People new to the situation…

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Ehlena, Apr 13, 2011.

  1. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Sometimes I want to just hand difficult child over to them for a week, and THEN they can be allowed to make suggestions.

    difficult child is at a level 12 group home and is unfortunately on the edge of being kicked out and placed in a level 14. The home is fairly new, and just installed its own counselor. I’m sorry, but this guy is a PUTZ. He called husband last night, WITH difficult child in the room, to try and persuade husband to give difficult child’s guitar back to him. Is it just me, or is this really unprofessional?

    Ahhh…the guitar. difficult child loves his guitar and is convinced he is going to be a rock star (so he doesn’t do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g in school except misbehave because he doesn’t need school and is “way smarter than all those kids anyways”).

    After a while, no carrot or stick seemed to get through to him except the guitar. Lots of money? No effect. Video games? No effect. Outings? No effect. So the group home director started using the guitar. You get it taken away if you do xyz for a set amount of time. You get this many hours with it when you exhibit x amount of good behaviors. Well it sort of not really worked for maybe a week or two. difficult child had a few epic meltdowns and since the director had it written into difficult child’s behavioral contract, the guitar was removed to our home. difficult child can play a little when he’s visiting us, but that’s it.

    Apparently, in spite of repeated warnings, in spite of the extremely clear behavioral contract, difficult child thinks the guitar was taken from him in a “really unfair” manner. And since the counselor only got difficult child’s side of the story (and difficult child has become very manipulative – pretty much tells everyone different stories depending on what he thinks will get him what he wants), he believed him and was treating husband like HE was being unreasonable, all in front of difficult child. Great. The last thing difficult child needs is for someone to support his ideas. It wasn’t even husband’s decision to take the guitar away!

    I am so tired of my husband being treated like the villain because difficult child makes him into the bad guy. My husband has had to endure multiple false abuse allegations, being arrested due to one of them, paying bail, going through the court system, difficult child calling him names and being aggressive towards him, being treated like a pariah by people who have believed difficult child’s stories – and through all this he has been there for difficult child, constantly supporting him, trying to make sure he got the best schooling, that he was being treated fairly, trying to get him the appropriate treatment and services.

    I am sick of it! I love difficult child, but I am tired of him using my husband as a punching bag. I am so disgusted with his behavior. And I hate that every time I see difficult child, that all sort of melts away and I can’t seem to stop from being nice to him because I do love him. He just doesn’t deserve it.

    I really wish he would just be allowed to go and live with his mom – which is what started this whole thing – but she just can’t get her sh!t together and is borderline incestuous-inappropriate with him. It’s disgusting.

    I have tried everything to the fullest of my abilities, as has my husband, as has difficult child’s social worker, his CASA worker, his teachers, his principals, the group home director…the only one who won’t try is difficult child. I am sick of people new to the situation suggesting things like THEY KNOW BETTER.
  2. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Welcome - I am glad you found us, and sorry you had to...

    If his bio is an addict, and has been inappropriate with him - NO, NO, NO! My husband has custody - full, legal, 100% - of his two kids thanks to a situation of abuse. When I met them, he saw them 5 total days out of every 28. I love these two with all my heart - though I do understand, very, very well, about wanting a child to "just go away" for a while.

    And yes, the psychiatrists and tdocs and RTCs and juvenile justice ALL know better. About 2 months ago we had a counselor tell us that Onyxx had signed a contract not to hurt anyone or herself, so everything was OK. REALLY. That was the last straw with that counselor, and guess what? 2 days later I found Onyxx's cop in shreds in the garbage. Yeah. I'm SURE everything was OK.

    Yeah... It does. It's not easy. Plus, you're walking on eggshells not to set him off.

    You don't know what bio has said to him about your husband. Plus - with alcohol/drugs - if she did these while pregnant, there is a whole other set of issues you may be looking at. Plus - the borderline incestuous contact - that is trauma right there.

    Couple of questions - how long have you been with husband? Married? How long has he had custody of difficult child? Are husband & bio divorced, or never married...? Has difficult child ever acted out against you? Besides ADHD, has he been diagnosis'd with anything else?

    I (and others who will be along) highly recommend "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. I rolled my eyes at first, but read it anyway - and the first 15 pages went by in a blue as I was hooked, seeing Onyxx on every page. Some of it helped, some didn't. Some helped ME see things differently, and thus react differently.


  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Are you the stepmother? Forgive me, but I'm a little confused.

    Was this child exposed to drugs or alcohol when his bio. mom was pregnant? She sounds like a real (cough, cough) winner.
  4. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Thanks for the book recommendation, StepTo2, but I've read it and though it helped for a while, and still helps to de-escalate when difficult child is ready to really ramp things up, it hasn't stopped us from getting into this mess. I have a whole shelf of these books at home... I've been with husband for five years, married for two. We had custody of difficult child for two years (he lived with husband's father before this), and it's been one and a half years since difficult child was removed from our home. He's been in our neighborhood, though, so we see him often and are highly involved with his school, social worker, and the group home director.

    Yes, he was exposed to drugs in utero and through breast-feeding. husband and bio were never married and only dated a short amount of time. Yes, difficult child has acted out against me. I stepped back from discipline since I honestly couldn't handle the backlash anymore. Even handing out rewards...difficult child would insist that he deserved more, and then...cue meltdown. Unfortunately, he was steadily improving in our care until his mom decided she wanted to be a part of his life. He was getting A's and B's and was in an honors english class because of his abilities. I'd enjoyed a close relationship with difficult child up until this point. difficult child adores his mother, thinks she can do no wrong, and has said that he will do "whatever it takes" to go and live with her. That involved him and her coming up with this "plan" to accuse my husband of abuse. Fortunately, his admission of this is a part of the case file. I know the sorts of things she's said to difficult child - that husband doesn't care about him, that husband only thinks of himself, that he is being treated unfairly by husband, that husband is abusive, etc. Also said nasty things about me. All of her contact with difficult child is now closely supervised. Even though their "plan" didn't work and difficult child was never released to her care, difficult child is extremely focused on getting back with his mother. He doesn't hear anything else and will not consider coming back to live with us. He thinks the social worker is a b!tch because she won't let him go live with his mom. Forgot to mention that his bio is diagnosed narcissistic personality disorder.

    He had a full psychiatric evaluation about a year and a half ago that skirted around any definitive diagnoses. Said that he had disruptive behavior disorder, avoidant attachment style but not to the level of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), borderline but not diagnosed with schizoaffective. Also mentioned that he had below-average processing speed. His behaviors have become increasingly worse since that time.

    I don't know what else to do. He had to be taken off medication because of interactions with alcohol and marijuana, and he has to test clean a certain number of times before they can put him back on anything. He has a major incident at school about 1/week. He has been kicked out of one school, and they are moving to expel in this one. He's been suspended about as many days as he's been present. There are multiple interventions in place at school, and he has had an IEP since the fifth grade. He has a couple misdemeanor tickets (possession and petty theft), and vandalized a neighbor's house...not sure if they pressed charges, I'd have to ask. I don't know what will help him anymore, especially since he doesn't seem to want help. I've even asked what I can do to help him, and his reply is "Unless you can help me get back to living with my mom, you can't help."
  5. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Oh sweetie... I am sending you LOTS more hugs... because I know exactly what that feels like! (And it sounds like his bio is somehow related to my kids' bio...)

    How are visits with bio scheduled? Overnights, supervised...? And, yes, you do know the sorts of things she has said. The fact that everything was going fairly well until she got re-involved speaks to me. It might not be, but with my situation... With the child cruelty and addiction, it would be better if visits were supervised, but knowing the system... Yeah.

    ...You said he's had a full psychiatric evaluation - has he had a neuropsychologist evaluation? The reason I ask is this - my Jett has been diagnosis'd with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). I'm not sure there, I'd lean more toward Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE), but still. He is a sweet kid, but behind socially and developmentally. Onyxx? Whew. She can be such a love, but I'd lay really good odds she should also be Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE) - and the PTSD? No joke. She's seen some awful stuff, and had awful stuff done to her. While this is no excuse for her behavior, it does help me to understand - a bit.
  6. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    We've discussed a full neuropsychologist evaluation, and I'll be bringing it up with the social worker at our next meeting. We just can't seem to get him stabilized. His behavior just keeps getting worse.

    Visits with his bio are closely supervised. Phone calls must be supervised, and the person who is supervising must be in the same room at all times. The other people involved in our case have pretty much had it with her. The social worker apparently can't even talk to her, because she can't get the bio to understand that this is about difficult child not her. So bio just ends up yelling at the social worker. She will not discipline difficult child at all, and lets him talk about all sorts of inappropriate things (drugs, racist remarks, excessive swearing, detailed threats about killing his caretakers).

    Although the social worker has, in the past, encouraged us towards reunification, she's told us that she doesn't want to set us up for failure - and she can see that difficult child would just act up more severely if returned to our care right now. He's behaving ok right now at our visits - though we've endured a couple of meltdowns. Honestly I can't see taking him back right now. I hate to say it, but I am afraid of him. I used to lock our bedroom door at night (we installed a lock after he was caught taking things from our room) because I was genuinely afraid he might try something. I have this horrible thought that if he got it in his head that killing his dad and I would get him back with his mom, he'd do it. One of the things in his psychiatric evaluation was his elaborate violent fantasies.

    He used to be such a sweet kid. His fifth grade teacher told us that she wished every kid in her class were like difficult child. I still have the little arts and crafts things he made for me in my cubicle. I still see glimpses of that kid sometimes.
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    That kid is still there...

    There's more going on in his head than any of us know - even difficult child. More than once I've wished I had a magic wand... I'd send it through cyberspace over to you.
  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    What a mess! And it is not of your making, or your husband's.

    The book does help, but it is not a cure. All it does it help you make it as better as possible under the difficult circumstances. But you have other factors constantly undermining here.

    You say visits with biomom are closely supervised. Who by? The same idiot who rang husband about the guitar with difficult child in the room?

    That does not sound like close enough or appropriate supervision to me. I'd be using this to permanently oppose her contact with him at all. Given the pst inappropriate behaviour with him, allowing him to see her AT ALL is allowing the abuse to not heal. How can he heal if he is repeatedly fed dreams of sexual love with his mother?

    He is one very confused and lost kid. I've dealt with narcissists. Not easy. And they are very manipulative.

    if he is currently unmedicated for the ADHD, music may be the only thing keeping him on the level. If his focus on the guitar is too obsessive, then why not suggest to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) that they direct him to a different form of musical expression in the meantime, until he can earn back the access to his guitar? The "I am God's gift to music" attitude could also be the sign of narcissism, either induced by his mother, or tendency inherited. it is treatable now, if the system allows (including him).

    But he cannot be treated until he is in a place where he can see he needs treatment. And continuing contact with biomom is directly preventing this. It is not in her interests for him to be well.

    Welcome to the site. You are not the only step-parent here.

  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sending you lots and lots of hugs and support right now!!!! This is such a hard situation for you and husband. Esp with husband having had to endure the false charges, court, etc... and all he ever did was work to be a good father - the best father he could for his son!!!!!

    in my opinion biomom should be shot. I am sure that would cause problems too because he would canonize her, but at least she couldn't dream up more plans.

    It sounds like you are doing all you can/could. I would NOT agree to reunification as a goal. It just isn't safe.

    I wish we could give you some magic answer or wand and it would fix things and the good things would stay but the bad would be replaced with more good.
  10. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    It would be so nice if there were actually a magic wand!

    The group home workers are supervising the visits, sometimes the social worker does it. They shut it down if difficult child goes too far, and have cut a visit short, but I think they're giving her the chance to correct difficult child's behavior, and she doesn't, and that goes in the notes. I think they're trying to give her enough rope to hang herself with. She has just recently signed away her parental rights to her youngest. I know the social worker is giving the visitation supervisors a lot of direction so they can make sure the inappropriate stuff doesn't go too far.

    The next court date is in May, and they will be recommending to terminate reunification with bio-mom. She will contest it, so we'll see what happens at the contested hearing.

    She lives a an hour away, so I can almost guarantee you that she won't be coming out to visit difficult child anymore once they stop paying for her to do so. She has a hard time holding down a job and hasn't had a driver's license in forever.

    I am worried because I feel like difficult child is showing some narcissistic tendencies. He will talk on and on about himself, and not in a normal way. He makes up stories where he is doing something with another kid, and it turns out he's better than the other kid, even though the other kid is older and/or has been doing it for longer. He's told me two variations of this story and has told the social worker a variation of this story as well. When the three of us are doing something together, he will often talk about how he's better than husband and I. How do you combat this? We've been told to try to boost his self-esteem, but now I feel like it's gone too far in the other direction! His sense of empathy is definitely broken. It is impossible to get him to understand how his actions may have made others feel - believe me, I've tried and tried. His defense is always "well so-and-so is a loser/b!tch/jerk" or even "nobody would care if he/she died".

    I'd like to think that when his mom disappears from his life again (and with this lady, it's a when, not if), he'll start getting better, but I think he's going to have an epic-style meltdown.

    I like the idea of different musical expression. Any suggestions? He won't sing, I know that.

    And how do you get someone to the point of realizing that they need help and treatment? Right now all these people in difficult child's life who are trying to help, he sees as just interfering and keeping him from his mom. I'm not sure how to get through to him. And whenever you feel like you do get through to him, it's gone an hour later. I think he's learned to just say what you want to hear. This is the largest block for difficult child. He's a smart kid, and I know there's a core to him that's very kind, generous, and thoughtful - I've seen it before. I know he's unhappy on the path he's been traveling. If we could just get him to accept help, there is A TON of it ready and waiting.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    While his mom is in his life, he is patterning himself on her, emulating her behaviour. Hero worship. It is possible the narcissism you see is merely him copying; or it could be more. But he's still "not cooked" yet, there is time.

    With getting through to him - I speak form experience with difficult child 3, he needs his medications or nothing will sink in. His ability to even think or mentally multi-task will be minimal.

    Musical alternatives - piano. Or a computer software package that allows him to sample sounds and put them together into a new composition. Or some other instrument such as flute or recorder. Suggest to him that strings is good, but to be a well-rounded musician he needs to UNDERSTAND music and how it fits together. There are some good music software packages. But if you don't want him near a computer, I suggest flute. He would have to learn fingering, patience (in getting the sound right) and would not be able to sing along. Learning flute fingering would also open doors to other woodwind instruments.

    If computer access is OK, then a computer package that allows sampling would be interesting for him to work with. Samples of crowd noise for example, mixed with samples of trains, buses etc could be put to a rhythm and be developed as a sort of "beat of the city". It would also make him listen to the world around him and how it sounds, which could begin to help combat the narcissism.

  12. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    taking away the guitar is Plan A , using extrinsic motivation and according to the explosive child-cps approach that won't teach the missing skills and in many cases will just add more stress , the kid feeling adults are being unfair , not interested in his concerns or understand him , just interested in manipulating him and using privileges etc as leverage. many RTCs still use behavior modification , levels etc , it is easier , you feel you are doing something , ' doing to the kid . in the short term you might be able to make the kid look good , but it does not last long. Instead we should be working with the kid, building trust so he sees us a help , mentor etc and using plan B , work on his lacking skills in the context of unsolved problems..plan b is a process , not a technique , takes time and many plan B experiences. We should be looking at various situations in great detail and start working on ' unsolved problems'.

  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Ehlena, despite his uncharacteristically bad punctuation (Allan, what's up? New specs? You're generally spot on) Allan's words are highly valued. He's got a keen feel for what kids need and keeps well up with his reading on a wide range of difficult child-related topics.

  14. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    Marguerite, I’ll talk to my husband about the music thing. I do have an ocarina that’s here at our house that difficult child liked – I bought it for him in Costa Rica. I’ll work with difficult child’s flexibility in this area. I can tell you already that he will be resistant to trying another musical instrument. I think I may be able to get him to give it a go. Unfortunately he cannot have access to the computer until he is on a certain level. He did have a very nice electronic keyboard, but we don’t know what happened to it or what he did with it, and I suspect he may have sold it for money for marijuana. We have loaned a lot of things to him that we now expect we will never see again (laptop, video games, movies, etc.). difficult child always has an excuse when we ask for them back.

    Allan – I definitely see what you’re getting at (in spite of the punctuation ;) ). Extrinsic rewards only go so far. difficult child definitely loses interest after a short period of time. It has never been a long-term solution. husband and I both have a good relationship with difficult child, though I think there is still a part of him that thinks we are trying to keep him from his mother. I think difficult child loves and trusts us both, but we just can’t compare to his mom. husband is really good with Plan B-ing difficult child, but there are a couple things that this just doesn’t work on. One is with homework and school. I used to be able to coax difficult child into doing his homework with compromises on when and how and where it was completed, and it was absolutely FINE. A lot of one-on-one attention, but it worked. Small moments of frustration but no meltdowns. Right now difficult child won’t hear it. I think part of it is that he simply can’t do it. Too much frustration. This is a kid who really needs to be on some sort of medication. The other part is that he is now close to two years behind in school. He’s drowning. Better to just say he doesn’t care about it, right?

    The other thing that it won’t work on is living anywhere other than with his mother. difficult child won’t hear it, and if you even brush against the subject, he shuts down. I’ve built a lot of trust with difficult child over the years – before his mom came back into the picture, we were close. I just don’t know what to do with that anymore. He won’t say he loves me back anymore, but I know he still does. If I tried to mention him coming back to live with us, or that living with his mom wasn’t an option – bam! I would lose my status with difficult child. husband has told him that he wouldn’t ever be going to live with his mom, and look where that got my husband!

    We’ve been doing little things at home to work on his skills in following directions, reading and understanding written directions, knowing when you’re finished doing something and how to do a good job with it. I’ve been seeing some improvement in those areas – we don’t want him to grow up and not have any skills. It’s really sad how far we’ve had to lower expectations. We used to have money saved up for him going to college. Now he insists he doesn’t want to (he used to be excited about it). My husband just mostly wants him to be able to get a job and live on his own. Right now he’s just aiming for difficult child not to end up on the streets or in jail.

    I think difficult child is definitely emulating his mother. Me, my husband, and the social worker all came to this conclusion independently. The drugs, the acting out, the drinking…he used to hate that stuff! He’d tell me how he wished his mom wouldn’t do those things and I’d comfort him. I think he just wants to be close to her now, in whatever way possible. She comes in and out of his life like a whirlwind, making grand promises, large gestures that were more best-buddy than parental, and then disappearing again. I think he just wants her to stay. Right now, with the courts having her under a microscope, she's been staying in his life. I think part of difficult child feels that if he stops misbehaving, if he comes home, he loses her all over again.
  15. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Honestly? This one sentence says it all. A few years back (before July 2007), Onyxx would cause some kind of problem every weekend. If we did anything about it (ANY kind of consequence, call to the cops, even a report on the court-ordered website to BM), BM would make a big deal out of how obviously we were unable to handle a "spirited child", husband should walk away (or "man up"), or there would be an attempt at a protective order against husband. When we did nothing about it (we found out later), Onyxx would get into trouble with her. I know what Onyxx has said - allegedly BM beat her, usually with brushes, but occasionally with fists - and this goes along with the bruises I saw, and things that Jett has let slip since Onyxx stopped visiting her - but I wasn't there, I don't actually know. I do know that the next weekend after we had an online "discussion" with BM, Onyxx would come to our house with new clothes, jewelry, makeup - and later she told me she was rewarded for causing trouble.

    Onyxx asked me - about a year ago I think - why BM did not love her. I told her that people sometimes don't know how to love, and I was sure BM did love her but maybe didn't know how to show it. And then my little girl told me that she used to come up with things to do to upset me and husband, because she wanted BM to love her.

    It's a similar thing. Poor kid wants Mom to love him, more than the drugs/alcohol. There is a light, though - if the courts let up on her, and she stops? And he isn't living in your home? He will see that it is not you and your husband, but her. Prepare for it to take a while, though.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Any area where Plan B does not work, is an area that has to become Plan C for now. That's how Plan B is supposed to work. You also need to dig to find out why it's not working for those things. Sometimes it is an inability. Sometimes the alternative pressures are just too great. For example, homework - especially with someone with ADHD, they have to put in such a vsdt amount of effort to get the same result as the next kid who does not have ADHD, that school becomes disheartening and mentally exhausting. Then at the end of their school day, they have to come home and do more! if they are on medications, chances are their medications are wearing off by then, so suddenly it is a LOT harder than it already was during the day. Over time they build up a conditioned response and get into the habit of being oppositional about it. And that is what oppositionality is - a habit. But a hard one to break.

    Step, you have some brilliant personal insight into this thanks to Onyxx.

  17. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    Marg ,
    Thanks for the input on punctuation. I try to put everything i say into one sentence.

    Here are some thoughts

    bio mom - I think the social worker as an impartial party should be the one who is seen to be making the decisions
    she could use Plan b to find out his concerns - living with bio mom is one solution to his concerns. What are his concerns ? Once we have good quality concerns we can work on solutions which are mutually satisfactory. In discussions I try not to say yes/ or no - ' I am not saying ' No ' does not mean I am saying yes , it means further discussion , and maybe a solutions which addresses his concerns and yours.

    Homework / academic goals and vision for the future

    I think we need to have a discussion about his vision and goals. For a moment forget the present difficulties and try and focus on what you want for yourself. We can't create a vision if we are stuck in the present. Then lets see how we can get there.
    Plan B on homework will help us find out what is getting in his way , his concerns etc . Procedures are great but we need to tie them to his concerns.Buddy-tutors , peer mentors help also here.

    Mentors - I really believe in ' personal coaching ' for teens , or at least having someone who the kid admires and trusts. As parents we are pretty limited by the emotional baggage

  18. Mamaof5

    Mamaof5 Guest

    If you are going with computer software like Marg suggested may I recommend Mix Vibes 7 (or 5), even Mix Vibes Cross will do. He can take MP3s and mix his own music. My husband uses the MV7 which also has video capabilities (you can mix music videos!!). It has sampling boards built in, cross fading and a whack load of really cool features. It's only 50 USD for the program too!!

    A nice small investment for a rather cool outlet for him. If he wanted a tutor for the program I'd be happy to run it by my husband and somehow we can get him tutoring him in deejaying and mixing if he really wants to get into it. It's what my husband does for a living..

    I'm sorry you had to find us but I'm glad we're here to help how we can. You are not alone.
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Mo5, computer access is out for him for now. But it's a good thought hopefully, if he gets his act together enough to earn back computer privileges. In the meantime - the ocarina may be too simple for him (too far 'beneath him') but one good aspect of it would be its fragility. He would have to protect it from damage, like protecting an egg. He may need something with more complex fingering, more universal fingering. For example, I learned to play a recorder in school when I was 8, and was delighted to discover that the same principles applied to other instruments. Developing musical versatility can increase a person's confidence as a musician. Also, encouraging him to compose his on tunes and write them down would be a good thing. A brilliant musician can write new music without an instrument in front of him - my cousin at age 15 apparently could write orchestral score, just sitting at the table with the manuscript in front of him. But before you can write for a range of instruments, you need to have an understanding of those instruments. If he believes himself to be a brilliant musician, then he needs to develop his skills to the highest degree, and diversify in order to become even better on his chosen instrument. That's the line to use on him, anyway. Find out which performers he values, and YOU research them and their development. See if you can find something positive in them for him to emulate.

  20. Ehlena

    Ehlena New Member

    I probably should have been more clear on the homework. He used to do his homework, but after he was removed from our home, he started phasing this out – doing less and less. At first everyone was very much “Poor difficult child! Abused by his father!” so they let a lot of things slide. He got a lot of attention, a lot of presents (I cringe when I think back on it – yep reward him for this monumental lie). Once the truth started to come out, focus came back to his schooling. Since it was nearly impossible to get him to do it at this point, homework was tabled and difficult child was told to at least do his classwork. husband and I did NOT agree with this, but at that point in time, CPS was still convinced that husband was just inflexible, and he was not included in this discussion. difficult child did his classwork for a little while and still scored well on tests (like I said, smart kid…). Then he stopped doing his classwork.

    You get the idea. He’s at the point where he is doing absolutely nothing in class, not even test-taking. He will often just put his head down and sleep in class. The teachers have tried not allowing him to do this, but as soon as they try to enforce discipline with difficult child, he becomes a disciplinary problem. Right now, in order to teach the rest of the class, they are allowing him to do nothing, as long as he is not a disruption. We are currently looking into charter schools with a smaller student to teacher ratio, since difficult child is on his last leg at this school. The only discipline the administration can enforce with difficult child is suspension. difficult child refuses to attend detention or in-school suspension (jumps the fence, walks away, goes AWOL).

    We’ve had a lot of discussion with difficult child concerning his classwork, grades, behavior, etc. It always ends in one of two ways. We THINK we’ve got his buy-in and difficult child says he’s going to try xyz. Five minutes later it’s as if we never had the conversation – essentially he says what we want to hear in order to get us to stop talking. The other way is that difficult child turns it back around to going to live with his mom. “What can we do to help get you motivated, difficult child?” “You can help me get to living with my mom.” “I understand you want to go and live with your mom, and I know you miss her, but that’s not up to us. Can you think of anything else?” “No.” Paraphrased, but this is the general direction.

    The social worker is really great, and she’s spent a lot of time with difficult child to try and figure out what he wants, needs, and what makes him tick. difficult child used to really like her. She is very honest with difficult child on what is going on case-wise, and why he is not being released to his mother’s care. Despite ongoing conversations on the matter and very clear explanations on what bio-mom has to accomplish, and what she hasn’t done, difficult child is convinced that the social worker is trying to control his life, and that she is a b!tch. He is behaving better with us now that the you-can’t-go-to-live-with-your-mom pressure is off, which is nice.

    difficult child has a CASA worker that he really likes. The guy is great – upstanding citizen, sympathizes with difficult child’s needs, plays guitar. Despite this, he hasn’t been able to get any buy-in from difficult child yet. Peer tutors and mentors have been tried. Again, used to be helpful, but difficult child now seems bent on antagonizing them. Tried a college-student aged tutor as well, but difficult child refused to meet with her.

    I like the idea of researching his favorite band and seeing if I can find anything positive for difficult child to emulate. difficult child has only one band that he’s very into, and those are mostly the only songs he’s learned, with a couple of others that bio-mom said she wanted him to play for her.

    I talked to him yesterday about learning other instruments and musical disciplines, and though he agreed with me, I could tell that he wasn’t hearing what I was saying. I’ll try again later.

    difficult child’s biggest concern right now, that he reiterates over and over is that he is “trying to get back with his family” and he can’t concentrate on anything else until that’s resolved. Unfortunately, by family, he means only his mother. I also highly suspect that this is an excuse that he overheard from an adult, as I heard almost the exact same thing, word for word, from his former principal’s mouth. difficult child had convinced her that husband was abusive, and the social worker had to step in with the truth at a 504 meeting. Absolutely mortifying. I’m not sure how to address this concern without telling the truth (that bio-mom relapsed only recently, is going through criminal court after her baby tested positive for meth, and she is incapable of caring for him) and that gets me a permanent tune-out from difficult child. The social worker has already told him everything.

    I’ll see about maybe getting another instrument to difficult child, but he is back on freeze again. He had only just made level, and the director was really proud of him, gave him some new clothes…and difficult child set the socks on fire. It’s frustrating. The other kids in the group home are still getting in trouble, but they’re making obvious steps towards improvement.

    I really appreciate all the suggestions, and I’ve been sharing them with my husband. We talked about how to Plan B difficult child’s school placement since he is on the edge of being expelled and he needs to be moved to yet another school. Hoping to find a way to get difficult child’s buy-in. difficult child has been pushing us back one step at a time. I don’t know how to get him to stop cutting off his own nose to spite his face.