I am going to try to make this as concise as possible because a) I don't know how much time I really have (house to myself for now) and b) I just don't have the energy to spend half-hour or and hour writing it out. So if I miss some relevant details, sorry - feel free to ask for clarification and I'll be back later. I'm sure it'll still be long...
I guess I'll start with the stunts our teen (14, FWIW) is pulling...which basically amount to, at the last minute, telling us he's not coming on his scheduled days with us. Now, we're absolutely willing to be flexible (and we've communicated this), but part of the problem is that he's tending towards...rudeness, at the very least. If he bowed out civilly, and kept his word abot 'coming up with plan' to make the time up, we'd have far less problems with it.
Secondly relevant, is that he has emtional issues that we've struggled for years to get addressed We've recently made good connections with a couple of local agencies, and we're hoping the treatment goes somewhere. He's on meds (ADHD and an antidepressant - just started the latter recently) and is set up with a counselor. Imention this b/c I wonder how much of his behavior is his 'issues' talking sometimes.
Third, we've gotten some feedback from friends that we basically just have to let him do what he wants, or we'll lose him totally down the road. We're unwilling to do this for a couple of reasons, which amount a) We don't believe it's in his best interest and b) We beliee preserving our family is important. FYI, it's not just DH and I - DSS has a little borther and one coming ina few weeks, so this impacts them too.
Part ofthe reason we don't believe it's in his best interest to 'do what he wants' with regard to moving between houses is that we have multiple streams of professional feedback saying that his Mom's house is a relatively unhealthy environment for him and ours is a healthy place for him.
So anyway...how have we addressed this? After the first series of such 'stunts', DH and I recognized that this was not healthy for us or our LOs. We won't be able to function in a healthy way with this much stress and tension in house. We had a calm conversation w/ DSS and set some limits. One was 24 hours notice for non-emergency changes to the schedule. We're still willing to be flexible - hainging out with friends is not the same as hiding out in Mom's house, e.g. And we understand that 'friend things sometimes come up spontaneously. It's the "I'm not coming over, I'm sleeping at Mom's" that we expect more than 30 min notice on. We also said we weren't comfortable with much variation in the schedule till some of the time was made up.
Come yesterday afternoon - DSS called dad, "I've had a stressful day, I'd really like to hang w/ the guys for a while, and touch base w/ mom." Fine. He was reasonably civil, we support him being social (this has been an issue in the past), etc. They talked again in the evening and worked out a pickup time. DSS treid to do the 'I'm sleeping at Mom's" thing, DH reminded him of our boundaries, which DSS agreed last week were reasonable. DH drove over to pick him up (I was in bed) and DSS stood on the porch for 30+ minutes refusing to get in the car and being rude. DSS is a big guy; DH is bigger, and is concerned that if he pretty much touches DSS in this context, he could end up w/ assault charges on his hands.
We believe that part of this is coming out of DSS emotional issues. We believe part of it is him flexing his teen 'independence' muscles. We believe it's in part a power thing (encouraged by mom, as long as it hurts us).
....I guess I need to vent, but we're also at a loss about what to do. We are hurt and angry. We've tried placing boundaries (as mentioned above) - and made sure to enforce them as best we could - and he flagrantly disregarded them. I've been off and on in tears all day. We see the impact of DSS 'choices' in LOs behavior. What do we do? How do we maintain the health of our family and make a space - a safe space - for DSS? (Whcih reminds me - we also wonder, based on years of history, if we're the 'safe' household to say F-you to...)
DH and I are seeking emotional support for ourseles, FWIW. It's a tool we expect to need for the next little while.
Thank for sticking through a long post...
Edited by SaraCate - 11/13/10 at 4:07pm