This is a personal account by The Kids Are All Right reader Janine about the difficult time she has had with her rebellious teenage son, and how they’ve turned things around.
A couple of months ago I wrote to ‘The Kids are Alright’ out of sheer desperation. My then 15-year-old son had run away after we had discovered marijuana in his room. At the time I was asked to share my experience and to be honest, I was too embarrassed and ashamed of my parenting failure that I declined.
We knew things were bad. He was refusing to attend school, sneaking down to the park with his mates. I knew he was drinking but couldn’t prove it. We had tried all the tactics known to mankind but nothing worked with this kid; he was stubborn and belligerent.
He was missing for over 48 hours and the experience of having to ring the police and report my son missing was mortifying. I was scared that they would think we were just another lot of parents who couldn’t control their kid. As a bit of background, we are just your ‘normal’, every day, middle class family. Problem child was number three of four kids. We were basking in the glow of raising two children to adulthood with no issues when we were blindsided.
“He was missing for over 48 hours and the experience of having to ring the police and report my son missing was mortifying.”
After we eventually located him 35 km away, his father was dispatched to go collect him under the threat that if he didn’t get in the car and come home I would call the police, then go to where he was myself and raise all hell. He reluctantly decided to come home, threatening the whole time to just run away again because he couldn’t live with us. I offered to call DOCS myself if that’s what he wanted (I was a little angry).
He eventually arrived home with his father, after diverting via the local police station to be sighted as safe and in parental custody (police policy). I bit my tongue and took the approach I had been given by a family counsellor, which was to avoid conflict at all cost. I just said “I’m glad you’re home, I’d appreciate if you would stay put tonight and if you’re hungry your dinner is in the fridge. I’m going to bed”. I’m sure he was expecting me to unleash the full force of the po’d mum, but I resisted. Score 1 me.
Next: The emotional stand-off