My 18 year old son has been home from treatment since October 1, 2019. Our honeymoon phase lasted about a month, and things started to get a bit tougher for us, as a family. Overall things are still going well, but I have narrowed down our differences into four categories:
- Letting Go
We have the continued support of our family therapist (located in Utah), whom we talk to by phone once a week or every other week depending on schedules. My son talks to the same therapist on his own, about once a week. We need our therapist to help sort some of the differences noted above.
One thing we have discovered is that my son does not like discomfort or anything that pushes him, even gentle nudges. As parents, we try to encourage with suggestions about work, higher education, free time and any number of topics, only to be stopped in our tracks with firm resistance.
He believes that his way is the best way to handle a situation. As he looks for new employment (his last job at Best Buy was a seasonal position only that ended in the beginning of January), he is content waiting for them to contact him instead of being the squeaky wheel.
My son has sent an application into a tech vocational school in Canada. He filled it out on his own, asked for all his necessary high school transcripts and sent them in as well. We paid for the modest applications fees. Now he/we play a waiting game. We won’t have long, since he wants to enroll in the Spring Term which begins May 6th.I bet you are saying, “Well all college bound kids wait to hear from the schools they applied to.”
That may be true, but he has all his eggs in one basket: Canada or bust. From what I’ve read online, it seems like a fine school. There is the issue of a study/work permit to get into the country. There is the housing issue near a school that doesn’t have dormitories. And truthfully, his girlfriend lives there (okay, he does have motivation!)Good news, my son has a current passport, which he took care of on his own before visiting his girlfriend last December. At least that piece of the puzzle is taken care of, but the reality is that he has many other things to figure out. And he doesn’t want any help from us. That’s fine, but it’s not going to be as easy as he thinks it will be.
Who is going to pay for what? We have always said we would pay for his education. As our home contract said, he needs to either be working or in school. Our expectation was that one of those two things would be happening right now, but it’s not. He has not found a job that suits him, for various reasons. (Starbucks is too hard, other places are too far away, not the right schedule, etc).He planned on taking a certain amount of money into Canada with him. Right now, without a job, he has no money. We are trying to let natural consequences take over, but his expectations are that we will help him more than we say we will. He needs to have “skin in the game” as they say. He’s never been easily motivated, which makes this process so difficult.
We are in the middle of his “self-proclaimed” gap year. Long ago, when he was an early teen, long before he went to Wilderness Therapy and the rest of treatment (RTC and Aftercare), his idea was to take a gap year so he could play video games. We did not agree with this idea and yet, here we are seeing a late teen play Minecraft and do little outside of his room. We have let go of just “how” the adulting will play out and when the actual launching will happen for him. We talk to other parents whose kids also might be less mature, and see that it’s not easy. We make no judgments, believe me.If you are reading this with ideas of what we should do, I applaud you for caring, but our current path is to let this play out organically, without trying to put a square peg into a round hole. In the meantime, we are encouraging, trying to keep him engaged in our lives (not easy for a late teen) and making the most of what is positive.We are grateful that he is safe and know where he is, even if it’s his own room. We are grateful that while things are not perfect, he is not doing drugs. We are happy that he very much cares about his appearance, even when he lets his beard grow. (He did just shave this week, not because we suggested it however!) We are grateful for our friends who listen to our saga and try not to fix it for us or for our son. We are grateful to have grown in the past three years with the help of caring professionals. We are still trying to find balance in our lives with continual self-care and perspective.
That motto comes from our son’s residential treatment center (Discovery Ranch for Boys) and it is very true! We will get through this time of different perceptions, realities and expectations, as we continue to learn to let go. We try to remember that this part of life is up to the young adult, not the parent. We’ve already been 18, 19, 20 years old…… We’ve already been to college and taken our own missteps. It’s up to them now!
Our son will hopefully one day see, that we are in his corner and always have been. He wants to do everything himself, except swallow on the very difficult financial pill of what lies ahead for him. He wants to grow up and at the same time, he doesn’t want to. Sound familiar? It’s not easy out there. So our answer for now is to continue to love him, let him take his time, make his mistakes and see it his way (without the unnecessary “I told you so’s”).I follow the stories of many parents in our shoes and I have such empathy for the difficulties that so many families are dealing with. My heart goes out to them and feel blessed that we have come as far as we have. I also know of others who are lucky to have kids that haven’t “fallen down and skinned their knees big time”. Whichever side you land on, take a moment and count your blessings. Take a look around and know others may be in pain. As I often say, we are all just doing the best we can.
I continue to be a WARRIOR MOM……