Dear Dr. Keller:
Good morning! I’m not sure were to start on this since we have been through so much. But the story begins with my then 14 yr old son stealing Xanax from his grandparents and abusing them as well as about $5k worth of her jewelry. I found out through the reading of his text messages so i reported him to his school. He was caught, sent to an alternative school and is on probation. At first he thought it was a friend that told on him but then his father told him it was me (we are divorced). That pretty much ruined everything. He failed at the alternative school so he was not allowed to return back to his home school…which was his goal. Because to him, this new one is much easier and they don’t care if you do you work or not. I am the primary disciplinarian since his dad chooses to be the “buddy” parent. So i get no help when it comes to setting rules for the house. He is now repeating 9th grade and is still failing. Ive had him evaluated for ADD by the school and they said he wasn’t because he pretty much slept through each evaluation period in class or chose not to do anything. This meant no IEP either. His psychiatrist said he does show signs of ADD/inattentive but wont prescribe a neruo-stimulant due to his drug tests coming back positive. He also REFUSES to sleep so he crashes at about 1am each morning, up by 5:45 for school. This is even after having all internet devices taken away.
Yes, he still smokes weed even though he is on probation but they do nothing about it and he is somehow able to work around the system. He goes to a weekly sub abuse group therapy, an individual therapist and the psychologist. Its all a joke to him. He said he is just going to sell weed to make money since its an easy route to go. Wont do his school work because he said he wants to drop out when he gets the chance. Told me the other day that he doesnt do school work at home and proceeded to rip it up and throw it away. When i set house rules regarding grades and consequences, he just throws a huge tantrum, breaking things and telling me how he wishes i was dead. Pretty much bullying me to give in…in which i end up doing to keep the peace in the house. I know…my fault. I am remarried with a 2 yr old. My husband is supportive but feels there is but so much he can do being in his position. My son is polite to him and respects him. Would NEVER talk to him the way he does to me. He waits for him to be gone before going on a rampage. Or he corners me in the house to bully me where he knows he wont be heard.
I’m to the point now where i feel like there really isn’t much i can do anymore. Ive driven myself crazy trying to create the “good” child and all attempts backfire. I try to reward, punish, etc…nothing works. He could care less. This then makes me not want to do anything nice for him. I got him nothing for his b-day except for a cake. Now Christmas is coming up and he is asking how much I am planning to spend so he can tell me what he wants. I don’t want to get him anything. Sometimes I just wish he would go away because he is ruining each and every day. We cant even have a lighthearted conversation anymore without him trying to find a way to push my buttons. We have done joint therapy, doesn’t work. We still go just because I hope one day something will kick in.
I miss my boy. I want him back. I want to feel proud and excited. I feel nothing these days but sadness and defeat. We were close when he was younger, now i don’t now who he is.
My heart goes out to you. Here is my response.
———- FOLLOW-UP ———-
QUESTION: Thank you for the response. Since my original post, he was sent to JDC for 3 days for violating his probation. Problem was, it wasn’t long enough for him to get a good taste of life in there. But i have taken your advice and I am beginning to back off of him. I’m not nagging him about school work. I have told him that if he wants a phone he has to bring his grades up to at least a C and left it at that. HIS choice. When he tries to get me in a uproar about something I just say OK and walk away. I have also told him that he is to no longer talk about his drug use to me. He knows that is a sore subject but yet he likes to discuss what, how much, how many etc to me but i said that is not the life I lead so i don’t want to hear it.
He has also been managing himself a little better. The day he came home from JDC was hard. We had one of the worst arguments. That was the changing day for us. He has begun to recognize when he is getting angry with something I am saying (usually when things don’t go his way) and now will leave or go smoke a cig then come back and is better. He verbally tells me that something is making him angry instead of just lashing out with words.
So I am now leaving the ball in his court. He is in control of his destiny. I am am stopping the helicopter mom role and am done fixing things that happen before he has to experience the consequence. Its baby steps, but i can already see a little bit of an improvement.
AWESOME WORK! This is hard work, comparable to bringing peace into the middle east for most families. Give yourself some real self care for what you have accomplished! You rock.
Now two things that you should know about people who suffer with addictions. They can “provoke” you into an argument and they also displace anxiety. For instance it sound like you have already discovered the provoking behavior and learned not to respond to that behavior. Now for the anxiety displacement. One quick example is a teen or child who refuses to do a behavior like their homework on-time and then comes to you and says you need to help them at the last minute or they will fail. They are placing their anxiety onto you so that you will feel anxious and want to relieve them of the situation which they created.
Really, great work!
Dr. Mary Kay Keller