Here’s something for you to think about. I’ve spent the past seven years of my son’s life fighting.
With the school.
With drug rehab.
With my husband, about my son, and how he treats us.
With my family.
He isn’t a bad kid, just a chemically imbalanced teenager. Impulsive, reckless, thoughtless, rude–but also kind, brilliant, independent, and hard working. Go figure.
It doesn’t matter how you decide to raise your kiddos. It doesn’t matter if they co-sleep, attachment parent, nurse or bottle feed, potty train easily or not at all. Your kiddo is who they are, from the beginning. Yes, you can shape them to a certain extent, and help them and be there for them, and by all means, they should know you love them and would never, ever give up on them. But sometimes you have to let go. Sometimes, you have to shove those little fuckers out of the nest and watch them fall flat on their face. Sometimes, you have to step back and let them fuck things up, so they learn.
My son lived somewhere else for a year, because he didn’t want to follow our simple rule of not bringing drugs home. That was a hard year for me, but I am glad it happened. It gave me the space to have the perspective I needed. He lives at home now, but it has been a constant struggle. His behavior isn’t what it should be, and while part of it is due to the chemical imbalance–> I know this because on his swapped medication, he’s doing far better–that is no excuse.
He isn’t graduating this year. He finally pushed the school administrators so far they gave up-which I fully support. I have been behind the administrators all the way, they have my 100% support and they know it. Some of the things my son have done are so selfish and stupid I can’t even describe them.
He wrecked his car, within 8 weeks of getting it.
He missed over 45 days of school this year. He blew up and screamed in administrators faces. He was “that kid” that is always in the hallways, the office, in trouble. Not usually for doing anything violent, other than yelling (no excuse–yelling at admin is not allowed) and for voicing his opinions on school, education, and the government.
We taught him to think critically, independently, and to work hard. To do the right thing, because it’s the right thing. We taught him to respect people. He doesn’t always do those things.
The hard part? Realizing he is the one making these choices; nobody can make them for him or make him change until he is good and ready to do so. He will fall, over and over, and we will be there to help him get back up, but we aren’t giving him money. He isn’t going to live with us after he’s 18. He has to learn to survive on his own. Maybe that makes me a shitty parent. I don’t really give a fuck what people think of my parenting anymore, so say and think whatever you like.
The laws in this state are slanted to protect the minor. There is zero anything in place for parents who are dealing with mentally unstable, hostile teenagers. Child Services can be called for something as simple as slapping them across the face, one time, or restraining them so they cannot hurt anyone in the house when they are raging and screaming like a cliched crazy person. Drugs being found on him, our in our home, would cost my husband and myself our jobs. Our house, and probably our landlord (retired military, father in law) his job as a contractor. As a minor, nothing sticks to him. As his parents, anything he does, we are responsible for. He caused hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in damages to the house. We’ve paid to repair everything. He’s pissed all over his chances with school and internship opportunities.
He keeps getting lucky–lucky they didn’t expel him last year (despite me asking them to) for getting caught with pot at school. Lucky he bullshitted all his counselors into thinking he’s just a little sad. A little depressed. Pot medicates him. I played one of his screaming rampages for his psychiatrist, and she looked horrified. Nothing changed after that. Lucky because he keeps dodging all consequences, for everything.
Juvenile services? Ha. Juvenile detention is full. Unless you’re almost murdering someone I think they just ignore you. He got put on probation, was supposed to have mandatory weekly drug tests. They did..one? We never heard from the person again. That person isn’t even working at DSS anymore. Counselors? Again–no help there. No solutions for removing someone you think is harmful to themselves, their family, their sister. Just deal with it until they’re 18.
I read this blog post from a blogger I admire a great deal–Samara. About being arrested for putting her kid out of the car for being rude and leaving him there for 10 minutes, alone. You know what I thought when I read that? awesome.
I’ve threatened to leave my kid in downtown Baltimore. The only reason I didn’t was because I couldn’t physically get him out of the car. I’m strong, but he is about two inches taller and when enraged, stronger. Of course, because I was looking for them, there were no cops nearby either, or I would have flagged them down and asked them to take him away.
Sometimes, you have to show your kids you mean what you say. Ours –who is currently in a “good” period–has cursed both myself and my husband out, to our faces. He has threatened to “make things very, very bad for you” at home. He knows that the system is fucked and how to play it.
Just wait him out, everyone says. Since there is no official help, and all the manners and teaching and support and being there in the world didn’t do a fucking thing, that’s what we’re doing. I’ve done all manner of punishments–grounding, washing mouth out with soap, removal of items. This is the same kid who threw his Xbox 360 across the room because there was a timer put on it to keep him to 2-3hrs a day instead of non stop access.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, your kids do their own thing. Sometimes, when you’re busting your ass to support said kid, they turn into someone you don’t recognize. Sometimes, all it takes it one wrong friend to fuck your kid all up. Sometimes, all the intervention and education and parenting in the world still falls short. Sometimes, the kid needs to realize there are fucking consequences for your actions.
Do you know how frustrating it is, to be attempting to put consequences in place, only to be thwarted at every single turn? Do you know how painful it is to know you walked away from your entire late teens, twenties, sacrificing all kinds of shit, so your kid would grow up in safe places, with food and being warm and in good schools, only to discover the kid has willingly thrown himself back into the cesspool you dragged him away from when he was an infant?
Do you know how difficult it is, when your hands are tied, legally, and you can’t do anything?
Probably not, unless you’ve been there. And the comments on Samara’s post on Scary Mommy made me furious. How dare these fuckers judge? Who do they think they are? They aren’t in her situation. Her kid isn’t their kid. Until you’ve been in those shoes, keep your fucking mouth shut, you judgmental douche canoes.
I’ve heard for years from my family all my failings as a parent. You know when they shut the fuck up? When my brother (12yrs younger) went to college, and got away from my helicopter moms micromanagement, and fucking fell apart. He couldn’t function as an adult. He lost his scholarship and got sent back here. He hasn’t really bounced back, and it’s been several years. He also got busted with drugs, on his return. Right about then my parents stopped bragging and shoving my bad parenting down my throat. You’d think they’d have learned, with me, that it doesn’t matter. I was an atrocious teenager. They weren’t great parents. It doesn’t matter.
He’s my kid. I’ll raise him as I see fit. We told him the truth about everything. We challenged him to think, to criticize, to work his fucking ass off if he wants anything. To not be a goddamn sheep, plowing along and not thinking as he zones out on tv and wastes his life. His glamorization of the drug life, I am confident, will fade, the first time as an adult he can’t just be picked up by us, because the police wouldn’t keep him and said we had to.
Even as a first grader, he never liked or was comfortable in school. Sometimes, the “gifted” kids aren’t. Being gifted isn’t an excuse to be a dick, although he used it as one. Since he’s been kicked out of school and has decided to get his GED, he is like a different person. Our daughter? Loves school. She’s upset on snow days and summer vacation. She’s been like that since Kindergarten. She’s going to 3rd grade next year. Everyone is different. Some kids don’t fit.
They have to find their own way. And some kids? Need to learn their parents mean what they say. Some parents ought to step the fuck up and stop babying their kids. Life isn’t going to. Your boss isn’t going to be OK with you not coming in cuz you don’t feel like it. Sometimes, you have to do shitty jobs to get the job you want. Sometimes, even when you get the job you want, you have to do shitty tasks because the boss asked you to. To be a leader, you have to learn to take orders when needed, and follow them, not piss all over the person giving them to you. Some kids require “tough love.” Some kids, you can love them more than anything—the way I love my son–and you can step back objectively enough to see when he’s in a “mood” or “phase” he’s an unstable asshole. Just because he’s my kid doesn’t mean he gets a free pass to walk all over me.
He borrows money from me? (Which is no longer a thing, I quit loaning him money.) He paid it back within 2 weeks.
He fucks up? He can walk home from wherever he is.
Wreck your car? Swear it isn’t your fault? Too bad..I’m not getting you a new one, and I am keeping the insurance money for the paid off car we gave you that you ruined, because now my insurance rates doubled. You can walk or do chores to earn money to buy a bicycle to get around with. Not my problem.
Don’t feel like coming home for dinner? Eat a sandwich when you wander in after curfew. If you bang around in the kitchen enough to wake us up, you WILL get cussed out. We get up ass early for work, and you’re being an inconsiderate dickhead. Your roommates won’t be cool with that, a few months from now when you have them.
Forget your keys and come home at midnight (way after curfew)?? Tough shit, guess you better figure out whose house you’re crashing at.
I will come get you from the police station, then drop you off at a state park so you can walk until you’re not pissed off anymore.
I will make sure you have the basics to live–food, drink, hygiene products. I will talk to you, take you places, spend time with you when you can stand it–but I am not your scapegoat. I’m not your friend. I’m your mother. And despite the state laws trying to interfere with that, I am not raising some pussy kid who whines and cries and bullies to get his way.
But…but..but…Chemical imbalance? Sorry, but there are options. Meds, counseling, working out. Learn how to manage it, because it never goes away. Ignoring it is only going to make you fuck up the life you want. Doesn’t matter if you’re only 17–learn to deal now, so it’s second nature later. I wish it hadn’t taken so long for me to get mine diagnosed, to find the right meds, to find the workouts I could do, to learn the techniques to handle it. It’s a constant battle. I know what he’s dealing with, and I’m sorry, but it’s not an excuse to do what you want, when you want, with no consequences.
Putting your kid out of the car because you warned him you would, and he ignored that and kept being a shit? Good on you, Samara!
My husband’s parents did the same thing, when he was around 12 or so. In Texas. Summer, blazing hot, a few miles from town. He wouldn’t quit being a shit, so they told him to get out of the car. He did. And walked home. No cops involved. He modified his behavior after that.
I can’t tell you how many spankings, mouth washed out, grounded, stuff taken away–hell, my parents removed my bedroom door–I got as a kid. It hasn’t fucked me up. It didn’t affect my parenting style. Because we didn’t spank our son. I’ve slapped him three times in his entire life, and he deserved it each and every time. We didn’t coddle him either, so I don’t know if that factors in. I know we gave him almost 100% of our attention, affection, and love his entire life, even after his sister was born. So it’s not due to a lack of attention. Some kids just are difficult. They can grow up to be awesome, if they are willing to put the work in to get that way.
I think she’s an amazing parent. I want to punch the people judging her in the face, because until they’ve been where she is, they need to shut the fuck up. It’s real easy to judge and say what you’d do until you’re in that situation. And bottom line? The kid is fine. Even seeing his mom get arrested (which was ridiculous), he isn’t traumatized for life. Kids are fucking resilient. They learn, they’re tough, they’re smarter than people give them credit for. I’m sure her Little Dude has enough perspective to understand what happened.
Which is something far too many adults lack, based on what I read.