This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Manipulative Bear

Bear tells me that GirlFriend's Mom wants to meet me. Finally! I was beginning to wonder if she had parents. He says he has to be ungrounded by Friday so he can hang out with GF and her mom. He knows I will not allow him to hang out with GF out of my sight unless I approve the adult supervisor.

So I say OK (cause I'm easily manipulated apparently). He says GF's mom is going to go swimming with the family so I have to come (Grandma takes the kids swimming every day at 4pm). OK, I can squeeze that in to my schedule (somehow).

Friday rolls around and around 10am, Bear informs me that GF and her mom will be "in the neighborhood" and will be coming to our house at noon, and is it OK if GF stays with us while her mom runs some errands?

Wait! Noon?!! As in less than 2 hours from now? As in, I'm still in my workout clothes and have a ton of work to get done? As in we'd have to feed them lunch? Nuh uh. No way. She can't come before 1pm.

Wait, what did I just say? No, not 1pm... 2pm at the earliest! I have got to get some work done. (Hubby later, much later, points out that he still managed to arrange this to be 2 hours earlier than originally planned. Somehow that part I missed. Guess I'm still not getting enough sleep).

At 2pm I'm buried in my computer up to my neck. Bear asks Grandma to take him to pick GF up. Mom approved her coming over. (Only later in talking about my day to Hubby do I realize... how did this go from meeting her mom to us going to get her for a date?).

At 3pm I surface, where's the Mom? Oh she had to run some errands. She'll be here around 5:30pm. What?! I have to be at therapy at 5:30pm. So now I won't even be meeting her? I know I'm being manipulated, but the girl is already here and her mom is mysteriously not. Bear assures me the mom will try to be here before I have to leave.

5:15pm. The mom shows up. 7 wet kids running around (my 4, her 1 and my 7 yr old niece and almost 10 yr old nephew). I have to leave to get to therapy. Not exactly a good time to have "the talk" with the woman. We exchange pleasantries and more importantly, phone numbers. And I'm 10 minutes late to therapy.

Skip ahead to Sunday night (cause of course I have no time to call the woman). Bear is talking to GF on the phone and wants to know if he can accompany them while the girl is school shopping. Normally would be an OK activity, but I still don't know if I can trust this woman. After all, she left her daughter unsupervised for most of the Summer in an empty house with teenagers of both sexes running around. So I tell Bear I have to talk to the mom - without him or GF present.

GF's mom informs me that she doesn't like the GF's best friend because the girl is not a good influence and the girl's mother has been known to give the kids alcohol (the girls are 14 and 16). They also let the best friend drive her grandmother's car and she doesn't have a license. Luckily her daughter knows better than to ever get in a car with the girl.

Gotta love Mom networks:

GF's Mom finds out that Best friend drove GF to our house several times. That I know for a fact that the Bestfriend and her little sister were alone with teenage boys in the house and no adults present for most of the Summer (Hubby searched the house once when we couldn't find Bear - we didn't find Bear that time, but there were no adults and Bear's guy friends were there with GF, Bestfriend, and Bestfriend's sister).

GF found out that Bear had skipped over a week of school and we're positive he was with GF for most of that time .

I found out that GF is on the pill (one less worry for me) and was in big trouble last school year for skipping school 47 times (another great role model for my son. Where does he find these girls? I still think he has a sign on his forehead saying "only chicks with major issues need apply!").

Here's the big one - GF's father is NOT DEAD! This was his big excuse for her to come over the day before his birthday even though he was grounded. GF's mom says she's OK with GF saying her dad is dead because he is terminally ill and practically in a coma. GF hasn't seen him in 6 years. I'm OK with her saying he's dead too, but not that he DIED on THURSDAY and she needs support from her boyfriend because her family abandoned her and went to Six Flags.

I banned the Bestfriend and her sister from our house and my kids aren't allowed to talk to them on the phone either. Bear is OK with this because apparently the Best friend has been trying to break Bear and GF up because she's jealous. I've been telling Kitty for weeks that she's too young to hang out with a junior in highschool (Bestfriend) and apparently Kitty hasn't talked to the sister that's closer in age to Kitty in weeks. I don't want the kids around someone who lies to my face (about Bear being at her house), illegally drives and apparently has no problems with taking others with her, and whose parents allow drinking, driving, and leave a 14 year old girl completely unsupervised all Summer.

I told Bear he was grounded for another week and he got extremely upset. I told him I was upset because I feel I can't trust him and he lied about GF's father dying so he could break his grounding. He stated that he shouldn't get grounded for a whole week when he didn't know it was a lie.

After Hubby and I talked it over we decided that the GF was grounded (from him). He can't talk to her on the phone or see her at all for a week.

I still need to discuss ways for him to start building trust again. That's a huge one because I don't think it's possible. He is good for 95% of the time. The problem is during that remaining 5% of the time, he doesn't think about consequences, he just acts.

We tried to explain it to him using the points and level system he has at school and had in treatment. A kid who was trouble all the time is easier to handle in some ways. They struggle and work hard on a daily (or hourly or minute by minute even!) to manage their behavior. They slowly move up the levels (or not). Then there's kids like Bear.

After a short time figuring out how it all works, he quickly goes to the top level and stays there. Everyone keeps insisting, why is this kid even in this program?! But when he does something wrong - it's always huge (drugs, guns, police). Maybe because he's so sneaky it's not until he's under scrutiny that everything comes to light. Sometimes I think he's deliberately sabotaging himself so that he won't be moved out of the restrictive environment that makes him feel safe (while at the same time he's learned he likes it on the top level because it has lots of privileges and it's easier to manipulate the system). Or maybe he needs the structure and restriction of being in a program like this and when we lighten up (like in the Summer time) he can't handle it. Probably all of the above.

So what do I do? I know I need to continue to advocate for him staying in the special program at school. He keeps showing us that he needs it. At home, I think I need to stop bending to the pressure to treat him like a normal 16 year old boy and keep him in a restricted environment. I think he even knows it's what he needs.

Would love any advice for helping him develop the ability to think before he leaps and actually be motivated not to do do something because of the consequences of his actions. He just doesn't get it.

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