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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 04-May-07


Friday 4-May-07

A hard path

This week, after years of struggle, my son quit school and has set himself on a hard path. The struggle wasn't intellectual -- when he wants to, he can do very well. His struggle has long been motivational. When chased he has raised his game, but the moment you back off, he slides. And he has used every method to push you away, from pretence of doing well to outright aggression.

A day after his quitting school I returned from work to find a recent friend of his had been invited to stay, despite (or because of) the fact that we had asked him to ask before inviting people to stay. This is the same friend he took to school recently after being warned it was against school rules. His mother was in tears again from the way he had spoken to her after she tried to help, even though she had been severely embarrassed by the friend-in-school incident, where he had led the school to believe she had given permission (she is a teacher there).

Recently, he appears to have been in self-destruct mode, deliberately trying to get kicked out of school (he claimed he was, but wasn't) and breaking house rules here. He blames everyone but himself as he seeks the comfort of innocent victimhood. From a position of omnipotence he judges his parents and school and finds them guilty. 

It seems he has lived in a different place to many people, a separate reality, perhaps where he feels safe from life's problems. I have wondered if he is stuck in Lacan's imaginary stage, with it's narcissistic overtones. Certainly, the truth has been an inconvenience and he has blindly bends it to his will.

As many adolescents, he has been vile towards his parents, perhaps in the manner of the acorn which strives to flee the cloying shield of the parent oak. He is struggling with what it means to be an adult. He wants to be independent but is scared of the implications (although I don't know if he will admit this to himself). He wants to find a job without help and on his own terms. I hope and believe he will get there, because where he is now is quite horrible for everyone.

The same thing has happened with a number of friends, very largely with their boys, so I know it's not just my son (or us, for that matter). The general advice is patience. They apparently eventually wake up and grow up. I can't wait.

God, it's hard sometimes being a parent.

Your comments

It's really hard being a parent. Sometimes children create problem which can not be handled by their parents. True said patience is the advice for them and their parents.

-- kapinder

Dave replies:
Aye, you're right. To be a parent is to learn something of sainthood.

I am going through basically the same problems with my 16 almost 17 year old son. he quit school & promised to get his job, which he is avoiding. He tells lies constantly and won't try to get along with anyone that doesn't agree with him on things. he wont listen to any reason. he is rude and wants to fight anytime a conflict of wills occur. he thinks we are "ruining" his life by not letting him loose & do his own thing. just this morning he had his home (across the road from us vandalized by other teens because of some girl texting him then texting other boys about him but he refuses to see the light. good luck with your son & wish us luck with ours.

-- Carol

Dave replies:
Hi Carol -- It's a depressingly familiar story and I've heard the same from a lot of other people. The good news is that one day he'll wake up, though it can take several years, it seems. My son says he is trying to get a job but his friends took up to three years of trying. We're providing basics but not giving him money - unemployment is low here and he's just not trying very  hard. He's talking about moving away which I do think would help him grow up. My view is that he's an adult now and has to learn to live in a responsible adult world.

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