How did you know when it was time?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by welcometowitsend, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. Hi everyone. I have been away from the board for a while but the roller coaster has not slowed down at all.

    difficult child was diagnosed Major Depressive Disorder - moderate in August. The psychiatrist said he could possibly be bipolar but that we would have to wait and see. He tried Ciprolex for about a month and then went into a major depressive state very quickly and was threatening suicide at school. The school called the police and he was held in hospital on a 72 hour psychiatric hold. While he was there they changed his medication to 300mg of Wellbutrin. Partly because it has been shown to have some benefits for ADHD as well as depression and partly because he refused to take the Ciprolex any longer.

    He ended up staying in the hospital for 5 days (not including the day he was admitted). He spent the first couple of days blaming me for everything, including his being there. Then he read the book "Life Strategies for Teens" by Jay McGraw and it seemed as though a light went on his head. He completely changed his attitude. Apologized to me for all the trouble he'd caused, realized it was his responsibility, etc. etc.. He came home from the hospital and said he was going to change things in his life. Great! Yippee!! Cautiously hoping he meant it. So, we signed him up for guitar and voice lessons. Dealt with his suspension from school (he was carrying a knife) and moved forward.

    I decided to go back to the beginning and take things slower with difficult child. He really needs to start taking responsibility for things in his life - anything. So, we went back to just asking the basics of him. No internet in your room, no food in your room, pick up your dirty clothes and put them in the laundry, go to school. I thought if I could get him into the habit of doing these small things and being successful with them then we could have some positives for him and he would continue to improve. So, I gently prodded him to pick up his things, reminded him about the internet rules, woke him up so he wouldn't miss the bus......... After an entire week of asking him daily to pick up his clothes and him not doing it I told him we needed to have a conversation about this because it was becoming a problem. He went ballistic on me. Screaming, carrying on, swearing, yelling at me, refusing to come home (it was a Thursday night), informing me that I could come and pick him up on Saturday, just way out of control. This was the first time since he'd came home that he'd been called on anything - and he immediately reverted to his old ways so he'd obviously learned nothing.

    Now, I know dirty laundry is not the end of the world. What I have a huge problem with is him not taking any responsibility and the total lack of respect he has for me.

    The next day he tried to bully me into doing something for him but I refused. I gave him plenty of opportunity to apologize for his previous behaviour and he wouldn't. He just kept escalating and trying to bully me into doing what he wanted at the exact time he wanted it. Then he told me to f'off and he wasn't coming home. I didn't see him again until Sunday at which time he got an earful from me and he apologized, acted very remorseful and said he really wanted to do better. After which he immediately resumed his previous irresponsible behaviour.

    He is failing/nearly failing every course. He has skipped at least a dozen times in the last 6 weeks. He left the house on Friday, came home Sunday, went to school on Tuesday and hasn't come home since.

    He quite obviously does not want to be parented any longer in any way shape or form. Since he started guitar and vocal lessons 2 weeks ago he has spent all of 30 minute practicing for both. They cost me $70 a week. I am exhausted. This nonsense has been going on for a year. He used to be a pretty easy kid and a good student. I don't know who he is anymore.

    I am constantly asking "What should I do?" So many people ask me why we haven't kicked him out already. Then I look at other parents and I see how they are sticking it out longer and through some things that are worse than what we are going through. I just don't have the answer.

    He is 16. He is so young but I have zero control over him. Under the law I can not send him to any special school, can not force him to go to school, he can move out if he chooses. He will not be disciplined, has stolen from us and his sister, follows none of the rules.

    I feel like I am so close to just telling him he needs to find somewhere else to live. husband is only holding out for me. It kills me to make this decision. What if I'm making it too soon and he's going to come out of this and mature and get better? What if instead of maturing and getting better he gets worse out on his own and ends up in more trouble? I'm terrified to make this decision but I almost feel like I have to in order to save the peace in our home, my health and the rest of our family.

    My question is: How did you know it was time for them to go? How did you make peace with it?
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I'm so sorry. Not sure, but I think you might have some legal avenues with a 16 year old. Can you call your local police department and find out?
    There is an interesting book called "Yes, Your Teenager is Crazy," that you might want to read. However, if your son has mental illness, there will be more going on than simple teenage angst. Is there any way he might consent to family therapy? This could help a lot. He should also be attending individual therapy. Another there a family member he can stay with for perhaps the rest of the school year or for six months until things settle down?

    If things continue to be so very out of control in the home, and you can afford it, you should probably consider looking into a therapeutic boarding school. They are expensive, etc. But, they often provide a lot of help. And, believe it or not, you can hire someone to escort your child to the school. There are good ones, so-so ones and bad ones, so they have to be researched very carefully.

    If you can't afford such a school, then I just would go with "logical consequences." If he refuses to follow clear cut rules or is abusive to you or other family members, make sure there are clear cut consequences to these actions. It might not be legal to kick out a 16 year old...I would check that out as well. However, you can take away his cell phone and all other priveleges until he decides to behave in a manner that is responsible and civil.

    It might not be the right time since he is so young (others might have more experience with this), but at some point if things don't change (in the next year or two), yes, he might have to leave and find his own way in this world.

    Make sure you take VERY good care of yourself...nurture your relationship between you and your spouse...find joy even with this great difficulty and heartache in the background. I do hope it turns around for you and your family.
  3. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    I think every situation is different and you will need to find out what the laws are where you live concerning kicking a 16 yr. old out of your home. One option might be to talk to a juvenile judge and see what programs are available for a child who cannot be supervisd to the extent necessary in order to protect him and others from his out of control behavior. I know that is a tough one to consider because most of us would feel that we are admitting that we are not "good" parents. I feel that it is just the opposit.
  4. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    It is so confounding, isn't it? I would agree with Pasajes, and just add that you don't need to take abuse, but it's clear he does need more help. Walking on eggshells in your home will only mask the problem. In my particular case, I knew it was time when difficult children drug use negatively impacted absolutely every relationship and every otherwise healthy aspect of his life. I was tired of being blamed, abused, stolen from, terrorized in my own home. I can tell you also that I reached my limit way before husband reached his limit, and I had to slow down and wait for him to catch up.
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911


    How did I know it was time? How does anyone know it's time? And I exhale/snort as I sit here and I think back and I take a long, long exhaused exhale, sigh....parental moan, draw my hand over my face, because I flash back to that day.....and all the other days, weeks, months and years before that - which collectively had become my life, my hell, my prison, my exhaustion, my embarassment, my demotion in dreams, my sadness. my loss of meaht. my loss of mental health, my increase in medications, my loss literally of hair, my increase in weight, my financial demise......and while the last thing I'll mention here truly doesn't bother me - my lack of "friends" because when I tell you he really cut the weak ones and the untrue ones from the herd? I'm not kidding - the only friends I have in the world - exist here - in cyber space. The ones in the real world could not handle our life. NO ONE wanted to be anywhere near what we had in our how did I know? When I feared for my life, when I was called names that made a bikers jaw drop, and when I had no options left - no stone unturned......and sat and wondered - like you......but what if????? IF I put him out.....will HE die? Or if he stays will I die? And the therapist literally would be me. I worried if he stayed he would get to a point where we'd all end up on the news......and that's not an exaggeration in the least.

    So if you throw him out, put him out......send him elsewhere - however you need to put it to ease your mind (and you have to figure that out yourself) is there a chance that he could get worse? OF COURSE. Will he? Who knows. Did mine? ABSOLUTELY. Was it worth it? Yes. Why? Because it was THE ONLY way he every learned to APPRECIATE anything we had done for him, given him.....and could he get into trouble? Yup. Did he? OH you bet. He's now a convicted felon on probation......and what did that teach him? ........I can't bail him out. I didn't go there,,,,,,I didn't visit him......I haven't SEEN him in four years. (one time for 1/2 a day to pick up my Granddog) .......and in the mean time......he has a child......and..........

    He's out of jail, paying a nice home, GOT HIMSELF in school, working on getting a PELL grant......a GOOD JOB......a drivers license.......a h ouse.......I mean it took four does it happen??? Yes.....but HE did it......NOT me......and that is the difference......FOUR years makes. He's now 22.

    Not how I wanted things ------but it's not MY LIFE. Capish?
  6. I've had to call the police on him (for my safety) a couple of times in the last 6 months. We have learned that age 16 is exactly like age 18 in most US states. I have no way of sending him to any residential school or treatment program unless he is willing to go. We have a good program very close to us that he could go to but he has to enter it willingly and commit to being there for a year. They require the kids to work full time or go to school, they teach them responsibility and life skills and then help them transition into the real world. The problem is that he has to be willing to go - we can not legally force him to do anything. Maybe if he were in trouble with the law they could force something but he's never been arrested.

    I am legally allowed to kick him out of the house at 16. I don't want to but I can. At that point he can go to a youth homeless shelter and they will help him get on social services - which really isn't enough money to live on. But he informed me tonight that he has another buddy that's been kicked out and he offered to share an apartment with difficult child.

    Nomad - We are trying some new consequences now. He no longer has any internet access in our home. I will only drive him to work and home again. If he wants to go out for any other reason he has to walk, bike or take the bus. If the behaviour keeps up the voice and guitar lessons will be cancelled. Other than that I don't have much else except to send him packing. I can't ground him because he can walk out the door and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The police won't look for him or pick him up and he is not required to tell me where he is. I hope these consequences start to wake him up and make him realize how much his father and I try to help him.

    Calamity - I think that is where husband and I are right now. He has reached his limit and I have not gotten there yet. I'm afraid I'm very close and I hate saying that because I don't want it to be true. But here we are.....

    Pasajes - Thank you. I wish I could find a place for him. I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately our laws don't let me force him to do anything now that he is 16. In some ways I wish his behaviour had started younger and then we could have used that option before he turned 16. And I to agree that it doesn't make us bad parents to admit we need outside help.

    Star - Thank you so much for being so candid. I am very glad that your son has turned things around and is doing so much better now. I am definitely not as afraid as you were but my son does intimidate and bully me. He likes to use his size to make me 'uncomfortable' around him. He calls me nasty names. I hate that he comes and goes and lately seems to be gone more than he's home - yet at the same time the house is so calm and peaceful and happy when he is not here. Of course, I hate saying that too but it's true.

    I keep trying different approaches trying to find something that will work and nothing seems to. He's been seeing the best therapist around for months and it doesn't seem to have changed a darn thing. We have an appointment with him tomorrow night. Not sure if difficult child will go but I will be there to talk to him.
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Since he has a buddy to split an apartment with, I think it is time. Not time to kick him out, time to begin treating him like the adult he says he is. I'd suggest sitting him down and telling him that you love him and you are tired of all of the fighting. Let him know that children, even adult children, that live with their parents are expected to follow certain rules. Acknowledge that he does not want to follow the rules and that, as a 16 year old in your province, he can move out as adult and then he and his roommate to set rules that work for their household. Offer to help him get settled (give him linens, dishes, his bed?). Let him know what (if anything) you would still be willing to pay for -- school fees? supplemental health insurance? car insurance? bus pass?

    Make sure you repeat several times that you are not kicking him out, that you are honoring his choice to move into the adult world.

    If he agrees that he wants to leave, try and set up a weekly 'family meal' where you get together and just enjoy each others company. It will give you a chance to see that he is doing okay and give him a chance to maintain those family ties that will, one day, be very important to him.
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I was "lucky", in that he was arrested for punching my husband, his dad. Of course, he was only 16 years old, but we stood our ground that we were frightened for our safety should he return. It was the beginning of a very long road of severing ties for him and for us. I had been scared to death of him for years, and he had no ability to appear endearing. He was very adept at garnering sympathy from strangers, so he first was able to get into your programs, and once he was an adult, he always had someplace to stay and something to eat. Once he got in their door they couldn't get him out!

    With the benefit of hindsight, I would recommend that you ask yourself if what you're doing with your difficult child is what you would do for someone who wasn't your son. If you fear for your safety, you must call the appropriate authorities. Blood relation does not protect anyone from harm.
  9. JJJ - Thank you. We had a meeting with difficult child last night because he was refusing to come home again (on a school night). We met him at a local coffee shop and explained our side of the situation. That he'd agreed to follow our rules but wasn't actually following them. All he seemed to want to do was argue.... So I said basically the following:
    "You are a very independent young man with your own thoughts and ideas. It is obvious that you know what you want and that you want to set your own rules and ways of living. That's not ok in our home though so we are going to ask you to find a new place to stay. Social Services will help you with that and you should be able to find a place by December 1. In the meantime you are welcome to stay with us. I'm hoping that you'll still want to see us and spend some time with us. I'll pay your cell phone bill because I'd love to hear from you and know how you are doing and what's going on in your life. You're very smart and you're going to be just fine. We love you very much and want to maintain a good relationship with you."

    Of course he didn't react very kindly to what was said but I did speak with him today and he was pretty civil. Of course I have his medications and he needs them. I'm picking him up and taking him to the doctors tomorrow to renew his prescription - we'll see how that goes. I asked him what his plans were as to whether he'd be staying with us until he found a place or not. He said he was going to stay at the homeless shelter tonight but that he may come home tomorrow night. So I said ok. I am guessing that he's going to feel the shelter out to see what it's like and then decide whether he wants to stay here for a month or there.

    Witz - difficult child has hit husband in the face as well. Luckily for him the police didn't arrest him but gave him a stern talking to. He has been bullying me for months and for a while he was using his physical size against me. Not hitting me but standing over me and intimidating me. That got old really quick and I called the police on him a couple of times so when he starts that kind of thing now (physical intimidation or verbal abuse) I ask him to leave and if he won't I just pick up my cell phone. He knows I will call police now.

    I just discovered this morning that he has stolen some US money out of my wallet. It was left over from a shopping trip last year and there was well over $100. There is $15 left.

    Witz - I thought about whether or not I would do this if it was someone else and the answer is - a long time ago. husband and I have tolerated this for long enough. I know that some people tolerate less and some tolerate more but we have reached our limit. Now it is about salvaging what is left of our relationship with him. It's also about restoring peace to our home. And it's about restoring my health - I wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding and I'm hyperventilating. I'm so stressed out sometimes that I can't swallow. I'm worried about my health now.

    I hope and pray that difficult child will start making some good decisions in his life.