Sunday, October 7, 2012

Can I get control over my 18 year old son?

Dear Kay:

My name is Melissa and I don't know where to begin. I have raised my son as a single parent from the day he was born. His father commit suicide when I was 18 and found out two weeks later I was pregnant. I have raised him the best I knew how - maybe worked too much! I really don't know where to begin but I hurt!

He is eighteen now and headed again for disaster. He did not finish high school, which was a terrible struggle, but cant lead a horse to water and make him drink. He became a disruption for children that want to learn which isn't fair. I feel like I failed. Now he does nothing with his time, he is always angry with me when, I myself worked very hard to make ends meet and always have being raised by a single mom of three. I really do not have the space to fill you in on the whole life's scenario. What am I doing then, I am desperate.

He just actually runs my life now. I have had a little boy, his brother 4 years ago, he went bad worse, then better. I have just gotten married after 38 years this not the problem. He consistently makes me feel terrible when I correct or encourage his lack of responsibility. Which is often lately. He freaks out, causes fights, gonna commit suicide every time he feels times getting tough. Cannot or will not take responsibility for his actions, which are troublesome to himself and others around him! Ive worked hard, given him everything, his family given him everything!

As a mother of an 18 year old, what are my rights in New York to take control of his life as i see it going completely down hill. Can I admit him to drug and alcohol center. I cannot emancipate him in New York, he is not in trouble with law yet, but coming. I need some advice or consultation. This is just tidbits of beginning to now, I'm struggling.

Please help!
Melissa

Dear Melissa: I can hear your pain and I am sorry you are in this position. Let's separate a few things out. What is you and what is him.

1st. You state, "I've worked hard, given him everything, his family given him everything!" This is not good. Giving any child everything is never a good idea. He is a product of how he has been raised. Now, this is in the past. Let's just deal with the present.

2nd. Stop beating yourself up you cannot undo what has already been done and you are not the first, or the last or the only parent who has made mistakes. There are NO PERFECT PARENTS regardless of what you may hear. You certainly are not the worst. You are not helping him get better or doing yourself any favors playing the blame game and shaming yourself. Stop it, now. Be happy! This is the best thing any parent can do for a child, BE HAPPY so they can model this behavior instead.

3rd. He is 18. Why would you have to have him emancipated. I believe 18 is the legal age in all states. He will take as much responsibility as you allow him to. Stop digging him out, worrying about him or cleaning up his messes. He will have to assume responsibility only as quickly as you let go of him. It won't be easy and he will be mad. Expect him to be angry. What he has done in the past has worked quite well for him or he would not be doing what he is doing.

4th. As for getting him into treatment. I do not know about New York you will have to do some research. Some states have what is called involuntary commitment. Some states have both a mental health and a substance abuse law which permits family member to have a family member committed for either mental health or substance abuse. They have to be legally placed for a screening and assessment to determine if they meet the legal standards for involuntary commitment. I suggest you contact the state office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse to see what the laws are in New York. Ask lots of questions to get the answers you need.

5th. Start reading up on co-dependency. You need healthier boundaries between yourself and your son. If you haven't attended an AlAnon group (www.alanon.org)I suggest you do so now and often. It will help you establish good healthy emotional boundaries for yourself. Trust me these type of dysfunctional relationships can drag on for years making both people unhappy. It isn't necessary. Get assistance. There are good, kind people there who have been where you are now and will understand and listen to you as well as share their own strength, hope and experience. You life will change dramatically. You can be at peace and happy!

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller