I think I need some help with this next step...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by CAmom, Mar 18, 2007.

  1. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Today is one month since we have seen our son...the longest period of time in any of our lives that we haven't had physical contact. The thirty-day visit "blackout" at his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) is based on the advice of his easy child to practice some "tough love" because of our son's resistance to complying with the program, and we support that.

    However, our son HAS been able to call us during this time, and he has done so at least a few times a week until last weekend.
    This is, we think, because he is trying to "punish" us/me because I refused, six days ago, to call his probation office and convince him that, if our son would promise to start "doing good" in his program, his PO would release my son from the program in 30-60 days. I declined to do so in favor of our son DOING what he needs to do to complete his program rather than him/us talking about it.

    I am SO, SO hurting right now that, after 17 1/2 years of giving our son unconditional love, he can so easily reject us. But, I'm TRYING to keep this in perspective--my husband and I totally agree with his easy child that he needs to "feel" the loss of his parents, home visits, etc., if that's what it takes to get him moving forward on completing his program. Yet, he seems to NOT be using that kick in the "bu-t" to move forward, based on the fact that he hasn't called.

    So, HOW do I handle the next phone call which I'm certain will be coming any day now? Do I let him know by what I say that I and his family are hurt that he has so completely rejected us in favor of goofing around? Or, should I tell him that his dad and I and family are doing just fine without him? Which, really, we are all trying to do, including his grandparents, my 86 year old mother and 89 year old father?

    I just don't know what he should hear or even needs to hear at this point. We simply want him to do better, and if that means we're out of his life, which it seems he wants right now, then so be it...
     
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I wouldn't say anything, CAmom.

    I would chit chat like nothing is unusual. Pleasantly! I would NOT give him any kind of indication that you are hurt or unhappy because that could signal to him that you regret your decision to be strong and you do NOT want him to think that you have waivered at all.

    Go back and read the responses in our archives to bolster yourself up again.

    Keep the conversation light. No drama.

    Suz
     
  3. ScentofCedar

    ScentofCedar New Member

    I agree with Suz.

    For the sake of what you hope to accomplish with this child, the reality you should present to him (if you can do it) is that you are doing what is best for him to help him recover himself and his life before it is too late.

    If you waver in that, he will not believe it either.

    Keep posting through the whole thing, CAmom ~ it will help clarify everything for you.

    Barbara

    Know what? I just thought of something one of us told me, once.
    This is what she posted: Barbara ~ time to put on your big girl panties!

    Now, isn't that a strengthening image?!?

    It helped me, too.

    .
     
  4. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Another one in complete agreement with- Suz. Light and airy. You're all doing fine, been doing x, y, and z, getting ready for spring, whatever. He already *knows* he's hurt you - he's a smart kid. No sense in reinforcing it or acknowledging his power.

    We did a very long "no contact" period (including no calls) with- thank you several years ago. I think it ended up being 6 months and change. I don't regret doing it because, like your easy child, the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) staff really felt that thank you needed to focus on his junk and quit dragging us in and/or using us as an excuse. It was kind of a last resort thing at the time. He was initially *very* angry and depressed, but in the long run I don't think he ever felt the loss of us. It didn't really motivate him but it *did* clarify for all of us where he was at in terms of his thought processes and behaviors and ... hard to put into words, but it gave all of us a good picture of thank you, without distractions. Hope that makes sense.

    I don't think it was so much that thank you wanted us out of his life, or didn't miss us, it was just that he wasn't willing or able to make the changes necessary to have us in it. A very wise therapist told us when he was 7 or 8 that thank you would not change until it became too expensive for him to continue his current behaviors. Unfortunately, thank you has a huge reserve. It was only last year that he finally started to get that his life was the pits and that *he* was the only one who could change it. And he has, finally.

    When your difficult child calls, I'd cut him off short if/when he tries to guilt you. *His* choices resulted in this entire placement, *his* choices resulted in the no contact, this has absolutely nothing to do with- the family and *everything* to do with him. Get that armor on.

    A gentle hug... our kids can just bring us to our knees.
     
  5. judi

    judi Active Member

    We don't have contact with our son by his own choice. He isn't in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and yes, it does hurt us very much. We love him very much but he is angry that we dont okay his choices. However, like your son, my son needs to have natural consequences.

    Our lives must go on. Yes, we miss them and love them but we still have to work, we still have other kids, grandkids, social life, etc.
     
  6. TYLERFAN

    TYLERFAN New Member

    I agree with the normal chit-chatting.
    If he brings it up, I would reinforce the goals, that you and husband expect him to complete the program, and not just coast.
    It's so hard. Sending Hugs to you.

    Blessings,
    Melissa
     
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with keeping it superficial. Dont get drawn into a guilt or manipulation.

    Maybe something along the lines of: "Hi honey, nice to hear from you. How are you doing? Hmmm. How is that working for you? Im sure you will figure things out. You are a smart boy. Dad and I have been working around the house. You know how we love to get the garden ready for summer."

    Blah blah blah.
     
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm sure you know that everyone is right. You can not show any
    sign of weakness or vulnerability IF you expect him to accept
    that he is the captain of his boat. We all understand what you
    want to happen, what you want to say....unfortunately....it will
    harm your child. Read and reread the responses.

    Personally I'd like to slap the hair off his cute little head!
    BUT...that, too, wouldn't help much. LOL DDD
     
  9. tracy551

    tracy551 New Member

    The hardest thing is not knowing whats next. I too am in the same situation and it is unimaginible to anyone on the out side how this feels to a mom. people say they understand but they don't when you give all of yourself to a child and they hate you. It kills me to even look at a picture of my son and not break down. Your whole life, at least mine, has become consumed in trying to figure this out to help my son and i do not know what to do.
     
  10. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Suz, this is what I thought would be best, but I'm just so unsure of myself these days.

    Part of me feels that he should KNOW how much his actions hurt all of us--basically, he's choosing to be oppositional which is costing him visits and may very well extend his time in the program.

    But, the other part of me, the one that agrees with you, wants his actions NOT to so intensely affect me personally and wants him to know that.

    For some reason, I'm equating NOT being affected by what I feel is his betrayal to not loving him and I'm afraid he'll do the same.
     
  11. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Big girl panties? :rofl:????

    Okay, now THERE'S an image to keep firmly in my mind when he starts his "poor pitiful me" garbage...
     
  12. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Sue, I understand exactly.

    For the past month, we haven't had the distraction of planning and making reservations for our every-other-week visits, preparing and packing for the two nights we would usually spend, and then actually making the drive there and back. That, combined with the decrease in phone calls, which I think is by my son's choice combined with his easy child's desire to "immerse" our son in the program, along with no shopping for him, no trips to the packing/shipping store to ship items to him has basically left me with no role in my son's life.

    And that has left me with a lot of thinking time on my hands which has helped me to get a clearer picture of my son and our relationship. I'm not letting myself call his easy child to see whether his "tough love" approach has improved my son's behavior. I'm not certain whether or not he is really missing us all that much, but my guess would be that he probably isn't since he hasn't called in a week. This, of course, doesn't bode well for the tough-love approach, i.e., making him earn visits, having been sucessful at motivating my son as you said it wasn't for yours.

    I guess all we can hope for is that, now that the "distraction" his easy child seems to think we are, has been removed from the equation, our son will also do some soul searching...
     
  13. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Judi, Melissa, Janet...yes, of course you're all right. I don't know WHY I have this fear that, if I don't let him know how sad we all are about his choices, how much we miss him, etc., that he'll think we don't care and stop trying.

    I KNOW this makes no sense because knowing all that all along hasn't motivated him to try hard to do well. I sometimes wonder if I'm as nuts as he is...
     
  14. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    "Personally I'd like to slap the hair off his cute little head!
    BUT...that, too, wouldn't help much. LOL DDD"

    Hey, get in line!
     
  15. judi

    judi Active Member

    I had to laugh at the sentence "sometimes I think I'm as nuts as he is." I feel that way too. Why in the heck am I immersing myself in his ridiculousness? (Is that a word? It should be!) Anyway, I have a life. This kid is almost 22 - how many more years must I subject myself to this garbage?

    It doesn't mean that I don't love him. It doesn't mean that I won't help him. It doesn't mean that I won't worry.

    It just means that the umbilical cord must be cut.
     
  16. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    Don't feel guilty for where he is at.

    His choices have put him there.

    Trust me, he knows he is loved by his family. He has lots of other kids his same age to compare his situation with.
    What do you think they talk about in Residential Treatment Center (RTC)?

    He knows from group discussions and from just talking with the others that he is one of the lucky ones.

    He is using what he can to manipulate you, you have to see the writing on the wall.

    He knows your weakness and he knows all your buttons. You have to be strong and stand firm against him.

    Tough Love works ~ I am a product of it!!
     
  17. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Tracy, I've been reading your posts. I'm so sorry. But, I was (and still am sometimes) where you are right now. I'll tell you what all these wonderful women have told me--keep reading. Their advice has helped me come to terms with many painful feelings.
     
  18. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Good point, hearthope. If he doesn't know how much we love and care about him by now, nothing we could probably say or do would make much difference.

    I guess this is why they call it "TOUGH" love...
     
  19. hearthope

    hearthope New Member

    He does know how much you love him now.

    He has compared stories with others in Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

    He has looked back at all the times you were there for him and for maybe the first time in his life he has talked with others that don't have a mom that cares.

    All the things he took for granted that were available for him he now sees that he was loved or he wouldn't have had any of it.


    I know this from my own difficult child.

    I have been where you are now, scared not to go to visit, scared not to be at home at the right time for a phone call. Scared because I wanted so badly for my son to know I loved him and I was sorry for what he was going through. Wondering if I had made the right decisions regarding him, wondering if the people helping him really understood him and were being of help.

    My son used the system to manipulate me and the staff.
    He knew exactly what to do and what to say to get the reaction he wanted.

    Be wise and be careful, I was not.

    He knows how much you care, that is his weapon in manipulating you
     
  20. KFld

    KFld New Member

    I agree with the others. Don't let him know he has hurt you because he will only use that to manipulate the situations. Tell him you love him and when he can learn to follow the rules and earn the right to see you, you will be there for him.
     
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