One of us is nuts, is it him or me (or both).


My son has been in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for three months now. He's doing so-so in school (as usual), so-so in the house (gets issues for minor things other than for one occasions when he was caught sneaking out into the backyard with a couple of boys to smoke a cigarette), but great in therapy. Because of his so-so performance in school and at the house, he has yet to make his B-status which is required in order to leave the grounds, i.e., a visit with us at our hotel or home for the weekend.

To eliminate the stress and pressure he seemed to be feeling about making his B-status, we stopped discussing it and settled into a routine whereby he calls us every couple of nights, and we visit him at the house every other weekend (he's 200 miles away from home).

Even so, he seems to be extremely frustrated and alternatees between being angry about his failure to reach that status and sad. During one conversation, he rants and raves about this staff member who is a "b-tch" and that resident who is an "a-s" and blames that for why he can't make his status. The next time, he blames himself completely for his crime and the situation he has gotten himself into and gets teary eyed and clingy.

What I'm finding really difficult is trying to come across as neutral as I can when he's ranting and supportive when he's sad. One night he's obsessing about such-and-such a friend who hasn't written him and begging me to immediately call that friend to give them his address. Then, a few days later, if that friend still hasn't written, he's ranting and raving about what a terrible friend he/she is and asking me to pass on a negative message to that friend. (Of course, I decline...) The next night, the friend situation is completely forgotten, but he absolutely MUST have a certain hoodie in a certain color because they have some sort of activity happening that he needs something new wear for, and could I PLEASE send it overnight so that he has it in time. Then, after I've gone out and gotten him what he's asked for, he doesn't bother to call or even mention it when we see him. If I bring it up and mention to him that a phone call to say thanks would have been nice, he asks me why I went to all that trouble because "I'm not a baby, Mom--I'm not going to fall apart if I don't get what I want!" Huh???

I'm feeling like a dumpster for all his frustrations and, quite frankly, I'm having a difficult enough time with his situation as it is. Finally, I told him the other night that I was having a hard time with this, and that his negativity wasn't helping me or him, and that I would rather he simply not call if he's not feeling in the mood to have a pleasant conversation. He became upset and told me that, until I was able to accept his situation and "deal with it," he wasn't going to call for a "few weeks."

On one hand, I'm a BIT relieved because I'm getting a bit tired of being his scapegoat. Yet, part of me thinks he really NEEDS to dump some of his pent-up feelings on someone who loves him no matter what. He's doing great in therapy, according to the psyc, so I know that he must be dumping some of that in the right place.

I'd be interested in some takes on this...I'm feeling like ONE of us (or both) are completely nuts!


Well-Known Member
Well some of this sounds familiar. The ranting about the staff I have heard before. The clothing issue is interesting. He gets in a tizzy wanting a new item immediately but then when he gets it, its no big deal anymore. Maybe you should simply not fulfill his requests for a bit. Dont say anything to him at the time but just dont rush out and buy it because as he said...he wont fall apart if he doesnt get it. Fine.

This does sound a bit like he is hyped up and cycling. Irritable and angry one time, defeated and feeling down the next. A bit grandiose about the clothing and friends.


Active Member
CA Mom,

I know I've mentioned it before, but I still think that talking on the phone every night or even every other night is a lot. Yes, I know you miss him - but he's not a young teen. He's almost an adult. He's there because of his actions, not yours. He needs to begin to work on things for himself and to look inward for the reason things are happening or not happening.

I think a weekly phone call to update on how he's doing and the following week visiting is more than enough contact - while he's there.

Whatever happened with him possibly being moved from the home he's in to a more psychiatric Residential Treatment Center (RTC)? I saw that post in General and responded that my feeling is that it might be a better fit and a better environment, but never saw an update on whether or not he was being moved. I wondered if he would receive more one on one therapy as well as group therapy in a more structured psychiatric Residential Treatment Center (RTC) environment. I know that was the environment my son thrived in. The 12 boys living together in one unit, being held accountable to one another, was instrumental in him having to step up and do the right thing. He could no longer blame everyone else, but had to look within himself to see what needed to change.

Sending hugs. I know it's so hard to see/hear your son hurting. Our natural instinct is to want to fix things. Sometimes, stepping back and letting them own the situation and making them step up to fix it is more helpful in fixing things.



Janet, I didn't want to mention the bipolar thing and influence replies but I'm SO glad you did, because has crossed my mind.

My husband feels as though we should continue to take his calls whenever he does call and keep our every-other-week visit schedule, despite what our son says. As my husband said to me, "He is a very confused kid."


Deb, the transfer to another type of facility was being considered only after another month or so if he continues to not meet the demands of the program. The program coordinator, the one who, reluctantly, suggested that his issues with impulse control might be physiological rather than blatant oppositional/defiant in nature arranged the visit with the psychiatric and trial of depakote. They all want to see if our son responds to medical help.

The house he is in has 10 boys, and they have nightly group sessions with the therapists but can also have individual sessions whenever he's there. So far, our son has sought out the therapist for those individual sessions. They are also, as you mentioned was the case with your's son's Residential Treatment Center (RTC), accountable to themselves and each other for their actions.

I think once-a-week calls would be sufficient as well. Interestingly, he's the one who decided that every-night calls were too much because he wanted me "to get used to" him not being around, i.e., he'll be 18 in August.

I'm HOPING that the depakote will help him because, apparently, if they do terminate him from this program, he'll have to start over in another one, losing the three months he's already put in.


Well-Known Member
I wouldnt take his calls every time he calls. Make sure you have voice mail or an answering machine. Are you doing any sort of family therapy? If so maybe talk about this in family therapy that you will talk to him on two days a week to start. Make them a scheduled two days a week. If he only calls once...fine and dandy. But his days to call are say sunday and wednesday. Any other days you dont take his calls and if there is an emergency someone in authority will find you rest assured.

Its like he is teetering between "Im a grown up, leave me be and I dont wanna grow up, Im a toys r us kid!" Not an altogether foreign concept with this age group. He just needs to learn to handle these feelings with a bit of grace. I will never forget my middle son (the marine) coming home after all his training and he had moved into the barracks. He was sitting in the den around new years and he told us that sure wished he had known all those years when he couldnt wait to be an adult that it wasnt as fun as he thought it would be...that now he wished he could go back to being a kid again! LOL. We just laughed with him and told him you cant ever go back. He had made some really hard adult decisions to join a really tough branch of the military but that we knew he would rise to whatever challenges came his way because he was a man of character. And he did.


New Member
I have to agree that it sounds like cycling to me, too. I go through this with my 17 year old. It's not fun. I hope medications work for him.


Active Member
Have you been able to tell the psychiatric about the rants, the requests, etc?

What type of improvement does the psychiatric think will occur with the depakote?

I too think your difficult child is teetering on adulthood and childhood. Your difficult child is also in a situation that is uncomfortable as he cannot move to another level until he shows consistent behavior for a period of time. It's fun being a kid and sometimes they just don't get that rules are a part of life. They think they are the center of the a 2yr old.

I like the idea of once a week phone calls. You'll still be doing the twice a month visit also.

What would happen if you didn't do as difficult child asked? ie what would happen if you didn't accomodate his every little request? I ask that because do you thing difficult child is manipulating you? (because he can, and has) and he cannot manipulate the home? If you give him what he wants every time he calls, how is he becoming or trying to be independent?

Could you structure his calls to you by saying the first thing you want is for him to ask about the family, the second thing is for him to say what he is working on or accomplished, and then the third thing is what is causing him problems, or what he is finding difficulty with.

I know I've never had a kiddo at Residential Treatment Center (RTC), so please excuse my questions. I sure do realize how difficult this is for you and am so glad that you are here...and are posting!

I guess I'm just an outside person looking in.


I can only tell you how I deal with my son in placements. First, he gets something from me when the therapist tells me that he has earned it. Mine, any kid, would be calling daily for something if we gave in at every request. He gets BD, holiday gifts as his sibs do in the same amts. If someone steals something, he needs to work that out with the staff there, not my problem. I don't replace it. I know mine was stealing from others as well. I let the staff there handle the relationships with other patients. I do not make calls for him other than adult/ therapist/ PO/ dr/ etc related. If he wants to talk to his friends he can write to them. I supply envelopes, paper and postage only. I've also been known to provide phone cards. But again, that gets out of hand and I never know how much he's selling of those cards vs using. So those are also limited. FYI mine also sold clothes, shoes, anything to other patients... to buy cigs or drugs usually. So sending him stuff was only feeding his habit, enabling, or whatever.

As to having my kid rant at me about other people... no. I do not allow any other person to rant at me so why should my child? He has to learn how to behave in society and ranting at people is not appropriate. I am in no way my child's punching bag. My children are to treat me with the respect a parent deserves now and later. If he wants to rant at the therapist, let the therapist deal with it. Again, where is the line of enabling a child? And at 17, absolutely not. As to expressing sadness, OK. I and my friends express sadness to each other. If he's expressing it appropriately fine. If not, he needs to work with his therapist on it, I'm not a professional. Again, I ma not a dumping ground for anything and everything he wants to dump. He won't be able to do that to friends as an adult, he needs to learn boundaries. 17 is a bit late in my humble opinion, my kids didn't get away with this kind of stuff unchecked after they hit puberty. Puberty/ adolescence is a learning ground of how to behave in society in my humble opinion. So my 15 yr old is learning. My 17 yr old knows appropriate behavior and what I'll tolerate and won't tolerate. When he's not at home and starts inappropriate language and won't stop, I leave the visit or end the call. Guess that's how he learned. LOL>


Active Member
I pretty much agree with OTE. Problem is that's they way I feel now. I did allow my difficult children to rant and rave and behave inappropriately to me. Why? because for the most part I figured difficult child 1 was mentally ill and couldn't help himself.

This was flawed thinking on my part though. As I reviewed the "power of control" I soon realized that difficult child 1 was doing to me whatever I allowed. difficult child 1 certainly wouldn't do that to the checkout person at the grocery store, or an employer, or a total stranger. He did it to me because I allowed it. Once I started to end the conversation or walk away from his tirades, he would apologize, and begin to ask his request and give reasons why.

I'm a pushover...I know. :blush:
Now I'm much stronger :warrior:


Well-Known Member
I wrote a lengthly response the other day on your Depakote
post...and then it flew off into cyberspace! Luckily for you I only have a couple of minutes to reply now as the store is a bit busy.

We were not allowed calls on a daily basis and I thought that was a good rule. Yes, I know it's hard trying to figure out what is "right" and what is "wrong" dealing with
the circumstances.

Regarding the Depakote, I don't want to be a dark cloud but
feel I should forewarn you. IF the Depakote (or whatever
medication combo) works for your difficult child..don't get too excited. The
difficult children have complete control over the medication choice and
most, in my experience, will stop the medications as soon as they
are back home. Many of us have banged our heads against our
respective walls in frustration watching our difficult children choose to
be unstable!! DDD


(the future) MRS. GERE
CAMom, here's the link to a thread we have in the PE archives. It will give you ideas on how you can respond to your difficult child without getting sucked into the drama. I think I mention in the thread that I kept a written list of these replies by the phone to remind me of what to say and how to NOT be Rob's dumping ground when he called. It really, really helped.

Another thought is that Rob had an outstanding therapist at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) so any time he had a complaint I would say, "I'm sorry to hear that, Honey. Be sure to talk to Mimi (the therapist) about it so you two can figure out a solution." That worked like a charm because I could give sympathy AND redirect him to where he should be unloading and problem-solving, with his therapist.

You difficult child's situation is somewhat different from Rob's but it took Rob almost 6 months to earn a home pass because of his refusal to do what was necessary to make level. We only provided necessities during that time. HOWEVER, once he started doing the right thing, we did do little rewards. That's the "Do To Get" philosophy. Your difficult child is not doing what he needs to do right now.....I wouldn't "get" him anything until he does and even then, I would go small.



New Member
Reading your post brought back memories of last yr when my difficult child was in the grouphome.
I realize now that my difficult child was maniplating me!
I got the same phone calls. Alot of them in regards to his friends not writing him like "he" thought they should. I was also asked to contact his friends which I never did.
My difficult child just set in stone his need to be the center of the universe. Regardless of what hardships we faced with making it to visit or how we drug easy child around with us, we "owed" him.
He needed sweats, then he needed shorts, then he needed shoes, etc. My stopping point to his request for different clothing came when we went to visit and arrived early. Usually the rest of the boys were up in another part of the house and we didn't see them, on this day we got to see all of them. I saw that at least 5 of them had on the clothes that my difficult child had to have. When I questioned him about it, he very sternly told me not to worry about what he did with "his" clothes.

He was put on seraquil, after he came home he let me know that he didn't take his medications.

He also pushed all the limits that he could, complained about the staff, called me each night to either tell me horror stories of fights or bragging that he was the only one on level so and so and that he ran the place.

I wish I could offer advice, my difficult child ran away from the grouphome and has continued to get himself deeper and deeper in trouble with the law.
I can only wish you peace and let you know that you are not alone, I do know how hard it is.
Like Barbara has told me~ keep posting about it. It helps to heal your soul


Well-Known Member
Yet, part of me thinks he really NEEDS to dump some of his pent-up feelings on someone who loves him no matter what

Your son sounds so much like mine used to be. I spent years feeling sorry for him because of his "problems" and his "conditon". I made excuses for his rudeness and blamed his friends when he got in trouble. It wasn't until I opened my eyes and say that I had created a brat that I quit. By then it was too late...He had moved on from pot to cocaine and xanex. He had stopped begging me for things and stealing from me to get them. He had moved from one "bad" set of friends to ones who were even "worse" and he was the ring leader. If he called me today in a negative mood, I would tell me politely to call back when he was able to hold a civil consersation. I will never again feel sorry for him because of the choices he has made. I will no longer enable his addictions or his rude behavior. I will no longer be his doormat---but I will be his mother. That means when he makes good choices I support him. When his choices are wrong, I tell him. When he does what he is supposed to, I am willing to help him. As Fran told me years ago: Do to get!


Janet, funny, but our neighbor's son, who is 22 now, told our son the same thing--enjoy being a kid because it's the best time of your life. Guess my son didn't believe him...

So far, my son seems to be doing fine without calling me every day--it's been four nights now that he hasn't called. I'm fine with it too. Unfortunately, I think he may believe that he's punishing me by not calling which isn't the greatest reason in the world. However, it does open the door for a little less contact.

He IS really having a tough time with that child/adult thing. However, so do most people, and he's just going to have to deal with it. He's lucky to have a therapist close by to help him do so--most people don't...


Sunny, I REALLY liked your advice about structuring those phone calls. What a great idea to simply set up a format so that we ALL get some satisfaction from the contact. After all, this is simply good manners... If he ever gets over his snit to call us again, I'm absolutely going to bring this up.

As far as the medications, the psychiatric feels that he could be doing some "cycling" and thinks the depakote will help him to not be so emotionally reactive--basically, I think they feel it will calm him down. This wouldn't be a bad thing for him because he seems to be spending a great deal of time being angry with the world alternating with being angry with himself for the situation he's in rather than accepting it and moving on.

I DO believe there is some manipulation going on, but I really feel that the root of it is that he feels very out of control and is trying his best to control ANYTHING that he can, and I'm his best bet. But, I think it's time, as you suggested, that I not jump to supply him with his every little whim. I guess I've been doing so because there isn't much else I can do for him, as his mom, at this point. He's our only child, and I've had an empty nest suddenly thrust on me without any preparation.


New Member
Hang in there. Mine has gone from last year when he was in his first soberhouse complaining about the rules and how it was everyone elses fault when things didn't go his way, to now realizing the importance of the rules in his new soberhouse and how much he actually benefits from them. I think it took him leaving the first soberhouse and being out on his own for a few months to realize that he wasn't ready to do all this by himself and needed help of others, which he now appreciates. It takes time. My difficult child has come so much further in the last year then I ever dreamed he could. He is finally becoming an adult, and believe me it wasn't easy for any of us.


OTE, thankfully, we don't have to deal with most of what you've had to with your son's placements. They really provide everything to the kids so they don't need money. If we do give him money for extras, it goes right into his account. Unless the program coordinator feels that he has earned it, he doesn't get the money or a shopping trip. Same with trips to the grocery store for snacks. And, if they do get money for snacks, the snacks are locked up and also have to be earned. They also provide the paper and stamps for letters. Even the presents we bought our son at Christmas, except for clothing and such, are put away and have to be earned. The same for their CD and DVD players. Also, no one is allowed to have money in their room, so selling thing doesn't get them anything. As far as phone calls, every phone number has to be approved--they actually call the number and check out who answers--and, again, they have to earn phone time. So, things are pretty tight there.

And you're right--he shouldn't be ranting and raving at me, and I shouldn't put up with it. Thus, my request the other night that he NOT call me if he can't be pleasant. It's been four nights now since he has called, so I guess we're having a "stand-off."


DDD, thanks for warning about the medications. I'm not getting my hopes up. By the time he gets out of this program, he'll be close to 18, and taking medications will be up to him. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he decides to discontinue them.

However, at this point, he was the one who actually asked to go back on medications, but not for very good reasons. He said that, if he took medications again, he'd be so relaxed all the time that he wouldn't talk to anyone and thus stay out of trouble. It's sad but true, it's his mouth that usually gets him into trouble. If he thinks it, he says it. I hate to see him use medications for that reason rather than trying a bit harder to control his impulses.


Thanks, Suz, great responses!

You're right, and this is what the program coordinator has been politely suggesting all along--that we bring our son nothing (everything is provided) including snacks and so forth, and let him earn them. This concept was so foreign to the way he was raised (mistakenly, I admit) that we've all had trouble with it. But, it's getting easier now that we can see just how entitled and unappreciative he really feels. Interestingly, he even admits this...