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!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Confessions are Good for the Soul?

Bear tends to confess about misbehavior after he feels that there will be no longer be consequences or that he might even get kudos for dealing with it.


  • A year and a half after Bear lived with us, he confessed that during his first few months with us, he was smoking mariju*na.  We'd strongly suspected (thought I smelled it in his room), but didn't have any proof at the time.  Not totally sure why he told us, but do know that since he was no longer doing it, and it had happened so long ago, he was sure there was nothing we would do about it.  I'm assuming it's part of the brain damage causing him to not "get" cause and effect, that he assumes not having a consequence is the end of it.  He never has been able to understand that the true consequences is that we don't trust him.
  • While in residential treatment (6 months after he came to live with us, Bear went into psychiatric residential treatment for 6 months), Bear went to the staff and confessed that he'd been dipping (packing his lip with chewing tobacco), and gave them his supply.  Since he hadn't been caught with the tobacco, he got praise for confessing.  Does it say anything about us that Hubby and I both looked at each other and asked, "How much was left in the container?"  We were right, it was almost empty and he had no way to refill his supply.

During a recent telephone conversation, Bear told Hubby that after he moved out he began taking and selling drugs, in addition to some other illegal behaviors.

We'd already mentioned to Bear that Kitty was upset with him because he'd sold drugs to her friends.  He denied it immediately of course, but I'd made it very clear at the time that I wasn't asking him if he did it, or even accusing him of doing it, and didn't want to hear his denials.

This is how we deal with Bear's lies.  We don't ask him.  We don't put him in a position where he can/will lie.  We simply ignore his attempts to lie, keep his life as structured as possible so he is not in a position to get into trouble, and present him with consequences without asking for his side of what happened.  In short, we assume that everything he says will be a lie and that he will break the rules if given the opportunity.  It's beyond guilty until proven innocent.  It's guilty or didn't have an opportunity to do it... yet.

It sounds horrible doesn't it.

In the phone call, Bear told Hubby that he wished he hadn't left the special school (where there was a LOT more supervision). He wished he hadn't moved out (where there is a LOT more supervision).  From what I've learned from Bob, we're pretty sure that he didn't start drinking, smoking, doing drugs and "fooling around" with girls, until he moved out.  He needed the structured environment we were providing.

I understand "typical teenage rebellion."  My mom was pretty strict, and in some ways, I was a pretty sheltered child.  I got into some trouble while in high school (occasionally drinking and not where I said I would be, but no drugs or sex), but generally I was a "goody two shoes."  Like most kids, when I got to college, I got a little wilder (lot of cussing, but never drugs).  Within a couple of years, I went back to my "core values" and eventually became the mature, responsible adult that I am today... (obviously I wasn't struck by lightening - it's safe to resume reading!)

When people realize how structured we keep the lives of Kitty and Bear, we hear a lot about how anyone would rebel.  That we should be preparing them for "real life"  by allowing them to take chances and make mistakes while still in the safe environment of our home and/or have the legal protection of being under 18.  Even his psychiatrist said we should let him try "real life" and pick up the pieces afterward.  We tried.

It took us a long time to get here, but I now believe that our kids will never be "typical teens."  I don't believe that Bear has the "core values" to go back to when he gets the "teenage rebellion" out of his system.  I know he doesn't have the cognitive ability to make responsible choices anytime soon.  His last neuropsychologist's recommendation was that he stay at home longer and mature before he is ready to take on "real life."  Unfortunately he is legally an adult now and we couldn't make him follow our and the neuropsych's recommendations.

Now that he's coming to grips with this idea, I don't know where to go from here.

I do find it interesting how much it bothers him that Kitty is mad at him for this.  He seemed very upset that she even knew about the drugs.  Bob knew too, but Bear doesn't seem interested in her.  Don't know if this is because Kitty is his bio sister or because she's actually expressed her feelings about this and Bob hasn't.


Adrian said...

Wow, this is a really excellent explanation.
Just wow. It really helps understand Kitty's issues with emotional age that she doesn't rebel like Bear did.
...And that does sound like a horrible way to treat Bear. I always figured if people reveal stuff like that it means they're trying to see if they can trust you, it doesn't have bearing on you trusting them.
But that sounds like such a profoundly horrible situation, you did what you thought was right and what worked for you.
Kudos on sticking to it. Best of luck with the future for all of you.

Growing Tween said...

This sounds like such a hard line to walk- a balance between what all four of your kiddos need and what they want. So much of it is out of your control. It takes a lot to prepare for this and you didn't have a toddlerhood with them to start with. It sounds like you're working hard at doing all you can for Bear!