:44:14

What a lovely post Diesel smile

flow4 Mon 03-Aug-15 19:11:12

I'm really touched by how many of you remember me smile And if you think I made a difference to you and your survival, then you almost certainly made an equally important difference to me - so thank you, too smile

tsonlyme and Diesel - I'm glad to hear you and your DC have come out the other end too. Clare, I've read the post you made last night. Hope your DD made it to her new job today... Whether or not she did, chances are it will be all right in the end...

Judgmental posters are a pita and do not ever help those of us who are struggling with our teens. Everything they ever think to say we have already thought ourselves; we are very often our harshest critics. IMO and E, what we need to learn to do more than anything else is look after ourselves, which is incredibly hard when we are so deeply, deeply involved in trying to looking after them. Other helpful people here can play a really important role reminding us of that smile If there's a lot of uppity nonsense on the main board these days, perhaps you need a new 'support thread for parents of troubled teens', that's a supportive 'safe space', like this one that Maryz started back-in-the-day... Who's gonna start it?!

summer68 Tue 04-Aug-15 00:58:09

Hi Flow 4, I missed all your posts because I came to mn as you left, but I couldn't agree with you more about everything you've said. I was in a similar situation as you. Personally I don't think I would have coped without mn and the wonderful people you can find here. I do think it's important that we offer hope to those that are in the thick of it at the moment - thank you for such a lovely post .

BettyCatKitten Tue 04-Aug-15 01:23:45

Hi Flow
I'm a newbie about 6 months
Your post resonates with me I had dd on MCat at 17, nightmare! Stole money, but worked at the same timeconfused she carried on working. Got off MCat after 4 months. She's very apologetic now.
Regrets it etc.
Dd is now in her twenties and expecting her first baby, it does pass. She's like a different person. Very responsible.

Minifingers Tue 04-Aug-15 07:50:17

Hi Flow!
So good to hear that your ds is doing well. smile I hope the reduction in stress gives you more of a chance to focus on your own well-being for a time. I agree that this place has been sanity saving for some of us. I have gone through the worst time in my life over the past few years. I still feel tearful looking back on how crap things have been - full of regrets and sadness for what we have all gone through as a family.

I also feel like one of the 'old timers' here.

Things have also moved on with my dd. She sat her exams! No violence for months! She is applying for apprenticeships! She no longer says she hates me! although she did hate me two weeks ago We have cuddles! smile

Hoping for a small break before ds1 (11) and ds2 (10) launch themselves into adolescence. Feel scared at what's to come: ds1 has a tendency to miserable strops and sulking. DS2 has ASD and has rages which are getting worse - he's big and strong and breaks stuff and swears when he's angry. sad

This time around at least we know more about the journey - hopefully it'll help.

serene12 Tue 04-Aug-15 09:19:29

Thanks for your positive update. We've been in a similar situation with our son, we had no choice, but to make him homeless 3+years ago. Luckily, he stayed in a supported housing project for young people with addicton problems, where he got professional help...We got our son back
Now he's studying in another city, we visited him in his new flat and even saw him making his bed!
I knew I had to recover and go to Families Anonymous meetings, where I learnt to put Tough Love in place, so my son had to suffer the consequences of his bad choices etc. I also read your posts on Mumsnet, and I knew I was no longer alone

pinkpepperpod Tue 04-Aug-15 14:50:35

I'm very very pleased to read your thread, as it gives me hope. I don't post much, because, basically I feel ashamed, but I have a very difficult 14 year old daughter, and its great to hear things maybe won't always be this way.

I'm about 14 months in, and just when I think things are probably as bad as they can be, I realise that she hasn't dabbled with drugs or drink yet, so they're clearly not. She has been in such huge trouble at school though, and is at her third since April. I've come to terms with the fact that the future I was hoping for for her won't happen, and I'm trying to emotionally detach a little bit, but its not easy. There are times when she seems like 'herself' again, but they don't last for long, and the rest of the time she's emotionally and physically abusive, and steals anything we don't hide.

I'd post more as I don't have much support, but I've seen how horrible other posters can be sometimes, and this whole situation has made me so low, that I can't really handle that, but I read everything.

Fab to read your thread... I took a lot of your advice on board some years back when my DS1 (then about 15 and leading a parallel life to your DS, stealing, violent, arrested etc) was hideous.

22 now and barring the occasional bit of cannabis (doesn't drink and only smokes it at his mates so while not ideal, is something I can live with relatively speaking) ..is a lovely, working, rent paying ..to me.. young man. In a steady though not well paid job and I love having him around. Something I never believed possible 5 years ago!

The support here.. yours and many others too, made such a difference.

There really IS hope smile

I'm sorry that you are unwell x

nonameatall01 Wed 05-Aug-15 11:09:33

Hello Flow. You won't recognize me as I have been through several name changes. But I remember your posts. I am so pleased to read your update, though hope your health issues ease.

pinkpepperpod - I think it is really sad you don't feel able to post about your dd's issues. I do know what you mean though. I am so sorry you are going through hard times.

I can remember when I was naïve / stupid enough to believe that the majority of parents who had real problems with their teenagers had caused these themselves.

thejourney1 Wed 05-Aug-15 20:54:28

I just found this site and was really grateful because I was seriously feeling all alone. So I am going to read through and see if I can gain some perspective, wisdom and backbone.

Travelledtheworld Thu 06-Aug-15 11:51:51

Welcome back Flow4 . Great to hear from you.
I learned much from your postings over the past couple of years.
Hope your health improves and thanks for bringing us up to date.

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