Suggestions for Teen's Serious Issues - Mothering Forums
Preteens and Teens > Suggestions for Teen's Serious Issues
marsupial-mom's Avatar marsupial-mom 08:51 PM 09-26-2012

A teen boy that I'm "aunt" to was recently expelled from school for bringing drugs there. He barely uses them (honestly, I would know. He never once smelled funny to me, had funky looking eye, or behaved strangely). He now goes to a special school for the "bad kids".

 

Before this school thing was worked out, I watched him for a couple weeks while he was out of school. Now that he's back in school I have less influence but I'd like to have an impact. He's pretty well-behaved in general and isn't violent. He gets good grades in school, does his homework, does chores, and is great with little kids. He isn't suicidal or thinking of running away, but he has some other specific issues I consider pretty serious. I just don't know how to deal with them.

 

I'm looking for suggestions for how to help encourage him to change his most negative behaviors:

- Obviously, the drugs

- Lying (not huge lies, but lots of little "cover-ups" for when he doesn't do what you asked)

- Selfishness (I know it's normal for teens to be selfish but I feel like he can't empathize well)

- Motivation (he isn't passionate about anything)

- Follow-through (he doesn't fulfill his promises, pay back his debts etc)

 

Any ideas on how to impact this child in a positive way? I'm really struggling and find myself yelling or arguing with him a lot.



ollyoxenfree's Avatar ollyoxenfree 07:03 AM 09-27-2012

You are wonderful for trying to make a difference for this boy. 

 

The drug use along with your description of the lack of motivation, passion and empathy struck me. The teens that I know who are using drugs are self-medicating. One kid uses weed because he thinks it helps his ADHD and anxiety. Another uses it for anxiety and depression. The first kid is aware that he is self-medicating and his use is deliberate. The other doesn't recognize the connection between his mental state and his drug use, but as a bystander, it seems obvious.

 

Anyway, I'm wondering whether your "nephew" has been in counseling or has at least had a review by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or professional. At least it's a starting point for him. If he is dealing with anxiety or depression or some other issue, then effective professional therapy may help address the recreational drug use. 

 

If there is no mental health issue, then I suspect that he will struggle until he finds something meaningful to engage him. Music, drama, photography, computer game programming, learning to build something or take it apart, a course of study, volunteer work, a part-time job....Something where he sees himself making meaningful contributions or expressing himself in an authentic way with some autonomy and self-direction. 

 

Good luck and best wishes to you both. 


pattimomma's Avatar pattimomma 09:59 AM 09-27-2012

yeahthat.gif

 

I think Olly got it right. Screen for mental health issues. It sounds like there is something going on and he may not even know how to express it.
 


sparklefairy's Avatar sparklefairy 10:37 AM 09-27-2012

I worked for awhile in a substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents. Most of my clients were young men. A very common theme that I saw was that they needed a massive amount of physical activity to meet their physical and emotional needs for movement, but that their lives were asking them to sit and listen, sit and read, sit and behave most of the time. Exercise was almost always a big part of their recovery plan. It gave them a sense of accomplishment -- reaching goals -- as well as getting the endorphins going. Perhaps it's because I have such a high need for movement myself that forms this, but I believe that young people's bodies -- especially young male bodies -- are designed to move most of the time, and as a society, we don't allow for enough of that and we don't value it except under very specific circumstances.
 


marsupial-mom's Avatar marsupial-mom 07:03 PM 09-27-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by sparklefairy View Post

I worked for awhile in a substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents. Most of my clients were young men. A very common theme that I saw was that they needed a massive amount of physical activity to meet their physical and emotional needs for movement, but that their lives were asking them to sit and listen, sit and read, sit and behave most of the time. Exercise was almost always a big part of their recovery plan. It gave them a sense of accomplishment -- reaching goals -- as well as getting the endorphins going. Perhaps it's because I have such a high need for movement myself that forms this, but I believe that young people's bodies -- especially young male bodies -- are designed to move most of the time, and as a society, we don't allow for enough of that and we don't value it except under very specific circumstances.
 

I agree 100% that most young men need a lot more physical activity than they're generally accorded.

 

However, I don't really think that's his issue because he is involved in martial arts at least an hour a day (often more). And he walks a lot too. And he participates in PE at school (doesn't just sit on the sidelines). He's fit. I don't think he needs more exercise. He could probably benefit from an organized team sport where he had mentors and felt connected, but so far that hasn't happened. He's fit but he's not actually very coordinated nor does he have much team sports experience and so when he tried out for school sports teams he didn't make the cut.

 

I'm sure he has some level of depression. I wouldn't call it profound but he's not a happy camper. I honestly think the drug issue is NOT the main problem. As far as I can tell he has never used around me - been sober the whole time. It appears more like experimentation. The drug was marijuana, nothing more serious. And he got caught at school because he's so new to it that he did something really stupid. So... I see the drug thing as more of a sign that he's hanging out with the wrong kids, getting influenced by the wrong TV shows or music, and he's just generally lacking life direction and motivation. I don't think he's self-medicating.

 

I was thinking of maybe trying to sign him up for something like Big Brothers.


mtiger's Avatar mtiger 09:11 PM 09-27-2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post

I was thinking of maybe trying to sign him up for something like Big Brothers.

 

I think Big Brothers/Big Sisters won't take kids over 12...

 

What is he interested in? Is there a volunteer opportunity that you could get him involved in? It really sounds as though he needs to find something to be passionate about. I'd focus on helping him find what that may be.


marsupial-mom's Avatar marsupial-mom 09:27 PM 09-27-2012
Their website says: "Big Brothers Big Sisters seeks to change the lives of children facing adversity between 6 and 18 years of age. "

Volunteering is a good idea, though. Ill have to think about what might work and how to get him involved.
mtiger's Avatar mtiger 01:28 AM 09-28-2012

Huh... I looked at one that said they cut them off when they hit 13...
 


sageowl's Avatar sageowl 10:12 AM 11-18-2012

I had a friend who was involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the kids she was mentoring were 14 and 15, respectively.  So that's strange...  
 


marsupial-mom's Avatar marsupial-mom 10:39 AM 11-18-2012

I actually tried to contact Big Brothers and Big Sisters to find out the qualifications (because someone else said there were income restrictions and middle class families wouldn't qualify even if they were single parent households, people of color, or children of service workers). Sadly, I called twice but never got an answer. The first call the receptionist couldn't answer my question and transfered me but that person wasn't in so I left a message. The second time no one answered the call. So.. I gave up.


incorrigible's Avatar incorrigible 11:41 AM 11-25-2012

Big Brothers Big Sisters varies from town to town, based on their funding, volunteers, number of kids signing up, etc etc etc. When I was a single mom, my kids were involved. They were young enough that I don't know if there was a cut off age...but they were on the waiting list for a big brother for like 6 years I think. Eventually I remarried...they were never assigned a brother because there weren't enough volunteers. They would have big field trips to a ball game or something every couple months though, and folks from local organizations would come with and be big brothers just for the day. It was nice for them to do those cool activities when we were crazy broke, but they barely even interacted with the adults. *shrug* Perhaps you could make a point of being the mentor for this young man...you do already have a relationship with him. Maybe just take him out to lunch once a week or something. My mom's xbf used to do this for me after they broke up. Once a week he'd pick me up after school and take me to McDonald's and we'd sit around and talk, often for hours, and usually about nothing substantial. 


Tags: Teens
Up