Have run out of ideas but can't give-up

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by scary&sad, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. scary&sad

    scary&sad New Member

    Newbie to this site, my sister found it thinking it might help me help my son. We have a 20 yr old son no longer living in the home. We are paying for him to live in a room over a bar, can no longer have him in the home. Have had 5 very difficult years: defiance, damage to property, disrespect, theft, pot and alcohol, poor grades, taking the car, self-injury, homemade tattoos.
    Our son has had 4 inpatient psychiatric stays, has been diagnosed with ADHD, severe depression and bipolar depending on which psychiatrist you ask. Has been on lots of different medications. He spent 9 months in a treatment center in UT until he was 18. A waste of 75 grand. He came out the same way he went in, only learned some new tricks.
    He's now racking up an arrest record; pot and disorderly conduct are the latest. I've tried it all and here is my son 20 years old working on a record and no job. I can't seem to give up as I strongly feel he does have a mental disability (runs on the family). He has trouble controlling his anger, then breaks things, then cries, then feels worthless and doesn't care.
    Looking for any advice as I'm running out of ideas. I am back to the one day at a time. Trying not to be too depressed as I have another teenager in the house.
    Thanks for listening.:sad-very:
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the board, and I'm sorry that you need us. ;) I think you have probably hit the right area of the board, given that your son is 20 years old. I'm one of the tough old broads of the board, so I will keep it to a minimum, and hope that one of the kinder gentler ladies will step in. Truth be told, the advice is probably the same from all of us.

    I think that for most of us with kids who are older than 18 and getting into trouble with the law, we begin to realize that we have to let them go with the consequences of their actions, and that we can no longer help them. They have to get it themselves.

    It's funny, as I was reading your message, I had the tv on in the background. The people were attending an AA meeting, and saying the Serenity Prayer. This board isn't a 12 step program by any stretch of the imagination. But a lot of us have found some wisdom in those words.

    "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change"
    (Our grown children's poor choices.)

    "The courage to change the things I can" (Live our own lives for ourselves, thereby being stronger for those around us.)

    "And the wisdom to know the difference."

    I think most of our kids have some sort of diagnosis that seems hopeless, and we have done everything in our power to get them the tools they need to live a productive life. They have trouble controlling their anger, like yours, but they do have the tools to do so if they apply them. But they have a warm place to stay, food to eat, money (or things to trade) to buy drugs with. So they don't have to use those tools to get a job and be a productive member of society. Hunger is a great motivator. Sometimes when we let them go hungry or be cold, they figure it out. Not always, but more often than not. It's as hard on us moms to watch it and not jump in as it is for them to go through it.

    I know your journey is a difficult one. I hope that you know that you are not alone. My advice is to let him fall and have to find his own way. You can't make the right choices for him. Those are his to make.

  3. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Hi S&S,

    I join Witz in welcoming you here. I'm another tough old broad. I have no patience at all with violence, law breaking, and disrespect. I am one of the ones who had to learn to detach through my son's arrests, Residential Treatment Center (RTC), group home, being fired from job after job, numerous evictions to eventual homelessness.

    He finally started to come around a couple of years ago but it was an arduous journey all the way around. He admits now that there wasn't a thing we could have done for him that would have helped...until he was willing to help himself.

    Take a look at the link about detaching that I have posted in my signature. The PE family here, plus this link, brought immeasurable support, good sense advice, and held my hand throughout.

    Please add a signature. There are many of us here and having a signature helps up remember each other's stories. Here's the link to instructions:


  4. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I am so sorry. This sounds horribly painful. Our daughter's situation is different, yet the same. She's been diagnosis'd with ADHD and Bipolar Disorder. There have been other theories re: diagnosis as well and she has some medical issues. Knock on wood, she is not a drug user. Mood swings and impulsivity are her major dilemmas.

    I have some ideas..but honestly, I am not sure if there are any absolute right and wrong answers here. Just ideas....

    The family is always deeply affected when someone in it is ill. We've had many difficult years. It did get easier when she moved out of the home. However, I think her ups and downs may have worsened.

    My husband and I went to a few meetings of Families Anonymous and found the group helpful. Ironically, the parents there all have one thing in common...their kids are substance users and their use caused difficulties and confusion in the home. Our situation is a bit different, yet we still received benefit. It is hard not to "buy" into the chaos, since these are our kids and we want so much to help them. All totally confusing since they are unwell (when there is a clear cut diagnosis, for example).

    But even those who are ill have some degree of control. AND even those who are unwell need to make a decision to do their best to get better. To see a doctor or p-doctor or t-doctor for example.

    I'm still processing it a bit myself...all soooo hard. I have found comfort and wisdom in setting up boundaries. Many here like a book called Boundaries by an author with- the last name of Cloud. Sue's link at the bottom of her posts on detachment is very good. Groups like FA or Alanon can be wonderful!!!! Please consider checking them out if you have not done so already.

    Especially since your adult child is younger than 21, I would (for now) consider paying for the apartment and also consider paying for him to get good medical care...especially the services of a psychiatrist. In fact, especially if he is willing to put forth effort, I would be willing to help out with medical care for some time.

    Of course, I would encourage him to go to AA (or NA) perhaps print out nearby locations from your computer 'cause chances are he either doesn't have on-line access or doesn't have it regularly.

    However, you can lead a horse to water....can NOT make him drink.

    That's about it.....you can't torture yourself and let your personal needs go unfulfilled because of this. You did not cause this. You can't live your life in fear or anguish. Never let him or anyone abuse you physically or verbally. If he calls you on the phone and is verbally abusive, hang up. If he comes by your place and is rough with- you...call the police.

    At age 21, you probably should seriously consider pulling back even further, but for me personally, I would be willing to do a few extra things right now (on a limited basis, at a certain distance and with boundaries in mind).

    At age 21, think about ending support (with the possible exception of some medical needs). Think about giving him some numbers of social service agencies and letting him know that you will help him with- his medical needs if you are able and he is cooperative.

    Since he might have bipolar diagnosis, the services of a psychiatrist would be important in terms of better health. Medication (if he is willing to take it) might be helpful. But, don't help him out medically unless he is cooperative and you are able to do this financially, etc. And protect yourself, by limiting your involvement and absolutely, positively "detach."

    If he has been making sincere efforts to stay out of trouble with the law and is seeing a physician and is polite to you, but his mental disabilities get in the way of him being able to be employed, I would inquire about social security disability and provide some assistance in helping him complete the forms, etc. But I would not help him, if he is not trying to get his act together and/or is unkind to you. I like to go the extra mile in terms of medical needs, but one must draw the line at some point. These "kids" have to feel the consequences for their inappropriate behaviors and sometimes/many times....those consequences are steep.

    Regardless, I believe you would want to be rapidly moving toward detachment and by the time your son reaches the age of 21, I believe you would benefit by being immersed in the concept. You have your own life to lead and its very important that you do this very thing.

    It's hard to believe right now, but there is a good world out there..even with- this turmoil going on. You owe it to yourself and your other teenager...to make a choice to look at this differently. Also to nurture yourself. Let go of the pain and reach for happier thoughts. Please go to Suz's link...read the entire thing; the "Letting Go" poem at the bottom is exceptionally good!
    This detachment thing might be hard, but it is well worth the effort. Sending you good thoughts on your behalf and lots of hugs.

    p.s. Witz mentioned the Serenity Prayer. It is very comforting for me...such wisdom and truth. A powerful prayer indeed!
    Lasted edited by : Nov 30, 2009
  5. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    my dtr also attended an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) in Utah (when she was 16 for 8 1/2 months). She did very well there but relapsed almost immediately after returning home and we too spent tons of money (about $50,000) on this place. She is now 21 and has not lived at home since age 18 and has been living about 3000 miles from us for nearly 2 years. I found I had to detach and let her fall. She is doing "okay" now--has been homeless, in an abusive relationship, has a 1 yr old baby, works as a stripper. Not what I dreamed of for her, but she has shown me she can survive somehow and that she has tools if she wants to use them. I guess what I am saying is I had to completely let go of her (especially as I had a younger dtr who was being negatively affected by all this). We have a relationship--we talk on the phone and I do help her financially at times but only if I can do it without feeling resentful and used.

    Hope we can help you--at least you can know you are not alone!

  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi...welcome to the board.

    Your son sounds a lot like mine. We had theft, taking the car, damage to property, defiance, complete disrespect, HS dropout, pot, etc.

    A year ago we tossed him out. Probably a little late. We dont support him in anyway but emotionally. Well...I take that back, we do give him some food from time to time and once in a blue moon I may give him 10 bucks for some gas but he has given me money for gas too from time to time.

    He has improved by leaps and bounds over the last year. He wont be returning home. At this point we would probably allow it if something dire happened but he swears he will never allow that to happen. I believe him. He is a stubborn cuss.
  7. judi

    judi Active Member

    Like everyone else here - my son's actions brought me here almost 9 years ago!

    My how time flies when you're raising a difficult child....not!

    Our son did the IEPs (what a joke), multiple psychiatric admits, as many medications as I could get the docs to prescribe, several school placements, several RTCs (much $$$ spent also), a couple of weekends in jail. We saw counselors, pastors, did Parents Anonymous meetings.

    And....the end result? He is 24 now and we haven't seen/heard from him since June 2008. From a friend, I learned he blames us (husband and myself) for all his problems. He too has had numerous jobs.

    We have learned that we must just separate ourselves from him. It doesn't mean that we don't love him (we do) or that we don't want contact (we do). We will be there when/if he changes his mind.

    Take care...I wish you peace with your decisions.
  8. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Hi, and a warm welcome. I am another tough old broad with a 21 year old difficult child whose history sounds much like yours. We've been through the multiple diagnoses, psychiatric admits, IEPs, drug and alcohol problems, disrespect, violence, etc. Our difficult child moved out six months ago and, while he still has a long way to go, he's learned more and made more progress while on his own than he ever would have with us. We don't support him financially at all, although I give him some help with medical appointments and paperwork because of his auditory processing deficit and memory problems. I think he just has to work things through himself. It's hard - there's so much we want to be able to do for him, but we've learned that doing things for him just sets him back. He has to learn things himself. So we try to remember that this is his life, and we have our own lives, and we love him but can't make decisions for him.

    Re the temper/violence/breaking things/crying cycle, we've definitely been there done that. If I got upset along with him it just intensified his raging; I had to learn to get very calm and cold and tell him clearly what the consequences would be should he cross that line. Once he knew I meant it, the whole dynamic changed.

    I don't have any great advice, except to hang in and be there for the rest of your family, especially your younger child. The younger ones get severely affected by the turmoil and depression that goes on - remember to focus on a younger child even more than you might otherwise. Warm wishes and big hugs.
  9. aninom

    aninom New Member

    Hi scary&sad, and welcome! I am pretty new here myself, and it really is a "soft place to land".

    I want to echo what others have said. This struck me in particular:

    Disability or not, he seems capable of making his own decisions. They just happen to be bad ones, for now. And you need to turn that around.

    You are paying for his room - but withdrawing that financial support, for example, is not the same as giving up. It is perhaps the only way you can enable him to support himself (and not keep doing what he has been doing).

    Maybe you can tell him you WILL stop paying his rent in a set date from now, two months maybe, and that this is the timeframe he will have to find a job?

    And I say this because I know that, if he is enabled to behave and live this way at 20, he WILL live this way at 30. I know it's tough to say no, because you love him, because you fear he will only get in so much worse trouble if you don't provide for him. But it's an idea.
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    Just like I would encourage you to help your adult child get good mental health care....
    Would want to also add that if you (or you and your husband) find this overwhelming, it might be best to seek the advice of a licensed mental health counselor or other mental health professional. That is where you can get the best help. These things are so very complicated and can be very draining. Wishing you well...sending good thoughts.
    Lasted edited by : Dec 5, 2009