Musing Aloud: Can a truce be called? Can you reach out to your child with-in your difficult child?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Signorina, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Is there a way to accept and love your son or daughter while rejecting the part of them who is the difficult child? To extend a hand and your love to the child while not enabling the difficult child? I apologize if I am not making sense. I realize we all love our difficult children and I don't mean to imply that detachment is rejection.

    I guess what I am trying to say - is can you detach from the difficult child part yet maintain a loving relationship with your adult child?

    I meet with the therapist on Monday. And since I had made my initial appointment as a "parenting strategies session" - that is what we focused upon.

    His advice was that H and I needed to sit down and decide where we stand. Decide what behaviors were not OK with us. And what our reaction to the "not" behaviors would be and to basically explore all of the "what if" scenarios and decide how we would respond. Finally, to write a script based on our strategy and stick to the script when we meet with difficult child. He definitely thinks that we should drive up to see difficult child before he comes home for Thanksgiving and break the ice yet at the same time lay down the "will not deviate from" guidelines for difficult child to rejoin the family home. (over the holidays and summer)

    These are my initial thoughts: Drug use, underage drinking and dealing is NOT OK with us and never will be. And we will not support him financially so long as he is smoking weed and drinking alcohol. (which he does admit to doing, but he denies he is dealing) So long as we know he has the potential test + for marijuana in his system, he may not drive any of our vehicles. He is not welcome in our home if he is altered. He may never bring drugs or drug paraphernalia into our home. If we find either, we will call the police. Premarital sexual activity and pornography are not welcome in our home at any time. If he is staying here, we expect him home by midnight on the weekdays and 1:30 on Friday & Saturday. If he wants to stay out later, he needs to stay with a friend and notify us by 10pm that he will not be home. There is no place in our home for disruptive behavior. (which has never been an issue) We realize he is an adult and we would never dream of telling him what to do while he is living in his own apartment and supporting himself. However, this is OUR home and we have the right to set a standard of living here. If he does not want to follow these guidelines, he is not welcome to stay here. If he is staying here and does not adhere to these guidelines, he needs to leave.

    Additionally, we are willing to pay his tuition if he maintains a B-Average, gives us full access to his grades online and completes 14+ hours a semester. We will not pay his room or board or send him living expenses so long as he is using drugs or alcohol. He is welcome at any time to live at home, work and go to school locally so long as he gets help and agrees to regular drug and alcohol testing. Once he passes two blood tests, we will reconsider allowing him to drive our cars.

    As I said, we had a strained relationship over the summer, but difficult child has been disruptive only 3 times since toddlerhood, so that's not a major concern. He has never stolen from us. I've also never found drugs etc despite searching for them regularly. (Regardless, valuables will be under lock and key while he is home and he no longer has a key to our house and we've changed the alarm code.)

    Can I do this or am I fooling myself?
     
  2. dollphyn

    dollphyn New Member

    You know I am finding out that each kiddo of our troubled kiddos are different in the way that what will work or won't work with one will or will not work with another. For our situation, we cannot reach out to ours, not right now anyway, because he will take it as we want to keep helping him. And what he is just not getting and not sure if he will ever get is by us not helping him is ACTUALLY the last help we can give him...if that makes sense. I wish we could call him and say come on over and have a good meal...then he come and eat and enjoy each other company then leave...but that will not happen..he would more than likely come, eat, and ask for money or a ride somewhere, or take change from my purse to go buy him a bottle...I just never have any advice for anyone - I'm just here to lean an ear and let you guys that I am here with a broad shoulder and a pair of ears. I have so many more questions than I do answers, one day maybe I can help more...hugs!!
     
  3. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Signorina, All of this sounds extremely reasonable on your part. I think it is a good idea and you sound clear. If you do this you need to be very clear with yourselves that you will follow through. You need to be prepared that he will agree and then try to get around you, especially if he has gotten in deep with the drug use. However I think letting them know you love them and are willing to help them as long as they are helping themselves is a good thing. Letting them know you love them, but don't love or accept all of their behaviors. That is what we have tried to do with our son... it can be a difficult balancing act at times but i think is worth trying.

    TL
     
  4. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Clear boundries and consistant follow through is the key. I would let my son home if I was confident he would follow rules and not steal from or abuse me. I think alot of us would. -RM
     
  5. Elsieshaye

    Elsieshaye Member

    Like I responded in the groceries post - I would love there to be a time when I can both let DS into my home and life, and be confident that I won't be mistreated, lied to, bullied, manipulated and held in contempt. I hope that, when he becomes that person, he still wants to speak to me and include me in his life. He's not that person right now, and now is not the time for me to be able to call a truce. Actually, I don't feel like it's a war, so much as it's a wall. With barbed wire, alarms and guard turrets. At some point, I might feel safe tearing it down. That point isn't now.
     
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Your son sounds like he has been very respectful to you and with you. If I were in your shoes I think this is what I would do but please, dont feel like you have to take my advice.

    Your son is an adult, you really dont need to know what he does in private. Lets pretend instead of drugs, he was really a Chippendale dancer and that is how he is making tuition money. You dont need to know it. His business. You have a lovely son who attends college, is fine at home, gets good grades...and you dont know a thing. Perhaps you have an inkling that something is iffy but maybe you should just let sleeping dogs lie so you dont upset the apple cart.

    My son does things that I dont approve of. I did a TON of things my parents didnt approve of. Im pretty sure most of us did things our parents didnt approve of. Yes, I love my son and support him even though he does things that I dont approve of. He doesnt do those things around me. I have no intention of informing anyone of anything if it doesnt have any bearing on me. Now I fully agree with you about no driving a vehicle if someone could be under the influence. Perfectly appropriate. I would have the same rules. Actually I dont let anyone drive my cars but me and Tony (my partner). As far as anyone coming in my home who "might be" under the influence, well, how do I know unless they are extremely obvious? I am not doing drug testing at my door.

    However...I do have to leave this post saying that I am a child of the 70's. That might make me a bit more...umm...lenient to some issues.
     
  7. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Signorina, I think that your boundaries sound reasonable as well.
    That said, it seems to me that the difficulty will not be in laying out the rules and making them clear, but in sticking to your guns and enforcing the boundaries. Every. Single. Time. If you're not totally committed to being consistent with a boundary you have set, then don't set it otherwise you'll undermine your own cause.

    An example from my own experience...
    My difficult child's behaviour can be horrible. The lack of social skills combined with rapid mood cycling can lead to wildly inappropriate behaviour, especially when he hasn't been sleeping properly or his medications are off schedule (which happens whenever his sleep schedule goes off).

    One of my rules is, if you're not properly medicated and rested and/or your behaviour is off, you're not allowed to be around the younger children. This has resulted in my removing difficult child from family gatherings, parties, in one case in the middle of Christmas dinner. It's horrible, I feel awful, but it's a boundary that I created so I have to stick to it. Backing down even once shows difficult child that I'm not serious about it, and he pushes back even harder to test the limits. (I have learned this the hard way). It's not fun at all.

    I guess my point is, whatever you establish, it has to be something that you and the rest of your family can live with. If it's too hard for you all to keep up, then you shouldn't do it.

    Trinity
     
  8. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say "very respectful" and 2 of the 3 disruptive incidents were over the summer.(the night he came home and the night he left) So, I need to nip those in the bud. Our interaction over the 3 months he was home was definitely "simmering under the surface." Which we made the mistake of placating and I won't walk on tiptoes again. He definitely was chafing under our roof. He wanted to be treated like an adult which in his eyes equaled being able to come and go when and how he pleased with very little asked of him and virtually no consideration of how his schedule affected anyone else. I am not going back there. Plus we have a soon-to-be 18 year old and we need to set some standards.

    Forgive me as I think aloud...

    I am on the fence with the "ummm some issues" - could I look the other way if everything else was stellar? I can't answer that for sure, but - yes, probably. But the facts are the facts. My clean cut, open, honest and delightful honor roll student came home a changed man. His grades are sucky (B-, a C, a D and an W in lieu of an F last semester, 3 C's the semester before) slovenly appearance, hostile attitude, and prolific lying. Add in substance use (when he promised to abstain because he was a past abuser identified at high risk of addiction) and it makes me think that "ummm" is not working in his favor; Know what I mean?? Cause and effect...and really if you could gain $20K per year (tuition and room and board, etc) by abstaining from ummm issues... wouldn't you abstain? Or at least get it under control so it didn't effect all aspects of your life? It's definitely a problem for him.

    Plus, between his eye injury and his concussion - more than 1 doctor has advised him to live a clean lifestyle so his brain could heal. AND he has Reactive Airways Disease - so smoking is a really bad idea...

    But yes, so long as it wasn't in my face and he was successful in other areas in his life, I could definitely consider a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And I have no intention of drug testing him unless he wants to drive. I just don't want him coming home falling down drunk or sky high...

    So, I think I am open to what looks like a carrot and stick plan. It makes me sick to my stomach that he would rather go into debt and live hand to mouth than to stay clean (or fly under the radar)for 3 more years...but that's his choice. If he can get his grades together (which he likely has not - he'd be crowing if his mid term grades were honorable), I will pay his tuition next semester. If he has a change of heart and wants to come home and get his act together, the door is open. If he can agree to our household standards, he is welcome to live here during breaks ... if not; at least I tried.

    And "if not" - I may need you girls to pick me up when I collapse...
     
    Lasted edited by : Oct 26, 2011
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Based on experience with difficult child bro...

    Works in theory, as long as you can...
    1) keep the link between behaviors and consequences logical - the drug use/car use link is a good example (safety, car could get impounded, etc.)
    2) find parts of difficult child that you genuinely support - if its fake and just because you're grasping at straws, it doesn't work. If you genuinely support his career choice and therefore back his education - he will know that, and then it becomes a bridge.
     
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I will give you my rules for adults who abide in my abode. Now granted mine are not 18 but even at 18, 19 and 20 this is about what I expected. You live here you understand I have a no drugs in my house rule. What you do away from me is your own business. If you get busted, dont call me. I live and die by that one. Call my son and ask him. Now as far as curfew, when they hit 18 we started compromising. I didnt really have to lay down the law about it but I told them all that I didnt sleep well until all of my chicks were in the nest so if they were going to be out late, they needed to let me know. I didnt want to have to sit up and worry about where anyone was. Oddly enough Cory only worried me once or twice and that was when he was dating his oldest daughters mom. Mostly he was home by midnight and I could live with that. My oldest son that lives with me now is always home right after work unless I know otherwise but I honestly couldnt care less...lol. My biggest thing once they got to be around 20 or so was hearing the door open and close...It woke me up.

    Now about the grades. I do think he has to really think hard about that. I would be upset there. One day he is going to wish he had made more effort. In some ways this reminds me of me...Im shaking my head over that. I messed up and didnt go to college right after HS because well, I was stupid. Instead I had kids and made life hard on myself. of course I saved my dad a bundle on college too...lol
     
  11. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I hear ya Janet...

    It's not so much a curfew -- it's that mom and dad won't really sleep well until everyone is home and the house is locked up tight. His arrival home disrupts our sleep and we have to work the next day. Even if we don't wake up - one of us awakens at like 2:00 and wonders if he is home and then gets up to check. Much as we would like to sleep blissfully, we can't until we know the chicks are in the roost. And as we all know, the older you get, the harder it is to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night! I certainly don't jump out of bed on a few hours sleep like I used to do! Plus his brothers have to be at school at 7:00am (or sports practice in the summer)and even if he tiptoes, they hear the water running, the drawers opening and closing etc.

    "WHY CAN'T I COME HOME WHEN I WANT? I'M AN ADULT!!!!"* We heard over and over and over again. And we mostly caved in thinking the late nights would get old after a while. They didn't. This despite the fact that I had MONO (yes at 44!) this summer and was DESPERATE for as much sleep as I could get.

    *I'd appreciate a good comeback to that
     
  12. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Ok so thinking more about this... I think making the curfew not a curfew but more a the house is locked by such and such a time so you need to be home by then or stay elsewhere is a compromise.... fo course the problem with that is you will worry so a you can stay elsewhere but you need to let us know.... works as long as he will let you know. What do you do if he is on his way home and is going to be 10 min late, 20 min? and hour?

    I think what is important given that he is now an "adult" is that it be about consideration, what you are willing to do, etc. and not about your policing or controlling his behavior. I agree with the no drugs in my house rule but i know we rarely found drugs in our house even when we knew my son was smoking a lot of pot. He mostly did it elsewhere, or hid it well or did legal OTC stuff. We went the drug testing route and the problem there is there are ways to fake out the test so you can get conned. So a "you will not use" if you live here can be pretty hard to detect and enforce.

    However if they are using a lot then their behavior definitely gets worse and that in and of itself becomes a problem. So my suggestion is to stick to things that relate to his behavior... respectful, coming home on time or calling, doing well in school etc. If those go downhill then out he goes.

    Reality is there are some kids who smoke a little pot here and there and do just fine in school and in the world. If my kid was one of those I don't think I would have too much problem with that. (Janet I am also a child of the 60s and 70s). So i would make it less about policing his drug use and more about his behavior. Behavior is easier to gage and then you are not stuck with trying to figure out if he is lying to you or not.

    You are very much on the right track.

    TL
     
  13. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Ok so thinking more about this... I think making the curfew not a curfew but more a the house is locked by such and such a time so you need to be home by then or stay elsewhere is a compromise.... fo course the problem with that is you will worry so a you can stay elsewhere but you need to let us know.... works as long as he will let you know. What do you do if he is on his way home and is going to be 10 min late, 20 min? and hour?

    I think what is important given that he is now an "adult" is that it be about consideration, what you are willing to do, etc. and not about your policing or controlling his behavior. I agree with the no drugs in my house rule but i know we rarely found drugs in our house even when we knew my son was smoking a lot of pot. He mostly did it elsewhere, or hid it well or did legal OTC stuff. We went the drug testing route and the problem there is there are ways to fake out the test so you can get conned. So a "you will not use" if you live here can be pretty hard to detect and enforce.

    However if they are using a lot then their behavior definitely gets worse and that in and of itself becomes a problem. So my suggestion is to stick to things that relate to his behavior... respectful, coming home on time or calling, doing well in school etc. If those go downhill then out he goes.

    Reality is there are some kids who smoke a little pot here and there and do just fine in school and in the world. If my kid was one of those I don't think I would have too much problem with that. (Janet I am also a child of the 60s and 70s). So i would make it less about policing his drug use and more about his behavior. Behavior is easier to gage and then you are not stuck with trying to figure out if he is lying to you or not.

    You are very much on the right track.

    TL
     
  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Curfew to me if there is an adult child living in the home......a must. Mine was midnight, but if something happened and it just had to be later.....I'd better have a phone call and it better be with good reason. Why? Consideration. Mom's worry. It's what we do whether we admit it or not. I don't sleep well until all members of the household are in for the night.......and if I did manage to sleep, doors cars ect would wake me up. Uh no. My house. I have a right to go to bed at a reasonable hour when I want. That I often don't has nothing to do with it. lol

    I'm with Janet on the what they do outside the home is their problem, but don't bring it in my house or you won't be in my house. No cops knocking at the door because of it either. And I bail no one out of jail. Period. But I will say I'd be none too happy if they were to stumble in wasted or drunk either......so it would depend.

    My rules were mainly based in respect and consideration. If they couldn't manage that, they didn't need to be living in my house. The rules were simple and easy to enforce, knowing I wouldn't waver. Because if you're going to hesitate if one is challenged, you might as well toss it out.
     
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My experiences with trying to trust my daughter in our house was not good. Chances are he WILL be high in your house and use drugs. As long as he is using drugs, chances are his grades will be rotten. You aren't rejecting him if you don't let him live at home and don't pay his college tuition without him also working part-time and keeping up at least a C* avearage (D's unacceptable...college is expensive).
    I think I'd be able to have a relationship with my child, but doubt the child could live at home while living a dangerous lifestyle. My own daughter told me that keeping her at home and making it warm and cushy for her would have not encouraged her to quit (which she did!). My daughter was not particulary disrespectful toward us either unless she was really high and we did not know she had stolen small amounts of money from us until after she quit drugs and told us the entire story. Trust me, she told me more than I ever wanted to know, but we are honest with one another now and she felt a need to purge herself. It turned out much more had been going on then I ever dreamed of. Could be the same with your son. Pot probably is not all that is going on. If the cops come to your house and you have drugs in your house, you can be busted...that is one big reason we finally made her leave the house. She would hide the drugs in really good places.
    This is a hard call for me since my daughter, who is a success story, thinks parents should not be easy on their kids who use drugs. But, ultimately, the decision is up to you. in my opinion you have not seen the last of his eruptions nor do you know the extent of his drug use...and college may be better put off until he is clean. My daughter went back to school and has a great job now plus her own house. I am NOT bragging. I am just saying...college doesn't end at eighteen...you can always go. And I do think k ids are far more motivated to quit bad habits if they don't have a warm and cozy place to go home to. I could be all wet, but this is JMO :) and that of my daughter's.
    If you do let him come home, be careful about letting him drive. I'd make him pay in full for his part of the insurance and expect that he may get into a car accident. Daughter totaled cars three times while she used drugs. She is very lucky she wasn't killed or did not kill somebody else. The first time she had an accident, it was our car. After that, it was not.
    I guess I'm saying...do what is in your gut, but be on guard. I don't think you can have a true relationship with your kid while your k id is doing illegal stuff because that alone means the person is living a double life. But again JMO. Good luck!
     
  16. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Comeback: "As long as you live here, we get to make the rules. When you have your own place, you can come home whenever you want. You're welcome to move out. Your choice."

    Shorter version: "My house, my rules."
     
  17. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    I know a lot of people who smoke all of the time, and live very successful lives. I honestly do not see a problem with that. Had that been the issue here, well, there probably wouldn't have been an issue. We don't consider it a hard drug. We see it more like caffeine, nicotine, etc....I do believe it should be legalized and I don't think there is anything wrong with it. My opinion...
     
  18. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Well, cross your fingers for me. I *think* he is coming home for the weekend to put in some hours at his old job to earn some $. I am not getting my hopes up nor will I lay out the red carpet. I haven't told my younger boys just in case he changes his mind. We are going to skip the talk and the script for now. Treat him like an inlaw - polite and cool.

    Should the weekend (really 36 hours) go well, we will drive up to see him at school, and have "the talk."

    I realize it's likely that he could get angry and become more entrenched in his "independent at any cost" lifestyle. I realize he could agree but be lying. I realize things could get a whole lot worse before better. Or worse & never better.
    But I am going to give it a shot. Give him some options to consider before he is so desperate that he will do anything. Try to reel him back in a little bit by bit before its too late. And if it's all ready too late, maybe I will sleep better knowing I tried.

    FWIW-although this is the therapist's advice -he didn't put much hope in it. I think it's an exercise that's more about empowering us vs saving difficult child. A chance for us to be proactive instead of reactive. His strongest advice was to be prepared for the call from jail which he is sure we will get. And is probably the best case scenario because it means he's alive and jail may scare him enough to get help.
     
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Patriotsgirl...for most of us if we lived in a state with legalized pot, these kids could get a script and we wouldnt be having these discussions. I am honestly considering trying to get Cory to move to one if all this stuff with Cory and voc rehab plus the visitation doesnt work out well. Actually Difficult Child has legalized pot so he could move up near Jamie. Hey...maybe that is why the government is whacky...lol!

    I also know plenty of folks who smoke recreationally and work every day. They support their family's and are fine upstanding members of society. As one of them I know says "God put it on the earth, man makes pills and alcohol." But do remember I live around Native Americans.

    As far as the IM AN ADULT AND I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO WHAT I WANT statements. Talk to him about courtesy. Say things about how yes, he is a young adult now but that when he is in your home he needs to give you the courtesy that any other guest in your home would give you. And that he would give to anyone else if he was staying in their home. Unless he was staying in a motel, he would give any host or hostess the courtesy of letting them know if he was going out, if he would be home for dinner, and if he would be home that night. If the host wanted to lock up that night, he would be willing to be in by a certain time so he didnt disturb their sleep.

    If you lay it out like that and tell him you are not trying to control him and that you are not trying to say where he can go but that you just need to know if he will be home for dinner and that you need to have him in the house by x time at night so you can go to sleep. Most times I have found my kids understood better if I explained the why's behind my rules if I didnt just lay them down as "because I said so" when they were adults. Now as to the cars...those were...because I said so...lol.
     
  20. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I have very mixed feelings about legalizing pot or drugs in general. I used to think that was the way to go but after our experience with my son I am not so sure. I don't think pot being legalized would make one bit of difference with my sons drug problem... yes he would probably smoke more pot and maybe do less other things because he would see it as legal and ok.... however I think his drug problem would lead him to looking for the next good high and being legal he would just be into the pot more and more and it would get in the way of him doing anything productive. However I personally see pot as similar to alcohol... some people can do it without a problem, and some people can't. My son definitely can't.

    TL
     
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