Hi Mark, I am just into my first week of the course and would like your help in what to do at this point. I have emailed you prior to purchasing your manual about the fact that my son D___ (17 years old) has left home and I need to get him back in order to implement your suggestions and bring us back as a family. I don't know how to go about this. If it sounds as a threat, he will not return. Should I ask him to return for his own safety and our love for him, should I give him an option or tell him he must return. It has now been 6 weeks and I feel he is slipping further away from us. I have like many other of your subscribers, been to counselling and she suggested that hard love was the option and that David needs to return on his own accord and on our terms. But I can see that the longer I leave this that there is a less likely chance that he will ever return.
Just to fill you in a little more, D___ ran away back in Jan. and was gone for 8 days. We asked him to return, but once he had it seemed that D___ was set to do anything and everything to make sure that he gets kicked out. So my husband gave him an ultimatum; live in our house with our rules or get out. So he chose the latter, of course. I feel that my husband made a very bad decision at this point and that we will never get D___ back. He is getting too heavily involved into the heavy metal music culture and has started to get body piercing and wants tattoos, all the things that my husband forbid him to do at home. He has given up school even though he was a great student. Please let me know what I should do at this point, as you know I would not be asking if I wasn't so desperate and feeling so lonely and vulnerable in this situation. ~ S.T.
My first thought is: Your husband did the right thing. If your son were any younger, giving him the “all-or-nothing” ultimatum would not be appropriate. However, he’s an adult now – literally [although not legally recognized as one depending on what country you live in].
This will be no consolation to you at all - I’m sure, but bear in mind that “self-reliance” in key. If your son is out on his own, he is developing self-reliance. He is growing up quickly and learning how the real world operates. Although this is terribly painful and worrisome for you, the mother, this current situation is largely a positive one.
I don’t expect you to be able to shut your emotions off and somehow muster up the ability to see this dilemma through rosy lens. But what I would ask you to do is 3-fold:
1. Trust that this will work out for the best in the long run, and do not make yourself miserable in the meantime.
2. Acknowledge the reality that, even if he were to come home today, you would either have to go through all this parent-child conflict again, or simply let him be in charge.
3. Let him know that he is always welcome to come home to visit – and he is even welcome to return home to live, but only if he is willing to abide by a reasonable set of house rules.
This will be much more difficult for you than your husband. You and I both know that this is in God’s hands now.
My prayer for you today is: God grant S__ the ability to accept the things she cannot change, the courage to change the things she can – and the wisdom to know the difference. - The Serenity Prayer
Mark Hutten, M.A.
==> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents