Posted by: Buzz | 2006/11/05

My son

Hi CS, I see you were working this morning, I hope you're having a peaceful weekend otherwise?

My son of 14... Two incidents where he phoned his dad to "report" me. 1) He strangled his younger brother and I punished him by saying he cannot go out that night (there's NEVER an excuse for physical abuse) he phoned dad who came to collect him for the weekend. 2) I spoke to him lovingly, saying that I believe a (male) psychologist will be able to help him - he turned on me saying that I'm saying he has issues and promptly phoned his dad, who in turn sms'ed me, saying I'm screwing up my son's life, that I've lost him already without asking why I want to take our son to a psychologist - no, he just attacks me.

My ex and I haven't been in contact for the last 11 months, since he got married to his 3rd wife, who forbade him to speak to me unless she's present. We never discuss our children's progress, problems, etc and I feel my ex is undermining my authority at every turn, by collecting our son and attacking me via sms (I don't even respond to these sms'es).

My son refuses to see a psychologist. My own psychologist, who knows my son, suggested that we (the two pairs of parents) see another psychologist together, in order to form a united front in raising my son. My ex isn't interested (because the psychologist isn't a Christian) but hubby and I will be seeing this psychologist on our own (apparently he "specialises" in family problems). My psychologist also said that I have reason to be very, very concerned since my son's behaviour isn't the usual teenage rebellion. She further said that my ex is causing profound damage in my son's psyche because he cannot stop running me down, at every opportunity (your mom was wild in her young days, there's something terrible about her that I'll tell you about when you're 18, etc etc etc).

My son is now openly defiant. He challenges me and laughs in my face when I tell him he cannot refer to women/girls as "whores", "sluts" and "bitches". "What are you going to do to stop me?" We've had so many talks in the last few weeks, calmly, but it has been an eye-opener. My son says he hates me passionately, I found a few notes in which he talks about killing me with his bare hands, smiling at my funeral. CS, at times I'm scared at night, thinking he might stab me with one of his knives.

He has strange signs all over his books, room and even draws them on his hands (to me they look satanistic), he only ever wears black, he even painted his nails black last weekend. When I told him I will not tolerate him calling women names (he seems to hate all women), he said he will. I then said (we're Christians) would Jesus like you to call one of his children a name like that? He answered "who says I'm a Christian?".

Out of all the talks we've had, the only complaint he has about me is that I punish him too severely, although he also says I only punish him about 3 times a year. Too severely in his mind is saying he can't go out on a Friday night because he strangled his brother. Or grounding him for a weekend because he disappeared for 2 hours in a shopping centre, with me running wild, calling in security etc. Or me taking his cellphone for a day, because he shouts at me, or laughs in my face etc. The worst punishment he's ever had, was being grounded for a weekend, and his cellphone confiscated for a day, and once for a weekend.

This morning, I called him and said: "Son, I know you dislike me but I want you to know that I love you. We are 5 in this house, and everyone else abides by certain rules, some spoken, some unspoken, but you seem to ignore all these rules. All I ask of you, is to be 1) respectful 2) make your bed every day, and 3) not to get detentions at school. Well CS, did he start giving me hell, saying I expect miracles and his friends' rooms are never tidy why should his be? His room is a health hazard, with 2 weeks dishes in it, ants all over them, bed NEVER made, dirty washing on the floor (to such an extent that he doesn't have clean clothes to wear at least twice a week). I now refuse to clean after him, and if my husband doesn't speak to him firmly every 2 weeks about the state of his room, he'd just leave it like that. It actually stinks when you walk in there. He will not be respectful to me because I'm not respectable (I asked why, he couldn't answer). If he gets a detention, he gets punished so who am I to punish him again? And if I don't like his room, I must just close the door.

I made the mistake to take a contract out for him. This contract alone is R40 pm, and since June to now, he owes me R1600 (I've taken the sim card away). I asked him how he plans on paying me back, and he said I can keep his pocket money which will take a year to repay. I asked him if he'd be prepared to wash my car at R30 a wash, and he told me no.

My daughter and husband tells me that I'm far too lenient on my son, my psychologist also thinks so, yet he makes me feel like an ogre because I'm doing my duty as a mother, by teaching him that life has rules and we need to abide by them.

Ag CS, here I have my daughter who is 2 years older. I cannot believe that they're brother and sister, they are so different. I have 3 kids, they all had the same upbringing, love, attention, yet my son thinks so differently.

It's not all the issues I mentioned above, which worry me so much. It's my son's state of mind which I am very, very worried about. He is so angry and I don't know how to help him.

CS, do you think that my "rules" and punishments are unreasonable?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Not peaceful, actually --- a burst of work on Sunday Morning --- then over to Mnet for the afternoon and evening to see the next Survivor episode, take copious barely legble notes, and interview the castaway, then back to Pretoria to spend the night writing up my notes while I can still dimly understand them --- then MOnday is shopping and chores day, so one has to try to fit in time to type up the Survivor articles and send them off, for H24, the official website, and Beeld.
Its his dad who is screwing your son's life up, potentially, by his stupid and immature, reflex undermining of all your decisions or attempts at discipline. Who actually has custody ? Presumably it's that parent who has the right to decide about therapy.
And the insistence that the psychologist should be Christian is ridiculous --- a shrink's religion should ABSOLUTELY AND ALWAYS be kept out of their therapy, just as they politics should be kept out. Your boy doesn't have a spiritual crisis, but a psychological one. I agree with your shrink that he is damaging the boy out of sheer spite, to a degree that one might need to consider approaching a court to intervene to stop this damage. meanwhile, any knives and weapons the boy has should be confiscated, and other potential weapons in the house be kept locked up.
Your punishments have been nowhere too severe, but far too lenient. If he leaves old dirty dishes in his room, then he should get no more food whatever except served onto dishes he brings from his room, clean or dirty, as he chooses. If he chooses not only not to bring out his dirty washing but also to help with the washing, then stop providing clean clothes --- he won't want to have his pals see him in dirty clothes.
Cancel the cellphone contract --- he should get no airtime except what he pays for himself out of money he earns from chores. Yes, he's behaving differently from the other kids --- but it doesn't sound as though they are exposed to a father bent on poisoning them against you and against normal behaviour and discipline.
Build also on his admission that you have never given him any reason not to trust you, and ask you whether it makes sense to believe every ugly thing your ex says about you, knowing that your ex very much wants to hurt you and to spoil your relationship with the boy, or to believe the evidence of his own eyes and experience.
explore the availability of Tough Love support.
Best of luck --- your love will win through in the end

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Annelize | 2006/11/07

I wish, people could understand what damage it does when one parent pulls the other apart. When my parents got devorced, my mother went on about my father and my father went on about my mother, later you don't know whats the truth. As a child it confused me and it made me feel like the buggerup at the en of the day because of all the negativity. I'm carrying that problem with me up to this day. when friends of mine split I make sure I tell both parties to not show your anger or resentment that you have for the other person, to your child. It does a lot of damage. And kids are kids, if they have no respect they will treat you badly and by pulling the other person apart, you brake down that respect. Kids look up to people and are supposed to have a role model, and usually they build that model around their parents. They don't know how to handle it when that picture in their heads are damaged. It's not fare toward that child and it's sefish. Your ex should really grow up and realise that he is the one doing the damage here. And tell him, so what if you did what ever when you were young. Everyone do stupid things when they are youg. Your kids doesn't have to know it, thats why they are kids. It did not make you a bad wife or mother. And who the hell is he to speak, he married you, so if you were so bad, what does that say about him??? Good luck, I'll say a prayer fr you, and please keep us up to date!

Reply to Annelize
Posted by: Caz | 2006/11/06

I dunno if it was CS or someone else that said that with kids we have to think of the 'long term solution' and try not to act impulsively and emotionally when dealing with them issues... which will be a short term solution...

Reply to Caz
Posted by: Buzz | 2006/11/06

Thanks Caz, I agree with you.

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: Buzz | 2006/11/06

Tango, in that case, I hope you have a lot of pressure in order to finish your book! Good luck.

Nina, I considered sending him to his dad, but that would be the worst thing for him. With dad, there's no boundaries, no consistency and many let-downs. Besides, there's no english high school where my ex lives, and my son would battle in an afrikaans school. What's more, he'd be alone after school until 7 at night.

I'm trying to get throught to Tough Love, and will attend a meeting as soon as I can.

Thanks for the encouragement!!!

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: Caz | 2006/11/06

Buzz, i can tell your concern really comes from the heart, and i feel u... my son is 12 and only getting to be "difficult"... so i cannot say i have been thru it already... i can however tell u that i was a difficult teenager with "lots of issues"... like ur son says... and i know at 14 life is more than hard, it's down right damn difficult...
one moment u feel like killing and the next moment u wanna hug and love and cuddle... one doesn't understand oneself even...
He is a normal teenager doll... keep an eye out for the real harms in life (drugs, Satanism) but remember in the end u cannot lead his life... he has choices to make and have to life by them... so, if he chooses to not do his homework, he must know there will be consequence... i still believe the best we can give our kids are unconditional love... but i think you know that already, which means your job is done...
Don't loose yourself in the process of bringing up children, stand firm and stand strong... and love... at the end it pays off...

Reply to Caz
Posted by: lady nina | 2006/11/06

hello dear friend

i'm sorry to heasr that you are going thru a tought time, you see to be a fair and good mother and hav two wonderful kids to prove it,

why don't you call a "tough love" help line and join a support group? they are really helpful and will help you deal with the issue and you'll have support 24/7

personally i would send him to his dad, no person has the right to treat you like that and yes i do agree that you are to soft on this boy, he is playing with you.

good luck


Reply to lady nina
Posted by: Tango | 2006/11/06

Hi Buzz

Have not had much time to write lately - although its times of great pressure and pain that I churn out the best work!

The reason I asked about the friends is that if they are flirting with drugs they usually drop the normal crowd and go with an undersirable one, there will always be a few in that new crowd thats in or back from rehab! Do not want to alarm you. The school work will deteriorate as well.

They will swing from loving and normal to utterly impossible. Just tell him today how much you enjoyed him sitting and chatting with you yesterday - encourage him.

Take care - I think you have my e mail addy if you want to chat off site.


Reply to Tango
Posted by: Buzz | 2006/11/05

I'm very aware of drugs (and all sorts of other things) but don't think he's using anything - I don't even think he's smoking although I saw him sitting outside this afternoon, pulling dry leaves off my yucha, smoking it and blowing rings. I walked out and just started laughing, he looked so guilty and naughty. I said, if you want a cigarette I can give you one son, no need to smoke leaves. He said he was just playing.

He was friends with a great group of boys, they all participated in sports, and did well academically. Since this year (high school) he no longer mixes with his old friends (they're losers) and I'm not at all impressed with his new friends (one was expelled for drug punting and addiction - he was in rehab at the tender age of 14!!!). His academic performance has deteriorated and he continually gets detentions for not handing in projects, and not doing homework.

The three of us (daughter, son and I) were chatting in my room for about 2 hours now. The amazing thing is, he was his old self again. Friendly, open, humouros - I don't understand him - for a week he hates me, then suddenly he's all loving again.

I'm off to bed, to a well-deserved sleep.

Thanks for your encouragment Tango - I'm sorry you went through a difficult time with your kids, but it's encouraging to hear that others go/went through the same, and that things do get better.

PS: How's your book coming along?

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: Tango | 2006/11/05

Yes - I have no doubt he loves you. It seems like he has been confused by what he been told and he is at a difficult age. But still, its not a good enough for his behaviour.

What are his friends like? Do think there is a bit of drugging - dagga smoking going on? Just a thought. How has he done at school over the last 2 - 3 years?

Reply to Tango
Posted by: Buzz | 2006/11/05

Hi Tango, I've just checked their website and wrote down the number of the nearest office. I will phone them tomorrow to find out about meetings etc.

What you say about short-changing the other kids, is so true. My daughter is 16, and my youngest son 8, and both of them are doing extremely well in all spheres of their lives and they're well balanced, almost as if they're trying to compensate. But I know that this constant tension in our home, has an adverse effect on them. My 8 year old son just came through a very difficult time, and after many doctors/ phsychologists/ neurologists/ play therapists visits, he's been diagnosed with ADHD and is on Ritalin (which was a VERY emotional decision for me to make) but he is doing so much better. Since his diagnosis, I've been reading a lot about ADHD and realize, in fact, I know for a fact, that my 14 year old son has ADHD. Yet I am too scared to suggest to him that we take him for an assessment - he'd take my head off like he did when I suggested we take him to a psychologist.

We just don't seem to understand each other at all. I said to him this afternoon that I can't keep trying to build a relationship with him, if he's not prepared to help me. He told me he hasn't tried in years and he has no plans of trying, that he prefers the anamosity and doesn't want to have a relationship with me. I know that deep down he loves me, but it still hurts like hell to hear this from a child you've carried for 9 months, given birth to, and raised to the best of your ability.

You said a while back, that your kids have turned out just fine... I hope the same happens for my son.

Reply to Buzz
Posted by: Tango | 2006/11/05

Hi Buzz,

My heart feels so much for you as I read through your posting. I to went through awful times with my two and the one thing that helped me was to join a Tough Love group, where I eventually became a leader. Why not call up the local group in your area and chat to someone. You as a parent - and the extended family - have rights too. These kids become so agressive and difficult that the other children get short changed - everythiung revolves around the rebel. Its a pity your ex can not see it, but that does not mean you and your husband can not set the rules in your home.

Good luck.

Reply to Tango
Posted by: Buzz | 2006/11/05

He says he doesn't know who to trust, me or his dad. I asked have I ever given you reason not to trust me and he said no. Then I said so why don't you trust me? He said because of all the things dad told him about me. CS, how can I defend myself and my relationship with my son, against my ex and his bitterness and lies?

Reply to Buzz

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