New to forum and looking for advice

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Thea Harrison, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama New Member

    I'm new here and so grateful that this space exists!

    Okay here is the background...

    I am a single mother of a 17 year old bi-racial son, his ethnicity matters because it's part of his identity conflict. I am white and his father is Jamaica, he identifies as black and is very much attached to negative imagery that is promulgated by the hip hop culture. He seems to value being a thug. His father re-married when he was 6, he was never an active parent but until 12 he was at least somewhat involved if emotionally absent. His father has 2 other sons that he parents like he means it; something that aggravates my son's sense of abandonment.

    My boy started acting out in grade 8 but always showed signs of difficulty with rule conformity. It started with negative friends, running away when he was mad at me and escalated to violence against me and destruction in the home. By the time he hit grade 9 (high school) he stopped attending and started selling weed. He was arrested for break and enter, that was dropped after he did counselling I arranged as a diversion. I am in law enforcement so I know the criminal justice system and have lots of contacts. Then he got arrested in a ghetto neighbourhood for drug trafficking and possesion of a weapon, an illegal baton. I bailed him out and he resolved these charges through another diversion for young offenders.

    But he is still selling weed and smoking daily. I had him committed to the hospital 2 years ago when he ran away and expressed suicidal ideation. He was diagnosed with conduct disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia. He is medication compliant and the aggression has stopped altogether.

    He has had the same girlfriend for 3 years, a nice girl who is on the honour role and university bound. But she is in my home almost all the time, they stay in his room, smoke weed and have sex.

    Most recently I was hospitalized myself for stress, partly owing to him, but also burn out from being a first responder and post traumatic stress.

    Last week he stole my car, crashed it and wrecked it, he was under the influence. I had to keep this off the books only because my insurance would be cancelled if they found out he stole it. If you have car insurance cancelled you become a high risk, almost impossible to get another carrier. I did not want to protect him from charges but it would have meant I lose insurance and in turn can't do my job. I am the sole bread winner and support my widowed father too, we live together.

    I often wonder if I should kick him out? What is going to be my breaking point? What I've come up with here is that I would be more anxious with him on the street than living as we are...but that balance is harder and harder to negotiate.

    I'm looking for support, guidance, options. I have tried everything and he is 100% defiant. I am no longer physically afraid of him, but that's because I once defended myself when he attacked me and that ended the aggression. I know I am enabling him in some ways, but I fear that kicking him out will only make him more strident in his downward path.

    Anything helps...I'm afraid for him and also concerned his behaviour could cost me my job which would be catastrophic.
  2. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    Welcome...Wow, it all seems crazy! Your stress level cannot be good. You will find honest loving people on this site.

    So your boys girlfriend is a good girl smoking weed and having sex? I'd rethink that one.

    I think you have answered your own questions....what is your breaking point? Your job loss? Him going to Prison? Your health?

    It is hard to protect our children from themselves..but eventually you can't. It seems your son has it all..Mom will bail me out, feed me, allow my girlfriend and I can do drugs. He has no reason to change.

    Maybe it's time he felt some consequence....when he's an adult, what will you do?

    Take care of you, so you can make the decisions you need to..YOU matter.
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  3. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    I agree with Mof. Read my posts on here and the posts of others.

    I too was afraid to kick my son out. Terrified actually. He is used to a nice fluffy bed and all his favorite things in the fridge. Oh and he likes his TV shows and computer games too. But we did. We said rehab or get out. He chose rehab. This was not our first go round either. After rehab we knew he could not come back because we have done that before.

    Nothing changes if nothing changes.

    We had to change. He wasn't going to. He's now in Florida going through the system. Will he get it? I don't know. I hope so but my home is now peaceful.

    He is disrespecting you. She is also but some girls (even smart ones) will do anything for their "man".

    I would suggest seeing a therapist to help you navigate how to handle this situation. We went once and were told that if he can't follow our rules - I typed them up and he laughed and BROKE every single one - then he needed to go.

    It's not how it's supposed to be. It's not what we wanted. But it's what had to happen with him.

    My son is white as snow and smart and has two loving parents and lives in a neighborhood once voted #1 to raise a family so he has no excuses but sure blames us for everything.

    Know that you are NOT alone but you have the right to a peaceful home and your sanity.

    Do you want to be doing this in ten years with him? You will be if you don't change how you are handling him. That is what made me make a move.
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  4. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama New Member

    Thank you for your responses.

    My worry about kicking him out is that he has no *good* friends left. He will end up couch surfing somewhere unsafe. I live in a major city replete with gang violence, and I know this from my work. Perhaps I catastrophize because I know the worst outcomes too well. But conversely, these are still real worries. I just don't know how you get to that place where you are prepared to turn them out and live with the possibilites. And yet, I know that those possibilies still exist with him in my home...I realize that everyone here gets it. I just feel like I'm in a lose/lose situation.
  5. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    They never do have good friends left. Why would young people doing something with their life hang with people like that? My son had nobody worth keeping when he lived with us either. All a bunch of losers.

    I know how you feel. I really do. My son is in Florida since March in a treatment center (this is his third) and my husband is there now to celebrate his 21st birthday with him today. He said he hasn't changed a bit. But my home is peaceful and I thank God every day for that.
  6. so ready to live

    so ready to live Active Member

    Hi Thea. We get it.
    You are to some extent because at times we have to choose between 2 bad things. And you do have to choose. Actually, if you are not choosing-then you have already chosen by default to let it continue.

    Good advice. Many of our sons/daughters have chosen a similar path to your son's and we had to realize that we weren't fixing it, no matter how hard we tried.

    Me too.
    Recently on this forum we had discussion on the fact that we keep trying, because if we don't, we are afraid they will get worse. For you, it seems to have gotten worse despite your help. Surprisingly, many parents, including myself, can honestly say it didn't get worse for our kids when we withdrew our assist, made them take responsibility for themselves, and demanded "our house, our rules" or leave. It was different, but not worse. Was there anxiety about where they were and what they were doing? Oh yes. Lots. But for our house that was still world's better than living within their drama. We didn't realize how bad it was until we were out of it. Our son was making the decisions (although poor ones in our opinion) of a grown man but was enjoying all the benefits of being a dependent child. Only you can decide if that's where you are at this point.
    Keep posting. It will help you to clear your mind. We can only tell our stories, take what you like and leave the rest. I'm so sorry you have to go through this all. Prayers.
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  7. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama New Member

    I really appreciate having this forum to share in.

    Right now I am so exhausted I cannot get a clear thought. I seem to go back and forth in my view of this, one minute I'm so sad all I can do is cry and the next I am so angry I could kick him out on the spot. I feel like I am constantly trying to achieve a balance between giving him the love and empathy he deserves, because after all he is a person and he has to be suffering too...and on the other side I am fed up and tired of feeling walked on. I don't think I am at the point where removing him from home is the path I can go down. I see of course that this outcome makes good sense and might well be where we land. But for now I don't think I can muster up the emotional energy to face what that would look like for me. I know I would be too anxious about the possibilities. Removing him from the home will surely be my last resort, I feel weak in some measure that I can't do that yet. Is this something that others feel too?
  8. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    He is only 17... I am not sure what the legal ramifications would be... Can you even kick a child out of your home? Would you still be legally responsible? It seems like you are in the law enforcement field. Surely there is a chaplain for employees to talk to? I know our community has several that are available.

    I would think that if he has a probation officer you could discuss this with him or her. I wouldn't try to protect him from legal consequences.

    Such a hard thing to go thru. Ksm
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  9. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    Yes...I know how you feel. At times I love my son and see the person he could become...and other times, I don't like him and my resentment builds.

    Eventually you might get to the point...and this is a parent you hit rock bottom...that your own child will choose drugs, prison etc.. over you, they don't seem to care even about themselves..then you might be there.

    We are all feeling parents...people who would never make the choice s they have made.

    Our weaknesses may be our test to make us stronger...I pray we all don't have to make the gut wrenching decisions..but many of them have.

    We are going thru the stages...get support grow stronger and to take care of you.

  10. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama New Member

    Thanks again.

    My son is not bound by any court orders, probation, no involvement with the legal system because he resolved his past charges. When he was on bail for a year he did observe his 9pm curfew religiously. At 17 I am no longer legally responsible for him, that ended at 16 in Canada. But child social services also ends at 16 so any and all programs would require his voluntary consent.

    Right now he has agreed to see a counsellor I know through work; although he slept through the first one on purpose to avoid it. I chose not to engage with him around that because nothing good would come of it. He's now had a few days to reflect with distance from me and he seems amenable to going.

    I feel like 17 is too young to turn him out, not that he can stay at all costs, but his brain is still forming and with mental illness he is at a disadvantage. I agree that my son like others is acting like an autonomous adult while enjoying the priviledges of being a dependant child. It's sometimes hard to know what is him just being a jerk (for lack of a better descriptor) and him acting out his issues related to abandonment and mental illness. Maybe that differentiation doesn't matter so much but I wonder sometimes if I would be so frustrated if I knew or understood completely how his mental illness impacts him. He does of course have his own agency, and he does of course have to own his decisions...but it's tricky to be so sure of what we're addressing here, choice or illness?
  11. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am not familiar with Canada's laws, but I know that you MUST do something. Your son is selling weed and using weed in your home with your full knowledge. You are a law enforcement officer. This is likely a HUGE problem if you work finds out - a much bigger problem than the insurance problem, in my opinion. You very likely could be charged at least as an accessory if your son is caught and uses you as a 'get out of jail free' card. It could go like this: "I can give you a COP who is HELPING me if you let me go." I know that here in the US the cops are held to a higher standard and they are fired and prosecuted with the harshest charges available if they are discovered to be dealing, even in small cities like mine.

    I realize you see your son as a minor, but in your country he just isn't. He is likely earning quite a lot as a dealer and you really are doing NOTHING to discourage him that I can see. You got him off of his prior charges with no consequences. You have not filed anything like a PINS petition (person in need of supervision) to get outside help with him, and you are only pushing him to see a counselor? His behavior is CLEAR proof that he has no intention to change. Very few addicts can truly support themselves and the longer they have financial support from family, the longer they will stay actively using.

    Your son has ALL the comforts of home, no real reason to change his ways, and no incentive to change. He knows you will be enormously embarrassed if his actions are revealed, and that you don't want him to have to suffer in any real way. So you have given him every single card worth anything. The ONLY way you will see change is if YOU change. I think YOU need the therapist more than your son does. His actions actually make sense. With no real threat of consequences, he can do any and every thing he wants, can't he? Mommy will help no matter what, and will provide whatever he wants.

    I am sorry, but mental illness isn't as big a problem as your enabling is. Most employers of any size in the US provide what is called an EAP, an Employee Assistance Program. They provide a few visits with a professional to help figure out what to do about a wide variety of problems. A bank I worked with provided therapists, lawyers, real estate professionals, and about 20 different types of experts to help you figure out any problem with very little expense. Ask your HR people if you have this service, then see if they offer therapists, addiction specialists, and legal help to guide you through this in a more constructive way. Our program, and most others I have encountered, provide 2-4 visits with a professional for EACH problem. Limited visits mean you did have to pay after a while, but you could rephrase or reframe the problem until you met an expert you could work with. I think when my oldest started to have problems I saw 11 different child psychologists until I found one that I thought could get through to my husband AND my son both. It was enormously helpful.

    One key thing about the EAP's I have used are that they are confidential. My employer could get no info other than that I had a problem and used the service. They could not even get the type of professional that I saw unless I chose to tell them. Now maybe a court order could release it, but that wasn't likely to happen.

    Oh, one other thing I have learned about law enforcement is that if you, an officer, are actively trying to stop the problem, you are likely to get support and NOT have your job come after you. But if it comes to light and you cannot show that you have tried to stop it, you WILL end up in big trouble. Here in the US this could mean losing everything you own. If your son ever sold drugs in your home, or even stored his supply or his scale or his baggies in your home, you can lose your home. If he ever transported it in your car, they take your car. Now if YOU take steps to stop it, it isn't a likely outcome in most areas. But esp as a law officer, if you are not taking active steps to stop it, then they will come after you like crazy.

    You don't have to provide anything for your son, as I understand what the law in Canada is. Take away his privileges, the fun stuff. Strip his room of whatever you have given him, esp those things he uses to deal and use with. Take steps so that he cannot use your car. It is pretty easy to remove fuses and replace them, and the car won't work if you remove the right ones. So every time you park it at home, take out the fuses or some other part you can replace quickly. Take the internet away from him by removing your router when you are not at home. Don't just lock it up, he will break down doors to get to it. He has shown that he has no respect for you, hasn't he? STop paying for his phone. He will likely get a burner, but that will be HIS expense. Push counseling and after he has gone for so many sessions AND cooperated during them, let him earn something back (maybe his bedroom door? or something else he likes?). I would NOT, under any circumstances, give him phone or internet access under my dime. Those are things that will further his use and selling of drugs and would be non-negotiable. I would also charge rent at some point, and insist the money come from a JOB and not selling drugs. He would have to show me a pay stub from a job before it would be money that I would touch. If he refused, he could go and get his own place, or at least try and then see how hard that really is.

    Whatever you do, please realize that he could have killed many people by driving under the influence. If you ignore everything else I have said, I am BEGGING you to remove his ability to steal your vehicle. Don't rely on locks, actually disable the vehicle. You have devoted your life to protecting and serving people. Having your son use your car under the influence and cause an accident that kills people will hurt you and cause more PTSD for you than I think you can imagine. It is actually quite easy to remove and replace fuses. A book about the car model, or a search for the "fuse diagram" for your make, model & year of car will give you the location of the fuses and what each fuse does. Then a trip to an auto parts store (or the car section of walmart) and a few dollars will get a fuse kit with a tool to pull them and some replacement fuses. You can pull the one(s) to the ignition and it won't start untiol you replace it. Most people won't even THINK about that when a car won't start, esp a car they want to steal. The tool and the fuses will fit in the glove box or console and no one even will see them. Or you can keep them in your bag or purse so that your son can't grab them and replace them to use the car.

    I think you have to actually DO something soon. Sooner or later your job will catch on, and if you are not working on this in some active way, well, things will go badly regardless of how much people at work like you. I know you want to protect him. maybe if the diversion programs had worked in the past they would be worth trying again. Sadly, I doubt your son learned anything from diversion other than that mom will get him out of whatever trouble he gets into. The accident cover-up likely reinforced this belief in a major way. So it will be super hard to stop him other than to make him go live the life he is wanting to live in your home. I don't know if that will discourage him or not, but what you are doing just isn't working. I am so sorry.

    If I sound unsympathetic, I am sorry. I am sympathetic and I know this hurts you deeply. I just think you and your son are both going to feel some very real consequences of his behavior soon if you don't start to take some serious action. I have had a son who was dangerous and hurting people, to the point I very seriously considered driving into a bridge abutment with him in the car, just to stop him. So I know how hard this is. I got lucky and with help from professionals I got my son back. I want that for you, but it is a very long, difficult and painful road. I can tell you that now, after years of telling me how much he hated me, my son absolutely loves me. He has even thanked me for dragging him down that hideous road and making the sacrifices to bring him to where we are now. So there IS hope, but it takes a lot of hard and painful work to make it come to be.
  12. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    I think what she is saying is you need to have BOUNDARIES in place. This does not mean you don't love him. But, he needs to understand, you can no longer cover up his crimes. So...choices need to be made, if you want to keep y o ur job.

    Yes, 17 is young...yes, his growth will be slow...but he can go to jail just the same.

    Your house rules are will never be able to control him. If he wants to drug, he will....if he doesn't care about sleeping in a shelter to do so...he will end up there anyways.

    No one is ready for t hi s..but I will sYmpathize no means would I allow to be afraid of threatened. I would protect my familybunder all circumstances....and here, they are asking you to protect t he community.

    There are parents who throw everything away to help that one kid...who ends up taking, taking and never gets better. You don't know w the future...but give him the chance to better himself through the rules. He has to know o you have drawn the line......

    Hugs from us..we do get it
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Most shelters throw you out if you try to use drugs, seem intoxicated or wont follow rules. Thats why many addicts prefer sleeping on the streets, in tents and under bridges because they dont like curfews, being straight, or having to folloe shelter protocol. I volunteered at a shrlter and we provided a home cooked church lady meal, mattresses, blsnkets, televisiin, prople to talk to, warm clothes for winter etc. yet many would not cone in because they wanted to use drugs.

    Drugs are aresl curse.
  14. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama New Member

    Susiestar; your response actually made me feel like you need to beat me over the head with it. No I am not a COP, and no my work won't come after me. Rather than go on and on about what you assume I am blind to, why not ask me some questions and learn what I've done/not done in the past etc...
  15. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama New Member

    I've taken a while to read and re-read the messages here.

    I obviously understand all of the potential disastrous outcomes possible. I am surely defensive because I have dedicated my career to protection of the public and I am sick at the risk he is creating for himself and others.

    I don't need to be told all the ways this can go wrong.

    I do need support in figuring out how to empower myself.

    We don't have these person in need of supervision orders here.

    I have nothing to back me up.

    I'm close to being able to realize that he needs to go.

    I'd appreciate support and thoughtful discussion please.
  16. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    I guess I would start with him..Frank discussion about what you. Need to happen. need support on what decision you can live with. Do you have counseling available through work? I believe you would benefit from a good person to work things out with.

    You already know the pain and stress this have to decide that YOU have had enough. You matter and your home deserves to be a sanctuary.

    Stress as you have experienced can affect every aspect of our lives. You deserve your health....

    You are in a trying time..breathe, relax and make a plan..maybe goals..

    Much peace to you...keep posting! We are here!
  17. Go slow mama

    Go slow mama New Member

    Thanks for the responses.

    Here's the update; my newly acquired cleaning lady quit as a result of the stench of weed in the house making her feel ill. This was the one thing I did post-hospital to ease my load. But as humiliated and angry as I was, this forced me to see that I had to stop and really create boundaries. The consequences of his poor choices are impacting me more and more...

    So I laid it down with him, clearly and calmly...I said no more smoking in the house, I cannot obviously control what he does outside the home. And if he chooses to smoke weed in the park as he's done before, he might well get arrested as has happened before. But if so, this is not my problem. I told him I am prepared to take his room door off, that my terms for living with me mean he has to go to school (starts in 2 days), no more skipping and blowing it off, he has to get a job to re-pay me the 6 thousand dollars it cost to fix my car. He has to go see the social worker and start counselling.

    He was calm and far less defensive than normal, I think he knows I am at a new breaking point. He called the social worker to make an appointment. I also took a big step and called his dad, I told him he needs to get involved and back me up, because if I pull the pin, my son has no where to go. So my ex did invite him for dinner and he actually went. They have not seen one another otherwise in over 6 months.

    I am going to make an appointment to see a counsellor I worked with last year, to help me get back on track with boundaries and healthy living.

    I think this is a good start, I have to get my mind around the fact that it might come down to kicking him out. I know everyone here relates to that, I'd appreciate some tips on how to begin letting go without fear, guilt and shame.
  18. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    I don't have any tips...except the old "fake it til you make it". Meaning that even though it doesn't feel comfortable, but logically you know it is right, you just act like you can do it. It's hard...sometimes you just have to jump in and do it. And baby steps...

  19. SMommaof5

    SMommaof5 New Member

    You are a good mom Thea, and strong woman, I can tell. I think its so hard to find the right answer for all of the posts on this site, I am going through a lot of drama, myself between hubs ex and three kids to maintaining a somewhat normal household with our two smaller kids, I just hope and pray that you can find the right advice you seek and things begin to workout better. I have to remind myself constantly. . Everything, no matter good or bad, all happens for a reason. Tough love and self healing will allow you to make the best decision for you and your sons situation.
  20. SMommaof5

    SMommaof5 New Member

    Well apparently I missed the update. Sounds like your off to a great start in taking back control. You go girl!!