difficult child 17. How will he handle adulthood?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Purple Cow, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. Purple Cow

    Purple Cow New Member

    I'm a newbie. My difficult child was just diagnosed with ODD. We had an extremely hard time getting him to go in for a 1st consultation with P. I know we will not be able to get him back for therapy. He has no insight into his ODD. Last yr was a disaster at school. Absolutely no respect for his principal. Almost always refuses to accept responsiblity for his bad behavior. Called the princ. extremely inappropriate names. He never studies, nor has he ever but continually gets very good grades. This yr he is post-secendary student at a local college with only one class at the high school (much to the relief of his principal)but he continually misses classes because he over-sleeps. He has a wide circle of friends that he gets along with very well. He needs to be around them constantly. He has been active since he was 6 mo. old and even was disobiediant in pre-school. He can not slow down! He will not get a part-time job like his friends. Actually, I think he may have anxiety about it but will not admit it.

    My main concern is how will he act when he gets to college. How can we help him? We have so little time left with him and have not had much success with anything we have tried so far.

    Sorry that this is so long.
  2. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Hi Purple Cow and welcome.
    It's a good thing that he has good grades.
    Once he is out of high school, no one will treat him like a kid. You will have little authority over him except by what you allow or not allow.

    Does he have consequences when he doesn't do what he is supposed to do?

    If he plans to go to college and you are paying, then what will you do if he fails? or gets kicked out? Are you going to be clear to him that if that happens he can't come home.
    If he won't work, then don't give him more money.

    Our kids push us and push us and we have to keep those boundaries clear of what is expected and what won't be tolerated in your home.

    I hope he goes to college and realizes he can't mouth off to people and expect to not have serious consequences.
  3. Purple Cow

    Purple Cow New Member

    Thanks for your reply.

    I've been typing here and totally lost my post just as I was on the last sentence. Dummy me. So here I go again.

    We have really had a hard time with consequences. Nothing seems to be affective so far. No matter what the consequences he continues to do the behavior over and over again even after consequences.

    We deduct $10.00 with each rule broken and I constantly remind him each time I will deduct more money with each infraction. Monday is when we give him money and we always have a blow up over it.

    When we do have a blow-up he pesters and annoys me for hours on end-- minute by minute. He rarely gives up. This past week he kept talking for three hours straight. He even pounded his fist into the door three times and his hand got all swollen up, then he blamed me that I caused him to break his hand (he didn't but could have). This was the first time he has done that but has thrown things across the room.

    We try to take the car away but he needs it to go to another town to attend college. He is only taking one class at high school now. He also needs the car to go to sports practice and games. We have decided that to restrict him from sports would not be good for him as he seems to be better when he is involved in sports. What other consequences do others take with an older teen difficult child? Any helpful hints would be greatly appreciated.
  4. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    You're trying to impose consequences to keep him from experiencing natural consequences. I suggest you let him experience natural consequences for his actions and stop trying to save him from himself.

    Are you saying his not studying is an issue? He's learning enough to get good grades. If he doesn't get up and ends up failing a course, then he experiences the natural consequences for blowing off class.

    You haven't had success with him? He's 17, taking college classes, gets good grades, participates in after school activities and has a wide circle of friends. Sounds pretty successful to me. Pounding a door and throwing things is pretty normal behavior for teenage boys.

    Perhaps he has no respect for the principal because the principal isn't worthy of respect.
  5. Purple Cow

    Purple Cow New Member

    Thank you for your comments and advise.

    In the past we have let our son try to take responsibility for his actions but lately we have been pushing him more because of his going off to college. His grades have gone down since 10th grade but he is still doing ok but well below his potential as most of his teachers say when we go to conferences. He has his application in for college and has been rejected by the college he hoped to get into. We are scrambling to get him into another college.We are not sure why he did not get in as his ACT was good. He has had no other activities in school (other than sports) with groups, no community service, and no leadership skills listed. And I know that they consider this thing quite a bit now days. His school counselor is totally baffled as to why he didn't get in. He was positive he would. My son was put on a postpone list so there was still a possiblity he could have gotten in. Unfortuntaly, he called to the admissions department and really read them the riot act, using four-letter words so I think he blew any chance he had. He argued with him for over an hour. Frankly, we really want him to get in somewhere as we are totally worn out.

    You are correct that he has success in many things but displays all but two of the symtoms of ODD. The P. we saw definately had no question that he had ODD and thinks he should get therapy. I know that he doesn't have it as bad as others on this forum but it is definately progressing. We can only hope that he will get insight into his ODD and get therapy on his own sometime in the future.
  6. ROE

    ROE New Member

    Hi Purple Cow,

    I agree with Sara. Let him experience the natural consequences. I have struggled with my son since he was 9 years old, he's 17 now. Last year was his worst academic year ever, he failed the entire year. Over the years, I tried everything I could think of, rewarding good behavior, punishing bad behavior. As he got older, nothing seemed to matter.

    Finally, I felt that I had to let go and let natural consequences take over. It was very hard for me to do, I felt like I was giving up; something that I promised myself that I would never do. I actually accepted the idea that he may not graduate (it doesn't sound like this a concern for your son). I never told him this, the expectation is still there, but in my heart I have accepted that it may not happen that way. My son is capable of succeeding in school, but historically he would not apply himself. After years of stressing myself out trying to keep him on track, I came to the realization that HE has to want to change, nobody can make him. I am confident that if he does not graduate with his class, he will earn a GED, and he will go on to a techincal college (he already has two in mind).I know my son will be sucessful in his chosen field.

    What I really want to mention is that this year my son has had a complete turn around. He is passing all of his classes with a C or higher, he does his homework regularly, he is studying for tests for the first time since grade school, and he attends school regularly. For the most part, he is staying out of trouble. HE actually cares about his grades now.

    Although you are presently having some troubles with your son, it sounds like you've had alot of sucess with him also. I would not be concerned that he doesn't study since he is getting good grades. Regarding pounding fists, my son actually did break his hand punching a cabinet door in frustration...twice, same hand, same cupboard door, different years.

  7. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    It took my difficult child an extra year to finish---not because he wasn't smart---it was because he didn't care. He is finishing his first semester of college now---he says he has all A's and B's---but he had to want it. He is two years behind his graduating class--natural consequences for the choices he made.

    My son has also broken his hand several times punching inanimate objects---each time he faced the consequences or having a broken hand and paying for the damages or working off the time before he got anything from us---

    He recently kicked a hole in his bedroom door. He is getting a new door for Christmas instead of something he really wanted---natural consequences!
  8. Purple Cow

    Purple Cow New Member

    Thank you all for your comments. I feel much less anxious tonight after chatting with you. It's nice to know there are others with the same problems. I will definately now let him handle his natural consequences.

    I'm so glad for you that your difficult child's are progressing. It really gives me hope.

    Is there anything that you can suggest to help me to get him to clean up his room? I'm not a neat nut and I know teenage boys are really not into cleaning their rooms but it is driving me crazy. He continually takes food to his room and leaves everything there. I don't think he has ever hung up a thing ever unless I tower over him and now he is just too big for me to have any effect. I have tried to put it out of mind and let him live in his mess but the leaving food really drives me crazy as it starts to smell. I just got new carpet and I know that some time soon he will spill a drink of some kind. He has done it all of his life. Our town was flooded on August 19th. About 4/5's of the town had some form of damage. It's nice to have new carpet and furniture as I was planning on replacing it anyway after my son graduates but I'm afraid it will be ruined by then.

    If any of you have had this problem let me know if anything has worked for you.
  9. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    If he doesn't bring his laundry to the laundry room, don't wash it. If he doesn't put thelaundry away then leave it in a pile.
    Who do you suppose will clean his room next year?

    When you say that your son doesn't have the same degree of ODD as many of us you are not seeing the end result. Failing to function in the real world that isn't cleaned up by mom and dad will be the same if he has "light" odd or severe odd. He has more tools perhaps to overcome his obstacles but tools like IQ is useless if not applied.

    He is a bit indulged with no real sense that he is not entitled to the world doing what he wants. He cussed out the admissions office? He thinks that they will be afraid of him or impressed? I'm sure that won't put him high on the list of kids who may get in. Natural consequences. Perhaps the admissions office sees something there that they felt would not make a successful student. Grades aren't the whole picture.

    You say you don't know why he wasn't accepted to his first choice? He is self absorbed and doesn't see that not everyone is as impressed with him as he is with himself.

    Cleaning his room isn't a big deal. Forbidding food seems reasonable and healthy. If he won't clean it, then deduct the money from his allowance to hire a woman to clean only his room. I understand. My son's are very messy. easy child is normal teen messy. I can get after him and he will do a bit of a clean up. difficult child is oblivious and really almost disgusting messy. Food wrappers, trash, clean laundry, dirty laundry, papers, CD's, all on the floor. The bed clothes are rolled up and off the mattress. Doesn't seem to bother him. Drives me nuts. I insist he pick up trash and dirty laundry every monday. Other than that, I ask if he needs to clean his room and keep the door shut. I can't stand it. He will be out of the house again and he won't really live with me for the most part. I can't change his choice for living like this but I don't have to stress over it anymore. He lives in squalor and thinks it's ok then I have to let it go.

    Does your son have any adults he looks up to? Will he listen to his coach? his uncle, his minister, his friends parents. Enlist help to talk to him into holding a mirror up to himself and see who he really is. If he won't get counseling you can go to the "do to get" way of dealing with him. He wants gas money? He picks up his dirty dishes and food out of his room. He wants to sign up for something? He has to hang up his clothes. If he wants to act like a child then you have to treat him as a child. He isn't going to like it and you must be strong. You and husband are the parents. If you don't set some framework for which he must function. Can you stand firm and strong? You aren't doing him any favors by tiptoeing around him. He is holding you prisoner or so it seems.

    My son was very difficult for many many years. I know how hard it is to be the bad guy. I have grown into the role.
  10. Penta

    Penta New Member

    I had to send my girl to Residential Treatment Center (RTC) because of extreme ODD and self destructive behaviors. She was a young teen and Residential Treatment Center (RTC) cured her fast of her sloppy ways. The girls had a strict schedule to adhere to for taking care of the house they lived in top to bottom...deep cleaning, meal preparations, laundry etc. I know this is not the same as a family situation and hard to implement at home. But, by 17, any teen can do their own laundry and keep their room and bathroom clean.

    By 17, my girl was taking a class at community college, going to high school, and she had a weekend job. She changed from an extremely defiant young teen to a responsible young adult. It can happen.

    Finding a therapist your son can relate to is key. The right professional can make a world of difference

    It sounds like your son has a great deal going for him. I hope he can rise to meet his potential.
  11. Sara PA

    Sara PA New Member

    I found it easier to pick up after my son than to nag him about doing it. I needed the food remains picked up for my own sanity, the rest was his problem. I wasn't about to go to war over it. Fighting with him would teach him nothing; he knew his room was a mess. Natural consequences are being experienced now that his apartment is embarrassingly messy and he doesn't feel comfortable having people (including his landlady) visit.

    Cleaning his room when he was 17 only because I went to war wouldn't have changed anything about how he lives now. He knows how to hang his clothes, he knows how to wash dishes, he knows how to use a trash can....and empty it. And he knew when he was 17. He needs to do it because he wants to live better, not because I said he must do it.

    And don't get too caught up in the idea that college must happen right after high school. It doesn't. And, in my opinion, it's often better if it doesn't.
  12. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    My daughter is a slob. Unless some miracle happens, she always will be. Right now, I semi-live with it. She is allowed to eat in her room so long as the dirty dishes are brought out within an hour of being done eating. If they're not and I have to remove them, she doesn't get to eat any food in her room for the next week. She loves to munch and watch tv in her room so the no food for a week is a big deal to her. After the second time of no food, the plates, glasses, cans, etc. do come out promptly.

    Her bathroom is the main bathroom. That means it needs to stay neat. If she leaves clothes on the floor, I pick them up and put them in the Goodwill box. After losing her favorite top, clothes seem to magically make it to her room. Not necessarily her hamper, but at least her room. The mess in there is hers. She knows how to clean it. As long as it doesn't smell, I let it go. When it gets too awful, I close her door so I can't see it.

    You're lucky that he's doing well in school. Mine was a school hater. She's now seeing the consequences of no education -- rotten jobs at low pay. She's talking about going to the community college next year. This is up to her. Her life, her future. I will give her advice but I refuse to do more than that at this time. This is her battle to conquer, not mine.

    She didn't take care of her car before we left and it ended being towed away. I did buy a scooter when we moved here (a golf cart community but I don't like golf carts). She can use it to go to and from work and, on occasion, to do other things. She only is allowed to use my car for my errands. A scooter in the rain is no fun but it gets her where she needs to go and it is street legal, just a lot slower than a car and she frequently has to take the long way to get somewhere since she can't go on the freeway with it. Again, her problem, not mine.

    Your son is doing a lot of things right. You've done a good job. He probably does have ODD. Personally, I think every teen has ODD and a touch of BiPolar (BP). It is part of the growing up process. Most kids outgrow these tendencies. It is the ones who don't who cause the pain, grief, heartbreak for years and sometimes decades to come.

    Where possible, let natural consequences do their part. Decide what you absolutely cannot tolerate and let him know that if breaks these rules what the consequences are. If necessary, create a contract for everyone to sign. If he argues them, simply show him a copy of the contract (he'll probably tear it up which is why you want a copy). Don't argue, don't discuss. If he feels the need to argue and discuss, try to remove yourself. I just get in the car and drive away whenever possible. Saves my sanity.

    Good luck! Believe it or not, he will grow up. He will do fine. You've laid a good foundation.
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Just a few comments and a big hello :smile:
    First off, ODD is rarely a stand alone diagnosis. Other things usually cause the ODD, such as a mood disorder or high functioning autism. I am guessing he perhaps got his diagnosis from a psychologist. in my opinion he should get another evaluation from an adult psychiatrist or a neuropsychologist to see if more is going on that ODD (all the kids on this site at one time had ODD behavior--it is more of a symptom than THE problem).
    Secondly, I'd never let a child who was so immature and so unaware of his problems and so unstable go away to college. That pretty much means he has no supervision and can do what he wants on your dime, plus he won't be getting any help. Not trying to be a pessimist, but I bet he won't last a half a year. I'd send him somewhere where he'd have to come home at night. Drugs, drinking and other temping behaviors for our impulsive kids just are a normal part of the atmosphere in college dorms. I worry about "typical" kids going there and giving into the temptations, and your son has problems. His mental health, and stabilization, in my opinion is far more important right now than college because if he won't listen to authority he won't be able to hold a job. Has he used illegal substances or drank a lot or do you suspect it? For the record, I raised two boys who are now thirty who never broke things or threw things across the room in anger. Yes, one of them, in particular, would get mouthy to me, but he knew where the boundaries were. On slobbery, all of my kids were slobs, but the ones that have moved out and have their own homes now are factitious. Go figure. Guess it was just to drive me nuts :wink: I wish you luck whatever you decide to do.
  14. ck1

    ck1 New Member

    I also wanted to say hello! Everyone here has given great advice, so there's not much for me to add. Tough love and natural consequences are hard on us as parents, but so necessary. For years, my son didn't experience these because I was so busy trying to keep the peace. It was absolutely exhausting for me and didn't help my difficult child, just furthered his sense of entitlement! He's been bumped down a few notches...we're still a work in progress and I still struggle with it, but it's a lot better for me and will be for difficult child.

    I know this advice may sound hard to enforce, but it's very necessary. You should never listen to your son argue with you about anything for three hours, or any hours. If he doesn't learn, or at least accept that he must respect authority, finding and keeping jobs is going to be a problem. You want to be the one to teach him this and now is the time!!

    So many wonderful people are here for you...glad you found this site!!!
  15. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Hi Purple Cow,

    I can't think of much to add to the incredibly insightful information you have already been given. But I would ask at this point - "What are you doing for yourself?"

    Our kids (especially if its an only child) become our center of life. We're hellbent and determined that WE alone as parents will find the MAGIC bean. We're so hyperfocused on finding the magic for our kids we let the magic out of ourselves and never replenish it.

    At 17 - he's going to have some hard roads to travel. And I'm in the category of Mothers who have done everything and now face life lessons and natural consequences. I would like to think that there is a place in time where I finally give up and let difficult child go. I'm not quite there yet.

    I am at the place where I have realized it's NOT selfish to take care of ME FIRST. Fran is very right - the rest of the world isn't going to take care of him like you do, and if you are unselfish enough to let that occur - he may have a shot at taking care of himself.

    If you are destined to continue to take care of your son for the rest of your life - then I would tell you to keep washing his clothes and providing him with money. It won't make him feel good about himself and he'll come to depend on you totally for everything. And while that may be fine for a while - how do you suppose he will support himself if you are gone?

    (Not being ugly to you here just stating facts)

    Some times our children are able to maintain very well at school and do lousy interacting with us. Snap your fingers and it changes to getting along with us and doing poorly at school. It's ridiculous - no rhyme or reason. My best book selection to offer for your reading is Tough Love - at this point YOU are going to be the one hurting more over all of this. tough love helps you get a perspective

    Hope this helps.
  16. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hello Purple Cow, and welcome.
    You have already received some great advice from others. I just want to elaborate on a point that Star made and offer my perspective. Star said:

    A lot of our difficult children have to learn things the hard way (very hard), and sometimes the best, most loving thing we can do for our children is to just back off and let them live their own lives, and live with the decisions that they make. I'm not suggesting that you abandon your son, only that you give him the space to grow up and take responsibility for himself.

    My husband and I placed our difficult child (Aspergers, ADHD, Serious impulse control issues, functions socially at about the level of a 6 year old...sometimes a 9 year old depending on the day) in a long-term Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in Nov 2007, which focuses on socialization, life skills, emotional growth, learning to control impulses, etc.

    A dear friend of ours has a brother who is very much like our difficult child. He also has Asperger's, and a similar range of skills and deficits. At 55, he still lives at home with his parents (now in their 80s). They are ailing, and no longer in a position to care for him, so our friend is now faced with some very big, life-altering decisions.

    This was a huge wake-up call for us. We needed to give our boy the gift of independence. If we didn't give him the opportunity to learn how to take care of himself now, while he's still young and we're still healthy, what will happen to him down the road?

    I agree with MWM that having your son go away to school might be a huge mistake. Too much freedom and not enough structure. However, setting firm clear boundaries and letting him live with the consequences--good or bad--of his actions, will give him the best shot at improving his behaviour.

    Honestly, since difficult child moved away to his Residential Treatment Center (RTC), I feel like I have my life back. AND I feel like I have my son back.

    All the best,