Can't bring myself to visit difficult child

The last few weeks have been crazy around here.

difficult child ran away from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and showed up at my home around midnight. I asked him what he hoped to accomplish by running away & he said he wants the judge to send him to an "easier place" or hospital.

Residential Treatment Center (RTC) decided to give him a 2nd chance & sent him to pych hospital for medication evaluation before returning. He stayed at hospital for almost a week. They had no new diagnosis.

difficult child was so angry to be back at Residential Treatment Center (RTC) he ran away again.

The staff caught him and held him in a "time out" room for two days while he threatend to kill himself and run away again. Saying, "Hey I'm telling you I'm going to kill myself so you have to take me to the hospital".

He was returned to detention where he continued to threaten to kill himself & the folks at juvie sent him to another psychiatric hospital for a week.

He's now been returned to detention & is awaiting a court date. He'll be sentenced to a lock down facility & the only one around here is a VERY dangerous place with really violent offenders. I can't save him & I'm terrified he'll become like them in order to survive.

I haven't seen him since the first runaway from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) on 3/31/07. I'm so livid with this kid. I feel like a horrible mom for not visiting him but why would waste the time to drive up there and let him manipulate me or blow up on me when I refuse to be manipulated. How do I forgive him and how do I forgive myself? Is there anything that's worked for you all? How do you deal with the anger. I feel like it's eating me up.

I've been working two jobs for a little over a month and that has me physically exhausted. My boss is interviewing for my job and that has me stressed about money. I can't seem to deal with anything.

Am I playing the victim and being as stubborn as my difficult child? Is it okay for me to not see him?


New Member
I guess you need to work out what your needs are, and when you feel comfortable seeing him. I feel that your son has a mental illness, and he is not doing well. My son went through a lock down facility, but it housed other kids with mental illness. There were staff hired to make certain that it stayed safe. I don't understand why they would put a 13 year old into a "dangerous" lockdown. He should be placed with other kids his age, and have therapy and medication trials....lots of structure, the lock down will prevent him from running away. This is what the lock down was like that my son was in.

I think that it is important to feel some empathy to those who are mentally ill. It seems that as unstable as he is acting, the psychiatric hospital should have tried some different medications while he was there. The risperdal does not seem to be helping him.

I have seen my son very unstable. He has had very erratic behavior in the past, but he is totally different on the right medication.

I am sending my best to both of you. May he go to a facility that can help him, and not be dangerous to his well being. I hope that you can find some peace and eventually be there for him.


It's hard to live with and be manipulated by a violent, angry kid and not have some resentment. He does sound very ill, though, and as angry as he is I'm sure that somewhere he still needs his mom. I'm 33 years old and have had a tumultuous relationship with my mother, but when I got sick in March I wanted my mom. That's not something we ever outgrow.

Maybe it would make it easier if you thought of his behaviors as a symptom of his illness? Cause that's what it is essentially. A symptom.

We all have our limits and it sounds like yours has been reached. My heart truly goes out to you. But this kid has already been abused by his father. I worry what would happen to him if his mother wasn't there for him.

Again, my heart does go out to you. It's not easy.
It is extremely hard for me to think he is truly ill. This was his 3rd trip to the hospital & no one has a diagnosis other than ODD. They have ruled out so many things & tell me it's just behavioral. He has no mental illness.
Nothing sends him into a rage other than him not getting his way. I don't think that's an illness. I think he's making a choice to act like that. I think he's perfectly capable of chosing differently. I think he's just stubborn and is upping the ante to see if he can win.

I guess I'm resentful because I don't blame an illness for his behavior, I blame him.

I feel like if I call him first then I've lost or given in to him. Perhaps this is unrealistic and I'm just thinking this way because I'm so used to being manipulated by him.

He told the DJO he hadn't called because he was mad at me. I guess he thinks I should have just hid him out when he first ran from Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

I want so bad to forgive him & put this behind us but I can't seem to let go of the anger. These last two years have been a nightmare. The therapist said I need to forgive myself before I can forgive him. I find that very hard to do. When I'm not mad at difficult child then I'm mad at myself for making him this way.


I don't know. I will just never believe that kids are bad just to be bad. There's usually a reason for their acting out and anger. It doesn't have to qualify as mental illness, per se, but anger and frustration and helplessness can lead a lot of people to act in ways they otherwise wouldn't.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Horrible mom - no. Exhausted over extended parent sounds like a better fit.

I've gone a few weeks between visits with kt or wm. At the worst, I could not bring myself to visit. It was beyond my realm.

And I felt that if I couldn't have a pleasant visit (from my end) it wasn't worth the visit. If I walked into the hospital, Residential Treatment Center (RTC), whatever, angry, resentful or exhausted it would be a horrendous visit.

During those times, I sent cards (not letters with a lot of emotionality) & made phone calls.

You need to ask yourself the reason for the visit. If it's out of guilt & you show up exhausted & resentful, will it help you or difficult child? If you can visit your difficult child with no expectations - simply because you love & miss him, cool.

Just my 2 cents on the topic.


New Member
Just because they call it ODD, does not mean that he is not mentally ill. At that age, it is very difficult to make a diagnoses, and often they will not make one, or they call it ODD or ADD/ODD. Often times, years later, it is clear what is really wrong and the administering correct medications will help.

Even if his behavior was due to being abused, he still needs psychological help. He is out of control, and to continually threaten suicide shows that he is crying out for help. I hope that you can eventually be there for him on some level. He might not act like he needs his mom, but at 13 he really does.


New Member
This is just a has helped me in the past when my daughter has been nasty and rude to me. I just think back to when she was an infant. She was my first born and I was so in love with her. Even though our children push us away with their anger, they still reach out to us. I think that it is our role to provide unconditional love during the most difficult times. Believe me, I feel for you! There are so many times that I do not like my daughter, and get disgusted and embarrassed by her, but she's my child.

Good Luck...Hope things get better and your son gets the help he needs!


I think one of the keys is that you said when you are not mad at him you are mad at yourself for making him this way. To me that is where the crux of the matter lies. I found regarding my difficult child 2 that once I was able to stop blaming myself for the abuse she suffered from her sister it was a lot easier to actually feel sympathy and love for her and not be angry with her. I don't understand why I would be angry at her for something I considered my fault but that was how it seemed to work. Now I have let that go and just focus on how I can help her and be a good mom to her from this time on. Don't know if this makes any sense--I think Linda gave you good advice. I sure do feel for you--sounds like a horrible situation.

Oh, my difficult child 1 was in a lock-down facility out in Utah--they aren't all awful, hers was really nice. She liked to brag that she was in a "number 3 lock-down facility"--guess it made her seem tough or something.

Let us know how you fare,



Active Member
my son first was taken into the system at age 13. he spent the next 5 yrs in and out of the juvie system. he ran from two facilities. one had never had an escape. he left that one in his stocking feet with a boy he had met. they hitchhiked and lied their way from PA to north carolina and were gone 9 dys. I was sick with worry.

when they got him back they sent him to a juvenile jail. top security, all shiny stainless steel, to visit you went thru a metal detector, and several locked door systems. it made me sick too.

when I visited him there he was angry and mean. I had driven a long way there and was nauseous from it all. he got up and asked to me taken back to his cell within minutes. he told the guard never to let his parents visit again.

he was then sent two yrs to a minimum security place 6 hrs from me. I went monthly. when he got a home pass he disappeared and ran off for 4 dys over Christmas. again, no contact to me.

he has caused so much pain. he has been thru many psychiatric evaluations and one hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital for an evaluation. all they came up with was drug abuse. the last one was done by the prison system. no more drug abuse, but they found he has anxiety, depression and passive aggression. he self medicates (still) with alcohol..mostly vodka.

dont blame you. it is a big challenge and you were up to it all.
thing is at some point they are too big, too determined in their ways, too manipulative, too much lying, so much sorrow. in self preservation, we back off for a while to lick our wounds.

that is not to say we do not love them, just that our resources are depleted and we need to replenish, regroup and set new boundaries to save ourselves.

be good to you. he is being helped by the pros for now. not your fault. you would not want this, he forced it.
Heather - you're right he's certainly angry & frustrated about a lot of things. Poor kid won't open up & talk to anybody, counselors, psychiatrist, grandparents, nobody can get him to tell what's on his mind.

Linda - thank you for your words. If I force myself to visit him out of guilt then I will be resentful & exhausted. It wouldn't do either of us any good.

Oceans - I don't know if he's truly suicidal. When he ran away from Residential Treatment Center (RTC) a month ago it was because he wanted "some place easier, like a hospital or other Residential Treatment Center (RTC)" He kept repeating that he could do his time in the hospital because it wasn't hard. The hospital is not there to modify behavior so there's no challenge for him. I do think he's geniuinely sad about where he's at and how his life as come to a halt. I'm sad about it too.

nlg319 - I'll look back & see what I can find. I did love the toddler years. He had this curly hair black hair. I couldn't bear to cut it. He was funny and sweet. He has a good heart.

Jane - That is how I feel, I'm angry at him for something I consider my fault. I'm guilt ridden and angry with-him at the same time. The lockdown in our state is really bad. They don't have any choices there's just this place and something they call "state" and I hear that "state" is the worst but this place isn't far behind. You know you're in trouble when counselors, therapists, lawyers, & psychiatrists all cringe at the mention of him going there. It's just too tough for him. The punishment isn't going to fit the crime. There are private pay facilities but I can't afford them.

ants mom - That's exactly it, he forced this. He's gone so far and done so much. I couldn't rescue him if I wanted to.

The judge appointed a GAL for him. I've tried to call him but he doesn't answer. I wonder if he can find some better resources for difficult child. I hope this isn't what the rest of his teen years are like. He had a pretty good childhood. It all fell apart a few years ago but it wasn't always bad.

Just before he was released from hospital one of the social workers called me at work to ask why I hadn't come to see him. I told her I wasn't aware he was there until two days after they brought him there. I thought he was at detention, I showed up there to visit & they told me. Then I had to wait another day & a half to get the patient code because the hospital wouldn't confirm if he was there or not without the code. Then the sw continues to make little comments like "well, most people just drop these kinds of charges. They don't follow through with them" - so, what does that imply about me. I'm an evil, vindictive mom for trying to put a stop to him threatening me?
Then she says "I just don't want him to feel like he's been abandoned because he would be justified in feeling like that" - so aside from the year he lived with his dad I guess the last 12 years I took care of him don't count for anything? I guess the once a week parenting group and once a week family therapy (that only I go to because difficult child's gone & his dad won't admit to needing help)doesn't count for anything either.
Then she tops it off with "well you have to do what you have to do. good luck to you both." - what a hag.


Mom? What's a difficult child?
You have to let what the hag said roll off of you!!! No one knows what you have gone through! She is speaking out of her rear... maybe from what she has dealt with or seen or because that is what kind of Mom she is!!!

No one will evet appreciate what you are trying to do for your difficult child. I am sorry the system stinks and nothing comes easy...

One thing I thought of is that the word "NO" is a trigger for most BiPolar (BP) kids... being told they can't do something, can trigger an extreme rage... we thought our difficult child was starting to act like a little demon until we realized this is a huge trigger for her! Not that it makes it OK, but now we have to adapt how we say "no' and lead up to it... walking on eggshells. I don't know if he is BiPolar (BP) or if there is a family histroy... just a thought. For an outsider it can look like they are just being brats or trying to get there way. When in reality it is the inabilty to change gears midstream, they have already made up their minds to do something, then they are told no... it is sometimes impossible for a child with a mood disorder who hasn't been taught the skills or given the right tools, to be able to just go with the flow.


New Member
I am thinking that your son feels like his life is entirely out of his control and is trying to manipulate things so he feels like he has some power over his destiny. Kids like this don't understand that they have power mearely by doing what others tell them to do. They want to feel powerful, not like sheep following along. Added to this the fact that he was abused by his father and is probably stressed by that and now he has been sent to a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) can only be adding fuel to his rebellion.
While he does need to be controlled and does need o be at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC), he also needs to feel empowered. The key is not to break these kids spirit but rather to make them learn to channel it into appropriate behaviors. Sounds easy but it is not. And some kids become so stuck in their rebellion that you cannot seem to make any headway.

You say your son's only diagnosis is ODD. Do you have imput into his care plan? Can you discuss the possibility of approaching your difficult child with some sembalance of him having some control over his destiny?

I am thinking that maybe something like this tactic will work.

I had an 11 year old foster son. He was very angry and basically put me on the firing line 24/7. His diagnosis was ED. I realized that alot of his anger came from not having any controll over his life. He had be bounced around alot. I then sat down and tried to figure out how I could help him feel like he did have some control. For me it was his grades at school. He was barely passing and not living up to his potential and was acting out in school. He was at risk of being left back. The previous foster mother made him drag an assignment sheet around and have it signed every day by every teacher and bring it home or she would punish him. it wasn't working and he was becomming more and more defiant until she finally had him removed from her home. He cam to me after being in 21 foster homes and having had three failed adoption placements. I spoke with his previous foster mother and asked what she had done in the way of dicipline school etc. I then took a different approach. I told him that I was the end of the line. That if I had him removed he would go to a group home. If he hurt any of the other children in the house he was gone if he hurt me he was gone if he damaged my property he would be gone and I would seek restitution. I then told him that I was not going to be his policeman when it came to school. I told him that a good education was a good basis for a successful future. I said that if he wanted some control over where he would end up in life that was an excellent place to start. I told him that it was his life and his responsibility to himself to do well and then I let him take control of that area of his life. He became a straight A student and never dropped the ball. He continued to make progress in other areas and was doing great until he was adopted by someone else 18 months later and things reverted back to his parent forcing issues and him feeling like he had no control.

The point is that my foster son did excellent when he felt in controll and the minute he felt that the reigns had been taken away he acted out. Obviously a 13 year old cannot have control over much of his life but maybe you and the staff at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) can do some brain storming to come p with ideas that will make him feel more like the master of his own destiny rather than a victim. -RM
RM - Thank you for the insight. I wonder if that isn't what my difficult child is feeling. Putting into perspective the events that lead up to the most outrageous behavior. I lost my apt & we had to move away from all of his neighborhood friends. Then a month later his dad lost his place. He had to change schools and because of his behavior he was eventually expelled so now he had no friends at home or school. It must have been really lonely for him, aside from feeling totally out of control. We have the grade issues too. Perhaps when he comes home I can try this. difficult child is certainly stuck in the rebellion now. He must feel like he can't give in or he'll lose everything. Funny thing is he's lost his freedom, his home & friends temporarily as he cannot visit them. What else is there to lose.
Yes, I think it's time both he and I get out of victim mode & get on with our lives. I hate to see him waste so much time & energy on rebelling. He could be in sports right now, playing after school and on weekends. He could be gearing up for a big bike ride his boy scout troop is doing in June. He's missing out on a lot of good stuff.

Totoro - Maybe no is the trigger for him. He certainly can't stand hearing it. I guess my only concern is that I've seen him totally calm down & change gears if he gets his way in the middle of a rage. I'm not sure a BiPolar (BP) kid could do that, can they?


Well-Known Member
Your statement of calming down and changing gears in the middle of a rage if he gets his way is a question about bipolar that I have also. Is that possible? My difficult child can do that also so I keep wondering...