10-12-2022 02:24 PM
My 17 yoa son, soon turning 18, has been on a pathway of self-destruction since his first year of high school. It started with suspension after suspension, expulsion, change schools, more suspensions, and another expulsion. He has had a few run ins with police, twice at court, and still doesn't see the severity of his actions. I talk, I advise, I suggest, I threaten, I yell, I make ultimatums - every strategy has not worked. He won't engage with a professional counsellor - flat out refuses and says it useless. He is not interested in working - says he doesn't want to do stupid jobs - instead comes in and out of the house like it's a motel, smokes cannabis, and has done since his early teens, hides, keeps secrets. Every time I try to talk to him, he either just tells me what I want to hear or just ignores me. I'm done. I don't want to speak to another police officer, I don't want to smell any cannabis, I don't want to look at him when he is stoned, I am not going to court again.
I write this just after having returned home from children's court where he has lost his license for driving under the influence of a substance where he once again refused all offers of counselling, programs instead giving them a "leave me alone" look. I lost my sh*t in the car. I'm exhausted. I don't understand why he chooses to be like this. I'm a single mum and a good role model. I have a career, own my own home, don't drink, don't do drugs etc. I left his father when my boy was in primary school due to him having become involved in ICE. The father is in contact with my son and sees and speaks with him on average twice a year. I know this is the crux of my boys issues, but he is nearly an adult and needs to take control of his life - but won't.
I don't want to deal with this anymore. I'm exhausted. It doesn't matter what I say or do, or what I don't say or do - the kid doesn't listen, care either way. So rather than continually stress myself out putting my own life and peace in jepordy, I'm slowly being left with no other choice but to give up. He is on the path to destruction, regardless of what I do or try - I'd might aswell protect myself from being dragged down with him.
During the car ride home I told him directly that I'm right behind him and will do everythign in my power to help him if he chooses the right path but I won't be dragged along the downward path with him, he can do that on his own. We enter the house, his mate pulls up out the front and the kid leaves. Again, didn't hear, didn't care. Why should I be loosing my mind and stressing about his future when he couldn't care less.
Help, I don't know what to do. I don't know what is worse at this point, living like this every day or dealing with the aftermath of him going to jail, becoming a drug addict or worse, going to jail. It seems to me that if he doesn't choose to change things around himself, I'm going to suffer regardless
10-12-2022 11:59 PM - edited 10-13-2022 12:11 AM
Hey @Frangipani_12 and welcome to the ReachOut forums!
Thank you for sharing a little bit about your situation with us. I'm so sorry to hear that you have been experiencing all these troubles with your son, it sounds like it has been a really difficult and challenging time for you. I can tell how much you care about your son and how hard you have worked to support him, no matter how hard things have been. He is so lucky to have someone like you in his life.
You mentioned that you have tried a number of different strategies to get through to him, but I was just wondering how he responded to these? Were there any strategies that you noticed received more of a response than others? I am also wondering if you were able to share your concerns and feelings with him at all?
If you were interested at all, The Raising Children's Network has a really great article on Managing Conflict and also Risky behaviour. Both of these articles explore why they might occur and what you can do to help manage it and so I wonder if maybe they might be able to give you a few ideas on things you could try. Do you think they might be bale to help at all?
I am mindful of the impact this must be having on you and am wondering what kind of support you have for yourself right now? With so much going on, it's important that we take care of ourselves, especially in such a stressful situation. What kind of things do you do to take care of yourself when things get really hard? If you would ever like to talk to someone, Parentline is a great service and can support you in finding the next steps forward.
I thought it might also be worth mentioning that ReachOut offers free one-on-one support with an experienced professional for parents looking to navigate parenting. You can find more information on this service here if this is something you might be interested in.
We are all here for you.
10-13-2022 12:29 PM
Hi there @Frangipani_12
I also want to jump on here and send you some support. It sounds like you've been through an incredibly tough time, not only during your son's teen years but also with your ex-partner.
I'm hearing how exhausted and worried you are, and I thought I'd send through a few more support options. Some of these you may have already explored, so please let us know if you have and if there's anything else we can help you with.
You've told us your son isn't interested in counselling or programs (which must be so difficult for you). Youth Justice may be worth getting in touch with to see if there's any support they can offer you as you continue to navigate this situation. Here is the page with information for parents.
Alternatively, if this isn't the right avenue for your family, I'm curious to know if you've considered chatting with a counsellor or psychologist.
Another option I want to share is Family Drug Support, a 24/7 telephone support service for families which you can contact at 1300 368 186. SMART Recovery is another service, and they facilitate support groups for families which you can read about here.
Let us know what you think, we're here for you.
10-14-2022 10:24 AM
Thank you so much. I have signed up for the one on one, and will call the Parentline if things get too much whilst waiting for the appointment.
10-14-2022 10:28 AM
Thank you also. I've looked up your suggestions and will keep the support group in my back pocket for when I'm ready to go there. Since I posted, I gave my boy an ultimatum (after pondering the advice and questions you both posed). He has responded quite so far, which is great! it is only day two so a lot of work to do. I've got to get him to seek professional counselling, with the key words being "him to seek". For now, I keep talking and suggesting how he navigate these issues whilst maintaining my own personal boundaries.
Thank you to both of you again
10-14-2022 02:35 PM
Hi there @Frangipani_12
It's great to hear you've had a good conversation with your son since you posted here. As you said, there's work to do, but you are clearly a proactive, loving parent, and I believe that will carry you and your son through these hard times.
I hope the one-on-one session goes well, feel free to keep in touch with us as you continue navigating how to support your son. We're always happy to discuss ideas with you and provide support where possible!
10-22-2022 08:24 AM - edited 10-22-2022 08:28 AM
You are angry and upset at your son's behaviour and this must be very hard for you right now.
Your son's problems started at his first year of high school - in which a change of environment can create a lot of unspoken stress.
The punishment of suspension, followed by expulsion may have honourable intentions and for a lot of children, it can be a turning point for the good of their education....
Yet sadly, for others something is often overlooked. A combination of falling behind in their studies and feeling excluded can lead to this spiral of rebellious behaviour.
When you try suggesting some kind of help or support for your son, there's always that feeling of not wanting to bother because it'll be a waste of time.
Underneath. He wants the help but can't find that initial will power to get it. He's got this idea that it won't work, rather than him not wanting to do it.
It seems that your son has become trapped in this cycle of behaviour because he knows there's likely to be more exclusion if it doesn't work out.
When the schools suspended/expelled your son - they thought it would change him for the better. Unfortunately. Your son only acknowledged and focused on the 'exclusion' aspect - leading to feel not welcome or wanted.
Even losing his driving license created a further feeling of exclusion.
Combine this with a possible lack of interest, a feeling of being left out and wondering why he should bother - it's only fair to add that your son may have been influenced by others as well.
You've tried so hard to help your son.
The question....Does your son want to continue feeling excluded? Only he can answer that - and it's about trying to overcome that fear of it either being a waste of time, being excluded or wondering whatever is the point.
Hopefully. Your son will accept the help that is being offered such as the counselling and so forth. For him, it would be worth considering the above as the focus for his new beginning.
You're feeling positive about the suggestions being made on here regarding further help - so hopefully there's a chance you'll find a way to work things out together.