I’ve responded to each of your points in turn below.
Please look for these arrows: >>>>>
Anyway, I would like to know if you could provide some guidance as to how to approach our current issues with our older 17-year-old son. He will be 18 in January. We have actually tried going to a psychologist last year with no real progress. To make matters worse he and his father do not have a good relationship because my son says he always picks on him. Actually, he has always tried to steer him in the right direction and on three previous occasions his father has been very supportive but obviously very upset with
He has been living away from home since April with his girlfriend with several friends or girlfriends family with no positive outcomes. All have asked them to leave. They both have no jobs or money. They are involved in stealing whenever it is necessary. Both are using cannabis and alcohol. My son has actually physically abused girlfriend I am told.
She has as recent as 5 days ago gone back to New Zealand. My son is supposed to link up with her when he gets a passport. Girlfriend grandparents going to send money, which they are to pay back I am told.
>>>>>>>>>> The girlfriend’s grandparents will be financing their drug habit (bad idea to send money, and it will probably not get paid back -- but I’m sure you know this).
He is currently living with a friend’s family, mother and three other younger brothers. Family is well known to police. Not a good environment.
I have just visited him with my sister who came for support to tell him we miss and love him and that when he wants to change his circumstances he can call me at any time. Especially to have his finger looked at in the hospital, as he still has not gone back to have pins removed to allow movement. He said he would when he wants to.
>>>>>>>>> I think it’s appropriate to let your son know that the door is always open, but you have no control over how well -- or poorly -- he takes care of his body. Are you possibly taking on too much responsibility?
He was very angry and abusive. Called me every name under the sun and that if I cared I would pay for his fines. He has over $400 in traffic offences and $9,000 for damages caused in an accident in May.
>>>>>>>> I have to be blunt here. I can tell that he has been over-indulged. I hear you saying that he (a) is resentful, (b) has a sense of entitlement (i.e., “you owe me”), (c) is not taking responsibility for his obligations, and (d) has a strong appetite for more pampering – these are all signs of a child who has been over-indulged (I’m assuming you have read my views on this).
In any event, good for you!!! You have not (and you should not) enable him any further by taking responsibility for his obligations.
He seems to be extremely jealous of his brother and what he got. He now talks about his brother having a dirt bike and he didn't get one. He forgets he chose a car. He actually had two and smashed both up.
>>>>>>>>> This provides more evidence that he has been over-indulged.
He always tells me I have ruined his life and again I am doing this because I will not pay his debts and sign his passport papers. He can get passport in January without my permission. He also said if I do not help him to get to NZ to be with his girlfriend I will not see him any more.
>>>>>>>>>>> I’m sure this is not the first time he has tried to “guilt-trip” you into letting him have his way. He is trying to push your “worry buttons” – and is doing a very good job of it.
He does not look well and he has lost a lot of weight. I have actually gone to the police to advise them I am extremely concerned and that if he is involved in anything that I am available at any time for his support.
>>>>>>>>> O.K. Here’s the deal (and I know you wouldn’t want me to simply tell you what I think you want to hear) –
You son (a) is exhibiting Oppositional Defiant Disorder tendencies -- as well as Conduct Disorder tendencies, (b) is chemically dependent, and (b) is spoiled rotten. Does this make him a bad kid? No! Are you a bad parent? Of course not!!
He’s going to be 18 soon. He is already an adult. You are trying to hard Margrit. And the harder you work to help him, the worse it will get. You already have evidence of this.
I would ask you to get into the business of “letting go” (i.e., refuse to take responsibility for his poor choices). You are going to have to muster up some tough love here dear mom.
Tell him this: “You know I can't control you -- and if you really want to stay away from home and use drugs, I can't stop you. But no one in the world loves you the way I do. That is why I have to ‘let go’ of trying to change you. The more I try to help you, the worse it gets. So I am going to focus my energy on the things I can control, and I’m going to stop spending time and energy on those things I cannot control. Again, I love you, and my door is always open. But you have to start helping yourself now – it’s your job from here on out.”
Here’s some hope: The less responsibility you take for him, the more he will take for himself. He may have to hit rock bottom first. You must allow him to experience the painful emotions associated with poor choices, otherwise you will drive yourself crazy – and you will have no energy left for your husband and younger son.
Tough assignment – I know! Trust me on this one though.
I want to leave you with the serenity prayer:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can – and the wisdom to know the difference …amen.”
Please keep me posted,