"Well, I took the car away because he missed his curfew last night by 50 minutes. Total attitude all day. Now he has packed his things and left - after a big scene. I tried to remain calm, did not chase but am obviously concerned as to where he is. I think I am dealing with a child that is beyond what I can handle. We have tried counseling at a local level and were unsuccessful since he manipulated it. A lot of money and weak results. He refuses to go back. We may need an intervention program/boarding school. Suggestions on how we investigate that? Thank you again."
Counseling for "behavior problems" is just another traditional parenting strategy that rarely [if ever] has any positive outcome.
I disagree that he is beyond what you can handle, and I would encourage you not to entertain the idea of a boarding school at this point. I think you are wanting a quick fix, but as you know, there is no such thing.
I think you handled this situation very well. You followed through with a consequence ...you put on your poker face and did not give your son an unhealthy dose of intensity when he needed it the most. You have been successful with this particular battle. But in order to win the war, you must take things one step at a time. Fight only one battle at a time. And do not allow yourself to roll over and simply accept feelings of being overwhelmed and defeated without challenging those feelings.
If you don't know where he's staying, you should call the police and file a run away complaint (mostly to cover your ass from a liability standpoint; he's still your responsibility). If you do know where he's staying - and it's a safe place - let him discover for himself how it feels to be in a state of discomfort and alienation. Remember, you're in this thing for the long haul.
You son is trying - once again - to dangle a hook in front of your nose in hopes that you'll bite. He wants you to feel sorry for him ...to re-think your new disciplinary strategies ...to doubt yourself. Don't bite! When you bite, he wins - and you have to start all over again.
This is the time when parents are encouraged to hold their ground, to seek the support of other family members/friends, and to cultivate the art of taking care of themselves.
When you son comes to the realization that you're serious about these matters and that you're not going to cave-in [which you may have done a hundred times before], he'll be the one to do some re-thinking.
Mark Hutten, M.A.
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