We're writing a contract

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by katya02, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    difficult child has timing, I'll say that. We were in Ontario yesterday for a family funeral; left early am after dropping difficult child off at work at 5:45 and weren't due back until evening. I arranged for a cab home from work for difficult child. daughter was on the school bus. So at 3 pm I get a call from difficult child, who has borrowed the cab driver's cell phone. difficult child is furious; he's locked out of the house. He's blaming husband and I and being rude and angry. (It turns out daughter, being the last to leave, locked the house without having her key with her!!) husband told me to hang up the phone; I told difficult child that daughter would be along in 30 minutes with a house key (as I thought). It was a beautiful day and we have a front porch for sitting. The minute I hung up the phone I also remembered that 2 windows in the garage were open that difficult child could climb through (the kitchen door in from the garage wasn't locked, just the outer man-door and big doors). Also there were several ground floor windows that were shut but unlocked. I've gotten in that way myself before when I got locked out by accident.

    So what does difficult child do? He KICKS IN THE MAN-DOOR of the garage, splinters the wood casing, dents the door in several places. The door has to be replaced and the frame repaired or replaced, along with the trim. If he'd walked around the corner of the garage he'd have seen the open windows.

    He called me a bit later from in the house, all nervous and sniffly and starting to sob, telling me he damaged the door 'a bit' and now he'll be kicked out, and he's always the screw-up, etc. etc. I told him to calm down and we'd talk when we got home. daughter says that after hearing him sobbing and crying during the phone call, ten minutes later he was walking around humming - not exactly happy, she says, but not sobbing either.

    husband seems to finally have gotten to his limit of tolerance and we seem to be on the same page at last. He wanted to write a contract! So I wrote one up and am tweaking it. The first thing is that difficult child has to go to DBT counseling with the dual diagnosis psychologist I just located. The appointment is made. If he doesn't go, he chooses not to live at home. He has to complete rehab; follow all their recommendations; go to NA/AA meetings; abstain (of course) from alcohol and drugs; turn over his wages for the foreseeable future to pay back the costs and damages to property etc. that he's run up in the past few months; pay for rides into town, other than appointments and meetings that we mandate (so pay to get to work, just as he would have to if he lived elsewhere); pay gas for the trips to his college town for his court case; pay more for any trips beyond the city limits unless we offer them; pay for his tobacco (he has been, but this will still come out of his wages even though he's using the remainder to pay us back). He must not go more than 2 weeks between jobs, should he lose his job. He must do any jobs around the house that he's assigned; not drive any of our vehicles at any time; and maintain courtesy and respect with the family.

    He can 'earn' his way to not living at home by any further damage to house or property; by refusing to keep or look for a job; by refusing to work around the house; and by threatening or hurting daughter or me. The last one means immediate eviction with police called and charges pressed. Property damage could mean the same thing, depending on severity.

    We agree to pay his health insurance until his current job kicks in that benefit; we provide shelter, food, basic clothing that he already has, and laundry facilities. We provide rides per contract but rides are not guaranteed in case of his violation of contract or at our discretion for any reason whatever. This includes his ride to his court case.

    If he violates the contract or 'earns' his way out he has 14 days to move out. If moving under nonviolent circumstances we will help him look for a place to stay. We will also provide a list of items he is permitted to take, and ONLY those items. If moving under violent circumstances he'll most likely be going to jail.

    Does anyone have comments or suggestions? I'm going to an Al-Anon meeting tonight (hooray! my first) but want to tweak the contract later. husband and I are going to sit down with difficult child tomorrow, go over it and sign it.
  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lordy it sounds like it was bedlam at your house. There really is a disconnect in your sons thinking skills isnt there? Its like he gets stuck on panic button if he cant figure something out really fast.

    About the contract...well it sounds all good in theory but I think for now I would just make it that he has to start this therapy and turn over his wages. Dont go into detail about the making him leave stuff. He really does know all that deep inside. For one thing, this DBT stuff is going to take a long time to work on and it may get a bit worse before it starts getting better. You know how that works. If you want a glimpse into DBT check out the dbtselfhelp site online. Just google that name. I am doing it now and it is long hard work and I dont have the substance abuse component added in.

    You know...I have to really apologize...I just noticed that you are a doctor! Wow...can I come live with you? I need a good family doctor...lol.
  3. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Hey Janet, thanks. Talk about a disconnect in thinking, all right ... about the size of the Grand Canyon! We honestly don't know WHAT goes through his head. He'll tell us he didn't know what he was doing till he'd done it, and he's really sorry, then be offended if husband says we can't leave daughter alone with him because of his rages. When difficult child has already said he basically goes out of control for some period of time and just doesn't process rationally!

    Thanks for the input re the contract. Those are good points. He definitely knows he's on the edge now so maybe it's not helpful to dwell on the moving out parts. I'll google the site you mentioned as soon as I'm back from my meeting.

    Don't worry about the doctor thing! I've been semiretired for awhile. Wouldn't you know, I did a ton of extra psychiatric work during my training and seriously thought about doing a residency in psychiatric. And then my kids all have psychiatric issues. How weird is that?
  4. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Often I think the disconnect is so real and other times I wonder if it is all manipulation. My son, like yours, has some real issues with temper, following rules, accepting limits, entitlement. He knows if he damages my home ever again, he is out for good. And anything that has happened lately to his belongings has, in his words, been an "accident." Like he accidentally tripped today into the standing mirror in his room and shattered it! It wasn't my property. I wasn't hear to witness. Can't prove anything, but amazingly he had sent me a text a few minutes before because he was so "depressed" he couldn't take it anymore. My response---"I'm sorry." I no longer have expectations for his life. It is sad to say, but I am through hoping and getting hurt. One day he may change, it's yet to be seen, but I will wait until the changes come before I believe anything.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I was with you up until right there. That, in my humble opion is pure manipulation. And any kid (easy child and difficult child alike) will pull it if it works on the parents.

    Nichole's emtions flipped so fast we often couldn't keep up with them. But even during her most volitile episodes she has never distroyed property or become violent with family members. Now, boyfriend is another matter altogether. Which when I pointed out that her outburst only happened there with him enough times she finally listened......They began to stop there too. Odd how she can now get just as angry, yet behave like a normal person...even with boyfriend.

    I'm not saying giving him another chance and writing the contract up isn't a good idea. And Janet is right that it may get worse before it gets better. But I as the parent would be watching for situations where I might be being manipulated and find solid ways to stop it. Easier said than done sometimes. And we didn't have the addiction issues either.

    Nichole at her worst would manipulate anyone. Except me cuz she knew it wouldn't get past me. But boy would she pull some lu lu's on the school, friends, and her sibs. sheesh

    I wouldn't dwell on the moving out part either. I'd state it like In Order to Live Here or something.

    I hope he agrees, and will keep fingers crossed he will give it an honest try.

  6. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I agree that simply stating "in order to live here" and am glad you are getting to this point. i think that he should have a budget to follow. Someone in the church may be able to help if he won't take help from you or dad. He will be MUCH more likely to follow a budget/financial plan if you include an amount for entertainment AND for "running money". Running Money is just day to day $$ for a soda or an emergency. Not a lot, but some.

    I learned this working with an accounting professor who is brilliant. Not only did I babysit for her, but she helped me with my college budget AND with some info when we bought our first house. This truly does increase the odds that ANYONE will stick to a budget - the entertainment and running money does, I mean.

    Good Luck!
  7. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Let's see -- can't have my way, won't wait, damage something to get my way, then cry about it. Yup, sounds familiar. I learned to ignore the crying -- it wasn't real anyway. She cared, but not very much. She did pay for anything she damaged and it wasn't at $1 or $2 at a time. I would have to pay for it immediately, so did she. If she couldn't, I had a garage sale of her stuff.

    The contract is a lovely idea but what are you going to do if he doesn't follow it? Can you really kick him out? Is that in you and husband? It took me a long time to learn this lesson but if I ultimately couldn't do what I threatened, it was meaningless.

    One suggestion, make sure he actively participates in the therapy. It really is easy for some of our kids to go in and either play head games on the therapist or just sit there for the entire session. So, be sure and make it a requirement that he actively and honestly participate in the therapy.
  8. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Wow, the sobbing and "always the screw up" part really reminds me of my difficult child 1. It has taken me many, many years to get that she can cry her heart out when she needs to in order to get something from someone or in order to deflect anger away from herself. It's good that daughter noticed him just humming a few minutes later.

    Good luck to you with the contract. I have to agree with MB though--don't put anything in there that you are not prepared to follow through on. I am pretty sure he is going to violate the contract and you will have to be able to do what you say you will do, even if it means kicking him out. I expect that he doesn't really believe you will do that and figures he can talk or cry his way out of any consequences.

    So sorry you have to go through this, it is the pits for sure!

  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I agree that the sobbing and I screwed up is manipulation. Maybe even manipulation of himself at times, but manipulation all the same. M used to break stuff, steal stuff, intimidate, blow off everyone and everything. His thing was "I think we should talk about this in therapy." Then he took a verbal licking in therapy and figured that was his penance.

    I thought a lot about your contract, having read it a few days ago. It sounds as though you and your husband are (rightfully) at the end of your rope with him.

    All of the things in the contract seem to be realistic expectations for most people, but there doesn't seem to be any wiggle room in the contract. I'm wondering if you feel that there is a possibility that he won't violate it. I'm not sure I'm reading it right, but is the consequence for all transgressions that he has to move out? I know that you have had a hard time getting husband on the same page on you. I guess what I'm wondering is whether the contract is more for the purpose of husband having a line that difficult child will cross and that there is no turning back from? If that's it, do you feel certain that husband will follow through on telling him to leave? It seems like you are more ready for that than he is.

    Honestly, I see nothing wrong with the contract, so long as you are prepared for him to violate it. Like I say, the terms are not unreasonable - for most people. But it doesn't seem like your difficult child is ready to step up to it quite yet. The only thing that I might change on it is the number of day he has to get out. Two weeks is an awfully long time with an angry young man. He can break a lot and hurt a lot in two weeks. If you really feel you must, then I would give him a couple of days. Unless it was for violence, then it would be immediate.

    Good luck to all of you. You all are having a really hard time. I hope that it will work out for you.
  10. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I really appreciate so many of you taking thought and time to comment on this. It's been interesting ... I agree that the contract husband and I came up with is pretty stern and not likely to be adhered to by difficult child. Until now, it's true that I've been the one ready to see difficult child try his 'wings' in the real world. I'm the one that's dealt with the violence, the abuse (verbal and physical), the lies, the tears, and then more lies and abuse. I admit that I also have caved, so far, when push came to shove and difficult child was almost on his way out.

    But husband, having absented himself so many years physically and mentally, has had an amazingly quick catch-up phase. I wanted him to step up and he is doing it now. He told me today that he doesn't want to delete any of the 'ways to earn difficult child's way out of the house' clauses, and he wants to word the contract as 'In Order to Live Here, difficult child will do X"'.
    He just raised an eyebrow at the preamble I inserted in the revised version of the contract, which states that difficult child is a loved, permanent, and integral part of our family and we want him to make good choices and succeed at his endeavors. I also put, at the end, that difficult child will continue to be included in family life and enjoyments, and that we have as our goal the success and wellbeing of every person in the family. husband sort of snorted but didn't care whether I left these things in. (Maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better, with those clauses. They really aren't essential.)

    husband thinks that difficult child is on the fast track out of the house, period. husband sees difficult child's destruction of various parts of the house as a personal, direct attack on him. I'm not sure it's deliberately that, although it definitely could be a part. I think difficult child's destructive episodes are more pure selfish acting out without consideration for anyone else, than maliciously directed damage. However ... the selfish acting out without consideration for others is enough for me. difficult child melted down and yelled at daughter when she was only a few days post-surgery from a major injury and the most devastating situation she's yet faced. He didn't even register that she'd had surgery. For me, I think that's the straw that broke the camel's back. I think difficult child will try everything possible to stay, including tears, remorse, and promises. But it looks like husband is angry enough to follow through now and when difficult child realizes it things will turn ugly.

    I agree that two weeks is a long time, but that's only if difficult child stays unemployed more than 2 weeks or refuses to help with work around the house. Any violence means immediate eviction. If we gave difficult child notice and he became destructive within the two weeks, husband (as he is currently) would just tell him to hit the road NOW. You're right, witz, it would likely only be a day or two if that. We've been reluctant to immediately evict because difficult child doesn't actually have any current friends in town. He can't depend on his welcome anywhere, so if we do tell him to leave immediately I don't know where he'd go and neither does he.
    husband wants to talk to difficult child tomorrow. difficult child is getting anxious, telling me today that he wanted to talk to husband today so he could apologize and tell husband that he'll pay for the broken door and frame. I just looked at difficult child for a second and then said, we do have to talk to you tomorrow. difficult child was visibly disconcerted. He can stew for tonight, though I doubt he will lose much sleep.

    I wish husband had believed me years ago. I wish he'd believed difficult child actually had a diagnosis (I can thank my mother in law for her constant assertions that difficult child is just fine and I'm just a bad mother). I wish husband had believed me when I told him difficult child was bruising me and daughter, was using, was drinking, was up to no good. In the end it's clear I was right and I was telling the truth but it's pretty hollow. However, I've persevered because of easy child 3 and daughter's anxiety over a potential marriage breakup. With everything else they've endured I didn't want to do that to them. Who knows what would have been best? All I can tell myself is I did the best I could at the time, with what I knew and the resources I had.
  11. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest


    All we can ever do is the best with what we know and the resources we have. You wouldn't expect more from anyone else, so don't expect it from yourself. Life with a difficult child is an ever-evolving "learning on the job" experience.

    I know you're worried about where he would go should he find himself evicted. There are places such as the YMCA and Salvation Army shelters. You may want to check out where in your community these places are so you can hand the addresses to difficult child should the need arise.

    I spent a few days in the psychiatric hospital myself several years ago due to a psychotic depression and there was a girl there with Borderline (BPD) who lived in some kind of half-way house or supported living type facility. You may check into the program that difficult child is in - since they offer the dual diagnosis treatment, including DBT - and see if they know of any such places. Many (but, by no means all) people with Borderline (BPD) aren't able to function on their own until they get better (hopefully) with treatment.

    Just good information to have ahead of time.

  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Heather has a good idea there. Do some googling for safe places for him to stay when the time comes. It won't kill him to be in a shelter while he looks for a job. It might make him realize that he was a fool and needs to straighten up his act.

    I think that the clauses are important. When I was a girl and rebelled against my parents, I moved out. But I was much much younger than your difficult child. It wasn't a good way to grow up. But, after the hearing where they made me a ward of the court, my father asked if he could speak to me privately in a room. They allowed that. He told me that he didn't care if I walked out into the freeway and got killed. Then he walked out the door.

    I tried (and was forced) to reconnect with them. I was forced to be with them often as a young adult. A long story. But when things fell apart about 9 years ago, my dad told me that he hoped I would get into an accident and die on the way home. It was real clear that he had felt the same way for all of those years. I think it's important that your difficult child knows that he is a part of your family. I always knew I was not a part of mine.

    PS added later: It wasn't as much what my father said that still hurts to this day, as that no one said what you have written. My advice is to leave it in.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Heather, that's good sound advice.

    Katya, I always like to have a plan in place for certain situations that may arise. Heather's advice would help you to make such plans so you'd be less reluctant to demand he leave immediately if he becomes violent again. You can hand him the information you've gathered and tell him to hit the road. Might make you feel alot better.

    I do the plan thing because it's helped me not be taken by surprise very often and thrown off guard with my difficult children. Huge help to me over the years.

    Your husband sounds like mine. Once he gets into a rut it's almost impossible to get him to change direction. in my opinion they only make the job of parenting even harder than it already is. Mine finally came around too. But too little, too late as far as his children are concerned.

  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Check into group homes for the mentally ill. There may be places out there just for such people. Some states are better than others in this area.
  15. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    I would have the details of the ' understanding ' , I prefer that word to ' contract ' worked out together with the therapist and difficult child. I think we should not try set up a kid for failure. I think it is important that he sees how attitude and behavior can impact on family life or not merely if I behave this way I will get this or this will be done to me . He needs to have a vision for the future , a place where he can get help and learn new skills , build positive relationships etc and not just have a threat hanging over his head.
    Good luck
  16. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    We did end up scrapping the contract as we'd written it, even with the preliminary and final sentences left in (about difficult child being loved and an integral part of the family, and wanting him to succeed). It still seemed too draconian. difficult child would not have been able to work within its terms and he'd end up out with no supports. He seemed to be starting to turn around - he's been clean since May (after smoking half an ounce of pot daily, plus other junk) and sober for more than a month. He has gone to work when he's had a job. Some of the big things are working, just not all of them. Since we'd gotten the appointment with a new therapist we decided to wait for his suggestions.

    That said, here's the next kicker. difficult child was fired yesterday, after eleven days on his new job. He was anxious about this job, knew it was better than pretty well anything else he can get locally, it had benefits after three months ... he wanted to do well.

    The wife of one of the managers is our accountant and she called today to let us know why difficult child was let go. Apparently he weirded the managers out. The first week of his job, he burned his lunch bag on one of the picnic tables outside. He was told not to do it. Then another day, a maintenance worker saw him throw his lunch garbage into another office in the building. Not into a wastebasket, just in the door. He was reprimanded. The next week a manager referred to a previous conversation where he had reprimanded difficult child, saying, 'You remember I talked to you last week'; and difficult child said he didn't recall their talk. Then yesterday at lunch difficult child was overheard telling coworkers that he's been arrested four times (he hasn't, he's been arrested once); that he kicked in the door of his parents' house recently; and that he's just been kicked out. The managers, on hearing this, decided he had to go. What difficult child told us about being fired was that he'd told two coworkers that he was looking for another job, and he was fired for that. He didn't mention any of this other stuff.

    I didn't take difficult child around to drop off job applications today. What's the point? This is a small town, he could go through all the decent employers pretty quickly and be unemployable thereafter. I got his appointment with the new therapist moved up to 9 am tomorrow and dropped off a summary of the latest problems.

    difficult child has always been strange about sharp objects and fire - never set fires, just talked strangely and would poke fruit and Kleenex boxes to pieces with any small sharp object he could find. This is all in his medical notes. I'm starting to wonder if he's delusional. What does he think will happen when he does stuff like this? Or tells women (at his previous job) that he can crush someone's head, as he squeezes an apple to pulp? Maybe he is psychotic. Maybe there's more going on in his head than he lets on. :(
  17. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Maybe it's best to hold off and hear what the new therapist has to say. Hard to judge from where we are at times.

    But I'm wondering if some of those stunts might have been deliberate. He wouldn't be the first kid to tell his parents what they want to hear, while doing things to make sure it doesn't come to pass. Just something to keep in mind.

    Of course Travis would say inappropriate things at work, but he doesn't get social anything very well. He "thought" he was being funny. And he doesn't do humor well either. lol He didn't understand why it unsettled everyone.

    Regardless, making up a contract you don't think you can or will enforce is useless to you both.

    Good luck with the new therapist.

  18. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I know what you mean ... difficult child thinks he's being funny too, when he says unsettling things. He's never 'gotten' it socially, but now it's biting him big time. I can't imagine why he would think he's impressing anyone by telling them he's been arrested four times!!?? And the burning lunch bag thing? Huh??? I'm so frustrated. Maybe he is sabotaging himself, although the day he ran off at the mouth about being arrested, he was anticipating moving out and KNEW he needed this job. So I'm scratching my head, when I'm not punching the water-filled punching bag!
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You know...some of this stuff sounds eerily familiar to me. My son has no qualms about telling people that he has been arrested or that he is getting a "crazy check."That is exactly how he puts it too. He will tell anyone that he thinks he is the biggest and the baddest. He is convinced he does it all. I remember years ago when he was asked why people would be out to get him and he replied...well they all want to be me because I am Cory of course! Huh? He also is convinced that his measly disability check has paid all our household bills all these years. Even when I worked a full time job and his check was cut down to almost nothing...I think I got like 54 bucks a month for him...it paid all our bills! Even now he thinks that what he gets should run a house completely...lol. Oh how I wish. I get slightly more than he does and I cant even begin to run my house.

    I swear he is delusional.
  20. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Ooh, scary familiar! That's exactly the sort of thing difficult child would say ... he tells everyone (including us, who know better) that he's a super hard worker, that he does 'everything' around the house, he's to 'go to' guy when his Dad needs something done and done right, etc. He exaggerates constantly and has this completely unrealistic view of himself. Plus the biggest and baddest thing. He swears he's been 'jumped' and attacked multiple times and has carried a knife for self-defense, fought off bad guys, you name it. Delusional? Narcissistic? Antisocial? Wish we could get a handle on it. I hope this new therapist can give us some insight.