Thursday, October 28, 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."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Article: Parent Obtained Restraining Order Against Son

I sent out a request to hear from parents who had gotten a restraining order against their child. I received the follow message and I have changed the name of the son.

"Here’s what happened that led up to getting a restraining order last year against my then 20 year old son, “Rick”.

Since he was 14 or so we knew he was drinking and smoking and doing drugs. He had problems already and the drugs and everything made the situation much worse. We took him to therapy and wanted to send him to a therapeutic boarding school but couldn’t afford it. Our part of the country doesn’t have much to offer as far as family help.

He was stealing from us and I mean he took from our wallets, stole the change bottle, took some of my jewelry and sold it. We didn’t know what would happen next. He had took $1,000 or more and that’s just a guess.

My husband bought a safe and we put our wallets and any items of value that we could fit in there. It was ridiculous to have to remember to get your wallet before you go out the door, but at least we knew where our money was.

I heard therapists telling us that we were part of the problem, but I was viewing it that this kid was the problem and we were just good parents who wanted to see him outgrow this and still be in a safe environment. I was scared that if we kicked him out of our house that he might live in the streets or even die. I also felt that we would be branded as horrible parents once he was out, but till then it was our dirty family secret all of the tings that went on at home.

All through his teen years he would be very disrespectful to us and would call us terrible names and if we tried to talk to him, he would yell at us or stomp to his room. Once at his room he might put a hole in the wall or throw a chair. I was afraid of him and afraid to be alone with him.

The last day he was at home, I asked him if he had seen a box I knew had been delivered for my birthday. It was a present from my mom and she sent very expensive things. He said it hadn’t come but the UPS tracker said it had. He went to his room and I started looking through the trash. That’s the thing: he lied and stole and was never good at hiding his tracks.

I found the box and the packing slip said there was jewelry enclosed. I was furious and had really had enough. I called my husband and he came home early.

We confronted Rick and he took his almost full can of soda and threw it at me and then he hit me, punched me hard in my cheek. I was in a lot of pain and just knocked to the floor from that punch. My husband and Rick started pushing each other. Finally Rick was pushed out the door and my husband locked it. Rick was banging on the door and threatening us.

My husband called the police and they came out to talk with us. They were really fast, but the few minutes until they got here were terrifying. I didn’t know what Rick would do and was scared my husband would have a heart attack.

The police said we should file a restraining order. Because there was still time that day, we went to the court and filed the papers. The papers weren’t difficult, but the emotions that went into that day were horrible. We were granted the order and had Rick served. He has to stay away from our home and not contact us, but we could call him if we want to.

We got all new locks and increased our security. We don’t ever park our cars outside and I worry about running into him somewhere. I've seen some of his friends and hear he's out there wasting his life and staying in seedy places. I hate being afraid to run into him.

I am sad, angry, depressed and ashamed and even though I want to talk with him it’s very dangerous. I think one of the worst parts is that when you have this child and you love him, you have a dream about what your life will be and now that dream is blown apart. It won’t ever be all right in our house."

If you are interested in more information about restraining orders (in some states, "orders of protection") you can check with your local police or courthouse.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dore E. Frances, Ph.D.'s Show on LATalk Radio

I was invited to be a guest on Dore's show, and it was a great experience. Dore's full bio is on her website and she has been working with troubled children and families for several years.

I've been a guest on different types of shows, and this was my first experience with blog radio. As with phone-in radio interviews, you can't see the person and it's easy to step on that person's sentence. Because Dore has a weekly program on LATalkRadio, she's used to pacing her questions and listening carefully for answers.

I found her to be curious and interested with an ability to add information when needed for her audience. Because the subject matter can be difficult, parents may hesitate to call as they may be embarassed or want to maintain some privacy. Dore does accept email questions and this is helpful for her audience. I enjoyed our conversation and am booked to return May 16, 2011.

If you'd like to hear our recent interview, you can download the MP3 or go to and scroll down to the August 30, 2010 interview.

Dore’s websites include Horizon Family Solutions and a Facebook page. If you sign up on the Facebook page, you’ll be alerted about her upcoming guests.