Afraid of Losing My Family

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Chttyangel, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. Chttyangel

    Chttyangel New Member

    Just found this forum today and hope it/the other resources I am discovering will help! A little about me; I have 3 kids (15, 13, 6). The oldest two are from my first husband and the youngest from my second/current/hopefully last husband. My oldest children's father has not been in their life’s in 10 years; he was abusive and left after the court ordered him into counseling. My husband has acted as father since and considers all the kids his.

    My 15 year old has been on a destructive path for a few years now. It started with his grades slipping, progressed to angry bouts in which he would take off by foot or on his motorcycle when he got mad at us, breaking rules, one fight at school, trying booze/cigs/pot, profanity and punching the wall. We had a few things go missing and my husband confronted him about it last week. It turned into a physical altercation in which my son pushed and hit my husband. My son was taken in and held for 6 days. He is now home with really tight restrictions. When he was gone he was apologetic and said everything we want to hear. Now that he is home, he is full of anger feeling that I sent him to "jail"; he is throwing what I would call a tantrum and being verbally abusive towards me.

    We have tried family counseling, we have him on anxiety medication, we have tried different hobbies, and different schools (his grades are actually up right now). We sent him to a group for troubled teens for a month. Some things work; some don't. At times we have been great with handling things. At times we are so frustrated we lose our cool and make it worse by yelling back. It is not all bad but it always turns bad. Every time we reach out for help he is on his best behavior and his problems appear to be minor and easily controled through parenting plans. Away from the house; he is a loving and really neat kid. Parents and teachers like him; they say he is not giving his all but they say he is kind and polite and all the things we taught him to be (at least with about 90% of the people he meets). He also had a Fall job and exceled there so the problems seem to be with us guiding him or telling him what to do not so much outside of the home other then the substance abuse. He always makes the comment things would be fine if we just let him do what he wants.

    This is tearing my family apart. It is tough on my husband and I, it affects my younger kids, it affects my relationships with my other family. We all feel like we are walking on egg shells. That said; I have seen a few negative comments on here like it is their choice or give up. I WILL NOT GIVE UP. It is my job to do everything I can to get him through school, to 18 and ready for the world. I have to feel like I really did everything I could. Then if he still fails I can’t help beyond that. I read something on "ODD" today and felt like that is my life. I feel like I finally found something that makes sense other than he is just a bad kid (which doesn’t fit) or we are the problem. Now I am not sure where to go next. How do I get him the help? How do I keep this from destroying my family or taking away from the other kids. I have a great support system; but I do work full time. Also my husband loves him like his own but how much can one man take. I feel hopeless; it hurts every day to see my family this way and I want to find a path that works not something that he can just talk his way through.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome. I'm "just" another parent... but...
    From my perspective?
    1) he's "only" 15... as in, you may still have time. (we started the turn-around at 14... close enough) It is much harder at 18.
    2) ODD is an interesting diagnosis. It describes behavior, but provides nothing else other than a label. There are no medications, interventions, accommodations or therapies for ODD. HOWEVER... there can be LOTS of other things that drive a kid around the bend, literally into insanity... and cause the ODD behavior.

    So... others are going to ask as well, but...
    Can you tell us more about what your son was like when he was younger? baby? pre-school? early school years?
  3. Chttyangel

    Chttyangel New Member

    Baby; Cried all the time; never stopped. Never slept. Toddler; "Normal" would be the best way to describe. On target for all developmental milestones. Well behaved at 2; "terrible twos" at three (like all my kids). Preschool/School; Very social, very athletic. Bright; once again on track for every milestone. Lots of firends and hobbys. Some signs of stress from dad leaving; which worked with counsler but did not seem to have affects on school/friends. JR High; Grades slipping, but still hobbies/interest. High School; HELL

    I saw there was no real help in the "treatment" of ODD and everything mentioned underlying issues. So I am not expecting a cure-all with it. And I may be off track. It is just the first time in 2 or 3 years in which I read something and connected 100% with it. So I hope it is a start. And glad to hear that it is not too late. :)
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Welcome, Chttyangel,
    ditto the questions from InsaneCdn.
    Do you have any other diagnosis besided ODD and anxiety? Perhaps an underlying disorder that is chemical or neurolgical, like Asperger's, bipolar, sensory issues (hearing, touch, etc)?
    I'm so glad you've not given up. It is SO hard. Any typical teen behavior is multiplied by 100 by our g'sfg. :(
  5. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Jr high - grades slipping... more details?

    I'm wondering if he has some hidden issues that didn't show up until the load got heavier... this is not uncommon.
  6. Chttyangel

    Chttyangel New Member

    His grades went from all satisfactory and above average scores to just getting by and failing. All his teachers said he would do the work/understand the subject matter but he would not turn it in. Daily his work would be in the bottom of his back pack in a ball. He would score 100% on a test but not turn in 5 assignments in a row. We tried different things to help him stay organized because that seemed to be the issue; but he always managed to not turn things in. When he got to high school, sports kept his GPA up through his first semster of HS BUT as soon as Fall sports ended he let them slip to all F's. He went to home school last semster; with me standing over him and keeping all the work together, it was hell but back up to all A's and a B.
  7. Chttyangel

    Chttyangel New Member

    His regular doctor gave him the medicine for anxiety/depression to see if it would help based on what he told the doctor. He also ran a blood screen. I saw some improvements at first, but he hates to take it and really gives me a hard time about it. Plus right now he is on it and still having the issues. The MFT that we saw through the troubled youth program did not recommend any medications or give any diagnosis; my son was there for about a month and was an angel when he was there. So all his suggestions were aimed at a family plan. (ie: If son does'nt come home on time, he is grounded for the weekend and some communication approaches. The tips helped us contine to improve our parenting and communication. But only worked for a while with him. Then he went back to doing what he wanted and not caring about what we say would happen or what we would do). So at this point we dont truly have a diagnosis. I called one place today that was a clinic social worker; liked the lady but she cant see us for a week and does not take my insurance so thinking maybe I should look around a bit more? I started this search by looking at some info on bi-polar but allot of it did not fit. Still searching for answers. Thanks for your words of kindness!
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If he's stealing, he is probably using drugs...more than you think, more than pot.

  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Depression? It looks very different in males than in females... and even more different in young males going through puberty... Could be primary (where depression is "the" diagnosis), or secondary (where other things not being dealt with result in depression on top of everything else)
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Kids/people will try to self medicate... (and he may not want to take the rx medications because he is afraid of interactions) A child I took care of from 6-13 killed himself because he was encouraged to stop his medications due to being in college and not a kid anymore who needed that kind of thing....dont mean that to sound like it is their fault, given the info they had at that time they really thought he could do it. He was not honest about how hard it was for him. He self medicated (worked with my little sister and told her that...using pot and other things, he was so ashamed) and he got so hopeless over his choices etc. he shot himself. I am not saying this to say your kid would do that, but because on the surface you would NEVER have known. Kid was athletic, struggled A LOT to keep his grades up but DID IT and he had a wonderful family like you... they really cared and would never have given up.

    For an evaluation, if you can find a neuropsychologist to assess you might get a more helpful idea if there are any issues that can be contributing.. a social worker or psychiatric or psychiatrist will stick with only the current symptoms most likely (yes there are some who do better but in general) they will be able to say if there is ODD etc.. but also if there are issues like a subtle learning disability or suggest some other things including mood disorder.

    I would also do a chemical abuse evaluation...he may not be honest but do not tell him when and make sure it includes a drug test that he is not prepared for.

    I am so sorry you are going through such troubling issues. I feel for your difficult child and yes, I am sure it is hard to read if someone has reached a point when they had to detatch......

    I have been here only since last Sept-ish and I read most of the posts if I can... even the SA area because many of those people have supported me so much...and while I am not parenting a child with SA I have experienced it to a degree in my circle of friends/family.

    I have never really heard a parent here just give up. I think it is as you said...after giving their ALL and then some... they finally have to decide that the child must take some ownership. Some realize that their bailing the child out has resulted in their expecting that they never have to solve their own problems. Many other reasons too..... Each situation is so different and each kid needs different parenting and methods. For now that is not where you are so I doubt anyone would say to give up... cut him lose.....but they may have some suggestions that seem really hard to wrap your head around. Just take what feels right and then file the rest away in case you do get to that point sometime.

    What people here DO SAY is to follow your mommy heart/gut. You are saying you want to do whatever you can. Now, the question is... the things you are doing... are they helping or contributing to any issues. We all have to look at that no matter the condition or diagnosis... I have had to do that every day/week lately!

    You are looking for further information, you are seeking support, you love him and you will get through this somehow! When you say your family is suffering it makes me so sad for you. That is one reason many decide on some more drastic interventions...when the rest of the family is going to be lost and the difficult child is not doing anything to get better... what to do??? Many here will have ideas.

    So, glad you are here... that you took the time to share and I really hope you find this group to be the kind support that I have found it to be. Sending hugs and a shoulder to lean on.... Dee
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    What was he like before the past two years? Did he suddenly change his friends and what kind of friends are they? Good kids? Kids that make you leery? Have you ever searched his phone, his Facebook, his room? A lot of parents won't breach a child's privacy, but when your child is in danger in my opinion it's best to look around for clues about what may be going on. That is how we first found out that there may be drugs going on outside of pot (we knew about the pot, she'd already been on probation). We also found letters to some boy she'd met online and if we hadn't read it, she would have run away from home to Colorado (we are in Wisconsin) and we would never have known where she had gone. We also found dark poetry (she is very gifted creatively) and scary pictures she had that she named "My Personal Holocaust." It made me cry a lot. However, we got more information in her room than from any mental health professional. Not one of them figured out the depth of her despair or even that she was using drugs beyond pot. Sometimes we are the child's best defenders and we have to cross uncomfortable boundaries to get knowledge.

    Falling grades, stealing, sudden violence (when a child hasn't been violent in the past) are all symtpoms of possible serious drug abuse. My daughter put her hand through a window and punched holes in our walls...that was not like was new behavior. We were told she had bipolar. She is off drugs now and while still high strung during stress, she does not have symptoms of bipolar. Please be vigilant.

    More huggggz!
  12. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    Hi Chatty! Welcome to the CD board. I saw your post on the home page. I usually post on the Substance Abuse board. I am the mom of a 19yo who is abusing drugs. Definitely pot, who knows what else?

    Tho my son is older, his drug use started about a year ago. He exhibits many of the same puzzling behaviors that your son is showing. Everyone who meets my son thinks he is responsible & terrific, he does well at his job but his grades have gone from great to mediocre and now to failure. Grades slipping were sign#1, his utter contempt and mood swings at home were sign #2 of substance abuse.

    I can't do anything-he's 19-but your son is 15. You need to act quickly to get him help. And substance abuse treatment is the place to start. I'm sorry to be blunt, but it's vital. You know he is using. And I know it's easy to say "it's just pot" and we all know people who can handle it. But not everyone can-and some synthetic marijuanas (K2, spice, potpourri etc) are even more dangerous.

    Please call his regular dr and get referrals for SA counselors & treatment options. Then call the recommendations & come up with a plan of action to get him evaluated & into some type of treatment.(based on the evaluation.) They will have good tips for getting him to comply-they are used to it.

    He may have an underlying mental health issue-but you KNOW he is using. And that's the place to start.

  13. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    Welcome to the board. My son is the same as your in that he's great outside the home (most of the time). Great grades, well behaved in school, teachers think that he's a saint. For me, that is one of the most frustrating part,

    The fact that he's 15 and still going through puberty makes even the best of kids a mess, so this only adds to what you're having to deal with. If he's stealing from you, he's using the money for something. My guess would be drugs. What about the kids that he hangs out with? Are they decent kids?

    Which medication was he put on for anxiety/depression? Some kids have problems with the SSRI class of drugs, mine included. While they helped to takle away his anxiety, they made his far more aggressive and quick to anger than before. We decided that we were better off dealing with the anxiety than the anger issues, because he was just scary when he was taking them. Have you noticed any changes like that sinced he started the medications?
  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Could be the wrong kind of medication. I would keep trying.
    Also, if his behavior changed that much, that recently, but was better with-you hanging right over him, I'd suspect drugs.
    Sorry to say, but especially at that age, and with-the sudden onset. Unless I missed some notes about erratic, unpredictable behavior when he was a preschooler.
  15. 2confused

    2confused New Member

    I am new here too, but your son sounds like a clone of mine right now. He is very manipulative, blaming, and lies about "just about everything." If he doesn't agree with our rules or consequences, he becomes angry to the point of damaging property. He had a bad start to the school year (truant for 9 days), but pulled himself together enough to pass. He's in 2nd semester now and grades are high though. He's a smart kid who makes a great impression outside of our home, but I have found pot/alcohol/paraphenalia on many occasions. This, along with his "entitlement issues" causes the majority of our discord. He is verbally abusive and often stays out all night without permission. After several different attempts at counseling, we have finally filed a petition for court-assisted boundaries, as he respects none of ours. He will likely be put into a program with random drug testing, mandatory counseling, and mandatory curfew. We are very nervous about how he will take this, but we've been doing all we can for over a year without success, and knowing that he can be a successful, responsible person, we didn't know where else to turn, other than wilderness camps (expensive and long term success is not the norm unless his environment changes afterwards - and we could not afford camp AND boarding school), or ?. Honestly not sure we are doing the right thing, but it is SOME thing - rather than trying to wait it out and watch him go down the tubes. He is hanging with a "fast" crowd, and feel like he's just trying to latch onto a peer group of any kind right now. I feel your pain, and hope things work out for you and your son. The situtation is truly draining and frightening... I'm not much help here, but you can know you are not alone.
  16. Chttyangel

    Chttyangel New Member

    Thanks for all the stories, support, suggestions. Feels good to connect with others.

    I know drugs seem like the logical conclusion;and I know as of a week ago he was smoking pot. He is being drug tested thou so I feel confident that I know what he has been doing in that arena. Whic pot is a drug and it has to stop; but at least I feel it is something that us not highly addictive so we can help him with. Especially since he is stuck at home with us for the next five weeks; not sure if I mentioned that part.

    We found a counselor yesterday that is an ex-probation officer and seemed like a good choice for us. I also decided to take him off Zolfot and start again. I don't think it was the right choice based on his symptoms and I am seeing some of the side effects. I hope this counselor can get through to him and help us make choices on medications, etc. I did get some info on some camps thou if things don't get better.
  17. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Hi, Chttyangel! make sure you wean him off progressively, I wouldn't go cold turkey.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Drug tests do not show everything, and kids know what to use that won't show. But if you are satisfied it is not drug use, I wish you good luck!!! Take care of yourself too.
  19. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    Welcome Chatty,
    Our once wonderful child turned into a total mess by age 14. She too only used/s pot. And she did steal from us to get money to go where she could hang out and smoke pot. There are drugs that don't test well like Spice. To be honest, while pot may not have the same physical addicting parts, it does have an emotional addiction. Frankly it is the only thing my daughter feels takes the edge off her moods. It has been a bear to handle. She is very arrogant about its use. "I only use it once in awhile. It isn't addicting. etc.. I say, It is illegal and will cause legal problems.

    Our bigger issues were behavior as well. We placed her in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) when she was 14. She was there 18 months. We had tried counseling, psychiatric. hospital, medications. She wasn't safe. We found out she had been abused and suffered great trauma. If we had not placed her there, we may have never known. When she got out, things were worse than ever though she had us all fooled that she was ready for release. We again had to have her placed through the court system because we could not afford another Residential Treatment Center (RTC) on our own. She has struggled much since release this last August(she should have not been released). There are finially steps forward. She has a full time job, she got her GED (with very high scores and a scholarship at a local community college), she would be a junior this year but school was unbearable for her. She too is a delight when she is in places other than home, though over time, her issues surface and she has struggles.

    Perhaps you read post where people had done all they could and their kids were still not behaving. There are times when those of us who have been at this awhile do feel a bit hopeless. We often come here to vent or release these feelings so we can go on. But your boy is 15 and you cannot give up, you are right. I could not give up ever, but I do realize what I can and cannot control now that she is 17. This can bring your family closer together if you work together. You will need each other because the road can be very hard to travel.

    I hope that the new counselor is helpful. May I also suggest looking into some out patient treatments. Many hospitals have these for teens with behavior problems. Some are short term school placements and some are after school. Many insurance companies cover at least part of the costs. This counselor will have ideas and suggestions for you and your family. Hang in there and keep us posted.
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    What kind of drug test did you do? MANY do not test for all the things available. Your son's behavior sounds like substance abuse problems to me. However, I am not there and all I know is what you are able to type on your posts. I would suggest searchng for tests that cover spice, bath salts, etc.....

    I also strongly suggest getting a copy of The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. You can find them in most bookstores or order them online. The Explosive Child explains collaborative problem solving, which is what works iwth difficult children. Regular parenting just doesn't work. it gets a week or two of improvement and then back to the same old difficult child koi. The methods in The Explosive Child seem counter-intuitive and often like you are 'giving in and lettign them do what they want' but in reality, it just works. The second book is has methods that really seem to work well. It really helps establish great communication.

    The only other thing that I can think of that would make your son's behavior make sense is some traits of Aspergers or if he was abused or attacked or hurt in some way around the time that his behavior changed. Asperger's can make a kid truly believe that they are your peer, your equal. I don't think it would just pop up in a teen. This is a trait that most kids would have shown you from a very young age - toddler or before. It did have my difficult child tell us OFTEN that we should just let him do what we wanted, that he knew what was best for him and we should just stop "bothering" him and do what he told us to. He didn't get very far with that because he started telling us that around age 3-4.

    If abuse of some kind is at the root, then a therapist would be the one who could help. I am glad you are seeing a therapist. I would NOT jump immediately to this as the source of the change in behavior, just sort of keep an eye out and look back to see if difficult child suddenly stopped an activity or habit around the time he changed so much.

    You have another problem. Violence in the home just can't be tolerated. I am pleased you called for help and your son ended up with some real-world consequences for attacking your husband. You MUST create a safety plan that says what everyone does and where everyone goes when difficult child is being violent/making unsafe choices. You MUST include ways for the younger kids to stay safe and away from him. If it is possible to put a phone in a room with a door that is sturdy and has a good lock that your little ones can go into when difficult child is raging, that would be a good thing. Write up the safety plan and post it on the walls in different areas. No, it isn't what you wanted to hang on the walls, but it is a LOT better than having to repair holes or take people to the doctor/ER because difficult child hurt them. You also NEED to call the police when difficult child hits anyone or damages property.

    YOU are not choosing to hit people or damage your property. If you don't call the police when difficult child does, he will NEVER learn that he can't behave this way and sooner or later he wil go and do this out in the world and then the system won't be so nice. He has to get this lesson as soon as possible and he is WAY too big for you or husband to teach it to him. He needs to learn this from people with the training and tools to really stop him from doing the things he is doing. It also will show Child Protection that you are very serious about keeping the other kids safe and getting help for difficult child, which will keep you from having problems with them. Child Protection will also want a safety plan if they are ever called in and having them already made and on the walls will show them that you are very serious about protecting the younger two when difficult child is out of control.

    I know you want difficult child off of the zoloft, but PLEASE do not do this yourself. Not only can he have withdrawal if he has been on it for even a short while, you also really NEED a dr to supervise weaning him off this medication. Urge the doctor to try something else if you think it will help.

    As for giving up? None of us do. I think what you are refering to is DaisyFace's thread about giving up with the county/state mental health help that is most of what she has access to. The REASON she wants to give up is that in the several years that they ahve been trying to get help via this system, they have gotten NO help and a LOT of idiots who think that behavior contracts and stickers and game night fix everything. She had one therapist who wrote goals saying that her difficult child would not hurt anyone 5 our of 7 days and then another who took her daughter to open a checking account that the parents would have NO control over (and her daughter has a history of running off to meet guys she met online, or of trying to!!) and then told the difficult child that difficult child would get scholarships nad grants and TONS of money to live in style and go to college - and this is just totally unrealistic for this difficult child.

    DF wanted to give up ON THE SYSTEM that they were working with because it made even less sense than her difficult child does. She also was recognizing that ONLY the tough natural and logical consequences of her actions was going to get her difficult child to change ANYTHING, largely because this child hadn't started having problems 2 yrs before, but had them for far longer and NOTHING worked to change ANYTHING. After over a decade of fighting for help, Df recognized that NOTHING she could do would help, so she is turning to natural, logical conseuqences to help her daughter. Basically turning to the village and away from the village idiots running the "mental health system", not turning away from her child.

    This is a LONG road. You are at the start and I hope you are able to figure out what s going on with your son and get effective help for him very soon. As with ANY advice, take whatever I say that will help you and ignore/blow off/laugh at anything that isn't helpful. NOTHING is said to hurt or upset you, and I am glad you found us. Sorry you needed to find us, but so happy you did!