17 yr old

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by AmericanGirl, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Hi all,

    First, thank you for being here. I've read many posts and have found a home among friends.

    I am 50, a single mom and have one child who is 17. He is ADHD but it is a mild form. He is not medicated. He has become increasingly difficult to parent. As far as I know, he is not abusing drugs and/or alcohol. This issue is accountability, responsibility and attitude. For example, he believes he should be able to come and go as he pleases while I do his laundry and pay his car insurance. (Yes, he is living in a dream world.)

    I've tried grounding. I've taken things away for weeks at a time. He appears not to care. He says things like "I can be homeless, nothing matters to me."

    His grades tend towards Ds. He has plenty of friends. He sleeps most of the day and plays video games and/or hangs out on the computer during the night. He pushes back anytime I try to change his sleeping habits. He refuses to complete even basic chores.

    His treatment of me is disrespectful and downright cruel. Last year, I was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. I finished treatment three months ago. He would rarely help out around the house with anything, even though I was in the bed for days. He would complain I wasn't up. I returned to the hospital a few days ago for tests requiring anesthesia. He voluntarily went, turned the tv to a vulgar show, and repeatedly kicked the gurney I was lying on. When they took me away, he didn't get up and say anything pleasant.

    This behavior scares me because it speaks to what is in his heart. It also angers me.

    I feel trapped here with him. One thing I learned from the cancer is that I must make caring for myself a priority. That's difficult to do while living with him. I once adored him. Now, I wish he was 18 so I could legally toss him out. I'm ashamed to type that but it is the truth.

    Yes, I have taken him to therapy. Many times. The last therapist said he wasn't participating in the sessions so it was a waste of time. My family thinks I should cut him off from getting anything from me over and above basic room and board, sell his car and tell him to find a job he can walk to if he wants money. I'm thinking they may be right.

    Thanks in advance for any and all ideas. They are much appreciated!
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    In this one I have to say I vote with your family. Has he ever been evaluated for mental illness, including personality disorders? It seems there is something seriously wrong with him as he shows so little caring or concern for you. I would be very scared if he were living with me as there seems to be some potential for violence.

    You cannot kick him out, but if he CHOOSES to leave no one will drag him back. Many parents here have chosen to provide only the bare minimum required by law and their kids do sometimes choose to go live with others.

    What that means is the parents go in when the child is not home and they strip his room of everything but a mattress on the floor, sheets, pillow and blanket, a lamp if there is no ceiling light fixture, and 7-10 outfits of clothing. The clothing does NOT have to be what he wants or likes. It has to cover his body. Period. Only one pair of shoes is needed. If his clothes are vulgar, or you object to them (pants that hang super low, are torn up, have objectionable phrases on them, etc...) you can to to a thrift store and buy him clothes there and get rid of what he has.

    As he is a minor he owns NOTHING. Regardless of if it is in his room or not, or whomever paid for it. Until he is 18 he legally owns nothing. Be VERY careful when he turns 18. Some states/towns/cities have laws that say that you cannot just toss an adult out. Even parents have to EVICT them formally via the courts if the person has spent as little as ONE night in the home as an adult. We had one member who's adult child let a friend spend the night because the friend had been kicked out of where she was living. The next day the police refused to remove the friend when she would not leave because the law said they had to go though a formal eviction! Since then others have learned that it is the case in many areas, bizarre as it seems.

    Many of us use the principle "Do to Get" as our guide with our teens and adult difficult children. If they want something, they have to do something to get it. Turn off the cable, internet, etc... unless it is for YOU. Put the computer in a room with a lock on the door. If he breaks the door or the lock, call the police and charge him with destruction of property. If he wants to use them he has to do a chore YOUR WAY or he gets nothing. If he has been asked to clean something and does not do it, hire someone to do it. If he cannot pay the person, pawn his video game system. Pay the person and give him the pawn ticket. If he wants the game back he can go get a job to pay for it.

    It does not sound like he would follow the laws in a car because he seems to have no respect for authority or rules. I would take him off the insurance, if he has a car either take the keys or disable it, and if need be, sell it. If he drives it with-o insurance call the cops and report him. Refuse to pay any fines or to bail him out of jail if he is taken to jail.

    You are pretty much too late to make much headway if you pursue treatment for mental illness (if he has a mental illness). In some states he is already old enough to refuse treatment, esp psychiatric treatment. It varies from state to state. Some states say the age of consent for mental illness/medical treatment is 14, others are later up to age 18. Realistically, if he doesn't want to cooperate with treatment there is NOTHING anyone can do to make him except to make his life so miserably that he wants to change.

    Some of these steps are more drastic than parents can handle doing. Whatever happens you need to be able to enforce everything you say you will do. If you cannot throw him out then don't tell him that you will.

    I recommend reading Parenting Teens with Love and Logic. You can find it online at most any book website or from www.loveandlogic.com.

    Whatever you choose to do, keep coming back here for support!
  3. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Detach, detach, detach. It is OK - you have permission! :)

    Step back and let him do his thing. I would not even speak to him if you can avoid it. When he asks why you just tell him you are tired of being disrespected.
    Detach does not mean you do nothing for parenting. It means you step back and let many things come to naterual consequences. It is how these kids learn best anyway.
  4. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    ...What Susie and Wendy said.

    I can tell you, sometimes it is VERY hard to detach, and also to take things away. It hurts. Very hard to do. So... For that I am sending you strengthening gentle hugs... And, yes, TAKE CARE OF YOU FIRST!
  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I agree with Susie also. I think it's definitely past due time for you to detach and let him fail on his own without any assistance from you. Focus on you - YOU need the attention.

    I have to say, I think his overall attitude has more to do with laziness and general disrespect that seems to be so prevalent in young men his age, moreso than any type of mental disorder - but that's just my opinion, I know it may differ from others here. I think he needs a reality check in the form of you taking away anything material above and beyond the basics beginning with his car. Immediately, take it off your insurance and disable it, as Susie said. Then get in his room and remove anything that you have provided for him that is considered a luxury or privilege. He needs to work for what he wants.

    Also, it will likely get worse before it gets better because he will be angry when these changes take place, but you can remind him that he IS becoming a young adult and needs to be self supporting and respectful of you and your home. He may choose to move out and go stay with friends/family - think of how peaceful your home and life will become.

    Sending you many hugs and strength to help you get through this...the less you do for him, the more he needs to do for himself, which in turn will help him grow as a young man and *hopefully* become a responsible adult.

    I personally think we adore them too much when they are little - lol - and it turns them into monsters when they're not so little and adorable anymore! Hang in there and I hope you can keep the focus on your own personal well being.
  6. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest

    Thanks for all of you for sharing your wisdom.

    Susiestar, he has been evaluated for conditions several times by different professionals over the years. The only thing has been a mild case of ADHD.

    Here's what I have done:

    1. Stripped his room of all but the most basic essentials. Bed, lamp, chair, a handful of outfits, a pair of shoes.
    2. Given him a daily list of chores to complete. If he doesn't complete the chores correctly and/or is rude to me - I will randomly gather things removed from his room and immediately donate them to charity. (Love the idea about pawning items. That will be my next step after the clothes go to charity.) If he completes the chores, then he may watch tv in the living room that night.
    3. Taken car keys, ipod, cell phone, xbox. All are locked up. Going to take him off insurance on Tuesday when they are back.
    4. Locked up all access to computers and secured my wallet.
    5. Had very little interaction with him.
    6. Cancelled plans for a weekend trip with family as I do not want to be in a situation where he can abuse/control me (or attempt to) in public. Made plans for me to get out locally over the weekend without him.
    7. Had him call and ask the family with whom he threatens to move out and live with whether he can do so. All refused and told him to work it out with me.
    8. Offered him therapy with therapist of his choice. Gave him phone number of 24 hour counselors if he wanted to talk with them.
    9. Told him if I see his underwear poking out from his shorts/pants, one more time that I will immediately discard all of his boxers and buy him one package of "tighty whiteys". (Let's see how much fun it is to have those show...)

    Here is what he is doing:

    1. Got up this morning and yesterday at 6am and started his chore list. Completed items far better than he seemed to be able to do only a few days ago.
    2. Been polite. Keeps saying "I love you". (I know it is only for his benefit.)
    3. Written me an apology for his behavior in the hospital (again, I know this is for his benefit.)
    4. Laid in his bed most of the time he isn't doing chores.

    I plan to:

    1. Hold firm.
    2. Do exactly as I told him I would do.
    3. Not be swayed by emotions or apologies.
    4. Rework the basement (currently his xbox/hangout area) into a space for my crafts/yoga.
    5. Spend more time taking care of my needs and wants.

    Can you tell I've been reading this board a lot? You guys are amazing!

    Anything I've missed? I want this to work.

  7. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Wow, I am impressed! Stay firm, hang tough and all that jazz! Sounds like he may come around for you. *Hugs*
  8. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I would absolutely ADORE to be able to do what you have done!!!

    I'm impressed and hope things keep up... Stay strong. It's not easy.
  9. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What are the chances he will learn from these rules? Has he ever learned from this type of environment before? Do you believe this will help him to change his behavior towards you?

    Just curious, because my difficult child did not ever learn from this strict enforcement parenting. I wish it did - I was most comfortable parenting this way. But, it did not work. I hope it works for your difficult child.
  10. maril

    maril New Member

    Others offer excellent information and advice. I would like to add that (at least in my situation/in the state in which I live) we were denied dropping my son from our car insurance policy and were told the only way that is possible is if 1) he acquires his own insurance and there is proof, 2) he moves out of our home and we provide proof of that.

    It sounds as though you are doing well with taking positive steps towards detaching from him and taking care of you. Hugs.
  11. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    You go AlabamaGirl!!!!!!!!!!!! I admire your strength! Keep it up!! Something that helps me bide my time is a countdown calendar until mine turns 18. I have another 459 days left....heaven help me! I told her this morning as she was telling me to "f" off and that I was a "f"ing b*tch, that I really, really want her to move out of my house. She "claims" she has a house in a nearby town...lol....I told her time is a wasting! Move to it! So, yes, I have my fingers and toes crossed that as soon as she turns 17 SHE LEAVES! Don't feel bad about feeling that way. How could we not???
  12. AmericanGirl

    AmericanGirl Guest


    Life is much calmer here. difficult child was a bit cranky and whining for a while as he lost most everything in his life but food, water and air.

    Then the attitude improved. He has been coming to ask me if I need anything done. Don't get me wrong, he is still lazy at the core but I think he is starting to see the - do to get - theory.

    We have had a series of good talks, some he started, some me. It is better, I know it isn't fixed though. Gonna stay the course - let him have privileges AFTER he behaves. Reinforce the good, correct the bad and pray the whole time!

    Thank you all for your input!!!