01-29-2020 11:57 AM - last edited on 02-26-2020 09:02 AM by Janine-RO
I am not sure if I am in the right place to be honest. I'm not technically a parent but a carer of an 18 year old boy.
In a nutshell, I met him when he was in and out of juvenile detention. We struck up a friendship, and I spent time with his (limited) family. When he found himself incarcerated in an Adult prison, I supported him and to ensure he got parole, I allowed him to come and live with me.
I am treading that tricky line of friend, support person and parent and it has been a pretty tough distinction at times.
He lost his mother at an early age, was cared for by his grandmother and has a difficult relationship with his father. He tells me I am the closest thing to a mother he has ever had and I believe him when he says that.
I genuinely believe he is a good guy, he has substance abuse issues (which seem to be under control...for now) and a whole host of mental health issues have become apparent over the last few weeks which he doesn't want to acknowledge or do anything about.
I am trying hard to support him and allow him a chance to be a better person - which is what he says he wants. But at times he just doesn't want to put any effort in, uses his history of being in the system as an excuse to continue behaviours and lies and deceives. Other times, he cries on my shoulder telling me he isn't used to having someone care about him (and I believe that's true).
Having no children myself, and being a "young" 40 year old I don't have any experience or anyone to guide me through this. I am quite an emotional person and find myself feeling upset, let down and manipulated a lot of the time.
Any suggestions would be welcome!
01-29-2020 03:04 PM
Hi @Seeker , and welcome to the ReachOut Parents community. You're definitely welcome here, it sounds like you are a pretty amazing person taking on a caring and supportive role for a pretty vulnerable young person
I don't know if you're aware of the Community Restorative Centre - they provide a lot of support and advocacy services for people who've been released from prison, as well as their families and friends. I've linked to a page here that has a number of specialist services linked to it, I thought some of the services listed under family and community and support and mental health services may be helpful https://www.crcnsw.org.au/get-help/getting-out-of-prison/.
It's unfortunately very common for people who've been in and out of corrective services to also have experienced mental health problems and substance abuse - a lot of the services I've listed above are specifically designed for the needs of people who've recently come out of prison, and can hopefully help them adjust to normal life and reduce the risk of re-offending.
Having conversations about mental health and substance abuse can be really tough. This resource on our parents page has some really good, practical advice about ways to talk to teenagers about mental health, especially when they may be resistant or not wanting to seek help.
Your needs and boundaries are also important, however - it sounds like you are an incredibly generous and supportive person, and I hear you when you say you feel upset, manipulated and let down. A lot of parents and carers find that talking to a professional can be really helpful for them to feel supported, there is also a free, 1:1 support service that you can access through our website for phone or online counselling.
You sound like an amazing person, who is making a real difference in this young person's life - thank you for posting here and I hope you find it helpful.
01-31-2020 03:19 PM - edited 01-31-2020 03:36 PM
Hope you don't mind, I'm just checking in to see how things are going with yourself and the young person you've come here to get support with.
We're thinking of you both.
01-31-2020 04:44 PM - edited 01-31-2020 04:46 PM
01-31-2020 10:30 PM
02-01-2020 01:31 PM
02-04-2020 03:01 PM
Hi @Seeker ,
I just wanted to check in and echo what @Taylor-RO has said - I'm so sorry to hear that things haven't worked out as you may have hoped. It sounds like you did exactly what you needed to do in terms of keeping appropriate boundaries and keeping yourself safe, I imagine it must have been a very stressful time for you. It's incredibly hard when somebody that we love behaves in a way that means that we have to detatch for our own safety. It sounds like you have been a really important person in his life, and I hope that in the longer term he is able to make the changes that he needs to make in his life.
Wishing you all the very best, it's great that you've been able to see your therapist to help you through what sounds like a really tough time.
02-16-2020 09:16 AM
Hello Seeker, great you have been able to be a support to your young person, now that they have come out of jail. Our son had contact with the justice system as an 18 year old and fortunately he did not go into custody. He is now in a residential program for his addiction to Cannabis. Things got pretty bad and through this we decided to get him into a program. It took some time for us to arrive at this decision, we thought he could self manage, however he started to experience psychosis.. If you intend to continue to be there for your young person, you need to find out about all the support services out there. Doing it alone is isolating and often overwhelming. You need to look after yourself, or you can get lost in their issues. Hope things start to get better.
02-25-2020 04:00 PM
I thought I would check in and give you all an update...it's been a pretty turbulent few weeks!! I'll try to keep this brief!
After my last update, I started receiving late night phone calls from a blocked number. I assumed it was him, so I answered one of them. He again accused me of talking to his parole officer. He was clearly high on drugs and started to threaten me again. He threatened to kill me, murder my family, shoot up my house and told me he had people on standby to come to my house. So I did what any sane person would do in that situation... drove to his crisis accommodation in the middle of the night and try and talk him down. He needed help, not to go back to prison. I helped him settle, made him some food and put him to bed.
The following day he called me full of apology and I told him he could come back (much to the horror of my husband). For the first week he was perfect, we made a sort of case plan in which he identified the things he wanted to work on, he was completing his goals and being great around the house. Then he started back on the drugs and things went down hill again. We had agreed to a 3 strike policy in the plan and I had to give him three warnings in 3 days. He then sent me a barrage of abuse late at night. Honestly, I have had to delete the messages as they were so hurtful i couldn't read them. Again, taking personal things and throwing them in my face with the only purpose being to make me feel terrible. He used every insecurity, every vulnerability and every fear I have about myself in a really despicable way. As he had already received his 3 warnings, i told him he had to leave - I had been very clear in my communication with him and documented the warnings so there was no room for error.
The following morning, he was extremely remorseful, but when he came to pick up his stuff later that day he was back to being aggressive and unpleasant. He continued with the abuse, grabbed me by the wrist and tried to intimidate me and then came at me with a heavy object in his hand. I was pretty shaken up and contacted the police. I wanted the incident noted, but wouldn't give a statement as I didn't want to be the reason he was arrested and back in jail.
That was last Tuesday and we haven't had any contact since. He was very angry with me, and for the first time, I was scared of him. I don't think there is any coming back from where we left off and the things he said to me sadly. I'm pretty devastated at the way things went. I care about him a lot but I couldn't continue to put him before my husband, family and my own mental health.