Spoke to difficult child I wish I could....


New Member
just have a nice conversation without getting "preachy" . Every time he calls I say to my self "don't do that" but somehow I always do. It is just so hard not to give advice when your kid is doing all the wrong things. This time I started out by trying to explain why I write so little. difficult child had said that he ws disappointed that I didn't send more letters. I told him that I just didn't know what to say anymore. I said that I am afraid to tell him of everthing that is going on with the family because I'm afraid he will get depressed because he is missing out on so much and do something stupid and get into trouble.
I told him that I don't want to tell him what he should be doing because even though he acknowledges that I give him good advice he doesn't heed it. I told him that I don't want to tell him what I am feeling because I don't want to lay on guilt or worse stir up anger in him. Then I went on to say that we needed to talk when he got out so he understands what he must do to say out of jail in the future. I told him that the judicial system still owned him and that his next parole violation would be his third and he would get alot more time on a third offence.

I did tell him that I loved him but then I added that I just don't think that there is anymore I can do for him and that when he gets out I will get him plugged in but from there he is on his own.

When I hung up I felt so guilty, I have five minutes of conversation and I have to get preachy. Why can't I just say I love him and leave it at that and then just make small talk? It's not like I think anything I say as far as what he needs to do with hs life will ever make a difference so why do I persist? I need advice from all you been there done that members as to how to keep from doing this every time I talk to difficult child. husband says he gets into the same mode when he visits and then kicks himself afterwards also. -RM


Active Member
I dont know the answer. as parents we want to instruct and protect them from future harm by making sure they know the rules and consequences.

I no longer tell ant the consequences. he knows it. I do though choose not to participate in his life as much as possible. it is too frustrating for me. If anything new comes up I am sure I will voice my opinion and then tell him he is old enough to make his own decisions. I used to nag I dont anymore. why bother?? no one is listening.


New Member
I do the same thing with difficult child and always get into a battle of some sort with her, even if I try my very best not to. Some of her thoughts and ideas are so far out there that I cant help myself but to say something. Although alot of the time she baits me and tries to make me angry. I have not talked to her in a few weeks because last time she hung up on me. I figure that when she wants something, she will call as its the only time that she does. Maybe not the grownup thing to do, but Im tired of playing her games and being only when she wants something. She calls and says, "I have a question for you", never hello, how are you, just I have a question for you.

Dont feel bad, I think pretty much all of us are in the same boat to one degree or another.



New Member
It didn't sound to me like you got to preachy. He said he was dissapointed you don't send more letters and it sounds to me like you kept it pretty simple by letting him know that there isn't much advice you give him that he actually follows.

We all say things we wish we didn't afterwards, but it's jut the parent in us. Don't kick yourself. Your doing good!!


New Member
We (I do too) get "preachy" because we can see where they are messing up. They will never listen until they hit rock bottom if then. My son is 16 (soon 17) He's awaiting placement for truancy, drugs, threatening the principle, totally out of control behavoir at home. I've tried to talk to him, others have tried too. (trying to keep him from being placed) Didn't listen and now he's in his 2nd placement.
We can talk and talk but until they see the problem we are wasting our breath.
Good luck


We have to be preachy...we're parents and they are our children. It doesn't matter much whether or not they listen and take our advice. In the end, we'll know that we tried our best, and that's what's important.


Well-Known Member
Ahhh RM...been there done that and STDT. I dont know how not to be preachy. Every time I go see Cory I preach. I spend half the time I am there going over and over how many years I have spent trying to keep him from being exactly where he is now.

I think part of it is that I have spent so many years being his advocate and that is a role I know so well and feel comfortable in. It is alike a second skin to me. This is something I know how to do. I know how to look for services and deal with him being in treatment.

When they were younger and in placements and such...we did always "preach" the therapeutic talk. We tried to drill this stuff into their heads in hopes that it would sink in. I think I am still in that mode now.

Maybe for you if you want to give it up you could find something to have in common with him. Can you send him books? Would he read them? Then you could discuss them in your letters. Does he get to watch any tv? Discuss a tv show. What is he interested in? Maybe you could find a way to incorporate that into your letters. Maybe there is a way to send some sort of game in your letters...a suduko game maybe...or word search. You could write your letter on the computer and print one out on the back of your letter and he could send it back to you or something. Or just discuss it with you on the next phone call. Maybe search for comics online that he would find funny and include them in your letters.

I dont know...just throwing out ideas.


Well-Known Member
It is difficult. When easy child/difficult child was away I spent most of the time
asking questions...just so I didn't pontificate! LOL.

The mail I sent had clippings from the newspaper that I thought
could (remotely) be of interest. I shared extended family news
that he wasn't probably interested in at all. Then I always
made the last paragraph an encouraging (kinda preachy) thought that we knew he could succeed etc.

My mail was not exciting but he got an envelope when they passed
out envelopes! Geez, what a life we lead. Hugs. DDD


My dtr's Residential Treatment Center (RTC) encouraged us to remain on the light side when communicating (unless it was a therapy time). I think it is okay to let them know life is still going on without them, in fact, it is important to know that their actions got them where they are but that doesn't mean your whole life has now stopped. Feeling regret for what they are missing at home is okay!

Having said all that I do know that I start lecturing when I am determined I won't! However, I am hoping that now that I am no longer going to be helping my dtr it means I am no longer invested in what she is doing so I can ease up. I really would prefer to just have a casual conversation with her. I don't know what she is up to and since she lies about nearly everything there is no way to know anyway. But, I don't have to let it affect me since I am not going to give her money, help her move, etc.



New Member
I think you are doing really well, RM. This is all new for you, too.

Remember when Coookie used to say she sat on her lips?

That was helpful imagery for me.

I'm so sorry, RM.



(the future) MRS. GERE
I seem to go in cycles, RM. I'll be good- detached- the PERFECT MOM- for awhile....then something triggers the Billy Graham in me, too. It's not a pretty picture because the more I talk the more wound up I get and, well, you get the idea :hammer: .

It's based on sheer frustration. There is no other explanation. We are so struck between a rock and a hard place with our kids. We can't be too encouraging because (1) they usually don't deserve it, and (2) they will do whatever they can to prove us wrong. And we can't be too negative or the conversation completely disintegrates.

I have no advice, just sympathy, and a suggestion to post those responses from our archives next to your phone. That helped me so much when Rob was in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) and group home. I think I need to put them by the phone again.



New Member
Wow!!!! you guys are awsome! thank so much for the support it does help to know I am not the only one who falls into this mode.I agree that it is pretty normal since we are the parents. It is just that my son does know he messed up and continues to mess up. I don't think he needs to hear it from me anymore. he is sweet he doesn't get angry or anything when I go into that mode. He is respectful and says it is OK and that I am right when I apoligize.

And I do feel guilty that I don't write more than I do. So,
Janet and DDD, Those are really good ideas and I will try them out.

Barb, I often remember Cookies's words but somehow it doesn't stop me. LOL

And Suz, I guess it is time to put those responses by the phone.
difficult child will be getting out soon and I will need them.

by the way I got another letter from him yesterday and he is sick again.
husband is going to see him tomorrow to ask some very important questions. -RM


Well-Known Member
RM...I used many of those tactics when Jamie was in boot. The one thing you didnt want to do with a kid in boot was to make them worry, bring them down, or get too preachy. So I would make my letters basically chatty.

I would talk about home and kind of superficial. I would be somewhat motivational. A go boy, you can do it letter. That may not be exactly fitting here but you can fit something in like "Dad and I are sure that you will work hard to turn your life around to learn from what you are going through now." Then sometimes I would send letters with fill in the blanks for him to send me back. Such as...what sorts of things do you eat? What is the best thing to eat, what is the worst. Do you go outside? etc.

I would copy cartoons I would find that he would like. I would send pictures of the family I would print on the backs of his letters. Pictures of his dogs. Pictures of fishing. Stories about fishing. Anything. LOL.

It is really hard to find something to talk about when you are trying to write letters every day to someone which is what I was doing when he was in boot.


New Member
thanks Janet, difficult child drew a picture on the back of his letter of us as a family at the beach. He says he wants more moments like that. And that those kinds of memories help him. It does break my heart but he is so chaotic I do not know how much contact I am going to want after he gets out. -RM


Well-Known Member
I doubt they can do much artwork in jail but does he get pencils? Maybe you find pictures online that he could sort of "charcoal color" with pencils. Might take some searching but everything is on here if you look hard enough...lol. Im sure there are pictures of beaches.


New Member
Well, first of all, I think it's great you are still on speaking terms.

When my daughter was in juvy, she was positively evil, and at the time diagnosis was actively trying to make my life a living hell, and they ganged up on me. So, I never wrote her, and visited her once a week until her abuse got to the point that she didn't deserve a visit from me.

But why do we get preachy?


We hope this time that it rubs off, that they heed the voice of experience and maturity and functionality and independence. That we can defer those mistakes and turn them into learning experiences that result in positive outcomes. Or, we are anxious about them making the kind of decisions that delay our hope that they can be functional, successful adults.

difficult child has spat at me more than once, "You didn't teach me anything about being an adult!" No, dear, you just don't listen, because I am the enemy, the idiot, the control freak, the crazy, nagging mom that hates you. So, whenever I tried to make a point about something, like when she tried to return her bike after the accident, I would say, "I am teaching you something, so you need to pay attention and listen". I make it as concise as possible:

"You've had it for three months, and even if you haven't ridden it much, they probably won't return it. But, they probably will repair the misalignments from the accident. Worst case scenario, you'll have to sell it. Remember, keep a good attitude and at least you'll have a sellable bike if they don't return it".

I don't find that preachy. I presented her with a likely outcome and she was prepared. She knows she has a tendency to fly into rages and is socially awkward. (She actually chided a police officer once, "I don't like the way my tax dollars are being spent!") :rofl:

If I had said, "Don't go in there demanding and threatening. You got drunk and fell off the bike - you were the one who screwed up, not them. And I'm not going to come in and rescue you. You're on your own with this one", that would have been preachy. And it was exactly what I was thinking. :nonono:

So, after about 30 minutes she came home. They hadn't taken the bike back, but they did repair it and difficult child was content with that, but more importantly, she dealt with the bike shop on her own and had appropriate and reasonable expectations and learned a little bit about the art of social interaction.

I was actually proud of her. She accepted my parenting and wisdom and it's another baby step that I hope she carries with her while she's on her own.

So I hope you work through the guilt, because I know I've said things I wish I could take back, but when we are parenting them or counseling them and we know we have their best interests in mind and we aren't being emotionally domineering and we're battle weary to boot, a little preachiness is really just good sound advice.

Good luck to you both.


New Member
You are correct that preachyness is most often fueled by hope. But it is counterproductive. Because most of our difficult children when the detect a lecture comming on just simply tune out. -RM