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Kicked my son out of the house. Now I want him back..

Comments (3)
answered 12:13 PM EST, Sun July 24, 2011
Kicked my son out of the house. Now I want him back but don’t know how to make it happen and still retain any authority over him.

I have always had a close relationship with my 16 year old son. As a single mother, we’ve been through a lot together over the years and he is a big part of my life.

For the last couple of years he has started in with a really bad crowd and they have totally changed the way he behaves and his attitude towards me. I have caught him with marijuana and alcohol and some kind of pills and half the time I can’t tell if he is high or just sullen and ignoring. He also has a girlfriend who seems to have no parental supervision at all and very little shame. I will come home to see the 2 of them on the couch together and they barely even stop until I get angry. It is very hard for me to watch. They seem to find me a joke.

His grades are terrible. He drinks and uses drugs. He breaks the law. He is sexually active and has explicit content on his phone and computer that I find disgusting and that he barely feels the need to conceal from me.

Last week the police brought him home drunk. They did not press charges but I was fed up and grounded him for a month for his behavior. He said he was too old to be grounded like some little kid. The next night he went out the window and went out to the park again to hang with his friends and didn’t come home until 2 in the morning. He knew I’d know and he just didn’t care. He was challenging me. I told him he was grounded for 2 months and if he couldn’t respect the rules of the house he couldn’t live here anymore.

When I woke up the next morning he was gone and had taken a bag of his things with him. That was about 5 days ago. I have talked to him on the phone and know he is staying at his friend’s apartment, with no parents present. He seems to be having a fine time and he says that I kicked him out, which is not true. I feel like he knows I’m worried about him and he is punishing me by acting like he’s happy to be gone.

I want him to come back home because I know that as badly as he treats me and as badly as he behaves, at least I know he is safe. Now, I lay awake at night worrying about him. But how do I get him to come back without losing any authority I have over him? I mean, I made an ultimatum and he made a joke of it. If I ask him to come home won’t he be able to do whatever he wants…not that would be so terribly different from before though.

David Johnson Says...

How sad it is that your son has decided to assert his independence in this way. Unfortunately, he is capable of independence from you at least for short periods of time, as he is demonstrating. His actions give you few options. At this point in time, I think it is wise to assume that the authority you have with him is what he gives you. He needs to discover where his limits are, when that happens, he will likely seek your support. Its very hard for youth to emancipate in these economic times. Unless he works full time, the cost of his care will catch up with him.

I think a good place to start is to rethink what you can tolerate in your house. You no longer have control of your son, but you still have influence.  You always have control over your own boundaries. Decide where they are. Then offer him a place to live within a new set of guidelines, not based on your role as parent, but on your own balance between your values and tolerance and to protect your safety and peace of mind. Your greatest influence is by example. Next, presumably, you have more income and an ability to support him financially. Economics will likely be the strongest motivation that will bring him back. Decide now what you can compromise, both your bottom line and your starting point for negotiations with him..

Another possible way that you have influence is whether his chemical abuse breaks the law. Do not allow law breaking in your house. You maybe legally and financially responsible to authorities. If your son is chemically dependent and a danger to himself or others, he may come under jurisdiction of civil commitment in your state. You may be able to have him confined in chemical dependent treatment. However, if you choose to do this, you may lose most of whatever goodwill you still have with him. But if his life is on the line, you may have few other choices.

Finally, I think it is very important that you get involved in counseling for yourself to help you deal with your loss and work on more specific plans on how to continue to have influence in your son's life. It might be useful to begin counseling before you start negotiating with your son.

I wish you the very best. Parenting is the most difficult job we have.

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