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Teen troubles - at a complete loss..

(18 Posts)
ProbablyMe Mon 15-Feb-16 18:01:23

Warning this may be a bit long.

I have 4 DS aged from 18 to 12 with my exH and am expecting a baby in May with my DP of 3 1/2 years. I have split from my exH 4 1/2 years ago.

For many years - since he was about 8-9 - my DS2 who is 16 has been a source of concern. He is a very pleasant, affable type of lad when you meet him, gets on with people easily, polite just seems generally nice. The problem is that he is very easily led and ends up mixing with "the wrong sort" (I hate using that phrase btw). This happens partly because he sees them as cool and he is more interested in having loads of mates than in his education (not unusual for a teen I guess).

When he was 9 my then exH and I decided to move from the council house we lived in in a rough area to a private rented house in a small village - partly as we no longer needed council housing, partly to escape the area which was getting worse and worse and partly to move DS2 away from his social group at school who were increasing causing and getting into trouble. We hoped that DS2 would make new, different friends and move in the right direction.

After a couple of years doing really well with a nice group of friends at a small village primary he started secondary school. From the outset he started messing around in lessons to get a laugh and making new, badly behaved, friends. I spoke with the school about my worries and they agreed and changed his form group. He just found the similar group of kids in the new class. As the years passed there were occasional problems with truancy, he was caught smoking on school grounds. Each time both the school and myself tried to deal with this behaviour and for a while he would settle down but it never lasted as the pull of being mr fun always won him over.

In Year 10 the smoking became a bigger problem and he had some short suspensions from school. Then in the January of that school year I received a phone call from a paramedic at 6.45 pm to say he was going to hospital having taken a legal high. Again, myself and my DP plus extended family and the school attempted to deal with this. Within 6 months it was fairly clear that he had progressed to cannabis. He was also stealing money from me and his brothers to find this. We tried breaking all contact with his friends, got him counselling with a local kids drugs charity and once year 11 and GCSEs were over he started at a college in another town - we also moved house during this period. I even managed to find out who had been supplying him and his friends and reported that to the Police.

When he started at college all seemed good. He was no longer in contact with his old social group, was doing well on his course, seemed to have made a mental change. However, we started to suspect he was up to something, initially it was a bottle of ADHD medication given to him by a fellow student and an admission that he was having trouble concentrating on his course. DP and I immediately liased with the college and worked out a plan for him to catch up on his assignments and also stop the supply of tablets ! We soon suspected alcohol/cannabis was involved again but couldn't find solid proof. A few weeks ago money started going from my purse again - never a huge amount but enough for me to start to notice. He denied it was him and I couldn't prove it. This weekend another £10 went missing shortly before he went to stay at one of his new friends houses for the night. I searched him and found nothing.

In the meantime my DP was asked if he could fix DS2's iPad and when he did I looked at his messages which I've done fairly regularly for a couple of years due to his history - don't tell me this was an invasion of his privacy, I know it was but he is aware I do this and has agreed given his history! I found a message showing cannabis that he had bought yesterday, a message confirming he'd had my money and another regarding some codeine tablets that he'd taken from our house thinking they might be "fun".

I am gutted. I genuinely don't know what to do. I have tried every approach I - and my DP - can think of. My exH has been little help as he has always considered the boys as "my problem" and since our separation and divorce likes to see himself as their friend rather than acting like an actual parent. He also uses any excuse to have a go at me - when DS2 was admitted to hospital and I told him he refused to come to the hospital as he was out with his mates and later accused me of making the whole thing up for attention. He won't answer my calls or messages to discuss DS2 and says I'm being to hard on him when I tell him off. Consequently DS2 has now contacted his dad whos attitude is very "poor DS2" and his dad is refusing to speak to me about it - he has no idea of the extent of what has been going on or what has been tried to help/stop DS2 as he simply won't discuss any of it. My younger DS's have even heard him talking to his partner/parents and telling them that I'm clearly an insane harpy and a terrible mother when I try to get him involved.

Anyway, to a certain extent my exH is by the by - I don't expect a great deal of help from him. I do, however, want to try and sort the whole mess out in some way. I appreciate that there won't be a quick fix and we're in for a slog. I feel so sad and so desperate. I had a panic attack in the post office earlier and I can't stop crying. I am so tired and am wondering whether I should simply tell his dad that DS2 needs to move in with him although I know my exH will use this as further proof of my terrible parenting. For the record my other three DS's have none of these issues - DS is doing well as university, DS3 is an A student and student representative and DS4 is not a problem.

I've tried reasoning, discussing, supporting, seeking out outside help and yes, I've also done some shouting.

Any advice?

ProbablyMe Mon 15-Feb-16 19:17:48

Desperately bumping..

kavvLar Mon 15-Feb-16 19:21:59

I'm really sorry. This must be heart breaking for you. I'm afraid I don't have any sound advice save to say that you sound like a great and supportive mum. Hope someone is along soon who can advise.

DawnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 15-Feb-16 20:11:43

Hi there,

We're moving this thread over to our Teenagers topic so the OP will hopefully get a bit more advice and support.

Best of luck, ProbablyMe. flowers

PippaPug Mon 15-Feb-16 20:16:47

I don't have any real advice but do not leave ANY money around the house, or any valuables (I'm sorry to say) such as your jewellery etc

Can you sit him down with his step father you and him when the others are out and explain to him that this is unacceptable, and why does he do it? Can you explain to him again the dangers and tell him that you love him dearly but can't put up with this especially with young children in the house?
Ask him what he thinks you should do? Does he need to see a counsellor?

Pinkfluffyglitteryunicorns11 Mon 15-Feb-16 20:32:33

The first bit sounds like my DD - in year 10. I suspect cannibis but no evidence as yet. She likes the excitement of the bad things she picks the most awful friends/boyfriends that like to cause mayhem. Having real interests, hobbies or trying at school are for the "sad people". I've tried to explain that in the long run this attitude is the "sad" thing but she doesn't care as I'm also "sad". She almost revels in drama and really comes alive when there's an incident or argument it's quite worrying as its the only time I see her animated and chatty! Sorry I have no real advice I'm at a bit of a loss to. I find DDs phone is the only way to a tiny bit of compliance.

Alvah Mon 15-Feb-16 21:05:17

Dear ProbablyMe,

I wish I could advice you but I'm in a similar position and feel the same. Mine has only just turned 15. My other two DC are both fine too. I am also on my own with them.

I'm waiting for answers and advice from Drug and Alcohol support.

I really wish things turn out well for us all flowers

Peebles1 Mon 15-Feb-16 21:23:51

Sorry you're going through this probablyme, you sound like you've done a lot of good work in the past trying to keep him on the straight and narrow. I have three DCs who I know have all dabbled in drugs and I'm sure still do. They do tell me about it (though I'm sure do more than they tell me) so at least we can communicate about it. So I'd advise keeping the lines of communication open. Would it help for your DS1 to talk to him? I've found that helpful with mine, as they are more willing to accept words of advice from someone more their age. Less judging and freaking out, which us parents tend to do. I've had no probs with stealing but I agree with others about hiding your money. I'm sure you've already thought of that. I've no idea why they gravitate towards the 'cool crowd' - my DD is just the same. Good luck with it all. Try and look after yourself and get some rest and any advice/help so you feel strong enough to cope. thanks

ProbablyMe Tue 16-Feb-16 16:50:01

Well he decided to go and live with his dad and despite everything I'm sitting here heartbroken and in tears. I feel like I've failed. His dad hasn't discussed any of it with me and wouldn't even come to the door when he picked him up. I feel like I've lost my son.

Alvah Tue 16-Feb-16 19:26:24

You haven't lost him, although I am sure it feels like it. You have done everything you can and shown him good principles, love and dedication.

One day he will be grateful and thank you for it flowers

GasLightShining Tue 16-Feb-16 22:18:55

I agree with Alvah

He may think life is hunky dory at the moment but the novelty of living with dad will wear off

Alvah I hope you can get the help you need

ProbablyMe Wed 17-Feb-16 08:42:43

Thank you for the replies - those going through the same thing especially as it's so hard.

For the posters than suggested counselling - he has had some counselling from a local youth drugs charity but they rely on him engaging properly. Much of the problem with that is hat he is very good at putting on the sad, regretful face in front of people and then doing what he wants later. I sincerely wonder if he has some kind of personality disorder - he seems so charming and says the right thing to your face but they aren't real and the continually does the same things with no regret or regard. I think his dad will go down the "poor troubled teen" route, but I think he does these things because he wants to and thinks it's fun - DS2 has admitted as much. However, because of the pally way his dad treats him DS2 will run rings round him.

I'm actually considering writing to my exH's fiancée since he won't talk to me about any of this. My exH did a wonderful job of creating me as an insane harpy (his words) after we split and I haven't been allowed any contact with her but I know she actually works for a youth counselling charity so maybe she'll listen? He'll probably convince her that everything I say is wrong and nasty and vindictive though as this is what he does whenever I disagree with him. I had PND after each of our 4 DS's and he uses my last mental health to try and win arguments ie. You are wrong and deluded because you aren't right in the head. I'm so tired of fighting his crap.

I'm worried about how his dad will sort his college out. DS2 is apparently very good and one of the top students on his IT course and I'm scared he's throwing that all away. I've also been fighting to be have DS2's health issues taken seriously for years now and he's finally being investigated for Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis but his Dad has been made aware of his upcoming hospital appointment and won't discuss it with me. He will try and shut me out of DS2's life as much as possible now.

I keep repeating my new mantra of "I can't fix everything, I can't fix everything" to keep me calm. I know I have tried. Maybe his dad will work this out. Maybe I just wasn't up to the job.

ProbablyMe Wed 17-Feb-16 08:44:55

And I'm lying here feeling my DS5 kicking me and I'm so scared of messing him up. What if it is me?

OhYouLuckyDuck Wed 17-Feb-16 09:00:14

It's not you. You have shown time and time again that you are there for your son and that you have done everything you can to support him and help in in very difficult times that we'd all struggle with. Be kind to yourself.

cansu Sun 21-Feb-16 08:27:03

I think I would let his dad take some of the parenting over now. Yes he may well be shit at it but you have tried your hardest and maybe need to step back. Keep the door open for your d's by telling him you will be there for him when he needs you. Chances are he will be back. Your ds is likely to be ok for a while but will eventually revert to behaving the same way with your exh. It is also pretty likely that his fiancée will not wish to have a moody, difficult teen around for long. Try and accept this as a brief respite period from dealing with your ds issues.

tumpymummy Sun 21-Feb-16 17:53:34

Couldn't read this and not reply. Probablyme you sound like you have been a wonderful supportive mother. You have done so much for DS2 but sometimes some teenagers have to go off the rails a bit. The fact that you have 3 other happy sons shows what a good job you are doing. I agree with cansu and think you have to let DS2 go for a bit. Let him know you will be there for him, but I would concentrate on the rest of your family and yourself for a bit.

GasLightShining Sun 21-Feb-16 21:40:05

And I'm lying here feeling my DS5 kicking me and I'm so scared of messing him up. What if it is me? You have three other DC who are doing well so it can't be you so don't let anyone make you think that

Is is possible for DS1 to talk to him. My DD has on occasions been roped in to advise.

I think cansu is talking sense and your other DC may appreciate the respite too

BeaufortBelle Sun 21-Feb-16 21:53:15

Is it worth getting a CAMHS referral or paying privately fir a,psychiatric assessment if you can afford it to see if there's something underlying it. Borderline Personality Disorder, early manifestation of bi-polar, plain depression - that sort of stuff.

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