I feel bad and guilty

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by klmno, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    At my last visitation with difficult child, we talked about conditions when he comes home. He had said in family therapy that he wanted me to give him more privileges. It really hit me wrong given what his last offense was and feeling like I gave him ample privileges. Then, I was none too happy when therapist started acting like we were just in family therapy to establish a behavior contract. BS- I have told her that behavior mod alone does not have good results with us. A behavior contract is not needed when difficult child is stable- we have developed systems for rewards and consequences and they work fine most of the time. When he isn't stable, you can throw any system or contract out the window. I get the feeling these people think if he was punished appropriately, the situation wouldn't escalate. I don't think they get the fact that this turns into chaos and erratic behavior by difficult child in a short period of time and he completely doesn't care about any listed consequences at the time. Furthermore, he is required to be on house arrest for at least 30 days when he gets out.

    Anyway, difficult child brought the subject up at visitation and I told him that I was expecting more out of therapy than a behavior contract and I am NOT going to commit to any behavior contract before he is released because there are too many unknowns about where we will be, school/homework schedules, etc., that I simply cannot be specific enough for a contracct. I told him I understood that he needed to know expectations and we would discuss these things and form a more specific plan when he comes home and we have more answers about our schedules and where we will be living. I reminded him that we have addressed his concerns adequately in the past- when day care was an issue, then when he wanted to work out a plan for an allowance. I also reminded him that I cannot give blanket privileges regarding his time with friends because it depends on his state of mind (ie- if he's cutting, acting impulsive, etc.) and who the specific friend is that he wants to spend time alone with.

    He wanted to know when he could expect to go out with friends alone, without me knowing where he is, and do what he wants without having to check in with me frequently. I told him when he's 18yo and I'm no longer legally and financially responsible for him. He got upset and said my strictness in this area lead to him committing previous illegal activity. BS. I asked him "then why would you want to come home?" I told him if I was causing the problem, I didn't want him to come home. He cried; I cried. I told him I was wiped out financially and could not take going through all this again. I told him I was tired of living with legal authorities dictating my life when I did not break the law. I reminded him of the restitution I am still paying. I told him if the people thought he was doing so well in there so I should let him have more privileges at home, they should all ask themselves "does he get more privileges at home or where he is now?"

    He got mad and said fine, then he would just try to do what I say and move out the day he turns 18yo. I told him that we could discuss me giving up parental rights and no longer being legally and financially repsonsible for him and maybe he could work something out with Department of Juvenile Justice where he would live and have more privileges than he gets at home.

    He flipped and said he did not want to go to a group home. He said boys would treat him like **** and he would commit more illegal activity. He said all kids treat him like **** and he has a hard time dealing with it.

    Well- this is pretty much my point. 1) His issues pertain more to his feelings of acceptance/rejection than they do with what privileges he gets, in my humble opinion, and 2) he's using the threat of illegal activity to manipulate.

    Personally, I think this is what we should be discussing in therapy- not a contract. Mind you, with the exception of the last offense, difficult child was with friends/peers when all other illegal activity occurred. He told me himself that on at least 2 of those occassions (out of 4), he was trying to get other kids to want to play with him or like him. So, I ask you- is the problem that I am too strict in regards to letting him spend time with friends?

    We had to end visitation on this note, and I feel horrible because difficult child said he is very afraid that I am going to call and make sure Department of Juvenile Justice plans to send him to a group home. He said he thinks I just don't want him now. None of that is true- I want him to get out of denial about what the real problem is. I want the darn therapist to deal with this- not a stupid contract.

    I wrote difficult child today and didn't get into the whole subject but told him not to worry about me going behind his back and calling Department of Juvenile Justice about going to a group home- that we would discuss things further with therapist. I think maybe that will help her and difficult child see what the problem really is- at least, I hope so. And, I tried to reassure him that I am not going to move to HI and abandon him.

    Thanks for reading- if you made it. LOL! I hate feeling guilty and I hate difficult child feeling this way. It really seemed though, that he is not going to realize and face that my privileges or lack thereof are not what bothers him- the fear he feels when he thinks of how other kids treat him (in his perception) and his dealing with it by doing something illegal are the problems. I don't see why this seems obvious to me but not to others working with him. Unless it really is like he said- he has never really told a therapist this- he has only complained about me being too strict. Ok- well HELLOO Department of Juvenile Justice people- they are stricter on him there than I am and he's doing great.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I think there are a couple of points you need to get through to him (with possible help from therapist):

    1) You want him home, period, not in a group home.
    2) Whether he has been involved in illegal activity or not, a good parent needs to know where her minor child is AT ALL TIMES, period. That's just good common sense in this day and age.

    I'm sorry thing continue to be so difficult.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    thank you! Yep- getting therapist to see that I DO let difficult child know clear and appropriate expectations and he does get rewards and consequences but there is a deeper problem is the issue for this week. We have another session Friday morning so we will see then. I just hope that being a Department of Juvenile Justice therapist, she isn't in a role where all she's going to address is a behavior contract for his return home. It will help a lot, I think, if difficult child finally says something about his relationships with other kids in front of her. He actually flat-out told me last year that "it was easier for him to complain about me being strict than to tell others how he doesn't have any real friends". Ok, typical teen in a way; difficult child in how he handles it.

    He did the same thing with his last private therapist. I think he learned some of this from my mother and bro who blame everything on me. You should have seen the look on the last therapist's face when I said "did difficult child tell you how much he's cutting himself; that he cries many nights and says he can't stand his life; that he doesn't want to live anymore?" And therapist said "NO"!

    And yes, I really do want him to come home right away- I just think he and everyone else needs to get to the root of the problem first and I didn't think he would do that if he thought he could just get therapist and me to agree that I needed to give him more privileges and the problems would be solved.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2009
  4. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Honestly, I would try to hold off on any future discussions like that one.. and tell difficult child that since you're both in such conflict on this issue, you'd like to discuss it in therapy. Then place a call to the therapist and tell her about the discussion, and ask that she help facilitate a discussion about it in your next visit. That's what she's there for.

    On behavior contracts, I found that it extremely helpful when Youngest and I agreed on one with her therapist.. although admittedly the "contract" in place when she was unstable, was different than other times. It was helpful even in a time of crisis, to have a clear-cut plan of what I would do when certain behaviors occurred... especially calling 911 whenever there were self-harm threats or violent outbursts. She had to know I would take those seriously, and putting those in the contract made it crystal clear. Things like curfews, phone time and computer time, were for more stable periods. I found that it was a dynamic thing... and the therapist worked weekly with us to tweak it as cycles came and went. It was a tool amongst many others in helping Youngest.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Yeah... difficult child has been told that we will discuss it with therapist. Being in Department of Juvenile Justice, this therapy doesn't work like normal. IOW, I can't just call up and schedule an appointment or discuss things with her like I could if it was a private therapist. We see her every 2-3 weeks so really, there won't be many more meetings with her beofre his release and she won't be involved at all afterwards.

    As far as contracts, I'm aware they work well for some kids. But not mine. We have had systems for rewards written down and they work fine while he's stable, don't get me wrong, but the contracts are useless. He will have behavior contractual requirements with the PO and I'm pretty sure my son has already figured out that I will call the cops on him either to request a TDO or to file a report or whatever, depending on the circumstances. And he does know what the expectations are.
  6. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Have you thought of using PICO's house rules? She summed it up very well. The Ten Commandments and wash after using the bathroom. If you havent ever read through the archives for the House Rules for teens thread...do it. Its really good. I started it but my name isnt on it because it was another identity so I show as anonymous I think. Great info in it though. Pico and Blondie are so amazingly brilliant.

    I am with you completely on the he is out of his mind if he thinks he is going to be allowed to run loose. Nope. I see the effects of that all the time. I cant believe parents do that. I wouldnt have done it with any of mine. Heck, Cory thinks that is nuts. He cant believe parents who let 17 year olds come stay with him and dont know that they are over at his house for days on end. He thinks they are stupid. He knows I would have never allowed it.
  7. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'll look for this- it sounds interesting!