Author Topic: Problem teenagers  (Read 2602 times)

Julard

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Problem teenagers
« on: March 10, 2018, 06:11:09 PM »
Just having one of those days when dumping onto the interweb seems like a good idea.

Things are tough.  I sent my 15 year old to go and stay with his dad for a while, after stealing from me and being fairly relentlessly verbally abusive. I've done it once before, and he came back a week later moderately improved.  This time it's been two weeks and he has shown no interest in contacting me, and has been awful to his dad.  Going out at night without permission, shouting and swearing.  He's taken it badly that I asked him to leave and I think is acting out because of it.  I'm torn between reaching out to him and leaving him alone to (ideally) reflect and apologise.  His ADHD isn't awfully conducive to reflection though, and I know that underneath the anger he's a sensitive kid who needs a lot of love and support.

Meanwhile, my 13 year old has been in terrible shape because of something that happened at school.  A stupid thing that had me steamingly angry for a while -  he needed an accommodation for a disability to participate in a special event and the school didn't give it.  So his anxiety and trauma response went through the roof for a few days, and really it was much better than his explosive brother wasn't here while I tried to calm things down and get him back to school.  An ongoing project.

Right now I feel like I'm not doing well by either of them, but it's hard to see how I can look after everyone, including myself.  I've been reading Notes from the Frugal Trenches, and have such admiration for her patience and generosity with high needs kids.  Occasionally I wonder if I should take a sabbatical and be a full time parent for a while, but I have very little confidence I'd rise to the occasion like she does.  More likely to be the fast track to insanity I suspect, even if I was FI and not fretting about money. 

We've been in worse shape and worked through, but it feels like the stakes are higher as they get older.  Fingers crossed this coming week sees an improvement.

Freedomin5

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2018, 07:11:56 AM »
Have you considered therapy for both your kids, and for yourself? It sounds like outside support might be good.

And anger is a secondary emotion. If your 15 year old is that angry, itís likely because there is underlying stuff going on. Leaving him to reflect and apologize probably wonít work. Itís more likely that he feels abandoned. Typically, itís something along the lines of ďIím such a piece of crap that even my own mom doesnít want me.Ē (Not saying thatís true at all; itís just that I have a lot of experience with troubled teenagers and kind of know how many of them think). So then the kid thinks, ďYou know what? Everyone thinks I suck anyway. I might as well live up to my reputation.Ē And who knows what messages dad is giving him.

It is also possible that your 15 year old has depression. In teenagers, one of the symptoms of depression is irritability.

A therapist may be able to help you sort all of this out.

Julard

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 06:17:05 PM »
Hi FI5,

Yes, they both need to see a psychologist, and both flatly refuse to go.  DS13 has a deep mistrust of mental health professionals (not completed unfounded unfortunately) and DS15... not sure exactly what the issue is, I suspect it's to do with what peers would think. He has an appointment with his paediatrician soon, so I may get some reinforcement on that front.  DS13 is the priority for pushing as his problems are more acute, but he'll be a tough nut to crack. 

DS15 does need a lot of love it's true, but god he makes it hard at times.  I took him dessert last night (his dad is only a few blocks away) and have brokered a sleepover at his grandparents house tonight, so he knows he's being thought of. Today I'm trying to prioritise my own sanity.

Someone said to me years ago "little kids little problems, big kids big problems". Once again I reflect on how different life might be if I'd got my act/stash together pre-kids and had more time and resources to try and figure this out. 

mrsmeganmustache

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 09:10:45 PM »
That sounds tough. Sounds like you are doing your best. I'm not a mom to teenagers so I don't know if this will work, but I'm wondering if it isn't worth it to make your kids go to therapy, at least for a session or two. A group format might work out well.

calimom

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 11:10:27 PM »
Hi FI5,

Yes, they both need to see a psychologist, and both flatly refuse to go.  DS13 has a deep mistrust of mental health professionals (not completed unfounded unfortunately) and DS15... not sure exactly what the issue is, I suspect it's to do with what peers would think. He has an appointment with his paediatrician soon, so I may get some reinforcement on that front.  DS13 is the priority for pushing as his problems are more acute, but he'll be a tough nut to crack. 

DS15 does need a lot of love it's true, but god he makes it hard at times.  I took him dessert last night (his dad is only a few blocks away) and have brokered a sleepover at his grandparents house tonight, so he knows he's being thought of. Today I'm trying to prioritise my own sanity.

Someone said to me years ago "little kids little problems, big kids big problems". Once again I reflect on how different life might be if I'd got my act/stash together pre-kids and had more time and resources to try and figure this out.

First of all, no guilt about being a working parent. Most people are. Secondly, you deserve to be treated with respect in your own home. And third,  children don't get to choose if counseling is worthwhile or have suspicions about mental health practitioners. They are not geniuses. If they had dental  issues, would they get to choose whether or not to see a dentist? For your sake, and theirs, make the appointments and take them there. It's not an option.

Raising teenagers is hard! Stay in touch, stay in control.

Julard

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 11:39:56 PM »
Quote
It's not an option.
Sadly, it is.  They're well past the age when I could bundle them into the car and make them go.  I've fronted up to more than one appointment on my own, figuring that since I'd have to pay anyway I might as well get whatever advice I could.  My older boy I will possibly be able to get round eventually (thinking threats and bribery), but my ASD younger son is much harder. Actually he has dental issues too, to the point that he's at risk of losing his front teeth.  When he was little I used to sit on him and BLOODY WELL BRUSH THOSE TEETH, but size is working against me on this one too.  One the plus side he likes the dentist, but when he won't brush his teeth there's only so much she can do.

I'm going to try and get the younger one back to a great OT we used to see.  He didn't talk to her, but at least he listened while she and I talked, which is more than he managed for anyone else (and there have been a lot).

Terrible timing, but I start a new job on Monday and am hoping there won't be too much trouble around some flexible hours for appointments. I often reflect on Pete and Simi and their foresight in getting FI before kids.  I had zero foresight - I was entirely swept along by baby-making hormones and so here I am, not well prepared for circumstances.  I know most parents work, but I'm now firmly of the opinion that family planning and MMM-style financial planning should be taught simultaneously.

Thanks for your support, it's appreciated.  We may well get there in the end, but not much is quick or easy and right now I'm feeling very worn out.  Big salad, herbal tea, early night coming up. Life in the fast lane!
« Last Edit: March 13, 2018, 12:27:57 AM by Julard »

CDN_Dreamer

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 12:27:23 AM »
Your DS15 sounds like our 15Yr old a few years ago. I understand the frustration.
Don't beat yourself up about the "what ifs", I'm sure there are plenty of wealthy stay at home parents with loads of time, resources and angry teenagers :)

Don't give up, positive reinforcemnt, lead by example, pick your battles, etc... I'm sure you've heard all this many times, as did we. I was looking for a fix, expecting a solution but it doesn't really work that way, at least it didn't for us. He is who he is, not really "broken" in a way that we assume can just be fixed, rather is unique just like every other human being. He may benefit from alternative learning techniques, a different kind of attention. For us, ignoring his outbursts seemed to help rather than escalating them.
Celebrate and enjoy the minor victories and good times, try to keep him involved but give them space if you sense they need it.

Is he on medication for ADHD? If so, I would double, triple check with Dr. that the dosage is correct and that he is actually taking it, for real.

In my opinion regarding Counselling, psychologists... There are over 110,000 psychologists in the USA. If just speaking with one of them would "fix" "bad teenagers" you wouldn't be reading this now. Sure some are better than others, all will recommend follow up talks, none will guarantee any results.

I'm not going to judge because I think we would've sent ours away if we had that option, however...
The instability of bouncing from home to home, parent to parent may not be helpful?

What did he need the money for? Can he earn money by doing chores?

Does he have any interests, hobbies you could help him build and expand as a unit?? Boxing gloves & punching bag in the basement to blow off steam?


Sorry, you didn't really ask for advice but much is being provided. Hope it helped at least provide some ideas.

Julard

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 12:44:07 AM »
Hi CND,

Quote
In my opinion regarding Counselling, psychologists... There are over 110,000 psychologists in the USA. If just speaking with one of them would "fix" "bad teenagers" you wouldn't be reading this now. Sure some are better than others, all will recommend follow up talks, none will guarantee any results.
Yes, that's part of the problem.  It's so important to find someone you connect with, and those early 'hit and miss' experiences can be quite negative.

DS15 does take medication on school days, a slightly higher dose on maths days, at his own request, and I was pleased that he cared enough to suggest that.  It doesn't help with homework though as it's out of his system by late afternoon and I don't want him taking another dose at that time of day.

He took the money to pay for hours at a gaming centre, so definitely a pretty questionable 'want' rather than a 'need'. He had no money because he won't do chores, so laziness = consequence.  And having to go to his dad's for a while was also a necessary consequence, as he just wasn't safe to have around.  His dad is only a couple of blocks away, so it's not too dramatic a change.  I'm hoping he'll be back soon. 

Quote
not really "broken"

No, and that gets to me a lot. I don't think either boy is exactly 'broken', they just don't fit the system, my younger one especially.  It sounds like yours may have sorted himself out in recent years? I hope that's the case.

PoutineLover

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2018, 11:28:41 AM »

DS15 does take medication on school days, a slightly higher dose on maths days, at his own request, and I was pleased that he cared enough to suggest that.  It doesn't help with homework though as it's out of his system by late afternoon and I don't want him taking another dose at that time of day.

Can you get a version of the pills that is shorter duration for taking later in the day? I started my meds on a 12 hour time release, but that wasn't working for my schedule so I switched to 4 hour pills and if I needed one in the afternoon it didn't screw up my sleep.
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Laura33

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2018, 12:43:52 PM »
I am so sorry you are dealing with this.  I know that feeling of constant failure, like you can never be good enough or were the "wrong" parent for your kid.

First, you are absolutely right to worry about your own mental health/sanity.  Treat yourself well, get plenty of rest and healthy food and some exercise.

Second, just a suggestion that may or may not help (and that you may have already tried):  one of the things I found when my DD was acting up was that the more I expected of her, the more she lived up to the expectations.  She got super whiny and demanding and was basically acting like an entitled twit around 12, and I thought, oh, damn parenting fail, I've raised one of those kids.  So I just said, very matter-of-fact-ly, you are getting older, you want more freedom, and I am happy to give you that, but that also comes with more responsibility, so you can start making dinner for us once a week.  Of course she whined and moaned and complained.  But by about week two, I'd hear her whistling or humming while she was in the kitchen, and her overall behavior calmed down a ton.  Obviously, you can't literally force a kid to do stuff like that at that age, so YMMV of course if he is just insistent on refusing.

The other thing I noticed with her was that the more she behaved like a total brat, the more she needed to hear that I adored her -- she was just too grown-up to admit it or let me say something like that to her face.  She was so anxious and insecure because of the ADHD -- always forgetting something, always wanting to be the good kid but getting in trouble because she spaced or missed something -- that anything that even hinted that she was less than perfect just sent her through the roof, like she had a huge road rash on her arm and I'd just poked her there.  I finally realized that she had the whole world out there picking her apart and tearing her down, and that what she needed from me was a sanctuary from all that.  So I worked really, really hard to stay calm, to "catch her doing something right," and to empathize when things went wrong at school instead of offering helpful suggestions (which she read as me not trusting her to handle it herself).  Damn, that was hard!!!  But damned if it didn't work over time -- the calmer and more positive/supportive I got, the safer she felt, and the more she calmed down (and the easier it got for me to find things to praise -- starting with how well she was handling her emotions!).  I also had to be very very careful how I said even the good things -- I had to bring up stuff like that in the car, almost in an off-hand way, or go completely over the top and make a joke out of it, so it wasn't so intense for her.

Anyway, like I said, you've probably tried all of this -- Lord knows when I was in that situation, I tried everything I could think of.  Good luck, and I hope things calm down for you and those boys.
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Julard

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2018, 02:02:14 AM »
Quote
Can you get a version of the pills that is shorter duration for taking later in the day
Unfortunately not, as he'd need to take a top-up at school and they very strongly discourage that, for good reason.  He's already faced pressure to on-sell. Glad it's working for you though, and it might be something he can consider when he's older.

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She was so anxious and insecure because of the ADHD -- always forgetting something, always wanting to be the good kid but getting in trouble because she spaced or missed something -- that anything that even hinted that she was less than perfect just sent her through the roof, like she had a huge road rash on her arm and I'd just poked her there.  I finally realized that she had the whole world out there picking her apart and tearing her down, and that what she needed from me was a sanctuary from all that
Yes, I really can relate to that.  One of my favourite parenting books is The Explosive Child, it's just so kind.  The message that kids do well when they can is something I try to repeat to myself as often as possible. 

It's been a mixed weekend.  DS13 has been in pretty good form, and hopefully that will translate to a more settled week at school. DS15 has done a deal of yelling, swearing, door-slamming and demanding, but he's also had quiet moments and even apologised once or twice.  I've just driven him over to my parents for the night, which gave us the chance to talk in the car and will be a useful time out for him.

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I worked really, really hard to stay calm
My ongoing project.  It's good for them, it's good for me, but it can be so very, very difficult.

Ah well, a new week a new hope.  Thanks everyone for listening.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2018, 03:13:32 AM »
Julard, you sound like a really cool mom :)

My son is dx'd with stuff, too, we did let go of school and I do parent full-time as a result of his disability. I get it. I agree that, because stuff can pop up, it's ideal to get the finances in place before starting parenting. Trying to do both when a kid has bigger stuff going on can be decimating one way or another.

You sound like you're reading everything, pondering everything, and doing everything as right as a parent in this situation can. Good job!!

I'm glad you're doing great care of both kids and necessary care of you, too. You sound like you've got a great head on your shoulders, that's for damn sure.

Last week I said to a new intake worker (there are rarely services here, just the countless intake appts haha sigh) who said similarly to me that yes, but sometimes this mama needs some reinforcement/back up on all that good effort. You've got a really tough task to manage. If you decide to let work go in favour of a new idea -including some respite hours for yourself- please know you're not crazy or alone or silly.

It's also awesome that Dad lives nearby and seems to be a good person, too, and that you two are able to coordinate for Older Child's crisis care.

Finally, that "can't force at this age" thing is one I repeat to myself. I still implement consequences -aiming for as natural as possible, like you do- but yep, can't physically stick them into a car or whatever. (I'm lucky because mine likes all his appointments! But I sure can't "force" him to take a shower daily, etc.)
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Laura33

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2018, 08:30:09 AM »
I can't believe I totally forgot to say the thing that led me to want to post in the first place!  And that is: what has helped me the most was when I was able to step back and look at my kids over a longer arc.  When DD was in a rough place, each day, each week was so discouraging and frustrating.  The worst was when DD would make some progress -- something would seem to click, and she'd get it -- and then a few weeks or a month later, she was back to the same-old, same-old.  UGH!  That is absolutely the worst, because it feels like there is no hope, like it will never end -- I am Sisyphus, and the fucking rock just rolled down the fucking hill.  Again. 

But one year when she had her spring meltdown, and I was torn between wanting to throw things and bursting into tears, I finally realized that it was a spring meltdown, not a winter meltdown -- she'd made it until April before school crashed and burned, when the year before was February, and the year before that was December.  Focusing on the bigger picture helped me see that she really was making improvements, even if it was the old "two steps forward, one step back."  And that gave me hope that she would at some point be able to get a job that allowed her to support herself and move out of my house.  :-)

And FWIW, she is a junior this year, she is on top of school (knock on wood!!), taking leadership roles in clubs, just nailed her ACTs (my kid who cannot standardized test to save her life!!!), and, most amazingly of all, has begun to ask us for help when she needs it!  I keep pinching myself, wondering where this delightful kid came from.  I know each kid follows a different path, and has different needs, and matures at different rates, and all that.  But there really, truly is hope.  You are a good mom, and you are doing so much for your kids, and I promise you it is making a difference, even when you don't feel it or see it. 
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PNW Lady

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2018, 10:55:47 AM »
This topic is a little old, but I just wanted to add that by function of you posting, what you've posted, and your replies/explanation to others' posts - you really do seem like an awesome mom. Hang in there.

DD is 10-1/2 and we are just starting to experience a taste of what's to come, and I am realizing that parenting will certainly be the challenge of my life. In my particular situation, she is my mirror image personality-wise. We have 3 bosses living in one house. Yikes!

milliemchi

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2018, 06:54:01 PM »
Quote
Can you get a version of the pills that is shorter duration for taking later in the day
Unfortunately not, as he'd need to take a top-up at school and they very strongly discourage that, for good reason.  He's already faced pressure to on-sell. Glad it's working for you though, and it might be something he can consider when he's older.
Actually, you can get both. My daughter has two prescriptions for the same ADHD drug: a long acting version for AM and a short acting one for after school. (The two versions are actually marketed under two different brand names.) Her doctor says this is how it's usually done, to be able to cover the whole day.

Cassie

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2018, 08:59:41 AM »
I really feel for you. The teen years can be tough. One of our 3 was awful. My husband physically forced him to go to therapy and while his body was there not much good came from it.   You just have to get through it somehow.

MayDay

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Re: Problem teenagers
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2018, 12:18:08 PM »
Quote
Can you get a version of the pills that is shorter duration for taking later in the day
Unfortunately not, as he'd need to take a top-up at school and they very strongly discourage that, for good reason.  He's already faced pressure to on-sell. Glad it's working for you though, and it might be something he can consider when he's older.
Actually, you can get both. My daughter has two prescriptions for the same ADHD drug: a long acting version for AM and a short acting one for after school. (The two versions are actually marketed under two different brand names.) Her doctor says this is how it's usually done, to be able to cover the whole day.

Wanted to ditto this. A friend with ADHD takes focalin, which is slow release, every morning. If she needs to do a lot of homework or has a night class, she takes the short acting equivalent at 4 pm or so. It is out of her system in 4ish hoursso she can still sleep fine.
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