Should I step in or back off...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by CAmom, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    My son has been home for nine days. The first seven days, he was still on probation and had to be in by 8:00 pm. When he went for his final hearing, the judge was quite impressed with his accomplishments over the past three or four months (left the program at the highest status and graduated from high school on the Honor Roll with a 3.5 GPA and 40 extra credits), and took him off of probation. The first night (the first time in almost a year that he has been able to go where he pleases at night without supervision), he stayed overnight at a friend's house. The second night, he was in by 12:00. Since he's 18, we've asked simply that he let us know by 10:00 pm if he's going to be out late and/or stay the night elsewhere and to be considerate if he comes in late. He's complied.

    He has a plan to work with his dad and attend community college part-time, and seems serious about those plans yet hasn't made any effort to go to work with his dad and wants to wait until the winter semester to enroll in college for a class or two. He has money from before he was sent to the group home and received more as gifts for his 18th birthday and graduation. He understands that, once that money is gone, he's on his own money wise and must earn his own money as there won't be any handouts from us.

    He's been spending most of his time with various friends before and after they leave/return home from work and/or school and almost no time at home. I'm finding myself wondering why he's even here since he doesn't seem to care to spend time at home or with us. He feels that I shouldn't question him about where he is or who he's with since he's 18 now.

    My husband thinks this is just typical behavior for his age combined with the fact that he's been away for so long and that we should let him be for the time being to enjoy his time off as a sort of summer vacation since he did work very hard during summer school to graduate with the status he did. Also, during the ten months he was gone, he saw us every other weekend, and I realize that it's probably natural that he wants to reconnect with his friends.

    However, I'm feeling somewhat used in that we only see him when he wants a shower and change of clothes and that's about it. I realize it's only been nine days and everything is new, but...
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    You need to back off for now. He's 18. There is little or nothng you can really do. You worked really hard at learning detachment skills while he was gone. It's only going to get harder now that he is home. Keep your eyes and ears open it and hang on. It may be a rough ride.
  3. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Thanks, EV. I had a feeling backing off was the ticket. I actually feel mostly okay with him being gone alot because, as you said, I did learn how to detach somewhat while he was gone. And, at 18, he SHOULD be thinking about heading out anyway, so I'm going to have to cut the apron strings someday.

    I'm really more content when I don't ask him questions about what he's doing or whom he's with because, when I do, I can almost feel myself edging towards getting emotionally caught up in what he is doing or what I'm IMAGINING he might be doing when there's nothing I can do about his choices anymore anyhow.
  4. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    CAmom, I expect you know how I'll respond to your question. :smile:

    I disagree.

    I'd be on him like a rug.

    He agreed to work with his dad and go to school. He needs to live up to those agreements.

    He is using you...and he will continue to use you as long as you and husband allow it.

    I can buy off on giving him a "vacation" but for a whole quarter? No way. He will lose momentum and that gives him too much time to fool around and get in trouble again.

    Not to mention that it gives him plenty of time to resume his old way of running your home instead of you and husband running it.


    If he wants to continue to live with you he needs to start at least one NOW. That was the deal! He can put off school until January if he wants but he needs to get off his backside and start going to work NOW.

    If he doesn't want to honor his agreement, that's fine...he moves out tomorrow.

  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I was not around home much at 18 either. I do agree that the behavior is normal for the age.

    However, if there are agreements in place that he is not following through on then of course you should have a talk about it.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I disagree too. Most 18 year olds want distance, but they also accept responsibility, and your son isn't. He's back to his old ways, doing what he likes, disrespecting your rules...are you sure he isn't smoking pot again? I don't think working for your hub is a good plan. He can be lenient and work when he wants. I'd make him get a job that has nothing to do with your family NOW. I personally think there are big red flags that he's thumbing his nose at you again. 18 or not 18, if a child lives in your house they are in my opinion to respect YOUR rules. When they pay the rent (does he have to pay any rent?) and are out on their own, then they can do what they want to do. I would say he is backsliding fast, and it's too bad they took him off parole. My daughter behaved while on parole too. When they took her off of it wheeeeeeeeeeeeee it was back to her old ways.
    Remember that your son can get a real, bonafide record that sticks now. He is mostly "hanging out" with friends. Not good. Our difficult child's need structure and purpose more than typical teen. in my opinion he needs his time accounted for, a strict curfew, sparadoc drug testing (as long as my daughter lived at home she had drug testing at OUR request and with no warning). And don't let him snow you with a pout and an outraged "You don't trust me!" Of course you don't trust him. He needs to earn trust. It isn't something we just do. Why should you trust him yet?
    Are you giving him money? In my honest opinion, which is laced with compassion, I believe you are being way too soft on him (which will hurt him in the long run) and that you are asking for a repeat performance. Age be darned (I want a stronger This is not a kid who is 18 emotionally nor has he earned your trust. I'd make him follow rules or plan to leave. For all you know, he's smoking pot and drinking again. Or he's with kids who are and will join in soon. Consider yourself warned from one who knows and (((big hugs))).
  7. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Oh Suz, no, no, NO! No WAY is he going a whole quarter without working. The semester started here at the beginning of last month, and he wasn't yet home, so we're okay with him waiting until December.

    However, as far as starting work, he's certainly NOT going to go three months jobless. He's just about out of money now, and there's no way we're paying the way for a perfectly healthy 18 year old! He'll HAVE to start working within the next week or so...
  8. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Busy and MM, well, he hasn't broken any rules yet. He has complied with what we've asked, i.e., contacted us each evening to let us know what his plans are and has been considerate when coming in after 11:00 pm. He's keeping his room clean and sees to his own laundry. He has almost completely stopped using profanity, my pet peeve, and has generally been very pleasant.

    No, we aren't giving him money, although he has money that was in his account when he left added to that which he earned while in his group home. When that's gone, he's on his own, and he knows that.

    MM, I agree that working for his dad might not be the best idea, but, quite frankly, I don't see that lasting more than a day or two. His dad has an extremely solid work ethic and won't make exceptions simply because it is his son. I also think he'll be totally bored. However, we both feel that, his dad should give him the opportunity to join the family business, knowing the above. I really think the work arrangement with his dad will quickly die a natural death and he'll want to find a job with kids his own age as many of his friends have done.

    As far as drinking or pot, I've been keeping my eyes open and there are no signs of either YET...
  9. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    One comment: Are you out of your mind???? He's a druggie and he has free rein to money and friends he probably did drugs with before. That's a pretty heavy weight for an 18 year old.

    I totally disagree that he should be working for your husband. He needs to find a job on his own. He needs to get some responsibility NOW! Yes, he's 18 and this is how 18 year olds act. However, most 18 year olds aren't just off probation, they didn't spend a year or two in a total drug-induced haze and they certainly didn't the privilege of spending time on probation and being sent away from home.

    He's coming back and being allowed the same old life he led before he left up to and including having money to spend. Even though it is his money, he certainly owes you two quite a bit -- for the drives to see him, the hotel costs, the clothing he gave away there, etc.

    I'm sorry but you two are making it way too easy for him. It didn't work all too well for him before. I can't imagine it will work much better this time around. Now is when he needs to keep busy and be productive, not next semester or not month, but NOW. He needs responsibility. The easy life is not a good life for him.
  10. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">He's coming back and being allowed the same old life he led before he left up to and including having money to spend...

    ...I'm sorry but you two are making it way too easy for him. It didn't work all too well for him before. I can't imagine it will work much better this time around. Now is when he needs to keep busy and be productive, not next semester or not month, but NOW. He needs responsibility. The easy life is not a good life for him. </div></div>

    Yep- my sentiments exactly!

  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I third that. He shouldn't have access to that money, should have to work full time (forget the vacation--vacations are lethal for difficult children) and shouldn't be allowed to see his old friends. He should be on a very tight leash. He does not deserve sleepovers, hanging out, or any money yet. He has a lot to prove. It's only been nine days! in my opinion his good manners could well be covering for what he's doing when he's not home. Sorry not to trust him, but a stint in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) rarely miraculously changes the child. And, yes, he's still a child, mentally. I'd make him choose full time work away from Dad (or if he chooses to work for husband, he should NOT be allowed to quit--that's HIS terms, just like it's always been). If not, he goes to school FULL TIME and no hanging out with buddies. Just because he shows no signs of using drugs doesn't mean he's not. Is he getting drug tests at random? He should be. He's living exactly like he did when he got into trouble. Just because he is making a few minor concessions, like cleaning his room, in my opinion means nothing. As the mom of a very sneaky kid, in my opinion you're asking for trouble, and, in my opinion, if you don't crack the whip and make him be responsible, you will get it. I would also make him pay rent. I know you don't need the money. It's a responsibility thing. I'd make it at least $100 month, and I'd make him buy his own food and clothes too. If he won't, I'd buy minimum food--all nutritious--and take him to Goodwill for his clothes. This is what I finally did with my daughter. When we decided to "trust" her and left her alone overnight, we came home unexpectedly early and found a few friends smoking pot in the house. This was right after she'd gone off probation. It was then that we told her "rehab or leave." She left telling us she'd hate us forever. But she straightened out. I plead with you not to be too lenient with his child. He has that personality that gets him into trouble. He needs almost NO time to just hang out. He did well when he was in the tightly run enviroment at Residential Treatment Center (RTC). There's a reason for that. Our kids do not handle free time well. And they shouldn't have much free time. They feel better about themselves when they are productive. JMO and experience.
  12. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Oh, boy...I'm so glad I posted. I have a sick feeling that you all may be right.

    When his probation officer recommended he be off probation and the judge agreed, we had a meeting with the mental health person who will follow up with him for the next six months, if he agrees, and he has so far, it was recommended we give him some time to "transition," so that played a huge part in letting him take a "break." However, I must admit that I've not been feeling too comfortable about that...

    We've got some thinking to do because I have no doubt that all of you who have been there done that have much more experience in the real world with kids like yours and mine than a social worker type...
  13. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I talked to my daughter about this post and your son. I've been lucky that she's not a drug user but some of her friends are and are into quite heavily.

    Anyway, she had one question. The next time she thinks she's ready to live on her own can she come live with you guys? She'd love a life with no responsibilities and all fun, especially if she could get money just by asking or working for a family member. I asked her what she'd do with all that freedom. "Party hearty!"
  14. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Well, there is one point I must make. Our son has been drug-free for a year, although he has told us that pot has been offered on many occasions, and he's had the opportunity to indulge on home visits and even in school.

    Sure, this could be and probably is completely related to the fact that he's been under close supervision almost all of the time.

    However, shouldn't a kid who has been in a group home for this long, been through alcohol and drug counseling, and who professes to not be tempted, have the chance to prove himself?

    It's not that I don't worry that he'll go right back to his old habits, but I feel that he should have at least this one chance to demonstrate the changes that the professionals whose care he's been under for the past ten months seem to think he's
  15. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Of course he should have a chance to prove himself...a little at a time.

    You've practically given him free rein. He's got money, he's got time, he's got "friends" to hang out with, he's got waaaaay too much opportunity to mess up.

    You have it reversed.

    At this point he should be working/going to school and, little by little, AS HE PROVES THAT HE IS RESPONSIBLE, he gets some money and he gets some freedom.

    *A little at a time* is the definition of transition, not *full-tilt boogie.*

    As I said in my first reply...I know he doesn't have to agree to any of this. He is 18 and really can do pretty much what he wants. But he wouldn't be able to do pretty much what he wants in my home because I would have rules that he'd have to follow in order to live here. And my rules would be much more restrictive than yours.


  16. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I remember when you first started posting. I remember your son in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC). At first, he wasn't working the program and he was manipulating the heck out of it, you and your husband. He didn't voluntarily take the drug counseling and that's a huge red flag. Most drug users who quit do so because they want to, not because they've been forced to.

    He's admitted that he's been around his friends when they've smoked pot while coming home for visits. He claims he didn't touch it. Quite honestly, I wasn't quite sure I believed it. There are too many aids out there to fool the tests. Temptation and peer pressure usually do rule.

    You say he should have a chance to prove himself. What is he doing to prove himself? Hardly being at home, spending what a lot of kids would consider a good chunk of money (and it's almost gone in nine days???), hanging with friends he formerly did drugs with, not working. Does calling and asking permission when he knows the answer will be yes prove anything?

    Do you really think you would know if he's smoking pot with his friends when he spends the night? As Suz said, he isn't transitioning, he's going full bore back to his old life. Many of us recommended that your son not work with your husband, that he get a real job and see that life isn't always an easy ride.

    I would be willing to bet you my beloved car -- one that I saved for 3 years to get -- that your son will be using within 6 months if he isn't already unless he is forced to change his life. I truly hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

    I'm sorry but I think you're making a huge mistake. Worse yet, I think you're doing your son a huge disservice. You and your husband are taking the easy way out. Letting him run around, spend his money, etc. is so much easier than putting up with an angry child who will say he hates you and call you every vile name in the book, that you're not fair, that will slam doors and so on. He needs to know there are real restraints in place, not just some words. He needs to know that you two do have a backbone and can say no before he goes too far and you have no choice but to say bye-bye either as you kick him out the door or as he is locked up as an adult.

    I haven't been in the trenches when it comes to drugs although I've seen the damage with friends of mine and their kids and what seemed to work and what didn't. For most of the kids, it took truly hitting bottom to quit. Your son hasn't even come close to bottom. At the most, he's moved down two rungs on a 6-foot ladder.

    I have been through the trenches with an entitled, self-righteous teen and young adult. It took a very large dose of reality for her to see that her life wasn't that bad. She didn't come home and immediately get all privileges back because she had an eye-opening revelation. As I saw there were true and honest changes, I gradually gave her back her privileges and even added ones she didn't have before. However, she has truly earned them and she knows it. She seems to treasure our relationship now. She's warmer, kinder, more considerate and, most importantly, happier. Your son has come back and is still the self-centered brat he was when he left.
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My daughter told me with the deepest, most sincere eyes how she was drug free and we believed her too. If your son is still hanging with drug using friends...WHY? "Birds of a feather stick together."In other words, you only have his word that he's drug free. Do I think you should give him a chance? If you let him come and go as he pleases, he will probably fail. He needs your help to reign him in or, being the difficult child that he is, he'll give into peer pressure as he has in the past. in my opinion it's far better to keep him very busy (skip the social worker--we had one who also told us we had to "trust" our daughter--two days later she was busted). If your son is busted again, it's on his permanant record and he'll probably go to real jail. He hasn't proven himself to be responsible. To me, that would be getting a full time job away from Dad, and of his own free will or going to full time school and getting good grades with some part time job (kids do this all the time). "Hanging around" to me is a red flag that he's NOT responsible. Using up his money, freely given, is NOT a sign of responsibility. in my opinion I'd be afraid that he's already at least been around drugs, and a step from taking them again. My daughter tells me "Never trust a druggie." I don't. I can almost guarantee that if you keep on giving him this "I can do what I want. Yay, I'm on vacation with money" lifestyle, he will come home high or drunk or, worse, you'll get a call from the cops. Remember, he's still on his honeymoon. Give him three months. I'd put some strong limits and expectations on him, monitor where he goes, and give him an "either/or" if he gets defiant and refuses to listen. His response to your rules will tell you MUCH about if he's changed. Call my cynical, but I don't think he's basically changed much because a class won't change our kids. Only getting tough on my kid encouraged her to change. SHe would have had a field day with no expectations and money and I believe her outcome would have been jail. She would have remained a child. JMO and experience. Are you maybe afraid that if you don't do what he wants he'll say "I hate you" and go off on you? If so, he's doomed. To be good parents, we often have to make our children hate us, at least for a while. Me and my daughter are best friends now, but she sure hated me when I gave her the "either/or" after finding her in our house smoking pot with her druggie friends (and who knows if they were doing more than that?) This was one of those times we decide to "trust" her because she'd convinced us she'd reformed. We happened to take our two younger kids to an indoor water park and planned on staying two days. We only stayed one because my daughter got sick. When we stepped through the door, with druggie daughter expecting us not to be home for another night, SURPRISE!!!! And even then, with the smell of pot in the air and pipes in their hands, she tried to say, "I tried to stop them, but I didn't do it." RIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT and who cares? You let them in. These kids are NOT truthful. If I were you, I'd be really concerned.
  18. KFld

    KFld New Member

    My life is in such turmoil right now that I cannot even think straight enough to post anything that would make sense. I just wanted you to know I am following and thinking about you. I hope this all turns out good.
  19. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    CAMom - I haven't read the other responses so forgive me if I repeat...

    He's 18, he's graduated, he has no job, he isn't going to school, and he's using your home as a shower/laundry facility? Nope... doesn't cut it. *Especially* given the fact that he's been in a structured environment for the last 10 months... that structure, in my humble opinion, needs to continue, not fall completely by the wayside right now.

    Had he not had to go to the facility, he *would* have had a summer break. But he made a bad choice, and he really only put the effort in when push came to shove at the facility. He's an "adult" now and it's time for him to act like one - get a job, go to school, do *something*. When was the last time you got 3 months off for doing what you were supposed to do (and in a less than whole hearted effort at that)?

    I can understand, kinda, husband's opinion but the question is, what happens when winter semester rolls around and difficult child has become accustomed to his "vacation"? difficult child is already squawking about you wanting to know where he is, because he's an "adult"? Sigh... I do tend to expect the worst, but I have to say I think it's not a good idea to let him have all this free time with no responsibilities.

    I don't know... thank you has made noises about wanting to live here after he hits 18 (if he ever makes it home full time) and I have repeatedly laid out the rules - job, school, pay rent, and my rules 24/7, period. I've lurked on the PE and teen board so long, and have seen older teen/adult children cause so much havoc in family homes. I'm not going there if I can possibly avoid it.

    What was the understanding at discharge? What was the treatment plan for once he came home?

    My very strong inclination would be to nip this in the bud. House rules stand and everyone in the home must be involved in a productive activity - school or job. difficult child hasn't, in my humble opinion, earned a hiatus. He should at this point be re-earning trust and moving forward with his life, not stagnating.
  20. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    I am of two minds on this (that comes from being a Libra--we can always see too many sides to an issue to decide what to do). On the one hand, yes, a typical 18 yr old male does not want to hang out with his family and is trying to break away and make his own life. So, his not spending time with you doesn't raise any red flags for me. However, I have the nagging sick feeling in my gut that says he is taking advantage--he doesn't seem to really have a plan--or the plan is in the future, not right now. I am not hearing anything that makes me think he has an internal drive to "do something."

    In fact, I think he reminds me of my difficult child 1 when she came home from her second stint in rehab. She sounded so good--so logical and rational. She had a plan! She would get a job and she would attend community college--but not til Fall--it was March when she came home). She kept talking about what she would do but she didn't actually do it. I took her for a tour of the community college and I realized she really was not invested in this--showed so little interest. I took her around to apply for jobs. She was applying on the internet, didn't really want to go out and find one. Meantime, she was seeing her friends, talking on the phone, just having a great time while I slowly began to seethe.

    She met a guy and moved in with him about a month before she turned 18. He supported her through the summer--long saga. Anyway, nothing actually changed until I kicked her out for good and quit supporting her financially in any way. So, now she is 19 and takes care of herself and the boyfriend (she works more hours and makes more money than he does). I see now that she has finally taken control of her own life. I know she drinks and smokes pot but she also functions and I am not supporting her lifestyle.

    I guess my gut feeling is that your son probably won't make the real changes he needs to make til he is forced to--then he will hopefully use the tools he was given in his Residential Treatment Center (RTC). He has the intellectual knowledge he needs but he may not be ready yet. He may not be able to do it while living under your roof, time will tell.

    Good luck--my heart goes out to you--this is so difficult!