Did we do the right thing?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by GitPicker, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. GitPicker

    GitPicker New Member

    New to the forum. Wow, great to find others dealing with the same things our family is dealing with. And, I don't know how many times I read that same exact statement from others as I explored the threads.

    My story is typical of others I ran across: Adult child, spoiled, surly, into things he shouldn't be. Stole money from us that we know of - more we suspect. Stole credit card from another family member. Verbally abusive. Disrespectful etc. Kicked out over the stealing. Allowed to come home after one week out on the town. Stole from the other family member after less than a week home. Possible Drug Abuse - If so, well hidden but understand it is likely.

    We recently found out he stole from the other family member. We kicked him out of the house for the second time for that. This time, indefinitely. He is just shy of 20 years old with NO skills. He tried college. It took too much time away from video games and his friends so he failed all his classes. He had a good job but quit after a month. Now, out of the house for a while, he is running out of friends. His car is broken down and about to be towed. His license is suspended. He is about to have warrants for FTA on traffic violations. He is suffering and Darn It - I feel guilty. Like we are being too harsh.

    We are looking for a support group here in town for advice/support. I just need to know if we are doing the right thing...
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yep. You are doing the only thing that may give him incentive to change. In all seriousness, he is probably using lots of drugs, which is why he is stealing, and, yes, they are good at hiding it. They steal to get the money for the drugs because they usually can't hold a job while not sober. If he has already lost his license (I assume a DWI) you know he is abusing stuff.

    Can you give us a history on this child? Has he always been this way or did it start in his teens (a common time for these behaviors to kick up).

    I recommend going through his room when he is gone to see if you can find any evidence of drugs of alcohol abuse. Ever check his Facebook? His cell phone? by the way, he should be paying for his own stuff if he's not in school anymore. I know how hard it is to watch them fail, but in my opinion we don't do them any favors by making it easier for them to fail by handing them money, a soft bed and meals. Sadly, they usually don't appreciate it anyway and they have less reason to change their destructive paths if we take care of them...
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Welcome! You are right, your story is similar to many of us. And you are doing the right thing.

    You can not make your son to shape up, but you shouldn't help him to not to do so either. Kicking him out, making him suffer consequences of his choices, let him find a hard way, that he has to earn nice things in life give him a chance to man up. It may take time or unfortunately he may never do it, but at least you are giving him an intensive.

    Stealing tends to point to addiction (or personality disorder, but that you probably would had noticed before) and drugs are of course a common possibility. It can however also be some other addiction, that are harder to spot, because they do not show or smell. Behavioural addictions are common and much harder to notice than substance abuse. And can be just as serious and lead to same situations than substance abuse. For example my son is recovering gambler, often very well hidden addiction (even from family members) that often leads to stealing and other crimes to get money and unfortunately too often ends up to suicide. Don't get too caught up to the idea that it is drugs, it may be, it may be something else, he will not tell you or look for help before he is ready, but it is clear your son has some unacceptable behaviours. Try to make sure he can not steal from you any more. Assume he is lying to you often.

    You can however find out what kind of resources there would be for him to get help, when he wants it. As they say, advise is cheap, that is something you can give him. Information about shelters, work service programs or job openings, treatment he would have access to. That kind of things. It is difficult, but there is very little you can do, if he is not ready to help himself. Letting him find out how harsh reality really is, may help on that.

    Don't feel too guilty about him being spoiled, no skills etc. I have come to conclusion that mostly, when raising a child, modeling is, what works, if it works. I have seen extremely spoiled kids do just fine, they just model their parents responsible life style even if they have used to get everything. If spoiling would make kids unsuccessful, my High School reunions should have really different sort of people attending. Many of my classmates were extremely spoiled, most do really well for themselves now. When your kid fails to model you, it's not likely something relatively small you did (like maybe spoiling them or something similar.) It's either something in the kids wiring or something rather dramatic that happened to them on the way. Or both.

    My difficult child has now been out of our home year and a half. He is in the unique position that he does have a uncommon skill, that currently brings him roof over his head and food in to his mouth (and very good support system to help him to make it.) If he works hard and is lucky, it may bring him much more in future. We didn't exactly kick him out, but rather gave him a permission to go. He was still a minor, when he was caught stealing both from home and from friends/place of 'work' and while we didn't actually kick him out, the outcome has a lot of similarities. He did have a place to go and he did have treatment lined up, that was a condition for everything. Still it was his choice. And continues to be his choice. We can help with practicalities (for example I still manage his money to help him not to relapse. It is his own request), we can encourage and praise the good effort, we can help to finance positive choices if we choose to do so (we are paying some therapy costs just now while waiting and hoping other sources to come through, and if not, are going to continue paying. He really needs this therapy), we can give sound advise (any kid moving on their own needs those) and we can support emotionally. But we have to let them make their own decisions and carry the consequences from them. It is cute, when 3-year-old thinks it's mommy's fault he fell, because she warned about it. It is dysfunctional and not doing anyone any favours, when 23-year-old blames mom, because she made it possible for him to make a mistake.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sorry you had to find us. Yup, stealing is so common. If you arent sure about the substances then I might think they arent as big an issue. Most parents pretty much know. We arent the Leave it to Beaver generation. The stealing is for some reason. You say he is so into video games which could lead him to steal to get more and more of them. You cant bail him out again and again.
  5. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Hello and welcome. You have found a place with many wise and understanding people. As someone who just posted about my complete inability to kick my daughter out for being jobless, I understand how conflicted you are feeling about your son. However, for me stealing is a dealbreaker. I would, indeed, make her leave if she stole from me. As hard as it is, you are doing the right thing. Midwest is most likely right about the drug use. Many difficult children are master manipulators and they are very good at concealing some of their less savory habits. Hang in there.
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Janet, depends on what we did in high school. Also, I never went away to college. I was a goody-goody who didn't know what a joint looked like and who has never been drunk in my life. My daughter fooled me easily because I really wasn't too aware of drugs (still aren't). When she told me she was only smoking pot and then that she didn't like it, I believed her. Dumb? Yeah, but not all us parents are that savvy :) Not saying for sure that this young man is into drugs, but he is sure doing the stuff that drug users do. If it's not drugs, he has to be seriously mentally ill/possibly with a personality disorder. Either way in my opinion he does not belong at home.
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If its not drugs and not MI, it could also be another addiction - like gambling, for example. Typically, the behavior the OP listed would be common with ANY addiction problem... or, as MWM noted, a MH/MI issue.
  8. GitPicker

    GitPicker New Member

    Thank you everyone for your encouragement and support. You asked for some history on my son. He is a very bright kid, but very, very much a non-conformist. He has a winning personality and is very popular with people in many groups. He is a master manipulator which is one reason he is so spoiled. Until he was fourteen he did well in school, played drums in the school band and was pleasant to be around. Then he got in with a group of kids that were just the opposite. In a month he dropped band and became a different person. Used a lot of drugs and alcohol etc. Then he was arrested and a week in Juvenile detention turned him around. He did pretty well after that. He always had a problem with authority and could never follow the rules completely and at times could be extremely verbally abusive. That was until about six months ago. After a lot of part time jobs and lawn mowing, he got a good job. Full time with benefits. The works. He was unhappy tho because he didnt have enough time with his friends. He quit after not quite a month. We wonder if he didnt meet someone at the job and start using drugs again because of the hours because that is when he started going down hill. After he quit it got much worse. Verbal abuse was off the charts, coming and going at odd hours and the stealing began. The kid has great potential. He is smart and knows how to work hard. He is doing everything he can to get us to relent. We pay for his cell phone - for now. He is constantly calling and trying different ploys to get us to let him come home. The problem is he hasn't changed and he doesnt see that the problem is with HIM. It is me or his mom or everything else but him. I have done all I can to make him understand that point but he just will not admit it. Until he does and makes serious efforts to change his life and behavior I see no way for him to come home. That is a hard truth for his Mother and I to accept and we are struggling with it daily. Thanks again. GitPicker
  9. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    We talk about this a lot in the groups I occasionally attend. I will 'float' around and it always comes up lol!!! WHY do we feel so guilty about our children making bad choices? I certainly did!

    GitPicker, I have family members with 25yo, 35yo, and around 45yo that are perfectly content to sleep on the sofa and spend all of their time and money on alcohol, drugs, and partying. One's mother drives him to work and picks him up 'cause his license has been suspended. He could apply for a new one now BUT with his only 20 hour a week job and child support he can't afford it. Has it ever crossed his mind to either find a new job or find another part time. No, that would interfer with his drinking lol!!!

    My 34yo difficult child has had so many chances and he STILL has problems. You have to learn to detach and let them learn from their mistakes. I wish I had learned to detach sooner than I did. You can not make them do anything - you can only control your life - and you deserve to have a life.

    This is a great book written by a family therapist, it makes me feel stronger when I feel weak.