New here--Long story--Need an approach

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by sheepdoglover, May 10, 2011.

  1. Hello, I'm new here. And completely worn out. I took a klonopin at 6:30 a.m. this morning if that tells you how I'm feeling. My difficult child is 14.5 in 8th grade. He has been difficult since age 2. Episodic course--there have been pretty good years and then bad years. 6th grade year, he was suspended for 6 weeks, became violent in the home, and was hospitalized for 8 days. However, there have been other times, he has done just fine---no behavioral problems. at school, good grades.

    He has been diagnosed with depression, ADHD and ODD (not officially but referred to as such). This year, the entire school year, he refused to do any homework at home. School has bent over backward to enable him to do it at school--they have taken away electives and foreign language and the Special Education people do backflips to help him.

    However, in November he quit taking his antidepressant and things went south from there. As of a month ago, he was failing 3 out of his 4 core subjects and not on track to graduate. Mind you, he does not have learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities. His IQ is above average in some areas and superior in others. All the teachers like him. He seems to be able to get alone well with adults at school. They feel he has a lot of promise, etc. etc.

    At home, he does exactly nothing. He has no respect for me. He cuts me down constantly and tells me I haven't done anything in 15 years (because I left the law to become a stay at home mother). Nothing could be further from the truth as I have another handicapped child, my husband has travelled extensively, I have done volunteer work on a routine basis, etc. He tells me I am "weak," and "a terrible parent."

    Because my husband was away so much (worked in California for 4.5 years), we became "enmeshed" I guess you would say. I enabled his "king of the Roost" behavior by not requiring any chores, or really anything of him. I brought him his food, picked up after him, ran interference for him at the schools.

    So, what do I have now? A very rude, disrespectful, defiant, and academically poor performing child. I wish I had worked and gotten a nanny.

    We have several experts--family therapist, psychiatrist, school social worker, ed consultant. They all seem to be of the mindset that we should be "talking" and "working our issues out." No one talks about rules and consequences.

    It seems to me we HAVE to have rules and consequences to obtain our rightful power over him. I am contemplating making out a rule sheet with consequences attached to breaking them, and always following through. I have done this in the past, but haven't had the support of my husband or experts.

    What do you all think of this problem solving stuff, i.e. Ross Greene. He is fairly emotionally controlled. Occasionally, he loses it and threatens me, but overall, he is rather stable mood wise--I would say dysthymic. So, we are not dealing with a thrashing, crying, violent kid. He simply feels he is superior to the adults around him and will not obey what they say, period. Because they are weaker and stupider than he is and he can do what he wants.

    HELP!!!! Sorry for the long post. Can anybody recommend a book, a simple paradigm we can follow that will allow us to take back our power?
  2. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome--

    My husband and I attended a parenting class called "The Parent Project"

    It's designed to help parents gain control over unruly teens.

    We felt it was a good program for typical kids - but not enough for our difficult child who has multiple diagnoses...
  3. Thank you. I will look this up. I'm sorry you are going through so much with your difficult child.
  4. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    Sounds exactly like my daughter only add in a drug problem. Welcome - wish I had advice for you. We never found anything that worked and she no longer lives here.
    It really struck me when you said he has had good and bad years. I recognize the same with mine. We had some really great years and we had some really bad ones...but it was always - ever since she was a toddler...
  5. Unfortunately, drugs have just entered the picture. He has been occasionally smoking pot, and clearly likes it. We caught him once downtown high and grounded him. But guess what? He walked right out the door on the days he was grounded! He just doesn't think we have a right to restrict him and says "everybody smokes pot." We feel so powerless.

    It's strange how he is neither here nor there. He is not so impaired that we have multiple hospitalizations, Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s, etc. but is also not normal and therefore has trouble with peer group (other parents don't like him) and problems with school achievement. So, he's not going anywhere except community college if he's lucky. Such a shame.
  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You sound like you desperately NEED the book "parenting Teens with Love and Logic". in my opinion this is the best parenting book out there. It stresses using natural and logical consequences while strengthening the loving bond between parent and child. We found it very empowering. You can check it out, and the other love and logic books, at

    If you can afford one of their seminars, GO. I did a one day seminar with friend and it was amazing. One technique that Dr. Fay Sr talked about was to give the teen a chore. It must be done. Teen won't do it? You get someone in to do it for X amt of money. Teen is told, while person is working, that when they are done they will expect to be paid X amt and teen needs to pay it. If teen leaves/won't pay/doesn't have the money? Parent pays and then pawns the teen's game system, stereo, whatever. Teen is given the pawn ticket and it is explained that he had this expense that had to be paid so his xbox was pawned to pay for it. teen can earn money to redeem the pawn ticket and get it back if he wants.

    It is left there for teen to solve. If teen takes something of parents and pawns it? POlice are called and charges are pressed. THAT is stealing. What parent did is NOT stealing because they are the parent and have legal ownership over all of teen's possessions. Just don't back down.

    ANY time you find drugs you MUST call the cops. don't play, don't make it easy. It doesn't matter if everyone does it - it is illegal. Make it clear that you are NOT playing games.

    You can also remove everything from his possession/room. Strip it to what you are legally bound to provide - meaning mattress on the floor with sheets and a blanket and pillow, a light in the room, and seven outfits. NOT ones that HE wants, ones that you choose for him. ONE pair of shoes. Take the music, books, toys, gadgets, computer, etc.... and lock them ALL up. He can have them when he earns them with good behavior. I suggest the L&L approach first, and reading the book first. But stripping his room is an option. As a minor he does NOT own ANYTHING. YOU own EVERYTHING regardless of if he paid for it or not. He has NO legal rights to it as he is NOt able to enter a contract legally. Doesn't matter if he argues.

    If/when he damages property, call the police and report it. ditto leaving with-o permission. Mostly they own't do much for a while, but eventually they WILL. If you don't stop this it is going to get much much worse very fast. esp now that drugs have entered the picture.

    Also PLEASE go to narcanon or alanon meetings. Either is acceptable in most places and you will get a lot of support and info and ideas. And stick around here!
  7. Thank you. I believe I even have that book. I am going to go get it and read it. So many books. So many conflicting approaches and my head is always spinning. This is so hard. I appreciate the advice. I am definitely sticking around.
  8. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wanted to add another book recommendation: "Yes Your Teen is Crazy" by Michael Bradley.

    It's more geared towards "typical teens," but has some chapters about troubled teens as well. Dr. Bradley has a great sense of humor, which to me, is one of the most important parts of raising a difficult child.. to maintain your sense of humor even in the worst situations! He also gives solid, practical advice.
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure, to be honest, that at the age of 15 you are going to "take back power" over your son. I think he is more likely to be driven underground or over the wall by such hardline tactics. Others will disagree! But my own take is that you are more likely to have success with a collaborative approach in which you engage his respect and in which it becomes clear that you the parents are equally deserving of respect. A two-way thing. It's much harder than the laying down the law approach, I suspect - much more demanding of parental imagination, effort and creativity. Time too. My son is only four and I honestly find nothing works well with him other than a collaborative approach. Sometimes when he is starting to go into a meltdown (happened tonight!) I say to him, "J, slow down, calm down, can we talk about this?" Then I talk to him about the problem and the possible solutions, in language geared to him, and believe it or not he calms down and becomes reasonable. I would have thought that at 15 your son is just that much more capable of collaborative problem solving. I would recommend "The Explosive Child" (which sounds rather as though it's pulling in the opposite direction from "Love and Logic", which I haven't read - just to make your life easier!) The chores thing - definitely your son has to pull his weight, but surely this can be achieved by some more subtle approach? I would be honest with him! Tell him you were too soft in the past, that was a mistake you made, by now the mistake should be put right and what does he think about it? Fifteen - and a smart fifteen - is going to want to be a partner in dialogue. You are not going to be able to use some hammer technique with him.
    Them's me views!
  10. Thank you all. Yes, Ross Greene and the Parenting with Love and Logic do seem to be divergent approaches. I have both books. Our family therapist, school social worker, and former psychologist are all of the Ross Greene mindset. To us it just seems a little "soft," and ineffective. Our instinct is to set boundaries. But I am going to read both and give this a lot of serious consideration. And then stick to whatever it is we decide to do. Thanks again.
  11. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    In our experience, the approach you take needs to be geared to where this young person is coming from (as opposed to, geared toward where you think he is going...)

    For some, rule-books, rewards and punishments work.
    For others (like ours), these are counter-productive.

    I had two brothers... both were handfuls (I wasn't, of course <wink>). The first approach worked with one, and did not work at all with the other...

    We know, for example, that we're working with an "uneven developmental delay" situation - 4 going on 40 (literally... sometimes so mature he blows people away, and other times extremely immature). We had to move away from rules and punishments and rewards, because they were not working... even had to drop the lectures. What works for us may not work for most other people - we agreed on three basic principles to live by (for the whole family). If anyone has an issue about something, the first question is... which principle is being violated (ask the violatee)? (sometimes, none - its just :censored2:ing, in which case, the discussion ends). The second question is to ask the violator to describe an alternative approach to whatever is being done, that doesn't violate our principles... they get creative, but as long as it meets the principles, its fine. Then, the two involved have to agree on a resolution - often, an apology is all that's needed. Something broken gets fixed or replaced when possible, etc. In 2 months, we've dropped everyone's stress levels by more than half... This approach is closer to "The Explosive Child" approach - and ours seems to match the profile given in that book (list of unmet needs has a high hit-rate here!)

    If yours doesn't match the apparent "profile" of the case studies being presented, then the approach may not be right for the situation... If you can read your situation into the book, then go for it.