04-27-2017 10:56 AM - last edited on 05-04-2017 11:33 AM by Ngaio-RO
Hi everyone, I just signed up today after reading soem very supportive threads last nightand hoping to get a little help or guidance on what I can do in my situation.
My 17yr old son came out last year that he wanted to be a girl and wanted me to start organising for him to start on hormones etc. I am supportive of whoever my children become but am concerned as I cannot pinpoint one thing during his life which has lead to this, no signs along the way etc. My 19yr old son came out as gay when he was 14 and we kinda already knew before he told us, there were very strong signs. Anyway I don't want him to make a lifelong decision at 16 to change his body in this drastic way so I spoke to him and said I will support you no matter what but start with counselling and I don't want you to start hormones or even look into operations before you are 18 at least. So started our struggle.....
He stays in his room 99.9% of the time, quit his job, won't go back to school or study at TAFE, won't come out of his room to do simple basic chores (all he is meant to do is stack the dishwasher once a day and take the rubbish out as hubby and I both work ). He has a phone which we got on a plan when he was working fulltime in hubby's name which we need to sell now to pay the contract out as we won't pay for it while he is not contributing anything at all to the household, not talking money here but physically get up and do a few chores. He is so defiant and stands there and says NO you will not take the phone. He had it in his pocket half hanging out so i just reached across to grab it and he pushed me, scratched me with his nails, screamed at me and then threw 2 bowls down onto the tiles in the back room and smashed the back window, then threw the phne down the hallway and damaged the wall. I have a 5yr old in the house as well and am worried about him being around this kind of behaviour so I have just not spoken to Mr17 lately just to try and avoid any conflict as there is no reasonable chat trust me I have tried sitting and listening to him but as soon as I speak or try to tell him how we are feeling after listening to him he loses it and storms back to the room.
I offered to buid him a room up in the back shed where he could have his own little cooking oven thingy, toaster, kettle etc and have his own privacy, like moving out but not paying to move out and he loved the idea. I told him I just need to see you show me something in the next few weeks, jump up do your 2 chores and show me that spending all this money on you is worth it....well that lasted 2 days then back to the room and wouldn't come out. He is living in filth and sorry for this but he has bottles that he has urinated in laying on his floor, food scraps and food wrappers everywhere, sexual toys laying on his floor (yes with a 5yr old in the house) and when I ask him to clean it all up he says "when I feel like it". I told him last night if he didn't have it done this morning I would go in and grab a garbage bag and whatever I pick up gets thrown. He threatens me and screams the house down so I am now worried about even stepping foot in that filthy disgusting room.
I had him seeing counsellors and a psychiatrist at Headspace but he now refuses to go there and has missed his last 2 appointments. He will not tell me if there was any diagnosis of depression or anything else, they won't either as he is old enough to seek his own care and if he doesn't want me to know they don't have to tell me. I feel his mental health is not right and apart from physically dragging him out of the room by his ear and physically getting him in that car to go and see someone (which I can't do) I don't see any other way. I have asked his father to take him but he refuses to go to his father's house. He told me he will stay here as long as he wants and he doesn't have to do a thing for anyone while he's here. My husband (his step father for the last 12 years) can't handle it any more it's affecting our marriage as well and apart from him being physical with him which neither one of us wants to happen he has no answers either.
I hate even saying this I love all of my kids but I really don't like him at the moment and I don't want him around while he is like this, especially around Mr 5. I feel I am out of options, I have tried to get him some help he needs but when he refuses I don't know what to try or do next. Can anyone help please?
Sorry this is so long.......
04-27-2017 03:31 PM
Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly @mumof3. It's the only way to get the help we need, and I can relate to your situation so well in regards to behaviours.
It must've been a huge thing for your son to come out to you with his news. And for you too. I empathise with you and your young man, it must be a confusing time for him. I'm sure there will be a parent here who has been through the same experience, so I really hope you can get some suggestions on how to move forward with your son, whichever path he chooses. I recently watched a documentary about teens who wanted to change. I stumbled across it but will find it for you.
I understand that you love your son but feel you do not like him at the moment - I have most certainly felt like that about my daughter at times, when everything about her is so defiant and she is controlling the situation via appalling behaviour. I feel I have NO control and walk around on eggshells. I felt like we were at the point of no return. It's heartbreaking but too stressful living like that. Our brilliant caseworker taught me something by drumming it into my head! She'd say, "you don't dislike her, you dislike her behaviour."
And sadly at those times when she was smashing up the house and threatening and abusing me, the only safe consequence was police intervention. I had the same behaviours when trying to follow through with consequences. At that time, when I couldn't change her behaviours, the only thing I was taught I could do was change my own, in terms of how I dealt with her. Over time it has changed the dynamics between us and I don't often walk on eggshells anymore. There's an awesome coaching 'course' you can do through ReachOut. It's an hour a week for up to 4 weeks if you choose. It's done online while you talk with the coach via phone, who tailors the sessions to help with your specific situation. Tuning Into Teens is another fantastic short program, one hour per week for 6 weeks I think it was. You can google to find one in your local area.
There are some fantastic communication tools here in the forum as well. There are some great tips on how to talk with your teen, allowing them to feel heard while still maintaining authority. I couldn't, and sometimes still can't, help but let her speak then immediately go on with 'but I'm angry, or upset or whatever because I...' Because she then felt unheard, and more so, dismissed, she would explode again.
As much as I'm sure it doesn't feel like it, your son does really need you and love you. They often act out in the environment where they feel safe to do so. Can I suggest just giving a knock on his door, then popping your head in to say 'how're you going?' even once during the day? My daughter isolates in her room mostly too, and sometimes when I stick my head in I'll be glared at, other times I'll be huffed at, other times I'll be told to f off, and other times I'll get a smile and a little conversation. I simply say 'hi' and 'I love you' and shut the door again unless the latter response has been given. I give her her space but want to remind her that I'm here if she needs me, and that I love her. As disgusting as their rooms are, as lazy and selfish as they are being, as defiant and impossible they are being, these are the times they need to know we still love them, as they're struggling too. Patience is a huge thing I've had to practice - I'm also now a professional at screaming into my pilllow.
17 must be a really hard age to cope with for you. Mine has just turned 15, so I still have legal responsibility and am told diagnoses etc. That must be so difficult for you as you don't know if there are mental health issues additional to the teenage issues. Knowing that would be such a help for you. I don't think it's right that 17 year olds have the choice to keep that private from parents they are living with and being supported by. Children and teens are taught their rights and their responsibilities, but being kids/teens, they only hear their rights. They don't have the maturity yet. Very frustrating.
@motherbear can you share some of your wisdom here? You have such fantastic advice!
04-27-2017 03:36 PM
Hi @mumof3 Thank you so much for feeling safe enough to post. And please don't apologise about the length, you needed to tell your story and that's how long it is. There's never any need to apologise for that.
I'm so sorry things are so tough at the moment, it sounds like you're all suffering.
It can be equally heartbreaking and infuriating when our kids dig in their heels and refuse to meet us halfway. We feel heartbroken because we know they're in pain and they won't or can't tell us what they need but then they'll behave in ways that are so repellant, it's really hard to keep hanging in there. I get it.
But if it helps, when a young person is in that space, they are hating themselves far more than anyone else. Your son sounds depressed. It wouldn't surprise me if he was clinically depressed. But it doesn't really matter, either way, you can see how he's living that he's given up on himself.
I have some suggestions I'd like to make. I have to duck out for an hour but I will be back and I'll post them then. I just really wanted to say hi and thanks so much for sharing with us.
Just hang in there, I promise it won't be like this forever. You sound like an incredibly patient and loving mum. As long as there's love, you're most of the way there.
04-27-2017 04:57 PM
OK. I'm back.
For some reason, my feed wasn't showing @taokat's post before. Otherwise, I would have said what amazing wisdom there is in it. @mumof3 There is some incredible lived experience here mixed with amazing depth of compassion, I really hope you get at least some of what you need.
As Taokat says, coaching is a great place to start. It's free, happens over the phone and is something you can kick start immediately to give yourself a sense of doing something. Click here to find out more about it.
Taokat also mentions the impact of your son feeling gender confused. I know life is never this simple but when you tell your story it sounds like it begins with your son expressing a desire to change his gender followed by a steady decline. I'd like to recommend Twenty10, they are an amazing service that supports young people who identify GLBTIQ and young people having issues around their gender. They are based in NSW but I believe they're worth calling regardless of what state you're in. I'm sure they'll recommend somewhere if needs be. I believe they may be able to shed light on your situation in a very meaningful way. Click here to go to their website and see what you think.
I know this is really hard for you and I don't want to diminish that at all, I just can't help but hear how much pain your son is in. He sounds like he's given up on himself completely. Sometimes when young people do that they become very good at driving everyone away. But he really needs you. Even though everything he's saying and doing might appear to be the opposite. What he needs to know more than anything is how special he is to you, and how much you love him and want him around. When things got very bad with my daughter I would commit to going an entire day without a single negative comment. Maybe you could try this. You'd be amazed at the impact it can have. And if anything comes up that you know is a hot button topic, just put it off for the day. Only positive, encouraging, loving statements for a day. With no attachment to his response.
Here's some info on how to support your teenager when they're depressed and don't want to help themselves.
And then come back here and debrief and rant and get everything off your chest so you can keep going without feeling emptied out yourself.
What do you think @mumof3 Feel like any of this might be helpful for you?
04-27-2017 05:12 PM
@mumof3, there were two documentaries I watched. One is an Australian doco called Being Me. It's on YouTube. It is about transgender pre-teens and follows their stories.
The other series I watched part of was called Trans Reality, also on YouTube. It follows the stories of transgender teens.
They might be good to watch or for you or to watch with your son?
04-27-2017 06:08 PM
Thank you so much everyone this is very helpful
I can see he is feeling the way you describe and I felt we were slowly getting somewhere when he was going to Headspace. I'm really unsure why he won't go again as he would come home smiling and actually have a conversation with me most of the time and now he has given up on that as well.
I really want to help him and I will start with the advice and links you have provided and have a read through them tonight over a glass of wine and hopefully half an hour chill time alone.
I know I need to help him first before myself so hopefully once I have a plan of action I can start to seek the help I need myself as well. Between Mr 17 and the rift it is causing with hubby and I, I feel in the middle of all the bickering and bantering and trying so hard to be the middle ground for everyone and it's tough.
BUT I have been through an abusive relationship with Mr 17's father and a lot more in my time so I can do this and stay strong for everyone for now to hopefully start to become a happier household.
I feel so much better already just being able to get it out there off my chest even to random strangers so have a positive outlook again. I'll touch base again after I have had a look through all of your recommendations.
Thanks for giving me some hope again xx
04-28-2017 12:29 PM
Hey @mumof3 I'm so very glad you feel some relief. You're clearly a very devoted, loving mum and your son is genuinely lucky to have you.
Regarding the Headspace thing, it's not uncommon for young people to stop doing things that are good for them when they're depressed. It's possible that he felt as good about going as you did but, somewhere along the way, it became too much for him. And to push away any regret he might be feeling is to tell himself he hated it. But if you know he came home from there smiling and talkative, he enjoyed it.
One option might be looking at barriers that exist to him getting there and see if you can knock any of them down. If he used to get himself there, could you offer to drive? If it's possible he feels he needs to be showered and dressed nicely to attend, could you chat about Headspace having no expectations about how he presents? If you have a feeling that calling is too much, could you offer to do that?
The main thing is to offer without expectation. If he gets a whiff of pressure, he'll say no to exert control. If you offer and he can take you up on it anytime and decide to go or not, then he can exert control by deciding when.
It might help.
Also, I wanted to respond to your statement about putting him first. He clearly lives at the top of your priority list. I also have an instinct you're like me and so many parents out there, you're probably not even on that list at all but just like the air stewards say "put the mask on first so you can look after your child." If you don't start looking after you, you're not going to have the resources you need to support him. It can be difficult because it can feel selfish and I have a feeling you're NOT the selfish type. But I can't stress enough how important self-care is during these times.
Please try and develop a plan for you. One option is to commit to not thinking about issues after a chosen time. Depending on your lifestyle, pick a time in the evening when it's most likely you won't be interacting with your son much. It can't be bedtime because you need to practice turning your worry-mind off before then. Whatever time you choose, make a commitment to yourself that you will not think about anything to do with your son (unless it's happy thoughts because something great has happened!) or anything else that upsets or worries you. Watch tv, read a book, have a bath. Whatever you enjoy. But the commitment is to give yourself a break. Maybe start with an hour and see how you go.
Then, before you go to sleep, think of 3 things you're grateful for. If you want to write them down, then great. If not, that's fine. The important part is doing it consistently. It's amazing the positive impact thinking about what you're grateful for has on your mental health.
And if you're like me, set up reminders to help you remember.
04-29-2017 12:13 AM
04-29-2017 02:42 AM
04-29-2017 03:42 PM
Thank you for your positive words @Ngaio-RO. I have certainly been through some incredibly tough times with my daughter, and I do love the forum for sharing and also asking for others advice when I'm needing it. You have offered great insight too, and I love your idea of having a day without a single negative comment. I'll be adding that to my list of positive parenting approaches.
And @mumof3 I read your reply on my email but didn't have time to get back to you then. Your line where you said you needed to look after your son first really struck a cord with me. As Ngaio said, you actually need to take care of yourself first, so you are able to have patience and remain well within yourself. To me it actually sounded really wrong for a long time - how can I be giving time to myself when my child is struggling so badly?! I'm not a selfish mum. How can I be allowing myself any peace or happiness when my child has none? And I had a breakdown. I understand how important self care is now. I see it as a requirement now, because when I let it go, things get worse at home. I can get stuck in my daughter's life - I've realised I NEED something for myself and to give to myself to keep me in a frame of mind that allows me to keep going and keep giving to my girl. Some days it might just be a few minutes before bed to be grateful for 3 things in the day. Check out the topic here on self care if you like.You sound like a loving, supportive mum who's trying to balance each family member's happiness - you deserve time and care for you too
I hope you enjoyed a glass of wine (or two!) and found some useful info in the links Ngaio provided. I'm glad you're feeling more supported after sharing here. As Ngaio said, come back to rant, debrief or unload!