== > I’ve responded throughout your email below:
My husband and I are very happy with your services. We really need some advice for a situation.
Our 16- year-old son A___ this past spring got into some drug usage-Marijuana, RX drugs, etc. We were floored. We have a close and caring family. I'm sure you've heard this before.
It went on for 6-7 months off and on, consequences were given and communication greatly increased, but he would eventually take his earned back freedom to fall back.
Fortunately, we have caught him quickly after each fall-back.
Lying is off the charts- in our face, doe-eyes, innocent, assuring lies.
We're getting much more intuitive and smart about it.
Last night we allowed him to have a friend over. He brought a bong in a backpack. Suspicious behavior led us to discover that he had the bong. We questioned our son privately. He insisted (doe-eyed and sincerely) that he knew nothing about it. We went around and around. No, he said, he was telling the truth! He knew nothing about it! My husband caringly asked the kid about it, and he admitted in front of Aaron that yes, our son knew about it and they were planning on arranging to try to get drugs to our house to probably smoke outside.
Every time we give him an inch, he proves deviant in his behavior, and somehow he breaks the rules we lay out for him. Yet he really tries hard to change during the in between times. He stays sincere for a time, and really tries hard to be honest and work hard.
Last week we let him go to a movie with a friend. We told him to stay in the movie theatre or outside on the sidewalk the whole time until we picked him up.
When we dropped him off, my husband felt something was up. Turns out we steathily watched him from our car and tracked him. At one point we lost him, and it was at that point he had skipped down to the Taco Cabana with his friends. i called him during this mystery period, and he assured me he was in the bathroom at the theatre.
He was at Taco Cabana. So sure enough, we watched him come back up from T.C. and confronted him. He had to leave with us. He cried, showed remorse, etc. We grounded him for this weekend, but he earned it back thru chores. But alas, this weekend (the previous story).
So we're exhausted.
He was extensively psych tested very recently. Obviously ADHD is high on the list. But everything else showed he was pretty mentally healthy.
One of my questions is based on an observation the psychologist made. He said, and I totally agree with him, that Aaron has an extremely narrow focus, and that he doesn't see the warning signs or take in enough information to make decisions. I'm sure this is true of many teens, but for heaven's sake.
== > My take on this is that your son is a “high risk-taker” (which is not altogether bad depending on how he uses this skill). We stay focused on strengths in this program. You will do well to shift to that paradigm as well.
We' ve taken him to the insurance agent who talked to him for an hour about how if he was caught with drugs he would not be able to get insurance and would not be able to drive. We've told him that in order for him to be able to drive, he would have to stay away from drugs, druggies, and extreme behavior- which we have thoroughly and prolifically described to him.
== > I’m sure the “lecture” was a form of pouring on a lot of intensity while “things were going wrong.” Your son got a payoff – but not the kind you hoped for.
We've taken him to the Juvenile Detention Center to show him what happens to kids who have to go there. He got to see the little jumpsuit and the video.
== > More intensity while things are going wrong. He now will have a fascination with being detained. We, as parents, want to provide intensity when things are going right (or not going wrong) rather than using all these “traditional” parenting strategies you’ve listed so far.
We've visited his vice principal and informed her of A___'s struggle, and now she checks in with him. He knows he will be subject to more than the average locker tests.
== > This is a good move!
We've been very honest about out feelings and forthright about admitting the times we've made mistakes as well, to bring healing to wounds from the past. We are very available, we're setting limits, giving consequences, praising him for good behavior, giving him space, pulling him into dinnertime conversations, etc............
We are random drug testing. He likes the church we attend, and really likes the pastor's relevant teachings, but doesn't want to get involved with the youth group. Insecure.
Did I mention he also got arrested for stealing in December. It was expunged from his record, but not without him paying us back for some financial consequences, having his "goods" removed for a while (restriction), community service, and a whole ton of communication about the deal and everything involved with his choices.
So, do we need to deal with the drug behavior more severely than the 3-day restriction?
== > No. And the reason is because he will receive a series of natural consequences by default (and already has). Also, be sure to read the section of the online version of the eBook entitled “Read These Emails From Exasperated Parents” [session #4]. Look for where it reads: "We got a call from school last week. Our son got busted with a bag of pot in his locker and has been suspended from school for the rest of the year. My wife and I are shocked and angry as hell. I'm not sure what question to ask at this point other than what should we do now?"
If he gets caught with drugs, he gets arrested, has very long-term driving consequences because of the insurance deal, and it will always be something he has to mention when applying for college or a job, etc.
== > These are the natural consequences I’m talking about. Do not attempt to save him from making poor choices that will lead to the above.
Second, how can we work with him to expand his thinking to remember what's really important to him so he will weigh more carefully his choices.
== > You can’t. Stop trying to “reason with” him. Strong-willed kids only learn from one method – the school of hard knocks.
Lastly, he has a very hard time connecting to friends. he's friend-LY and quite handsome and even a little charismatic. But somehow he can't seem to hook any more deeply than surface. He was very hurt when a close friendship fell apart a few years ago (the kids was great but had some issues that made it very difficult to connect. He would wall up a lot). I think this has something to do with it. But even then, he seems so insecure that friendships have always been a struggle. He was bullied through junior high
(kept it a secret from us) and carries around some damaged thinking. I believe that a great deal of his acting out with drugs has been to salve his pain and connect to people who seemed more than willing to share their drugs with him.
== > Be sure to read the web page on bullying (click on the “website” button at the top of the Contents page [online version] and look under "Parent's Strategies A-Z" [right side of page].
So much is at stake.
== > You’re feeling sorry for him at some level – and I can promise that will work against you and your efforts.
He has a good heart, and I'm stunned by all of this. Maybe I need some comfort. It doesn't seem to be getting very much better.
Any and all advice you can think of will be more appreciated than you can possibly imagine.
Thank you for what you do.
== > I think you are largely on track (with just a few exceptions that I have eluded to in my comments).
Mark Hutten, M.A.
Mark Hutten, M.A.