17 yr old son doing drugs, hanging w members of a gang in NY

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by defiantchild, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    To a point, Defiant. My grandparents and most of their siblings, (more than a dozen on each side) left their parents very young. My grandmother never again saw her parents after she was 11, sent to St. Petersburg as an indentured servant. The siblings then immigrated to Canada and then the United States.

    I think our idea of "childhood" and parental care has become greatly expanded having little to do with the good of either children or parents. Having more to do, perhaps, of the changing needs of the work force, or for highly trained workers. Without the benefits of extended family. All concentrated in our more or less isolated nuclear families.

    I am seeing with my own son, that the more I pull back, the more he seeks me. Not to do things anymore, but to stay connected. He asks for my advice, he tells me what he is doing.

    To guide and protect. Were we at all successful in doing either after a certain point? I think my authority and control are far, far back in the rear view mirror. I would say more than a dozen years (my son is 27). It is accepting, I think, what became the reality many years ago. In my case.

    Your son seems powerful and sure of himself. He is mocking, it seems, any guidance or protecting you try to give. This undermines any positive influence you try to exert.

    To say, fine. You are an adult. We acknowledge that. You are self-supporting and autonomous. This is a way to assume, again, your proper role. Moral authority. Experience. Loving and wanting him to thrive. To be a good man. A mensch. But letting him do it.

    You are the North Star. What greater source of influence can there be?

    He is pushing back against what he sees as control. Once the control stops. The love and the respect will resurface. That will be the basis of your authority with him.

    All kinds of people crash and burn in their lives. None of us want that for ourselves or for our children. But parents never, ever prevented the ruin of an adult. Never, ever. That is what we are having a hard time grasping. I was among the worst.

    My nadir arrived when I enrolled in the same online college courses as my 26 year old son. To see that he completed his homework. I had humiliated myself. (Except I could have cared less. I was desperate.) That was when I found this site.

  2. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Copa, it's so nice to hear from you. That's quite a story about enrolling in the class. Wow, I totally can relate to that. Your complete refusal to give up on him. To guide and protect, monitor him...incredible to which lengths we are willing to go. Thank goodness you found this sit. I feel fortunate too for this site, and my elderly friend, who continue to support me in NOT doing that which I intuitively want to do.

    Last night we were driving home from my father in law's birthday party (both my husband's parents were born on Christmas. My mother in law passed away 19 years ago...) and we were talking to Difficult Child in the car about what he is going to do with his life. He said he was thinking about getting his GED and going to culinary school in the fall. But he said he couldn't work and study at the same time, it's too much pressure and he needs some 'down time' to relax and hang out with his friends. So my husband said perhaps instead of working full time, he could work part time - 3 days a week - and take courses to prepare for the test.

    My husband doesn't think we should emancipate him now if he's really serious about doing the course for his GED. I don't believe he's disciplined enough nor mature enough to do it. But maybe I need to think more like Victor Frankl? It's so hard to know what to do! I am having such a hard time with him living here and taking advantage of us. After such a nice evening with family last night, he said he was going out with friends, never came home last night and now it's 5pm the next day and we still haven't heard from him. This is the kind of thing that drives me insane...I feel so abused.

    My husband said we should come up with a list of options for him, for example:
    1. Live on a Kibbutz as suggested by svenghandi
    2. Get emancipated and live entirely on your own with some financial support from us for your rent
    3. Live at home, follow the rules, and study for you GED/work
    4. Job Corps

    I think the whole thing is a joke bc why wouldn't he select #3? He won't follow the rules and there's nothing we can do about it. So we are back to square one. What do you think?
  3. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Hi Leafy,

    You make some very good points. We have done just that - what your father said - "you don't like it, there's the door" and we've actually thrown Difficult Child out of the house a few times. We are seriously considering the emancipation bc when we tell him to go use the door, we don't want to be legally responsible for anything he may do once he leaves our home. We have a lot of thinking to do....and some serious decisions to make. Our biggest concern is he will go back to dealing weed if he doesn't have enough money. I guess that's the risk we need to take. It's certainly not working the way things are now....
  4. ColleenB

    ColleenB Active Member

    I just read your thread, and feel that we are kind of in a similar situation with our son.

    We are planning on giving him the options:
    1. Move out, some support with groceries only, we will have no say about drugs etc, except that we don't agree and no help with tuition or rent
    2. Stay home with a car, some help with tuition, free rent and food. BUT no drugs

    However, he has been doing #2 and we haven't enforced anything. We have always been scared of we kick him out he will only deal drugs and never get back into university and on a better path....

    Every time we think we see a change it seems to fall apart.

    I wish I had a crystal ball to see that he is alright...

    I'm sorry I don't have any advice either than the fact you are not alone. I have felt so alone before I started reading these posts. All of my friends kids seem to have figured it out, and I feel so ashamed... Like I failed.

    Hope things start to look up for us,

  5. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Hi Colleen,

    So sorry for what you are going through. Yes, it's a horrible feeling when you see your friend's children, your son's friends, everyone else figuring it out, but our Difficult Child's. Unless you've experienced this for yourself, there is really no way to understand how this can happen. I do often feel ashamed as well. And judged by others. I'm learning not to let that get to me anymore. I am learning to count my blessings each day and not fixate on our Difficult Child. But it's very hard sometimes. That's why I have come to the conclusion with the help of a wonderful new friend and the advice of the wonderful friends I've met on this site that I have no choice, really. It's not getting any better for him here. It's like we are just delaying the inevitable. Might as well get on with it.

    I feel your pain and I'm here for you for support.

  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    All of it, all, is in this passage above.

    I will tell you what I think with the caveat that I do not know you or your son. And that I blew it in almost all ways until I wised up.

    First, the abuse has to stop. And he will not stop it. You must. There is no reason what so ever to believe anything at all will change under your roof. Why would it? What is the motivation? All the cards have been played. It is as if to say, let us go back to that poker hand half an hour ago, the one where I had two aces and two kings?

    Of everything that has entered into our discussions on this thread, the most promising, I think are the kibbutz and cooking school, preferably one like the London one. Your son has already rejected Job Corps. Do you really think that will work, if he does not want it?

    He has said he would like to emancipate. If that is an option given his legal situation, it sounds like that has been decided, already. Because in reality he has already emancipated himself.

    I question why he would require financial help from you if he is emancipated, when he has already demonstrated he can work full time?

    It would seem to me to be a recipe for disaster. Nothing comes for free. What parent would feel if they were paying for part of the rent, that they did not have a right to some expectations or control? And as long as you have your fingers in things, even if you had not one expectation, he would feel you did, and rebel against it? To continue subsidizing him even partly would create the expectation in you or him or both that there was still some controlling going on--and some obligation--or fighting against that perception.

    How would you feel if he was dealing drugs from that apartment and you were paying part of the rent? What would you do?

    I have rank ordered what the possibilities would be for me (only me):

    1. Kibbutz--here he would be as if emancipated, but with guidance and oversight. He would be away from harmful influences. Hopefully. (Because I have to tell you here, that I have secretly feared that my son could join some terrorist group. Think about it. The ultimate rebellion of it. I would be fearful because of what Netanyahu calls the "dangerous neighborhood."
    2. Emancipate completely. He pay for all. You pay for nothing.
    3. Job Corps (his decision, but has he not rejected this idea?)
    4. Cooking School--but really, this would be messy. Because you would be paying and he could do whatever he wanted. On your dime.
    5. Stay at home with conditions. But why in the world would anything change?

    The only clean option is emancipation. If he did this he could go to a kibbutz. He could go to Job Corps. He could go to cooking school, and ask you for help. He could even hypothetically ask to stay home. He could make you the offer and set forth his conditions. What he needs, what he could give.

    I think it all depends upon what the attorney says next week.

  7. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Hi Copa,

    The attorney emailed me today and said once the sentencing is done on January 4th, there are no restrictions in terms of emancipation. He/we are free to do it. I don't know if my son will agree to the Kibbutz, but who knows?

    I agree with you regarding emancipation...now I have to get my husband on board. As for the support, we've put some money away for him. We can offer to give him some of that money on a weekly basis to pay his rent. He knows we've been saving this money for him for his 'future' so i don't think it will feel the same as if we are supporting him.

    Not easy at all....
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't give him ANY money. He will use it unwisely or dangerously. The rent will not get paid.

    Pay the landlord yourself and directly by money order. Just my suggestion.

    hugs and good luck!
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  9. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    100% agree with you. We will not give him the money directly. Great advice.
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    These are my thoughts, only my own.

    You saved that money for him to help him. That he prosper. For college, maybe. For a business. To start a family.

    This was money, I think, that was meant to further his dreams and your own for him.

    Not to subsidize bad behavior. Or even the possibility of it. Every dollar you pay for him of his rent--frees up a dollar that can be spent for him to hurt himself.

    What about keeping that money to pay for him to go to culinary school someday, or airline tickets to London or Paris or Israel. With both of you having some say. Needing so to speak the signatures of each party.

    He already has the where with all to support himself. He has shown that. Why pay rent?

  11. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    Hi Copa,

    Unfortuntely, to live in the NYC area (Brooklyn or Queens) on $12 per hour is very difficult. I need to research where he could live. Something I will research now. We don't want him to have a car. Would rather him use public transportation. Living in Brooklyn or Queens is the best option.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    What about renting a room? Is that real expensive, too?

    I am not from the East. Part of my son's problem is where we are from. The San Francisco Bay area. (I do not live there now.) In San Francisco the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is more than $3700. My son is there now, close to SF. He is defeated before he starts. Even renting a room would cost as much as his SSI. So the only way to live where we are from, is to be homeless. He is now with friends of friends.

    There are parts of Newark that are supposed to be nice, now. Like the Ironbound. Is NJ a possibly?

  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    You know the difficulty of our difficult situations is really hitting me now. How we are just all twisted up inside and upside down.

    You want to help your son. The impulse that is normal and generous.

    He is thwarting you at every turn. What are you supposed to do? Cut yourself off at the arm? Which is what we are doing. Because every single thing we try to do, or do, has the risk of being subverted.

  14. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member

    NYC and the boroughs are very expensive. But I think he could find an apartment share situation. There are sites that pair people up together. I already sent some messages out about it. I'm so sorry for your situation as well. Isn't easy knowing your Difficult Child is homeless. Horrible feeling. But you're right, what can you do?
  15. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    You have not failed Colleen, your son is choosing for himself. This has nothing to do with your parenting, and everything to do with free will. We are all imperfect humans, we make mistakes. We did our best as parents. Things happen with our adult kids that are simply out of our control.

    I am glad D C that you do not let others opinions matter. This is your business, your sons business. I am careful who I share my story with. I do not need anyone else to judge me.
    I am sure that there are more folks who are dealing with this, then you, or I are even aware of.

    The beauty of being here on CD, being anonymous, we are blessed to be able to share things we would be cautious or guarded about. It is a safe place for us to be.

    Shame and guilt do not belong to us. We did the best we could do.
    Our children adult (or near adult), will choose their paths.
    It does not mean, they will continue as is,
    some, seem to have to learn the hard way.

    I am hopeful, that all of our children, eventually, will find their meaning and purpose in life.

  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member


    I have been thinking about your situation, some more.

    Have you thought about talking to your Rabbi and his wife about the decision you are about to make? They know your son (and you) and we do not. Maybe your Rabbi will have other ideas we have not thought of. He cares about you, about your son, about the family. He knows about resources in your community.

    Are you prepared emotionally if your son takes a turn for the worse, if he emancipates? How will you feel? It will be too late to turn back, I think. How will you feel about the subsidy, then? If your son is choosing poorly.

    It is a distinct possibility, that at least initially, he may continue along the wrong road. Because he will decide to change when and if he wants to.

    While it is theoretically possible that he will change for the better, it is not a sure thing.

    It could be argued that if he is unable to financially swing living independently in your area without your help, he may not be a candidate for emancipation.

    While I do not think I write gibberish to you, my son did not leave until he was just 23. When he left at 19, it seemed too soon. Your son has strengths my son may lack, but he is young.

    Your situation is not a desperate one. You and your son have options.

  17. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member


    Thank you for the message...I emailed my rabbi's wife last night about the Israeli Kibbutz programs...Waiting to hear back if she has any suggestions. I think it's a good idea to speak with my Rabbi. I will call him tomorrow.

    I agree with you that at least initially my son will not choose well. I agree that he will likely continue to make poor choices. But aren't we just enabling him by letting him stay here? We have no control over
    him whatsoever.

    If we ask him to clean up after himself in the kitchen, or do some sort of chore in the house, he does it (most of the time, not always, and often with multiple reminders). He doesn't normally give us attitude when we ask him to do things. He isn't disrespectful to us in that manner. His room is normally a mess. I've given up on that.

    The problem is the hours he keeps, the staying out all night, the sneaking out in the middle of the night, the drugs, the lying, and more lying. We cannot do anything to change that behavior. My husband and I didn't even say a word to him when he woke up this morning in his own bed - must have returned home at some crazy hour - after not hearing from him at all since dinner Friday night. It's almost like why even bother? It's so unhealthy, the whole dynamic. It's unhealthy for him to have no rules, no structure and to know that he can get away with anything he wants because we have no way of enforcing anything. He figures out how to break every rule. It's unhealthy for us to live like this.

    I know there are risks in emancipating him. But there are risks in the status quo.
  18. defiantchild

    defiantchild Member


    I sent an email last week to the program in London. I'm still waiting to hear back...Maybe I will reach out to them again tomorrow. Not sure how the program is structured exactly...hoping to get more info. It may be only for local kids, I don't know.
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My experience has been, that if the person is unwilling to change, NOBODY, NO PROGRAM can do any good. If money is tight, don't give up your retirement to try to save your son. When he is ready, he will do it and you will still have money. in my opinion too many people go broke trying to find that magic place to fix somebody else, someone they love who is broken. But not one program can fix a person who doesn't want to cooperate. When/if they are ready, then even a free rehab will do the trick. It's all in their mindset...and how much they are willing to work hard to change their entire life. Many here have spent tons with no results. Many leave the program or run away and we are back where we started.

    If you are short on money, like me, think about what you can afford. Sending a child to another country seems like A LOT of $$$ that most of us don't have. If you have it, I apologize. And, of course, this is just my own opinion. My daughter quit when she was ready and did not do it in any sort of special school or rehab. She did it because she was sick and tired of the drug life. That's when they all do it. When we don't have to force them and they are ready.

    Again, this is only my opinion and it is coming from somebody who never could have sent my kid out of the country (nor thought it would help to do so) and whose child did quit. That doesn't make me an expert. Do what feels right for you and what you can afford. I worry about folks going broke and it not helping anyway...

    That does not mean he has to live at home and abuse you. Most of us have not tolerated that.

    Hugs for your hurting heart.
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    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Defiant

    Yes. I tolerated a lot of abuse in the years between 18 and 23. I was always simmering mad. I question how much I helped my son, if at all.

    The hard, hard thing about all of this, is we love them so much. The stakes are so high. Their lives and our own are at stake.

    While protecting ourselves is important (because it is at the same time taking a stand for them--that they be men of integrity, good men) there is the intense need to protect them--as you said "guide and protect." Which is as if biological in its drive in us. Which causes us to submit to so much which is messy. To which you refer.

    I care about you and your son. I want him to be OK. And you too. There is no easy way, is there? Nothing without risks one way or another.

    I guess we need to trust them, trust ourselves, the part of us that is in them. It is a question of faith, is it not?

    Take care.