Family with troubled teenager, typical or warning signs of more?

Melanie - posted on 12/16/2012 ( 5 moms have responded )

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I am a single mother of three who recently started renting from a relative. The problem is that I am quite concerned regarding my teenage nephew. He has stolen from me on numerous occasions and has shown absolutely no remorse about it. He has a supposed history of violence towards his mother and I say supposed because I have never actually seen it occur only what my sister has told me. He is 12 years old, has not attended school since it has started, overweight, has had a history of depression problems. On a recent occasion I overheard he had been lighting fires in the house with an aerosol can. He is verbally disrespectful, and when I asked for an apology he just stared right through me and ignored me, refused to aknowledge the behavior. According to my sister he is on PINS, however I have never seen an officer at the house, and just enrolled in alternative school which he has already missed classes. My sister claims that she is doing everything she can but no one is helping her with him. The therapist seen in the past has not returned any phone calls, and basically she has to wait out the pins. ALthough I am not in the situation as the parent I can not help but get the feeling that there could be more that can be done. I am concerned for my childrens safety although he has never exhibited any violence or disrespect towards them. Is there more than can be done? I wonder if maybe she is procrastinating or is there an exaggeration regarding the severity of violence towards her? I feel that as a parent if it were my child, I would be calling every therapist every church, every group, I would be in his face every second if it meant asking for physical help to take him to a place, it would be sought. What I do see is he behaves for a few days to obtain what he wants and when he gets what he wants the behavior returns, they are taken but never for long.. Even when he stole from me and I was unaware of it, he was nothing but nice asking for things, and joking until I found out what was missing. The fact he could be so innocent with me, meanwhile he knew he had stolen is just mind boggling. I would like to know if I am being too dramatic in my concerns, is this typical of teenagers?, is there more that could be done to help him, should I be involved at all considering its not my child?

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Michelle - posted on 12/16/2012

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Talk to him get him to open up about why he is doing the things he is doing. Kids at 12 can be disrespectful yes but sounds to me like he is looking for attention and bad attention is better than no attention so try and give positive attention include him in activities encourage him with school, perhaps he needs help with this. Also being overweight maybe try and start a new healthier diet for the entire household and encourage him to go for walks with you and your kids. I think he is a scared and unhappy kid who just wants someone to show him love and your sister isn't showing it to him in the way that he needs. Family therapy may be in order as well so everyone can deal with the new changes in the household.

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Dove - posted on 12/17/2012

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If he steals from you.... call the police. He needs help and if she won't get it for him.. 'maybe' the court system will get involved.

Melanie - posted on 12/17/2012

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I am thankful for the responses, unfortunately I dont have many to talk to since she would rather for obvious reason not have the rest of the family know the details of a private family matter, and I really dont want to see him fall through the cracks given the current tragedies our society is facing...My son does nto have his father around either, but he would never dream of disrespecting an elder, or not going to school which therein shows the difference in parenting. Although he is only six and I have heard of those troublesome headache, worrysome teenage years and I am certainly not looking forward to them LOL!. which is why I instill to the very best abilities a solid foundation NOW inthe early years ... I am hoping the major extent of my teenager worries will be the eating 6 pizzas in one sitting, or the chronic sports injuries, or dreadful girl magazines under the bed along with cans of soda LOL.. ANy thoughts how I can bring up therapy again or maybe a family intervention without hurting her feelings or having her get angry.. I do rent from her and I dont want the strain to affect the living situation but I do feel a need to do something. I feel as a society when we are faced with a situation and choose to ignore it we might as well as have contributed to the behavior ourselves...

Melanie - posted on 12/17/2012

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I actually thought the same thing in regards to lack of parenting, perhaps the upbringing earlier was not the best and it has unfortunately led to the exhibition of this current behavior. In my mind I thought that I could help him, I did start trying to talk to him, I even suggested since I am an avid runner that we go together, but he just doesnt want to do it. That is when I started realizing that there is so much more going on. Catholic charities got involved to offer a group outing with other teens, to motivate, he refused to go. I have tried to talk to my sister, saying you can not!! live in fear, you have a choice either stop complaining, allow the behavior to continue, allow him to rule the house or!! do something... maybe I am a bit stern in my opinions or not empathetic but I cant shake the feeling that she is procrastinating or not pushing hard enough...Father is involved to an extent, but not doing much for the situation either, she is remarried and he hates!!! the stepfather although he has no reason too, he is ten times more the man...Given the recent tragedies, it really brings to light that OMG this could be him in ten years if not helped, and that thought scares me, and I know it scares her as well. BUT if it did truly scare her wouldnt she be in touch with every!! counselor possible?? He refuses to go to therapy, and he refuses medications. When I approached him regarding the stealing, he literally laughed in my face and had this look of absolute no remorse I was shocked and the next day he was chatting with me as if it never happened back to asking for favors. I try to talk to mysister but my opinions are ignored, she states that she has done this and that and that basically she cant do anything unless he hits her again in which the police become involved...when she found out about the stealing her response was welcome to my world, that infuriated me along with the lack of apology on his end. how can therapy be enforced if it can be at all?

Dove - posted on 12/16/2012

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It sounds typical of a teenager who is either seriously lacking from parenting.... or a teenager in serious trouble. Since this is your sister's kid.... he is family and 'I' would be searching out every resource I could and let her know about it. Let her know you are willing to help her in whatever capacity you can. Maybe she just needs more help and support. Is she also a single mom? Does he have a relationship with his father?

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