My 16-year-old son is becoming increasingly violent towards me in terms of name-calling and threatening me verbally. He is also verbally abusive towards his three younger sisters, and occasionally shoves at them. It's been a long journey for me to recognize this as abuse, and I've been handling it (or not handling it) by letting his father take over the parenting. Predictably, this is not getting us anywhere as his father often comes home late or is away on business trips.
I spent my morning looking up articles on parent abuse online after suffering another angry outburst from my son last night. It's becoming clear to me that I do need to step in and find ways of dealing with this situation and begin addressing the many problems this causes. Most important to me is that I need to stop feeling and reacting like a victim in my own home and not feel so powerless and guilty all the time.
Also (and this is the most heartbreaking to me), how do I continue to show and express love to my son? He was attachment-parented most of his life. He was breastfed, worn in a sling, homeschooled until high school, and comes from a very stable family. My husband and I continue to work on our marriage and have a good relationship, and we have little trouble with our girls. With our son, it's been a steady decline over the last several years. He has, I feel, systematically eroded any warm, fuzzy feelings I have towards him. He either ignores my existence, or verbally abuses me. Normal conversations between us have become nearly extinct, and I have to be honest, I'm tired of trying and would rather put my energies elsewhere. But I keep wondering about how a mother in my situation should express her unconditional love in healthy ways. I do care about what happens to him and I do care about his future and his inability to handle emotions.
Is anybody out there in a similar boat?
TBH, I would have zero patience if my other kids are in danger. Have you ever called the police on him during periods of violence?
Has there been an evaluation for any kind of mental illness?
Does he respond to your DH the same way or does he respect his dad?
I'm sorry I can't offer more help. I'm sorry you're going through this.
He does not act out at school, or anywhere else in public. He seems to only do this at home. He has been in a very steady relationship with his girlfriend for over a year now, and treats her well. The only people he mistreats are his family.
We don't think there's any mental illness.
He respects my husband more, but also doesn't always listen to him. Dh responds very angrily when I tell him how our son mistreats me, but that doesn't solve anything either.
No, we've never called the police, because it's mostly verbal. If the violence ever escalates, I think I will call the police on him.
For the most part, my son keeps himself segregated from the rest of the family. He doesn't join us for family outings, and I keep my 5-year-old away from him in the home. The 14-year-old says her relationship with her brother is slowly improving, so I'm supportive of them spending time together (it's very little time anyway). The 11-year-old naturally stays away from him.
My "mama bear" has had to come out several times in order to protect my other kids from him, which is again so sad. I never leave the younger ones at home when he's home, not even for quick trips to the grocery store or the gas station. I can and do leave my 14-year-old in charge occasionally, and there haven't been any problems. He spends most of his free time either at his girlfriend's or in his room.
No, we have not considered anything like that. We have not had good experiences with therapy ourselves, and I'm not very open to it at this point. My husband went to therapy several years ago for a time and it nearly ended our marriage.
I'm mostly looking for ways to be the best parent I can be in a minimalist sort of way while he's still living at home.
1st step *I would take is getting you and your husband on the same level of awareness of what is happening while he is gone..Then I would involve your sons doctor..They should have referrals for you..You nor your daughters shouldn't have to live in fear of another family member..And if this is the road your boy is intent on taking whether it is caused medically or not it will only get worse without help..
I understand your pain..How can you love someone so much but not like them at all?? This wad a question I cried to myself all the time..
My story isn't pretty nor did it have a happily ever after ending..I love my son and he is doing better but I will never allow him to live with me again nor be alone with his 6 year old daughter whom I have custody..It will be 2 years ago this summer that I ran 600 miles away to keep us safe..I haven't seen him since but I do talk to him on the phone sometimes.He seems to be doing better but he is so up and down I will never trust him 100% again..
But I miss and yearn for my child the boy he wad when he wad small...And when I talk to him no matter how angry he is I always tell him I love him..
Tell your husband...then go get help for him together..You all deserve it and he might actually respond to the help...
Hugs to you....
This may sound a little intrusive and off-the-wall, but I wonder if you could discreetly record some of your interactions with your ds. Maybe on a smartphone or similar device.
The reason I suggest this is that I had an experience when my eldest was about 7. I was supposed to be helping her practice her violin. She was immensely talented, super bright, and driven, but still very young and needing and wanting my involvement, and yet any help I tried to give got turned into this horrible launch-pad for opposition, rudeness and conflict. It was really awful: she was bright enough to really know how to lash out and hurt me with her nastiness, and it got to the point where I dreaded every practice session. In desperation I turned to her teacher for help and since the teacher wanted to understand exactly what I was dealing with she asked me to video-tape a typical practice session. I tucked the camcorder in amongst some junk on the piano, put a bit of electrical tape over the blinking red light, turned it on and tried to catch a typically horrible practice session.
I never did. The practices were never that bad again: that was when we turned the corner.
Why? Well, I think because I knew my interactions were going to be viewed by the teacher, I kept just a little more emotional distance than I normally did. Recorded Me was a better parent than Regular Me. I didn't let myself get as easily angered and hurt by what my dd said or did. I was in the moment with her, but I was also a detached observer of what I was doing, I was monitoring things from a bit of emotional distance, thinking in the back of my mind "what will her teacher think of my response to this?" And that was enough to stop me from getting embroiled emotionally as a victim.
I also went back and watched what I had recorded: I could see Recorded Me being resilient but strong, caring but firm. I could see when my reactions were not quite what I was aspiring to, and when I'd done well. I got better at it. And once the vicious cycle of negative interactions was interrupted, we found ways to cooperate and enjoy each other. She became much more likeable and being a loving parent got much easier.
So in my case, being recorded and observed allowed me behave like less of a victim, and to change my responses in a way that improved our relationship. But even if that hadn't happened, I would have had something really useful to go to her teacher with.
In your case recording your interactions might allow you put just that little bit of emotional distance in there and avoid feeling so much like your ds's victim. And that change in your emotional stance might create a positive change in your relationship with him. But even if it's not that easy -- and at 16 rather than 7 that may indeed be the case -- at worst you'll have a very potent way of showing your dh exactly what is going on, exactly what you are experience, and exactly how far things have deteriorated. So that hopefully the two of you can support each other and work together on this.
Just an idea.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Our son is just turned 16 & my husband and I have noticed in the past month or two he sometimes speaks to us in a surly or raised tone of voice. Sometimes there is eye rolling and a bit of what is called "dumb insolence"
We have talked to him about it & he is trying to control it a bit and we are also trying to sometimes cut him some slack. I know that sometimes in adolescence other people can be SO annoying. But it appears to be much less of a problem then what you are going through. But, I could see that if not nipped in the bud, the sort of thing that my son does could escalate.
Have you sat down & told him that for people to live together, certain basic levels of courtesy & safety MUST be maintained; and that his behavior would be way out-of-line for housemates or roommates - so how much worse for family members!
Then, if the shouting & shoving is no good & that XYZ will happen if it continues?
For swearing, shouting, & slamming door, etc = (monetary fine? Screen time docked? no rides given to visit friends or activities for X number of days? If he drives - no car for X amount of time?)
Home needs to be a physically & emotionally safe place for everyone.
That is interesting, Miranda.
I ended up having my 9 year old in therapy for several months because she was always so angry, and I wanted to have something like ADHD ruled out. She would often throw her tantrums while doing homework, and I did record her several times so I could give the therapist an idea of what we were facing. The biggest issue we had with her was her angry outbursts, and then blaming things on everyone else. She will still do that, and I am not looking forward to her teen years, although she does seem a bit more level.
Snugglebugsmom, has your son always had these problems? I mean did have angry outbursts and say verbally abusive things when he was younger too?
I am "sort of" in the same boat. My 14 YO DS became increasingly violent over the last 2-3 years, as well as having increasing problems with school. We were at the point of his destroying his room (but never hurting people) and then threatening to kill himself, after yelling about how he hated us and how awful we were... We ended up needing to have him hospitalized for a bit just to keep everyone in the house safe. He was throwing chairs through walls and smashing furniture in his rage episodes as well as shouting insults and threatening us. It was very, very scary and upsetting. So I'm guessing I know a little of what you might be feeling.
Before you make any big decisions, I would advise getting your doctor involved. For *us*, several hours of psychological testing resulted in a diagnosis of depression, anxiety and ADD. Once we started treating those issues, things have been slowly returning to normal. I was always grateful that we didn't try to "parent" our way out of what was really a medical condition compounded by school problems. I would have been so guilty if I had tried to discipline away something that he really had little control over. Along the way we have learned some new parenting techniques and had many of our existing practices validated, which really helped my peace of mind. I know you said you were anti-therapist, and it sounds like you have reason to be cautious about it. But not all therapists are bad -- we've had a couple we didn't like and now have a team that we love and we all work well as a team. Of course, your son may have a completely different basis for his behavior. Could be drugs, could be mental health, could be hormones, could be general negative behavior, could be any number of things. But I think it pays to rule out medical issues first, and go from there. And even if he is diagnosed with something medical, you still have lots of treatment options that you can consider.
In terms of continuing to feel loving and supportive, it really helped that I knew why he was behaving as he was. DH and I have been very careful to be consistent and talk all the time about how we are/will handle situations. Sometimes one of us has to step back because we can't take it any more, so its good to have a tag team option. It helped also to feel like we were "doing something" to change things for the better and its now really nice to see progress. So I can keep telling myself "its getting better". It is hard and grinding to face this every day. Low-key time spent with just him doing something of his choice helps us connect -- even if its just watching TV together (I never want to see another episode of Dr. Who, but I watch with him anyway). I don't try to do big family outing things since those get overwhelming and then I feel worse. Remember to take care of yourself since you need to be at your best to be good for/with your children.
Agitation can be a symptom of depression. I understand you had bad experiences with therapy but it does not mean your child will. Your child is not you and you should not extend your experiences to him.
Depression is common among teens and often they can keep it together in schools and lash out at home because they feel safe. he know you're not going to call police, send him ro baording school or therapy. You are not doing him any favors because eventually that behavior will spill onto his GF and in school.
Your son needs boundaries and help. Your other children need to feel safe.
CBT may be a good choice for him because it is time limited and to the point.
The place to start is his doctor. Get a referral to a good therapist who works with his age group.
I think he for some reason is mad at you and your husband and is acting out. I know you said you dont want to do therapy but it sounds like that is what is needed.
Your son you said, has a stable and loving relationship with his girlfriend, and I take it that she has stayed with him because he doesn't treat her as despicably as you. Have you spoken to her? If not, could you arrange a time when his girlfriend is likely to be around and your son, not. I sense his girlfriend might have a clue as to what has been troubling him for so long, for surely it is worth seeking her out to have a motherly talk and try and find out if your son has shared anything important with her.
I work as a senior moderater for a large teen forum and nothing is new in this area for me when presented with woes from the various teenagers I come in contact with; teenagers lead secret lives from their parents. Conversely, up to last year I was the only family member that my late brother Adam would listen to. Adam was eighteen months older than me. He wasn't diagnosed with ADHD nor did he suffer Asperger's and that came after he agreed I accompanied him to see our doctor. Our doctor refused to give Adam any calming meds, which infuriated me because even mild antidepressants given short term might have made a whole lot of difference. I even got a second opinion, but no; it seemed that doctors in our surgery all possessed the same opinion.
Instead, Adam was diagnosed as having a serious anger problem that stemmed from way back when our mother Lauren killed herself. Adam couldn't handle her suicide. Instead, he took his wrath out on everybody. Except me, because he quickly realised I am not the sort of girl to tolerate being intimidated or verbally abused. And neither should you, except I feel it would be counter-productive getting the police onto him because he would probably clam up and display much dumb insolence. Adam did have counselling sesssions and for a time they seemed to work. This is an option I recommend you take, for there are skillful counsellors in this area.
I was always there for my brother. Last August he died from an overdose of illegally obtained drugs. There is a big hole in my heart; feel that I could have done more, felt a failure, still do.
Your husband I realise, his volatile nature will neither help, but hinder any communications with your son. You must try and get him to simmer down first, and then encourage him not to remonstrate with your son, but get alongside in standing up for you while reasoning with your son that his behaviour is unacceptable. He must impress upon your son that you are not to be intimidated neither bullied, for verbal abuse is just that.
Again, try and talk to your son's girlfriend. She may have answers that even you and your husband haven't thought of.