Throw him out, have him arrested, or hang on in there?

(82 Posts)
flow4 Sat 03-Mar-12 18:32:58

I'm wondering if anyone has any experience of throwing their child out or having them arrested? I'm pretty much at that point with my 16 (nearly 17) yo son, and obviously it's not an every-day situation...

Over a 5 week period at Christmas/new year he gained access to my savings and stole £850. He spent it mostly on skunk and m-cat (drugs). He finally got guilty, confessed, said he was sorry, and promised to pay it back. He doesn't have a job, but for a few weeks he did chores to begin to pay it off.

Then I got careless and he stole £20. And he stopped doing his chores. And he stopped going to college... Then he seemed to turn a corner and went back to college last week...

Then this morning he came in from a night of partying, off his face and smelling of mcat. He crashed out and slept until about 20 mins ago. But a couple of hours ago I unlocked my cash box (one of a few desperate measures) to go pay a builder, and found he has stolen another £50 from me.

He knows what he is doing is wrong, but he's doing it anyway. He refused counselling or help from a drugs agency. I'm a single parent with limited support. He is bigger and stronger than me, and often bolshy and scary, tho rarely actually violent.

I'm very uncertain about what to do for the best. I'm tempted to have him arrested, but I can't imagine that a criminal record ever helps anyone. I do not want to live like this, but am aware that if I throw him out he will go to sleep on the sofas of exactly the same teens he takes drugs with. And I imagine things will get rapidly much worse for him.

On the other hand, every moral instinct I have says he shouldn't 'get away' with behaving like this. And I am not at all a natural doormat, but I am totally out of ideas and very nearly out of strength. I am also very conscious of how unfair and stressful it is for my youngest son, as well as me.

Anyone got any experience or wisdom here,? Your thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks.

purplecupcake Sat 03-Mar-12 19:02:45

i would have him arrested.. the youth offending team do offer great help to teens.
My DS used to do weed and Mcat till he was sent to YOI for drugs related crimes, it was the best thing that happened to him..it gave him time to think about what he was doing to the rest of the family and after a few months inside he came out drug free smile
I also had my DD arrested for assaulting me, It was a kick up the arse she needed to, she's never raised her hand to me since

You certainly can't go on living like your living.. my heart goes out to you

2fedup Sat 03-Mar-12 19:17:53

Things must feel very difficult at the moment. I do think you and he need the support of an outside agency, whether his needs to be the police I don't know. I can understand your concern about a criminal record, but if he carries on stealing, the next person may not let him get away with it and the charges could be worse and permantly on his record as he gets older. I hope you manage to get the support you need

Maryz Sat 03-Mar-12 19:54:16

Oh, no, not another one, there are just too many of us on here these days sad.

For what it's worth, I didn't throw ds1 out - in the end when it came to it i just couldn't do it because I knew he would end up on the streets. At the time I worried it was the wrong decision, but I am glad now as he appears to be turning a corner. But I was very strong about keeping things locked up, and I also had an absolute no violence rule - breaking that meant a 999 call.

At one stage we only had three rules - he had to go to his training course every day (I couldn't stand having him at home all the time), no violence, and no drugs in the house.

You need to talk to someone - if there is a youth drug unit near you they will be able to help with counselling for you (and your younger son if necessary) and also put you in touch with a family support group.

Just remember - you can't change him, unless he wants to change himself. You can change how you react, and how much you let it affect you.

I have posted copiously on here about this (I must be really pissing everyone off, I even bore myself sometimes on here), so if you advance search my name on Teenagers you will get a look at my (long-winded and repetitive) advice that I shove out every time.

oldqueenie Sat 03-Mar-12 20:22:48

oh maryz, you give great teenage advice that is always firm but fair. much appreciated by me at least! Thanks.

Maryz Sat 03-Mar-12 20:50:44

Thanks oldqueenie.

I dunno, though, whether it is much help to people like the op. Each individual can only do what they can live with afterwards, if it all goes wrong.

I find the good thing about being on here is feeling less alone though. It's sad and great at the same time to see others struggling with similar issues.

flow4 Sat 03-Mar-12 23:37:33

Thanks everyone. You're right it helps to hear I'm not alone, Maryz... You know some stuff, you do! smile

Tortington Sat 03-Mar-12 23:42:28

i would have him arrested

and he also kwouldn't own anything worth having - becuase i'd bin it

knittedslippersx3 Sun 04-Mar-12 00:11:23

I lurk more than I post! Maryz - if only you realised how much your posts help us mums of teenagers, you have kept me sane (almost) and made me feel normal. OP, stick by him but at the same time tell him what the rules are and stick to them. Life is a series of moments, good and bad. Look on this as a bad moment that will pass eventually. I tend to stop at several points during the day, take a deep breath and then continue on. (weird, but it helps!)

mumblechum1 Sun 04-Mar-12 09:20:09

Another vote here for Maryz.

My ds dabbles occasionally in weed and I'm not overly concerned, in fact he's just given it up as he's joining the TA, but your wisdom and experience is, I'm sure, helpful to an awful lot of parents.

I'm really glad your ds seems to be straightening up, Mary.

OP, I'd follow Mary's advice if Iwere you, but he needs to know that if he breaks those three rules, you call the police.

flow4 Sun 04-Mar-12 10:05:50

Very practical question, maryz or anyone... How do you enforce the "go to college" rule?
The no violence, no drugs rules are easy - and police have been called and weed has been flushed... But if he doesn't get up in the morning there is nothing I can do about it... (And his so-called full-time course is only 2 days plus 2 hours, anyway)

knittedslippersx3 Sun 04-Mar-12 11:02:22

I'm not sure how you enforce this. My dd had a period of refusing to go to school. I told her that the law says she has to attend and it would be taken out of my hands by ss etc if she didn't. Your ds is obviously older and doesn't have to attend but he needs to understand that the college will only take so much before they ask him to leave. He needs to know if this happens you will lose any benefit you receive for him and he will therefore have to stand on his own two feet. Easy words I know when they refuse to get out of there pit and get on with life. Hope things turn around for you soon.

Maryz Sun 04-Mar-12 11:05:45

I dunno, to be honest.

I had ds1 at home for a year doing nothing (he was thrown at of school but was too young for "early school-leavers training" - such is the Irish system hmm) and I think he was fed up with being at home.

His traning course also paid him, which I vaguely disapprove of, but it was/is the only money he gets so he has to go.

I did feel like a prisoner in my own house for a while - of course at the ages my kids are I should have a job, but I didn't feel safe leaving him in the house alone as he would bring strangers back if I wasnt' here.

So I used to make life unpleasant for him. I didn't wake him in the mornings, but he had no tv/xbox/heating. I took the remotes when I went out, and when I went to bed. I would have treat type food locked away, so apart from lying in bed there wasn't much for him to do. I would be vaguely unpleasant in a rather passive-aggressive way.

It was a horrible, horrible time.

Custy I would have had ds arrested in a heartbeat if I had thought that it would have stopped him, but he never reacted in a "normal" way to punishment and had we shopped him he would have walked out, and probably lived on the streets - he did that for a while when he was 14 and it was a very scary time for me. We did call the juvenile liaison officer many times, but we stopped short of pressing charges as in Ireland they would have led to a permanent criminal record.

And now he is 18 and talking about going away and working for the summer which he couldn't do with a record. And talking about going to australia when he had his chef's qualifications, which again a record for drugs or violence would stand against him.

I always thought I would have him charged, or kick him out until the day came when I had to make that choice and I found that I just couldn't do it.

flow4 Sun 04-Mar-12 23:52:51

Thanks all. All's quiet on the western front this evening. I didn't kick him out yesterday. I confronted him when he woke up and he denied stealing from me. I told him very honestly what I was thinking (including the fact that I didn't believe him), did a lot of crying and some ranting, then went round to a friend's and cried more and talked and drank a couple of beers instead, cos I couldn't decide what would be best...

Today my son came back all sweetness and light, walked the dog (twice), cleaned the sink in the bathroom, came home for tea on time and ate it making conversation and resisting deliberate wind-ups from his little brother, then developed a nasty cough and a temperature, asked for a cuddle and fell asleep on the sofa at about 9:30.

The total insanity of living with an unpredictable teen... confused

I don't know whether it's come-down or virus (or both) and I don't know whether he'll make it to college tomorrow.

Getting him there is a really difficult one. They've done away with the EMA training allowance here in the UK: if he was a year older and had started college last year, he would have received £30/week for attending, and this would have motivated him. But I really struggle with the idea of giving him £30/week of my money (which I could probably afford) because it just seems wrong to hand over cash to a boy who's stealing, lying, not doing what he's asked, swearing at me, etc. So since Christmas, he's been getting his fares to college, plus lunch money on days when he has got up without rudeness, and that's it.

He's nearly finished this course, and despite his very poor attendance, he'll probably pass it. He's bright, and it's an NVQ1, so it does not challenge him. He had some exams before half term and his lowest mark was 85%. So getting kicked out doesn't seem likely at this point. But what he does next is a worry - he'll probably finish in April/May and be 'free' until September sad

Anyway, I'm off to bed now - I'm wiped out. Thanks again, folks.

flow4 Thu 22-Mar-12 04:18:27

Well, we're 3 weeks on and things have reached a head. We had an argument when I came home from work today and found him sleeping/stoned, and he lost it completely and trashed and smashed things up: he upturned furniture and the telly, threw things around, emptied a cupboard, kicked an internal door off its hinges, smashed a mug, waved a knife around and smashed the glass in the kitchen door. I called 999, he ran away. I made a statement and he will be arrested if they find him. He came back while they were here (so the front door was unlocked) and stole a full, new bottle of whisky. He came back again about an hour and a half ago but couldn't get in cos I have now double-locked all the doors. The police came to look for him again, but that was an hour ago, so I expect they have gone away again now.
I am sitting locked in my bedroom with my younger son asleep in my bed. It feels pretty grim. My eldest has a self-destructive streak and a drug habit (?) that makes me worried he will flip and do something even more stupid. I can't see that being arrested and homeless will help him, but nor will 'getting away with' increasingly bad behaviour - and I can't live like this any more. I didn't want it to come to this but I can't see what else I could do... sad

CheerfulYank Thu 22-Mar-12 04:39:05

Oh, I'm so sorry this is happening. sad

How old is your younger son, if you don't mind me asking? My older brother had/has a lot of the same issues.

Brightspark1 Thu 22-Mar-12 08:44:52

Oh hell, I feel for you. You've posted on my thread so you know my situation. I've since found out that local police have a policy of not rushing down the full prosecution route, but she will be referred to a youth intervention team that comprises police and social workers. I think there is some sort of community service and restorative justice element to the programme. So she won't get a record or even a formal caution but she won't have be getting away with it either. It may be a way of you getting some support and him getting and accepting help( and a kick up the backside). It sounds like you and DS2 are just living in fear all the time and that can't go on.
BTW Maryz your stern talking to is working a bit. Trying not to feel completely responsible for DD's behaviour

flow4 Thu 22-Mar-12 16:31:33

He has just been here, on the doorstep, begging to be let in, crying, telling me he needs a shower cos he slept out all night. Telling me that if I just let him in to have a shower, he'll then let the police arrest him. Then he admitted he'd been at a mate's house. And when I called the police, he has run away again. I feel simultaneously manipulated and heartless - how is that possible? sad

flow have a hug and a squeeze. I am so sorry you are going through this with your son - we have been where you are and it is very hard.

We threw our DS1 out at eighteen, I literally had to shove him out of the door because he was being so violent. He slept on friends' floors for a few weeks and cheesed everyone off so much that he ended up sleeping on the streets.

When we took him back, he was ill and traumatised but it was absolutely the right thing to do under the circumstances. He realised that he had abused the privilege of being an indulged son and had to work very hard to earn our trust again. And he really, really didn't want to be told to leave again.

I have no advice for you but it can't hurt for him to realise the seriousness of his behaviour and that there are consequences. I hope it all works out for you.

BluddyMoFo Thu 22-Mar-12 17:20:16

Ooooh flow sad no advice I'm afraid but I really feel for you and wish you all the strength in the world to get through this crap. x

flow4 Sat 24-Mar-12 09:50:31

Update: he laid low for a couple of days, and then was found and arrested yesterday lunchtime. He sent me a couple of texts saying it was all my fault. They interviewed him and I did not attend, so an social worker acted as his 'responsible adult'. They told me they would release him back into my care, and I refused, saying I needed some support - at least a mediated meeting to find out whether he was still angry and ducking responsibility and blaming me, before I could even consider having him back, or I did not know whether myself and my younger son would be safe. They said the best they could offer was a social worker contacting me 'next week'. He was bailed to attend a 'bail clinic' in April - I'm not certain what that is, but it does mean a youth offending team person will contact him. They released him to go to my ex-partner's (his brother's dad but not his) but he left there, after scrounging a bit of money, and went off to a mate's. I told him he needed to go back, but he just ignored me. He has been out all night.

(By the way, to answer your question CheerfulYank, my other son is 12 - almost 5 years younger)

I don't think I can have him back. I cannot control him at all (obviously). If he had even the smallest shred of sense, he would have realised this was crunch time, and curtailed his social life for an evening, and shown he was ready to accept at least some limits to be allowed to come home. It seems to me that a boy who can't/won't even accept limits on the night he has been arrested and bailed is not likely to improve later. His behaviour seems to me to be getting worse, and I don't think I can (a) expect it to get better or (b) cope with worse. Can anyone else think of ANY practical alternative to me throwing him out?

Mutteroo Sat 24-Mar-12 18:50:29

I thought I had problems till I read what you are going through. I think you are an amazing, fabulous woman who is dealing with this intolerable situation in the best way you can.

Your son's coping and he's got somewhere to stay even if it's not where's agreed. If its any help, I have two friends who have been in similar situations to this and both their children are now 19/20 and unrecognisable from the raging teens they were a few years ago. Look after yourself and take this hug from me. You are not alone.

Maryz Sat 24-Mar-12 19:01:41

The difficulty you have here is that he now thinks that doing what he is told and coming home is "giving in" and "letting you win".

He obviously still has somewhere to go, or he would be camped on your doorstep - do you know what friends he is with? Because ds used to sleep rough, which always worried me a lot in the winter, not so much in the summer - and also ds was only 13/14 when he started all this, your son is that much older so is more likely (presumably) to have mates' sofas to sleep on.

I have to say that we lost complete control of ds - we may have lived in the same house, but from the age of 15 he came and went as he liked, never told us what he was doing or who he was with, used and dealt; we kept our room locked and valuables in it.

I seldom left the house for two years, for fear of what he would do. Obviously you work, so you can't stay and "mind" the house, which also makes it more difficult.

My worry was my younger children - when ds1 started dd was 11, ds2 only 9, and they were scared of him. The have seen more in the way of psychotic behaviour than they should, but interestingly they recognise that he has mh problems, rather than being "nasty" as such - the fact that he has a diagnosis of Asperger's and they have always known him to be "different" has helped them to come to terms with and forgive very quickly all the things he has done.

Personally I think kids grow up. I hated the idea of giving up on rules, but in the end that is what I did. Some people think I was too soft, and should have got him out. But if I had, he would have been homeless and I suspect on heroin by now (many teenagers in Ireland end up in adult hostels, and so get into harder drugs and prostitution, sadly). As it is, he is now still living here, still using, but no longer stealing or violent or psychotic; he goes to work every day, has applied for college in September, and bought me a mother's day card on Sunday shock.

For us, allowing him to stay - with an absolute NO VIOLENCE rule has worked - I ignored him smashing things, but put up with no threats against people.

If your son won't agree to no violence, however, you have no choice but to stand firm.

I can't really help, but I do understand exactly how you are feeling, and be assured you are not alone.

flow4 Sat 24-Mar-12 22:40:13

Thanks for the support everyone. It's hard not to feel like a crap mum in this situation, and it's good to have some reassurance smile

I am sure you are right about the battling, Maryz. hmm

Any reactions to this earlier text exchange, folks? I haven't replied yet...

16:50 Me: I haven't heard from u, so I assume u agree it's best if u don't live here any more. I have got info about ur housing options and will take u to housing office on Mon if u like. Let me know what u'd like me to bring for you - eg clothes etc.

21:09 Him: I dont think its best 2 move out mum, i think you should take as much time as u need then we can talk about how we move forward possitivly! X

Maryz Sat 24-Mar-12 22:45:46

Sorry, I hate to say it, but in obnoxious teenage land, that just might be an almost apology hmm.

Odd, to say the least.

Why not take a bit of time to draw up a list of absolute no-no's - you can run it by us here before presenting them to him, and see what the reaction is.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now