In need of Hope
I've been going through tough times with my 14 year-old son for over a year now. I was married to his alcoholic/drug addict father for 16 years. Sounds crazy...I know, but he was actually clean and sober for 10 of those years and ran a successful business, so I kept hoping he would get better. I only filed for a divorce on the day he was in an accident with my son and I found 2 Jack Daniels bottles in the back seat. We were divorced 4 years ago.
Anyway, he abandoned my sons after our divorce and moved to another state with his girlfriend. My younger 14 year old has become rageful, although he doesn't think it has anything to do with his father. His father is back in town now, but very rarely keeps his visitation dates. The worst times began over this past summer when he stole $400 from me and started refusing to go to church. He started calling me names like f-ing bitch and retard. The day he refused to go to church, I tried to force him and he got physical with me...nothing terrible, but I did call the police since he's bigger than me and I wanted him to know I wasn't putting up with that. I made it clear that he was not allowed to talk that way under my roof. I was shocked and scared. I have had him in and out of therapy since the divorce proceedings started. I kept thinking, my God....I can't let this kid behave like this. I currently have his video games/ipod/cd's etc., because he just continues to act out like this. I'm told there are no behavioral problems at school, however he has always been in advanced classes and this year his grades are slipping.
Anyway, after consistently having talks with him, not going back on my word with the discipline and trying not to take things personal (for example, even though he wasn't allowed to have his video games/ipods etc., I would play scrabble with him or watch a television show that I thought was appropriate.) He would go along ok for awhile and then completely "screw up", (by calling me vulgar names or sneaking to a friends house when he was grounded) Finally, I felt like he was improving to the point where I gave him his guitar back last week.
Today he blatantly lied to me (and honesty is big for me), and then tried to insist that I was an ***** for not beleiving him. He told me I was a disgusting mother. When I took his guitar for talking that way, he punched the wall, threw the phone and threw a kitchen chair. The physical behavior and the lying scares me, because we talk about it a lot and in the "Your Teen is Crazy" cd's Dr. Bradley states that there is usually an underlying problem when this happens and that it really needs to be addressed.
Its been to the point where he's still calling me names even when I take his last Rock magazine away and he has nothing. He is a smart kid and manages to amuse himself pretty well. I've even been known to put a lock on the refrigerator, because he loves those frozen pizzas and when he gets into the vulgar name calling, I let him know that I don't have to feed him all the food he likes. One day, he told me "There's no way you would give me PBJ for 3 days". Well, guess what...I sure did...and I put a pad lock on the fridge when I went to work. He can be a cocky, manipulative kid and really needs to be put in his place.
His Dad is no help. When Jerami gets upset with me, he will sometimes complain to his Dad...who sides with him. His Dad has not paid child support in over a year. He works under the table and claims he is disabled. Since he has a doctors note the judge tells me his hands are tied,
until he is denied disabity benefits at least twice (apparently this is the NJ law)
When this happened today, I just thought I would crumble. I'm an accountant. I started my own home-based accounting practice, so I could be around the home front for Jerami (working for a CPA firm, would require me to be away at least 60-70 hours per week including the commute)...God only knows what he would be doing then. . Anyway, its tax season and I am absolutely swamped with work. I just kept thinking, I can't break down now, I have to grow my business and make $$$, but I have this kid telling me I'm a disgusting mother and his dead beat Dad who is no help whatsoever.
Anyway, I guess I better stop feeling sorry for myself and toughen up, but this is hard. If anyone has any ideas...please help. We go to counseling together sometimes, but it doesn't really seem that effective.
My boyfriend actually tells me I'm not strict enough with him and that he shouldn't get one thing back until the end of the school year at the earliest. He thinks he walks all over me. I feel like a drill seargent and I hate it. Its not my nature, but I don't know what else to do.
Thanks for reading.
You guys need prolonged and weekly FAMILY counseling ASAP. Please do not let it lapse this time. This will be hard work to get this family back together, but well worth the effort. You are at a very critical stage with your son and, as you can see, the risks only get riskier.
One thing I might point out (and another that you've already seen) is that "takeaways" don't make things better with most kids, and can make things much worse with some. Rather, find some way where he can work to earn the things that he wants so that if he fails to do what you need, he lets himself down instead of seeing you as the *****.
Drill sergeants are great for training soldiers, not teenagers. Parenting teens is a much more complex task. It sounds as if you are ignoring a voice in you that says tearing down your kid to get him to behave is a bad idea. Perhaps you should go more with your own instincts and less with the advice of folks who are not in your shoes. For in the end, what truly motivates good soldiers and teenagers is not fear, but a loving respect for their sergeant or parent. That comes from teaching and caring, not from hurting.
Keep us posted.
Dr. Mike Bradley