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

9.11.09

We are at the end of our rope with this behavior...

My wife and I are grandparents to our five year old grandson. We basically are doing all the parenting and are having an increasingly difficult time managing the behavior of our grandson. Basically, we are at the end of our rope with this behavior as it is affecting our lives to the point that we have lots of friction, little serenity and very little fun in our lives. (Not to mention no personal free time what with soccer, hockey and homework from kindergarten!!!) We’re both work full time and are within a few months of being 60 years old. Houston’s antics are driving strife and discord into our life at home. Everything is a Herculean effort with him from sun up to sun down, and bed. He is obstinate, demanding and manipulative and lies (characteristics that he learns from his mother who I believe is a sociopath). We have tried to sort this mess out without any physical punishment to no avail; the behavior continues to be a excessive and disruptive. Houston (our grandson) will have zero potential if we just turn loose, but we have reached end of our alternatives. This is where you come in, if you think there can be a positive outcome.

I believe what is destabilizing our situation is the parenting plan which is in place the places Houston with his mom and dad on alternating weekends. His dad (my stepson) has residential custody due to Houston’s moms’ drug and other criminal issues. The dad has had drinking issues, is doing well and is aware that Houston is currently better off with us than with his mom which has led to all types of litigation trying to minimize her influence. Each weekend that Houston spends with his mom he returns home and we essentially have to start over mitigating the behavior issues, (yelling, defiance, not listening, lying refusing to go to bed, and arguing/negotiating at every step of the way). We encourage his love for his mom and avoid any disparaging dialog regarding her, but we’re pretty fed up with this cycle and it has become worse over the past years.

My Out-of-Control Grandson

6.11.09

It is her feeling of entitlement that scares me...

My daughter does not live at home with us but we are still contributing to her support. She has been through many treatment programs since the age of 14, has done just about everything at this point (drugs, alcohol, prostitution) but has gone to therapy and at this point is not involved in any of this (I don't think). She had been on many different medicines in the past thinking she was bipolar, but none of the therapists or psychiatrists believe that anymore. It is the environment that is setting off her emotional dysregulation. She has now started Strattera for ADHD and it seems to be helping although who knows if she is actually taking it. (I guess in the past they were afraid to give her this thinking she was bipolar). She is not living in our house because eventhough she's not doing anything terrible, she has absolutely no regard for our property and possessions.

The problem is that when I do what I need to do instead of walking on eggshells, she spirals. She cannot hold a job due to her frustration (although she is exceptionally bright), so she would then go straight to living with a guy. I could handle almost anything but lying and manipulation and that's what she does best. I don't know exactly when she is doing it since she doesn't live at home. I don't have it in me anymore to be a "police officer".

Unfortunately I have pretty much concluded that I am too close to her to correctly react to her actions. I really feel an objective case manager would be much better at this point. That way I give a certain amount of money, etc. each week and she can't talk me into anything else. Are there people that do that and where can I find them?

It is her feeling of entitlement that scares me. I believe that is what leads into the criminal personality. She always thinks she's working so hard that it is "unfair" when I am strict with her.

My Out-of-Control Daughter

5.11.09

I'm struggling between logical consequences & removing survival needs...

I have a 17 year old son who turns 18 in 5 days. He graduated from high school a year early thru an Open Door program, and has sat in his room for the most part playing WOW on the computer for the past 6 months, occasionally applied for jobs, but mostly sleeps all day and then plays the computer all nite. He and his dog had destroyed my downstairs where his room is, it was always trashed and a pit and all my dishes get broken or 'lost'. I had given him warnings a few months ago that come 18 he'd have to make a choice and what my expectations would be.

As of last Sunday, November 1st, I told him he must pay $250/mth room & board (I pay ALL his expenses), have a job with consistent income, and keep his living area CLEAN and any damages repaired. These requests are nothing new or a suprise to him, as he knew it was coming. On Saturday (the 31st) he was so mad that I was going through with this that he moved everything he owns (not that much) out to a non-working jeep he bought that is parked in front of our house. He is literally living in that jeep. His doggie he keeps in the empty wooded lot next to our house, and then puts the dog in the jeep with him at night. He has NO money for food.

Since last Saturday there have been a few opportunities that I took to show him I do love him but that I am serious about my expectations. I've let him use my car several times to go apply for jobs. I offered him lunch one day which he gobbled up. His cell phone was broken so I paid the insurance to replace it so the places he was applying for work at could reach him. He seemed to appreciate these signs of support however tonite when I asked him if we could discuss the situation to see about meeting the requests I'd given him, he said "I'm not interested." He literally is making this jeep his 'shelter' and seems to be looking at it like either a camping trip or a survival test that he can do. When I told him he could live by house rules or find somewhere else to live I had no idea nor intention that he would move all his stuff out to this jeep and live out of it.

But if after 4 nites of cold temps and little food he is STILL not budging on his resolve to live here rent-free, what do I do??? What in God's name do I do? I don't want my son to starve or to freeze at nite, but how do I get the rules across to him? I've never met anyone so incredibly 'something' , except for his father. To whom I'm no longer married. BTW, his father after the divorce chose to buy a brand new sportscar yet literally has no home to live in and is proud to tell everyone that his ex-wife put him in this situation - - he's the victim. Same scenerio my son is doing right now. And honestly my son hasn't had contact with my ex since he left a few years ago. But he is aware of his father living 'out of a car' basically... So maybe that's where this 'survival instict' or something is learned from I don't know. But I don't know what to do. I'm not asking the world, just that this practically 18-year old kid get a job, contribute a little bit to the household, and keep his living area clean and unbroken. I KNOW that's not asking too much. But if he'd rather live in a car than meet those rules, what do I do?

How do I 'discipline' this 17/18 year old without it seeming like I'm trying to freeze & starve him. I have changed the garage door opener code so he can't get in to the garage, am changing the garage door lock itself because I know he has a key. I am also removing the extension cord he ran from the garage to his car 'aka shelter' to power a space heater, computer, phone charger. These are things I am doing to remove the ease of living in his car and motivate him to get a job. He tells his friends I am an evil devil 'B' and 'can you believe she is doing that.' I know why I'm doing it and I always thought it was best to let him figure out why I'm doing it instead of telling him what the lesson is. But I'm struggling between logical consequences & removing survival needs.

My Out-of-Control Teen

I am afraid his future is going to be spent in and out of prison...

My husband and I have 2 sons aged 19 and 16, our 19 year old did give us problems when he was younger but not like this. Our youngest son has now been in constant trouble for the last 2 years, we moved house 2 years ago, at great expense, to a better area and closer to his school hoping that he would be happier being closer to his friends as he was a very quiet child who rarely went out. He became involved with some slightly unruly kids but I am not blaming all of his behaviour on them. He was in trouble at school, graffitti and constant low level disruption, which eventually lead to him being permenantly excluded and having to join a pupil referral unit where he became more involved with 'a bad crowd'. He has been arrested for graffitti, drunk and disorderly behaviour, affray, shop lifting all numerous times. He has trashed his room and other things in our house, stolen money from us, repeatedly lied to use, blatently disobeyed us, truanted from school and college. He is regularly drunk or at least been drinking and smokes marijuanna too. Our home has been searched by the police on 2 seperate occasions, once when we were at work. He has upset our elderly neighbours and other people in the area and its hard to walk down the street without feeling they are all looking and talking about us, now I have been told he is causing upset in a neighbouring estate by an angry mum whos window has been smashed. He always denies any wrong doing when he is accused of anything and always says it was someone elses fault. Our eldest son has been recently physically fighting with his brother in an attempt to control him.

My husband and I regularly disagree with how to deal with his behaviour and it is putting a huge strain on us as a family. I now feel like the only solution is to move house again to get him away from his friends but my husband is very against this. His idea of a solution is always to throw him out! I have been taking anti depressants for the last 18 months and last year I was off work sick for 5 weeks with stress. I am a nurse, and my husband is a construction site manager and we both work full time, we really are rock bottom now and dont know where to turn. I am afraid his future is going to be spent in and out of prison.

My Out-of-Control Teen

3.11.09

Out-of-Control Daughter

1) My daughter will not come home after school - goes over to her boyfriend's everyday w/o our permission
2) My daughter will not come home on the week-ends - leaves on Friday after school and may return for an hour or so on Saturday to shower and change and then leaves again and not home again until Sunday night.(had taken off this summer for over a week with this boyfriend and we had no idea where they were). Every week-end, we lay at night and worry about where she is and if she is safe. It is taking a huge toll on our health.
3) Skips classes at least 2 times per week (has been told that she is on borrowed time at the school as they were ready to kick her out 2 weeks ago for skipping classes). She doesn't seem worried about being kicked out at all. Never brings homework home and if failing over 1/2 of her classes.
4) We suspect her and her boyfriend of some drug use but not 100% sure and don't know how to go about finding out as she totally denies it and gets very angry when asked about drugs at all. She feels we don't trust her. Truth is - we don't. She has stolen $$ from me on 3 occasions and tells us lies all the time.
5) Our daughter does nothing to help around the house when she is home which is only about 2 hours a day (plus her sleeping time).

We have been on the verge of possibly sending her to a boarding school for awhile to get her school work back on track but don't really want to go that route. We definitely want to keep her at home and have her around. We just don't ever get to see her the way things are now and she is going to be kicked out of school more than likely and then will just be bumming around as she has no job. Every day is a struggle as she just will not listen and the fact that she is 16, means there is nothing we can do to get her to listen (grounding, consequences) except kick her out and we don't want to do that. We want to try everything else first.

We can only hope that she can see what she is doing to herself and will start to have some self-esteem and respect for herself. We are just at our wit's end right now.

My Out-of-Control Daughter