Run out of options

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by OutOfOptions2k17, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. OutOfOptions2k17

    OutOfOptions2k17 New Member

    There is a lot of backstory to this so I will try to include everything without writing a novel, but the tl;dr is my 16 (17 in April) is ruining his life, our family, and making life hell.

    My son is 16, almost 17. His mother and I are no longer together and from about the age of 2 until he was 15 he primarily lived with his mother and I had normal visitation (1-2 days a week + weekends, later to weekends only due to distance). There has never been a time that I have no been involved in his life or seen him regularly. Maybe a valid quote maybe not, but "Private Schools, Daycare, :censored2:, Medical Bills, I Pay That". During the time with his mother, he did not have much stability. Moving, boyfriends, couple of marriages just didn't end up well. Starting around 6th grade, his grades started to drop. From nearly all A's to practically failing. On the flip side, I've been with the same person since he was 2 and we've moved once. This isn't saying I'm better than her, just trying to put the whole situation into perspective. He was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2013.

    This all hit the wall last year when his mother married again for the 2nd time. He does not like the person she married and he started hanging out with the wrong kids at school. He's been busted with pot multiple times and things at his mothers got to the point that he spent about 2 weeks in juvenile detention because of being unruly. How he ended up in detention was he had been having the sheriff called to his mothers house because fights between them were escalating more and more. He was starting to punch walls, doors, cabinets (broke his hand as a result) and she was rightfully feeling scared. He was placed on probation and then had another incident the day after which resulted in his PO putting him into detention. It was at this time his mother and I agreed that a change was needed and he moved in with my wife and I.

    We put him into Online/Home schooling to try and minimize the "new school, new kids", plus with the way his grades and school work were going a change of pace was needed. I also work from home so it would be easy to monitor his school work during the day. This has not gone well at all as his grades are still in the same place and it's to the point now that he goes weeks without turning in any school work. I don't understand exactly how the school allows him to turn in late assignments but they do. The plus side is we can see everything due and missed the down side is they don't seem to enforce any hard due date. The physical altercations here are less (though we've had a few, specifically one this morning). By physical I do not mean punches thrown, but getting to faces, etc. I The drug use has not stopped. He got a job in August and today (which caused the fight) decided he wasn't going and was going to no call/no show. We are in counseling and he is on Vyvanse for what might be attention issues. Since he's been living here, he really does not have much contact with his mother. We agreed that as part of this change, it was a "one parent, one rule" in that I have final say over what goes and what doesn't. This was to stop him from playing her vs me just to get what he wants. However she has not been supportive and continuously tries talk him into moving back with her or coming back and generally makes him feel bad for "abandoning" her. Sometimes he starts the "move back" conversation but that generally happens when he doesn't like whatever is going on here.

    He has been grounded since a couple weeks into the school year due to not turning in assignments. The only thing he has had is his phone when he goes to work (to call us to be picked up) and a Roku to watch TV. He's a big gamer so he's had no easy child or video game access, though we recently relaxed that a bit over the Thanksgiving/Christmas break. Today due to the fight, he has no Roku.

    I'll be the first to admit my way of handling things this morning was wrong, but it's all a build up of stress and everything else. There has basically been no change in his behavior between his mothers house to here and because he doesn't follow any rules he pretty much just gets away with doing whatever he wants. While we do everything we can to enforce the rules in place, without watching him 24/7 he finds someway to get away with it. We usually eventually end up catching him but there is no regard to any rules we put into place. Because of this, it's causing a great deal of stress between my wife and I. It's to the point that we do not want him in the house... or I should say he's not welcome if he can't make an effort to follow the rules and do what is expected of him. The bar is also very low for his expectations in that he just needs to attend school (which includes doing the work) and keep his room clean. We don't ask much else of him because he just doesn't do it and since punishment has no effect we've just given up.

    We're in Ohio (if anyone has any specific experience) but we are lost. What else can we do? What else can we try? Where do we turn now? Sure I suppose I could take the "easy road" and just send him back to his mothers, but that doesn't solve anything just removes me from the situation. But with that said, we are strongly considering just letting him drop out of school and either kicking him out or doing whatever to emancipate him. This likely became more difficult considering he likely does not have a job any longer as of today. I know that isn't right either, but it's likely the only way he will learn anything. The stress of dealing with him is quickly (or likely has already surpassed) being tolerable and at this point any change is strictly on him which he just isn't onboard for doing.
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    For emancipation I believe he has to prove he can support himself. I don't think that is an option.

    He is edging up to 18 where you have no legal rights at all. I had a daughter who used drugs in high school. She quit after we made her leave, but nothing we did while she was still here did any good. She was creative in contacting her drug buddies as we were also homeschooling her. She did not have access to social media because she used drugs up to twelve years ago, and that was before cell phones and social media took off. But she managed to sneak out her window at night and run the streets and to instant message (remember that?) some bad people.

    They quit when they want to quit and don't feel bad that so far nothing worked. We have little power over defiant teens. Often they are told to leave at 18. Check your eviction laws.

    Did you call the police when he got violent?

    Do you have other children who have to see this behavior?
  3. Praecepta

    Praecepta Active Member

    From your post above.... "they don't seem to enforce any hard due date"

    It is not "they" who need to enforce homework due dates, it is YOU!
  4. Percy

    Percy Member

    Your story is so familiar. I wish I had lots of advice, but I don't. I can say that I have been on this forum for only about a week - days of reading reams of posts, then making a few posts of my own. And it has been so, so helpful. No, I don't have solutions, or answers. But it has helped me reflect on things, and helped me structure how I think about things. It has given me some new perspective. I had a confrontation with my son at 3am today, and it went better --- at least in my own head -- for having been on this forum.

    I would suggest you read my post -- NOT because I have anything helpful or enlightening to say, but because there are many parallels to what you are facing and I am facing, and the responses and posts from the other members on this forum were very helpful to me. They might also be relevant and helpful to you.
  5. Percy

    Percy Member

    Oh - I will offer one point - we homeschooled our kids for many years up to high school. Seeking academic rigor reasons. For 80% of my kids it was, on balance, a very good thing, and they thrived. But for my son who sounds a bit like your son (although no physical aggression), in hindsight, it was not good. My son is oppositional and defiant; creating another forum where I as parent was the enforcer/authority/rulemaker was not helpful. It would have been better if I had just been mom, and a school/teacher/principal etc. had been the authority over schoolwork. Maybe changing the school situation will help your dynamic as a parent.
  6. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Our town has a Learning Center, where kids attend "school" but it is actually just going and doing classes on line. Maybe 7 to 10 kids, a shorter school day, and very restrictive. Everything is in one room, no socializing except for 2 ten minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch hour.

    I over heard the teacher in charge on the phone with another parent. She was saying "no, I can't make your daughter do the work". "I am not her baby sitter" "just because she shows up doesn't mean I can make her do anything." I felt sorry for this teacher. I am just glad that I do t have to have her "job" and be the mom, too.

    I think if you continue to home school, you would have to have some rewards for doing the work. A minimum number of assignments done each day, then he gets the roku for that evening. Repeat, the next day.

    Good luck. This struggle is so familiar! Ksm
  7. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    Some of the online high school programs don't require students to turn in assignments until the end of the term. The idea behind that is to let students work and learn at their own pace, not to just blow off their homework. Online schools were designed for at-risk students, so they are given more leniency. If he doesn't get caught up on his assignments he will be expected to turn them in at the end. If he misses the deadline they will give him an extension. If he misses that, he has to retake the course and he will be a year or half a year behind. That means he graduates late. Ask him if he wants to still be in high school when he is 19-20.
  8. RN0441

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

    Sorry for your situation. We know how hard it is on parents and on a marriage.

    Does your son want to go to a regular high school? Maybe he feels a bit alone because mom has new husband, her home has been unstable etc. We never know what makes these kids go off the rails, so to speak. Our son did and he had it all!! Our two older boys who were the product of divorce did pretty amazing. I always thought our youngest would make us the proudest and sadly it was the complete opposite!!

    I would suggest you get into therapy for you and your wife and perhaps with son to set some expectations and boundaries. You have to take control of the situation. Kids do need boundaries and control even though they say they do not want that. My son had been in therapy on and off for many years. My husband and I finally saw someone after many years of feeling lost and helpless.

    I remember a saying that the kids that are the hardest to love are the ones that need it the most. I have repeated that to myself many times. Make sure your son knows that you love him. You love him unconditionally but your relationship has conditions.
  9. OutOfOptions2k17

    OutOfOptions2k17 New Member

    Thanks to everyone who replied, it's good to hear that this isn't something just isolated to us (not that we thought it was). I'll try to answer some of the specific questions/comments.

    His mother called the police when things got out of hand, but things have not progressed to that level here yet. We've come close, but one thing that upsets him the most is the fact that his mom did call the police. Granted I agree with her decision about some of the times it was done (not all) and again his behavior is all on him, I try to make sure that if we are going to get the police involved it's 100% unavoidable. I don't want to call them out of pure frustration. Maybe it's not the right approach and we should be calling for lesser things?

    Yes, he has a younger (8 or 9 year old) brother with is mother and a 4 year old sister with me. So this has also caused issues with them seeing the behavior or just feeling the stress in the atmosphere.

    As Crayola13 said, the due date is at the end of the year/semester/term. They plan out the work on a weekly basis, so it is all laid out for him on what needs to be done and when based on the teacher however he just doesn't do it. We've tried to enforce dates, but again he just ignores it. This is why he's been grounded now for 4+ months. What do you do when you have nothing left to take away as punishment or punishment just gets shrugged off?

    He is currently seeing a therapist now every other week. We recently stepped down the visits from weekly because he's also not putting forth any effort here. His therapist is very much a realist with the situation and has no problem saying that this is really just wasting everyone's time. It's not that she doesn't want too or is refusing to work with him, but she said from the very start that it's only going to be as good as he makes it. If he is just going to go through the motions for the hour they meet then there is nothing to gain out of this. My wife and I talk to his therapist every couple of visits but we haven't investigated or tried just going to see someone for ourselves. He says he does not want to go to regular school.

    He and I talked today about the weekends blowup, but it's like the point is missed. He wants ungrounded but doesn't understand that in order for that to happen he has to commit and show us he is capable of doing what we call the "bare minimum" of our expectations. That's to have a job, attend school and doing the work (note we have no expectations on grades, we gave up on that), and keep his room clean. We literally ask of nothing else from him because it's not worth the fight. To be more specific about the school work, we expect him to be doing school work from 9a-2p and be up to date where the class is. If he wants to turn in everything and have all F's that is on him. We've explained that if he fails a class he will retake it and/or fail to graduate, which is again on him. At this point graduating High School might even be a reach but college is most definitely out of the question. The conversation this morning was left that until you start doing the 3 things we expect, you get nothing in return. If that means you get nothing in return until you turn 18 then so be it, but the ball is in his court to change his behavior, nobody else can do it for him.

    We just have this suspicion that we are just going to have to live this way for another year until he's 18. How do we do that?
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Personally, I do not think your child is served by waiting it out. I do not think he is helped by your permitting that your marriage be affected. These kids of ours get outsized ideas about their power. To their own detriment and to the detriment of others. To be able to function with the illusion of this power is not good for them, or anybody else, I think.

    I think your focus needs to be on reining him in through consequences, including the police, emergency services, and anything else that may be at your disposal.

    I agree with the others that home schooling seems to be increasing the pressure on you guys, and may not be the best solution for him. Furthermore, public school provides the options for interventions, including in specialized settings, that may be more suitable for him. I think I would consider public schooling and the possibility of evaluation for an IEP.

    I think Percy demonstrated for us an important point. We cannot define success based upon results that we do not control. We must define it entirely on what we do control: our rules, our voice. It will be assumed they will continue to defy us. We cannot and should not define ourselves or our "success" based upon their conformity, by their assent, by their willingness in any way to give us legitimacy. Of only one result, are we are in complete control: our thinking and our voice.
    I would not downplay the importance of this diagnosis on the devolution of his behavior. My son received a diagnosis of Chronic Hepatitis, with which he was born. To me this was the onset of his serious problems. He came to feel he was defective and he was angry at his birth parents who did this to him. Curiously, he decided to as if duplicate their lifestyles, rather than distance himself.

    That their reactions are not rational matters little. It is how they understand what happens to them and how they try to reassert control over their lives, and their understanding of themselves.

    Welcome to the forum. I hope you keep posting. It helps.

    Take care.
  11. OutOfOptions2k17

    OutOfOptions2k17 New Member

    The problem we are having is figuring out what resources are at our disposal. We've called a few crisis centers (or similar places) and they will agree based on a 15-30 minute phone interview that they offer services that could help however all parties (including him) need to agree. That pretty much throws that out the window since he will refuse to agree to anything. I guess maybe start with the county truancy/attendance (whatever this maybe called) and see what they say? He's logging the correct amount of time each day, however it's all BS as no work is being done. One of his teachers just called because he submitted a bunch of work (to make it look like he's getting stuff done to get ungrounded) but it was all blank. Where can we turn next to continue to escalate? This is partly why we feel so lost is we don't know where else to turn anymore.

    We agree that his diabetes plays a much bigger role than he says. Either because he's not properly taking care of himself (highs or lows) and feels bad or because it's something he has to deal with the rest of his life.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    There is a category in Special Education, called Other, health impaired. You see chronic illness is a qualifying diagnosis for special education. With that you would not necessarily go the behavioral route, but you could. Or there is the ED category, emotionally disturbed. On the basis of what you describe, he would likely qualify here.

    I believe that at school intervention could help. He could even potentially be transferred to a non-public school placement, with a behavioral or therapeutic component. Some kids go to residential treatment settings through an IEP. If it were me I would get the school involved. By law he does have to go to school, no?

    Clearly school is not serving him. By their own admission.

    At 16, I think, at the latest 17, he is eligible for Job Corps, the federal program/trade school which is residential, and free. All meals, well supervised. Good trades, including careers like nursing, etc. I would check their website.

    I would give him the choice: either you straighten up here, now, or you become emancipated. What you do, your choice. If he refuses to go or to accept emancipation, I would consider removing everything that is an amenity rather than necessity from his environment. I might feed him, give him a bed, and that is it. No TV. No phone. No computer. No WiFi. A curfew. I would call the cops every single time there is any acting out.

    To continue down this path, is the worse thing, for him. Let alone you. Have you considered Al Anon?

    Take care. Keep posting.
  13. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    When I have a student who isn't turning in homework, I ask him or her what is going on. I ask about anxiety, depression, how life is at home, and if theu have been arguing with friends, boyfriend, etc. I ask the student if he or she feels capable and confident of their ability to do the homework. Are they having actual trouble trying to figure it out, etc.? Particularly with the girls, I ask about headaches, which can be a major problem for some. Most of the time the student tells me he or she just can't seem to concentrate or cannot get motivated. Some will admit they are lazy and that they've tried to snap out of the funk they are in, but just can't. At that point, I recommend they talk to a guidance counselor for tips on focusing. Also, the guidance counselor can pick up on whether or not they should be evaluated for ADHD. You mentioned your son's diabetes. A fluctuation in blood sugar can affect behavior, grades, and mood. I explain to all my students that they will make better test scores if they do their homework because the assignments are meant to help them learn. I also tell them that not doing their homework is self-defeating. For some of my kids, it's matter of engaging them differently from other kids. I make an effort to talk with my ADHD students daily and just try to stay on them as well as their parents. If you think his ADHD is the main problem, there are teachers specifically trained in that area. All teachers are trained to some degree in working with ADHD students, but some are specially trained. I would recommend getting your son into a classroom environment where he can have that type of teacher. Rule out the other things first like whether or not he feels capable and confident that he has the ability to do the work. Is he blowing it off because it's too advanced for him, etc. Are his skills at the right grade level?
  14. Percy

    Percy Member

    I do concur that in this situation homeschooling may be making things harder. And I am a homeschooling parent (5 kids, homeschooled them all, for varying amounts of time, up until entry to high school, at which time they went to public high school); so I am not slamming homeschooling or online schooling as a matter of principle -- I think it can be great, for some kids, at some times in their education. But I think with a teen that is oppositional and defiant with parents, adding one more thing that the parents direct, control, manage, dictate, enforce etc. is not good. I think you need to strip down the things you as a parent direct and enforce to the essentials (no drugs, mental health, physical health, house rules and values, accountability and responsibility -- or whatever else you put in this category for your son/your family), and create some space to not be in charge of his schoolwork. I'm trying not to superimpose my own situation on yours, but this is what I wish, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that I had done with my oldest, ODD child. Not having one more thing that you berate him about, punish him for, chase him about, chastise him for, might be helpful. And, keep in mind it isn't the worst thing in the world if it takes a kid 5 years to graduate from high school, i.e. if he has to repeat this year. Better that you solve the problems that only get worse if you don't address them. Because I believe you are in the USA, and one of the great things about America (compared to other countries I lived in) is that there are 2nd and 3rd chances in education, there are do-overs. Maybe it won't be optimal as you imagined and hoped for in a do-over, but the door to higher education is never closed here - people get GEDs, go to Community College, transfer to college etc. and some don't do it on the typical timeline. (And this is from someone who DID do it just like in the fairy tale, and has an undergrad and a graduate degree, and a law degree, from Ivy League schools --- but who has learned there are many paths to the top of the mountain, and who has child with perfect score on the SAT...and a GED. It took me quite a while to adjust. :) ). Don't make graduation from high school or schoolwork the holy grail -- make your son's health and welfare, and issues that brought you to this site, and your relationship with him, the priorities...for now.
  15. OutOfOptions2k17

    OutOfOptions2k17 New Member

    It's hard to tell if his skills are at the right grade level or not. How do you weed out just being lazy vs not knowing the material? When he does do the work, his grades come back fine (C or better) so the assumption as always been he is more than capable of doing the work, he just chooses not too because it's not important to him. We've come to the conclusion that the home/online schooling is not working as well, and it will very likely be changing soon. I say this because over the past weekend we had an incident that required calling the police and pressing charges. He is rightfully pissed/upset about being grounded, but it's been explained to him many times now that until he begins to change his ways he isn't going to get anything back in return. These changes also need to be carried over time, meaning just because he does everything we ask for a week straight it does not mean everything is automatically returned. I know that may seem impossible for him because there is no set date or time, but we've explained to him that as we seem him improve and constantly do the things we expect we will be more than happy to allow time to game, phone, etc. It does not mean he will get to keep his phone or he will get any time the next day but we will reward the good behavior we see.

    After picking him up from work this past Sunday, he was asking to do something and the answer was no. Again it went into why we are "ruining the fun times of his life" and it was explained to him that he needs to change HIS ways and it's really not that difficult in terms of what we are asking. Since he's only allowed to get his phone while at work, he was asked for it once home. Threw it towards the door in his room and then proceeded for an hour to play his electronic keyboard, guitar, and music as loud as he could. We asked him multiple times (in a calm voice) to turn it down and that he was disturbing the rest of the house. His reply was "No I won't turn it down and that's the point." This also included going into the bath room to turn the faucet and shower off/on repeatedly. This resulted in warning him the last time to either stop or the power gets turned off to his room. This lead to banging/drumming instead of the TV or keyboard, so the police were called. Upon finding that out he punched a hole in his bedroom wall. They wrote a report for unruly and after talking with the prosecutors office we decided to follow through with charges which will be for truancy & disobedience. The truancy because he's refusing to attend school during requested/designated hours even though per school he is attending. We will get a call from someone in 7-10 days for next steps, but things are definitely not in a good space currently. The entire house is on edge.