Tips on how to deal with an angry, anxious 14 year old

Janet - posted on 01/02/2016 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Hello,

My situation is a bit complicated. Basically the Child Protection Plans for my teenage children are about to end. My eldest (16.5 year old) lives with me and my youngest (14.5 year old) lives with his father. My eldest has autism and mental health issues and my husband and younger sons were names as perpetrators of abuse towards him. My husband was also a perpetrator of abuse towards my youngest, but the authorities, in their wisdom, felt it was safe enough to leave the boy in my husband's care. After 6 months my eldest is much more stable and I work from home so that i can care for him. My youngest, however, is constantly fighting and arguing with my husband and social services have asked if we (parents) will agree to a voluntary fostering arrangement. I have debated this and I feel, on reflection, a better solution could be that he lives with me and his brother.

Yet, I am not very good at managing behaviour. I tend to be very passive and inconsistent when it comes to enforcing boundaries and assuring respectful behaviour. It may take a few weeks before I can prepare a home for both my sons and I desperately want a few tips on how to manage our very intelligent and loving but aggressive, volatile and damaged 14 year old son. I cannot risk noisy confrontation because this would result in emotional meltdown and increased instability in my eldest.

Are there any 'strong' parents out there who can give me any tips? A list of 'don'ts' might be a bit more effective to start with. Our family social worker simply tells me that my son is out of control and he needs to be in a more stable environment. They have not told me how I could make my home a stable environment for him or how I can gain control. I would appreciate any advice at all.

Thanks

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Dove - posted on 01/05/2016

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You want a list of don'ts?

Don't keep your son in an abusive, volatile environment any longer.
Don't move him into a home where another volatile environment is likely to occur (the home where he was the abuser).

DO get all of you into some serious counseling immediately.
DO let your son go into foster care (or maybe a group home setting w/ 24/7 professional staff) until such time that it is safe for both children to be in your home.

Raye - posted on 01/05/2016

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Why are you still married to the guy that abused your children? You say "husband" not "ex-husband". Is the divorce in the works? You also talk about your older son (with Autism) and the younger son that lives with your husband, but then you say the "husband and younger sons" (sons, plural) were named as abusers. How many kids do you have?

I have to agree with Dove. If the 14 year old is out of control and he was previously abusive toward the older son, then it might be explosive to have them living in the same household. You can't just "make your home a stable environment", move the kid in and have everything okay. It's not like adding baby locks on cabinets and outlet covers. Stability comes with time, lots of effort, and some missteps along the way. If your older son can't handle the turmoil that will come by working through your youngest son's troubles, and you've admitted to being passive and inconsistent, then the best thing may be for the younger son to go somewhere else that may be able to better provide the structure and stability he needs.

Janet - posted on 01/04/2016

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Hello,

Thank you for the advice. My husband is the father of both my sons. My youngest son lives with him even though my husband is named as the perpetrator of abuse towards him. Their relationship is volatile and, in many senses, unhealthy. My eldest lives with me and, unfortunately, my youngest is named as perpetrator of abuse against him. I desperately want to keep my children out of care, but, because we have no relatives or friends with whom they can stay, the only way this can be done is for one of the boys to live with someone who abused him. I feel that it is possible to manage the situation if both my sons lived with me if only I could deal with their behaviour better. I am afraid that the youngest especially would run circles around me

Dove - posted on 01/04/2016

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So wait... your son (14) abused his brother (16) and your husband abused your son (14) and now you want to have all 3 of these guys living under the same roof?

I'm not sure if I got that right because it sounds like you are referring to your husband and the boy's father as the same guy... but also referring to them as two separate guys since you say the 14 year old isn't currently living w/ you... So I'm confused.

If both home are volatile it might be safer and better for your 14 year old to go into temporary foster care while all of you receive some family counseling together (and separate).

Suzanne - posted on 01/04/2016

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I am terribly sorry for the challenges your family is facing. You are right, this is a complex and serious situation but with the proper guidance and intervention, I believe that things will work out for the best. I’ve seen similar situations that have had very positive outcomes, so please be encouraged.

The fact that your sons need proper boundaries in place is certainly very true. Thankfully, it is never too late to begin. In fact, all children benefit from exposure to good, solid boundaries growing up. And, generally speaking, most emotional healthy families have lived by this guiding principle and therefore tend to have less conflict overall. However, we all know that setting boundaries is sometimes easier said than done, so go easy on yourself.

You seem like a caring, loving and intelligent mother who wants the best for her family. There is an organization I feel that can help you achieve some of your goals. The organization is called Focus on the Family and I recommend them often to families with children. I encourage you to reach out to them, even as you are probably seeking many other avenues of support. Their website is: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/.

A couple of other resources come to mind. The first is a website which focuses on parenting and family matters. There are several articles that may be of interest to you, and ones that specifically teach on how to deal with teenagers experiencing emotional and behavioral issues. That website can be found at: http://drjamesdobson.org/ - Dr. Dobson’s Family Talk.

If you’re not familiar with him, Dr. James Dobson is a well-known Christian Psychologist and author who has written several books on raising children and teens, and his book, Bringing Up Boys, may be helpful to you as well.

Even though this seems like an almost impossible situation right now, I believe there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope these resources will empower you to tackle any challenge you face in this area. You’ll be in my thoughts and I’ll be praying especially for guidance and direction as you and your sons become reconnected in the home. God bless you and may He give you the strength and wisdom you need for this season in your life.

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