difficult child's 17th birthday

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by cakewalk, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. cakewalk

    cakewalk Member

    Today he's 17. He's still at my sister's house. In the past several weeks since running away, two of his core class grades have fallen by one letter grade (one is now a D!) My sister had said a few weeks back that the counselor's and my rules weren't working. I'm thinking her 'let him be' attitude isn't working either.

    He had an out-of-state sports tourney two weekends ago. My sister picked him up from the school and my son lied to the attendance staff telling them I wasn't answering the phone because I was out in the parking lot. I called the school when I saw the caller id and told them that wasn't the case. He missed the next day, too, with no one calling him in. He now has to serve the unexcused number of hours in after school detention for missing school.

    Immediately after I met with the staff, my nephew was speaking to the staff pleading my son's case asking if my sister could call in and excuse my son, blah, blah, blah. Between my sister and my nephews, my son doesn't have to do a thing. Why wasn't my son in the office pleading his case? Because he knows someone else will do it for him.

    I picked difficult child up for a dentist appointment this week. We talked. All of his needs are met. He wants for nothing. My sister handles everything for him. He's not encouraged to contact us. He said he doesn't care about easy child at all and then burst into tears so at least I know he does care about his brother. I asked him about counseling. He hasn't done anything with that yet. I asked if in addition to his own counseling, would he be interested in counseling with me. He didn't answer and I haven't heard from him since.

    My easy child and husband have gone about their lives, enjoying the loving, happy home we now have. I am saddened, missing him every day. I had hoped it would get easier as time went on. It hasn't. I've read Suz's link she re-posted recently on detachment twice a day, every day. (Thanks, Suz!)

    He hasn't had any explosive or angry episodes since he left several weeks ago, which is a good thing, but let's be real... he also hasn't heard the word "no" either.
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Cakewalk, the natural consequences of his decisions haven't caught up with him yet. Rest assured that they will. The grades will be the first symptom. There will be others. Many others.

    It took Rob YEARS to realize the impact of his actions. It took YEARS for Rob to even get a glimmer of how much his actions hurt those around him. And it took YEARS for Rob to understand that life would have been so much better for him if he wasn't so determined to undermine himself.

    I hope you don't have to wait that long for your son to gain this kind of insight.

    In the meantime, please try to find solace and comfort elsewhere. Repeat the Serenity Prayer as often as you need to get through the day. Lower your expectations for difficult child so you aren't disappointed and will be pleasantly surprised with any success. Find joy with your other child and let your older one learn.

    Happy birthday to your son.

  3. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Cakewalk---What he is doing right now, we call honeymooning----everything is new and exciting, he has no responsibilities, he is enjoying himself. It will not last. Your sister and nephew will get tired of catering for him soon enough. He will begin to miss the structure and rules you have tried to instill or he will shoot himself in the foot without them and your sister will be calling you for help. Hold out. Go on and try to enjoy the peace. in my humble opinion it will be short lived.
  4. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    It does sound like he has no responsibilities at this time and that he doesn't hear the word no at all. That will change and then we will see how wonderful your sister thinks he is doing. Meanwhile let it go and enjoy yourself. My guess is that your sister is doing this as much for her self esteem as she is for your son. I'm sure it will fall apart soon all you need to do is let it run it's course. -RM
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I know with the way the family is treating difficult child right now that it appears he's going have it made where he is. But somehow I doubt it. Eventually, someone is going to ask something of him and difficult child isn't going to cooperate......and then the honeymoon phase will end. They will see difficult child's true colors.

    I can say this because my brother took my nephew in thinking he could make things all "better" with him where my sister had failed miserably. It went well for a couple of months. Some minor things.....but since my brother was still in his 20's and had no experience raising a teen.....he never thought much about it. Then wham! Brother began to ask nephew to do some ordinary things (no big deal) and got the Mr Hyde side of nephew. Next thing he knew nephew brought friends home, robbed the house, robbed the pawn shop they owned, stole his new truck and trashed it.

    Changed brother's opinion of sister rather abruptly.

    As far as difficult child's antics at school.......let nature take it's course. It's usually the best way to handle it at this age anyway. It will catch up to bite him in the arse eventually.

    I know it's hard to wait for all this to happen........But try not to worry. At the moment he wants for nothing. So go ahead and get on with your life and enjoy the peace while you have it.

  6. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    You have gotten such great advice that I have nothing new to add--just wanted to say please take the advice to heart! These ladies know what they are talking about...
  7. cakewalk

    cakewalk Member

    Thanks to all of you. I read every post in General and Parent Emeritus every day and wonder how all of you managed as long as you have! Most of you have been through much, much worse. My problems with my son pale in comparison.

    I got through his big day. I remembered the last awful year and the (at least!) thirty times in the last year thinking to myself, "when you're seventeen and you verbally attack me, destroy my house, then walk, I can lock that door behind you!"

    I walked through my house and looked at every wall, every door, every destruction and the memories were so vivid. The words painful to re-live. I then listened to the silence, weighed the two, and realized that we've actually got the better end of the deal right now!

    I miss him, but I don't miss the last year. I miss who I know he can be.

    I can't thank all of you enough for your kind (and wise!) words of support and advice.
  8. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Cakewalk, I'm glad that you're starting to enjoy the peace you have right now. I agree with the advice that others have already given. Sounds like your sister has something to prove, and she and your difficult child will butt heads down the road.

    In the meantime, take the time to revel in the peace and quiet. Let your easy child spread his wings, reconnect with your husband, and do what's best for you.

    Please don't allow yourself to go down this road. It's never helpful to try to compare your pain to someone else's. You're going through your own personal pain and struggle, and you're in a great group that can provide support, love and practical ideas, in many cases based on experience.

    Playing "my difficult child is worse than your difficult child" is a waste of energy that could be better spent on having fun with your easy child, reading a good book, or doing something just for yourself.

    Sending many gentle hugs to you.

  9. Star*

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

    Well Happy Belated Birthday to your son!

    I see you've gotten a lot of great advice from others here who have been where you are. I think the hardest part about taking anyone elses advice is not telling yourself "well MY /OUR situation is SOoooo much different" or thinking "Oh they don't understand my situation."

    One thing I can tell you as a person who allowed herself to be abused severely in marriage and a survior of severe PTSD? I went to counseling, and after Dude was out of the house it just seemed to me for my DF things went lickity split back to normal. He almost seemed to be happier and enjoy life more. Unbeknown to me; that just added to my frustration. Actually it just flat out made me angry at him. - Sounds kinda silly now for being angry at someone for being happy, but then again NOTHING seemed normal in our house for such a long time.

    When I told this to the counselor he cracked a smile and told me that often people who survive traumatic experiences like war, abuse, rape, and children like ours who bring stress into our home every day can become angry at anyone who is happy. WE get so used to the turmoil and chaos in our homes day after day that we're literally afraid to let down our guard and enjoy the peace for fear that it will come back - and then we'll be soft and unable to deal with the problems MORE when they return.

    OR that we have gotten SO SO used to the chaos and turmoil we actually prefer living that way. I think that is a good definition for dysfunctional. So the key here is to begin enjoying life. How do you do that when your child is failing your expectations or even your most basic wants for him? It's hard. It took a lot of therapy and talking through my "But my situation is different." with our therapist. I found out a lot of things about myself, I learned how to turn off the "Oh here let me FIX FIX FIX that for you button in my head." I learned how to understand that at 16,17,18 my son really wasn't that far away from becoming a young man who NEEDED to get life experiences to either change his way of thinking OR let him suffer the consequences.

    The alternative is pretty clear. You can choose to let go, and let him pick himself up so he gets some skills, dignity and self-worth and worth of what the things he's destroyed in your home are. Or you can continue to be one of those Moms who has a son living with her, in and out of jail because he never got to suffer consequences or hardships of life when he was younger because YOU always stepped in and fixed things for him. I was told to envision me being my x-mother in law. OMG - that was enough - but sadly the therapist was right. I could be 70 and have a 50 year old "man" living in my house unable to hold a job, unable to have a relationship with a person, unable to do the simplest things on his own like manage money to have a home, car, insurance etc. The thought of having Dude disrupting my home for the next 30 years was enough to make me DESIRE to change myself to not be so enmeshed in his life.

    ANd yeah - I know - It's NEVER been easy - he's missed out on so much, you've missed out on so much with him. There's a lot of sad sad stories here for various reasons, but what got me is that the advice is so similar regarding the best thing to do with older kids - 16,17.18.....it's too similar not to be good advice.

    I would tell you about the last 12 years of Dudes life - where at 10 - I couldn't see him for Christmas because his behavior was so out of control the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) said no visit. I could tell you about only have 3 christmas times with him in the last 12 years. Or two birthdays......he never played sports, he was never in a school activity, he was in the state mental hospital at age 6 for threatening to kill someone, or how he's been in and out of institutions and group homes - was facing jail 17 years the first time at 16, and 30 years the second.....or how it broke my heart to put him out of my house for good at 16 because if I hadn't one of us would be dead. It hasn't been easy on top of all the unpleasant things I tried to do his entire life to get him to behave.

    NONE of it meant I didn't love my son. Finding my own happiness NEVER meant I didn't still love him, it meant that I loved him enough to find and work on being the best person I could be so that I truly set a good example of how to overcome heartache in life. THAT"s the message I want to send to my son - THAT's the message that he witnessed when he did come around, THAT's the message that he'll take with him into adulthood - not to sit around and be sorrowful when things don't go our way.

    I hope there is some pearl in here that helps you. If you aren't in counseling for yourself? Find a good thearpist that you can talk to and go and convince him you dont' need help. It will improve your outlook on life, it will improve your feeling of self-worth, you'll learn how to draw and establish boundaries, and the first time you use something you were taught in therapy and apply it to life? You'll be so proud of yourself you won't believe the person that you've began a foundation to build on for your future and for your son to witness and model.

    I wish you the best.......
    Hugs & Love
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Star...you are so smart!

    I felt so incredibly strong when I realized I was imposing my own boundaries on Cory. Even when they were such simple, little things such as...No, you cant take my camera ... and he didnt argue back!
  11. Star*

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

    Janet - thank you - and I know just what you mean. Dude walked into my office this morning and I had my desk open with a few (JUST A FEW) mini snickers someone gave me - and DUde grabbed 2 without asking.....I looked at him and he smiled, put them back and after a moment I said "would you like some of MY candy?" he laughed and first said "No, Mom on a diet - you keep it." then looked at me and said "Yes Maam, may I have 2 pieces?"

    I did it without thinking - and when I did - the moment I did - I thought -OHHHHHH look - I drew a boundary. (I'm going to frame it too) lol.