Our son has given us trouble for years. The hardest part is when he's not in trouble, he's the sweetest, most charming and lovable kid. But he's headed down the wrong road. He's a junior in hs, been suspended 4 times since freshman year...from everything from computer tampering (disabled the entire school district's internet service from his cell phone), smoking weed, facebook "bullying" (threatened a pot dealer - absurd). He is very ambitious, although hates school. He was hired as chef's apprentice at a new local restaurant owned by a famous chef. He loves it and they love him. He's been there for a year. Works full time along with school - but doesn't go to school often and does no homework. He wants to get his GED and go to culinary school after working for this chef for 2 years. In the meantime, he's making our lives miserable. Smoking weed multiple times a day, before work, before bed, before school, going out in the middle of the night, letting friends come over in the middle of the night to party, selling weed, not following any of the rules of our house....stealing our cars when he can....We cannot live like this. No amount of punishing works. No therapist or psychiatrist has been able to help him either. The last one he saw diagnosed him with a conduct disorder. He said we are amazing parents, doing everything we can, but there's not much we can do. He suggested kicking him out. Should we?


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You can set strong boundaries, but I don't think you can legally make anyone leave before age eighteen. Can you give us more history on your son? Do you maybe live outside of the U.S?


Staff member
Hi @defiantchild.

Sorry things are so tough. It's miserable living with difficult child's sometimes. What I see from your description is that you son is a smart kid that is defiant and hates school. Doing well at his job is a great thing but smoking so much pot probably isn't helping his attitude.

I see it as a good sign that he wants to get his GED and go to culinary school. That means that he has goals and a sense of what he wants to do with his future. To me that seems very hopeful for his future.

As far as kicking him out a 16 year old you should probably make sure that it's legal where you live. There was a point in my own parenting journey where I kicked my difficult child out, but she was over 18 at the time.

Here's some info about the long term outcome of ODD/CD written by Dr. James Chandler: http://jamesdauntchandler.tripod.com/ODD_CD/oddcdpamphlet.htm#_Toc179711708
Hi @runawaybunny Bunny and @MidwestMom Mom,
Thank you so much for your replies. I believe he has a conduct disorder. When I look up the symptoms, it's textbook except for the violence and cruelty to animals. He's NEVER had any of that. In fact, he's always loved all sorts of 'creatures' since he was a small child...butterflies, frogs etc.
I just received a call from his friend's father - the man was hysterically screaming that he doesn't want my son at his home anymore and I need to keep him out. He's got similar problems with his own son....I told him he could call the police because we can't control him. As soon as my son returned home and I told him (very calmly) about the phone call, he started making excuses, blaming his friend's dad, saying the only two people who have a problem with what he does are me and that boy's dad....if it wasn't so crazy and scary it would be laughable. I don't yell and scream, I just get really sad. He refuses to discuss his behavior. He always says "i don't know why you are talking about this, it's in the past!" as he did just now. So we can never seem to make any progress. His impulsivity, refusal to follow any rules, and lack of any normal boundaries are all things I want to talk to him about but he flat out refuses. He can't seem to admit to himself that what he's doing is wrong.
I feel like the only way he's ever going to learn anything is if he's out on his own. The very fact that he's living in our house seems to be enabling him.
does anyone know if there is any treatment for conduct disorder that really works? my son just lies to everyone, including the therapist/psychiatrist.
by the way, my son is happy to move out. he said the only thing stopping him is he needs us to sign the lease. i did some research and he's right - it is legal for him to live on his own in our state. my concern is things may get worse....but then again, doesn't he need to hit rock bottom before he will face his demons?
Hi @2much2recover,
Thank you for your reply.
I'm afraid then he won't be able to get a lease. I don't believe they will lease to a minor (under 18)...so that's the conundrum. I think he truly NEEDS to leave. As much as it breaks my heart. I love him so much when he's acting 'normal'. This is so hard....and of course I worry that he will actually get into MORE trouble out of the house. But this isn't working and there doesn't seem to be anything we can do to change the situation.


Active Member
Your son sounds something like mine, who can be wonderful, sweet, funny and kind, but can also be mean-spirited, uncooperative, and maddening.

I'm not sure kicking your son out is the answer right now, but if things escalate or you feel threatened physically, you can keep this as something to consider. As has been mentioned, his age may make it difficult and you would have to find out about the laws in your area.

My son quit school twice, both times in 9th grade (ages 15 and 16). He is smart, but had no interest in going to class, doing assignments, etc. I struggled for years to keep him in, and found myself at the school more than he was just to meet with various teachers and counselors. He did get his GED this summer and is currently taking automotive technology classes at the community college, which he loves. Maybe your son will thrive in the culinary world if it's something he loves. Everybody isn't cut out for regular school, and based on my experience, it might not be the end of the world if your son pursues a different path. In fact, although it used to hurt me to even drive past the high school after he dropped out, looking back I'm glad I pulled him out when I did, and I didn't have to deal with two more years of the constant arguing, struggling, etc. of trying to get him to go to school. I'm not encouraging you to let him drop out, but just saying not to worry yourself sick about it if he won't go.

As for the rest of it, you should read the forums to find out about how to set and enforce boundaries in your household. I've had so much to learn in this area and have made some progress, and agree with others here that you shouldn't feel like you have no say in what happens in your house. I had an issue with my son driving our car without permission (without even a license), and we were able to put a stop to that. It's an ongoing process where you find your strength to be good to yourself. You'll receive some very good advice from other people here, and we can sympathize and understand your problems.



Staff member
does anyone know if there is any treatment for conduct disorder that really works? my son just lies to everyone, including the therapist/psychiatrist.
I'm no expert but from what I've read there is no clear pathway to treat conduct disorder.

According to medscape:
Conduct disorder (CD) is one of the most difficult and intractable mental health problems in children and adolescents. CD involves a number of problematic behaviors, including oppositional and defiant behaviors and antisocial activities (eg, lying, stealing, running away, physical violence, sexually coercive behaviors).

From Dr. Chandler's link that I previously posted:

How bad are Personality Disorders?
If you have a personality disorder as a teenager, by the time you are a young adult, here are the chances that these bad things will happen to you:

  1. Make a suicide attempt- 6-10%
  2. Serious assault on another 25-35%
  3. Not get as far in school as you should have been able to 25%
  4. Difficulties with interpersonal Relationships 20-30%
  5. Ending up with other Psychiatric problems 35-40%
  6. Having at least one of the above bad outcomes 70-80%
  7. Having at least two of the above bad outcomes 50% (25)
This seems really bad. Do people with personality disorders ever get better?
Yes, some personality disorders are much more likely to improve over time. After 15-25 years, only about 10% of adults who had Borderline Personality Disorder continue to have it. That means 90% got over it. Antisocial Personality disorder tends to improve, too. However, about 25% of people with Antisocial Personality Disorder die prematurely. Of those that do not die, most are better, but few have recovered completely.

2much2recover Active Member
Let him go but don't sign the lease!
I agree. By signing the lease you may end up having to pay it.
Thank you Origami,
It makes me feel good knowing I'm not alone.
We have resigned ourselves to the fact that he is not going to finish HS and we are at peace with that. We have stopped pushing him to finish school because we know for him it's a waste of time. We understand school isn't for everyone. The fact that he's 'found his calling' makes it easier for us to support him in his desire to get a GED and go to culinary school.
The issue is not the school part, it's the home part. No matter what limited rules we have, he breaks them and shows no remorse whatsoever. If we change out alarm code to keep him from sneaking out of the house, he figures out a way to override the system. If we lock the door to my husband's office, he figures out a way to pick the lock. It's almost as if no matter what we do he figures out how to 'outsmart' us. He refuses to be controlled in any way. Has a total contempt for authority. Except of course at work, he understands he must follow the rules there or else he will lose his job. But at home, he has total contempt for us and our rules.


Staff member
Thank you Runawaybunny,
So depressing...but it helps to get the facts here.
It's important to know what you're dealing with, but please don't lose hope. He may simply grow out of it.

To me it seems like a really good sign that he likes his job so much that he wants to go to culinary school. A lot of difficult children just drift around getting into trouble and not thinking about their future.

The fact that he has a sense of what he wants to do with his life seems very hopeful to me.


Well-Known Member
For God sakes, DO NOT SIGN A LEASE. You know your son. You will be stuck with it.

It is a personal decision to tell your child to leave. I told two to leave. Actually one left, but didn't think I wouldn't let him come back. He was violent and dangerous at the the time. My other daughter was using drugs, but she quit and turned it around all after she was no longer living with us. I am very close to both of these grown children now. It has worked...they are both gainfully employed and not expecting anything from us. My daughter is a real sweetie, but she always was, even while using drugs.Since we set down rules as to what our son can say to us, which excludes any/all abuse, our talks are much more pleasant. The first sign of him raising his voice, swearing at us, calling us names or getting abusive and the phone goes *click*. We are people too and we do not deserve abuse, even from our child, and we will not put up with it. Not anymore, that is. It was a long trip...wish we'd started putting the boundaries down much earlier.I have two other lovely grown kids who never gave me a moment's grief and I wasn't about to upset their world by letting the oldest son frighten them and control their lives. It was our house, not his house and he was not the only person living there.

Conduct Disorder is serious. It indicates a lack of conscience. Whether your son will develop one or not is a big question mark. I don't feel it is wrong to make a child leave, especially if he wants to, but I also don't think it is always a good idea to fund them either. It is all about what you can live with. I lived for years with dysfunction and finally chose peace and harmony and life could not be better. I set strong boundaries with my one remaining dysfunctional son and it has really helped our relationship. Letting him say whatever he wanted to, mean, foul, profane, blaming...that just destroyed the two of us. Now we can actually have a conversation. However, fortunately he has a good job because he can never live with us again. Not that he wants to.

Every situation is different. If your son is a danger to anyone in your house then I would think seriously about letting him leave and setting boundaries with all interactions with him. If he does not follow your boundaries, leave. That's the only way they know you are serious. If you are not yet ready to make that sort of break, then do what you feel you need to do to get things as good as possible. Family therapy is great, but chances are your son won't go. That doesn't stop YOU from going. None of us can help you as much as a professional.

You also have the option of having him live there until/unless it becomes intolerable to both of you. Some people do this. It is personal choice.

Good luck and keep us updated.
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Hi MidwestMom,
I am ready for him to leave. As much as it breaks my heart, I think we are enabling him by allowing him to live with us. He just doesn't seem to 'get it' that he has it SO GOOD HERE. I just need to find out where he can get a rental that we don't need to sign. Also, he's working, so he will have to pay for the rental. We are not going to support him. I can't thank you enough for your kind words and for sharing your personal experiences. Gives me hope.
Thanks RunawayBunny. Yes, we are fortunate that he's working and has a dream of becoming a famous chef. I don't care if he becomes famous or rich, I just want him to be able to take care of himself and his family. And be a good, caring citizen of his community. Is that asking too much??


Well-Known Member
No problem. I don't think anyone should feel forced to make a child leave, although if the situation is intolerable I think it is often beneficial for both. But I also don't think anyone should refrain from making a child leave if he is scary, threatening, totally disregarding of all rules, stealing, lying, staying out all night, doing drugs and entitled. Yes, these are things many of our kids have done to get kicked out, but they all had many, many, many chances and decided they'd rather be homeless than follow reasonable rules that most kids do without even discussing them.

At the very least, your home will be your castle again if he is gone. But that's a big if. Unless he harms you or steals from you or does dope in his room, I'd think hard about it and make a decision with your husband. Then talk to him, tell him why, ignore the abuse that will come from it, and give him a timetable.

You can always change your mind too. Nothing is set in stone.

I wanted to share that my daughter, who once did drugs but that was long ago, went to a two year culinary class at a college and is a really good chef! Guess where everyone wants to eat on holidays..haha. She did however have to put in ten hours six days a week. It's not easy. When she had a baby, she quit and is now home full time with her baby and his father. One thing for sure...this baby will grow up eating very well!!!! Her husband has wonderful meals, even gourmet breakfasts before work...lol.
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That's a great story! Nice to have a good cook in the family:) Makes me really happy to hear that people get through this, maybe not completely, but at least hearing stories like yours gives us hope.

Our son smokes weed outside the house, in the basement, in his room, wherever. We can't stand it. He has friends over all hours of the night, sneaks them in - and he sneaks out on weekends and school nights. Doesn't matter. He does whatever he wants to do. We are at our wits end and nothing we do makes a bit of difference. Wouldn't you agree it's time to go?

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Just adding in my welcome! I'm sorry things are so rough and wish I had some great advice. Sending some positive thoughts your way.


Well-Known Member
Yeah, hon, we went through the same thing. I was amazed at how my daughter could do so much when she had the screws to her. We literally homeschooled her to keep her away from the bad influences, not thinking that she'd find them even without school. Considering that my husband, myself and my two young kids, at the time, had to sleep sometimes she would wait then jimmy her window and run out through the neighborhood doing drugs and meeting up with her stellar friends...haha. More than once she was brought home for curfew violations. She took her drugs at night when we were asleep. We didn't know it until she told us after she quit. She was on probation twice. But, even with all that going on, she was a truly nice person with a heart of gold who VERY SADLY found out that one way for a shy girl to make a lot of friends was to use drugs. And so she did. She quit when she was 19. She started at 12. She did have to leave the house when we came home one day early from a waterpark with our younger two and found a rousing drug party going on with all sorts of interesting pills, paraphernalia, red eyes and runny noses. We had to call the cops because even my daughter screaming at them to leave did not make them leave.

We then told her it was time. She had had so many chances and she had completely violated our trust and was over eighteen.She went to live in Illinois with a relative, who is not a very nice relative, and she quit, even cigaretes. There is always hope. Where there is life, there is hope. After she got clean, she paid for her own schooling to become a chef and they loved her. She even got a teaching job...not sure how that came about. She doesn't have a teaching degree, but she was teaching some sort of cooking. But it was very tiring. After she got pregnant her and SO decided they wanted her home with the baby and not stressed during her pregnancy. So...here we are. In a whole different place. She does not blame us for making her leave. She thinks it was best in the end. We are very close.

If your son is out of control and disrespectful and wants to live elsewhere, you may want to give it a try. It is totally up to you and your husband. You may want to talk to a therapist first. I had a therapist for myself since I was twenty-three due to my own mental health problems and it sure helped to have one in place when my son and my daughter both started having serious issues. It was nice to have somebody in my corner, even if she was paid to be in my corner...lol. I got lots of good coping skills.