New to Setting Boundaries-What Do You Think?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by mamato3, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    I posted the other day about my difficult child and got some amazing responses. My difficult child (Difficult Child, 18), daughter (15), and I are on a quick get away visiting my younger brother. Brother doesn't have a lot of room so Difficult Child is staying with him and daughter and I are staying in a hotel nearby. And yes, the "break" from Difficult Child has been nice! We have all spent some time together each day doing something and it has been "fun".

    However, I have been in a total state of uncertainty while here because I have decided that I am ready to get serious about setting boundaries when we get home. I have tried to talk to Difficult Child about how things will be different. I 'think' he realizes things have to change, which he does seem to understand when he is in a good place, but he tried to tell me that we could discuss it when we got home. I didn't agree with that and he finally told me
    • that he would clean his room (it's a constant mess and I keep a very clean and clutter free home) because he said it would be a more stress-free environment
    • He also agreed to taking a different avenue for treatment.
      -We have an appointment with a new therapist that we were told would take 2-3 hours (the longest appointment Difficult Child has ever had and I am so hopeful that this will help with a more solid diagnosis).
      -We also have an appointment to have dna testing to check which medications are best for him. He is open to these things, at least right now he is.

    I am terrified, though, of the ride home. It's about 12 hours. On the ride here, he went through one of his rants because daughter and I took a few minutes too long in the restroom.

    I'm also scared about how things will be when we get home. He is good at lip service, manipulation.
    • He needs to register for college or find a full time job, his choice. Says he will register for college.
    • He needs to sign up for DUI classes due to a DUI nearly a year ago. He took the classes once already, but thought it was a good idea to miss one class and now he has to pay another $150 and spend another however many hours doing all the classes.
    The following are the boundaries I have started with, can you tell me your thoughts? None of them are new to Difficult Child, but I hope that seeing them in writing will help.
    • Self-use treatment offered including medication, attend treatment and doctors' appointments, be open to seek new treatments if something isn't working, open/honest with self and doctors, eat meals daily, less sugar/candy, find and engage in hobby, show effort in all areas
    • Excuses-depression (current diagnosis and his excuse 99% of the time) doesn't cause anger/disrespect, only you can do things to get better, effort is expected
    • Sleep-monitor and work to make good sleeping habits, limit 'naps' (so much time is spent laying around in his room)
    • Job-maintain, work all (and more if possible) scheduled shifts, look for new job starting in October (has seasonal job at a golf course that will end in November)
    • Money-pay for car, insurance, what is owed
    • Car-follow contract, respect-no speeding off, slamming doors, etc.
    • Respect-no yelling/screaming at family members, no blaming, no hateful/rude texts
    • House-respect house-no hitting walls, etc, clean up after self, chores with no complaints (he's used to yard week weekly, taking out trash, etc, but does complain about almost everything we ask of him)
    I realize that every situation is different. Just looking for input as this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
  2. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Being medication compliant was one of the major carrots we used so Miss KT would be allowed to drive. I read somewhere that a teen with ADHD and unmedicated is emotionally 12. Who wants a 12 year old behind the wheel of a car? That DUI would worry me. Does he own the car, or do you? Look into the liability and your financial responsibilities, because an accident, with him under the influence, could absolutely destroy you financially.

    The respect and helping out around the house - I agree, these are necessary. What are the consequences if he chooses to ignore your rules? Are you prepared to bounce him out if he refuses to comply? I'm guessing you're in the United States, where he is legally an adult, whether or not he behaves like one. You might want to look into the steps required to evict him in your state, just so you have that info if he refuses to leave if you ask him to.

    The different avenue for treatment sounds promising, but again, he can legally refuse treatment if he decides to. The self care and sleep habits...again, he's legally an adult. You really don't have a lot of leverage here. Not trying to be depressing, just realistic.

    Please make sure you have all your ducks in a row and that you are prepared to follow through on any consequences you impose.
  3. seek

    seek Member

    Yes, the consequences are a big deal . . . sounds like you are trying to make him into a completely different person (and I get that!) . . . he might not be willing to do anything/everything on the list - might not be capable of it . . . so then what?
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  4. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Agree with others. Great list but I think it may be TOO much at once?

    Obviously they are all a "no brainer" for our kids that are compliant generally, but for those that are not, the list is a bit overwhelming I'd think.

    Maybe start with the most important things first? Just a thought. I never had luck with this but my son had substance abuse issues but even when he was sober he didn't do a lot of what we wanted.

    UGH Good luck!
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  5. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Yes, I agree, it does all sound like a lot. Maybe medication and treatment first, along with respect as in no screaming and yelling at me.

    The car is mine. I will definitely look into the legalities.
  6. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    This I can not say its good to be part of boundries. One some treatments can do more bad then good making things worse but the most important you are asking the impossible. You see if he could do all that with depression he will not need to do all that because he will not have depression anymore.
    More acceptable will be do all that when you are not in an bout of depression as its not all the time.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Depression, which I fought all my life, is a common mental illness, not fun, but does not make you helpless or irresponsible. Those are personality traits. No medications make one responsible. Many irresponsible people dont have depression. Many depressed people are still responsible and do not substance abuse. The issue here is responsibility and not driving under the influence.

    Your son most of all needs to want to grow up.

    Remember, many of our kids claim mental illness because they want us to be soft on their bad behavior and think they cant help it. Sometimes its just manipulation.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  8. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Really do not remember being any substance abuse issue here.
    What are you bothered about most mamato3?
    Is it because he does nothing productive or his rants and disrespect that does not involve doing nothing?
  9. DoneDad

    DoneDad Active Member

    Maybe pick the absolute deal breakers - the ones you'd be willing to kick him out over - and start with those. You can tell him to limit naps, etc, but what if he doesn't do it?
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  10. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    That makes sense, A dad, but may I respectfully ask how I can get order and peace in my life? I am torn between, he is my child and this is my responsibility and, he is 18, has been given many opportunities, but fails to accept the help in many different forms (therapy-he says he loves the therapist, medication-he does not take consistently, doctor's visits-he does not tell how he truly feels).
  11. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Yes! Yes! Yes!! Now, can you tell my son that

    My daughter and I just had that conversation. She said, you have two other children who do not act like that. And mind you, she is 15.
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  12. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    No substance abuse here, you are correct.

    Bothered most by the rants and disrespect. Not knowing if I will walk into my house and find that he has hurt or killed himself (which is what most of the ranting is about). Usually it starts with me not understanding and he can't do it any more and turns into all I want is his money and to kick him out of the house, if I would have been a better parent he would be a better child, etc.

    I am also bothered by his lack of productivity. In the past be has stolen from us and received a dui charge so he owes our family quite a bit of money. I have explained that the amount may be overwhelming and I don't expect it to be paid back immediately. I have also explained that if he would work very part time and go to school, much (he's already given us a very small amount) of his debt would be erased. Basically, if he will be productive in some form or fashion and contribute to the household via chores, I wasn't worried about him paying us back.

    You really made me think, A dad!
  13. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Yeah, that sounds like a better idea, DoneDad. With my other kids, one younger, one older, they are so compliant and respect my husband and I enough to listen to our advice. No, not all the time, but if my oldest son tells me he is having trouble sleeping, I have recommended exercising, no electronics a couple hours before bed, trying to stick to a better sleep schedule, among other things. He has tried various things to help himself. Difficult Child will not try. His response is, I can't sleep, there is nothing that can help me and I give up. Or he may try to exercise one day, not sleep that night and say exercise doesn't work for him. And I am not assuming, this is what he has told the therapist many times. He barely passed high school, yet is one of the smartest people I know. When the therapist asked him why his grades were so low, he was honest and said, if I don't think I will get a good grade, I just don't do it. If the content is too hard, I don't pay attention or even attempt the assignment.

    All I am asking for is effort. I have told Difficult Child many times that he will likely take two steps forward and one step back. I have shared stories of when I have failed and how I wanted to give up, quit, but I knew it wasn't right or that I wanted more for myself so I struggled through until I got it. I have encouraged him to ask for help. From me, dad, brother, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, anyone. You don't understand calculus? Ok, your brother seemed to really grasp it, you may try working with him. Is it hard to ask for help, heck ya!
  14. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Getting a DUI is definitely alcohol abuse so there is something there! I don't think you can just overlook that. Not everyone gets DUI's and to me it's either horrible luck or possibly a sign that he is drinking too much/too often? Just wondering?

    Self medicating maybe? Many adults do that also.

    I will say from experience that if you threaten anything, you had better back it up or your words will be meaningless.

    If you do not already, I would strongly recommend seeing a therapist for yourself so that you can maintain your sanity and create healthy boundaries with your son so he does not RULE your life and the lives of everyone in your house. That is no way to live obviously by having an 18 year old call the shots and I know you are trying to get a handle on it. That is what we did but the first warning of the therapist was to make sure you think about what you are saying and that you can follow through; do what you say you are going to do if they do not comply.

    As many have said on this forum and it is so true, nothing changes if nothing changes. If he won't change (they seldom do when we want them to) then you have to change. This is tough stuff.
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  15. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    Yes, this was an issue. He stopped, or hasn't gotten caught as his room is not "private", he has an interlock device on his car, and we have a breathalyzer we use randomly.

    I agree! My husband and I are discussing what we want the non-negotiables to be and what the consequences will be.

    Thank you, I have talked with my son's therapist a few times and it has been good. I definitely need to continue seeing him or find a new one.

    It is definitely tough stuff! Thank you for your help :)
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  16. DoneDad

    DoneDad Active Member

    That's really one of the most frustrating things about difficult adult children - they won't listen when you're trying to help them with some advice. And they keep doing the same things over and over. Every time with the same result. But they don't learn from their mistakes.

    Like others have said, you have to be ready to follow through when you set a boundary - so pick your battles carefully.

    Going with the theory of less is more when communicating with difficult adult children is probably the way to go
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  17. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    He is a legal adult. You cant make him shape up. It is most assuredly HIS responsibility, not yours. How can it be your responsibility? It cant and isnt and what your mother, aunt, brother or kissing cousin thinks doesnt matter in this. They dont suffer. You and the rest of your family does.

    What can you do to get peace? Many things. He doesnt have yo live with you anymore. At his age he could be serving our country. He is not twelve.

    You will not have peace while he abuses you under your roof. Make no mistake about it. This is domestic abuse by your son. Sounds like it went on with his ex too but she left him wisely. You dont need to leave his life, but if you want any can not tolerate his domestic abuse. That means you will get no peace until he no longer lives with you. The rest of your family and you are living with an abusive young man and abuse affects everyone in the abusers path.

    How can you have peace when he is in your space? You and the others can not.
  18. seek

    seek Member

    Can he support himself?
  19. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Even if he cant, there is welfare, food stamps, shelters, friends, couch surfing, AJOB...abusive men are unsafe. Its not just about him. Its about everyone else. He certainly can choose to act decently and get help. He is chosing to be abusive. How long can anyone live with an abuser?
    Maybe being out would change him. Maybe not. But it would change the lives of those he abuses for the better. He is not the victim here. Everyone else is.
  20. mamato3

    mamato3 Member

    SMOT, yes, I agree! He does have a job. It's seasonal and part time. If he continues with it, maybe it would give him some confidence?

    I posted on my other thread more in detail. He has an evaluation appointment in 4 days. He has therapy soon. He has has an appointment to check his thyroid and DNA. As of now, he is agreeing to this. As of now he agrees he is abusive and wrong.

    IF he has a true personality disorder and IF he attempts to better himself while not ranting and raving and screaming at me, he will be allowed in our house. I am just now learning about engaging vs disengagement and I feel like that could definitely help.

    I can't control my son. I am constantly telling myself this and reading about engagement and what to say/not say.