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Do we have to take him back?

Hi Mark,

Well, just to catch you up...M got out of the JJS on 1/3 and is in the intensive probation program. His PO has seen him 2x @ school and 1 home visit. He is supposed to go back to work and pay for the program ($90). He has called his manager (with MUCH arm twisting) but so far has not gone back. He has been to court last Thursday for his chewing tobacco possession and had a $55 fine imposed (Has yet to work this off also). He was re-instated on the wrestling team, and the DAY he found out he was back on he was a totally changed person. He was happy, interacting, talking about new semester classes/teachers, working out, etc. He has his first meet on Thursday and did excellent. We really thought he turned the corner. He has had his ADHD rx increased (new Dx 12/06), and the psychiatrist (and his counselor and the JSS counselor) all think he has depression and want him on antidepressants also. He thus far is not agreeable to taking them.

Friday I get a call from the Asst. Coach (who wasn't @ practice--home sick) that M was accused of putting marijuana in another teammates locker. He wants M to call to further discuss what happened. M was not home at the time--his first time out (his choice) with another wrestler to grab some dinner as they "Made weight" and were celebrating. He was home in an hour. I knew the other boy and was very happy that M finally was leaving the house. M has not had many phone calls and only 1 friend stop by Thursday (he is a boy husband and I disapprove of). He came over @ 10pm after this meet to show M his new car. He was in the driveway for only 5 minutes and he came in. M goes nowhere and no one over. He has had $45 in his wallet since he came home (Christmas money). I checked Friday after dinner and he had $30+ left. Point being he had very little opportunity to get the pot, unless from school and for free.

M did admit to "finding" a bag on the floor in the locker room and put it in the closest open locker. His story is that 1. he did not want anyone to get in trouble if the coaches saw it and 2. he would get blamed for it if they did see it because of his JJS hx.

Coach says the boy turned it into the Captain when he opened his locker, others around said M put it there, and still others are claiming M was taking it around saying "Do you want to buy a bag?" and acting as if he were holding a joint. He is OFF the team until further notice. I immediately called his PO and left a message. I am OK if M is really responsible but 2+2 just isn't adding up. M does admit the above but that's it. He has been dx with impulsive behavior. Since the incident he is back 180 degrees. He is sullen, alone, NO interaction, lack of desire/motivation for school (although going), bad attitude, etc.

He is not one to champion his own cause either (has never been good talking with adults). Just from our (husband and myself) observation of him these past few weeks, we can't believe he had more to do with the situation than he is admitting to. We will not however push the issue/"go to bat" for him because we are not sure and have learned about natural consequences (ie he should never have touched it in the first place). He is risking being suspended, violating probation, going back to JJS or being placed, etc. if he did what is being said. Up until now (less than 1 month) he has done nothing wrong. We don't know if the others are mad that he's back, has taken someones spot on the team, if they are covering for themselves, etc. So far, we have not heard from his PO, the school, etc. If he is found not responsible, he MAY be back on the team, but weigh in's are tomorrow so we would like to know ASAP what is to happen.

Mark, what does your experience and gut tell you? Also, I am finding it difficult to say something positive every day, and how do you do "something fun" when they don't want to engage?

Also, M turns 17 very soon and we hear this is a "gray age". What do you know about our responsibility as parents legally if he should leave again, not follow rules etc. Do we have to take him back? The only privileges he has left are PS2, I-pod, and PSP (TV in room but shares bedroom). Can't take much else away. We live in Michigan. To be honest, I would feel so much better if he could stay on probation until he is 18.

Thanks for your insight, I will keep you updated.



Hi J.,

I haven’t forgot about you. I’ve had a lot of emails to respond to, and I take them in the order they are received.

Re: what does your experience and gut tell you?

This is the season for you to LET GO. I would simply allow probation to take care of the discipline side of things. He will (eventually) receive a series of “natural consequences” since he has to answer to his PO.

Re: I am finding it difficult to say something positive every day, and how do you do "something fun" when they don't want to engage?

I’m sure it is difficult, but you should say something positive everyday anyway. If you can’t think of anything positive, make something up; feed him a line of bullshit. If you don’t “feel” like your comment is genuine or that your heart is in it - fake it! I’m sure he’s doing something right each day. He’s obviously very gifted in many ways.

As far as “fun” goes, this could be something as simple as popping a bag of popcorn in the microwave and the two of you stand there in the kitchen and eat it over some superficial conversation (e.g., “Whose going to win the Super Bowl …By how many points?”). You don’t have to go to great lengths here.

Re: What do you know about our responsibility as parents legally if he should leave again, not follow rules etc. Do we have to take him back?

You’re on the hook until he turns 18. Begin – now – to prepare for his launch (i.e., he needs to be thinking about where he’s going to live, what he’s going to do to pay bills, etc.). This conversation should begin today.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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