Parenting --Teens/My sons hatred towards me...
QUESTION: Hi, I have asked you questions in the past and your answers are always very helpful. Here is the background to my problem. I reported my son to his school last year (9th grade)after realizing he was stealing xanax from my parents and using it as well as selling it. He was also drinking and smoking weed. He was kicked out of his school, sent to an alternative school as well as put on 6mos probation. He was unaware that I was the one that reported him until his father (we are divorced) told him it was me back in May. Since then my son has blamed me for his failure in school, his desire to drink and smoke, his want to give up in life. This of course has caused a ton of strain on our relationship.
Last night out of the blue he began telling me how much he hates me, which he kept emphasizing "hate". He told me how he has plotted my death and that i was lucky that he didnt go through with it. He said the more I try and stop him from doing drugs and drinking, the more he is going to do it. And that he thought his family was screwed up. I felt like a piece of crap when he was done and couldnt even speak to him. I dont yell or argue with him so all this was a shocker to me. I know teens say things like this because of them being teens but this seemed more than that. And now today he is out of school because he said he feels ill....but yet his room smelled like a bar when i went in there this morning.
He, like most teenagers, thinks the world owes him something. That he doesnt need to do well in school, doesnt need to follow home rules. When he wants something, i need to immediately buy it. He does do his chores around the house without any complaints. But school is a failure and he still does drugs even though he is on probation (court is on the 25th to see if he gets off).
How should i handle this?? Do i let it go and not bring it up? Do i take him for more counseling (he goes to group therapy 1x a week). I try having positive talks with him but they just end up with the same thing happening.
ANSWER: Hello Traci,
I'm sorry to hear about the distress your son is causing you.
It sounds like he is going through a difficult time in his life, and he is blaming you for the problems he is experiencing. Like many teens, he finds it difficult to accept responsibility for his problems and then to put forth effort to overcome them.
Group therapy might be helpful, but it might also be a place he doesn't have to contribute very much (some kids avoid revealing much about themselves or their feelings in a group#. So, it might be that individual therapy might be more useful -- if he has a therapist he likes and trusts.
He obviously has drug and alcohol problems, and being on probation hasn't had much of an effect on him. If he gets off probation, despite continuing to drink alcohol and perhaps using other drugs, it will somehow give him the impression he can continue to do what he has been doing all along. When you are asked in court how he has been doing, you will be put in the position of lying or further alienating him by telling the truth. It is a tough situation for you, but he needs help and it would be nice if the court could keep him on probation and require other kinds of treatment for him. If the juvenile court has a drug court in your area, this might be ideal for him -- before he gets into more serious trouble. You could talk to his probation officer before the 25th to ask about this. The court could also require regular drug screens to check on his alcohol and drug use.
As long as he continues to blame you #and I would guess he gets support from his father in this regard), then the chances of the two of you having a closer relationship don't seem very likely as long as you are the parent trying to get him help.
If you tell me a little bit about how you try to have positive talks with him, maybe I can offer some suggestions for how you might try some different approaches.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for the reply. I do realize that things are rough for him, especially when you get caught up in that kind of lifestyle. I know he has owed money in the past and come to me for help. I think what set him off the other night was that he asked for $10. I didnt have that much and told him he could have a couple dollars. He seemed very agitated that i didnt have the full $10 becuase he was asking if i could go to the bank or find a way to get it for him. I said no. I think this put him in a "situation" with his peers. So he takes it out on me later.
I try and lift his self esteem by telling him how smart he is and that i know he has the knowledge in him to do well in school. I let him know that anytime he needs help he can always come to me. If he does something (like take out the trash) and i didnt ask him, or gets a good grade on a test, I make sure he feels good about what he has done...and then hope that he will want to do it again to feel that sense of pride.
When things are well in the house and nothing crazy is going on, we have a great relationship. We can laugh and joke and have a good time. But those times seem to be dwindling away. At times he is very open with me and tells me things i really dont want to know, but im glad he feels comfortable telling me. But sometimes i feel he tells me this stuff as away to say "see, im a bad kid". But any efforts on my part to help him just fail miserably. Im just not sure where to turn.
It sounds like you a lot that is right in terms of raising your son. And it's great that at least at times you share a close relationship.
I would guess that part of the problem is his basic closeness to you. I know we all want our teens to be close to us, but that can present problems when you are of opposite genders. Being too close to you may be very uncomfortable for him and he may have to pull away at times. Furthermore, as a middle teen he needs to be breaking away and becoming independent. One way of doing this is to have conflicts and for him to be mean to you.
If you can keep these things in mind, then you it may be that at times you need to maintain some distance. It doesn't mean you can't be living and friendly with each other, but there is a fine line to walk with our opposite gender teens -- close, but not too close. In other words, make sure that you don't force him to have to pull away from you in a way that creates hard feelings for both of you.