Online Parent Support Chat

11.11.09

Out-of-Control Son

I wish to briefly (will make every effort) describe my son's behavior of late. He is 17 - will be 18 in May. He is a junior in high school. He was a perfect child - never grounded, never punished, never admonished for doing less than his best, a coach's dream - until he entered 10th grade. So none of these character traits existed prior to that time. They are not consistent with his upbringing or his nature as a younger child. I am Mom writing this but representing both parents - married 31 years and solid.

Experimental pot smoking began in 10th grade.

We believe he continues to smoke pot but we see no signs of more "serious" drugs or even pot smoking to an obsessive degree - though we abhor any of it and do not want to minimize it or appear to be unconcerned about it - just want to be clear that he is not using drugs like meth or cocaine (as far as we can see) that might explain some of his behavior.

He is never remorseful, never even makes a phony apology.

He refuses to get a job, participate in a sport (a very good athlete) or any club, program, group in school or church. Refuses to attend church - heretofore a lifelong activity.

No hobbies or interest in anything - we would support any interest he might have.

Dull, flat, vacant eyes.

Monotone voice - no expression, no joy, no humor.

Rage without cause and will create a situation to vent it if one does not come about naturally.

An escalation in pushing the boundary of unacceptable behavior - refusing to attend school, profanity without hesitation, twice in ER over the past 2 months with lacerations due to hitting glass panes in one of his raging tantrums.

Has flirted with physical violence but finally crossed the line last night and hit his father in the jaw with his fist - because he told him to come upstairs and turn off lights, clean up after himself, extinguish the fire - things he has been asked to do repeatedly.

Lied at the ER about how he hurt his hand - in fact lies about everything.

Self serving, manipulative, without compassion or empathy or conscience.

Antisocial behavior at home - not sure about his behavior elsewhere.

Teachers say he is respectful, quiet, not disruptive or belligerent at school - and that he puts forth no effort for school work - never his behavior in school before.

Refuses to bring friends here or provide any kind of information about what he does or with whom he spends time.

Hasn't had a phone for over 2 months - doesn't seem to care anymore.

Restricted freedom doesn't seem to phase him.

Completely avoids any kind of normal discourse - I enter a room, he leaves, I try to make small talk, he refuses to answer me.

He is delusional - is convinced his rage is righteous and just because of how badly he is treated and that we are just "mad because he doesn't like you guys" - in fact neither of us really take the bait anymore and have accepted his silent, sullen or combative and contentious behavior without much protest. Our fight has waned considerably while his has escalated to new heights.

Our 21-year-old son was challenging - operated at 4% of his considerable potential but remained at all times respectful, pleasant, engaged. Was deceitful and self-centered but displayed appropriate remorse and contrition when at fault. Eventually he grew tired of himself and his lack of progress and joined the Marine Corps. He is restored in his own eyes - which is all we ever wanted. He soars now - motivated, ambitious, genuine, disciplined.

So we know there is hope for this boy. We just don't know how to do what is needed of us or even what that is. We don't feel hostility and a desire to control him or bring him to heel like a dog - we want to reach him, to have a rapport, to lead a normal life with him. We both can tolerate some teenage rebellion and exertion of independence - we've already raised one son that gave us the routine matters - all of which seem like child's play compared to this, but even if we capitulated on every level right now and let him come and go as he determines without fear of any kind of consequences - he would not be happy. We want to do what's best for him - and we will not compromise our principles or be so intimidated that we abandon what is right in order to avoid his ire. It's a hell of a thing to be afraid of your own child.

I am not at all sure that he would help one of us if we were under attack. Not kidding.

I think he seems like a toddler - he has tried getting our attention by defiance and challenging our authority - that didn't work so he will bring out the worst words he can think of, the worst offenses he can hurl (staying out all night, not going to school, failing in school) at us and then the trump card - physically attacking one of us. That should force something to happen - because he is surely in this corner and cannot admit that he doesn't know how to turn it around and has no plan and things are just spiraling so he has to do something to make something - anything - happen. I may be completely off base but it's either something like that or he is mentally unstable right now - nothing makes any sense to us anymore.

My Out-of-Control Teen

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