difficult child turns 18 tomorrow

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Steely, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    What a mind blowing thing.
    Life radically changes from this point forward.
    Now he is at and within his own right to pursue or refuse anything.
    And of course, I am also now afforded this same right with him.

    He is currently in therapeutic placement, and the goal is he will stay on the program on own volition. However, I feel a massive amount of trepidation as this birthday approaches, knowing that if he chooses to go A-Wall from the therapeutic placement, that I will have to have my big guns locked and loaded, and tell him there is not a home here anymore.

    I think in his mind he assumes there is always a home with me. He has always assumed that this is his home, and that the dogs are his, just like they are mine. I do not think I have done a good job at all of mentally preparing him for this day - not in the least. And I feel really guilty and remiss.

    However, it is what it is. The fact remains that too many things have happened for him to be able to ever come back to our home and live successfully. I see that, now, and hopefully he does too.

    Still, this is his big 18th birthday...........where so many parents are happy and out renting limos and having parties.........and yet I feel like he is just beginning to crawl out from under the rock of life and realize it is a long road..........and one he has to build, not me.

    Many, many mixed emotions. Too many to assess.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Do not lay the blame on yourself - a child's readiness to become an adult comes from two directions; from parental training (as and when the child is capable of taking this on board) and from within the child personally. If these two directions mesh then both are in sync.

    The calendar should not be the be all and end all of a child becoming an adult. It IS legally; but if a child is or is not ready is determined by how ready the child is to embrace independence. You could have taught him all the skills he might need, to become independent; but if he wasn't ready to learn then you would have wasted your efforts.

    Do you think he was ever ready to learn how to be independent? Did he ever show any interest in learning to cook? In learning how to use the washing machine? In learning how to balance a bank account? In learning how to do his taxes? In learning how to mend clothes (let alone make them)?

    If he wasn't ready to learn any of this as a child, then he will have a lifetime as an adult, in which to learn. HE had his chance to learn from YOU. He's blown that.

    If he was desperate to be independent, he would have shown signs of it in asking to do things for himself. A kid who leaves home but comes back to his parent's place to get his washing done and to have a home-cooked meal most nights of the week, is a kid who hasn't left home.

    Your son has left home. But he is also getting prepared for adulthood. Once he is legally an adult then he is responsible for the decisions as to how and when this support continues. He does need to know that he is now personally responsible for himself, that he can no longer count on you to have a place for him, to do his washing and prepare his meals - he burned his bridges when he attacked you. You certainly didn't teach him to do that. He was certainly old enough to know it was wrong.

    While ever you blame yourself for his lack of readiness, you are taking away from him the personal responsibility he must accept, before he can complete his growing up.

  3. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Well, Happy Birthday difficult child, and hugs mom. I think that boys---especially "our" boys, take much longer to reach that magical "mature" thing. I hate that society sees 18 the way it does. All the research I've seen shows that male brains do not reach full maturity in impulse control and reasoning until about 25. I know that my own difficult child is years behind socially and emotionally. Where the world sees a 20 year old---I know he is actually about 16/17. And a lot of people can't see it. Hopefully Matt will stay in treatment, will move forward in life. But, you have been a good mom and a great support to him. Have a piece of cake and celebrate 18 years of being a mom.
  4. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Sending hugs. Hopefully Matt will see his birthday as a milestone to maturity, and act accordingly.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Happy Birthday to difficult child, and to you. I am sending you many gentle hugs.

  6. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Just because you feel he can not *come back home* at this point, it does not mean you are not there for him. It does not mean either of you have given up.
    You will be able and can help him in different ways now. Your role of Mom has continued to change and shift, it will continue to do so.
    M is still growing and from your recent post, daredevil, so are you!
    Don't let this day make you feel only sadness. M has brought you many wonderful things and will again.
    Happy 18th M... and Mom
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sending Birthday hugs to both of you.

    I can so clearly remember Corys 18th. He actually acted better for about a year after that because he was scared that he was now 18. He was afraid of that number for some reason...lol. Of course, he thought I was still his legal guardian until some of his evil friends told him otherwise. It helped because he thought I had power over him because he lived in my house...sigh. Darn those evil friends...lol.

    Maybe M will have a revelation that he is just not ready to leave the program yet and stay. He may be mouthy and threaten but if he is a bit scared to actually be on his own he will most likely stay where he is. I hope.

    I am really pulling for you guys.
  8. bran155

    bran155 Guest

    Happy birthday. :)

    I understand your feelings completely, my difficult child will be 18 in 4 months and I am not looking forward to it. In my state I do not have the right to kick her out of my house, yet I still don't have the power to force her into treatment. Oh, the irony!!! She isn't complying now and it's only going to get 10 times worse after she is 18.

    Maybe, just maybe your son will stay at the facility. He might surprise you. You sound like you are prepared for the worst, that is a good thing. I admire your strength.

    Good luck. {{{{HUGS}}}}
  9. Birthday wishes. I hope that your son realizes that he needs the help and decides to stay in placement.

    Sending many hugs,

  10. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Steely, sending birthday hugs to you and to Matt.

    With regard to preparation, in a way I think it's a mug's game. With our boys, it seems that if they're not ready to hear something, then it doesn't matter whether or how often we tell them...they can't take it in.

    Matt is in a good place right now to learn the things he needs in order to become a functioning adult in the world. You are both learning and growing.

    Happy birthday
  11. SearchingForRainbows

    SearchingForRainbows Active Member


    I've missed so many posts and haven't had a chance to really catch up yet. I didn't know your difficult child attacked you (read Marg's response) and is in therapeutic placement - I'm so very, very sorry!!!

    difficult child 1 will be 18 in less than six months. I have very mixed feelings about his turning 18 too. Our situation is different, but difficult child 1 knows that once he turns 18 years of age, he needs to move out. Honestly, I don't know if he'll be able to handle this. Just for starters, I don't know if he'll even bother to take his medications. If he doesn't take them, I'm afraid to think about the consequences...

    So, even though our situations are different, I think I can sort of understand some of the mixed feelings you're having. I wish I had some great advice. Unfortunately, this is going to be new territory for me too.

    You're a great mom and have done the best you can to prepare your difficult child for life in the real world. You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. As others have said, it is now time to let go. It is time for him to live his life his way.

    I'll be keeping your son in my prayers... Sending lots of hugs to you... WFEN
  12. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thanks guys..........

    I talked to him today to wish him a happy birthday and it was really good. It was the first time in weeks I had gotten to speak to him. When I talked to him he had just successfully transfered from the under 18 program to the over 18 program (30 miles away) & signed his compliance waiver to stay there under his own volition. It was a huge step for him - and yet - in reality he had no other choice since he is 1000 miles away from home with no other place to go to. (Of course reality has not always been present or a factor in his mind, so again a good step for him.)

    He is in an intensive outback wilderness program, where they hike every day, and sleep in shelters they build themselves, and start fires from sticks. It is designed to bring the kids back to their core selves, without relying on anything but themselves. The therapist has been awesome, and I really trust her. However, this program is only an intensive 2 months program designed to transition kids from one place to another. I have told Matt that he would be going to a "second phase" after this.

    Today he told me on the phone that he was mentally preparing himself for going to the next program, and that although it will be really hard, he knows he has to do it. That statement took a lot of stress off of me.......because I needed him to understand that would happen, and to be ready, without me having to step in and be the bad guy. I am really glad he gets the fact that "home" as he knows it, will forever be changed. That statement made me feel better about the future.

    Anyway. Despite him being "of legal age", I am now set up to retain my physical boundaries simply because he is so far away. Unless he gets a job and earns the airfare to come back home, I will be able to love and support him from a distance. As sad as it is, it is also a relief. I just wish that it all had not happened so quick and so close to H's death. However. Life is life. I have realized we have little control over it, other than what we can personally control.
  13. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Sounds like you received a great gift on Matt's 18th. I am so glad you are finding peace through this long difficult process.

    Today I was walking outside, not very far, just from the van to a resturaunt and it hit me, "Walking makes me feel confident." I don't know why that came to mind but it made me stop and think about the simple act of walking. How healthy it is to walk outdoors. How that is the time for thoughts to be processed.

    I hope Matt finds the health and confidence in his daily hikes as I do in my short walks.

    Happy B-Day Matt and continued peace to Steely who is teaching us all how to stand the course with strength and love.
  14. Jena

    Jena New Member

    First I want to say Happy Birthday and yes I am soo late to this it's probably a belated birthday now, I am sorry :(

    Also so many people have written so eloquently here, there's not much more to say other than you should be proud of you. He's 18, you have given your heart, your mind, your wisdom, time and love to your son.

    Have faith in everything that you have done, that he will in turn find his place and become the man he is destined to be. That your voice will very likely be the voice he hears when faced with those hard choices in life, or when he is at an empass. I just read your response. He is mentally preparing himself, wow that is great.

    Yes i would imagine although your job was well done, and you will always be his Mom and can now love and support him from a distance it is a bittersweet experience.

    Hugs to you

    Jen :)
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Happy Birthday to both of you, sweetie. I'm glad that he is seeing the light, and that you are worrying less.
  16. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Happy birthday to difficult child!

    Good to hear your relief, Steely. I can feel you healing with each post!! WAHOO!!!
  17. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    oh hone, prayers and hugs, I know come June I will be feeling many of these feelings! Of course by then you will have wisdom to share on how you and Matt persevered!
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, Steely, I am so glad you were able to talk to him, and more, that he was so stable and was able to plan for the next stage. I agree with-Andy, you have received a gift. I am sending many hugs, and many hopes.
  19. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Today he is not doing so great again.
    Refusing food and water. Not so great to do when you are hiking all day and on Lithium. Geesh.
    I am sending a million prayers upwards. Thanks for all of yours.
  20. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Come on M... you can do this! This cyber Auntie is sending prayers to Utah that you will pull through and try. Try for yourself and your Mom. There is so much for you to do still in this life. Do not give up. Do not be stupid.
    The medications can only help you so much, you have to want some of this also.
    You can do this.