Stepping back - Am I getting the big picture..

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by libertynow, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. libertynow

    libertynow New Member

    Hi there,

    I really appreciate this forum and drop in once in a while to remind myself there are other parents out there that have been where I'm at-thank you moderators and participants for your time and for this forum.

    Right now, I'm feeling unsure about whether I'm focussing on the big picture. difficult child is 19, on probation, still living at home. Was a heavy marijuana user but with court testing etc instead he just switched his substance to alcohol.

    Anyway, here's the situation: difficult child is on probation with court and has a curfew, which is very reasonable - 11pm on weekdays, 12pm on fri, sat. Last month, he started coming in late, just 5-10 min., but I brought it up at probation meeting. They warned him and he did well for a couple weeks, but was late again recently - 1/2 yesterday, 2hrs today.

    If I mention at next meeting, he will go to jail. Last week he started GED classes. He didn't get past grade 9 earlier due to drug addiction and placements. This is a great opportunity for him. If he goes to jail, that is gone for some time...I should mention he also has a 10-mos. old son that would be without him as well.

    Reading early on about difficult children, i saw pretty much everyone mentioned not to sweat small stuff and keep focused on big picture. Do I let the lates slide in order to get him some education, that may actually give him some incentive to do better, or let him go to jail and continue on a downward spiral? This is the ambivalence I'm feeling about it right now. Feedback appreciated.

    Just very tired and stressed with my own situation as well. I just got downsized and jobs in my area not many per live in smaller city.

    Me-Libby-approaching 40, feels like 55.
    difficult child-19, subs. abuse; violent, explosive temper; defiant; ADD
  2. gottaloveem

    gottaloveem Active Member

    Wow, this is tough. If you don't say anything and allow him to continue his education, will he really put his foot down and follow the rules? Or will he be back to coming in late and other negative behaviors? Does it look like he is starting to see the light and wanting to change?

    I am leaning toward not saying anything, but I hesitate because I am not sure if it is just delaying the inevitable. Especially if he is not ready to change. Most times it takes our difficult child's to hit bottom before they really start getting it. Considering he was 2 hours late, that is a pretty blatant disregard of the rules. Like he is flipping his middle finger at the system. Seems to me if a person wants a chance to improve their life, they would do what it took to get out of the system. Unfortunately 19 year old difficult child's don't quite think that way. How ready do you think your son is to change?

    Also, his drug of choice switching to alcohol isn't very promising, A 19 year old can get in just as much trouble with booze as with pot. Too bad they aren't testing him for alcohol too.

    When is his probation period over?

    Good luck

  3. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I would have a sit down with him. What are his reasons for being late? If he's doing drugs, then lateness is a symptom not a cause. I know the desire not to turn them in, but he is in your house and he should understand that you won't collude with him to break his probation.

    I would explain to him that you know it's not what he wants to do right now, but it is the path he chose. He shapes up now and continues his GED while living in your home, or the next time he is late you will not wait for the meeting to report him. That will be his choice too.

    It's a terrible sign when they put you in the position of being the one who puts them in jail. I believe that they need to know that we support them when they are doing the right thing, and we support them when they are doing the wrong thing, too. After all, if he didn't want to chance going to jail, he wouldn't do whatever it is he is doing. How disrespectful he is of you to put you in the middle!
  4. nuone

    nuone New Member

    Think it is extremely unreasonable of him to assume that you will let the disregard of his probation terms slide in order to get him through education. It is not fair to put you in this position. Let him know that he is testing those in authority, not you, and that they will decide his fate, that you will not be part of his choices and that you will stand by your duty i.e. reporting the flagrant disregard to the rules, and that if he cannot abide by them in a good surrounding with opportunities to his benefit, then he should expect to be in a place that is not to his liking. Defiance is such a strong trait and you should not persecute yourself with guilt for standing by your morals. Psyche doctor once told me that we parents that give in to these children are not helping them. I understand only too well that it is a really hard situation to be in, and hope this helps some. Lots of hugs and strength to you to get through this difficult patch. Keep us posted.
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It really IS a tough situation. Just remember that his actions ARE his choices. No one if forcing him to go out or to be out past his curfew. Even if there is some pressure to stay for "one more" whatever, it is STILL his choice to stay or go.

    If it were 5-10 minutes late, even chronically, I would not report it. But there is a BIG difference between 5-10 min late and 30 min to 2 HOURS late.

    Alcohol is just as illegal for him as pot is. Unless you are not living in the US. Not only will HE get in trouble if he is caught with alcohol but the person who sells it to him will also get into trouble. For the sales person it can be fines of $1000 AND jail time here in Oklahoma.

    Will the PO ask you if he has been following the terms of the probation? Or will he just expect you to report it? If asked I would not lie. If it were only up to about 15 mins and only occasionally I would let it slide. But NOT over that. Esp not without a dang good explanation. You know - there was an accident and a man was laying there bleeding and I had to do CPR - THAT kind of reason.

    It truly is not a kindness to let him slip through the rules. It would be easier on you in the short run. But our difficult children so often feel that no rules should apply to them. When finally the "authorities" - whomever they are - figure out the degree of the things he is getting away with or the sheer number of times he has gotten off, well, they tend to be very harsh. It also leads our difficult children to break ever bigger and more serious rules in more flagrant ways.

    This leads them to either do things they will pay for emotionally for years (like hurting someone) or spend long periods of time incarcerated simply because for a very long time they got away with breaking the rules.

    This IS a decision you must make. If you decide to tell the PO, he still might not send your son to jail. Many people break the rules of probation or parole and are not sent to jail. But your son might end up paying the piper for his rule breaking. Hopefully that experience will be enough that he decides to not break the rules again.

    I will support you no matter what you decide. This IS a tough place for a parent to be.


  6. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Libby, it sounds as if he's been warned and warned. I also see his tardiness as thumbing his nose at you and The System. When attitudes deteriorate to this degree, everything is a big deal and a dare.

    I would give him one more warning, then I would synchronize watches. If he's late again I'd report it.

    I'm sorry. been there done that. It's a terrible place to be.

  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Here is my theory. And I have so been in your shoes many times unfortunately.

    I am not a probation officer. I dont get paid to be a probation officer. I also wont lie to a cop or a probation officer. I wont call them to report something that my kid is doing wrong on probation unless it concerns me or is some other crime of major proportion but I am not going to do their job for them. If they want to know if he is home on time, they need to check up on him or ask him or something. If they ask me, I will tell them.

    My son was on house arrest at one point. I always told them the truth when he was here even when the power went out and he could have left. He was here. They came, they checked, found out we didnt lie...they learned to trust us.

    When my son ended up on intensive probation, he had a really early curfew. He had to be in the house at 7 pm. His PO was here many a night at 7:05. He would call my house from the end of my driveway and ask me if Cory was here just to see if I would lie for him. I never did. One time Cory was late getting home from work and I told the guy he wasnt home yet when he called. I had already called his cell though and left a message that Cory was going to be late because the car broke down! We were honest with him and now this guy is in Corys corner.

    With your situation, I think you need to decide if your son is willing to stop this breaking curfew. How long is his jail time he is facing? If he keeps up this behavior, it wont be long till they catch him out after curfew anyway and he will end up in trouble anyway.
  8. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    I think Janet's advice is dead on. I've done it both ways. I've reported my son, and I've not reported him. It seemed like when I reported him, he didn't learn anything. He saw it not as him doing something wrong, but something I had done to him. It was my fault he was in trouble, not his (from his point of view). When he got caught without my getting involved, he seemed to take more ownership for his role in the situation. However, if I thought it might be a matter of my son or someone else getting hurt or worse if I let the situation go on, I think I would go ahead and turn him in. But as everyone else pointed out, you know your child better than anyone else, so only you can make that decision.
  9. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    I also have been there, done that. I do not volunteer info...but if asked I don't lie and my children know that. It is not my job to be a probation officer---I am a parent and only a parent. The rules of my house are what I enforce---I let probation enforce their rules. It makes it easier to be a parent. Of course, I am a firm believer in natural consequences...and if they continue to try and bet the system, they are going to lost.
  10. libertynow

    libertynow New Member

    Thanks everyone for your responses. They really help.

    I feel like all I do is have talks with him sometimes, and it seems like he's listening at the time, but then he just goes out of his way to do the opposite - I guess it is kind of testing or some kind of proving that he can do what he wants. And then other times, it will seem he is really trying. It's so hard to have a child like this. Others don't understand but this group does and I thank you.

    I'm going to have a talk with him and tell him once more that I expect him to keep to the curfew. I know that his probation officer will ask me if he has done so. For the moment I've decided that if he keeps with 15 mins of curfew from now til meeting with probation officer, I won't mention the other 2 nights. If he doesn't I'll let him face the music, even though he takes it as a direct betrayal. I only have so much energy and I just don't like duplicity. He keeps too many secrets (refuses to give me full names or addresses or even phn not otherwise specified. for friends he's hanging with - I can only assume if secret it's because he's doing something he shouldn't be) for me to feel he is really giving it a real try.

    Thanks again everyone, I'll let you know how next meeting goes.
    All the best,
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You know, you could tell the PO that you do have to get your own sleep and that you are not on their paid staff to keep up with his nocturnal hours. If they want to keep track of his comings and goings at night maybe they should place him on an ankle monitor. If not, the curfew is just something that he will be in trouble for if caught for if they spot him out after the curfew. You have to be in bed before then. You have no idea most of the time because you are already asleep. That gets you out of the loop.
  12. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Libby, I guess this is one of those topics that has two distinct opinions and we have to respect the differences and agree to disagree.

    I felt that as long as Rob was living in my home if I ignored the rules that the PO set up that I was teaching Rob that it was okay to disregard the rules, too.

    I can tell you that it made it a whole lot easier when Rob moved out and I didn't have these situations to deal with! Once he was on his own it was all on him! Do what your heart and gut can live with.