has anyone moved to give their difficult child a new start?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by FlowerGarden, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. FlowerGarden

    FlowerGarden Active Member

    We live in a small town. Almost everyone knows difficult child's past. He is 20 now. He feels constantly reminded of his past and that he has been "branded" as a problem. daughter and I were planning on moving in a few years. difficult child has asked if we could move now so he can get a new start. He desparately wants to get away from the "friends" that are a bad influence, from the people who talk about him behind his back, and from the people who don't want to have anything to do with him because they know of his past.
    Has anyone moved to give their difficult child a new start and if so, how did things work out for difficult child?
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    We moved when my son was 10 for exactly that reason. It didn't do any good- he had a lot of troublemaking years ahead of him still. He was the poster boy of "You take yourself with you."

    I don't know your son's history so I don't know if he's grown out of what he's trying to escape. difficult children tend to attract difficult children regardless of where they live. What is going on with your son now?

  3. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I understand the problem as we live in a small town too and my son definitely has a reputation.... which has made it harder for my easy child daughter who has to deal with all the comments about her older brother and how different she is from him.

    I can understand your son wanting to get out of town and get a new start. I think given his age of 20 that is something maybe he has to do on his own, or maybe with a little help from you. I don't think I would move solely because that is what he wanted at this point because he is an adult now. If he was younger maybe, although like Suz said difficult children tend to attract difficult children no matter where they go.

    So is there a place he could go for a new start without you? Could you help get him settled?

    Our son is right now out of state in rehab and our biggest hope is that he decides to stay there for aftercare and support and not come back home to his same old same old environment.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My son is currently 15yo and doing his second stint in state Department of Juvenile Justice. He has been having issues that include illegal activity for 5 1/2 years, although the first few years it was sporadic not continuous. I had wanted to move out of the town we lived in for several years but waws trying to juggle career, house ownership, school needs, etc and ended up staying in that town- for another thing, we had lived there since difficult child was born. Anyway, he was released from his first stint in Department of Juvenile Justice this past spring after serving over 1 year. I was unemployed, in financial dire straits and facing foreclosure on my house. My son fell apart right away and never even tried to meet parole requirements or stay out of trouble, thus he ended upn being recommitted this summer. I found a job and moved in October (last month) and I am more than a little grateful that I didn't end up having to go to a homeless shelter. This has given me a new start and I hope beyond all hopes that it gives my son a new start and a real belief in himself and motivation to try when he's released next year.

    So to answer your question, while I thought many times that moving would give him a better chance of getting out of the revolving door in the past, I really have no idea if it would have given where his mindset was at the time. It could have ended up just like Suz's situation. So I didn't move for my son, however, I am hoping this move helps him transition to a "new beginning". I honestly do believe that it will make his true colors obvious- if he doesn't put forth any effort all this time than it was all BS he was selling me.

    But, my son will be released at 16yo, not 20yo. At 20yo, in my humble opinion, your son needs to be thinking about where HE wasnts to live- and that's not your responsibility. I be darned if I'd move for a "kid" who was 20yo. I definitely think there's truth in what he's saying, as far as having a label in the town and not being able to get a fair shot without moving, but geez..he's 20. He needs to figure it out and pull his own boot straps up at that age. That's just my 2 cents.

    Then, it's easy for me to say that because I've not walked in those shoes yet. If my son was released and really making an honest effort and doing his part but couldn't get past the label and was constantly being or feeling threatened by reincarceration even though I saw every indicator that he'd turned his life around- I'm his mom and would probably do anything in my power to help him stay on the right road and support his efforts. You just never know how much or if it's the watchful eyes in the community that are helping or hindering the progress until it's too late sometimes.
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    If he's expressing a wish to get away from friends that he knows are a bad influence that's a good thing. If you aren't ready to move yet, is it possible for him to move to the new place ahead of you or move elsewhere and join you there later if that's mutually agreeable?
  6. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    We moved to another country when difficult child 1 was starting high school. It wasn't specifically to give him a new start, but we talked about how it would provide that for him.
    He found the drug users in his school and developed a major substance abuse problem. He hooked up with kids who were into weird and disgusting stuff.
    We moved back to our original location due to a job change, but took the job partly in order to get difficult child 1 away from the people he'd been associating with.
    He continued to have alcohol/drug problems. He does change to 'fit' whatever crowd he's with, so that if he's with good people, he'll stay clean and sober and do well
    for quite some time. If he's with people who do bad things, he does bad things.
    I agree with Suz; difficult child's tend to find difficult child's no matter where they are. Your son needs to make his new start either right where he is, i.e. find clean and sober and
    law-abiding people in your small town and work to merit their trust, or he needs to move himself to a situation (probably structured) where he will do the same thing.
    In either case, I would not uproot yourselves before you're ready. When you move, it should be for your own reasons. If you move sooner for your son, you may end up
    with huge resentment if/when he continues his difficult child behaviors. It's not fair to either side.
    Just my 0.02.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wish I had moved my son away from here when he was an early teen but I have no idea if it would have helped or hurt. Right now, I want to move him back out of my house but that will probably only mean moving him 300 feet out my back door...lol. Not much of a move but at least its out of my house.
  8. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Were he younger and still in school, I would say YES. We lived in small town Maine and did not get services through the school because we did not know our rights. Our boys have been deeply hurt by people's expectations, manipulations, and constant bullying.

    We left for the sake of our youngest, age of consent was 14 in Maine!!! Here it's 16, two extra years for her to mature before she tells us to blow it out our ear.
  9. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    In my experience, no. Exactly like every one else said, difficult child's find other difficult child's. That has always been the case with mine. I did move her up to Massachusetts a month ago to get her away from meth. I knew she didn't know anyone but family up in Massachusetts so it will at least take a while before she can find it up there. Hopefully she stays away from it completely, but that is up to her. It is certainly easier for her to stay away from it up there. But do I expect it to give her a new start? A magic answer to her problems? No. She has not even tried to look for a job up there. She jsut sits and waits for some one to do everything for her.
    I think it depends on your plans. What you want to do and where he is in life. Do you think he is really trying to turn it all around?
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I think it "depends". Back in the 80's GFGmom began to hangout with difficult child's. I felt powerless as one particular girl really had a strong influence on her decision and even the influence at school was indicating big problems ahead. Meanwhile my mostly easy child son began to smoke pot, hang out with guys who had no motivation and went from an A student to a C/D studentand didn't want to listen to family input. We did move. In fact my son "refused" to come with us and arranged to live with a friends family. :surprise: We all moved. The change was a culture shock. I dislike where we are and have for over thirty years!

    GFGmom benefitted from the move. Did graduate and go on to the community college. Her tenencies led her to hang out with less than perfect teens but she had no trouble with substances or the law. My son adapted quickly and once again began making good grades etc. He graduated from the University and is a highly respected State law enforcement
    leader. So, for them, the move worked.

    on the other hand I would have loved to relocate when easy child/difficult child began to get into trouble. We just couldn't do it. There's no telling.
    He is now 23 and speaks of how things will change when we relocate. When he is with family he is still a wonderful easy child.
    When he is with peers, however, he is most comfortable. My gut tells me it is too late for him even if we had a chance to start afresh.

    Parents with teen difficult child's dream of the 18th birthday. If you have a violent, substance abusing difficult child who refuses rehab and guidance then chances are you'll have them leave the nest. If you have a young adult who is showing improvement
    (even in baby steps) the decision is subjective. Our easy child/difficult child is an adult who probably would end up in stripes without the
    family support. I believe that changing cities might work if there are consistent signs of effort at home to avoid the problems that messed up previous years. I believe that changing cities might work if there is a specific occupational or educational goal with sustained interest and a pre-move indication of effort to achieve that goal. Online school? Job experience? Volunteer or church participation? A willingness to spend time alone at home in lieu of hanging out with old buddies. An abrupt change, in my humble opinion, would not do the trick. Dreaming, in my humble opinion, would just change the venue. Something showing self-discipline and a sustained interest???...maybe.

    I do agree that difficult child's attract other difficult child's like blanking magnets. :sad-very: That's why I believe that proof is needed of a sincere intent to change before a drastic change. It is possible to avoid socializing with friends in person and n the computer networking sites. It is not comfortable but if he can show introspection and learn to like himself without the need for others, maybe a relocation would help in six months or a year. by the way, we live in the same conditions in our small
    town. The easy child's who used to be his friends are now acquaintances. The difficult child's who used to be his friends are primarily still his friends and provide him with companionship and a sense of respect. :redface: Our easy child/difficult child probably will never be able to turn the corner. I hope yours can prove it at home and then make a U turn into the easy child lane. Hugs DDD
  11. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    difficult children find other difficult children because for the most part it's the only place they feel they fit in. The "normal" kids aren't too accepting of oddness. I've noticed a lot of us parents here are grown difficult children ourselves, and where are we? We're here, online, seeking out others like ourselves with similar issues to deal with, even if those issues mostly involve raising the next generation of difficult children. Seems difficult children (no matter what stripe) are also on a spectrum, so I see it not as a matter of pointing my difficult child towards the "norms" and saying "Act like them" but showing her those who are (or are suspected of having been) difficult children that really made something of themselves, like Temple Gradin, Edison, Einstein, etc., and encouraging her to make friends across all lines so long as they're not encouraging or inducing bad behavior. Mavericks and free thinkers are needed in a society, a status quo doesn't last when the rest of world is changing, I just expect her to keep her behavior within legal limits. Of course, in this household, most "norms" are referred to as "sheep" i.e. "Don't be a sheep, get all the facts and make your own opinion and choices. Sometimes the right choices aren't the popular ones."
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I was in mild trouble when I was in Jr. High School. I'd been at the same private school with the same kids since I was 5. I was a total outcast. I convinced my parents to send me to a different school when I went into 8th grade. I found more trouble than I had ever imagined within a month and had to change schools again. By January I was in so much trouble I was in foster care and never went home again.

    We had tons of kids move here from California in the 90's when they were getting a fortune for their homes there and we were selling them for peanuts here. Kids who were minor troublemakers came into town with their notorious (sometimes self-generated) stories and did way more than they had done at home in California. And their parents had no clue as to what was going on because they didn't know or have a past with the new people their kids were hanging out with. Many of them have been tried as adults and in jail since then.

    I would hesitate greatly to move to put my difficult child into a new environment. At 20 there is no way in hockey sticks I'd even consider doing it for him. He's a man and he has to figure this out. A new place is not going to change him. He is the only thing that can change him. There are places in your community that he can go, even if it is a small community. He can volunteer at any number of places to prove to himself and to others that he is becoming a responsible man. Then good things will follow him.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    He is 20. A move may or may not help him. That will depend, 110%, on HIM and HIS CHOICES. Period.

    Small towns can be unforgiving and intrusive, but they can also be wonderfully supportive and nurturing. It depends on a lot of things. Your son's behavior depends on him, and his behavior goes with him no matter what. I would NOT move an entire family because an adult child isn't doing well in your town. HE can move.

    It will probably be the best thing for him if he moved alone. He would have to learn to stand on his own two feet, and to take ALL the consequences of whatever his choices are. He owuld not be able to blame it on you or anyone else.

    Unless there was some physical danger, like being involved in a gang and having to move a long distance to get away from them and out of gang activity, I would not move the entire family to give a difficult child a new start.

    What makes you think his difficult child behavior is behind him?

    If he is in college or a trade school he could find a program in another area and move there to try it. It owuld give him a chance for a new start in a new place while still giving him some direction and guidance. If he isn't in school of some kind, he needs to be on his own and working to finance whatever life he wants in whatever location he wants to live it in.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    When my daughter wanted to quit using drugs...WHEN IT WAS HER DECISION...moving was a Godsend to her. We sent her to live with a relative in another state and she didn't find trouble. She put her life together and started over. She did not have a car. She had to walk everywhere, even to work. She had strict rules to follow, but she wanted to be able to stay there so she did what she was told (somthing she never did for us!)

    We didn't want to move so we moved her. She is still there. To this day, she feels funny coming up to visit us so we go down there. She is always afraid of running into one of her old "drug" mates. And some were quite dangerous with nothing to do but have long memories and think about revenge. My answer/opinion? Move HIM if he is sincere about doing things a better way. And force him to live on his own with minimal help from you.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    MWM is exactly right. If you go with him he will be able to be dependent on you, giving him easy excuses for not doing what he needs to do. there will be no changes with-o lots of hard work, and he is at an age where it MUST be his choice and his work. Nothing else will be effective.
  16. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I did move my difficult child at the suggestion of his doctor to get him away from the kids he was hanging with. Within a couple of months from the move he had hooked up with another group of questionables and was using and drinking and breaking laws. My advice is only move if it is what you really want to do. IF a difficult child hasn't made any progress in working on himself and his problem,s no change of scenery is going to do it for him.
  17. hexemaus2

    hexemaus2 Old hand

    Two years ago, we moved to the country. Our situation was a little different than most. As part of the civil suit against the gooberhead drunk who hit exDH, our settlement included a house on a fair bit of acreage. I already owned the home we were living in at the time, having extensively renovated it. My plan was to get the farmhouse fixed up to either rent out or sell. Then difficult child 1 really started getting in with a bad crowd, sneaking out at night, stealing, drugs, etc.

    On impulse, after finding out difficult child 1 was pregnant at 15 (almost 16,) I decided to sell our home and move us to the farm. I had hoped to get difficult child 1 away from the bad stuff and give both her and difficult child 2 a chance to start over fresh somewhere new. (difficult child 2 had his own history of issues, including a felony charge for assaulting an officer that tried to help restrain him during a meltdown, which resulted in a hands-off/no help attitude from public safety the next time he had a violent meltdown.)

    In our case, my plans were a 50/50 success/failure. For difficult child 1, it did nothing to slow her down. She left home Christmas Day, just two short months after Rae was born. For months we didn't know where she was, or if they were okay. She claimed she couldn't stand living "out in the boonies where there's nothing," but what she really couldn't stand was being away from her less-than-ideal friends and partners in crime.

    For difficult child 2, it was quite simply the best decision I have ever made for him. I'm sure part of his success was due to his sister being gone and unable to push all his buttons whenever she needed the focus shifted away from her. But in all honesty? Country life was just a better fit for him. The ability to start over, where people didn't immediately associate him with dangerous, violent behavior or being "that" kid gave him just the impetus he needed to start changing. He had a clean slate in a place where people didn't mind his quirks and eccentricities. He had a place where he could walk outside and scream at the top of his lungs to vent his frustration, without anyone calling the police or looking at him funny. (Our nearest neighbor is 8 acres away.) He wasn't forced into impromptu social interactions just getting the mail. (In our old neighborhood, even though it was a small country town, our neighbors were just a few steps away, with people always out walking or riding bikes. People would try to talk to him if he was outside - something that scared the beejeebers out of him because it put him on the spot to interact.)

    Personally? I wouldn't necessarily recommend moving JUST to get a new start for difficult child, even though for difficult child 2 it was a tremendous positive. I think it really depends on the mindset of your difficult child. In difficult child 1's case, she was almost like an alcoholic being forced to enter treatment. She resisted because she wasn't ready for it. She didn't want it. difficult child 2, on the other hand, wanted another chance. He really wanted to make a new start for himself. Luckily, the farm happened to be a perfect fit for him. But in his case, he also WANTED to build a better life for himself, desperately. He wanted to try again and learn from his mistakes. Even with that, I still consider our situation more a matter of a lucky shot in the dark than anything else. I don't know that it would have worked out the same if any of 1,000 variables had been different.

    Issues of age, responsibility, and that sort of thing aside, you have to decide for yourself what you feel the odds of his success are and if you're willing to take the risks that it might not help. If you're willing to accept the cost (financial, emotional, etc.) for an opportunity to help him get a new start, and you're comfortable with what you feel his chances are, then by all means try it. Each of us has to make those tough calls based on our children, their abilities, past experiences, financial ability, and a host of other factors. If you truly feel, in your heart of hearts, that this could really be a big step towards helping him, don't be afraid to make him stick his neck out a little for it (i.e. help with finding housing, looking for a job, maybe moving ahead of you guys and getting a household established, whatever) but offer your guidance and support (be it emotional or financial) as his safety net. Just be realistic in your expectations and assistance. You can't and shouldn't do it all for him. However, there's nothing wrong with helping a child who truly wants to help themselves.
  18. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Hex, your difficult child 2 was 14 rather than 20, and the younger child as well. Starting a new high school which he would have done anyway, tons of structure built into his daily routine... I think that's way different that FlowerGarden's 20 year old.
  19. hexemaus2

    hexemaus2 Old hand

    @witzend, that's very true on numerous levels, (except the changing schools and tons of structure part - my kids are homeschooled and much as it pains me to say, our house is pitifully far from any sort of structure. But I understand what you mean.) However, the issues of past problems, bad reputation, and other hinderances are similar. While my experience is indeed different because we moved while the difficult children were younger, my advice is still the same. If difficult child 1 were to get her act together, move back home, and ask about moving to get a fresh start, (or even just ask for help to move somewhere for a fresh start) my own approach would be the same as what I offered - to balance what I felt was her likelihood of success against the risk I was willing to take to help her.

    I would imagine it's the same question every parent in a simliar situation faces. I've seen both sides of the coin with friends with difficult children older than mine. It's the same 50/50. It's the same genuine want for a better life and commitment to building it that determines whether the child succeeds or fails. I've watched parents help their adult difficult child start a new life, only to see them fail time and again. I've watched parents help their adult difficult children get a fresh start with amazingly positive results. My experience, while with younger children, merely represents that same 50/50 likelihood and how the child's motivation factors into it. Like with MWM's daughter, her genuine WANT for a different, better life played a huge role in her success.

    In that regard, I don't think it matters if the child is 15, 20, 25, or 30. A 15 year old can get into just as much trouble and fail at a new start as easily as a 20 year old. In looking at all of my children, my 21 year old or my 18 year old would just be able to do it faster and with more long-lasting damage than my 16 and 17 year old because they have the freedom to make adult choices with tougher adult consequences. Either way, as a parent, it would still be just as painful and disappointing, not to mention any financial cost if I were to lay out the money to fund a new start or were in some way liable for costs (co-signing a lease, etc.)

    For a easy child 20 year old? I'd have to say they're an adult, time to act like one and deal with their own problems like an adult - cut the apron strings, as it were. But for a difficult child, it's not always that cut and dry, as we all know. That's all I was trying to say and only offered my experience to illustrate the difference in the child's motivation in reference to risk for the parent.
  20. FlowerGarden

    FlowerGarden Active Member

    Thanks everyone for your responses and input. difficult child has changed tremendously. 2 1/2 years ago, we had the police here all the time. He wouldn't go to school and when he did he cut classes, destructive rage, mood swings, heavy alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and disrespectful. The psychiatrist and counselors told us he was "saveable". We haven't had the police here in 2 yrs. The rages, etc. have stopped completely. He was to take another year of high school to meet the graduation requirements, but he asked to take on more work to be able to graduate with his class. I can proudly say he did graduate with his original class.
    Is he perfect? No, but working towards it. The mental health staff told us that he will slide at times but to watch to see how he handles the situation. They told us to watch closely to see if he uses any skills he was taught to handle the situation. If he does slip but uses his skills to adjust, work with him. If he doesn't, we should have him leave.

    Generally, he has a very mature way of thinking things out. He tried college, living at home, because he always has had a separation anxiety. He felt going away would trigger more anxiety. He did not do well in college with his grades. He could do the classwork but when it came to tests, he froze. He even helps his friends do their college homework and gets it right.

    He started looking for a job but the economy and his reputation worked against him. He was able to pick up odd jobs here and there and actually found a job he really enjoyed doing and is trying to persue. In the meantime, he did do something very wrong in the beginning of the year and got himself put on probation. difficult child was instructed to handle it on his own and it was his one and only "mistake" we would tolerate. Anything else happens and he is out of our home. difficult child did handle it all on his own and understands we mean what we said about being out.

    At the same time, he found a regular job. I have met his bosses and they are so pleased with difficult child. They say he is a hard worker, goes above and beyond, and they have given him more hours and more responsibilities. They also like that he makes himself available to them if they need him last minute to come to work. He gives up what he is doing to go to work.

    difficult child would like to try going back to college but take only one class, along with working. He thinks maybe his test anxiety might be less if he just concentrates on one subject. I am happy with this because he is using a skill he was taught by his former counselors. He is breaking things down into smaller pieces to be able to handle it better. He's not retreating or giving up completely.

    He just keeps getting reminded of how he was, about his reputation, etc. He also has the police following him around alot. If anything happens, they suspect him right away. People don't want to associate with him because of his past.

    He went on vacation with us to see the area we are looking to retire to. He went just to get away from his friends and his reputation. He liked the area. He would like to find a job there and attend college there to get a new start. He is just afraid of going away by himself. He wants to have someone near him because of that old separation anxiety. He has been doing so well, I want him to continue to get better. He actually does things for us without our asking, He will surprise us and do MANY chores around the house without being asked. He actually wants to do things with us now. He talks with us. We would like to see him keep on getting better. It's just such a gamble.
    Thanks so much for all you have shared with me on this subject. I appreciate it.