OK you PE-ers... need help with- balance


member since 1999
I figure you guys are the mostly likely to have been there done that and I need some guidance here.

How do you balance your utter distaste (ie nausea) over your kids' appearance and interests with what is probably the closest, in thank you's case anyway, they've come to semi-normal typical teen junk? Forgive me if some of this seems trivial - I can't separate it out because the sum of it is more than the individual parts and the big picture just ... well, glurg. :ill:

Clothes - I've bought a variety of colors but interestingly (or not) anything not black has disappeared. Black is not a complimentary color on my glow in the dark child. I've told him that I'm not buying him another doggone item in black, including shoes. You can imagine his response.

Hair... either so long he's indistinguishable from a sheepdog or it's severely shaved (skinhead). It's like he's *trying* to be as unattractive as possible. I've been biting my tongue but I'm starting to lose my grip I think.

Music - He gave me the lovely list at Christmas of Black Metal/Death Metal bands. Aside from the fact that it's all just so much noise, when you read the lyrics (and you have to because you can't *hear* a darn thing) it's dark. I refused at the holidays, but he proudly announced this week that he got a couple of those CDs (Residential Treatment Center (RTC) allowance). I don't want to reprint this blech. The theme is I'm common, I'm worthless, I'm dark, I'm evil, blah blah blah. I told him to bring them home, I'd listen (my ears!) and if I felt they were inappropriate I'd put them in a "hope chest" that he can have when he is on his own. Of course, thank you being thank you, he had to brag that he had them. I have to wonder if he *wants* me to be the bad guy and take them?

And of course we have the neverending issue of Magic/Wicca. In and of itself I don't have a *huge* problem with- Wicca - not in my top 10 choices for his choice of spiritual expression, but it could be worse (I think?). I do have a major problem with- the concept of Magic (as in spells) to "cure" the problems of the world - just as I would with holy-roller prayer to do the same. Not to start a religious debate but I'm having a heck of a time figuring out how to explain to him self determination and spirituality versus handing it all over to whatever he believes in and sitting back, waiting. Does that make sense? He's passive yet again... taking no responsibility for changing his life other than "spells".

I'm beginning to think I'm a hypocrite. I used to think, honestly and to my soul, that I could handle teen self-expression without flipping out too bad. The rule has *always* been, though, that if grades are good and attitude is decent, the exterior could be overlooked (this goes for all my kids). Of course his grades still bite, he's still cursing at teachers, and his attitude is one of total entitlement and general irritation at any expectation, which may be typical teen but I still feel like I have to fight this overall "thing" he's got going on. I feel like there's a thin line in his head between what's really real and *his* reality (two completely different things) - it's his basic skewed thinking. And I keep trying to figure out how on *earth* he's ever going to function independently like this. I can't even see him flipping burgers - who'd want to buy fries from a wraith??

Is it a losing battle? Am I just going to be pounding my head against a wall for nothing? If I crack down, confiscate the clothes and music, is it going to push him further underground? Make this all just that more attractive? Do I still have the right/obligation to try and direct my 16 y/o who will most probably never live under my roof again? I've already put a stop to internet and phone communication with- like-minded peers not in his Residential Treatment Center (RTC) but then of course we have the peers *in* Residential Treatment Center (RTC).

Short of massive quantities of botox, how do you keep the disapproval out of your face? How do you keep from physically flinching when the child who is so much a part of your heart looks so absolutely awful, spouts such foreign verbal junk, is just so... completely *out* there?


New Member
Have you thought of becoming "interested" in this Wicca thing? Ask him what its about, read up on and then have discussions on it. One of my friends sister is a "Wicca witch" and she does not listen to that dark music. Most "wiccans" are, to put into down to earth words, hippies in dark clothing. Yes, she wears black, but she does not worship the devil. Wiccans are more into mother nature, different gods for mother earth. Read up on it its pretty interesting. Also, wiccans are forbidden to use their "magic" to harm. He might change his tune when he realizes the truth about this "religion".


(the future) MRS. GERE
You're a GENIUS! Why didn't I think of that? Massive amounts of botox!!!!!!!!! Love the visual, Sue. It's perfect! :rofl:

I really didn't have a problem with the hair thing or the all black thing.

I kept my mouth *pretty much* shut through the 25 (or so) piercings and self-made tattoos.

I did draw the line at inappropriate music but I'm not sure you could do that since he isn't at home.

I would also have a hard time with the Wicca stuff for someone that young.

At 22, Rob is now cleancut, no earrings, eyebrow rings, etc, and he even has color in his clothes.


The bad thing is that he's unemployed again, drinks too much, still lies, and who knows what else. :rolleyes:

I have no idea what my point is except that you can still have problems even if you wear color and look cleancut so do try to overlook the appearance things and concentrate on the things that can impact character.


Marcie Mac

Just Plain Ole Tired
been there done that on both ends of the spectrum. As a mom, I know how the party line is supposed to go - as a former difficult child, I still rebel against how it is supposed to go so I probably should not even be responding.

I can tell you a LOT of my opposition came from no acceptance of who I was - my very personality went against the grain with my family. I was made very aware that I was not "like them" - I didn't wear they stuff they wore, I didn't wear my hair like they thought I should, I listened to music like "The Fugs and the "Velvet Underground", didn't think like they did, had no interest in what they liked to do, and probably the worst in an Italian Catholic Family, announced I was no longer a Catholic, it was all total bs to me and I wasn't buying any of it. I was 12 at the time and was getting into new age. I still at 57 feel the same way and still am a rabid new ager.

The big difference between the younger me and the older me is I no longer feel the need to be oppositional. Some of that I realize came from being overpowered by others view of the way they thought I should be/act and not being able to stand up and argue my point of view, whatever it was, that didn't fit into the mainstream view - it was much easier just to be, well, oppositional - I can and will say what I want cause I can - I do't have the maturity to debate you so I will upset you. It was a response to what I felt was a lot of negativity comming my way.

Do I still have the right/obligation to try and direct my 16 y/o who will most probably never live under my roof again? Hard question - are you going to be able to change his mind when he is still a work in progress at the budding age of 16? I know no one could change mine cause I didn't really care at the time what they thought (and I pretty much maintain that stance but in a much more low key way of course).

You know Sue, its really difficult when you have kids that march to a different drummer for one reason or another, and their personalities are so different and off the wall. Its always a balancing act between safety and acceptance, especially in thank you's case where there are serious mental health issues. Trying to impose your way of life can cause total alienation as it did in mine, not doing that can cause total chaos.



Well-Known Member
Hair...I wouldnt battle. Clothes...not worth the effort as long as they are semi appropriate as far as no profanity on them.

I dont know how you change any of the rest.

Sue C

Active Member
There was a time during Angela's teen years at home where she had her hair practically clown purple. I did not want it; husband allowed it. She went through a period of only wearing black clothing. She listened to this one CD of pygmie music. Used to scare the cr*p out of me for some reason...I told her she had no idea what they were saying and what messages were going into her head. She wore huge huge huge baggie jeans and dressed like a slob.

You asked how do we keep the disapproval out of our faces? I probably didn't. But it didn't matter to my daughter. I doubt your disapproval matters to your son, either. Just my thought.

Your son will hopefully eventually grow out of many of the things you dislike right now.



New Member
<span style='font-size: 14pt'> <span style='font-family: Georgia'> <span style="color: #006600"> clothes & hair are just not worth war, sue. jarrod's 20 now & is just coming out of his black on black phase. he wants to dress like a metrosexual now...casual dressy. he's still a work in progress lol. his taste in music is *indie* & i'm not quite sure what that means. i think the more you fuss about what he listens to the more he will cling to the dark music. i wouldn't buy it for him, but really you can't control this from afar...or even if he was living with-you.

wicca is not black magic...it's the worship of the earth elements. in this area of florida there are so many wiccans that it barely rates the term *alternative religion*. former neighbors were wiccan...the entire family. nice, quiet people. he'll figure out eventually that the spells aren't working for him in the way he expects.

i think it's safe to assume that thank you will never walk a traditional path. he's a young man determined to find his own way.

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Active Member
Well...I'm sort of on the opposite end. difficult child 2 is more of the rapper and thug style. I don't like all of his music, but some of it is not too bad. The clothes are baggy and low slung, but colorful and clean. The hair is short.

in my humble opinion, I think you should still stick to "do to get". Grades, compliance, working the program, etc. Those are what must be done. Rewards come from doing.

I wouldn't buy him anything else, until he does something that's within the guidelines you are setting up for him.


New Member
Can you speak to the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) about the music he is listening too. I'm kind of surprised I guess that they allow it. As far as the clothes, my difficult child went through a few phases that I just chose to bite my tongue through. He went throught the stage of shopping at Hot Topic, all gothic clothes. He has always preferred black and still does, but the pants he used to wear drove me crazy. He wore the, I think they called them parachute pants, for quite a while. They were huge, wide, strange colors with all these strings hanging out of them. He looked like a kite walking down the street. I used to say to him, none of your other friends wear those and his reply was, I know, that's why I wear them. The only positive thing I found in that was that he wanted to be his own individual and didn't care what anyone else thought.

I wouldn't worry about the clothes and the hair. They all go through those phases. I would be more concerned about the music, but if he doesn't live home and may never again, what can you really do about it except not to supply him with any of it. If he asks for cd's you don't approve of for holidays etc. just tell him you don't like them and that he'll have to get them some other way.


I think the more you disapprove the more he will cling to it. What good is rebelling if you can't get a response? Or, if it is not typical rebellion but more in line with what Marcie said, that she was different and did not feel accepted by her family, then just trying to overlook what you don't like and accept the him as the person he is would be the best way to go. Whatever you do I hope you can kind of disengage so it doesn't bother you so much--loved the botox comment.


Active Member
I agree not to fight about hair and clothes as long as they cover their body. I do cut up and throw out all clothes with offensive pics or words, and all CDs or mags with offensive words pics or themes. my house...my play area. lol

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Well now, aren't you in luck. I just went thru this phase with N. lmao

Believe me, they pass thru it much faster if you go with the flow. The only thing I insisted on was cleaniness, and no piercings except the ears. Oh, and since N was female no trampy style clothing.

Other than that, I joined in on her interests. I like some of the music. I learned to like even more of it. (although there is some that is just too much) We'd go on shopping trips to Hot Topic and pick out outfits together. N wore black for 2 yrs.

N wasn't in on the Wicca. But she does like magical stuff. I don't mind either. True wicca isn't bad. You just need to do your research and set him in the right direction. Actually, it's quite interesting stuff in a historical religious sense.

If it's real hard to swallow, just think 60's and 70's teens. lmao

Teens are gonna rebel. As long as it doesn't hurt anyone, doesn't involve anything illegal, I can go with the flow.

N's was punk/goth. easy child's was preppy to the max. Both girls passed thru their phases in about the same amount of time.

I'll tell ya though, I had trouble controling myself when N finally requested clothes with COLOR again. :rofl:


New Member
I think the hardest thing to do is separate who we are from who they are, or from who they seem to be becoming, if that makes any sense.

Even now for me, that is such a hard thing.

If you can remember that, whatever thank you says to you, you are still his mother and what he is doing is gauging your reaction to who he chooses to be today, I think it will be easier for you to understand how to respond.

It's so hard to do that, though.

We need to remember that it is okay to give ourselves time to figure out how we DO feel about things we have just never thought about.

How could you plan a correct response to a child's interest in spellcasting or dark music?

In a way, whatever interest has drawn thank you to these things can be seen as questions he is finding answers to there ~ trying out the black clothes thing, trying out the spellcasting thing, trying out the dark music.

If you can figure out how you truly do feel about these things, you will feel like you are on solid ground when you advise thank you or decide to let a thing go.

When I look back on everything, there was just so much that I never expected and so, had no clue how to respond to.

Maybe that is why I beat myself up so much today.

If you haven't read The Little Prince (St. Exupery) yet, try to pick that up and have a look at it. He describes the feeling of responsibility that comes from caring for a thing, and the feelings of betrayal when the thing (a rose in this case) turns out to be its own self. The moral of the story is that we should never listen to the flowers, but simply enjoy their scent and color.

So in a way, it describes a parent's feeling for her child, and teaches us how to let go of expectation.

I found it helpful in clarifying my own muddled feelings.

But you know I still have trouble setting my own clear path through what has happened.

Still, I would read The Little Prince.



Former desparate mom
Sue, in my humble opinion and experience, you are entitled to your opinion. You don't have to buy or participate in anything that you don't like or find offensive. I believe you have a right to dictate the rules in your home.
I do believe you can not control what he does or how he looks. All you can do is voice your disapproval or disagreement, not participate by buying things you disapprove of and try to teach, redirect and reward good choices.
You have no real control over anyone but yourself.
If you saw difficult child become submissive, you will appreciate the spirit of being a kid with fight in them.
Submissiveness in a difficult child is so sad to see. It's demeaning. Redirect the energy as much as you can. Don't crush the spirit.
I think it is very hard for me to do and I have to be very careful.


member since 1999
Thank you all *so* much. You've given me a lot to think about, both now and in the future.

husband and I decided that we need to stick with- the original rule. If grades, attitude, and behavior are decent, we can let the accessories slide. thank you's focus is so *not* on what he needs to be doing that we feel like we need to rein him in a bit.

Long story short, had 2-hour discussion with- thank you yesterday. We expressed our concerns. He's decided he's done with- the program and isn't going to work it anymore, in spite of pending transition and possibly putting that in jeopardy. He's decided school is a joke, he already knows it all, it's all repetition, so he's justified in flipping out in true difficult child style. We pointed out he's never actually demonstrated that he knows the subjects so that's why he's getting it regurigitated year after year. We are apparently to take his word for it. :hammer:

He continues to suffer a severe case of anywhere-but-here-itis. He's going to do great in school at next placement. He's going to do great with- peers in next placement. He's not going to curse at staff/teachers in next placement. He'll be able to handle a boss telling him what to do because he'll need the job. But if it gets too hard, he'll quit. Not a life plan geared toward independence, in my humble opinion.

So - do to get. He's adamant he's not going to "do" anything. OK, fine. His choice. He actually had the nerve to say that once he's 21, he's out of placements and he can do whatever he wants. He can wait until then for his music, Magic, and clothes. So why have we been going around and around and around???

I don't want to quash his growth or his spirit. I *think* I'd have a bit easier time if he would just *do* something, rather than float along. But it goes against every fiber of my being to contribute to his current interests when he's not giving us a doggone thing in return, but more importantly, not giving *himself* anything in return.

On an <u>extremely</u> positive note, we did have a 2-hour discussion. He didn't bolt, didn't lose his temper, didn't shut down. husband and I were pretty blunt about our concerns for his future and how he's not being an active participant in his own life. At the end, he did ask to go back to Residential Treatment Center (RTC). I asked him if he was sure or if he wanted to think about it a bit. He said he'd think about it, then broke down in tears and cried in my lap. Just about broke my heart because he is such a confused and lost child most of the time. His opposition really seems to be his definition and when you take that away, there's not much left. All I could do was tell him how *much* we love him and that we are trying desperately to make good choices for him so that he is able to learn to make good choices so he can lead the kind of life he wants to, whatever that may be, safely and happily.

He's still here, and in a very weird kind of way, he seems to be a bit relieved, which I can't help but worry about too because ... it's so passive. I don't think I want to define his world, but at the same time... heck, I don't know, maybe I want *him* to define his world according to my values which is of course ridiculous and hopeless and unrealistic. Like I said, you guys have given me a lot to think about and we're going to keep plugging away.

Thanks so much!


Well-Known Member

I dont know if this will help or not but Im gonna throw this out there.

You said something about thank you saying he "knows it all and doesnt need to do anymore in school, etc." This sounds so much like Cory back at that age. You know he dropped out.

In Corys more rational moments he has told me that is his biggest regret now. He wishes he hadnt let his oppositional behavior get the best of him in school. Of course, he doesnt put it in those words. He has a bit more colorful language for why he should have stayed in school but the meaning is there. He knows he messed up.

His life would be so much easier today if he had done things the right way. He would honestly be the one of my kids who had the highest earning potential. He *blanked* himself up.

Maybe if you can somehow relate this story to thank you about another kid who is in much the same circumstances as him who now wishes he had chosen a better path it would make a difference. Dont know.


my difficult child wore all black at age 10/11. Long hair, keeps it very clean, shiney, combed. It is cut above his eyes and shaped nice. But the all black and skeleton's, skulls and such. So young. then over the summer last year he started shopping with some girls..cheerleaders. He went preppie. All his clothes are from Abercombie, Hollister or American Eagle Outfitters. (he does buy from clearance rack only). The pants fit nice (26 x 28) and he is constantly telling me how fat he is. Shirts are over-priced even on clearance, but they are nice polo's. Even bought a T shirt from Abercombie that says "AWESOME ALEX" (don't know how or why, but that is his name. I haven't seen him in black in a year. Change in music too. He is only 12 now so I am hoping he went through the black/music stuff early.


New Member
My daughter also went through Korn and Limp Bizkit and I gritted my teeth for about a year. She had pants with 50-inch legs. She doesn't wear underwear. She had a sweater she didn't take off for two years. She's shaved her head so much she got a barber's kit for Christmas. She used to walk around with a tampon cardboard in her ear lobe to keep it stretched. Okay, as long as she wasn't with me in public. Then it came out. She pierced the space between her bottom lip and her chin. She's been blue, purple, pink and orange. And I bought her the dye.

She finally started wearing women's jeans about a year ago - still slung low on her hips (but she won't wear low-risers), so I tell her that her six-inch :censored2: crack is quite impressive today...by Norge Repairman standards, it's definitely a Master Crack. Currently, she's into sweater vests and hats. She has a couple of men's blazers she's sewn flags and picture on the backs. She just threw out a pair of men's dress shoes. She doesn't believe in deodorant or shampoo. She has Sharpied a mustache and beard to her face and gone out in public that way several times. Last summer, it was a thin white tank top with "DYKE" Sharpied across her chest (black bra, of course, when she wore one). She wears a bright red nylon skirt with white polka dots and taffeta and thermal underwear. For two years, she kept her hair shaved to about an inch except for tendrils on the sides. I used to think she was a lost extra from the cast of Fiddler on the Roof. She broke her jaw three weeks ago while on her bike and she was drunk, although she's not much of a drinker, and I hope she's learned the lesson. She is currently on a two-week vow of silence. Her favorite pair of pants came from the Salvation Army. They are mens dress pants, navy blue with white pin stripes. These pants are shredded and sewn with dental floss, patched and stained and look like they've been pulled off a body in the Cass Corridor. She wears them still in public. But not with me. I will not be seen with her like that. And she will not get whatever is she wants from me at the moment.

So, she knows there is appropriate clothing for appropriate occassions. So much so, when a friend hers died (ODed on wormwood, the toxin in absinthe, which is illegal in the US. It can be ordered on the internet, which has become a way for kids to find legal stuff to get them high), at the funeral she was appalled at the young girls that showed up in belly shirts that exposed bras and navels. For her cousin's wedding, I let her pick out the dress (black, of course), which didn't make her cousin happy, but who had pointed out that so many others were wearing black anyway. The dress was lacy and long, and she wore nylons and heels and let me do her make up. I let her spike her hair. My gender-bending, hellaciously groomed daughter was a supermodel! I went out of my way to make sure she was appropriately dressed AND comfortable. And even though she probably felt like she was in Hallween costume that night, she enjoyed the compliments and had a great time, despite the women's clothes and the tether (that's another story).

[Just goes to show how much we endure...when showed up to that wedding, seeing family we hadn't seen in years, difficult child was on a tether, easy child had just lost her two front teeth at softball practice -- "you're supposed to CATCH the ball, not EAT it, dear..." -- and my Jeep had the back window punched out of it by DEX and was being held together with plastic sheeting. It was a thick mother in law and crystal clear...hey, I had to keep up appearances for the wedding! Oh, if I could have only shown up seven months pregnant by a parolee...the picture would have been complete. I swear you could hear banjo picking when we showed up.]

Anyhow, she seems to be finding a style that she's comfortable with, a little more masculine than Annie Hall (her oral surgeon says "Irish dock boy" and nodded and said he liked it), and she is showering more often now. And she listens to everything from :censored2: and Animal (hate 'em!) to the Bealtes (I'm going to marry Paul McCartney when I grow up) to bluegrass to Beethoven to whale calls. There are still times I tell her to turn it down, but I never tell her to turn it off. Just keep it at a non-offensive, talking level and I'm okay.

By the way, Limp Bizkit and Korn sold out. They so suck now...

I've always let this kid express herself and I gotta tell you, it's one of the biggest source of my resentment. How can I be so critical, controlling and crazy if I've turn my eye from this mess? Can't she see how supportive I've been? GRRRRR! &gt;:(

It looks like the appearance thing is going to resolve itself in time. Expose your son to all sorts of music. Point out what you like in songs. My daughter, an atheist, appreciates the jamming in Handel's Messiah...she hears the rock 'n' roll in Gospel and she appreciates musicality all across the board now. She thought what I was listening to (classic rock) sucked until she started listening to the bass and the drums and the pianos and the rhythms. Maybe he could use music lessons to appreciate more stuff. My daughter had guitar lessons and goes to drum circles. It so much easier to listen to her music now that she appreciates more than just "Break Stuff".

This is the one area I really let go of and feel so much better for doing so. She's gotten looks in public that angers and saddens me, and she's gotten complete and total acceptance, too. I was always afraid if I stifled her gender-bender appearance, that ultimately, more damage would be done. Even if I was trying to shield her from the stares, ultimately it is a part of her personality, of her being and essence, and I cannot, nor do I have the right, to interfere with that as long as it is not inappropriate to the function. Just walking around and hanging out and going to school wasn't the battleground. Funerals and weddings and court (sigh) is a different story and she knows it.