parenting an 18-year-old
Just finished reading your book, Dr. B. How I wish I'd had it three or four years ago to prepare me for what we're going through now.
I have an acting-out 18-year-old son. His father and I are divorced (9 years ago); I am remarried (6 years ago). My son lives with his dad, somewhat unhappily, but by his choice (I still can't figure that one out - why would my son stay with his dad while telling me his dad is "mean," "stupid," "an *****," "a moron," "a jerk"?) Three months ago my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, depression, oppositional defiance disorder and, if that weren't enough, drug abuse/addiction (marijuana). He's under the care of a shrink and on target to graduate from high school. My question is, what should the next step be? I'm finding it challenging to parent this legal adult.
Thankfully, he still respects the curfews I set for him when he's with us; there is no outright anger or raging going on. His father thinks he should be kept on a short leash and that going away to school in the fall is out of the question. I tend to disagree. I find myself erring on the side of giving this kid a little more independence (he is chomping at the bit to live in his own place or with a friend rather than with a parent). Wouldn't it be beneficial for my son to see, along with his peers, what real responsibility feels like?
In regard to my ex, I cannot be objective: in my opinion, he is an angry, controlling, emotionally abusive man (I lived with him for 15 years), and I think my son would do well to be out of that environment (my son actually lived with us for about 9 months last year but then went back to his dad's when his father took away his car for bad grades). My son is currently in an outpatient rehab program, taking regular drug tests, looking for a job. Unfortunately, he is in trouble with the law and faces a possession charge from an incident in January; that will be dealt with in a couple of weeks and we're expecting his being placed on probation.
This all feels so tricky to me. He's 18. Yes, he's been in trouble and made mistakes in recent months. Does that mean we should treat him like a 12-year-old for the foreseeable future? A real challenge for me recently is that I've not known how much of his bad behavior (lying, skipping school, traffic violations, etc.) should be attributed to bipolar disorder, the pot use or plain old teenage craziness. I think we're making progress, but I wonder when my "real" kid will emerge from the fog and what type of limits I should put on him in the meantime. Feedback would be welcome....my 20-year-old daughter was a breeze compared to this kid! :/