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Go Back Forums > Parenting > Ages & Stages > Adolescence

Adolescence That fiery time prior to your child becoming a teenager. Their bodies are filled with hormones and turmoil. How are you coping?

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-17-2004, 11:48 PM
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Son of 17 not sleeping or working absent father

I am very worried about my 17-year-old son.

My husband left 3 months ago, and has not been in touch with him very much, in fact, he hasn't seen him for a month now.

My husband has also left us with considerable money worries. Our bank accounts are now frozen, the mortgage is in arrears, and he does not keep his promises to send maintenance money. He told me last time I spoke to him that Imust communicate only through solicitors in the future. As it costs me £150 each time I speak to my solicitor, I am reluctant to do this.

I have just petitioned for divorce.

My son is not eating properly, not sleeping well, and not doing homework. This morning he refused to go to school, saying he was too tired. This is the third time he has done this in a month. I don't know how to handle it. I've asked him what is wrong ( even though it's clear what some of the problems are), asked if he wants to talk to someone or see a doctor. He said not, but he is not the type to discuss problms with me anyway.

He's also going to a lot of parties, and plans to go to several over half-term. I try to limit these, but wonder if I should go easy on him, as he's obviously unhappy, and enjoys being with his friends.

That's the major issue, really. Should I let him do things his way for a bit, until family matters are sorted out more, or should I go on as usual, i.e. be concerned about lack of homework, constant partying, not eating enough, not going to school, etc?

He is my fifth child, so I am an experienced parent, but have never had to deal with this before.

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Old 10-18-2004, 04:08 PM
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How are your older children dealing with their father's actions?

Maybe your 17 y.o. son would talk to one of them even though he doesn't talk to you about what is going on. Bottom line is that he needs to talk to someone!

If this were one of my two sons, I would limit the parties that he attends.

I am assuming by your use of the term "solicitor" instead of lawyer or attorney, you live in England? If so, could you send your husband a registered letter stating everything that you need him to know.... such as his son's difficulty with the situation and your need for financial support?? Or could you send that same letter registered mail to his solicitor?? It might make a difference if his solicitor knew what his client is up to...or should I say what he ISN'T up to!!
Hook 'Em Horns!!!!
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Old 10-23-2004, 10:39 AM
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Hi Zaza,

I am sorry to hear about your major life changes.

I am not sure, why your post has 'touched me', but it has and I have felt the need, to respond.

Please, what I am about to post are NOT professional suggestions, nor am I a professional. I have simply learned in my 61 years of experience, that some things regarding major life changes, can be handled with, good old-fashion common sense.

My initial 'gut feeling", when I read your post, is that your 17 year old son is giving you plenty of 'signs' and 'red flags'.

First, I personally think, he is depressed, which is not uncommon considering the circumstances. He is displaying most of the classic signs of depression, lower school grades, lack of interest in doing most things, not sleeping well, so on and so forth. Anger is in there, as well. Most people are not even aware that 'anger' is another sign of depression.

Secondly, I also, personally think, he feels he has been 'completely abandoned' by his father. Bottom line, at this point in time, he has been.

Thirdly, I am HIGHLY concerned that your son could 'turn to drugs' to 'solve his problems'. He doesn't want to do the normal things, but, wants to 'party' with friends? Big red flag, in my personal opinion. That doesn't mean he is doing drugs, just that the opportunity could easily be there, for him do so.

Fourthly, you need to act and has soon, as possible. Leaving him alone to handle this, may not be the wisest choice. His is still a 'boy, in a man's body'. He doesn't have the life experiences, to know how to handle all of this. The fact is, you have much more life experiences and you don't know how to handle all of this, so, how or why, would he?

Do you have a Family Doctor, that you can discuss these issues with? Or your Church Minister/Pastor/Priest? Counseling for the both of you, seems to be a very viable option. Both of you are going through major life changes and each of you have 'issues' that need to be resolved, before the two of you can 'move on', so to speak. So, why not do this together?

I know that your finances are really short, however your son is the most important issue that you are faced with, right now. Yes, I realize that you can NOT make anyone talk about their own 'personal emotional problems', but, there has to be some way, to get him to 'open up'.

Also, just a word to the wise. Do not 'down or degrade' his father, to him or to others. You are hurt, mad, angry and many other emotions, so, it is easy to say things, that you will regret later. Remember, your husband will always, be his father, even though he will not always, be your husband.

Let your son know that it is NOT his fault, that you and your husband are getting a divorce.

Children, and a 17 year old is still a child, tend to get the 'facts' all wrong, when their parents are divorcing, and are prone to 'blaming' themselves for their parents actions. Kids will frequently fall into the pattern of what I call the...IF, only I had done this or that, then this would not have happened syndrome.

I will pray for you and your son, as well as your family. Since, your entire family has been affected, by the divorce proceedings. Yes, even your older children are affected. These actions taken by your husband has changed the dynamics, within your family structure, so everyone is affected.

These are some of my thoughts. You will do, what is best for you and your son. The fact that you are concern and willing to talk about any of this, is an excellent 'sign' that you are already on the way, to your path of solution.
Mickey [aka MmeMoxie]

"The Truth is out there...
Can anyone give me the URL???!!!"
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Old 10-24-2004, 08:01 AM
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Teenager often take family problems hard.
I would suggest that you find a good therapy situation for him. Then I'd check to see what help might be offered by local agencies. I don't know where you live but you should be entitled to some child support and support for yourself from your estranged husband.
Seek out assistance for all your issues you are facing. It can be
hard to take that first step but you need to make some strides for balancing your life.
Good Luck!
Robin in NC
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Old 10-25-2004, 12:49 PM
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Is there a British equivalent of a Legal Aid Society? Here in the US, we have attorneys (solicitors) who help with legal problems for either no fee or a vastly reduced fee.

You will have to get a solicitor eventually to handle your divorce. In this country, the person who leaves has certain legal responsibilities about supporting the spouse left behind - especially if it is the major bread winner. Your job at this point is to ensure that your child at home is taken care of by his father the way he is supposed to be taken care of - and that includes ensuring the roof over his head and the food in his belly and the heat / cooling necessary to good health. You must be the advocate for him - that is *your* responsibility - no matter how heartbbroken, angry, bereft, depressed , etc, that you are.

And, yes, I've been there and done that when my three were 9, 8, and 5. I ended up being told to leave the house we had just built, having to declare bankruptcy, and start all over again from the ground up. I walked out of the debris of my first marriage with my children, my books and 3 appliances. That's about it. You can survive this, but you have to get angry and determined enough to do it.

Your son, as the other poster said, is depressed and is very vulnerable to drugs. Absolutely clamp down and do not permit him to party with his friends. You will have to sit him down and talk to him whether he wants to hear it or not. Don't trash his father, but lay out the reality - he left, there are financial problems, and you and he have to take care of each other. Then tell him - don't ask - that he will need to go to a counselor. At this point he is too depressed to motivate himself - he's trying to deny that there is a problem! He needs a good therapist who will point out reality and help him deal with it.

Keep your eyes, ears, and nose open for the possibility of drugs. Learn to recognize the scent of "pot" on someone's breath, or it's smoke. Look for changes in his eyes - whites get bloodshot, pupils either tightly constricted or widely dilated and not birskly responsive to changes in light level. Invade his privacy and look through his things for any drugs or drug paraphenalia. Learn to know what these will look like.

Alert the school officials as to the problems your family is having. If they know, they will help you find the assistance you need for him.

He will buck and rear, and accuse you of all kinds of things, but you need to remind him that you are his mother and and adult, and your responsibility is to ensure he is ok. Cut him no "slack."

Yes, I ended up having to put 2 of my kids in therapy in their teens, and they didn't want to go, but they went because I gave them no choices. And when necessary, I took them to school, picked them up after school, and gave them no "free" time to get into trouble. Chores are a wonderful therapy - he can take out his anger on them, and stay out of trouble at the same time.

Keep your cool with him, keep telling him you love him, keep telling him you are proud of him for (whatever). Get him going back to school regularly, and be sure he does his homework every day.

Your next job is to force your soon-to-be-ex-husband to live up to his legal responsibilities. He needs to support your son, and if that means helping you to have a roof over your head, too, so be it.

Sorry if this is abrupt, but if you are similar to how I was when going through all this kind of thing, you need a couple of raps on the head and some cold water dashed on your face from time to time! there's a lot of love on this board, and I hope you will be able to take advantage of it!

Prayers are going up for you.

Elizabeth (registered nurse with PhD in family and community nursing - and, yes, I've done some family counseling in my career)
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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 10-29-2004, 03:34 AM
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Hello Zaza, good thoughts and prayers are heading your way. Divorce is a major loss (can be compared to a death) to everyone involved. I would try to keep up your son's regular routine as much as possible. You are still the parent! Reading books on divorce helped me to understand and to be able to figure out my feelings. Things will get better but it will take time.

amanda in chicago
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Old 11-22-2004, 08:04 PM
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zaza - how is your son doing? And you? Has the situation improved at all?


Hook 'Em Horns!!!!
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 11-22-2004, 10:32 PM
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Hello, everyone who has offered advice and help to me,

Things have improved since I last wrote.

I rang my son's school to explain the situation, and was told his teachers would have to be told about it, and one of them would need to talk to him. I was upset about this at first, because I thought he might think I had gone behind his back. I was told that they would get back to me if they thought it necessary.

However, a few days later, my son brought me home an EMA form, and asked me to fill it in. ( This is an apllication for financial allowance for the children in a single-parent household). so I knew he had spoken to someone, although he didn't want to discuss it with me. He has since joined the elite section in his form, although before he could not get in ( I'm sure as the result of his teacher's knowing about his problems), and been allowed to play in the school's rugby team, again, something he was denied before.

I also asked my daughter to speak to his father, saying how upset he was. She said my husband sounded concerned, and the result was that he invited my son to stay with him for the weekend. He has since seen him once more.

The school has not been in contact with me since.

My son seems a lot happier now, eating and sleeping better, but at the weekend, went out to 2 parties, not coming home in between, in spite of an agrreement between us before he went out. So I have grounded him for 2 weeks, much to his displeasure.

I will certainly keep my eyes open for signs of drug abuse. This is something we have talked about several times in the past , and he has always said that he would not be stupid enough to get involved. But the situation has changed since then, and I'm aware of the dangers.

I am encouraging him to look for a weekend job, and he is trying to do this.

My husband - no doubt as the result of his solicitors advice, as his behaviour will not look good to the court - has now sent me some money, and paid off some of the mortgage interest, although the bank accounts are still frozen. The case comes before the court in January. I have sold my car, and can manage financially until then.

I am in a very difficult position financially, because I was a partner in my husband's business, and according to official documentation, earned half his salary, so I cannot claim the relief offered to those who are in financial difficulties, even though I did not get the money. I have tried to appeal, but with no success.

But things are a lot better than they were. Thanks to all who replied to me. I'll let you know what happens in January.

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