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Thread: Out of control teens, when and where to draw the line?

  1. #11
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB View Post
    This is a tough one for me because I moved out at 17, fully capable of supporting myself and taking care of myself, and I did (no financial help from my family, no help getting an apartment, they no longer were 'required' by me, if that makes sense), so I have trouble understanding why an 18 year old is at home and behaving this way if he has enough privelages that make him feel like an adult. Absolutely he needs to either go to school or contribute to the household if he continues to live with you, but to take a cell phone/computer/etc. away from a 17/18yo seems very heavy handed to me and that you're treating him too young.
    This interests me because I don't know what other consequences to use for this behavior. If he steals our van in the middle of the night, what is an appropriate consequence for a 17yo? All we know to do is take away privileges like video games and computer, since there are no natural consequences that are adequate.

    I answered some of your other questions in my post below. I'm open to new things, I just don't know what they are. We thought we were setting him up for success when we declared a fresh start, but it only lasted 4 days before he took our van again.

    And I hear you about being mature enough to support yourself at 18. Dh and I got married at 18 and had our oldest ds soon after. We lived on our own, supported ourselves and our ds and put ourselves through school. Our ds B doesn't not have that kind of maturity and we're at a loss to know how to encourage it.

  2. #12
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    First of all, ((((hugs)))) and he is so blessed to have you as his parents.

    My oldest is only 6, but I have an 18 year old sister who has made some very difficult, damaging choices over the past year. She does not have the childhood trauma issues, but she made choices right before and during the year after HS graduation that were extremely harmful to herself and the family as a whole.

    In general, I would say that our family's strategy was to "pursue her with love." Yes, there were tough consequences and very, very painful interactions and decisions. But from the get-go, pushing her away was never an option. I guess I would tread lightly on the kicking him out approach. Maybe it will remain an option between you and your dh, but if your ds knows that you're considering it, he may just initiate the self-sabotaging snowball that will result in that.

    I would be curious too, about his interactions with the sibs and if he feels inferior (not that it's an intentional thing on your part).

    Sorry, it's late and I'm rambling, but you and your family will be in my prayers.

  3. #13
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default Update: apparently he has been taking money.

    Last weekend B graduated high school, so he got a boatload of cash as gifts. When we had the 'fresh start' talk, we said that these people didn't give him this $ to just blow on food, movies, etc., so we thought he should put a huge chunk of it away for future school expenses or something else big. He agreed and said he'd like to put it away for a future car. Great. He took about $150 for spending money right now.

    We also discussed the fact that since his phone was trashed earlier in the spring (by us after the drug experimentation), he was on his own to buy his own phone on his own plan. I recommended he get a job first so he'd have income to pay the monthly bill, but he wanted to use some of the $150 now. We agreed that it was his choice and he went to the mall and got on Metro PCS with a used phone from a friend.

    After digging around today after some oddities with this new phone, we find out that B actually has had this phone since April, and has had Metro PCS since then. Before grad, he had no $ besides the occasional $10 from Grandma for lawnmowing. He says he can't remember how he paid for the phone. That's obviously a lie. Coincidentally, our 14yo ds, who B shares a room with, has had $60 missing for awhile. He has gotten in the habit of using a safe, but he had some $ in his wallet briefly and it's been gone for several weeks.

    We're making B pay our younger ds back the $60. We're also making him pay him for a missing iPod that disappeared from the same ds. We can't 100% prove that he took either thing, but we also have a neighbor kid who says B sold him an iPod just like the one missing.

    So, do we let B keep the phone that he paid for through this month with his $ or do we keep it as a consequence for stealing the $ for it originally. Btw, I'm sure the original motivation for the phone was to communicate with a gf that he doesn't get a chance to see or talk to because he's always grounded.

  4. #14
    CynthiaDL is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default Big hugs, Heather...

    I don't have much to draw on to help with this; however, I wonder if some sort of upward bound or even boot camp experience this summer would give him the the skills he needs to grow up and stop undermining himself.

    I think his problems are clearly deep rooted and as parents you are doing all that can be done -- there's no magic bullet. He ultimately has to find it within himself the ability to have a successful life and overcome the damage of his early years.

    I'm not saying to give up on him. Listen to your gut -- you guys know him best and while he may not be responding right now he will hopefully come around. And the good modeling and safety and love you've shown all these years have built a foundation for him -- even if it's shakier than you'd like.

    Wish I had more to offer!!
    Cynthia

  5. #15
    CDB is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I guess I would make it so that he can't "steal" the van in the first place.

    1) Allow him to get his license. The fact that you hasn't strikes me as bizarre.
    2) Give him reasonable access to your vehicle.
    3) He needs a part-time job to help pay a portion of insurance/gas

    If he can't do those things, then I guess you take your car keys to bed with you. Ask him what it would take to stop him from stealing your vehicle and then help him be successful at it.

    Ask him what it would take to help move him into being able to becoming a contributing, responsible adult. Tell him what 18yo in the past are capable of of, and ask him if he feels he is there yet. If not, what help does he need from you, and what can he do himself, to get there. I know you tried this with your "blank slate" thing, but obviously he still feels like a child in his home if he still acts like one.

  6. #16
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB View Post
    I guess I would make it so that he can't "steal" the van in the first place.

    1) Allow him to get his license. The fact that you hasn't strikes me as bizarre.
    2) Give him reasonable access to your vehicle.
    3) He needs a part-time job to help pay a portion of insurance/gas

    If he can't do those things, then I guess you take your car keys to bed with you.
    See, our view is that driving is a privilege. And it's an expensive privilege. It's $80 to take the drivers ed course to get your permit. We did that for him. It's $270 total for the 3 drivers training private lessons. We did the first one and were ready for the next one when he stole the van the first time. We were not going to reward him for that with spending more money on lessons. We put that responsibility on him, expecting him at 16/17yo to get a part-time job. He chose not to. Once you get your license, the law says you have to have insurance. That's $90/mo. for a good student (3.0 gpa or above) or $150/mo. for everyone else. He chooses not to put effort into getting decent grades, even though he's extremely capable. This, again, is not something we'll reward him with since, with no job, *we* would have to pay that.
    Aside from the financial aspect - stealing cars, $$ and ipods and defying our rules didn't reassure us that he had the maturity or responsibility or common sense to drive a vehicle on the open road.
    I know other people have the view that getting a driver's license at 16yo is a right, like food, shelter, clothes and education. But it's not in our house, it's a privilege.
    And, we had been taking the keys to bed with us. That's what was so baffling about how he took it. (I was scared he'd learned how to hot-wire it.) Apparently, he found his old key from his earlier lessons that we thought was lost all this time. We have it again now.
    We're willing to do the things you mention, and have told him this. But our order of priorities is different, since we now expect him to have means of paying for his driving before he gets his license and uses our car.

  7. #17
    sbdeveney is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Just wanted to say I think you're doing a great job parenting and whether he was adopted or was your bio child.......these things can happen....clearly his early childhood yrs affected him, but I also have a very defiant teen who is my bio and I don't "get" her sometimes either.

    I applaud you for calling the police to help enforce your rules and regs at home.

    All you're trying to do is provide him a safe environment and to make sure he stays on the right path for life.

    I don't have the answers. We've been thru 3 counselors as well.

    I doubt meds would help at this point bec he'd probably refuse to take them or "fake" taking them (as my DD has done) bec he's in his defiant mode.

    Hugs, prayers and lots of love,
    S

  8. #18
    CDB is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I do see what you're getting at - you've tried to be reasonable and cooperate by helping to pay for things if he also contributes. If he chooses not to, then you're right - he shouldn't be allowed to drive anyway.

    I guess you sit down and lay it all out:
    1. Get a job
    2. Help contribute to insurance and he will be allowed access to a vehicle

    If he doesn't get a job, he can't drive. Seems pretty simple to you and I, so I'm not sure why this is a problem for your DS. Again, its' about helping him become an adult, and he needs to grasp that.

  9. #19
    BamBam is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default Just wanted to ask about one thing...

    Stealing money, selling things, defiance, use of marjuana... are you sure there aren't other drugs involved here? Everything you say could be explainable with drug use, and it's all very easy to hide.

    Otherwise, there are so many issues going on that I don't have any sound advice for you, but I'll send you my hugs!

    Terri

  10. #20
    ybab is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Wow...This thread makes me realize how much harder issues with kids get. I'm frustrated that my toddler just took unsalted butter out of the fridge and rubbed it into our leather chair. Suddenly that's looking like an easy problem to have. My first thought in reading this was - wait a second...I thought he was just in the football championship? And was a great kid who was good at most everything he tried? Is that a different son - who is 18? If it is...whoa...I bet that would be pretty hard on a kid with B's background and would really make him feel inferior.

    I understand why you're putting these limits on him. At the same time, I can't imagine a senior in high school not having a phone. So to some extent (not to justify it, just to understand it) I can see why he would be desperate to get a phone to talk to his girl. Desperate enough to steal from his brother. I might even venture a guess that stealing the van is to see a girl as well...

    I guess I'll throw out a few thoughts:
    - I wonder if meeting a child psych. would be good for you and your DH...It sounds like your patience has been tested beyond reasonable limits, and the psychologist (esp one who deals with teens) might be able to provide some concrete advice to YOU (not to him).
    - Is there anyone at his former school or church who is close to him? Anyone who might be able to offer a different insight? I might want to reach out to his teachers or the former principal or anyone to give you a fresh perspective.

    As psilverman said, I'm still not getting the WHYs behind this behavior (and maybe you aren't either!). I would really want to ask your DS what he thinks is fair. I might even start by showing him the number of days he has left until 18. Then tell him you want to make the next xxx days the best they can be and get his ideas on how to make things better. It's such a short time - I'm not sure what you have to lose by letting him have a (limited) cellphone plan. I get that he hasn't earned it, but with his background - maybe he can't. It may not be setting him up for success. As a teen, I would have resented that beyond belief. I agree on the car, since that's endangering other people. But maybe giving him a phone for those xx days, and offering to pay for car insurance (temporarily) if he does community service somewhere and demonstrates good behavior. Have someone (besides you guys) approach him to ask for his help (volunteering at a shelter or working or whatever). I think you're going to have to get really creative in your solutions now; he's outwitted you at every turn and that is so frustrating and disheartening. Give him a taste of what good behavior feels like.

    I'm not criticizing your approach at all and would not have a clue how to handle this situation, but it sounds like a lot of unrelenting NEGATIVE punishment, and there's only so much of that anyone can take. I can only hope that someday he will realize that everything you are doing is out of love and you will always be there for him. Really tough - big hugs from me.

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