Online Parent Support Chat

25.4.10

I am still having ongoing issues with my teenage daughter...

I am still having ongoing issues with my teenage daughter (almost 17). My frustration and anxiety levels have reached their max and I am at a loss as to what the best way is to deal with her.

First of all, she was being very angry, defiant, skipping school, staying away from home for days at a time, etc. and we had finally had enough and sent her to a therapeutic boarding school as nothing we tried seemed to work. She was there for 3 months and came back even worse than when she went there. She was just telling them everything they wanted to hear while she was in therapy there. I don't know how they did not see through it but she bluffed her way through and now we are paying the price of that - both emotionally and monetarily. She came home and moved out three days later. She moved in with her boyfriend at his aunt's place. I do not know why the aunt would allow this and had spoken with the aunt about it. She would say she was talking to my daughter and trying to get her to come home. I don't believe that for a minute as my daughter had been there now for almost 3 months. She helps with looking after the aunt's kids. The uncle is away working most of the time so when he is home, they cannot stay there. So, for a few days, she moved in with my older daughter and totally took advantage of that situation and would never come home when she should, etc. She ended up moving back to the aunt's as she was able to come and go as she pleased. She was supposed to be going to school but quit doing that. She did get a part-time job.

Now, the aunt has told them they cannot stay there. I still don't know why. I think the uncle is coming home for awhile. So, now our daughter has moved back home as she has nowhere else to go. She uses us once again as a hotel and I am sick of it already and it's only been a couple of days. She stays out all night and comes home for a few hours to shower and change and off she goes again. I cannot live like this and worry about where she is all night. I went through that nightmare already and do not want to keep going through it. We told her she can live here but there are rules. She doesn't want rules.

I have been to see a couple of different psychologists as I just do not know how to proceed with all of this. One has told me that I should just kick her out and let her make her own way in life. The other one is telling me that I need to take things slowly and work at getting our relationship back as she does not trust us anymore either for shipping her off to a boarding school. We had a transport service pick her up and take her so that was very traumatic for her. I totally understand that but we were desperate as to what to do to try and help her. We were not willing to kick her out of the house until we tried this first. She did great at school there and came out with very high marks. Now, she is refusing to go to school again so is pretty much a grade 11 dropout at this point. Her boyfriend has absolutely no motivation either and it's like the two of them are drowning together but can't see that. He has no family support other than this aunt.

Our daughter keeps telling us we are freak parents for sending her away and she will never forgive us. She said we have ruined her life because now she has no friends since she got back. It's just her and the boyfriend. Well, before she left, she ditched her friends, school, job, family, etc. to be with the boyfriend. She forgets all that.

I just don't know if this is going to work to have her live at home as she thinks she can just come and go as she pleases. So, it comes down to making a decision as to whether to continue to have some sort of relationship with her and slowly try and hopefully work through some rules or to kick her out and end up with no relationship with her at all. She is adopted and that comes with a whole other set of issues so we are always dancing around that. The psychologist I spoke to said that is most of the reason she is probably acting out the way she is and basically, we have to help her through all of this no matter what it takes.

I just want to have some peace back in my life. This is causing our family so much grief and health problems already. I am having a lot of resentment towards my daughter right now as I feel she is very selfish and we are doing all the giving and she continues taking without giving anything back. The only time she is nice to us is when there is something in it for her. I am so upset with her most of the time and I live in such anxiety right now as I don't even feel comfortable in my own home when she is here. Yet, when she isn't here, I am constantly worried about her. I just love her so much and want to get through this difficult time and help her get to a point that she will be able to move out and be a responsible member of society.

It just seems too little too late for what we have going on right now with our daughter. She has definitely had the taste of freedom staying at the aunt's so a little hard now to change her ways without kicking her out. We really don't want to go that route as we feel that would totally destroy our relationship with her and would be detrimental to her as she is going through these issues of adoption and already has feelings of abandonment due to that and the fact that we sent her away to school.

My Out-of-Control Daughter

21.4.10

I know I've been too permissive in the past...

I know I've been too permissive in the past with our son because I've tried to compensate for and help him feel better about his many troubles. My husband and I are now faced with a serious problem that we would like to ask your opinion about.

I will try to be as brief as possible, but I want to explain as fully as I can. My husband and I are both college graduates in our mid-50's, he's an engineer and I am a homemaker. We both put ourselves through college, we came from large families with divorced parents, so we strive to make a good home and care for our kids in a better way than what we had. We have two children, the older is a girl who is 23 and in graduate school, and a wonderful child--no problems at all. The younger is our son, Evan, who just turned 19 and is deeply troubled. He was a happy, normal child, but always a bit on the feisty and quirky side, and not always getting along smoothly with his sister or peers. He had some social and behavior problems in school, so that by 2nd grade, we had to seek help. He was diagnosed with ADD and his Dr. prescribed Ritalin, then Adderall, which he disliked taking and didn't always do. He struggled, then was told to repeat 5th grade. He got a 504 plan, and then in 6th grade, was tested and was given an IEP for organizational and learning difficulty caused by nonverbal learning disorder and ADD. He had problems all through middle school, but started high school much better until last year (11th grade). He became depressed over being cut from football, and other academic and social trouble, and started using marijuana. He was arrested for possession and had to do a court juvenile diversion program. I got him an appt. with another psychiatrist (he had quit meds in 8th grade) and got him back on an antidepressant. Six weeks after the first arrest, he was arrested again at school for marijuana and pill possession and was expelled for the rest of the year. Due to his having an IEP, he was given special consideration and received tutoring so he could keep up his school progress, and was permitted to re-enter for 12th grade, which he chose to do rather than get a GED. He is presently 19 and a senior in high school with only 6 weeks to go until graduation. His senior year has been full of skipped school, hanging with a poor choice of friends, lying, stealing, total lack of effort, being suspended, and continuing use of marijuana and alcohol. He is very immature for his age and makes bad choices constantly, giving him little to feel proud of or successful about. We try to be very open minded and positive parents, and our kids went to Scouts, did many good activities, were raised in a loving progressive church, so they have had good values instilled, and they know we are reasonable parents whom they can trust. We have stressed that he needs to do better in school so we will pay for him to go to community college after graduation, which he says he wants, and he needs to find a job. He makes excuses and has not found a job, and doesn't seem to want to try. The only one he ever had was in 10th grade, which he lost after 2 months due to a careless attitude. He does do a few small chores, like taking out the trash. We give him $15 a week for lunch and gas for his old 18 yr. old car, which he uses but hates and he wants a newer one, but we don't think he's deserving yet. The car is for going to school and job hunting, and occcasional social use, but he abuses it. We have taken it away for several time periods, and he rages and makes us miserable. We would get him a more reliable one once he proves he can be responsible, get & keep a job, and be more grateful and cooperative. I had to call the police recently one weekend when my husband was away, because we had taken away the car, and he went into a rage and I felt threatened physically. We now just let him have the car so he can get out of the house and blow off steam, giving us some needed peace and calmness (even though we know he is probably engaging in unwise teenage behaviors like drinking and pot smoking). Things are now pretty much at a crisis, where we cannot get along with one another at all. He is extremely resistant to anything we parents say or do. To try to keep peace, we have relaxed our rules and comments to him until we feel like we are living with a terrorist and have absolutely no control any more. He eats horribly (only starch and sugars), throws out good meals I make, just had 12 cavities at the dentist, seldom takes his pills (Prozac and Intuniv for ADD, presently, and his Dr. has adjusted these a few times), his room is filthy and piled with trash and debris, he refuses to care for his clothes or possessions, he has lost or broken many Ipods and other expensive gifts, fights with us any time we ask him to do any small task or clean a mess he's made, he can't keep friends because he has such a nasty attitude and is easily enraged, is not interested in much except hanging out with friends who are not in school, watching football, and playing video games. I completely understand that he is unhappy and feels unworthy due to his chronic school problems, many of which he can't help, and his frustration makes him feel hopeless and consequently he behaves negatively. We try to be gentle and firm, as generous as seems appropriate, but not giving him extra money unless he works for it. We give him opportunities to make extra cash by doing yard work and household chores, which he does reluctantly but after he blows all his money on pot and alcohol, he wants more, and often steals cash from our wallets. Any time we confront misbehavior, expect something from him, or give him a command, he says "F" You and ignores us. His maturity level seems to be at least 3 or 4 years younger, and his school psychologist says that also (he suggests lots of structure, nothing too challenging, keeping a routine type of job, staying busy to keep out of trouble.)

Evan wants to move out as soon as he graduates in 6 weeks. If he has a job, he can do that. If not, we say he can live here until he has the money to go. He wants us to pay his rent, but we said only if and when he's in college. The community college is only 5 miles from our house, so it makes financial sense for him to just continue living here, but he seems to need to get out on his own in order to learn how to manage himself and learn that his parents are not the problem. I am at the point where he is so unbearably hateful and disruptive that I feel like he should move out after graduation this summer and we pay his rent, just to have peace, but my husband disagrees. If he did go and we helped him with rent, any gas money, groceries, etc, he would have to provide for himself by working. That seems like it might work, even though it would cost us a little bit.

We need some experienced guidance right now, since it's hard for us to evaluate this, being so close to the problem. We are wondering if he is mature enough for college yet--he does not seem very enthusiastic. A better idea may be let him work awhile, then come to us when he's ready for more school. We don't think the military is a good choice for many reasons, and that is not something we want at this time, maybe later if he chooses it. He does drink and use pot, but not to the point where I feel that he is "addicted" and that a residential treatment would help much. I checked into that option last year, but I believe that wouldn't work unless he wants to change, it's a very costly option and would pre-empt college tuition. I am wondering if psychiatric hospitalization would be too much intervention at this point--I know he would resent us even more if we did that to him. He simply isn't wanting to make an effort to change, has no motivation, feels like a failure, and refuses any good advice to help him find ways to be successful. He just seems to want to be on his own and make his own decisions. We do tell him we love him, try to hug him, give him compliments, reassure him the future can be better if he wants it to be, etc. I occasionally see a glimmer of hope, and I know he's a good person inside and wants to be happy, but right now, not much gets through to him.

My Out-of-Control Teen

15.4.10

We caught him smoking and drinking - he is only 13...

I migrated to United States 6 years ago. Leaving behind my 6 kids, the youngest of whom is only 6 years old then and 3 years ago we were able to bring him here (just him). Anything and everything is always nice and OK the first time. Me and his now step dad don't have much problem with him during the first year he was here , he was into dancing, though just like most other kids the hardest was letting him do his home work. I came from the Philippines; my husband of 6 years is an American. Call it culture shock, I experienced it, but at my age I easily was able to adjust so does he. The problem started when he's in Middle School (7th Grade). He would ditch school at least 3 times a week, just imagine that! Me and my husband are both working, by early afternoon I start to get worried, why??? Because my husband would be calling me and telling me that the school called because Martin did not attend school. We have talked to his principal, counselors, and adviser, name it. It went on from the start of the school until November and eventually, we learned and caught him smoking and drinking, he is only 13.

First time he went with friends and did not come home… his step dad just went crazy and about to hit him. One instance too is that I scolded him and he threw a pack of juice at me, I slapped him and he ran away. But the worst is yet to come, when he fell in love with an 18th year old girl, he would take off at the middle of the night ( through his bedroom window) to see the girl. It happens many times that I have to wake up every hour in the middle of the night to check on him......and it give strain to our marriage, we argue a lot, there's no more peace at home, I would cut my work hours just so I could be home early to check on him since he would be by himself when he gets off from school. I don't want my husband to give up on me just because of him. He do not treat him like a father, does not even respect him.

Let me give you an idea of my boy's childhood background. When he was only 3 years old I left him with his father, I was sick then, no work, no place to live, nothing.(But I never ever use drugs, I don't even drink) Later I found out that he is always been beaten up by his dad. I left him because of the same reason but I never thought he would do it to our son.

This may sound absurd; there are no laws in the Philippines. Children as young as 5 can buy cigarettes …teens as young as my boy can drink anywhere and everywhere. No custody battle, no child support...nothing!

Anyway, after what he has been doing here me and my husband decided to send him back to the Philippines, to save our marriage...hoping he would see the difference between sleeping in the concrete and sleeping in his own bedroom. But we're both wrong, he became worst... because he can do whatever he wants, he stays with his sisters ( my 2 oldest daughters, 29 and 24) but they too have gave up on him.

In a few days April 19 to be exact he will be back here. I will tell you I'm scared, scared of so many things but scared more about what would happen to my family, my husband, me and him. Especially with our present situation with my husband now, we are both unemployed.

My Out-of-Control Teen