Here at Empowering Parents, we’ve received many messages from parents sharing sadness and disappointment over the way their kids have turned out. It’s a subject we don’t talk about very often, but it’s one that really deserves some attention.

In The Total Transformation Program, James Lehman talks about parenting the child you have rather than the one you wish you had.

What he means is that we each carry an image of who our child will be. And we often hold on to that powerful image, attempting to connect with the fantasy of our child rather than trying to relate to our child as they really are.

In order to be effective parents, we need to see our kids as who they are, right now, not who they used to be.

Letting go of that “fantasy child” isn’t easy. In fact, it can be hard to even admit our disappointment when our kids don’t turn out exactly as we imagined. Perhaps they don’t like the things we enjoy, or they don’t want the career we’d wish for them to have. Many parents feel grief at the loss of that fantasy. And that’s normal.

When Your Child Goes Wrong

But what happens when the reality of who your child is goes beyond disappointment? When the reality of who they are is actually incredibly painful? Here’s one parent’s story. Maybe you can identify with the grief in her words.

My son was a beautiful little boy. He was smart and kind and got along with everyone. Right up through his younger years, he was everything I dreamed of.

That changed when he started school. He started bullying other kids. He got into fights, refused to follow directions and just argued with everyone. My formerly calm and kind boy became anxious and aggressive and eventually started using drugs.

He’s dragging himself through the end of high school now, but there’s nothing left of that sweet child he used to be.

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I feel that I failed him, but I still look at him and see the boy he used to be. My heart is just so broken. My beautiful boy is gone, and I don’t seem to be able to let him go.

How do I accept my son now? How do I let him be the person he’s become when all I see is that sweet little boy he used to be?

It’s difficult enough to see your children become people other than you imagined. It’s deeply painful to see them making mistakes, poor choices, or otherwise not living up to their potential.

In this parent’s case, her son has veered far from both her dream of him and from what he used to be, so that “parenting the child she has” is far easier said than done.

Acknowledge Your Grief

As parents, it’s easy to fall into the trap of acting the way we think we’re supposed to. We pretend we’re not grieving the loss of our ideal child. We push ourselves to love and accept our kids, no matter what. And we shove our grief under the rug and put on a brave face.

In the end, though, we don’t lie to ourselves very well. The grief is too real. And the more we try to pretend that it isn’t, the more ineffective our parenting becomes. We end up trying to parent a child that doesn’t exist, and we don’t take care of our emotional selves.

But, to be an effective parent, you’ve got to address the feelings, issues, and challenges that come up for you as a natural part of parenting. For example, many parents get annoyed with their kids. Children can be annoying at times, so this is a natural response. But if you don’t address these feelings (of annoyance, disappointment, grief, and so on) outside of your relationship with your child, you can find yourself making ineffective parenting choices like losing your temper or giving a consequence in the heat of the moment.

If you’re experiencing deep sadness and grief over what feels like the loss of not only your ideal child, but the child who used-to-be, it’s okay. You feel grief because you lost someone you loved. It makes perfect sense. It’s a valid and real loss, one combined with disappointment and, for most parents, a heavy load of guilt. Denying these feelings only makes things worse. How does it make things worse? It negatively impacts both your ability to make effective parenting choices and to connect with your child.

Speak the Truth About Your Grief

It’s important to find places where you can speak the truth about your grief and your disappointment. While you do not want to share your grief with your child, you might lean on your peer groups, a trusted therapist, or the other adults in your family system.

The Empowering Parents community is also a great place to find connection and validation. The important thing is that you find a place where you can share the truth about your grief so that your heartbreak isn’t undermining the effectiveness of your parenting.

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We all love our kids. We love them through all the bad choices, wrong turns, disappointments, and struggles. And we try to keep finding the good, even inside all the bad. We want the best life for them, the best life they can build. And sometimes, despite all our love, they choose a different path.

In our roles as teachers and guides, we have power, but we do not have complete control. Sometimes, there is deep grief in accepting that.

You Are Not Alone

If your child is no longer who you once knew them to be, you aren’t alone. As James Lehman wrote, in order to be effective parents, we need to see our kids as who they are right now, not who they used to be. We need to come to them with firm boundaries, clear rules and expectations, and unconditional positive regard.

If you’re struggling with this issue, please know that unconditional positive regard for your child can really only come when you’ve had the chance to speak the truth about your grief and your sadness. When we stop fighting our grief over the loss of the child we knew, we can show up to the reality of the child we have with all of our most effective skills.

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know if you can relate to the topic of grief and parenting in the comments below

Related content:
Parent the Child You Have, Not the Child You Wish You Had
“Am I a Bad Parent?” How to Let Go of Parenting Guilt
Perfect Parents Don’t Exist: Forgive Yourself for These 6 Parenting Mistakes

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Megan Devine is a licensed clinical therapist, former Empowering Parents Parent Coach, speaker and writer. She is also the bonus-parent to a successfully launched young man. You can find more of her work at refugeingrief.com, where she advocates for new ways to live with grief.

Comments (120)
  • Lindsey
    I love these articles because they tell me I’m not alone, when I can’t help like feel that this has to be my fault and only I am capable of messing things up this bad (though none of these things are true). The thing that never gets touched on howeverMore is after. These articles say set limits and love your child but what about when they ignore the rules, the consequences, the boundaries, the conversations? What about when their behaviour affects the rest of the family and you are stuck in the middle of trying to do what’s best for everyone? Then what?
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      Thank you for reaching out to Empowering Parents. I can understand your frustration. It can be tough to know what you can do to move forward when it seems as though nothing you do is making a difference. One thing we often suggest to parents is focusing on just one behavior at a time, as Carole Banks discusses in her article here https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-childs-behavior-is-so-bad-where-do-i-begin-how-to-coach-your-child-forward/. Focusing on one behavior helps to narrow the scope so you're not giving multiple consequences, which helps a parent be more consistent. Another article you might find helpful is https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-lost-children-when-behavior-problems-traumatize-siblings/. In it, James Lehman gives tips for how to limit the negative impact one child's behavior has on the other family members.

      We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

  • Even when you do your best, it may not always turn out
    Oh yes, I feel grief over the loss of my once healthy, handsome, smiling, athletic, drug free son. The marijuana has overtaken him these last 5+ years since he started vaping THC and nicotine in 8th grade. To see a picture of him from 9th grade on through who heMore is now is very different from the shiny eyed boy of pre school through 5th grade. I feel grief over the loss of my sweet, loving, carefree daughter, age 16 now. She did not turn to drugs but she turned from a person who used to call me the "safe parent" to a person who has not spoken to me in almost a year, preferring instead to rely on her mom, who was the one who yelled at her and her brother throughout their childhood and threw objects at them in order to get them to do what she wanted them to do, while I was at work and was unaware of what was going on. My wife, from shame and guilt, does whatever my daughter asks of her now. My daughter will not talk with me because I would insist on boundaries. My wife will not talk to me about it because she is afraid our daughter will leave our home if she sides with me. I was always involved in the kids school and sports lives, until a couple of years ago when I finally let go. I am powerless over drugs and other people's lives, even when they are my children. This is a painful truth to accept. It is difficult to watch the slow train wreck. I can always have those happy memories of the kids in their childhood. There are many. I feel once my daughter graduates high school this June, we will all go our separate ways. I will continue to try. I will continue to love and encourage my children when given the chance. Not what I expected when I got married over 20 years ago. Sadness and grief. Beyond belief.
  • You are all saints
    My wife has used the tools offered here for 10 years and it's kept things under control more-or-less but I am afraid. It is so difficult parenting troubled kids. Do the best you can and know that's all that's expected. Eventually, it's all on them to grow up and makeMore good choices in life.
  • Jan

    This article really hit home for me . I have been beating myself up thinking what I did wrong with my children . Have 24 year old twin daughters. Always good students until high school. Went downhill from there.went to college dropped out after 2 semesters. Worked here and there not currently working at all. Totaled car we bought them a year ago and now have a car again gifted by their brother but reuse to

    Pay for insurance or gas. Disrespectful and fight with me all the time if I tell them they have to be responsible , don’t do any chores in the house either. Think life is a party . Stay on phone when home and never look for a job. I know I enabled them to be this way but don’t know how to fix their behavior at

    This point . I too am grieving for what I had hoped for my daughters. I had hoped all my sacrifices would give them a good future. I will never give up

    On them and hope they wake up someday and see they are going down a very bad road.

  • Powski-H8S-U
    I finally understand why my Mom, who raised me for so many years by herself, says where is my sweet little "Chipper" . I really really miss him. He was so sweet and kind and loved me, now I got this mean old grump who doesn't love me anymore...lol. ThisMore always made me feel guilty. Now, My mother and I were together everyday until I was 7 years old and she dated men for extended lengths of time, and throughout this time my way of life was dictated by the partner. I realized very quickly the less I was seen the better off I was. So, I became severely independent and as soon as I hit 16 I was outta there. Now, she happily married for 12 years ,yea, with a man who lives 5 hours away. LONG STORY SHORT ... when a independent child sees a parent, 3 times a year because of another man who treats me like I'm not part of the family, that they have made with my step sister and step brother, Hell na, I don't want a relationship with you because your toxic.i understand I'm the recovering addict,I'm the boy that didn't become a veterinarian, yes I became like the person I spent my time with. I spent my time with lower class citizens due to my circumstances, but still a good father, Husband, Road and Bridge Engineer, "RoadDog" but your distance has saved you because it allows me to build a barrier, you some how taught me empathy though, I care about you thinking, that your Son, still loves you. Even then when whole heartily I would never be able to mourn you because I have never known you, and you have never accepted me, your still thinking the old me will reappear. LOVE is crazy. LIFE IS WHAT U MAKE OF IT. #powskisfinest
  • Karen

    My sons aren’t serious problems, they’re just lazy. My older son is 24 and still has a semester left of college. He needs to get an apartment in the city where his school is but hasn’t really done anything toward that. He spends all day playing video games, which are a complete and total waste of time and kill brain cells, and doesn’t read books other than class requirements. (He took one on-line class this semester. Part of the reason he hasn’t graduated is because he doesn’t do on-line classes very well.) All his friends are on-line.

    My younger son at least has a job and actual human friends, but he’s only working as a barista. He’s a really talented guitar player and artist but doesn’t use any of those skills.

    I graduated from college at age 20 with a Summa cum Laude degree. By age 23 I had graduated from law school and started working as a lawyer. (To be fair, I was a terrible law student and have been extremely disappointed in myself.)

    They’re nice kids, but I want them to set the world on fire. My cousins’ children all were top graduates of their schools and are poised to do extremely well in life. My sons’ friends from high school are all high achievers. Why are my sons such losers?

  • Jonesy
    I'm devastated. For 26 years of his life there has always been him in my life. His dad left at 9. I was working mom he moved out a few years ago but we still had lots of contact. Got his own place. Several different girlfriends. Lockdown was hard. HeMore has ADHD . Always helped him with remembering stuff. Got new gf. Now says needs space from me. He says I have verbally assaulted her...not true. She lies to him but he can't see it. We were so close now he has cut me off completely. Won't explain why. I am totally lost...very emotional. Don't know what to do
    • Denise Rowden, Parent CoachEP Coach

      I'm so sorry to hear your daughter has started to cut ties with you. I can only imagine how devastating that must be. WE have a couple articles that focus on estrangement you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/estranged-from-your-adult-child-5-things-you-can-do/ & https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/estranged-from-adult-child-parent-child-estrangement/

      We appreciate you reaching out and wish you all the best moving forward. Take care.

  • Defeated22

    I am glad to know I am not alone in feeling grief over my son's disrespectful behavior. He used to be so caring And thoughtful, now I'm lucky to receive a hug. He is only ten and I am not looking forward to his teen years!

    His father and I are not together but he is in his life and we are able to coparent effectively.

    As a younger child, he was very loving, eager to please and always happy. That all changed when he turned 7. It was gradual and he was diagnosed with ADHD with co morbid combination type and was put on meds to help him.

    Fast forward to today and I cry at least once a week because he treats me so poorly. He talks to me like I am his enemy and I am losing my joy.

    Thank you for listening.

  • mj andrews
    I’m grieving the loss of my youngest. He went from being a caring sweet, talkative boy to a silent reclusive teen. He is pretty much totally shutdown and failing in HS. I don’t know how to get him to engage in his life and future.
  • Janette
    Yes. I completely understand this article, because I believed I was alone in my sadness and grief over my beautiful daughter's change in behavior. And I didn't know it was okay to feel deep sadness and to grieve because of her turn for the worse behaviors. Thank you so muchMore for posting this article 💕
  • EGS

    I am dealing with the same thing. My child always had potential , made the honor roll from 3-7 n 9th grades. Now he found new friends n smokes weed n maybe other stuff. He is very disrespectful n don’t care abt call consequences. We all tried to save him but he must do this himself.

    I am so disappointed n don’t even like looking or speaking to him. Everyone said he is going to change but when? I am so tired. If behavior doesn’t change the AP stated that he will b referred to an alternative school. I really want him to attend so he can c/b in that type of environment… just maybe he will b grateful. His friends r

    All Unfortunate n failing in school.

    I am showing him tough love but it’s hard. Any suggestions he is on 15… this has been the worst year ever raising him

  • Sunshine4
    I ”lost” my daughter years ago but I didn’t know it then. She stopped talking to me. She was not rude but just cold. Then she said she was depressed. The thing is I didn’t see the depression. Oh yes she had bad days like everyone else. But she wasMore going out having fun getting hair and nails done like a normal girl. During lockdown she said she was feeling low so I got a puppy for her for £2500. She was so excited initially but that soon wore out. A puppy is like a child it’s hard work and she has never done any hard work in her life other than going to school even then she gave up university because she could not handle it. Anyway after lockdown she started resenting the puppy because she would go out come back at 2 in the morning then have to wake up early and attend to the puppy. Then she started crating the puppy for long periods. And then she told the brother that she did not even like it. So one evening we argued about her crating the puppy for too long. That’s when she said she had decided to move out and yes you guessed right leave the puppy behind. She blamed me for not supporting her through her mental illness. But she refused to talk to me. I suggested everything including seeing a counsellor together but she refused. I begged her to talk to me but she wouldn’t. She would talk to me once a day like “hi” and that was perhaps twice a week. Anyway by the time she moved out we were hardly talking. That’s not to say I didn’t try. I begged her to stay home talk to me but she refused. She was 23 then going on to 24. The day she moved out I asked her if she was happy and she replied she was. When I told her I was very sad she was leaving she said I was responsible for my own emotions. When I asked about the puppy she said she was collateral damage. That’s when I realised I did not know this girl. The daughter I thought I had was never there it was a figment of my own imagination. She left on the 29th May. In between there was her birthday and mine and both of us did not get in touch with each. For 4 months I was physically hurting. I couldn’t eat nor do anything. All that kept me going was the puppy that needed me. I never went to her bedroom because I could not face it. Then after 4 months I went in there one day and picked up bits and pieces she had left. I opened the windows and tidied up. That’s when I realised I was beginning to heal. I still love my daughter but if she doesn’t love me there is nothing I can do. Her last words are still echoing in my ears. Today I ordered new bedding for her bedroom because I want to change the look of it. I’m going to decorate it and move on. If one day she remembers she has a mother she knows where I am. In the mean time I will have to learn to live with the fact that I lost the most important person in my life either through ignorance or stupidity I don’t know. People say I should phone her but she said once she leaves she wants nothing to do with me. If I phone her and she rejects me I could never survive the pain. As it is I’m fine because I don’t know. I hope she is happy where she is. She called me a lot of things before she left but I understand she was angry with me for not acknowledging her mental health problems. I refuse to be sad anymore I’m moving on with my life with or without her.
  • Theramom
    Thanks so much for this article. It was both validating and helpful
  • jch
    With the pandemic our son spent the last year in school two days a week but refused to take responsibility and do his school work, his IEP Teacher went above and beyond her duties and with extra days at school he graduated with an advanced diploma. He was not theMore child we know and love, he lies, disrespectful to us and our home he won't clean his room or bathroom, his brand new car his narcissistic grandmother which he treats like crap. The other day he says he was going the take his thank you gift up the road to his IEP teacher, she is only two minutes up the road and he did not come back so I call him and ask where are you,he says he was getting gas and oh yeah I was going to call you (this was wed am)I won't be home till Sunday going to spend it with my friend at his friend's apartment... as his father I was crushed broken I cried in my wife's arms for two days we consoled each other. What did we do wrong where did we go wrong it hurt like breaking up with a girl friend in high-school grieving, hurting and broken hearted...
  • Chris
    I feel like im grieving for my Eldest child, he was a perfect child, everything you could want from a son he's incredibly smart, a teachers dream, he went to Oxford University to study physics and everything he touched seemed to turn to gold, however i noticed a change inMore personality when he turned into a teenager, he became defiant argumentative and infantile in some of his ways, we fought and fell out many times but the last fall out was very bad 18 months ago, he doesn'tagree withmany of my views and were both very strong willed, we didn't speak for over a year and although we're sort of speaking now he will use any excuse not to visit and I'm not allowedto visit him, its killing me, I have 3 other sons who are amazing and also love and miss there brother but there is nothing we can do to resolve this rift, I think he feels its gone too far, I also feel guilty for leaving his natural father 22 years ago when he was 8 years old, could this have had a profound affect on him? He hardly sees his father and had nothing to do with his upbringing,he has had an amazing father figure in his life since the age of 9, I love my Eldest child so much that it hurts but I just don't know how to resolve things, I'm not getting any younger and I don't want him to regret anything.
  • Hope
    I had no idea that somewhere like this existed for parents. There are no words for the joy of giving birth and there are no words for watching your child be unable to connect, even with you.
  • Jonathan

    Up until about a year ago I had a really good relationship with my son, who has now just turned 16. He's an intelligent child who knows right from wrong. He's always been taught to be respectful and honest. Both parents, although divorced, are working and although we're not rich, money has never really been an issue. Over the last year however, his attitude has completely gone down hill.

    He was arrested yesterday for armed robbery.

    I am in a state of shock. I don't know who he is. He is in serious trouble and doesn't even seem to care. He argues with everyone around him. Police, judge, me.

    I have completely lost him and feel that my heart has been shattered. I can't stop crying.

  • Sarah
    Thank you so much for this article! I have been struggling with a lot of grief and guilt over the person my son is becoming. He is 14 and was diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers at around 5 years old. I new something was wrong since he wasMore 2. I have had hope for so many years that his social skills would improve, that his empathy for others would grow, and that his ability to manage his life would be built with excellent parenting. Believe me, he has received excellent parenting. I probably have a PhD in parenting a kid like him by this point. Unfortunately, I think we have hit a ceiling and now I feel like I need to come to terms with that and it is so hard!!! I honestly can't stand him at this point even though I try so hard to focus on his good points. He loves to learn, does not bully people, does his chores and his homework, gets to school every day, and behaves well at school. I should be so thankful! I see, however, that he is not capable of having close relationships of give and take, that he will probably not get married, that he is a bossy know-it-all, and still cannot chew with his mouth shut and stop picking his nose in public. He is a slob, and an internet addict (I have to moniter his screen time with a timer), and I wonder if he will be able to live independently without hunkering down in a creepy man-cave with pizza and a screen for his whole life. Please don't judge my feelings. I hope that there is some grace and maybe someone who can identify with my feelings. I want to appreciate him and maybe I will once he is not living in my house and I can experience smaller doses of him. Thank you for allowing me to share!
  • M
    This is the very first which accurately described how I feel. Unfortunately the society and even therapists in their trial to help a family with a hard teenager they simply either blame the parent especially the mother. I was blamed to feel the loss of my dreams for my son.More I am asked to be someone I cannot be and it is merely painful.
  • EmmaGrace


    I am living the same parenting nightmare. my daughter has instead turned to sexual promiscuity and dabbles in alcohol and weed.

    I adopted her at 6yo and the trauma, abuse and genetic predisposition to mental health issues have been a horrific combination. Yes, I feel so very sad for her. Physically, aching sad for her. But she too, cannot live in my home with her destructive behavior to me, our home and belongings and to herself. So, I grieve the loss of my daughter, I mourn and I feel sad. But I also had to set limits and boundaries to what was unacceptable behavior in a family and a home. She was in residential, she has had meds and therapy for years. She now refuses it all. 18yo and she knows best. She does not want to talk to me because I have "terms and conditions ". Yes, I do. As does the world. This is life. I pray for her constantly. But I know my limits and I am trying to work through the plethora of emotions, constantly swirling..

    And I so APPRECIATE this article and those brave enough to share and comment on their stories. I have never talked about this with friends. Thank you for letting me know others are grieving their "loss" of a child.

  • Just gwama
    In my case, it's my grandsons....my daughter, unfortunately, married a narcissist...the boys are currently in DCS custody due to his actions/reactions to certain situations...I am in no way saying she is innocent, but his actions caused the removal. The "system" has totally failed them in that none of them haveMore received the counseling they were promised and they are all acting out in various ways....from trying to run away to lying about homework,lying about their mom,and abusing family pets! I love them all dearly and it breaks my heart to think that even once they are home with mommy, these behaviors are going to take time to turn around...if ever.
  • Whathappened
    I am having a hard time accepting me feelings. I guess i feel bad because i feel this is a judgement against me and against my best try in parenting not being what i hoped. I have to come to terms with these things but it feels hard sometimes toMore say the positive, even though its there, when his time is spent smoking weed rather than anything productive. It is disappointing and disillusioning. So do i just accept this is how it is and mourn? What about the consequences? He is not grown. I am so tired and grieved and sad and hurt. It feels like everything i sacrificed and poured into him and now i am left with disappointment and tears. I am sorry if this sounds bad, i am really struggling and want to do better.
  • Grieving Mom
    Yes, I can relate to the article all too well. When my son was only 5 years old, as we were getting ready to go to the mall to see Santa and take a picture, I looked at him and asked, "What are you going to ask Santa for thisMore year?" Without hesitation, he looked up at me with his beautiful baby blues eyes and responded, "A happy family." My heart sunk. The reality hit me in the face at that one single moment. I thought I had been protecting him from the arguing between his father and I, but his words cut me like a knife. I promptly sought couples therapy for my husband and I to try and salvage our marriage. After almost 2 years of trying, I finally had to make the choice to separate and divorce my husband as he refused to acknowledge any fault or errors on his part, but I clearly saw the damage to both of our children that his emotional, psychological, and at times physical abuse was taking on our children. The court battle went on for 9 very long years. From the time my son was 6 years old until he turned 18 almost a year ago, his father NEVER stopped pulling him. He made our son responsible for his own happiness. He "guilted" him into spending time with him saying he was "all alone." He never showed up at his events although I provided him with monthly detailed lists of school and after school activities, including therapy appointments for both of our children. My ex had his own mental health issues, and always failed to put our children first and this rings true to this day. When my ex decided he was getting remarried our son was only 9 years old. He told him he was "getting a new family." He instructed him to call his stepmother "mom." He begged him to come and live with him, even attempting to bribe him with expensive gifts. After years of this behavior, I watched our son falling apart. He went from being diagnosed with an Adjustment Disorder to a Generalized Anxiety Disorder, to Major Depression and finally PTSD. When he was in 6th grade, one morning I walked into the kitchen before school and his notebook was on the counter. I opened it and started flipping through it reviewing his homework. Then, there IT was. My heart began racing and the tears just started flowing down my face as I read the words my son had written on the paper. He had drawn a picture of himself laying down under a tree with a gun and the words, "Yes, I want to go to heaven." This sweet, innocent little boy was in so much emotional pain that he just wanted to die. I picked up the phone and called his treating psychiatrist and then his therapist. I made appointments for him that very day. The next day I contacted my attorney and the court appointed attorney who was serving as our son's Guardian et Litem. I was granted an emergency hearing and the courts prohibited our son from seeing his father for almost 2 years. During that time, he began to heal. When he was not being psychologically manipulated and pulled, and with the help of a therapist and psychiatrist, he began to lead somewhat of a normal life. He was happy, involved in school activities, church youth group and scouts. There were no more bad dreams, self-harm, meltdowns, and aggression. Although I was awarded sole custody in a lower court and then again in a higher court on his father's appeal, the court ordered reunification therapy for father and son before we could be granted permission to relocate out of state to be near my family for support. It was then under the supervision of this court appointed therapist I watched the scared little boy return, but this time with tons of aggression. My son did not want to reunify with his father, but the therapist told him, the child with PTSD, that if he did not cooperate he could ask the judge to send him to juvenile detention! My son even went to court and spoke to the judge in chambers telling her he did not want to reunify with his father for he is abusive. Our daughter, who was 19 at the time, testified in court about her father's abuse and how she protected her brother during visitation. The court turned a deaf ear. He was forced to reunify with his father during first supervised visits (with a supervisor picked by my ex), and then day visits, until finally a week long visit before we moved. During the day visit, my ex lost his tempter and began trying to manipulate and guilt our son. Our son requested to leave, per the court order. The only reason my ex allowed him to leave is because the supervisor was present. The court ordered therapist reversed his recommendation to the court and told the judge we should be allowed to move. So we moved. During the next 3 years, my ex only visited our son 2 times in our new home state as his visits were supervised by my brother, per the court order. However, our son was required to visit his father several times a year and for weeks during the summer. Our son was happy in our new state, near family. He made friends, had good grades, resumed scouts and youth group up until his junior year of high school. He started rebelling, more so than typical. He refused to take his medication for anxiety and depression and PTSD. He refused to talk in therapy. He had aggressive out bursts. His personality was changing before my very eyes. It was an all too familiar reflection of his earlier self when he was pressured by his father. Finally, I found the key. I discovered over 200 text messages between father/son. His father told him to stop taking his medication and going to therapy. He told our son I was the crazy one and needed medication. He cursed me, said he drank in order to stay married to me, and even coached our son on how to provoke me and then call 9-1-1 and let the operator hear me yelling at him. That didn't happen. Yes, he provided me, but I didn't chase him into his room and yell at him as that is not how I parent. I discovered many text messages. There were pictures of half naked women and my son during a recent spring vacation trip to Florida. Our son, who was a minor at the time, was outside a strip club and his father was sending him pictures and videos of naked women inside. He gave him alcohol. I found pictures of my son dressed up in his father's old Marine Corps dress blue uniforms. They exchanged jokes about how easy it is when the uniform is on, for women's panties to fly off. I discovered many text messages where they had been secretly plotting for our son to move and go and live with his father. They bonded over guns, weapons, women, cars, motorcycles, and money. His father made him all kinds of promises if only he would move once he turned 18 in the summer of 2017. He didn't care that he was happy were he was, doing well in high school and getting set to enter his senior year. Our son had a kidney stone which required surgery. When the nurse came to get him and told us to say our good-byes, I hugged him and he didn't hug me back. I kissed him and he wiped it off. I told him, "I love you" and he just stared at me. This was not my son. This was a 17 year old who had been brainwashed and manipulated by his father. My heart broke for him. He never returned to my house from the hospital. He went and stayed the next 2 weeks with my brother until school ended. On his 18th birthday, he and his father drove away with all of his belongings in the truck I bought for him and he had been working to pay me back. My sweet little boy, whom I had been so close to for 17 years, and fought for in court for 9 long years...the little boy I took to hundreds of therapy sessions, hugged and comforted during times when he had meltdowns and bit and scratched himself or while curled up in the fetal position rocking back and forth on the floor no longer existed. While we are very slowly starting to communicate again via text messages, he had rejected all of my family. His uncle who testified for him in court, his sister who protected him for years during visits with their father and testified in court, his grandmother who flew down for each and every court hearing, and his uncle and aunt who lived near us and his cousin, who is only 10 months older than he is and was his best childhood friend. All of these people were banished from his life - by his choice. If you don't know about parental alienation, I strongly encourage you to educate yourself about it if you, or anyone you love, is in a similar situation. I used all of my savings and money I inherited from my father ($350,000) fighting for my children's mental and physical health. I protected them from their father and relied on the courts to do the same. I made sure they were both in therapy, and went to therapy myself to learn how to deal with this traumatic situation. I thought I did everything right. I didn't badmouth my ex. I took the high road for YEARS. I followed the advice of my attorney, my therapist, my children's therapists, and my family. I didn't make decisions on my own, but sought input from the professionals. All to no avail for in the end, I lost my son to his father who still suffers from mental health issues. He still is incapable of putting our son and his needs first. I am trying to meet our son where he is and parent him as the person he is now, rather than the child I had hoped he would be. I am getting ready to go to his high school graduation and am just delighted that he wants me to attend. Although, I will be sitting in the gym, watching it on the big screen with his sister while his father and stepmother watch the graduation live, I know in my heart who is responsible for helping him get through school. All those years of school refusal, parent/teacher conferences, accommodations for his anxiety and depression, taking off work and going on every field trip, sacrificing and saving $1000's of dollars so he could go on band trips to California with his high school...... I know the truth. For now, I will settle for being in the same state as my son, watching from afar. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be grateful for so little. He no longer dreams of going to college, as his sister and cousins have done. He works in a gas station. Although his father is an attorney, I know he doesn't encourage him to go to college for he would have to pay for it - or explain why he refuses to pay for it as he contributed not a penny to our daughter's college education. Until my son can realize he doesn't have to hold his father's beliefs about me, and that he deserves to be treated with respect and dignity and deserves so much more, I am afraid he will remain where he is. I pray for him each day, for his safety and for wisdom. It is my hope as his mother that one day he will see, and understand, the truth but for now, it's too painful for him to recognize for fear of his father's abandonment. First, he must realize that he doesn't need his father's approval to be whole. For now, I try to have some sort of relationship with him from away, withholding my true feelings and knowing in my heart he's too fragile for me to try and "ground" in the truth for he would only once again feel torn. I miss him each and every day and I can say that there is truly a whole in my heart for my son.
  • barbm123
    There certainly are children in our communities that are 'unwanted'. As a foster parent for 9 years before the birth of my child, I know first hand how much violence and horror is committed against children. These kids need healing and frequently don't obtain the type of intense services thatMore they do need to address their unique circumstances. My own (adoptive)  child was born of a drug addicted birth mother who contributed to this problem with a neurological issue due to exposure in utero to methamphetamine. My daughter ISN"T unwanted, but her behavioral issues because of this disability, exacerbated with puterty, has led her into a life of alcohol and illicit drug use now that she's 18. She dropped school at 16, she's had 4 years of clinical therapies including 8 months in a residential treatment facility, to no avail. She has assaulted a police officer and thrown hard objects (including a dining room chair) directly at me when I won't give her money for more 'stuff'. Yet because of her illness, she won't take the prescribed medications in favor of street drugs and booze.  I don't view her as 'gone wrong or bad', I view her as profoundly ill.  Clearly each human being has positive and negative characteristics, both you and me and everyone else 'out there'. But you are impeding the help and support that we parents need at a time of crisis in our lives and the lives of our children. Perhaps the heading could have been worded differently, but the end result is that parents like me who dearly love our children can see their self destructive behavior and we cry, we mourn, we hurt for our children and for ourselves.  My daughter is intellectually brilliant, is a gifted song writer, has written beautiful stories and song lyrics, but her neuro-psychiatric disorder causes her to act out in ways that may lead to her self destruction.  She has already attempted suicide 3 times.  If you haven't lived with a child or teen who has serious mental health issues, you have no idea what it can be like and how dangerous it can become to both the teenager and the parents that love them.  I truly adore my daughter, but I've had to accept that I CAN'T live with her until she is willing to accept the help that she needs.  This has truly been the most heartbreaking realization I've ever lived through and it has caused incredible pain and a sense of terrible loss. I want to embrace her uniqueness, her talents and gifts, but her illness has invaded her life and limited her ability to understand the consequences of her behavior because of it.
  • Prince
    I can only read the first line and get sick. There is no such thing as a child gone wrong. Are you insane, This is disrepectful to any teen or child that isn't your fantasy child. You cant be a parent to someone you dont want. This support line makesMore me sick. Let your kids be who every they wanna be. I can see if they were doing something to hurt themselves or others but other that that there is no excuses. Let them be their own person and instead of seeing a therapist for it just support you kids not wonder why they aren't what you want them to be. This article is disrespectful to our children and discusting to society.
    • Hyporeal
      Well yes - kids who're hurting themselves &/or others - that’s exactly who the article is referring to isn’t it? & where does it mention anything about not wanting anyone? Who would want their child to have a difficult life?This is about grieving for a child that has serious problemsMore that as parents we feel are out of our control to help.
    • Jakesmom16


      Thanks for your feedback on this amazing site. I think you have a classic case of misunderstanding what I read is the child is on drugs several of them and that's what they're referring to and also they're not telling you you need to have some fantasy child but you do need to read that a few more times unless of course you are anywhere from 16 -28 Years old??? I'm just guessing maybe that is the explanation for getting so defensive and offended... Please if you don't like this page or site just do yourself a favor and just go ahead and log off please don't add any additional negativity and I don't mean to sound mean but this has been the best site I have found in all of my parenting years and I have enjoyed the fact that there has been absolutely no comments like yours thanks for understanding

  • Peoplematter
    I didn't know 'tough love' excluded what you did with your son. Isn't it the 'reward' aspect of the relationship your mother/father gives you (the teen) when the boundaries and guidelines in family life have been uncomplainingly observed?
  • 1234Raine
    Most of the parents who have commented here have sons or daughters in their late teens or older. My oldest son is just 15. He moved in with his father when he was 12 because the rest of us were living in a trailer while we built a new houseMore and he couldn't handle the cramped conditions, but when our house was finished he didn't want to move with us because he had no rules and very little supervision with his dad. He is now 15 on drugs and alcohol, has had numerous girlfriends already and is failing in school. It is so hard trying to influence him when I have to hunt him down every time I want to see him. I have tried to quit preaching at him. His request, but I can't help voicing my concerns, and I can't let him think I am ok with the way he is living his life right now. He is just a kid still, but he thinks he is adult enough to make all those grownup decisions. That said, I do feel blessed because he always tells me loves me when I see him. Many of the parents who commented here don't have that, but merely saying we love each other wont shield him from the consequences his path is leading him too.
  • mirandav
    I often wonder where I went wrong as well. My daughter is 20, living at home, and is nothing like what I pictured her to be when she was my little girl. I feel so wrong for complaining about her, but I'm at my wit's end. I read other parent'sMore stories and think 'I shouldn't be upset, she's nothing like the nightmare children I am reading about'. But I am upset. I'm so angry with her. She doesn't get in trouble. She doesn't drink, do drugs, or sneak out. The problem is that she does absolutely nothing. When she isn't at university or working, she just sits in her room. She's either listening to loud music, studying, on her computer, reading books from her library, or sleeping. That's her entire day. She doesn't talk to me or her father, she doesn't go outside, she doesn't do chores unless I ask her to. She sits in her room and does absolutely nothing and doesn't talk to anyone. Sometimes I catch her just staring at nothing. She has few friends, no boyfriend, and no motivation to do anything besides the minimum of what she's expected to do. I am almost in tears trying to talk to her - she doesn't initiate conversation and doesn't reply with much besides simple answers. Her window and curtains and door are always closed. It's like there's an empty shell where my hopes and dreams used to be. She used to be a straight A with many extracurricular activities. But now it's as if she's already gone. How can someone live like that, completely alone for most of the time, just wasting her life? I have no idea who my daughter is anymore, and I don't know what to do. I get so angry just looking at her now.
    • Dad23teenboys
      This comes at a good time for me. My 17 year old is craving independence but has made some big mistakes. He is very much the way you and the other have described. I have thought it could be exactly what you laid out in yourMore reply. I am stepping back and allowing him more space and continuing to let him know in small ways that i am still here when he needs me. It has opened up conversation and more honesty in some of his choices. I know he is going to continue doing things i might not want for him but in the end it is his life and i want to let him be him and hope that by backing off he will continue to keep the lines of communication open and i will have some influence rather than any control over him. Letting go of the son i love more than life is hard but i know its the right thing to do at this time. Letting go of our children is just a part of being a parent. Granted for most its not something we are ever ready for but either way its got to be done. God puts children in our life for a short time. They are not ours forever they all need to figure out who they want to be. We have to be confident in the foundation that we have laid with them and allow them to live their own lives regardless of what we want for them. They have to live the lives they have on their own. In ways theh choose to live. Just as we have all done. Im sure we all did things our parents might not have seen for us but in the end we are fine and they will be too. Just let her know you are there and allow space. Keep busy so you dont have to worry or stress about what you think you are seeing. Let her be her. If she needs you she will ask
    • barbm123
      @mirandav She is going through a transition to adulthood that may be very painful for her (and you too). I remember going through this and my parents could have easily written the letter you did. I was in college, going to classes, buried in homework and worried about what IMore was going to make of my life. What career was I going to chose and would I be good at it and 'good enough' for it. I seldom went out with friends, all of whom had boyfriends and I didn't. I worked part-time and went to schooll the rest of the time and slept, ate, helped with dishes and other chores when asked but my parents could easily have mistaken my quietness as sullenness or lack of motivation. I was tired!  Work 24 hours a week, go to school 12-15 hours a week and lug home 8-10 hours of homework every week. That 60 hour week seems interminable and young adults her age get good and tired and it feels like you are on a treadmill that never ends.  The positives here are that she is doing good things for herself:  1) she's going to school, 2) she's working at least part time, and 3) she's still living at home so you can keep tabs on her.  The other positives are there too,: she;s not engaging in destructive behaviors and she does homework!  Right now as she makes this crossing from her teen years to adulthood, she needs compassion, understanding and your presence but not your intervention. Be there for her is she decides to talk about what is troubling her, but let her be the one who steps forward to ask for the conversation.Let her know in little ways that you love her, a short love note on her bathroom mirror or bedroom door, a 'little gift' (colorful socks, hair ties, etc), let her know you are there is she wants to talk, needs a shoulder, etc.don't let her see you worry about her, because it could make her feel 'responsible' for your discomfort.  I was terrified during the time between graduation from high school and my first two years of college. It made me a recluse for at least 1/2 of it until I made new friends at work and discovered my college life. She's not an empty shell, if she is anything like I was at that age, I was sort of lost in the 'what am I going to do with my life?" scenario. If you believe in prayer, pray for her. It's a tough time in that part of life and they know major decisions are in front of them and this time, probably for the first time in their life, they will have to make them. It can be overwhelming.
  • sbratlanta
    I know this will stir up some controversy, but I'm not a big fan of "tough love" or drawing a line in the sand.  I think it sets our kids up to rebel--BIG TIME.  I'd rather seek to understand why my child is doing the things they are.  What needsMore are they trying to meet by doing the behavior?  And then I seek to help them find better ways to meet those needs without such a high cost to them or to me.  And before you say anything about me not having as difficult a child as you....I have an extremely challenging child who ripped off closet doors and punched holes in the wall when he was young.  It wasn't until I changed how I behaved that he was able to change.  And how I behaved was to stop trying to control him but seek to understand him.  For me, the relationship is the most important thing.  If you lose that, you've lost your influence.  So even though he did behaviors I didn't agree with as a teen (drinking, smoking pot)...we kept talking.  I didn't draw a line in the sand; I talked to him...kept the doorway open for him to come to me...and even though it wasn't easy...we stayed connected during those tough scary times. He has matured a lot...almost 19 now and going off to college next week.  But the best thing is...we still have a relationship.
    • barbm123


      Every parent has to provide guidance to their child. I've never engaged in 'tough love', have always supported my daughter in positive choices and tried to explain my position when her choices weren't advisable. What may have worked for your son hasn't worked for my daughter for the last few years, in fact it has boomeranged to the point where she believes she can demand anything, any response, any consideration without extending that same consideration to me. The path we are taking now is with the advice and recommendation of therapists and counselors who know my daughter well and have witnessed her insulting demeaning and demanding behavior toward me on many occasions. I'm grateful for all sugggestions and I'm glad that you and your son are working together in harmony. Relationship is important and keeping the lines of communication open is extremely important. Unfortunately, compassion, understanding and respect was only a one way street with us and an new approach had to be attempted. My daughter has already rebelled, big time, staying out til 4 or 5 am, not calling to let me know she was safe, we've been there and done that. Now she needs to understand as she approaches her 18 th birthday that there are some lifestyles and some choices that, while she may make those decisions for herself, I will not finance or support. I love her too much to provide her with the 'ammunition' to shoot herself in the foot. She, as a soon-to-be adult, has to be willing to accept the responsibilities of adulthood as well as the freedom she believes it provides. .

  • HeartBrokenInAZ
    Where to to start? My oldest daughter is 30 year old. She has been in and out of trouble with the laws for the past 14 years. I've tried to encourage her to do better with her life and help her raise her 13 & 8 year old children. aboutMore 6 months ago, she caused us to be evicted and then sent her kids to live with strangers (to them). She blamed me. I just recently when to visit with them and she wanted me to bring them back with me. I refused because she doesn't have a place to live and no job. She was really mad at me. To show me how mad she was, her & her gang of boyfriends broke into my brother's house (Where I've been staying for last 6 months). They stole 100's of $1000s worth of items from him including 3 cars & a motorcycle. The things she took from me include; ancestry info, family pictures, things I inherited from my grand mothers & mother, books, etc... she took stuff that only meant something to me! My youngest daughter (25) has been mad at her sister for about 15 years. Neither of us understand why she does what she does. This last event is the 'straw that broke the camel's back'. My head & heart have been in this battle to make sense of her terrible actions. I feel like my heart is breaking apart. I have decided to 'divorce' my oldest daughter because I can't help her and by her actions she has let me know loud & clear I am not welcome in her life. I know I have to do this but it does not make it any easier on me or the others who love her! I am moving back east to help continue to raise her children. They have lived with me 95% of their young lives. Her 13 yr old already won't talk to her because he says she lied to him to many times! and the kids don't know about this last event, yet.  My oldest didn't live up to her potential but my youngest went way beyond anything I could have dreamed for her. They are both special in their own right. I feel ten times worst over losing my oldest daughter (and she didn't die) than I did when my mom pasted away 5 years ago. I know I have to stay firm in my decision to let her go! I know it won't be easy! I hope I can continue to be a positive influence in my grand children's lives. They are so sweet and loving. I hope and pray they make good decisions in their own lives.
    • SallyAshus

      HeartBrokenInAZ Do not shield her from the consequences of her actions! What your daughter and her "gang of boyfriends" did was CRIMINAL breaking and entering, grand theft auto, tresspass, vandalism, and possibly aggravated assault, depending upon whether ther was anyone in the house at the time of their burglary! Do NOT dissuade your brother from following through on pressing charges: his insurance company will probably require that  anyway before it pays a claim. You were right to NOT bring your grandchildren back with you from your visit: if  you do not have legal custody, and your daughter does not have legal custody of her children, then you could have been charged with kidnapping had you done so! She is an adult to the law, even though her behavior is not. She has to learn that behavior has consequences. That's what "Tough Love" is. The only person you are obligated to care for now is YOURSELF. You can't take care of anyone else if you're a basket case. Keep a relationship with the social worker who is supervising your grandchildren, and show that you ARE a desirable influence in their lives, and that you will NOT enable their mother's poor choices any more. Thank you to your brother who gave you shelter, sustenance, and support when you were very vulnerable. Your daughter is grown, and has to learn to grow up.

      I do understand your anguish, having rescued my daughter from too many consequences when she was a teen and a young adult. Then she did something stupid, and was held in jail for 5 days before I knew what had happened to her. Those 5 days  effected a great attitude adjustment! Fortunately, there were no young children involved, only her dog (who had to be bailed out of Animal Control).

      • barbm123

        SallyAshus HeartBrokenInAZ

        I too have rescued my now 17 y/o daughter from her negative behaviors. Now she is in a residential treatment program for both neurological issues and behavioral issues. I placed her there to give her one last try at getting her act together and getting the 'bad' kids away from her.It's been only marginally successful, she still refuses to join a 12 step program to deal with her marijuana dependency issue and I've had to draw the line firmly in the sand. No 'home visits', no 'freebies' (she wanted a personal dvd player for her dorm room), no trips to amusement parks other than planned by her treatment center, no cash for summer clothes or 'goodies' and no visits to grandma's house. so far this summer I've said 'no' to about 8 things she has demanded of me on the advice of her therapist. The key to all of these things is joining the 12 step program provided by the facility and getting through at lest the first two steps with the goal of completing the entire program. The second is to attend school once school is back in session Only then will I consider her other demands, and only if they are reworded as requests. At the advice of her therapist, neither her grandmother or I will allow her to return to either of our homes unless she is clean, sober and still active in a 12 step program and is attending a high school equivalency program. She MUST learn to stay away from the negative influences in her life. As much as it deeply hurts me to appear to abandon her, I'm not. She has abandoned principles she was raised with for over 17 years and I simply  will not facilitate or financially support her marijuana dependancy.If she needs a place to live, she can get clean, sober, straighten out her negative and abusive treatment of me, make amends (12 step program) and I would love to have her back and provide as much help as possible. I've cried more tears in the last 18 months than I knew were in me. It breaks my heart and rips if from my chest, but this is the time for 'tough' love to let her know her life will NOT be the same and it could get pretty challenging.

        • ExasperatedSingleMum

          barbm123 - I'm reading with interest about your journey. Personally, I'm on a pathway to mental destruction because of my absolute belief that I can help my 16.5yr old son through this odd period he's been going through over the past 7 months. His behaviour has caused that much stress, that I have lost an 8year long relationship with my partner, had to relocate 700km away from my family and town, am struggling to hold down work because of high levels of stress and anxiety and now my parents won't attend Christmas with us because of the way my son spoke to his grandmother recently. He's not violent. He's charming, passive and quiet. 100% resistant, sarcastic and completely disrespectful when challenged. When I leave him alone, he's fine to run his own race in my home. No chores, no boundaries, no homework, no socialising, no job, no motivation, no cares. He's attending a new school and like his old school of 10 years, the new school of 6 months has discovered that they are at a loss as to how to handle and motivate him. When I challenge his behaviours and enforce consequences, he digs his heels in, says "no" and becomes intimidating, abusive, threatening, disruptive, violent and downright scary. He's had reports of "fine" for mental and physical health and "superior" for his IQ. 

          Like @sbratlanta I have tried the softer approaches, but it appears to be a one-way street. I was interested in reading about your story because I believe I need to take a different approach. I have tried all I know. I have even tried working on myself with psychologist assistance because I'm wondering whether I am the one who needs new skills. He is a carbon copy of my ex-husband (my son's father) and I am facing PSTD and the abuse all over again, just this time from my 16.5year old. My question to you @barbm123 is, how did you get your daughter to treatment or outside help?

          • barbm123
            ExasperatedSingleMum barbm123 I know of the trauma you have experienced first hand and I am still going through this with you. My daughter was in a residential treatment facility for 8 months and left the facility because she 'aged out'. She still needed much work and still does. Her psychiatrist (outMore patient) specifically told me that 'your daughter should have been in residential a year or more ago' just 3 months before I had her placed. We received state referrals here in the U.S. via the Dept of Mental Health. Because her case was a state post-adoption, our state picked up most of the costs and I paid 20%. We had been negotiating an extension of her placement just a month before her scheduled discharge when she went AWOL from the facility and was detained by a police officer contacted by the agency when they reported her AWOL. She was 5 days shy of her 18th birthday. When the police officer told her to get in the car and tried to escort her to his police car, she hauled off and slugged him.  That has set another round of much different stakes for her, we have already been to court once and we will need to go back for at least two more times.  I have spoken via phone to the probation department and it looks like they are going to require anger management, drug treatment (12 step program) possibly community service and she will be on probation for at least one year. Because of her assault on the police officer, the residential facility pulled all promises to extend her placement concerned that she might become physical with a staff member or another resident of the facility, so her only option was to come home. It has been a disaster. The only time I have any peace is when she isn't here.  I was praying that the court would put her in another residential only at a higher level while she completed the anger management and 12 step program for her marijuana use, but because it is her first offense, it doesn't look like that is likely.  My daughter is verbally abusive to me most of the time, and escalates whenever I say 'no, I'm not giving you money', 'no your friend isn't coming to stay over night' Basically any time I put any restriction or say 'no', she goes off. Tonight she asked me to loan her friend money for two weeks until he got his pay check.  I said, 'no - I have no obligation to bail out your friend if he spent too much money', she shot back 'you f......g bword.  The demands are endless and continuous, but her dirty laundry has been occupying our screened in porch for two weeks and she hasn't begun to do it. I asked her to help me with a 30 minute task yesterday because I had a heavy object I couldn't manage alone and while she did help me, she was nasty, sarcastic and demeaning almost the entire time.  I don't know what to do anymore and I really can't advise you. This oppositional defiant disorder is a beast to treat with mental health programs because they classify it as a 'behavioral' problem and not a deep seated disorder. She refuses medication, even antidepressants, despite 3 previous attempts at suicide. Since she is 18 now, I can't force her to take the medication.  I'm exhausted most of the time, sick with worry and anguish and beside myself because every attempt I've made at 'being nice', helping her, providing medical care and emotional therapy has failed to make any impact.  She can be very frightening when she towers over me and screams in my face about what a bword I am and what a looser mother I've been.  She is my only child and I love her with my entire heart. I've stopped letting her see how hurt and wounded I am, knowing that her behavior is truly indicative of her mental health issue, so naturally, now she tells me I'm 'unfeeling and distant'.  My prayers for you and your son.  I'm praying the judge in her court case will institutionalize her until she cooperates with the necessary treatment, including the antidepressants she needs.  My prayers are with you. Go through any mental health agency or governmental agency you can to find him the help he desperately needs before he reaches legal age in your area. Once they are legally adults, the process becomes much more complicated and extremely expensive.  Start with his pediatrician or MD and take any help you can. Continue seeing your therapist as often as possible, it gives you an outlet to release the tension and frustration. May God go with you both.
          • ExasperatedSingleMum

            barbm123 @Peoplematter  ExasperatedSingleMum 

            Thank you

            kindly to you both for taking the time to respond. I read with interest and

            sincerely appreciate both of your stories and your viewpoints. barbm123  - my

            heart goes out to you. You sound as though you are an amazingly strong person,

            completely devoted to your daughter and to giving her every possible

            opportunity. There is no doubt in my mind of the pain and suffering you are

            going through on a daily basis. I pray that you are taking every opportunity to

            support yourself so that at some point in time soon, you may find peace. It is

            never easy being in the midst of parenting teenagers who are battling to find their purpose and as parents, every action we take is considered and with love. Personally, my actions and judgement are

            often clouded by the love I have for my son so hence I truly appreciate your input - with both you and @Peoplematter being on the outside, you have cast more clarity onto my situation and for that I am grateful <3.

            Where my son is headed is unclear and sometimes I cast my own concerns and anxieties for his future onto him. I need to remind myself to take a step back now and again and check in with myself as to where the problem truly lies.  I waver between your situation barbm123, and your perspective, Peoplematter. I told my son I had cancelled Xmas because without grandparents it wouldn't be the same. So he headed to his father's place and now says I kicked him out. He has now on his own, headed 700km away to be with friends for NYE and I am told via SMS that he won't return for 3 weeks. I am comfortable to a large extent about his friends and their parents however the emotional distance is heartbreaking at such an important time in his life. I am relieved that the girlfriend he'll be spending the first week with (that was a big shock!) is from a very religious (albeit single mum) family and trust that during his time there, he will regain perspective about his own family.

            Peoplematter , I read the book when he was a toddler but it was of course, way too premature back then. I should dig it out again.  I hear you with the ++++++++ role models. And that is the one thing my son doesn't have. I love seeing him with the fathers of his mates - it's where he belongs - in male company. Personally, I struggle to find good role models and perhaps through own bad experiences, have become cynical about finding a good, honest man with excellent mental and physical health. And of course my son is completely alert to attempts I make involving the services of agencies such as 'Aunts & Uncles' (here in Australia) and refuses to engage on that level. I will keep trying to find opportunities for him to connect which are less obvious but I'm running out of ideas.

            I have of late been thinking about sending him on a 3 month exchange program to Kenya where I have a contact. I'm thinking that time in an underdeveloped country particularly within outlying communities could connect him more deeply with men and with the idea of responsibility. My concerns about sending him to a more afluent English speaking society is that it becomes a superficial connection which will be over once he's back home. 

            2016 will certainly be welcomed as a year for interesting developments in our lives. For the moment while he's away and refuses contact, I will try to heal and garner my inner strength to deal with whatever comes when/if he returns end January, ready for school. barbm123  and Peoplematter , I pray that you both have a peaceful and prosperous New Year - and thank you for your words.  Appreciated.

          • Peoplematter

            ExasperatedSingleMum barbm123 Peoplematter

            Hello ESM,

            Am going to wish you a Happy New Year today, both possibly sharing the exact same wish for this year to be one of great positive change for our sons.

            Christmas here was also quite a muddle, as per learnt disrespectful behaviour from son to try to avoid letting Mum here steer a few pleasant social events for us to share in together AND even have him with me for the day and evening, as is common with families at Christmas, whether only two of you or an entire 'pack'.(Lucky if you have this). I can say it was (the predictable) horrible, stomach churning anxiety, not being able to rely on any certainties of my son's presence, withholding commitments to others to last minute frequently, because of my son's learnt unreliable and uncommitting responses (text, occ'ly phone call)...___! What a strain it is!...fortunately it has been moderately worth it...well, no more than that, as he and I did have a great time with all the people I  had made the 'semi'- arrangements with...the best being, one new-ish set of friends who have not met my son before were just brilliant to be with and definitely brought out my 'inner' boy (as I'd hoped) while we were there all having a great time.

            So, son's NY plan to go with friends to party from his dad's has also come to pass as far as I know but have not received details yet and his usual highly delayed monosyllabic replies to my 1 or 2 texts again avoid answering outstanding questions have given him re: school stuff. Friends to rescue! Unsolicited, I received a message of incitation from dad and 27 yo son to ask my son out for a coffee in town....which son did answer...Yes!! Now trying to pull it off... (again, others' voices aiming for same things with our boys...so MUCH MORE effective than us directly...and 'inner' son knows he needs it..).

            Which leads me to your present circumstances....I hope you do not have the problem I have had as a result of refusing to accept certain bad behaviour almost two years ago, when he then began to stay permanently at his father's. While it has probably had the most positive impact in recognising son needs to earn a privilege/favour from me now..at least by communicating when we do converse, doing small jobs etc, I HAVE LOST HIM TO HIS FATHER. However, I also know that this could again have been a very different outcome if friends (in lieu of caring family) with similar values as me, could have spent more time with him and helped him accept my expectations as 'normal' as opposed to excessive, because his dad and paternal grandmother let him do what he wants. My point is, our boys really do need another conduit of influence and nurturing that isn't just ours, as other boys may have dads, uncles, grandads (if are positive) so sorry to say, this mum has absolutely no shame in revealing this truth to friends etc...because I can see it is the only solution for my son to connect with his inner, better self that I believe he has. 

            If you could have seen my stroppy, sulky, unco-operative, previously ODD son at these various friends homes...as they all usually say: what a sociable, clever young lad you have....(if only they knew ...and those friends who understand our boys need so much more subsatnce to get by well in the world than ability to 'charm'...well, if I have just found them, am shamelessly going to stay close as is appropriately possible...)

            Am wishing you a good return of your son and fresh start...could talks with friends with husbands..or a respected tradesman (work experience??)/male friend be possible...?

            Have my fingers crossed tightly...

            Very best heartfelt wishes to you.

          • barbm123
            ExasperatedSingleMum barbm123 Peoplematter You have a much clearer picture of your son and your situation than anyone else can, living with him daily. I would be hesitant to send my daughter to a foreign country, particularly one that is underdeveloped, but you know your son, your contact and the situation better thanMore any one else. Teenagers want to 'have fun and party' for NYE, unlike myself, who prefers staying off the roads and away from the hubbub for small private house parties. If he is active in sports, you might speak to a trusted coach or athletic director about being a mentor for your son. Teens naturally distance themselves from parents during the turbulent teen years and the emotional distance can be engulfing for us. I am not pressing my daughter for emotional connection right now, she isn't in a place where the emotional connection can provide anything but temporary solace for me. Take this three week 'sabbatical' that your son is a way to care for yourself, enjoy doing things that you like to do, be in the company of your friends and try not to worry about him while he is away. I have turned over my daughters care to God above, keeping my boundaries in place about money and other limits despite her disrespectful attitude. She can't have it both ways, coming to me for money and then being abusive to me at other times.  Thank you for your kind words and NY prayers. I wish the same for you, your son and all of the single parents struggling with the teen years.  Our world is far more complicated now than when we were their age, the fact that they struggle so hard for freedom may be the making of them when they are a bit older and somewhat more mature.
          • Peoplematter

            ExasperatedSingleMum barbm123

            Hi Other Mum,

            Have just read your summary and it is extremely similar to mine.

            WHen my son was 8 yrs old I read the book Raising Boys...had no partner, no grandad's around and a most distant (sadly completely uncaring but intelligent and witty) brother who had no interest in my son..or us in general, not reciprocating help with my son as I helped my niece....why mention this comparing with your description of your son. Well, my son is 16.5yrs (Gemini) and under-performing something awful, now living more with his poor work ethic and deceitful father.... So, read this book and then spent next 4+ years looking for exceptions (2 I could find but even then they might not be if I had all the facts about these boys/men) exceptions to the 'rule' I could see forming from reading this book:

            Male role models - to get a balanced, accomplished achieving young man with motivation and positive respect for you as mum and your opinions, advice etc that you give to your un-listening son, they need++++++++++++++++++ positive male role models to emulate. It seems, unless you can be with them for masses more time than most of us working single mums, they are biologically wired to 'copy' men. Nobody's fault and it is really apparent when you see them in company of men, particularly if the man/mentor has gained the son's respect.

            So, upshot: when my son was 8 yrs old I could see he was going to be just as your son is described at this age...if I did not meet someone really good to be in our lives and who would care, in a masculine way, about this young, aimless charge in our joint care...Well, 2 relationships were not great and aspects 'missing' lead to this predictable result...a split home boy statistic...yet we know, don't we, that there is much much more to our sons. There really is...and mostly, it is the complete absence of a meaningful male relationship that stands in the way of finding the 'positive' lad...it's been awful. WOrse, you try explaining it to others not in your predicament...

            Hoping you will keep trying. I am. Happy to keep in touch, if you want.

    • sbratlanta
      HeartBrokenInAZ I feel you mother!  how heartbreaking it is to try to make sense of another's destructive actions, especially a loved one.  I pray for some peace inside you as you put up and hold those loving boundaries so that you can honor yourself and take care of yourself...because youMore deserve to loved and cared for...plus when you're not so depleted you can better be there for those grandkids.  Sometimes we just have to let go of people who are toxic in our lives.  We don't have to banish them from our hearts, but sometimes we do have to banish them from our homes and our lives.  I highly suggest you get support through a 12-step program where you will find others going through similiar events.  I've heard from friends how wonderful the support was from a 12-step community when they had to "divorce" a child.  Peace and love to you as you go through this hard time.
  • Erik
    This has really helped me a lot,  just what I needed to read.
  • A mom who loves her son
    I relate to this topic a lot, I appreciate it being brought out in the open and have finally after 5 years of losing my son to bad choices and drug/alcohol use have found a way to love the child he is. It started like the article mentioned dealingMore with the overwhelming grief of losing the idea of what I thought my son should do or be. I had to face my grief and talk about the situation with those I trusted. My son is making better decisions today, but there are still times that the deep sadness takes over and I miss the innocent child he once was. The most important thing my husband and I have realized is that my son knows we love him no matter what and he tells us that he loves us back.
  • FireflyIntheSky
    I agree with the other commenters who said that the article could certainly be more thorough and helpful. The comments themselves, however, are really powerful. I knew I wasn't the only one in this situation with their child but I didn't realize how many others' situations were nearly identical. DifferentMore child, same story. Mine is 15, hasn't spoken to me in three months, says he hates me and will never speak to me again. I eat, sleep, and breathe with the ache of it. I have begun the steps of being a premature empty nester and trying to create a life that is full now that it is not full of taking care of him. I can't wait to trade in the family van for a little car, because driving the van every day to and from work reminds me that I don't have kids in the back. Creating an identity for yourself beyond just "mom" is daunting. The feelings of guilt, wondering if I had done things differently I wouldn't be here. I feel so confused when I try to figure out where we went wrong. It's overwhelming. I never asked God for a big house, a fancy job, or a life of ease, but my whole life I have been asking him for a healthy, loving family. I didn't have one as a child but that only made me work harder to have one as an adult...and, fail. I feel so lonely. I even wish I could have another baby, but I know that wouldn't replace my child and who knows if that baby wouldn't grow up and break my heart too. So I got a big dog LOL. But seriously, thank you to all who've shared your story in the comments. It sounds like you know exactly how I feel.
    • JoyOverTears
      FireflyIntheSky, unfortunately there are alot of us in the same shoes as you! Early empty nesters because our children chose to leave home way before they were mature or old enough to do so. Because our rules annoyed them and our advice hindered the freedom they believed theyMore should have at such a young age. I too, like you, struggle daily with the "loss" of 2 children which I raised as a single mother, only to have them turn on me and run to the father who emotionally and physically abandoned them after our divorce. With advice from older women who have experienced the same situations, I've become stronger and learned to create an active, enjoyable life with my partner as well as good friends. I pray you too will find some comfort in the knowledge that you were the best parent you could be and that our children are influenced minimally by us as parents and greatly by peers, environment and most damaging of all social media and technology. It does get easier with every week that passes to accept our current parental status.
  • Cat
    Thank you so much for this article.  I am having such a terrible time overcoming my grief of two of my children who are living choices that are destructive and contrary to what we wanted for them. I wish we had a local parent support group that discussed this veryMore thing.
  • CAK


    He can't see past Friday night!

    As his parent I feel it is imperative I guide him, rebuke him if necessary, and

    share with him things at 17 he cannot see simply because he lacks life

    experience. Yes, I am thankful he is not on drugs, in a life of crime, and

    sleeping with every girl out there willing (he's a good looking kid); however,

    at the same time I as a parent who loves her kids more than life itself I want

    the best for him. He can't turn back time and will regret some of the decisions

    he is making out of immaturity. Failing to counsel him could have devastating


    • EdenFarmer
      CAK EdenFarmer Again, I completely agree with you...  at 17, he is still just a baby, naive, and still uneducated in the world we live in.  I guess what I was trying to say was to focus more on what he is doing that is right...  and maybe he will listenMore to you more when you suggest things or give needed advice.
  • CAK
    EdenFarmer CAK I simply told him... As a senior he needs to make available to him all options possible so at the end of the day the choice is his. Failing to play footbal will only lessen the opportunities afford to him and limit his choices for his future. More He needs to see, smell, and taste all that is out there before he makes a decision. "What he thinks" things will be like isn't necessarily how they are. I for one want him to have as many options for him to chose from as possible. Additionally, at 17, he is not mature enough to make life long impacting decisions.
    • CAK

      EdenFarmer CAK

      Police are a walking target right

      now! I know, because I did the job, how hard it is not only as an individual,

      but on family life, social life, a person's body, mind and spirit, and

      mentally. Not to mention, it is definitely NOT a career path that pays what it

      is worth! After all, the police and authorities put the very lives on the line

      EVERY time they put on a uniform. I have been to too many police funerals in my

      day. I certainly do not want it to be my son's!

      • EdenFarmer
        CAK EdenFarmer I completely understand!  and I completely agree...  and have all the respect for you and your courage to wear the shield!
      • CAK

        EdenFarmer CAK 

        I simply told him... As a senior

        he needs to make available to him all options possible so at the end of the day

        the choice is his. Failing to play football will only lessen the opportunities

        afford to him and limit his choices for his future. He needs to see, smell, and

        taste all that is out there before he makes a decision. "What he

        thinks" things will be like isn't necessarily how they are. I for one want

        him to have as many options for him to choose from as possible. Additionally,

        at 17, he is not mature enough to make life long impacting decisions.

  • Grieving mum

    .....and all this while, I thought I was the only one feeling that I had got it all wrong and that the future only had doom and gloom for the rest of our days.

    Thank you for validating my despair, for giving me hope and the strength to accept what I cannot change. Meanwhile, I will keep on trying to live with the reality that my son must be helped and loved, just like it used to be.

  • Jules
    I've been grieving the loss of my sweet little boy for several years now. He was a bright, energetic, inquisitive, empathetic boy until about 12 years old. He's 17 now. Some of it I'm sure is normal teenage struggles, but it's compounded by mood and anxiety issues. The feeling ofMore grief is devastating, not only watching him make so many bad choices, but watching him lashing out and distancing himself from a family who loves him. I honestly wonder sometimes how to cope with the loss, and all the while hoping that with time and maturity he'll come back to us. I also wish there was a support group of parents grieving the same kind of loss, but haven't been able to find one.
  • exhaustedparent
    My daughter was my "golden girl" until she reached 15-16 years of age then she became self-centred with a great sense of entitlement.  Not believing that rules apply to her and pushing against our/schools boundaries all the time.  Enter her final two years of high school and she starts takingMore off and couch surfing whenever you say something she doesn't like or the stress of exams etc gets too much. Add binge drinking, ignoring our rules despite groundings and losing car privileges, ignoring her own safety. She is now nearly 18 and again, living out of home.  My husband drew the line in the sand over obeying our rules so she left. Despite everything we have done for her, she does not respect us and still continues to want to do whatever she wants. I drift between laying down the law and allowing her to make her own decisions and mistakes in the hope that she will wake up to herself. I am totally worn out and while we expect her home again soon, a part of me feels I am "done" and can't take it anymore...
    • Anna banana bobanna
      @exhaustedparent I am sorry about your situation with your daughter. If she has somewhere safe to go and live elsewhere, I would say let her do it and don't worry anymore. The heartbreak and exhaustion these kids can put you through can literally ruin your life. I know, I've beenMore there with all of mine in one way or another. Take back some self-care... even if she comes back to live with you, stay away from her and don't interact with her any more than you have to. Hide the car keys where she can't find them, turn off her internet. I've gone through periods where I just lock myself in my room when the teenager is home. Please take care of you...
    • Cat14

      Oh my!!!! Thank you so much for sharing this. This is my daughter right now to a T. Behaviour really started at 14. She is now 15. She bounces from house to house, when boundaries, rules or chores are put in her. Pretty much acts out when she can't do as she wishes and wants. As for rules.....don't bother trying to instill them, because she throws in your face that your in her constantly and finds another home to live at. I want her around. I want her to understand I'm not doing anything wrong. I miss her! But I when she's around I find myself walking on egg shells and afraid to say anything to her. I can call her up from her room just to clean her food mess etc and it starts a whole blow up which is always my fault. If I push, the rules and demand, then I get verbally abused and she's gone. When she is confronted about the names she's called me, she denies it even it if I had witnesses. She will then say, we took her comment wrong, or we are making it up together. Like what the hell!!! What could be made up or taken wrong when your calling your mother a w@#$e and such!!! Lol. I believe she is in just total denial. She wants the run of the whole show and is wanting me to accept it. She wants to do as she wishes, have no rules. Basically, she wants to grow up too fast. She want to live life like an adult to do whatever she pleases with no rules but, wants me to be her maid and shauffer at the same time. She wants me to jump when she says jump.

      Anyways, the hurt and pain I feel is unbearable at times. When these things first started, I was devistated. I am coping much better.....but the hurt it still there. The verbal abuse.....was a shocking devistatiin at first but now although it still hurts, I expect it with each of her blow outs. I try to explain that I am not controlling her and her life. I am just being a parents and instilling, rules, responsibilities and chores for my house. Every place has set of rules and expected responsibilities from all living within the house. Therefore, I too expect such and when such is not followed, I have a right and a responsibility to voice it or give consequences. Told her I can't allow her to do as she wishes, then I will have 3 others demanding what she is. At this point, when she is around, everyone feels tense. When she's gone, we miss her but the house is calmer. I hurt with all this pain but I hurt for her!!! She has absolutely no clue what she's doing!!! I try and tell her to put herself in my shoes. I tried telling her to think if this was her child...what would she do. Would she let her daughter do as she wishes, be defiant, come and go as she wishes. Lol.....my daughter says she would. She would be in her kids as I am in her. Therefore, she has no clue.....and one day she'll wake up. One day, she'll apologies and thank me but one day she will go through the same thing. I know she will, but I so so so hope not. I don't want her to have to endure the pain and hurt that it brings.

      The one thing I'm stuck on....is how did this happen? What did I do wrong? I did not come from a pleasant childhood. I made sure my kids never had to go through what I went through. I was raised in foster homes and was never this defiant, destructive and verbally abusive as a teenager. I Leary more in a foster home that I ever did. I learned rules, respect and responsibilities. I had chores etc and had expected to follow rules. With my kids, I made sure, they weren't abused, were dressed well and always had enough food in the house so they would never be without. I let my kids have fun, I did give them rules, chores. I gave them responsibilities and had expectations (to an extent). So where did I go wrong? I'm really made to feel like my kids shouldn't have had chores. This is not only from my daughters mouth....but from mother in law. She feels my kids shouldn't have to clean rooms or do dishes. She's even voiced it to my kids. Then my kids throw it in my face. I tried to set my kids up with a half hour to an hour of homework whether they had homework or not. To me.....why not? It'll just reduce them being on electronics. If they didn't want to review notes or find some type of homework to do for that time, I told them it could just be a quiet time of reading. Well my mother in law voiced her opinion yet again to my daughter. Told my daughter if she had no home work she shouldn't be forced to still do some. Told her if she had none, it should be her break. Well, this caused my daughter to fight me and be defiant towards that expectation. This rules was put into place for this daughter especially. She was doing her homework half fast. Would skip half of her work saying she didn't understand etc. but she wouldn't even try. If she couldn't answer a question off the top of her head, than she skip it instead of looking in her notes. Plus for assignments, shed wait till last minute to do it. It's fine if someone waits till the last minute but if your going to cry in frustration and take out your frustration on everyone in the house then it should have been started sooner. Therefore, with my rule of half hour to an hour work every week day, she may have had time or opportunity to start it earlier. Also, her reading was lacking. She never wanted to read assigned school novels....let alone any novel. She either never read the novels or never finished them and bluffed her way in class. With my half hour to hour of homework every day, I didn't think I was doing anyone any harm. I guess I was to my daughter and mother in law.

      So sorry for the novel!!! I just had to much to say!!! Honestly and truly, I don't feel I'm doing anything wrong. I'm just dealing with an extreme case of teen behaviour. I expected normal teen behaviour but not this and definately not to this extreme. I am learning to accept it!!! Learning to deal with the hurt and pain that it has caused. At first, it was hard. I was made myself sick trying to understand this all, along with all the verbal abuse. Presently, she hasn't been around much but claims when she turns 16 in January she's going in welfare and living in her own. I haven't said too much about that other than.....Good luck with that!!! I know it sound a bit sarcastic, but at least it's a comment she can think about!!!

      • Jakesmom16

        Cat 14

        I'm so happy that you shared this. I'm going through the same thing but my son is staying with his grandma and I have been trying to get my self-esteem and life back on track. Thanks for opening up and sharing your hopes and dreams and of your reality.

      • Peoplematter


        Hello Cat,

        Professional mum of one, 16 y.o. boy (and I stress 'boy' ...not well-adjusted thinking, mature, emotionally intelligent individual that my community/society, its laws and authorities appear to think just arrives with chronological age) here, I think, across the pond from yourselves (this is an American site?). Also, long-term griever as failed to stop downhill trend of my son's character, curiosity and academic potential since divorce when he was 7 years old and numerous boyhood 'needs' missing throughout his childhood and early teens leaving him totally prey to an indulgent, 'loving' father & paternal grandmother....who seem to view 'expectation' and 'standards' as child abuse e.g. asking ex-husband (tragically son's ONLY male role model) to engage son in topical conversations or when chatting, get him to explain himself clearer (using mature vocab!) and let him see you expect it of him....my dear passive-aggressive Ex, naturally, doesnt bother ...when son is 9...when he is 10...11...12...14...by which time have added, in plea, the great positive impact it has on all school subjects requiring extended answers, descriptions etc..and how well Tom, Dick & Harry...and any boy whose father, uncle, grandad etc hold their sons/nephews/grandsons to a communicating level that older males expect, are doing at school, character and general maturity...from this simple expectation and engagement. Obviously, Mr P-A Ex-hubby continues to neglect this and any mature thinking, application, much less stop our son's violent screen game addiction and loss of interest in most other forms of entertainment, etc alone ability to connect with watching a film, a drama, docu-drama, etc

        Many bloggers here, particularly your comments, have struck a chord with me too...including the pain of seeing the bad choices and outward negative behaviours our youngsters are going through...and ultimately, which I particularly was relieved to see (as seems totally absent in ex-inlaw family), a healthy parental FORESIGHT of the negative impact this will have on their kids' lives.

        Thank you Cat, for going expressing some of the details about your daughter's and mother-in-law's response to your caring, thoughtful and much needed parental guidance that any unfocussed or emotionally unpredictable teen should get. I can't detail the hundreds of conversations I have had referring sometimes also to similar behaviours as your daughter's, the painful disappointing responses, when you need help and moral support, are too much to keep reliving....but brings me to main reason for writing to you:

        My son is not with me now, he is living with father, girl-friend etc, I have not had any supportive family and extremely distant uncaring brother - and this is the point: like you ( taking on all roles of husband, father, uncle, grandad plus trying to squeeze mum in somewhere in that ful schedule of endless round of life's responsibilities), my son and I had minimal moral or practical support - Steve Biddulph (CHild Psych + father) states so many times in his book Raising Boys, how the interactions of all sons' meaningful relationships are effecting their development and understanding of how to behave in the world....OTHER PEOPLE. My son is most definitely a much more positive and achieving lad...inside. His PEOPLE environment around him (sadly including state school attitudes) have undermined any success I was ever going to have with bringing this out of him . I am comfortable and confident that if he and I had the many positive interactions that other 'successful' lads got, he would be one of them too. .....i.e. a grandmother who continually spoils my son, will not scratch the surface and veneer of 'knowing how to make adults approve superficially and keep them from 'prying', an family attitude that my son's mother shouldn't have worked so much (no choice, deceitful father getting us into debt and nearly lost home to 4 years unpaid council tax - had to find this out myself)...and dishonest father who is happy to let customers down (carpenter), avoid telephone calls, doesn't face difficult situations...runs away...so is 'teaching' my son, by example, how 'easy' life is if you avoid challenges...avoid endeavour...made more toxic by spoiling grandmother etc

        .....What you have described I read as: this mum needs: another person to intercede with grandma, another person to intercede with daughter. So many different conversations or regular contact with daughter could be had by someone she knows, is close-ish, is INTERESTED ...maybe has to be an outright challenge to grandma BUT your tale screams: daughter needs to hear similar messages, life philosophies from other caring people, preferably those she has meaningful relationships with.

        We needed it desperately too...and the worse feeling in the world is all the answers are there, with experts...but none of the people around you are doing what could be a massive fame-changer, a life-changing rapport/experience. I have given up relating things about my son - it hurts, Not enough people care or have faith in your assessment of your/child's situation.

        Dear CAT, Steve Biddulph also wrote Raising Girls - maybe you've been here too, if not...well. Secondly, if you cannot instigate a decent, eyes-open friend or relative to show an adult interest in your daughter, I would be so happy, even from this distance...before matters are worse, to help. Just let me know if you'd like it.

        Very best of luck and keep those heartfelt  beliefs strong.

        Socratess ;-)

      • Anna banana bobanna

        Cat14 Like you, I am the "sandwich generation." On one side I have parents who never appreciated me or treated me kindly, despite the fact that I was a good kid and never caused any real trouble. Now after nearly killing myself to make sure I did a better job with my own kids than my parents did with me, guess what. I have kids who don't appreciate, respect, or even seem to love me very much. So you have my sympathy! 

        Your daughter sounds like a very tough nut to crack. I can picture having these exact same problems with my daughter when she's a teenager unless we find some form of miraculous intervention and ways to control her. Some kids are just like this - live wires, type A, loud, domineering, demanding, and when they get upset, they are completely irrational and can't be reasoned with at all. 

        It's so hard for us to accept that their awful behavior isn't because of anything we did wrong. But the truth is, most of the time it isn't. We parents are sold a bill of goods when it comes to the amount of influence we have over our kids. Because the truth is, no matter how hard we try, society has a much greater influence and society is a very selfish and sick place indeed these days. And on top of that when you don't have any extended family support, but you just have more problems to deal with like mother-in-law, that makes our job nearly impossible. Yes, as you said to her, good luck with that. 

        My teen son ran off with his girlfriend, and is learning what a tough place the real world is. Surprisingly, they're still together, but it has been tough on him. I say if it teaches him to grow up, it may turn out to be a good thing, even though he's with the wrong person. Hang in there Cat... and do some things to take care of YOU.

        • Cat14

          I agree!!! There is such a lack of respect from children these days!!! They think the own us and try and bully us and rule us.

          At this time, I can only hope and pray for her safety and well being. One day she will grow up and reality will hit her. I just hope that I can be there to help. Sometimes, I feel the hurt she's caused has pushed me away and will continue to do so. I've always believed that her teen years should have been the best. It should have brought us the closest to a mother/daughter friendship.

          I know I've done my best and I'm not doing anything wrong!!! One day she will realize it!! One day, I'll be able to forgive her. As for now, I'm moving on to heal myself from this, so one day I can forgive!!!!

          Thanks a bunch all!! This sight found me for a reason and I am so thankful it did!!! Thanks for all the info!! Thanks for all the support!!! Thanks for all the advice!!! Means a lot!!! Mothers don't get out enough with friends or other mothers to share their feelings or problems. Makes us all feel like we are alone and guilty that we did something wrong!!! Then it leaves us feeling depressed!! If we can't get out, then thank goodness for technology. At least we have something to share our stories, vent, receive advise and positive encouragements!!! Again, thanks a bunch!!!! God bless you all and may we all find peace and forgiveness with all that concerns us!!!

    • Tutru

      Exactly the same as me, with this story.

      I almost feel like I'm just killing time until she grows out of it, but then worrying that if I do nothing it will all turn out much worse. It's very difficult.

  • MamaHabu
    This article Totally hits home, with my 17-year-old Grandson having just left home last week to travel to Texas with his Migrant Friend's family, having put all of us through the ringer for the past 2 years! He leaves behind a 18 month-old son, as well. I wish the articleMore went more in-depth about Coping with the Grief and Desertion that we all feel at this time.
  • Anna banana

    I wish these articles were more in-depth, and with a definite direction. This one starts off with mentioning shallow parents ("I'm so heartbroken, Johnny didn't choose to follow his dad's footsteps and become a lawyer, Susie hates cheerleading and I'd so hoped to see her make the varsity team like I did as a girl"). Parents like this don't even need to be mentioned in a real article about real grief in real parents. The only ones truly shortchanged in these types of relationships are the kids.

    Parents suffering real grief are a whole different kind of animal. We raised our kids right; meaning loving them, providing for them, allowing lots of grace and room for growth and mistakes. Most of us did far better in being honest, admitting when we were wrong and actually apologizing to our kids, than our parents ever attempted to do. Many of us wouldn't even care if our kid turned out to be gay, or embraced a different religion than the one we hold dear, or shaved their heads for that matter. We just want to see them healthy, happy, at peace, and loving their families. Instead, they often have so little respect or regard for us that it leaves us with bruises, sometimes open wounds, and at times even struggling to get out of bed and face another day.

    In-depth articles that REALLY address parents like us would be so helpful.

  • Everychildisdifferent

    I am the mother of five children, this is the story of my eldest. Now 30 years old, out of the house since he was 19. Always a somewhat difficult kid taking more of my time than the other four combined. Upon HS graduation, he changed big time. Went off to college and went crazy with partying, drinking and smoking pot. After 18 months in school, we pulled him out and drew a line in the sand. Follow the rules of the household or you will have to leave. He left. Absolutely no communication from him for 9 months before he reached out. It is difficult to be around him. We see him a couple of times a year although he keeps in close contact with his other siblings. He was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD as a middle school student but does not take medication now. His physical appearance is one of rebellion, tattoos, long hair, the way he dresses, waiting tables for a living, etc.  He has rebelled against everything we stand for. Our other children have turned out differently, they respect us, show love for us, care about us, etc. When he was younger I used to feel as though he had ice water running through his veins. He is completely self absorbed. Until he finds someone he loves more than himself nothing will change. 

    I have grieved for him over the years. The sadness I have felt that this was the outcome of my first born was devastating. I have learned to accept that there is nothing I can do to change him, it is up to him now. I am sad at the "death" of my sweet boy as I knew him. So many hopes and dreams for him but he chose another path. I hope, I pray but understand will all come in God's time, not mine.

    • Dad23teenboys
      Oh my. This sounds like my son only im going thru it right now he turns 17 tomorrow and he is a mess and there isnt much more i can do though i keep trying he just keeps pushing and shutting down. Currently going crazy
      • Everychildisdifferent
        Dad23teenboys I will pray for you. One thing I can tell you from experience is situations like this are like a dirty little secret. People like to pretend things are going well with their children and it's only when you begin to share your story that people open upMore about theirs. Looking back on my situation, there is little I would change. I don't feel guilty because I know I did the best I could. I was attentive, loving, caring, involved. I am close to my other children. My faith is what gets me through, nothing like dropping to your knees and allowing God to lift the burden and worry. I kept reciting "trust in the Lord with all your heart" over and over again. It brought me peace. Stay strong!
  • Twingles

    Yes, I am grieving my son who was smart, honest and a good boy with lots of friends until.... Jr. High school. He literally became someone different, lies that come easy but so easy to see, bad group of kids, poor school grades etc.

    I feel like someone took my wonderful sin and gave me this "devil" of a child. To make matters worse he had a cardiac arrest last year and almost died. He's pretty healthy now but has the same personality so I am guilt ridden! He really is not a nice person,no love or warmth. Very unambitious wants to just lay around on his phone or play video games can't get up to do things he even enjoys would've missed a lot headed not been for me helping him out. I believe in natural consequences but everything he's been through I also feel sorry for him. I am in therapy trying to deal with this but it is just such a slow process he will be 17 in two weeks I fear that he will be out of our house on his own before we can improve our relationship.

    • Flowerchild
      Or worse he'll stay in your house and blame you for all his misssteps.Hopefully college will be in the picture and give him time to grow up. Good Luck!
      • Twingles
        No way will he stay past 20, he will go to community college locally but... Then my husband and I will move down south WITHOUT him or his twin sister, who isn't great but more responsible. I will have given him all I can by then . That is theMore plan to release me from the daily contact which gives me my pain. He is on his own then.
    • Anna banana
      Twingles for what it's worth you are not alone. And it's probably nothing you did, I used to think that parents who sent their kids to school were taking a huge risk that their kids would come under bad influence and no wonder they often turn out so bad. ButMore guess what, I homeschool my kid, I raise him in an environment with loving parents and good friends and guess what? He sounds just like your son in so many ways. He's finally trying to pull it together now that he's 20. But through most of his teen years he has been absolutely no fun to be around, and at times just plain awful and heartbreaking. It must be the boys, it's in their genes or something :-(
      • Twingles

        I really wish there was support group for parents like us I looked into it in my area and just nothing. He has seen Therapist and got medication has helped his temper somewhat but that's about it. I really need to talk to other parents who have had similar children. I live in a pretty metropolitan area but can't believe no support groups available to help the parents. So I I am in this with just my husband and I, he kind of goes along doesn't have the pain that I do because I feel like I gave birth to him he's a part of me that is lost.

        Thanks for your response, every little bit helps.

        • Dchuff97
          I'm in the same situation with my son who will be 17 in December. I too have been looking for a support group or network in my area and I have found none.
  • sbratlanta
    I learned (the hard way--is there any other?) that I cannot control another human being.  My children so graciously taught me that.  As "Wise Old Wolf" says in the comments here, it is very liberating when you acknowledge and accept this.  I have come to accept that my two sonsMore have their own journey here in this life. Their souls have their own lessons to learn.  Who am I to stand in the way of that? They are young men now and since I've taken this approach our relationship has flourished, even though it's painful to watch them deal with the consequences of their choices sometimes. I will continue to model my values, and be the soft landing place when they fall down.
  • responsible mama
    I've been struggling with this issue. And, hoping for some discourse on the subject. Ah, i've made so many mistakes. The loss and grief have all but paralyzed me. Since I cannot go back I look forward to finding support and thank you for opening this important topic.
    • Anna banana
      @responsible mama me too. It's awful. It just seems to follow logic that if you raise them right and love them, they will turn out okay. Not just the way we'd pictured, that's shallow and silly, but okay meaning they are productive citizens and they truly love and respect theirMore family. Is that so much to ask? :-(
  • Mae
    Hi my name is Pearl. The article on," Grieving the child that has gone." Has really hit home. I have issues with my teenage son since early fall of 2014. He was a terrific, highly intelligent ,funny and loved young man. He has  being an honor student all the wayMore up to his sophomore year in high school. His junior year he became someone else. Very disrespectful, angry and violent to everyone in the house. We basically walked on egg shells until June 2, 2015, he packed and moved out . It's going on two months now and school is getting ready to start back up. I don't know if he plans on finishing or not. Nothing He has done in the pass several months was anything like him at all. he has destroyed the house , but of course, the police refused to do anything because he was a sixteen at the time and they figured he will get his self together. Well they were so wrong. I feel if they would have done their job maybe I wouldn't be stressing all the times because I don't know where he is. I'm a little better during the day because I stay busy, but at night I can't help but think of how such a wonderful person he use to be and how I want that  person back. I don't know who that other person who has replaced my son is , but it wasn't someone i raised. I sought  help for myself because it became too hard to bare. The pain was just too great. Everyone has their opinions but in all honesty, It's easy to say when it isn't your child that has gone astray. I feel so guilty, and yet in my heart I always been there for him. Supported all my children equally but I guess it wasn't enough.  Where is the help for parents that are great parents who have wonderful kids that turn into monsters. That what I call it. They very disrespectful, conning, violent, abusive, and liars. What do you do to save the next.
    • barbm123
      @Mae Every child is different. I've only been blessed with one daughter, having neurological problems of her own and our l ife has been in chaos for over a year until I finally realized all the help I was providing, tutors, counselors, therapists, etc wasn't helping her and had herMore placed in a residential treatment facility where the neuro problems finally came to light.  Your other children, now that your son is out of the home, will benefit from the extra love and attention that you have to pour out to them. Your grief is real, your feelings of guilt are shared by many, including me, even though we have done everything we can think of to help them. But the feelings of guilt take part of you away from your other kids who need you. I believe in the power of prayer, and still, after everything we've experienced, believe that she was a gift from God to me. I love her still and I always will. Your anger is still very strong, undertandably, so that makes it hard to accept. Give him to God, ask for protection for your son, grieve it all, the good and the bad and don't deny how you truly feel. It takes a long time but I hope that eventually, you will feel better about things and hopefully he will come back to you with a loving heart. My prayers are with you at this time.
    • Anna banana
      @Mae I hate to say probably nothing, except take what opportunity you have to let him know you still love him, but you won't put up with abuse or bail him out of his irresponsibility. Then you step back and wait. And you try to find things to distract yourselfMore with. Take care of you the best you can, I've realized after 20 plus years of being a parent, if I don't take care of me, nobody else will.
  • Tired and Need Help

    Can I relate to the above story?  Many

    times over.  My oldest daughter is now 35.  And I know I am deeply

    grieving over her.  For years and years I tried to help her but it wasn't

    the help she needed.  Oh, yes I physically helped.  I helped her with

    her first child, then second, then third, then fourth, then fifth.  And

    now, 15 years later we have her oldest son and we have been raising him for

    over 3 years now.  How is our grandson?  He is troubled, challenging

    and sometimes he completely wears us out.  How is my daughter?  She

    is a mess!  And what about the other 4 grandchildren?  Well, my

    daughter about 1 1/2 years ago married a man that we deeply feel he is not

    capable of knowing how to be a good husband nor how to be a good father to the

    other 4 children.  Where are we at now?  My daughter has completely

    severed our relationship with them and our other grandchildren.  Even our

    grandson, which is my daughter's first child barely even sees is mother, nor

    does he feel she even cares and he does not get to have any relationship with

    his siblings.  Do we care?  Well, yes and no.  We are so hurt that

    even to see my daughter, to be quite honest, I would probably walk the other

    way or maybe run.  But, for the sake of the other grandchildren I would

    run with speed to help my grandchildren, to see my oldest grandchild spend time

    with his siblings, but we aren't allowed.  My daughter has been diagnosed

    with several mental disorders, her husband is extremely lazy and the children

    are forced to conform to their way of life.  (You can only imagine)

     And to top it off, we live right next door to them.  Do I grieve, yes every day......

  • nef424
    This article was definitely put in my path today for a reason.  Thank you.  I have been struggling wih this for awhile now and need to deal with this grief.  My prayers are for all that are dealing with this as well.
    • jill
      nef424 me too. :(
  • kjam
    I totally relate to this article. I never thought of it as grieving, but that's exactly what it is. I have a 17 year old daughter that recently has been diagnosed bipolar. Up until she was 12, she was the sweetest, happiest little girl. The last few yearsMore have been rough, to say the least. This is not at all what I envisioned for her. Grieving is exactly what I've experienced. Thank you for the article.
  • Jon
    I was the youngest of five boys so my mom used me to dump all of her anger, sadness, and disappointments concerning my brothers. By default, I became her therapist. Growing up, I began to resent my mom for using me in this way. When I decidedMore to get married, my mom was disappointed in not only my decision but in the woman that I planned to marry. So she began using my brothers and her friends to express her disappointment with me. After all those years of hearing her grief, she turned on me and told others about how I was hurting her by choosing to be with some other woman. I recognized this as very unhealthy behavior from my mother and I began to distance myself from her. I didn't speak to my mother for years because I could feel her negativity seeping back into me whenever I did speak with her. I wish it wasn't this way, but my mother clearly had serious emotional and psychological issues that were poisonous to me, so as painful as it was for me to do, I had to cut my ties to her. She passed away a few years ago. I feel much more at peace now that her pain is finally gone.
    • barbm123
      @Jon You are a remarkable young man and a applaude your courage to distance yourself from the pain your mother was in. She couldntt help it, but it wasn't a benefit to you growing up with it.  I hope that your life is far happier and more content now. IMore hope that your wife can comprehend the trauma of your youth and can provide compassionate understanding. Be assured your mom is at peace now, and understands. There is grace and love in that. Best wishes to you.
      • Jon

        Barbm123, thanks for calling me a "young man" because I'm actually 45. I guess you could call me a tweener. ?

        No parent is perfect, but I think in many instances, some parents don't realize how damaging their own behavior is to their kids. My mom did a lot of hurtful things to not only me but to other people as well. She could be the most loving person but she could also be extremely manipulative and even cunning in getting people to see her as a victim. I got married when I was 27 but she wanted me to be her baby boy forever and she made sure that people knew that her baby boy was leaving her behind for some tramp that got her hooks into me and took me away from her. I guess she couldn't see me as a man with my own life rather than the little boy she wanted me to remain.

        My message to all parents is to take a good look at yourself first and objectively ask yourself if you are doing anything to contribute to your child's negative behaviors. Fix your own faults first before complaining that your child is behaving badly and hurting you.

        • Cookie Anderson

          @Jon I agree that parents need to accept responsibility as well for their actions.  I do believe their roles play an major part and contribute to how their children behave and become adults.  However, to be honest, up until a few years ago - society offered no "learning" for parents - Parents were expected to instinctively know how to be good parents.  

          I think the world has changed on this view and people are now learning how to be better parents because it is a learning experience.  Beating kids as a punishment is no longer tolerated and exposing kids to certain environments as well as leaving them home alone while parents entertained or shopped - these were things that were all done drinking, smoking and other behaviors that kids were exposed to - Adults now know better.  If you are BRAVE and HONEST you will FIX you own flaws and faults just as you say.  However, I also think the entire cycle of parenting needs to be taken into account and openly discussed.  I think AMERICA or the WORD needs to go back to being families - and first and foremost better FAMILY MEMBERS and stop blaming and holding on to the a HATRED that is destroying the entire structure or family.

        • Anna banana bobanna
          @Jon That's true, you have to look at yourself. I have apologized to my kids over and over for everything I could think of that I've done wrong. I've tried to mend fences. My boys apparently just lost their mouths and forgot how to talk during their teen years, becauseMore they stonewalled me to the point of mental cruelty for a long time. They aren't so hostile now, but still don't talk to me a lot and I'm worn down from being the only one reaching out most of the time. Just saying many of us have done all we can and don't know what to do anymore. We can't fix the past, and can't fix the present or the future if our kids won't meet us somewhere in the middle.
        • barbm123
          @Jon Sorry, you sounded so young with your earlier post! Each of us needs to look to our own behavior and take responsibility, offer apologies when we see that our behavior is lacking. I do believe in personal responsibility. It sounds as if, even though a number of years haveMore passed,  you still feel the depth of the wounds your mom caused you. If I could wish anything for you it would be freedom from that pain. We are all human beings and capable of much love and hurt.  At 27 you had a right to pursue your own path in life and marry the person that makes you happiest. Your mother may have had a fear of being left behind, but that doesn't excuse her treatment of you. If you are a parent, you might be able to understand the depth of love we moms have for our kids. Doesn't mean you don't have your own life to lead.
          • Jon
            Barb, yes I do still feel those wounds. Ive tried counseling, hypnosis, and I've read many books to see if I could find some way to get rid of those wounds. I've had people tell me that I just have to make the decision to get overMore all of it, but that's like saying that you have control over getting sick. Even though you take precautions and you do everything right, you still get sick. As I said, my wounds have greatly diminished since my mom passed away, but there are still times when a certain memory pops up and I feel instant anger again. I've had family members tell me that they noticed how much of a death grip my mom had on me when I was a kid. She would say that I was her whole world and she didn't know what she would do without me. I had the role of being my mom's surrogate husband because my dad had a stroke when I was a kid and he was put in a long term care facility for the rest of his life. Plus, my mom told me that she never loved my dad and only married him because she needed security. That's a great thing for a mother to tell her son, huh? I felt that my mom didn't let me be a kid but she put me in an adult role and made me feel like I would be letting her down since I was her whole world, as she would say. How is any kid supposed to live up to that? That's why those scars are still there for me.
          • barbm123


            Jon, I'm so sorry you still have so much pain. I know it sounds easy but so much harder to make decisions that we won't cling to our anger and grief, however justified. The focus has to shift for you if you will ever be free of the burdens she placed on you. It is n't fair, is it? that her grasp reaches beyond her death and ensares you ? Grief is a cruel master and I feel as if the grief you have for what should have been will never replace the burdens that you were expected to bear as a kid. The truth is that she can no longer enslave you, you are a free agent now.  You had a double whammy of sorts because of the loss of your father too. There was no counter balance in your childhood without his influence.Try not to let the 'should have beens' that so controlled you in your early youth/adolescence keep you a prisoner today. We all carry wounds from the painful periods in our lives but it's up to us to decide that we will no longer be victimized by them, enslaved to them. Reactions are instantaneous and uncontrollable initially, what we do with those reactions, how we respond to those instant flashes of memory and anger, that is truly what is within our control. If you can't release the regrets, sadness, anger and eventually come to a sense of forgiveness for her humanity, her failings, then you will enslave yourself to them. None of that is easy, it's damned hard, but it is the only way I know to put the past in the past and find healing and new life for the future. Whether she loved your dad or not, that was an issue between them and had nothing to do with you.  In the end, her attempts at making a prisoner of you ended up driving you away, so she lost you in a deep and painful way because of her dependancy, her need and your right to an independant adulthood and freedom.

            My daughter has always been the center of my universe. I love her with a depth I'd never known before. That doesn't make her, in any way, responsible for my happiness. or what I do with today or the rest of my life. she's still a teenager and she has a long life ahead of her, part of which I hope will include  me as her mom and much of which will be independant of me and that is as it should be. Raising kids ain't easy and we all make mistakes,  some little and other huge. I'm in counseling now to help me deal with my daughter neurological disability, though she was vicitmized in a cruel way by her birthmothers abuse of  meth, I won't enable or or encourage that vicitimization. She has to learn ways to handle this issue and my saving her, enabling her, making her dependant on me will only enslave her future. There is no cure for my daughters affliction. No meds, no treatment, only strategies for living a life as free of turmoil as possible, She views, right now, my placing her in a residential treatment program as my 'abandonment' of her. I had to provide her a way of coping, with professionals that know what she needs now and what she will need in the future when I'm no longer here to protect her.  Try to let it go, Jon or it will enslave you for the rest of your life. You deserve better than that. Keep in mind that when those memories, that pain surfaces and the anger returns that it is IN THE PAST, it's truly over.You do have a decision to make, the others that told you that were correct and it's not easy to let go of the hurts of the past, particularly when they are so deep, but we do have to let them go. You don't have scars yet, you have an open wound that has festered for years. It's now up to you to let that open wound scab over and build scar tissue around it so well that it can't hurt you as deeply as i has in the past. That's no longer her legacy, but your future.Mantra's are good ways of reminding ourselves that it isn't always going to be this painful. find a few mantras to remind yourself 'I've let that go and I won't let it back in', 'the past is in the past and I won't let it invade my today or tomorrow' . You are free. You loved her, hated her, resented her intrusion on your life, but now you are truly free. You have to claim that freedom and truly make it your own. It will take time and it's not easy, but it is achievable. You have to want that more than you want to cling to the resentment you have for your mother and try to reinvent your childhood the way you wanted it to be. That will be true freedom to live your life on your terms. I wish you peace, comfort and the courage to pursue that future.

    • Anna banana
      @Jon there's always the other side of the fence, like in your case. It's interesting how if our abusive, controlling parents were to read this article, they would think they are the victims and their kids have just abandoned them. When the truth is, they were the ones in theMore wrong and we had to get away from them to save ourselves.
      • Jon
        Anna, I don't have any kids but I initially subscribed to the Empowering Parents newsletter to see if i could find information to help me to deal with my experiences as a kid. I wasn't a bad kid but I wasn't an angel either, as none of us were.More But my mom did a lot of things when I was a kid that I'm still trying to comprehend decades later. I'm not going to get into the details, but my mom loved to play the victim and she could make the most confident person feel guilty. I'm sure there are many parents that don't realize that they are even behaving this way. So articles like these help me to understand different perspectives in dealing with my own issues from my childhood.
        • Anna banana bobanna
          @Jon sorry your mom sounds like she had some narcissistic tendencies. And yes I'm sure there are other parents reading this article that have been unfair, manipulative, and cruel to their kids, but don't even see it. But, in this day and age, there are many others who have trulyMore done a good job, and still wonder why our kids don't love or respect us much.
  • Marthica
    Great article! Very helpful at this time. I have been struggling with letting go. As i see my 19 y old child 'waste' his talent and potential. Maybe it is not time for him to follow the plan we had. My heart aches. Thank you Wise Old Wolf forMore your comment. I already feel better after reading it. Comes to show you the right person comes along when you need it.
  • barbm123
    I have experienced this for the last 2 years. Deep sadness over the choices my daughter is making for her life. Our home became a battlefield, her venom toward me, hatred at any boundary I set palpable.Her emotional dysfunction,chronic and sever depresssion leading to three attempts at suicide, dropping outMore of high school, dabbling with marijuana, stealing money from my purse, dragging other kids with even more serious problems into our home without regard to  her own safety or mine. Her psychiatrist strongly recommended residential treatment and finally this past January I had to accept that all of the therapies, counselors, interventions, adaptive strategies hadn't been successful.  I am her adoptive parent and I have loved her with my whole heart and mind since she was three days old, my love for her can never die. She is beautiful, smart, capable, but she has a huge problem. It took me over a year to make the decision to send her to residential treatment. I mourned, cried, became angry. This is NOT my daughter. What was discovered during residential is that she isn't to blame for what has happened to her. Her birthmother was a long-term meth addict and continued to abuse meth during the pregnancy. This cause subtle but serious reductions in the amount of dopamine and seratonin that my daughters brain produces. Thus when my kid told me two or three years ago 'consequences don't work for me mom' she was right. Her neurorecptors just don't work as well as other peoples do. Now 17 with only 1 year of high school credits, it's clear she will not grow into the veterinarian she dreamed of being at 10 or 11. Her neurological symtpoms were subtly present, as I look back through her childhood. The symptoms were always mistaken as a behavioral problem, so we implemented reward and consequence strategies. Since she can't feel that mild euphoria when she succeeds at something (from the dopamine deficiency ) she doesn't feel the 'reward' part of this equation. . But the real explosion in her behavior began once puberty came. Her behavior became defiantly oppositional, so came the diagnosis, of oppositional defiant disorder. She appeared to go out of her way to defy every rule, every boundary. It was beyond frustrating, I was angry, beyond disappointed and very resentful. In fact, my counselor told me that my resentment bag was overflowing. I knew it, felt incredible guilt at being so angry at my darling daughter. A few weeks ago, I finally got the word about this neurological issue. The guilt I felt was overwhelming. I was sad, depressed and felt a huge sense of hopelessness and loss. She won't take any anti-depressants claiming they make her feel 'weird'. She accepts a mild dose of a benadryl at night to help combat the insomnia that accompanies this condition. Her prognosis is very guarded. Still in residential, she only participates in the counseling sessions and a few other 'groups' but won't take the ISL course, wont see the psychiatrist, won't participate in drug counseling sessions, refuses to even attempt school work. Despite the guarded diagnosis, the 'pick and choose' attitude she displays, I still need to find hope in all of this. There are no medications that will be helpful to her condition. At the end of Septmeber her placement at the residential facility will end. By then she will be 18 and I don't have to let her come home legally. But where will she go?
    • EdenFarmer
      barbm123 Instead of feeling guilty, you should let go and give it to God now.  Or to what ever your belief is...  There truly was nothing you could do to change the outcome of what has happened, and you gave it your all.  That much is clear.  If you didn'tMore feel guilty, it would mean you didn't love her as much as you do!  You have been carrying this burden for so long now, it is time you found some peace before it completely destroys you.  You can't change this...  you now need to learn coping strategies.  I suggest yoga, or religion, prayer, singing, dancing, whatever it is that give you peace and happiness or maybe try all of those things.  Your body and soul has been bottling up so much emotion that it is time you let it all out and give it a good cry...  then move on, knowing...  you too, are only human and you did do all that you knew to do.  We do not know everything, there is no perfect answer for every situation.  Recognize that and let it be.  She hopefully will meet a fork in the road and choose to find a treatment that even if not perfect will help her find some normalcy to her life, so that she too can try to lead a full an productive life...  and maybe someday... she will come to love someone as much as you have loved her!  I wish you luck and peace.  Please try to find some now that you know, it really wasn't your fault...
      • barbm123
        EdenFarmer barbm123 I have begun praying, meditating and am seeing my own counselor once a month to help me put this in perspective. I know I have done everything in my power to help my dear daughter. She isn't to blame for what was done to her before she was everMore born. She is the ultimate victim in this scenario and it rippled out to me as her adoptive mom.  I am praying for her healing and wellbeing. I am also praying to find a way to accept what ever comes of this. I was entrusted with one of God's special children for nearly 18 years, the answer to the deepest desire and prayer in my heart. She has always been a gift from God and now I must entrust her to His divine love and care. He can accomplish what I cannot. I've cried more tears than I knew I possessed and still I mourn, but mourning will pass, joy will return, even if diminised by her absence.  I'm still struggling to find out how my life can go on without her and I know with God's grace, I will find that path again. This entire episode has been complicated by my broken foot which has kept me trapped in the house for nearly 10 weeks, Isolation has been a devasting enemy, preventing me from keeping my volunteer schedule up, contact with other people, even going to church. Our family is very small, and my mom is getting older, so my daughter was the center of our universe for her entire life. Thank you for the encouraging words, they were very comforting.
    • Anna banana
      barbm123 Oh I so feel for you dear. I have an adopted daughter whose birth mom surely used drugs while she was pregnant. She was taken away from birth mom because of her drug abuse. And she is 10 and I am seeing some of the same symptoms. I amMore wondering what can be done to help her brain chemistry. Glad I am catching it now before she's a teenager. Maybe there are other answers, but they're not easy to find :-( I wish I knew your name and that we could keep in touch. You sound like you could use a friend as much as I could. :-(
      • barbm123

        @Anna banana barbm123

        Hi Anna,

        I'm so grateful you replied. Unfortunately there are no known medications that can help this problem. The first step for your daughter is diagnosis. Don't believe this is all 'behavioral'. Some of it may be, but if you feel strongly about it I would insist that she have a neurological workup by a qualified neurologist. They should perform BLOOD TESTS to determine brain hormone/chemical analysis. Pediatricians usually rely on finger sticks, it's not enough. If her levels come back on the low side, even the low side of 'normal' I'd pursue a PET scan and insist that it be done ASAP. 

        There is a suggestion that a non-fat, low sugar diet can offer some relief, Red Delicious apples, bananas, almonds, eggs, salmon and dark chocolate (artificial sweetener) can also help. Some have used a dietary supplement, but I'd check with the doctor before using, some could be toxic to her. Right now, I'm the guinea pig for my daughter, taking very low dosaes (100 mg) of Sam-e to assess my reactions to this over the counter dietary supplement. I've only been on it for a short time so my reactions right now won't be of any help.

        Keep in mind that these kids don't want to be 'abnormal' and in most ways they aren't, they are perfectly beautiful, responsive kids who have been saddled with a huge problem. They need structure and order and can't achieve order without external help. My daughter was identified as 'gifted' intellectually and she is. The problem is that the diminished serotonin and dopamine naturally occuring in most people shuts off the 'reward' feeling when a good thing is accomplished, so they give the appearance of not caring when they flunk a test. They can be inattentive, easily distracted and need gentle guidance, especially at 10 but even beyond that. I would love to stay intouch with you, Anna and I will provide you with my alternative email address here: Barbm1712@gmail.com. If I hear from you on that email I can provide my regular email account so we can 'talk' online. I know we could both use a friend to 'understands' this issue. I so appreciate your concern and caring. Take care of your sweet girl, I wish I'd known at 10 what mine was dealing with, many things would have been handled differenlty.

        • Anna banana bobanna
          barbm123 Hi Barb, I can't say for sure if my daughter's symptoms are going in the direction of your daughter's. But the words "diminished seratonin and dopamine" registered. She's just calibrated too high, if that makes sense. She is a happy kid when she's happy, very hyper and giddy. WhenMore she's mad or sad, it's like having 75 people in the house who are all mad and sad at the same time! My daughter does care deeply about everything. She cares if she doesn't do well, if someone hurts her feelings, if she doesn't get her way. About 80% of the time her reactions to problems are blown way out of proportion. I have been to a neurologist and the pediatrician. Both have given me generalized reports that seem to point to ADHD. I am hoping to find a good child behavioral therapist now. I will email you further when I have a chance, thanks for giving me your email!
          • barbm123

            Anna banana bobanna barbm123

            Counseling is always a benefit. I have to agree with your pediatrician, ADHD seems to be on the upper scale, whereas my daughter is on the lower, almost inactive scale. My daughter is extremely intelligent, borderline genius, but the seratonin and dopamine deficiencies create problems for her that have no medication. If your daughter, like the son of a friend of mine, is ADHD it will take time to regulate the medicaiton for her and it would be better to start that before she hits puberty and the other hormones kick in. If your daughter, like mine, is very creative, their sensitivties to ther people tend to be 'off the charts'. Evaluation is the key and a good counselor or psychiatrist will know how to help her (and you). You've done the due diligence, medical evaluation, just  stick to the plan and both of you will be better off for it. Very best of luck for you and prayers for your daughter too.

          • Anna banana bobanna
            barbm123 Anna banana bobanna Thanks Barb, yes puberty is surely complicating things :-( She is an early bloomer, dealing with hormones like crazy even though she's only 10. yes she is creative and yes she is very sensitive. Gets her feelings hurt every other time I turn around it seems. She'sMore mad at me, her dad, her brother, other kids, her dance teacher, her gym teacher... ad infintum :-p What kind of therapy I wonder, just a regular child behavioral therapist?
          • barbm123

            Anna banana bobanna barbm123

            Her pediatrician would have recommendations, but I think I'd start with a psychiatrist first. They can prescribe meds if they are needed and can test your daughter to better identify what may be going on and point you in the direction of the best type of therapy once the diagnosis has been made. Best wishes for you and your family, it's heartbreaking to see your kid suffer, but we parents have to be the strong ones. Most of all, give her lots of love and compassion, but not without structure and boundaries. These kids feel things more deeply, probably because they are very creative souls.

  • BlueDragonfly
    I think many parents can relate to the "where did I go wrong?"  I watched my own daughter spiral out of control into drug addiction and eventually into jail within a 5year span after she graduated from high school.  Gone was the honor student with a full scholarship and bright future. More I was left devastated from the loss... It is still hard to accept that my now almost 30 year old daughter will never achieve the dreams she so frequently talked with me about when she was growing up.  The divide between who she has become and who she once was, is too wide.  After trying to figure out where I went wrong, I finally gave up. I came to realize that as individuals, we have the free-will to choose our own paths.  I agree with "Wise Old Wolf"... you really can't make anyone do anything (no matter how much you love them and want what's best for them.)  They decide who they become...
  • CAK

    As I write this I now this may sound crazy to some. And to be honest I am not sure why this is so very hard for me right now. I really had huge dreams for him, and knowing he has the potential to exceed all of them, but is waisting it, is absolutely heartbreaking.

    All I know to do is pray. I know God says,"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." It is just so very hard.

    • barbm123
      CAK You are so RIGHT!  It is so hard. but I do agree that the only option I have left is to continue to pray for my daughter. God is so merciful and loving, if I can't find the way to help my only child, I must emotionally return herMore to His care and love to provide to her what I can't. Presently my daughter is in a residential treatment facility at 17 after over a year of chaos that was pure torture for me. She had big dreams of being a veterinarian but her neurological condition probably won't permit that. Her behaviors became so distructive and self-abusing after 3 attempts at suicide I could no longer watch her spiral out of control. It was just too painful and dangerous for her. Her psychiatrist and pediatrician had recommended residential for over a year and this past January I finally accepted the reality of their recommendation. Keep focused on prayer and remember to forgive him and be kind to yourself, you did your best as did I.  I'd like to offer hope that it gets easier, and occasionally it does, but then there are those days when it is a struggle.  Today was one of those days for me.
  • CAK

    I now face the fact my son, although very

    talented in his sport, has chosen to NOT play his senior year on a football

    field. He says he loves the sport, but is just not interested in playing anymore.

    I know, that I know, he WILL regret this decision. In addition to not playing

    his senior year, he says he doesn't want to play college ball either, but plans

    to pursue an AA then go to Florida Fish and Game.

    This decision on the surface sounds ok, except

    I know he has an idealistic view of how it is going to be, and frankly prefers

    the "easy way". He has no way of fully understanding the

    ramifications of this path in the long run, not to mention I definitely do NOT

    want him in law enforcement, especially the way things are today.

    I made these mistakes. His father made these

    mistakes. Looking back I know how much I missed not going to college in my

    early years, not to mention the missed career opportunities.

    My grief is almost paralyzing. I will never

    see my son a football field again. No senior night. No college offers. More

    than a decade of practices, games, great plays, hard losses...OVER.

  • CAK

    This may come as petty to some and I am fully aware of how much worse it could be. With that said, I am facing a tremendous amout of sadness regarding my oldest son. I have six kids, four biological and two bonus, and love them all so much, but the stages my boys (the youngest of the six) are entering is far different than anything I have ever experienced before with the girls now 22 and 24.

    My oldest son, now 17 is entering his senior year of high school in a private Christian school. He began attending there in his junior year for many reasons, one of which was to play varsity football with his best friend, then a senior. As a junior he led the state in tackles and stood out as a great long snapper. My hope for him was to earn a scholarship to college with his talents, as he not a stellar academic wonder!

    Myself and his father entered the career field of law enforcement at a very young age missing out on college and all that entails, life lessons which only come from those experiences, and giving up college even with scholarships and supportive parents. At 38 I had to return and earn a bachelor degree in order to support my children as their father was no longer in the picture. This wasn't an easy task while trying to raise the boys, hold down a full time job, and maintain a home. Lesson learned!

    • EdenFarmer
      CAK College does not make you who you are as a person, and it still doesn't open doors...  not anymore!  My husband has a bachelor's degree from UCONN right out of High School and guess what...  He is ENLISTED in the Navy now!  I went to a few years ofMore college, did not finish, and worked my way up in a company thru 5 years to a great position and I was practically running my department.  By the time I left, not by choice, but because my husband had orders somewhere else, the company offered to promote me to purchasing manager with a huge raise to make me stay, etc.  The person not the degree makes themselves successful...  my husband has no ambition, no drive, no direction, he is clueless and so...  he is now... in a career in the Navy & I chose to stay home to raise our children since moving around so much makes for an unstable environment for our children.  Stop worrying about the college thing and be happy he is not in jail or doing drugs.  He still seems to have chosen a career path, and what if he excels at this field, what if this was his destiny.  What if this "is" what he really wants to do.  Guess what, I didn't want my oldest son to join the Navy, but he did...  and I am OK with that.  I supported him and when he started to get scared and wanted to back down I stayed strong for him and helped him stay the course. Even though I could have easily taken advantage of this to talk him into doing something else with his life.  We live the life now..  I know what it is all about, so don't tell me I am unappreciative of military, it is a very hard life to have.  That is why I didn't want him to do it.  We also, this last year and a half had problems with our relationship and I felt like he was changing.  He started pulling away from the family unit, fighting with everyone, became rude and defiant when I asked for help with stuff.  He only cared about his X-Box and watching movies...  I truly "hate" the inventor of home video game systems!!!  (They are ruining our younger generation and making them selfish, lazy, and unambitious!  When my son left... we got rid of all the electronic entertainment handheld stuff, so my younger kids won't get sucked in, & he took his X-box to his girlfriends house.... as a matter of fact, he even moved most of his stuff to his girlfriends house, before he left for boot-camp, and I assume, because he thought he couldn't "trust" his parents with his stuff?!  (that was crushing and hurt, because I never said I would get rid of his stuff...  not sure why he did this.)  He has been hurtful, and done some stupid things, and sucked my wallet dry too...  but, he hasn't done any drugs, he has never committed any crimes, he is respectful "to other people", and he scored high enough on the military exam to be accepted into the Nuke program.  So, although I am not happy with his choice...  I accept it...  I wish him well...  I hope he is successful, and that he will grow to be a better person while he is away.  We cannot chose our children's path...  but when they go on a path that is to ruin, I think then it is OK to be scared for them, and such.
  • beckys
    I can definitely relate to this article.  I have been grieving the loss of who my son used to be for a very long time now.  I was so glad to read this article, because I have been suffering this grief for so long  and thought I was crazy forMore feeling the way I was feeling.  My ex-husband and I divorced when my son was 4 and he is now 18.  I have tried very hard to be a good parent to him, however have been undermined the entire time.  In fact, I think that this has been a classic case of parental alienation.  His father has always told him absolutely horrible things about me thinking that he was gaining the upper hand, not realizing how much damage he was causing to our son.  So you can imagine the hurt and anger that has built up on our son through all of this.  He has suffered from depression for a very long time and at times has been suicidal.  I have tried through the years to get him the help that he needed, without any support from his father.  In fact, quite the opposite so therefore any treatment he received was ineffective.  Before the divorce our son was so sweet and kind.  He was a very happy child.  As the years wore on this sweet, gentle boy became more sullen, withdrawn and angry to the point where I could no longer see that little boy anymore.  He struggled through high school, but eventually made to the end and graduated in June for which I am so thankful.  There were so many days that I never thought it would happen.  I don't know what is in store for my boy, or what path he will choose.  I can only hope that there is still a part of that sweet, smart, kind little boy in there somewhere and that some of what I have tried to teach him about being a good, productive member of society has gotten through.   Knowing that I am not alone in feeling this grief has made me feel so much better.  I thought it was crazy to be feeling this way.  Thank you for this article it has truly made a difference.
  • Sophie64
    I just finished praying about this very thing and opened up my email to find this article. Wow- God speaks in just the right way. Thank you God
  • Tine72
    Thank you so much for this article. Very timely and helpful.
  • Wise Old Wolf
    I think it's also important to recognize that the "sweet little boy" he used to be may be a construction of our imagination.  We tend to use hindsight to create an image of what we wanted to be, rather than cognitively and realistically remembering what was.  Those selective good memoriesMore tend to increase our guilt and our despair.  You hear it from people all the time- "Back in the good old days..."  The reality was, the good old days weren't always that good and there is a lot of good in these new days.  If you have done the best you can do, your child's choices are not your responsibility.  When you finally get it in your head and heart that you really can't make anyone do anything, you will be amazed at the liberation that brings.  You teach, you set up consequences, you model positive behaviors, you hold accountable- but ultimately your child decides what kind of life they want to have.  If there is mental illness, obviously you need to seek treatment for that.  But in terms of day to day choices, I leave you with this thought: Life is a willing servant.  Once you decide what you want from it, you bear the responsibility for your choices.
  • Robin
    Helpful article. It is sadly my story. My 22 year old daughter has lost the child I adored. As the grief bubbles and I get busy with other life's stresses, trying to push the sometimes overwhelming grief aside, I definitely loose my temper and end uo notMore parenting in a productive and positive way with my other child. Thanks for the article, it validates my suffering and encourages me to talk about the grief.
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