I don't know where to begin
My son and I have been in counseling for 4 weeks now and actually up until this week things have been on the positive side. However, this past week has been a struggle. My biggest problems with him are his mouth and curfew, but occasionally (once every couple of months) there is a bout with his rage-the last instance is when I decided we should see a counselor. The issue that causes me to write is his defiance with everything, but especially when he should come home-he's 15. He just doesn't come in or if he does it's only under the threat of me deleting his account from the computer, which he has stored thousands of songs on his itunes. Just today I asked him to meet me at 8pm so we could go over some house rules for summer. To quote in return "I don't want to" "I don't care what you think" "I'm not coming home because I don't want to" "You're a stupid B*&^$h" Finally I said, "Look, I'm tired of playing with you. Either come home or I will delete you're account." It's only 6 now so who knows if he'll actually arrive or not. The biggest problem is that he's not bluffing. He's been gone for 3 days with out a single call....He claimed he just wanted his freedom. The rules of the house at this point are simple. Be home by 7 or 7:30 on school days. If you're going to be late call me. If you want to stay the night somewhere I need to talk to the parent at the house. If you want cash, you need to do something to help me-Not a lot, but it seems like I'm pulling his hair out. I'm trying to balance what I can do to keep him safe, but he is starting to wear me down. Sometimes I think I just don't care anymore. When tell him this he just says good and leaves. Our relationship hasn't always been like this-infact it is polar opposite of how we were. Some days I'm just flat out shocked! Any ideas? If I let him do what he wants, we get along fine (as far as he's concerned), when I don't he just leaves. How do I keep him safe and keep peace? Thanks
I think you might be going through similar things as we are. The best advice I've gotten is: set and enforce your limits with total and complete accuracy. DO get help if you need! Tell him you will if he doesn't listen to you. Don't budge, don't make "semi" firm rules. Don't get passionate about it when he pushes your buttons, just stay calm. Once his anger is over, he will feel safe, even if you don't see it! And expect this to happen a few hundred times, each time a little less, hopefully. Going through this with you... be well!!!
Your experience is exactly what happens with most families engaging in successful counseling. At first there is a positive change (the honeymoon or "flight into health" as the shrinks call it), and then comes his testing to see if he can get you back into being who you were before. This is where the true learning (and changing) occurs.
I think that "Ohmomma" said it very well. The idea is not to cave in nor is it to allow him to make you stop caring about him. Stay lovingly dispassionate, shrugging and calmly saying that you love him REGARDLESS of his behavior, but that his antagonistic behavior is not OK. Say that you love him too much to let him think that the world will operate the way he wants, and that's why you set limits.
Then, as "Ohmomma" points out, repeat this a thousand times. Lifting a weight one time does nothing. Getting strong is all about repetition.
Keep us posted.
Dr. Mike Bradley