When an improved difficult child starts falling apart, what to do?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Havehadenough70, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. A little back story.....I have posted before about my pot smoking college student who has a penchant for hanging around criminals, a habit that has cost him and me dearly he is now 21. Last time when I posted about him was in March last year when he had been arrested for violating probation after he was caught with a drug dealer carrying some percocet pills. The authorities put him in jail for six months last summer and let him out to go back to college in September 4th. Luckily the new charges were dropped and his cwaf(continued without a finding) for the original charge was put back on and the judge promised to relieve him from probation I this august -two years earlier if he stays out of trouble.

    Since sep. difficult child has been doing well. He enrolled in two classes of college(the maximum he could take because he had been suspended for poor grades) and found a part time job at kohls. He has been reporting to probation on time, helps with chores around the house, is pleasant and respectful and only goes out on Saturdays with the same friends who are semi-difficult children. Along the way I have enabled him here and there like helping him get a phone and letting him use my car to go to work and on Saturday.

    But in the last two weeks difficult child's habits have started to change. His hours at kohls have dried up and he is only getting 8 hrs a week. He has applied for jobs in other places and is waiting. Meanwhile, a cna job he had interviewed for last week fell through after the company did a cori check and they receded on the offer the morning he was supposed to start. Since then difficult child has been spending his days and nights on the sofa. When I come home after work, the dishes are still on the sink and he has no desire or is unwilling to do anything even going for more than 2 days without a shower. I know he is not on pot(his drug of choice) because he is tested regularly as part of his probation. So I don't know what to think of this sudden change.

    Today, while I was going through my bank account charges over the phone, I discovered a cashed check of 40 dollars that I hadn't issued. When I came home in the evening I asked difficult child if he had taken my check book and stolen money from me(he has stolen before) and he confessed that he took the money. For some reason, I went crazy and banged my difficult child with my pocket book for almost ten minutes(he is fine but shocked). I can't imagine going back to my life with difficult child pre-jail because I have done a lot of work on myself and detachment in the last year and was winning. However, I feel like I was making all the progress because difficult child was doing well and now I don't know how to handle the new challenges. I don't want to throw him out because he is making some progress, has signed up for 4 classes in the coming semester(he got 2 bs ) in his final exam for the concluded fall session, but I can't live with someone who is will steal from me. I am at an impasse and any advice or suggestions from you guys is what I am looking for. Happy new year everyone.
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    A suggestion...I would no longer allow him to live with you, but I would consider paying for him to see a counselor and helping him to apply for financial aid. I would make some sort of deal like you will pay for his cell phone and text books, if he willingly sees the therapist regularly. He might be able to get enough financial aid to pay for an apartment or dorm I wouldn't worry too much about the 8 hours at the store; a little more would be great, like 12 or 15...but his concentration should be on school. I believe he has lost his right to live with you and you should give him one warning that if it happens again, you will press charges and really do it! If you aren't doing so already, consider seeing a therapist for yourself and build up yourself. This is hard. Let him sink or swim.
  3. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I think, lock up your valuables, review your detachment skills, and prepare for change. Do what you need to to strengthen your own resolve that you will do what is necessary. You may need to go through that whole detachment learning process again. This time though, you know where you need to get to, and you know that detaching points you in the right direction.

    You know you cannot change your son's path. I am sorry you hit him with your pocketbook, but glad you did that at the same time. That action on your part was probably worth about a year of therapy to you!

    I am sorry this happened. Hoping for a good outcome for your son.

  4. am sorry you hit him with your pocketbook, but glad you did that at the same time. That action on your part was probably worth about a year of therapy to you!
    Lol, thanks Cedar. i still can't believe i did that but i was so furious and the pocketbook had very little in it so he will live. What bothers me is that he has been doing so well and for the last 8 or so months i had such peace in my life and can't imagine going back to locking my valuables and such. I guess i don't have a choice and detachment is what will ultimately save me.

  5. Nomad, thanks. I am not ready to throw him out of the house yet although i have done it before and he didn't fare any better. I did give him a very honest warning that i will press charges, never did it before when he took money from me but this time is different and i mean it. Hope it doesn't get to hopefully his fear of jail as he has expressed before will stop him cold, i can only hope.
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Had Enough? This is what I have learned through detaching, so far: The kids can either be afraid of, and respect, jail and the court system ~ where they will get to, eventually, unless we step up ~ or they can learn to respect US.

    We have to step up, Had Enough.

    I wouldn't press charges or make him leave without fair warning, either. I definitely would tell him the worm has turned, and you will throw him out without batting an eye the next time anything, ANYTHING happens that you don't like. Then, begin making preparations to do just that.

    Where are the shelters in your area?

    Are there YMCAs where you could rent a room for him, if you are unable to throw him out with nothing?

    I think it will help you very much to begin making those kinds of plans, Had Enough. Maybe, the extra certainty you feel from having an alternative to taking his abuse will be enough to change the dynamic between you.

    You can always decide to let him back in.

    But this adult child needs to learn a better way of interacting with his mother, and even more, he needs to learn to take the reins of his own life, the way a man is supposed to.

    We will be right here with you every step of the way, Had Enough.

  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Havehadenough, I laughed out loud when I read that you hit your difficult child with your purse...........and for 10 minutes..........holy moly, not like the rest of us here haven't wanted to do that!!! As Cedar said, that was worth months of therapy!

    I understand the level of frustration you would feel when you believe you might slip back into the hell you lived in before. The difference may be that you will now respond quite differently which will change everything. If you aren't willing to throw him out at this point, then you MUST set absolutely, clear, impenetrable, unshakable boundaries which you express to him clearly and then act upon if broken. The only way he will ever learn is for you to change how you respond to him and hold him accountable for his choices and behavior. The only way that works is if you follow through, otherwise don't bother because your word will mean nothing if you aren't willing to follow through. One choice some of us have made is to write up a contract which maps out what you expect and what the consequences are.

    It helps if we get clear on what we are willing to do, what we are NOT willing to do, what we want and what we don't want. It isn't as easy as I just want peace in my home, often our kids have no idea what that means so we have to enlighten them. And, the way to do that is by being clear with your expectations and having clear boundaries and rules which once broken, clear consequences reign. No excuses or loop holes accepted............end of story. Once we parents get to that point where we are now willing to respond differently, EVERYTHING changes, but conversely, if we don't change OUR responses, NOTHING changes.
  8. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I agree. I'm very big on boundaries! You need to know what they are and he needs to know what they are and they need to be firm. Like a 10 foot high steel fence...NOT to be crossed!
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    So sorry this is happening to you. Back when my son was 21, he stole a bunch of money from me, also by way of forging checks. I did press charges on him back then and it did seem to make a difference. He was pretty good for quite awhile but has now fallen backwards. He came back to live with me at the beginning of summer and he again stole from me. This time I didnt press charges because I dont think it would do much good but I do hold that over his head in case he attempts to do it again. I do think he is back to learning because just the other day he had a bunch of his things stolen when someone broke into his house. He was mad but said he knew it was karma coming back to bite him. Now he is back in my house because it isnt safe for him and his baby to stay in that place. He does know what we expect though.
  10. Thank you again ladies for your kind and thoughtful replies. Recovering, glad you found some humor in the whole thing. I did feel some regret afterwards because i don't want to model violence no matter how minor. However, the frustration i felt at that moment was blinding and i couldn't see straight. What made it worse is that i had just gotten home after a twelve hour shift only to find him playing video games on the couch like he owns the house and then when i asked him about the check, he tried to explain it away. I must admit that partly it is my fault for not being able to set clear boundaries. In fact after this latest episode happened with difficult child i have come to realize that i am a big enabler not only to my son but other members of my family so your are right nomad when you say that boundaries have to be firm. I clearly need to work on that.

    Cedar/Janet, i don't think difficult child is afraid of jail. He was there for six months during the summer for violating probation and clearly he didn't learn anything because he is willing to put himself in a position of facing authorities again. The stupidity of youth! Gosh it is such a thankless job to parent a difficult child and i hate the resentment that i sometimes feel towards this child-man despite the fact that i love him dearly.
  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry Havehadenough, I didn't mean to be insensitive to you...........perhaps sometimes we indulge in gallows humor............I think every one of us on this site can understand that level of frustration and anger.......
  12. Oh no Recovery, i didn't mean it the way it came out. My response to you was in good humor too. I am sorry i should have added lol because i laughed when i read your post especially remembering how silly i felt after i was done pummeling difficult child with a pocket book like a crazy lady. No you were not insensitive at all.
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Oh good, I had the funniest image in my mind about that purse thing...........I could see myself doing that too..............sometimes we just have to laugh at these bizarre circumstances we all find ourselves in...........
  14. I know. It is better to laugh than cry sometimes. I think it worked in a way because difficult child has been in his best behavior for the last couple of days although i can tell he didn't take it seriously because he too had a good laugh about the pocket book. We'll see what happens.
  15. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    After all he has taken from you, you should show him how irrational he is by demanding he buy you a new purse :) After all he MADE you do (they are always say WE made them do it) :)