Hi T. and T.,
== > I’ve responded throughout your email below:
You seem to be the person with the most sound advice, so we are writing to you again. Our 16 year old has continued to escalate his out of control behavior. We have removed the privilege of having a private bedroom, as recommended, and we have a space for him on a couch. We locked up his room, and we removed all of his attitude clothing and gadgets. He basically has an alarm clock, his school clothes, food, water, and normal household items. There is a posted note on his door telling him simply (and precisely) what he needs to do to get this stuff back. He needs to comply to a three day grounding and avoid swearing and profanity towards his parents. Pretty straight forward, and we even took the time to read it with our best poker faces.
== > O.K. So far …so good.
He has kicked in the door to his room to get some stuff (we didn't have most of his items there), he leaves and comes back after curfew (if at all), he attends school sporadically (he claims to like it), and he is constantly telling his mother to shut up or leave him alone (with profanity) whenever she tries to approach him about anything. We are filing reports (almost daily) with the police and with the juvenile court diversion program (he's currently in) for every rule/law he violates. We also filed a fourth degree misdemeanor domestic violence for pushing his mother around. We even have taken complaints straight to the juvenile court intake officer.
== > You are still greatly on track. I’m proud of you for doing the hard business of employing tough love (which is often tougher on the parent than the child).
They still have the same story - he's not doing anything bad enough. They told us straight out that his most likely outcome is a probation officer that will put him at the bottom of the list of priorities as he hasn't done anything really bad. We keep doing it anyway.
== > Re: They still have the same story - he's not doing anything bad enough.
I would disagree. “Battery” is certainly “bad enough.” Your filed complaint will have its day in court, which may also be the day that your son is placed on probation.
Perhaps no single incident is “bad enough” (other than the battery). However, as you are documenting the events and filing reports, a cumulative effect is taking place under probation’s nose (e.g., one bee sting is meaningless, but 25 bee stings are deadly). Probation will stall as long as they can (since they are super busy and do not want to take on any more cases than necessary). But eventually they will see the need to intervene.
Pick the battles carefully. Here are the battles you should fight:
- Whenever your son commits any act that is a crime for a juvenile (i.e., status offenses such as truancy, possession and consumption of alcohol, curfew violations, purchase of cigarettes, etc.
- Whenever he commits any act that would be a crime for an adult
Other than the above 2 points, let it go and focus on making plans for him to move out when he’s 18.
He is not following his counseling anymore, and we're running out of options.
== > Counseling is just another traditional parenting strategy that tends to make a bad problem worse (because the kid feels that the parents are blaming him for all the family’s problems, thus he becomes resentful and behaves accordingly).
T__ sat down today and told him that we still are his family, and that all he needs to do is follow family rules. Today is the day he kicked in his bedroom door while we were gone. Our other family member and friend placement options look grim as no one really wants to deal with him. He has disassociated himself with his grandparents and other family members as he believes we turned them against him.
== > If there was property damage, then call the cops again (if you haven’t done so already) so they can file yet another report.
I have a feeling that things may come to a head when the battery charge is addressed. If, for whatever reason, probation does not want to address that issue, then it’s time to get an attorney and have him talk to the prosecutor. Then you’ll have the cards stacked in your favor.Mark
My Out-of-Control Teen