He's on his way home---some questions

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by CAmom, Aug 6, 2007.

  1. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    My son will be completing his program at the group home and graduating from high school (on the honor roll!) in the next few weeks after ten months at the group home.

    He will also be turning 18 around the same time. He has several hundred dollars that we've been holding for him, and I just opened a checking and savings account for him, splitting the money between the two accounts.

    At the moment, because he's not quite 18, these are joint accounts under his and our names. I had planned to remove my husband and myself as joint account holders when he turns 18 and let him manage his own money, but I'm wondering about how wise that is.

    On the one hand--one major component of the program our son has been participating in during the past ten months is independent living skills including managing the checking account they opened for him. Although he'll be living at home, probably for some time, we'd like to continue to encourage him to manage his own money without our involvement and really don't want to be involved in his spending choices other than offering advice if we're asked.

    On the other hand--we don't want to give him easy access to a large sum of money until we're certain that he's not going to go back to his old lifestyle which included not doing much of anything productive, smoking marijuana and using God knows what else, etc. However, I have serious reservations about trying to control him via his money as this is certainly how he'd see it.

    The other aspect of this is that we would really like to have his homecoming start off on a positive note and not dwell on his past mistakes, and assume, until and if he proves otherwise, that he's made the changes he says he's made and will make better choices in the future WITHOUT us playing watchdog.

    What do you all think?
  2. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Honestly, I wouldn't cut him that much slack. He did use drugs. He didn't work the program for a long, long time. He's manipulated you left and right. He needs to earn your trust back, not you just give it to him on a silver platter.

    I'd let him have a certain amount in a joint checking account. I would arrange it that he could spend this money however he chose but I'd have the right to see what was done with it. That is, no mystery passwords. The rest of the funds would be in a savings account without his name on it for the time being.

    I know this isn't what you wanted to hear and I do understand the desire to let the past stay in the past but you're talking about a simple teen digression. You're talking drugs, arrest, lying -- the whole nine yards!

    If nothing else, talk to his counselor and see how much freedom he recommends. However, that you're afraid that he'll consider it a controlling issue by you of his money rather than a protecting him from his own possible mistakes speaks volumes to me.
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    I think my answer would depend on exactly what sorts of amounts of money we are talking about here. If it is say $200 in either checking or savings...well...that isnt all huge an amount. However, if we are talking much more then I think I would do something to try to control "impulse spending" if you get my drift.

    Maybe you could put part of the money in short term CD's to maximize his interest. Tell him you wanted him to get the most bang for his buck. Or simply tell him you are holding the money for when he is able to move out on his own as a starting nest egg. Nothing wrong with that option either.

    You could also watch how he handles money when he gets a job and maybe then hand over a bit more. It really all depends on how much it is and what he wants to do with the money. If he is asking you for the money to make a down payment on a car or pay car insurance, that is one thing. Quite another to want it to go spend around town with his buddies.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    CaMom, I would not let him manage his own money, no matter what he thinks. Unless he earns it by working at a job, not your husband's, in my opinion it's not his money no matter how old he is. I always laugh when eighteen is considered the "magic" age to adulthood. in my opinion you earn adulthood by being an independent person, supporting yourself outside of your home. in my opinion you need to stop feeling that you have to give him money. He'll do better, again in my opinion, if he has to earn every penny. I also think he can't have the same freedom responsible eighteen year olds have--you need to continue to closely monitor him on every level. THat means he'll be angry at you a lot and may not like you. Oh, well (my daughter hated me at one time because I wouldn't do what she wanted me to do). I cried a lot in private, but she made such bad choices. I couldn't enable her to do the wrong thing. He was a drug abuser and not out of the woods yet. He also has a bad attitude, and just going to this Residential Treatment Center (RTC) isn't going to change him overnight. He has a sense of entitlement, and he needs to realize that nobody is going to cut him a break just because. At his age, and with his history of disregard for your wishes and the law, I'd force him to see that money is hard-earned. AT least, that is what worked for us. I can only imagine what our daughter would have done with free money! Part of how she straightened out is that she had to work, and be in shape to work, or she was flat broke. I heard the risks of drug abuse on an interesting radio program (Public Radio). One BIG red flag is a bored kid with lots of money. The lots of money part was emphasized. These kids have the means to support their habit. You asked for advice. Mine is not to give him money that he hasn't earned. Put his accounts in your name and dole out money as he needs it. That way you'll know where it is going. And now that he graduated make sure he's plenty busy so he has no time to go back to "hanging out" and doing drugs. Make him work, even if he goes to school and don't think it's too much for him. in my opinion, kids who do drugs need to be kept very busy or they fall into bad habits again. Feeling productive has REALLY helped my daughter. If you like, I'll call my kiddo and ask her outright what she suggests. She is very hard on drug users, but she has been where your son is and has turned herself around. Hugs to you. Congrats on getting your son back.
  5. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: CAmom</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
    At the moment, because he's not quite 18, these are joint accounts under his and our names. I had planned to remove my husband and myself as joint account holders when he turns 18 and let him manage his own money, but I'm wondering about how wise that is.

    I wouldn't give him total access to his money till he proves he can "work the program" at home.

    Although I agree with Janet that $200 isn't that much for him to blow, you don't want him to blow it on the wrong things.

    I'Tourette's Syndrome a tough one, because he will use the "I'm 18" card and, "it is my money" card. You can remind him that he is starting to earn back your trust and once you see he is a honest, reliable, non drug using young adult he can be in charge of his own money.

    If he is wanting it for car insurance or something like that, than it is a different story.
  6. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    Midwest Mom has made some great points. He has much to prove. It is easier for these kids to do well in a program. It is much harder to stick with it at home.

    He is at ground zero as far as you trusting him.

    I have seen a few kids come back from placements and go back to old habits.

    You are going to have to monitor him very carefully till you know in your heart he turned himself around.
  7. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Meow, I'm open to all opinions--and wasn't really looking for any particular answer, but I do tend to agree with you that it's probably best to keep some control over his money, at least until we see a pattern of on-going good behavior (hopefully), despite the fact that he'll be 18.
  8. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Janet, specifically, this is around $500 in checking and the same in savings. This money is a combination of saved allowances, gifts, and money he's been earning in the group home.

    I like the idea of at least holding onto the amount in savings for him to add to as a nest egg to help him move out when that time comes.
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Many parents actually charge their adult kids a nominal rent and put it in a bank account to give them when they move. It doesnt work here because we are so broke all the time that any rent anyone does pay goes for paying their portion of the food bill. Trust me when I say my boys can easily eat up their rent...lol.
  10. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    MW, I know I've got to stop feeling that we need to provide for him other than the basics. This is VERY much stressed in his group home, and he's finally beginning to feel a sense of pride in earning his own money. I certainly don't want to take that away from him, and he WILL be expected to work for what he gets from now on. I must say that that sense of entitlement that he undoubtedly had has not completely but at least somewhat disappeared.

    I totally agree that, despite the fact that he's going to be 18, his maturity level is nowhere near that number. I know quite well that we have at least a couple of years of "raising" to do, and he's not going to much like it.

    I also agree that too much $$ and not much to do, responsibility-wise, is a recipe for disaster, and he's going to need to be very busy.

    I think a large part of his problems in the past is that we haven't had high enough expectations of him and have babied him too much. I certainly don't want to continue doing so.
  11. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Gotta, I agree. He's doing very well in the program at the moment, but I'm sure that this is because he knows he has to in order to return home.

    If I had any high hopes that he would NOT return to his old habits at some point, I've gotten over it--one of the boys who he was involved with who was also put into placement returned home six weeks ago, just got off probation last week, and came home high last night. This boy was thrilled to be back with his family, immediately got a job which he likes very much, yet STILL went right out and smoked pot the second he was off probation, risking everything.

    Of course I hope that my son won't do the same, but, as we've been told over and over again by the therapist and you pointed out, statistics prove that most teens who go through these programs will go right back to their old habits. So, we've got to be prepared.
  12. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    MsMagnolia, sadly, I have to agree. Our son's therapist has told us that he's internalized a good deal of what he's learned but is still a long way from total understanding and acceptance on a core level. By the same token, he's also told us that only time and maturity will bring him closer to that point.

    So, we're very much trying to prepare ourselves to deal with the fact that, once he's out of the highly-controlled environment he's been in and back in the real world, things are going to be much different.
  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I have no advice but I sure am doing :princess: a happy dance
    that he is able to come home. Enjoy every minute of the new
    honeymoon.....but, sad to say, don't let your guard down too much
    as it's too easy to revert to the devestation that you experienced before. :bravo: I'm rootin' for him and yelling
    Bravo, too. DDD
  14. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    I'm glad he's finally coming home.

    Now it the time to start thinking about what he will do with the next phase of his life. What job prospect is he looking at? He doesn't have to wait until he's actually at home, he could start drafting letters, etc. Will he need a car? If so, that is where his money should be going (or being saved for). Does he have any plans at all for college? If not, what does he think he's going to do for the near future? Just working and partying should not be an option, unless he totally out of your house and living on his own.

    As soon as he's gainfully employed, he needs to start paying rent. You can base it on his salary, but he must be paying something toward his upkeep. As already stated - YOU can save that for him to use when he moves out, but don't let him know that. If he doesn't want to pay rent, then he better be doing things around the house such as lawn care, maintainence, etc. - things that you may actually be paying someone to do now.

    Oh - and no job with your husband. Make him go out and get his own job. It's a life skill he will need forever. Even if it's "just" McD. - he'll learn how to fill out applications, interview, etc.
  15. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Thanks, DDD. We need all the good wishes we can get! And we ARE going to enjoy the "honeymoon" phase and accept that that might be as good as it gets. Even more so because my son has a pattern of angelic behavior in any new situation that lasts for just about exactly two weeks before he settles in and starts trying to find chinks in the armor. So, we are as prepared as we can be for that to happen in this situation as well...
  16. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Skeeter, I agree that working with his dad isn't a great idea. His therapist feels that this is his way of avoiding adulthood, thinking his dad is going to cut him the slack that others won't. In fact, my husband is an EXTREMELY focused individual and, son or not, he won't tolerate our son not giving 100% if he really wants to learn his dad's trade which I won't believe until I see it.

    Between that, if it happens, and attending our local community college, which is what we hope he will follow through with, his time should be fairly full. As far as his money, he is focused on his car and car-related expenses, and we're happy about that.

    However, again, I'm not counting on any of this, so my husband and I are busily trying to put a Plan B in place so that we're prepared if it doesn't happen.
  17. Ephchap

    Ephchap Active Member

    Okay, I'm really going to date myself ... but what comes to mind is that old commercial ...

    You've come a long way, baby! :smile:

    You sound wonderful - happy, yet cautiously optimistic, with plans in place.

    I'm so excited for you that your son is coming home. He's come a long way, as well. :bravo:

    Yes, you'll definitely have to be on guard, but with substance abusers, that's something they/us have to live with for the rest of their/our lives. Sad, but true.

    Staying away from old "drug" friends is the key. If they revert back to old patterns (hanging with the old druggie friends), they are more likely to revert back to old habits.

    As for the money, when my son got out and started working, he handed over his paychecks to us for that first year home and we kept his money. For him/us, it worked. It was a gaining trust issue and we just wanted to make sure he was ready for that kind of responsibility and accessibility of funds. That's something you and your husband will have to decide, with input from your son.

    Sending many good thoughts and mega hugs your way, my friend. I'm just tickled. Keep us posted.

  18. tracy551

    tracy551 New Member

    18 is just a number!!! It doesnot make you responsible, it does not make you do the right things in life. My son will be 18 next year and if I was in your same position I believe I would still control some of the money aspect until he proves he has not fallen back into his old ways. I would encourage him to add to the amount and work towards a goal ( a car, school, etc.)
    Good luck
  19. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Deb, speaking of dating ourselves--I used to SMOKE Virginia Slims! UGH!

    Thanks, though...cautiously optimistic says it all!

    I'm hoping that getting out into the working world and attending our community college will at least expose him to SOME individuals with goals who don't want to distract themselves with drugs and give him a larger selection of older, HOPEFULLY somewhat more mature people to latch himself onto.

    As far as the money, he has been in the habit of handing money over to me in the past when he was saving for something, so I don't think that will be difficult to re-implement, as long as he's all jazzed about his car and accessories. He is also a complete clothes horse, and has big plans to outfit himself with some of his money.

    Well, we'll see...he's a work in progress. I have no doubt that we're in for more tough times, given the nature of who he is. I'll be SURE to keep you all posted.
  20. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Thanks Traci. I know for a fact that 18 isn't much more than a number. At age 18, I thought I knew it all, didn't care to follow my parents' rules, and left home with just enough money to pay my first month's rent. I had NO idea how I was going to make it financially beyond that, and never gave it a moment's thought.

    So, I have no illusions about any connection between my son's 18th birthday and his maturity level.