Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Parent's Path to a Restraining Order

The following note was written in response to a comment made on my post at’s-restraining-order-against-his-son/.

We have five kids; the two oldest are my husband’s, and yes, Robert had some issues, a little more than “teenage” ones, but nothing like this. The others, nothing to speak of….

Sadly, Ben is my own son, although my husband is his stepfather and has been since Ben was four. I was very glad to find your blog, and know I’m not the only one. I mean, I know that, intellectually, but – and I can say that here, Jennifer and others like her just don’t “get it”. Besides the counseling, they seem to think it’s the parents’ fault. Believe me: I dealt with a lot of social workers who outright said the same things.

The social workers kept telling us we were too strict. I was honestly puzzled. How can things like keep your room clean, be here for dinner, be home by 11 p.m., keep us informed of your whereabouts, do your laundry once a week, take a daily shower, and help out around the house be “too strict”? The whole thing about drove me crazy. Eventually, they started to see the light…sort of!

My son was just shy of his 15th birthday when he started skipping class – never a stellar student due to lack of effort, he was bringing home Ds and Fs. One C. He started running away, cursing us, causing damage in our home, and filed several false reports of abuse against us, which were investigated and found unsubstantiated. We sent him to counseling, then military school. He did pretty well, grades came up, politeness returned, behavior improved. Until he came home. He seemed to think he could do whatever he wanted. After a summer visit for a week at Grandma’s, he went on a hunger strike, ended up in the psych ward and then outpatient therapy.

There were questions about a fire at school, alcohol, then he ordered tasers online and used them on other students. Expelled, he returned home just after he turned 16. He didn’t want to go to the alternative high school, and frankly I wasn’t thrilled either. He said he’d work, get his GED, and start community college classes in the fall.

Within a month after returning home, his verbal abuse picked up, he ran off a few times, and then assaulted me. We already knew most of the police force, due to numerous calls before he went away to school, and since, and he was taken to detention. For three weeks. He came home, on probation, and was well-behaved for 24 hours. Within nine days, he was removed again to detention.

He called me that night, at midnight. He asked me to pick him up and I said no. The next morning, he told the detention officers that my husband had beaten him and they put him in a shelter for a month, then foster care. The family court judge realized what was going on and kept my son in care for six months. The rest of us, including our now-12-year-old, tried to recuperate. We all went to counseling. My son was tested, found to have antisocial tendencies.

He came home in October, a month or so before he turned 17. Things were fine for a few days, then got worse, same stuff all over again. He was put on anti-violence meds by a psychiatrist. He lasted, at home, until February of this year. He ran away, was gone for a week, two hours from home. His probation officer insisted he come home. He couch-surfed, he broke into our house a few times, knowing we weren’t there. We finally went back to court, re his probation, and the judge put him back in detention for three days. Then he ended the probation, and told my son there was nothing more we could do for him; he did order him to comply with treatment, and my son did so for a few days or a week. At one point, he stood outside our house, after threatening us, for a solid hour, ringing the bell, beating on the doors and windows, and yelling and cursing.

Several times he went to the family farm, engaged in vandalism, wild parties with girls and alcohol, guns, fires in the buildings, etc. When he first went to “live” there, in the old garage, it was because we’d had an episode at home and he took off. He went first to the police station, told them I’d hit him with a laptop, and when they refused to do anything – knowing he was lying – he went to the ER and told the same story. Again, nothing, so he hotlined me. The investigator came out, talked to me, talked to my son, told me he should never come home.

The last straw was this past May. My son came home occasionally, to ask for money usually, but this time he demanded it and refused to leave unless I gave him some. He was violent, threatening, and not only refused to leave when requested, but blocked the door so I couldn’t leave either.

I filed for an order of protection, the temp [temporary order] was granted; my son came by the house a few days later, and I told him to leave and he asked if I had a PO [Protective Order]. I said yes, and I showed it to him. He turned around and left, went to the police station; they called and asked for info, which I gave. He went to stay with his former foster parents.

I was granted the RO [Restraining Order], but the permanent [order] stated no communication whatsoever; the temp had, as I requested, allowed phone contact. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, filing the paperwork, then going to court. After about a month of my occasionally texting him to make sure he was okay, he blew up and told me to kiss off. I keep up, sort of, on FB [Facebook] and via his sisters. I continue to pay his medical insurance and co-pays, etc. Not sure where to go from here on out.

Ironically, we have five kids and two grandkids and have never had these kinds of issues. I’m also a professional writer/editor and my specialty is, naturally, parenting. Jennifer reminds me of many social workers and students who think everything should be hearts and flowers and rainbows and teddy bears and, if you throw enough counseling at someone, they can be “fixed."

Sometimes, there is no "fix."

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