10-26-2017 10:28 AM - last edited on 11-01-2017 10:46 AM by Ngaio-RO
My husband and are at our wit's end.
We have a lazy, disrespectful, avoidant, manipulative and dishonest 15yo son. I'm sorry that I can't be more positive, but I'm having trouble finding any positive qualities at the moment. He more than likely has some psychological issues, but we just don't know how to help.
He has a part-time job which we thought was a great opportunity for him to learn about money, saving, responsibility etc, but him having his own money has backfired, his schooling has suffered and the family relationship is completely broken.
After about 18 months of 'issues', they culminated last night in us accessing his phone and laptop. We've found inappropriate photos, inappropriate messages to girls online (both during school hours and after school), food deliveries to school up to $30 a day (online orders/delivery) spending hundreds of (his) dollars on a computer game (a form of gambling in my view), trying to arrange with friends to have girls over at one particular friend's house, trying to source alcohol and e-cigarettes. He's spending his money from his part-time job on silly 'slogan' clothes, a couple of times has spent up to $200 on counterfeit/fake/copy shoes and arranging delivery of them to him at school, online gaming, food deliveries, Uber transport, gym/protein supplements. He's also fleeced money from others in the extended family to support this gaming habit (to the tune of a few thousand dollars).
He is grossly overweight. We've paid for a gym membership (he doesn't go). We've spoken to GPs and our son himself has attended a GP about an unrelated issue where they took the opportunity to have a 'chat', but he tells them he's happy and fine. The school recommended blocking some access to internet (he hacks through it). He's failing exams. He's not speaking to us. He's not interested in attending psych appointments for which we've got referrals. He is a master of deceit, and knows how to play people and knows what they want to here. I have severe concerns that he has a personality disorder + narcissism.
We have two other children (younger), one of those with a disability and serious illness. He's also taking advantage of our vulnerability in that regard, but on the outside he is more than happy to promote himself as an amazing advocate and big brother. Our other son (younger than the 15yo) is a nervous wreck due to the stress in the family, and has absolutely no relationship whatsoever with his brother.
We are at the point where we are absolutely exhausted, broken, suffering psychologically ourselves and, to be honest, just don't want him around. We don't have the strength or capacity to deal with him. He has no remorse, no empathy, no respect for anyone other than himself - well, really, no respect for himself either.
Where to next? We're completely lost.
10-26-2017 03:15 PM - edited 10-26-2017 03:16 PM
Hi @kopykat First, I wanted to say welcome and thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm so sorry that you're all going through such a hard time. It's clear from what you write just how impacting and upsetting this is for you and your family.
It's almost impossible to find any kind of solution when you're at your wit's end. Those are the times we tend to make decisions we later regret. We feel overwhelmed and like this is NEVER going to get better or change, we feel hurt and desperate and we react rather than respond.
It's completely natural that you would be feeling over it, the behaviour, and him, the person. he's acting out and acting up. Pushing everyone to the limits of their boundaries.
Have you spoken to any health professionals for you? What kind of support are you getting?
10-27-2017 07:49 PM - edited 10-27-2017 08:18 PM
Hi @kopykat So sorry to hear you are having such a terrible time with your 15 year old son . This sounds like a huge burden and ongoing worry and stress for everyone in your family . You must be exhausted and at your wits end .
Some food for thought and I don't want to sound judgemental or critical of your parenting style but there were some things that jumped out at me . You said you have referrals to a Psychologist but " he won't go " . He has to go and you have to make him go even if you and your husband force him to go . He is 15 , you are the parents and he is calling the shots - that's not on . Kids will act out to see what they can get away with and at the moment in your home the tail is wagging the dog . You have a responsibility as his parents to get him help if you can't manage him , he can't make his own decisions about his wellbeing at 15 .
If he refuses to get into the car , then there must be consequences : Take away his internet . i. e take the computer and hide it , and watch him in the kitchen doing his homework on it , then hide it again after he has finished . He can't hack a computer or any other device he does not have access to , ground him if you have to , whatever his currency is . My feeling here is that he has been ruling the roost and he knows it .He knows you both are a push over . He will up the ante at first and may get worse to " bully " and intimidate or scare you into compliance , do not buy into it . Stay with your decision and repeat your requests calmly and consistently with a clear modus operandi that he is fully briefed on beforehand if he does not comply .
Once you get him to the Psychologist room let them do their work to get him to open up . If you pick a Psych who speciliases in teen issues , HeadSpace perhaps , they will work on getting him to open up ..( perhaps Google teens and counselling in your area ) A GP does not have the counselling skills to get inside his head , a simple " I'm ok " will not cut it with a good Psychologist. If he does no talking in the session , just take him back again the next week and the next until he does . They are trained to work will sullen non- communicative teens . Keep at it ! As long as you are dragging him to the alter eventually there will be a break through - tough gig but well worth the stress in the end .
He needs to be assessed by a CLINICAL Psychologist . Someone who can recognise mental illness and it's symptoms thoroughly and the ability to prescribe meds if necessary ( last treatment resort for most teens ) Some of these behaviours do not seem like " normal " teen rebellion and risk taking to me . They maybe signs of possible depression , anxiety , or other mood disorders or a personality disorder . He may have self esteem issues . Thus he may well be acting out , emotional eating , and is on a pathway to self medication if he is not diagnosed and treated soon . Do not let it escalate any further as the longer you take to get him proper diagnostic treatment he will get worse , then he will be 18 and you do not have a hope in hell of having any control over his choices and his behaviours and habits and they may well solidify into addictions and serious long term mental health problems . You are in a position to make huge changes for him now , early intervention is the key and well done to you and your husband for wanting to support and love him through this .
Sit with your husband and work out a plan of action . Have a contingency plan for when refuses , and stick to it .
Best of luck to you ! I hope you find help really soon . 😊
10-27-2017 10:43 PM
Hi @kopykat, you've been dealing with so much, it's completely understandable you and your husband are at your wits end. I really feel for you all going through this, I appreciate how stressful it can be when you're at such odds with your teen and their actions.
I'm wondering how he's able to pay for his online purchases? With our bank, my daughter has to be 16 before she can get a debit card, and 18 before they can open a paypal account. If he has a debit card or paypal account you would be able to stop use of them. With the school aiding in restricting deliveries to the school, which someone with addressed ID must be signing for, you may be able to put an end to his spending online.
My daughter refused to attend counselling for a long while too. At this age it's very difficult because if they don't want to go you can't force them. Your only option is to force them physically which isn't an option. It must really add to your stress that he won't seek help. It's so hard.
I used to attend my daughter's counselling appointments on my own instead which I found really beneficial. I could discuss what was going on, we'd talk about why she behaved the way she was, which gave me a lot of insight. I also got help in learning how to parent her differently to get better outcomes. I'd recommend calling and finding out if you can attend where he has been given the referral. Or can they attend the home?
I'm sorry if I've suggested things you've already tried, I don't doubt you've given heaps of things a go.
You guys have a lot on your plate and I'm glad you've found ReachOut parents for some support.
10-30-2017 10:26 AM
Boundaries with teens who have already taken over do exhaust you.. I agree with his currency removal. Would it be possible to stop him working? He just doesn't need access to so many environments. Teens and tech are very clever but there are all sorts of ways to stop access to sites. We went through cybercrime - you may want to look at that as it has some really top advice on protection.
MH with them is always a major issue. Some teens will go to shut you up and say nothing at all, session after session. We went through 5 MH teams she didn't click and being SN (black or white thinking) nothing. We gave up with her went ourselves and struggled along. It sounds like your boy is hurting a LOT and behaving in accordance. No doubt he hasn't had the attention they so badly need and deserve.
My girl is a twin her sister normal and she misses out all the time. She doesn't complain but I know it hurts her (and me) terribly and some of her behaviour is from that issue alone. She is very private and internalises everything but does have counselling regularly.
Besides being exhausted by the 3 issues of each child - SN etc that rubber band is about to split.
Each child needs you separately - one being the horrible teen, one SN and one with emotional trauma. Breaking those down to something simple and something you can control - for instance the lad who has no relationship with his brother requires MH help if he is not getting any. Perhaps you have SN appmts coming from every direction - take the most important and break it down. Some wks I have 4 and have a meltdown!!
Trying to simplify comes with crying and plenty of it, exasperation feeling like a bad parent, loss of control, weak and not coping. I promise you breathing does help but you have to remember to do it. Talking and getting it out of your head, perhaps meds, you guys seeing someone in the mental health team for advice and trying to think outside that square about you. There are choices and some of them are quite painful but being in control will give you hope - and that is the very thing that is missing in your lives. Keep breathing!!
10-30-2017 07:21 PM
Hi, for a moment I thought you were describing my 15 year old son. We have an awfully similar scenario at our home. Two exhausted parents, both physically and mentally.
some things we’ve done: child and parent counselling, camping expedition guided by social workers. All to not much avail.
what is working now is the fact we have made it very very clear that we are looking into independent housing for him as soon as possible. I am talking and going through the process of having him referred as we can no longer abide the passive aggressive. Or just out and out aggressive behaviour in our house. I’ve tried reconnecting with him through playing sport together, only to have the ball hit hard directly at me several times. He refuses to engage in anything at home, until he is reminded that he does the chores here, or in an independent house whe he has to do them.
he is observing his self imposed curfew of 11pm, but when we say it’s a school night he has to be home earlier, he doesn’t show up at the time requested of him. He has been to a mate’s for a sleepover and we find he has bought drugs to take there. Luckily that parent is on the same page as us, and it has been discussed in both homes. We are so angry with that.
he has been badly assaulted at and near school twice in the past week, Police charges are pending for the assailant. Now he wants our help to change schools but has made no effort to do well at this one, his second this year! Oh, and of course Mum is hated even more because he was assaulted and wanted him to get stitches and be checked for concussion! Neither of which was done.
Positives? Has a casual fast food job. Been accepted into a hockey talent program at Hockey WA so off season training starts today x2/week.
I feel he he is only towing the line because he knows he will be thrown out of home, either with or without somewhere to go if he doesn’t change.
i strongly suggest tap into your son’s currency. We use a device on our home internet that son can not get around at all. We do not top up his phone unless he works for it. Internet is severely limited. No cash given out at all. If he blows his pay at once, that is his problem. There is food at home, so he can make his own lunch etc, or go hungry. I will not put up with any more c**p at home, and I am making that abundantly clear. It’s not happening quickly, but once in a while there are chinks in the teen bravado. He no longer communicates via text with me, preferring his father. Although he can be utterly vile and obnoxious, ther are times when I’ve made it clear he is out the door soon, he is found sobbing like a toddler in his room.
Nothing is easy, but please, take a stance of something, stick to it fast. Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Bit by bit.
all the best