Coaching Episode: How To Cope And Find Contentment With A Son Home From Treatment, Unmotivated, Anti-Everything, And Disconnected From The Family

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Coaching Episode: How To Cope And Find Contentment With A Son Home From Treatment, Unmotivated, Anti-Everything, And Disconnected From The Family

In this coaching episode, you'll hear the frustration, confusion and sadness a mom experiences when her 16-year-old son returns from wilderness and residential treatment only to hate where he lives, return to smoking pot, barely makes an effort at school, and doesn't want to be part of the family. On the other hand, he's independent, has a job, accepts natural consequences, and is very resourceful. 

Jane is trying to find the right balance of stepping in and stepping back, and truly wants to find peace and contentment. She struggles to know where she should intervene with her son's school, how to set and hold firm boundaries and desperately would like the family unit to be more cohesive than it currently is.

Listen in to hear the real, day-to-day struggle parents often face when their son or daughter returns from treatment and has to re-enter life under a whole new set of circumstances.

This podcast is part of a nonprofit called Hopestream Community
Learn about The Stream, our private online community for moms
Learn about The Woods, our private online community for dads
Find us on Instagram: @hopestreamcommunity
Download a free e-book, Worried Sick: A Compassionate Guide For Parents When Your Teen or Young Adult Child Misuses Drugs and Alcohol

Hopestream Community is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an Amazon Associate. We may make a small commission if you purchase from our links.

I can not believe we are almost exactly two years from the day that I remember our world’s changed forever. I remember March 16th, which was yesterday. Of 2020, because it’s my husband’s birthday. And we were going to go out for dinner. And I remember asking him if that was a good idea. Or if this whole virus thing was actually real. Anyway. To think that it has been two years since then is a little mind boggling.
It is also a a marker in my mind, because I had just launched this podcast, had just gotten up the nerve to reach out and ask people if they would join me as a guest, which was really scary at the time. And then all of a sudden. Like no one was answering emails. No one was thinking about being a guest on a podcast. And nobody was thinking about addiction or the opioid crisis or overdoses or anything like that because a hundred percent of everybody’s attention was obviously on COVID. 
It’s funny. If you look back at the episodes that I did around that time, I did about four or five solo shows in a row because I was determined not to stop the podcast because I figured if I did, I would probably never pick it back up. It would get dusty and I’d have this microphone like dusty in my closet. Five years later. 
And it turns out that those solo episodes that I did or a really good set of practice ones for me. And then finally people started responding and things picked back up. But wow. That was almost the very short-lived hope stream podcast. 
Well enough history lessons today, you’re going to get to listen into another coaching session. I talked with stream member Jane, who my heart goes out to because she is in a tough spot with her 15 year old son. And she has done so much learning and put in a ton of work on herself. She participates in all of our workshops and our calls and our events. And I really commend her for the amount of energy effort and time that she has committed to helping her son and her whole family. 
You will hear from her about the current situation with her family. The things that she really wants and the things that get in her way of that. And I am guessing that you will probably pick up on some things that might sound familiar. If you are also navigating these tricky waters with a child who is struggling. So without any further chatter for me, let’s dive into coaching episode five with Jane. 
Jane. Thank you so much for joining me today for a coaching episode of hopestream. Like we were just chatting. This is really time for you. The fact that it turns into a podcast is kind of secondary. So think of this as your, your one-on-one coaching session. And we’ll just, we’ll see where it goes. Does that work for you? 
[00:04:42] Jane: Yeah. Sounds good. Thanks. 
[00:04:44] Brenda: You’re a member in our community in the stream. And so I know a little bit about what’s going on and about, you know, your family and all of that. And I was so glad when you requested this, because based on what I know your situation sounds very similar to what I was going through at one point.
And so I feel for you because all of the things that you probably hear from people, you’re like yep. Try that. Yep. So, I’m excited to talk with you and I hope that we can just work some stuff through. I think the, the thing to understand about coaching episodes is obviously I don’t have an answer for you to like fix things.
So it’s just a time sometimes, you know, you just need to talk stuff out and. In, in the coaching relationship, it’s very different than a therapy relationship in that, I am here to help you kind of find what’s intrinsically inside of you to work through your problem. So, you know, therapy, it’ll be more about the why of this and where does this come from? Whereas coaching is a little bit more what’s going on, where do you want to be? And how can we get there? So a little bit different.
[00:06:00] Jane: But you bring different perspectives. So that’s, that’s helpful. 
[00:06:04] Brenda: yes, definitely. So why don’t you then just give us a bird’s eye view of where you’ve been and then what’s going on to bring us to be talking today.
So if that, does that make sense? As far as okay. 
[00:06:22] Jane: Sure. I’ll try to keep it brief. I am a married mother of two great kids where I have an 18 year old daughter. Who’s about to leave our nest for college. And then we have a 15 year old son who has brought us on this journey that we are on today, the path we never thought we’d be walking and the narrative, we never thought we would be having, but here we are.
So about fourth, fifth grade, our son started to really struggle in school and, you know. we kind of chalked it up to, oh, his best friend moved to a different teacher. We lived at that time, lived in a really small town where there was only one school and one grade school. And because of the shortages. Some of the schools, they had their middle school years starting in fourth grade. So what about the time our son got to the middle school years? 
Things really unraveled fast and we started noticing and on the advice of a lot of people, we got him tested and lo and behold, there were some significant learning deficits that he had as, as, as well as ADHD. And so once we found those out, we kind of started down the path of trying to get the school to help us and assist us. And we were just kind of starting on that path when COVID heads and then COVID through everybody’s world upside down. And at that time we decided to move out of state and it was a two-fold, it was for my husband’s job, but it was also to kind of give our kids a bigger pool. Kids to choose from more research resources, a better educational system than we thought we had and all that. So we just really wanted a clean slate mostly for him because he was, he was starting to go down the path of starting to experiment with substances had right when COVID hit. And then when they had us all be at home and shut in, you know, the risky behaviors he was sneaking out at night, he was, had complete school refusal.
I mean, it was just completely unraveling. And so we picked up and moved during kind of the right at the tail end of well, COVID still going on, but right before that fall, or most schools were still online. So we moved and we’re in this bigger district and in a new state. And we thought that things would be a little better because he had a clean slate where nobody knew him and he could reinvent himself when he could. Be great. And he started out online, which of course, then he refused to do the online school. And then we were back to square one. He was defiant. He was leaving at all hours. And that’s when our had a friend that had placed her child at wilderness therapy. So we were like, we did that. So we had him placed at a wilderness therapy for three months, then followed by two different residential treatment centers.
He just came home a couple months ago and now he is home with us and the journey has not been straight. It has been full of up and downs. We had a couple runaway episodes where he was missing super scary moments, but he’s back at home. And by and large, he’s, he’s doing better than he was pre the time we, we placed him away, but it has its fair share of challenges. 
[00:09:55] Brenda: Yeah. Wow. I think what’s amazing is all of the things that you have gone through, and there’s been a lot that you can kind of talk through that as if it’s like, Oh, and then I took my dry cleaning in and then I stopped at the bank and then I went and dropped off.
Right. And it’s so much, so I don’t, want to undervalue all that you have been through because having gone through many of those same things, it is so hard and it’s so exhausting. And so for you right now, to be able to kind of take us through that in a fairly non-emotional way, I know takes a lot.
So what that tells me is that you have done a lot of work because a lot of moms in your shoes would be in tears. You know, just completely falling apart where you are, because things are like, you said better, but they’re not great necessarily. And so. I just want to acknowledge that because to get to where you are is a lot.
So you exhausted all your local resources. You went to wilderness therapy, which really is an acute level of care. That is, I can’t remember what guest I had, who called it, the radical mastectomy. It is like the thing that you do when you don’t have any other options and you have got to intervene and make a change.
So you did that. You did the residential treatment, and now you’re adjusting to a whole different state city school. Your daughter’s going to be going off to college. That in itself is a lot going through that change. So with what’s going on right now, What do you feel like you would like to see change so that you can be better, healthier, calmer?
What would you like to see change for you? And then we can talk a little bit about what, what that requires, because a lot of that’s going to be tied into what’s going on with your son.
[00:12:14] Jane: I’ve learned so much on this, on this path and I’m still learning. And the biggest thing, biggest takeaway I heard over and over is you can’t control other people. You can only control yourself and how you react to them and that your happiness shouldn’t be based on your, your child’s happiness.
So I would like that sense of contentment and happiness, which I still feel like it’s tied to him on his struggles. I’d like to have that sense of happiness and contentment back without feeling like I’m still having those emotions of guilt of sadness. Our life should have been and it’s not anymore. That’s the kind of thing I wish I could change if that makes sense. And then of course have a better connection and a loving relationship. 
[00:13:02] Brenda: So you feel like your emotional wellbeing is still very tied to his behavior, his actions, and you’re feeling guilt around things that have happened in the past. Decisions that you’ve made. And also you’re grieving a vision that you had for your family that looks very different now and their sadness attached to that.
So not only are you not feeling the happiness and the contentment that you really want, you’re also having these really heavy emotions of guilt and sadness, and those are hard to hold at the same time. And I imagine that you’re probably, you probably have days that feel more hopeful and then days that feel less hopeful. Besides his actions and what’s going on with him right now? What gets in the way of you feeling that contentment and that happened?
[00:14:05] Jane: I think what gets into a, is his butter disconnection from us and really not wanting to be part of our family, not wanting to live where we live. And just wanting, he just wants to get on with his life. He just wants to fly the coop as fast as he can. 
[00:14:24] Brenda: Yeah. 
[00:14:25] Jane: So I think that’s what gets in the way of him. As I know, I only have two more years with him before he can legally leave and he’s already left. I feel like if that makes sense, like he’s already left emotionally and mentally from us. And I don’t know how to reconcile that. 
[00:14:44] Brenda: What I hear in that is you value family and connection, and that family unit that you had, and what’s getting in the way of your contentment and happiness. It’s not necessarily, I mean, right now it’s his actions, but if your daughter was to just pick up and move and say, see a mom I’m out of here, when she left for college, that would also hurt.
So what’s really getting in the way is the absence of your family feeling really connected and that he is part of that in a, in a healthy and attached way. 
[00:15:23] Jane: Yeah. I think that’s pretty accurate. 
[00:15:25] Brenda: Yeah, so that’s that’s a lot especially when like, You have realized that you can’t control someone else.
Maybe if they’re a baby, but when they’re 15 very difficult to control. So you’re living in this place where you really value family and connection and closeness and the things, what are, what are some of the things that your family has done in the past where you would say I’m really looking for that again. 
[00:15:54] Jane: Definitely taken a trip together. Just doing stuff together as a family. I mean the last couple of years he’s definitely pulled away And I know that’s, normal teenage behavior by and large. And our daughter is very introverted and very much a homebody. So she, it’s not a great benchmark to have that, but, you know, I know it’s a healthy, healthy to, to, to want to differentiate from your family and to pull away. You know, he doesn’t even want to spend any time with us. I mean, we used to at least watch movies together. Two doesn’t do that anymore. You know, it’s very it’s concerning, you know, he’s, he’s isolating more, but he’s not, he’s not introverted. He’s extremely extroverted. And he can he has no problem meeting people, making friends when he chooses to.
So I think it’s just spending time together.
[00:16:48] Brenda: And for a mom in particular, that’s the golden ticket, right? Is that time that we have with our kids, whether we’re just sitting on the couch, doing nothing or on a family vacation, it is that closeness. I wonder what you would say right now. If you think about let’s call it the last I know he hasn’t been home super long, so let’s call it the last two weeks.
What’s going right.
[00:17:13] Jane: Honesty. I mean, I will say that when we do talk, he’s honest. He’s, it’s very, he doesn’t really like to talk, but when he does, he tells us he’s got extremely good insight on himself, like he has all these plans for the future. And, we’re dealing with S with the school issue right now where you know, I’m starting to see the school avoidance come up, back up. And I asked him and he’s like, let me handle it. It’s just between me and the school stay out of it. Like, he is very much a kid that would welcome natural consequences and be fine with it. Like he knows that he’s smoking weed. If he gets caught, it’s on him, the law that, you know, that the world is now. Teacher, you know, whether it’s a police officer, a teacher or coach or whoever, he’s very much fine with taking those natural consequences. 
And it’s hard to step back and watch those natural consequences play out like right now, failing school, not even going to school, you know, and then the schools reaching out to us like what’s going on? And So that’s, that’s been a tricky road because he does have learning challenges and we are in the process of pursuing an IEP. And he’s really angry because he does not want that. But it’s hard to tease out what is just typical defiant behavior, where I don’t care. I’m not going to go to school. I hate school. It’s not relevant to my life versus I’m so overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do. I don’t understand this stuff. I can’t do it because of his learning differences. And then he shuts down. 
[00:18:53] Brenda: Yeah.
[00:18:54] Jane: So as a parent, I don’t know where my role is in that. Let natural consequences play out, let them have what’s coming down the pike to like repeat classes, lose credit, get apps, or to intervene, and really try to advocate for him on an IEP level, which is what I’m, I’m at least trying to do as kind of like a last ditch effort. 
[00:19:16] Brenda: So the things that are going right, or he’s being honest with you, and he’s got good insight about himself and sort of what’s going on in his world. Anything else that comes to mind that’s going right.
[00:19:27] Jane: You know, he’s, I know he’s before, when we would have discussions, they would turn into fights and he had a temper and he would start other Maui. It’s very calm. We all talk in very calm manner. And if he disagrees with us or he’s mad, He doesn’t hit the wall, slam the door, call us names. He doesn’t do any of that stuff anymore.
So there’s not the disrespect or the you know, the temper that there was before. So he’s got a great, better grasp on regulating his own emotions. And maybe that came from the year he was away, he’s gotten much better at that. And I will say so. So my husband and I, you know, we’re really good at, we’re really trying to do the validation, reflective listening.
We’re trying to do all the tools we learned the year he was gone and all the stuff we’ve learned to better ourselves and our roles. So I would say by and large, everybody is, is calmer. There’s no drama. 
[00:20:22] Brenda: Hmm, that sounds really good. For him to have that emotional regulation is huge as well as for you and your husband, because often, right. If they come home and you haven’t done your work, then he’s got some tools under his belt. And if you don’t, that’s a problem, but you have that. What tool do you think he uses the most that he would have learned in his.
Settings of therapy and wilderness. Is there, is there a tool that you see him kind of pulling out of his toolbox the most often, either for himself or when he’s dealing with you or dealing with school?
[00:20:59] Jane: I think he’s, he really is trying to be more honest and come from a place of honesty. When he talks to us, he still has a hard time communicating how he’s feeling by and large, an example would be you know, he wants to go do something when you said no to, he is a little bit of a dog with a bone, and won’t let it go for a while. Even after we’ve said the, no, he won’t let it go, but we tease him, like, he’s got to go into litigation career.
Like, he is absolutely the master at like, negotiating. And coming back to the table with this offer, try this, try that he’s constantly just coming in from every angle he can to kind of get his way. And sometimes it works, you know, sometimes he presents a side that we’re like, okay, okay. And other times we’re like, that’s is still a hard no 
[00:21:52] Brenda: But that’s so great that you’re having those conversations rather than the yelling and the screaming and the doors slamming and the wall punching, which obviously isn’t at all productive. So it sounds like there’s some stuff that’s going well. And I also heard you say that you’re working on really affirming those things with him.
So letting him know. Wow, dude,, despite your tenacity for wanting to do things maybe that we don’t want you to do, we appreciate the fact that you’re being honest. So I can, I can tell that those conversations are happening, which is, I just want to make sure that you understand how significant that is, because I think what can happen.
And when I’m talking with people, once you kind of move into a new territory, it’s easy to get used to that territory. And you forget the territory that you came from and how much progress that you’ve made. And it sounds like you have made a huge amount of progress if you’re having those conversations and I heard you say that he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the family.
He wants to do his own thing. What’s hardest for you about that. What’s the rub?.
[00:23:08] Jane: But he just doesn’t want to be with us that he doesn’t enjoy our company, but he doesn’t any really dislikes the fact that we moved, where we moved to. And not that he loved where we moved from either. He just, it wasn’t where he would’ve moved if he had to choose. So it’s, it’s disheartening to hear him constantly put down where we live.
And just hate it. And like I said, I want nothing to do with us. We, throw out ideas all the time or activities or something we could do. And you just, Nope, Nope, Nope, Nope. Just wants to just be left alone and left alone. 
[00:23:42] Brenda: What does he fill his time with?
[00:23:44] Jane: Technology a lot. He did finally get a job, which at 15 is hard, but he finally secured a job. And interestingly, they’re giving them a lot of hours, but he’s, he’s driven by money. So he definitely is motivated and, and is getting himself, you know, to his job.
And the other thing is he wants no assistance from us. Like he, he seldom ask for rides anywhere. He doesn’t have a license yet. And he takes the bus. Like he gets himself there. He puts it all on him, which again is such a mature. But it’s also a way for him. I think he just constantly wants to prove to himself and to us that he’s independent, that he doesn’t need us, that he can just do this on his own. 
I mean, a classic example is that he wants to move out at 16 and we said you can’t, you’re not, it’s just not legal. So he’s just got this. He’s very rigid in his thinking, very black and white, and this could also be ADHD, but he just gets tunnel vision. I’m kind of the big picture, but he lives with the details and he just sees this big picture of, oh my gosh, when I’m 18.
Oh my God. The world is going to be fantastic. And I try to remind them the only thing that happens when you turn 18 and you can be charged for adults. crimes, there’s no fanfare. There’s no confetti falling from the sky. And so many of these kids think that their world is going to be just awesome when they turn 18.
And we kind of have to keep telling them, like, why what’s the rush? What is the rush that for you to grow up so fast and be on your own? And I don’t know if he felt like he got a taste of it because he lived away from us in two different residential treatments. One was rarely really loosely structured with no structure that a lot of freedom too much, which is why we placed him in the second one that had a lot more structure. 
[00:25:38] Brenda: Yeah. 
[00:25:38] Jane: And maybe he got a taste of it and he’s like, I don’t want to be somewhere where I have boundaries and rules and expectations and nagging parents. 
[00:25:47] Brenda: Right. No teenager is a fan of nagging parents, 
[00:25:51] Jane: Right. This is how he views us, which I feel like I have done considerable work on myself and I don’t mag nearly as much. I still, you know, nag him on his eating habits or his technology habits, 
[00:26:05] Brenda: yeah. So he’s independent. He seems like he is very persistent and to, have gotten a job at 15 and to be getting a lot of hours, it sounds like this is a very capable kiddo who, who has maybe, you know, like you said, learned from his time away and is really itching for more of that independence and more of that.
Like, you know, I can do this and let me, let me do this. What is the harm in letting him be independent to the point where he’s not being dangerous?
[00:26:47] Jane: I think we’ve been extremely, accommodating. Like we, you know, I have let him handle pretty, you know, we don’t have a whole lot. We don’t have the restrictions on technology that we used to. We’re letting him, self-manage letting him get up in the morning if he’s too tired. Cause he was up late, watch a movie that’s on him.
Like we’re letting all these kind of natural consequences play out when not monitoring his phone. I’m not monitoring his whereabouts, his location. You know, it’s just all those things that used to drive me crazy because I was so controlling and wanted to know everything and was, you know, losing sleep over it.
Now we’ve just let that all go. That’s the things that I can’t quote, let go yet is. And I really want him to get a high school diploma at the very least a GED, but not be a dropout. And I’m trying to curve that before that gets out of control. And of course, substance use there’s another one that we can’t control, but we can have our boundaries around which we do.
And so I feel like we do let them have the freedom. The only thing we’re not ready to do is to say, oh yeah. at 16 you can try and get your GED and move out. You know, we’re legally responsible for him. So that’s kind of where we have to draw the line at some point. Like that’s, that’s not a feasible plan. 
[00:28:08] Brenda: Yeah.
[00:28:09] Jane: I mean, I talked to some other parents and they’re sort of shocked, but we’re like, let them have four years of technology, let them have full reign of this. And that. I do try to stress that he eats dinner with us every night and sometimes he comes and we’ll stand his dinner in five minutes without saying a word and moves the table, you know, but that is what it is.
And, he’ll do the small chores. We still ask them to do, we don’t give them allowance or anything, but he does the things to contribute to our family. Like he does his chores. Sometimes you have to remind them a couple of times, but he doesn’t. So by and large all that’s fine.
So I guess I would say we do give him a lot of free reign. I feel like, and maybe it’s too much. I don’t know. But it, it, it has alleviated the stress on our part because I’m no longer. On my phone with the screen time app and seeing what he’s been up to and how many hours, and when did he go to bed and what’s he Snapchatted on and I’m not a part of that account.
And it goes against everything you hear about like, oh, you should really know what the kids are up to on social media. Oh, you should really have a good luck. 
That’s a full-time job. And all these kids have these fake accounts. Anyway, you’re never going to keep up with any of that. So why am I losing sleep over? 
[00:29:23] Brenda: I was going to ask what has shifted in you personally, since you’ve, you’ve really let go of a lot of the control that you were trying to have. What has changed in you since you’ve made that loosening and letting him take responsibility and letting him be independent.
[00:29:45] Jane: I think it was a before and after I think the more before we sent him to wilderness, we were tightening the screws left and right. We will be in so controlling everything, you know, we said, oh, if you sneak out again, we’re going to take away your cell phone plan. He’d sneak away out at night, we turn off the cell phone plan.
And every thing we did, every punitive consequence we gave him, he just upped the ante. It was a constant like, well, you’re going to do that. I will stay out all night and go to the hotspot because I can get wifi that way. If you’re not going to give it to me, it was constantly like one up one up one up.
And it was just getting to the point where it was so punitive and it was so our relationship had just gotten, so it had just deteriorated to the point of just constantly who could get control of the other person. And I think what really, let me go is just that constant reminder. I cannot control anyone else, but my own self and my own reaction to them.
And I think I often tell people, I sound like I’m in a play. Like I’m talking to my son and I have to just put the mask of neutrality on and I just try to sit there and I have to pretend, okay, pretend you’re in a play and this isn’t your son. This is someone else. It’s just another actor. And I’m sitting there and I’m listening to it, trying to be completely neutral and void of emotion because I cry very easily and he knows how to get me to cry. And, you know, he does very often, he gets all, he has to do say a couple of things to me and I’m blubbering. So I. You know, remember that I just have to step away. And I think the pausing to sane less, I use, I, I talk a lot and I I’m one of those people that I don’t, I always thought I listened well, but I don’t think I listened well, because I was always, when someone’s turned was talking, I was already thinking about the next thing I was gonna say.
So I was never really listening to them and being present in the moment. And I still struggle with that. That is, I will admit that there’s a hard one for me. I still have to stop myself and go, could you repeat the city? And are you giving advice when it wasn’t asked for, are you given explanations? When it wasn’t asked for criticism went away and I’d still do that. It’s something that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us. And it’s a learned skill. And just like listening is a learned skill and man.
There are so many times that I just want to do over. And I say that I’m like, you know what? I did not handle that. Well, I think I just need to just do that over or other times I go to bed crying and I wake up the next morning going, okay, this is a new day and I’m going to start new and start fresh.
[00:32:24] Brenda: so many really amazing skills that you just rattled off there that you use. And I know you probably don’t give yourself credit for a taking the time to learn them, and then employing them, especially if you’re able to employ them in the moment, like say. Wow. I don’t like how I said that.
Give me a redo. That is huge. And I guarantee you, even if he isn’t responding to that positively in the moment he is observing that, and what you’re doing is you are modeling what you would like him to do. Right? You would love it if he would, at some point say, mom, you know what? I just sucked in that moment.
Let me, let me do that again. And you might not hear that, but you are being that for him. And he is, he is soaking all of that in. I promise you, he is soaking all of that in, and the thing with, with our kids at this age, especially is you don’t get that satisfaction typically at this age, so as much as you would like to have some reciprocal, empathy and understanding and give and take of like, okay I’ll meet you halfway at 15. It’s just probably not going to happen with one of our kind of kiddos. Maybe another kind. Yes. So first of all, all those skills that you are employing are amazing. So many parents are not there. 
[00:34:01] Jane: I’m not there all the time. that’s on a good day. 
[00:34:04] Brenda: And that’s okay. And, you’re recognizing that every day is a redo, right?
Every day you get that opportunity to start over. My question would be given kind of what’s going right. And this challenge that really seems to be the struggle of him not wanting to be involved in your world, not wanting to hang out, not being part of the family unit and really not even just not wanting to be part of the family unit, but actively wanting to be away from the family unit.
What could you live with, if you think about the next six months, what kind of environment could you construct knowing the reality of him and where he is and his strong points? Cause he’s got a lot of them. What could you live with? What can you envision that you could say, you know what, this wouldn’t be my preferred way of being a family, but knowing that he’s not going to be here like this forever, I’d love to get to a point where you could articulate a scenario that you could live with, that you can then share with him and say, could we work toward this? I’m willing to, I’m willing to work towards this way of being, how does that feel to you?
 What comes to mind when you hear that?
[00:35:33] Jane: I think acceptance. I think if I could get him, help him see, except that he is here for two more years with us in a place that he thinks awful. It’s not like he thinks it is to get him to accept being here. And except that he’s, can’t go anywhere before he’s 18 and then therefore make the best of it, you know, like, okay, so you’re here.
This is, this can’t change, except it. How can we get through the next year? Well together. Okay. Hopefully still going into school and passing so that you can get a high school diploma diploma so that you can get a good job and be successful after you leave here, or you will find a group of friends here that will help pass the time and make it more tolerable being here.
So these are all little things that I’m looking for that I’m hoping that he will just accept. And so far he’s non-entity accepted yet. He just keeps trying to figure out different ways around it if he doesn’t want to accept it. And I think if he were to accept it and his contentment was there, not that it was happy or joyous, but if it was just a contentment that he’s like, okay, I can do this for the next two years.
Then I think I would relax. And I wouldn’t worry about him running or I wouldn’t worry about him trying to figure it out another way. Added. Like we’re not fighting, but we’re not really connecting either. We’re just sort of existing together and would want some, some more connection and it doesn’t have to be like, oh, let’s go on a hike as a family because he despises that. You know, maybe it’s just enjoying each other’s company, doing something small little pockets of smallness here and there just to feel like we still have a connection. That’s all I can come up with. 
[00:37:33] Brenda: You’re, you’re very realistic that you’re not expecting this to look like, you know, some TV show where the whole family skips off onto a trail and, you know, has lunch at the waterfall. So I think that’s great. I would love to go back to something that you said about, school and, getting his high school diploma so that he can, get a good job and be successful. Is that a story that you think he follows?
[00:38:05] Jane: No, I listened to another podcast that I believe you have interviewed the success is subjective, which is Fantastic. And it really fantastic because it really does give you insight about how everybody’s paths different. And I’ve always known that our son is the square peg in the round hole of public school and that it just might not be his stick. He might be better off in a vocational school in anything at this point, I like I would be, I would be up for anything. I’m not that rigid, really drawn to that path, but I want to set them up with as much skills and success that we can, and I think I worry that he might drop out. But he’s not worried about like, he doesn’t share that vision.
You know, he’s extremely entrepreneurial and always has been since a child. And I think he’s, he knows he can hack it in the world. He’s just frustrated because of his age. 
[00:39:06] Brenda: Right.
[00:39:06] Jane: So I think that he’s, doesn’t share that vision and I have to learn to be okay with whatever choice he ends up making.
[00:39:18] Brenda: So that what you just said, if I was him and I heard my mom say, I have this vision of what I want to see in this, in what I believe is going to lead my son to success. However, I’m flexible. I could see him doing something else. I see him being an entrepreneurial. I see him doing all these things. If I heard that as your son, I would be like, thank you, mom.
Thank you for seeing me. And thank you for recognizing that I am the square peg in the round hole when you were saying that, that felt so good to me, that it felt like my mom sees me and recognizes that I might not be in a place where I am being set up for the most success.
And I’m wondering, is that a conversation that you would be willing to have with him or that you have had with.
[00:40:16] Jane: We’ve had little dabble, we’d have little morsels of that conversation. There’s been times where I have, put out there like, Hey, there are other options. We can explore and he immediately gets defensive. Well, I’m not going to another boarding school and I’m not doing that.
You know, I’m not going into the military and I’m not, you know, he’s really resistant to anything that he and I said, Well,
there’s like vocational. I try to throw out some of the other things I even said, there’s this thing called job Corps. Maybe you should look into that. And I tried to throw out some other alternatives to him and he’s. Just anti-everything. And he is someone that needs to see the relevance to this in his life. And I’ve even said , you could learn welding and graduate and started a really good paying job if you don’t know what you want to do yet. Like it’s okay to not know what you want to do with your life. But nothing, nothing has sparked yet for him. There’s been no passion or fire for anything, you know, would be one thing. If he really had a passion about something that he could pursue, but right.
now he doesn’t, he doesn’t know what he wants to do. So but he also knows how we value education and we’ve even told him, we said, if, if the GED is the course, we want to go, go do that. We have said that to him. He’s heard us say that, but you’re right. I haven’t really, you know, like. Time to sit down and have a long conversation with him. And so I’ve been toying with the idea of writing him a letter. I don’t know if he’ll read it, but go back to wilderness 1 0 1 and write a letter and just say all the things I want to say that are in the heart. And I hope he would read it. I don’t know. And he has such deep shame around his learning challenges. And I think they’re misunderstood. I think that he, he doesn’t realize how also how highly gifted he is. She doesn’t hear that part. He only hears that, you know, I’ve got this brain, I’ve got this poor working memory, I’ve got ADHD. He only hears the bad stuff, but what he doesn’t realize what the test revealed is that he’s highly gifted too.
He thinks he thinks he’s stupid. I think on some really deep, shameful level. And that’s, what’s so sad is he’s the furthest thing. 
[00:42:27] Brenda: And has he heard you say that.
[00:42:29] Jane: Not in a long time. Like I said, I’ve been, I’ve been, I have this whole grandiose, I don’t want to say speech, but conversation plan in my head and it was going to actually happen this weekend because we are pursuing the IEP and he doesn’t know about it this point in time. And he’s going to know about it soon enough. And it’s when he’s not going to be happy about it because he, he sees an IEP is something that’s just for the dumb kids.
That’s furthest thing from the truth. I’m just trying to understand that we are just trying to level the playing field school that he needs an education the way he can understand it and he’s not getting there. So I’m trying to get them to understand that, but that’s, I dunno, it might be just, that might be just a you knowa mute point 
[00:43:15] Brenda: Well, I love your idea of the letter because. You did go through wilderness therapy. Was that helpful for, for you guys, when you were doing the letter writing and wilderness, was it something where you felt like there was some communication that hadn’t happened in the past?
[00:43:32] Jane: Yeah, I definitely think there was. And he, wrote us letters back so that, yeah, it was the most communicating we’ve done it. He said something interesting to me recently. He thought he thought our relationship was better when he was away than it is now. And I dunno if that’s because we were using the language more because in a letter I can revise.
I can edit, I can say it all in the perfect. Language I’m supposed to versus in the moment where I don’t say the right thing and I get emotional or I, you know, I don’t reflect, I don’t validate, whereas in the letters I really did. So I, I do think that that, I can see how he says that if he feels like we had a better relationship there when we were apart and when we were together, 
[00:44:21] Brenda: It’s so powerful and there’s no reason why we can’t use letters, even if we’re living in the same household or texting. Why not? Why not use a tool that has worked for you in the past? It allows you to really formulate what you want to say in a healthy way, with some of the tools that you’ve learned. And there’s nothing wrong with sharing with him. You know what, buddy? I don’t know if you call him buddy. That’s why I call my son.
I really am working at being a better communicator with you. And I’m wondering if you’d be willing to accept letters from me every now and then as a way for me to try that, what do you think his response to something like that would be
[00:45:11] Jane: whatever. 
[00:45:12] Brenda: whatever. Okay, mom. 
[00:45:14] Jane: Okay. 
[00:45:15] Brenda: And that’s okay. And I would almost guarantee in a few years, you’d probably find a stack of letters. Somewhere in his stuff when he is off being an entrepreneur in Silicon valley or wherever he’s going to be. Cause you know, he’s going to be doing something amazing. Because that’s a very, very powerful medium to receive information and, and to give information.
What I’d love to do is find one or two things that you feel like you could experiment within the next two to three weeks. Don’t this is not like this is forever and ever now how we are going to parent our child. This is in the next two to three weeks because you got a lot going on, right with the IEP is coming up. Here’s something that I want to try and make them very tangible, very measurable. 
[00:46:07] Jane: Yeah, I was going to do the letter, maybe this weekend to just sort of say, wanted to talk to him about the way he learns and the way his brain is, because I don’t think when all those evaluations were done on him and all he heard was the doctors and everybody talent lessons.
I just think it just, he didn’t really hear, hear, hear it. So I want to just explain that all to him in a letter and then kind of end it with in this is why we’re, gonna pursue the IEP, which, again, he will be upset with, but I’m just trying to get that across to him and so talk to him without him shutting me down or telling me politely to get out of his room, you know? So that’s kinda what I’d like to try that. So I think I’ll try to let her with the, with at least the first thing with the school and like the way his brain works and trying to really explain it to him, but it’s not something to be ashamed of.
He has an amazing brain and I always liken it to this thing. I’ve heard so many people use this metaphor where kids with ADHD have the Ferrari brains with the bicycle brakes. Like I really think that is such a powerful thing to tell them. And I also really liked what someone said on one of your podcasts that I really liked for him to understand that when you smoke pot, you are just slowing your Ferrari down, but you don’t want to slow that one down.
You want to build your brain. Like you’re doing the opposite. And I love that. I love that, that little layer on top of the Ferrari piece already yet. 
[00:47:41] Brenda: Yeah. Like don’t put diesel in your Ferrari dude. 
[00:47:44] Jane: Yeah. Like you have an amazingly creative, crazy brain that goes a little too fast for your liking. You want to chill, you want to mellow out, but by doing that, your brain is it’s worse. So anyway, I’d like to try to, I don’t know. I have so many things I want to say. And then I know I tend to be too long-winded.
And then if it’s too long of a letter, he’ll just be like, so I have to, keep it short, but, I don’t think I can say what I want to say in a concise manner, but that’s a great, I think I’ll try it. 
[00:48:20] Brenda: And the rule of thumb is especially with an ADHD kid is one, one thing. So you might have to write several short letters over a period of time, but really one the other thing I was just going to circle back on is he sounds extremely resourceful. And we know he’s independent. We know that he can solve problems.
He likes to do the thing. I’m just wondering if it could be worth considering it sounds like school is a real battle and you’ve kind of given him ideas about other things. And it sounds like you’re going to express how you are open to other options that you’re not necessarily like locked in that this is what he has to do at this school.
I wonder if you could come up with an agreement with him that would say, your dad and I are, are okay with looking at other options as you know, cause we’ve had that conversation before, but we don’t know what’s best for you. You are very resourceful. We’re going to give you the opportunity to re do some research and present to us.
A couple of things that look interesting to you. And until that happens. And until we can look at those, we expect you to be showing up for school, whatever your expectation is. I don’t want to put that on you, but giving him that responsibility to say, we hear you, school sucks. It sucks. You don’t like it.
You’re probably bored out of your mind there, this school is not set up with, with some of the resources that we would like, and that you may need because you’re brilliant. And you have a Ferrari between your ears. The school may not be set up to teach Ferrari’s. So we would love to know what looks interesting to you and what would excite you.
And while you’re doing that, we expect XYZ. I just wonder, I got to meet him someday. Cause I just have this vision of this kid who’s like on fire, right. For finding things and doing things and researching things and he’s willing to take responsibility and he’s willing to accept natural consequences.
And it just seems like maybe giving him more would be an interesting experiment versus taking things away from him and taking more control. don’t know. What, how does that sound?
[00:50:53] Jane: I’ve toyed with that. He desperately wants to not live with us, but he doesn’t want to be like in a boarding school and he wants to be living with friends, doing his own thing, parting smoke, you know, maybe go to school too. But he just wants this desperately independent life.
[00:51:12] Brenda: What I was thinking is researching educational options so that you would put some parameters around it. So it’s not like your researching an apartment to go live with your homeys. It’s going to be, we understand that this school may not be something that’s really working for you.
There’s a lot of other options out there, but you investing more of your time and presenting those to him is probably not going to be met with appreciation. 
[00:51:44] Jane: So putting it back on. 
[00:51:46] Brenda: Yeah, but putting the parameters around it and saying, while you’re doing that, here’s what needs to happen. And that’s where you come up with your bare minimum.
Here is the bare minimum. we talk about this in the community. You know, keep your expectations at your ankles and your standards can still be up at your eyebrows. But the expectations, like what is the bare minimum that you can accept and then communicate that to him so that he knows we’re giving you flexibility.
We see what’s going on. We appreciate your, you know, genuine passion for life and all the things that you can do. And, and it’s not a, but it’s an, and at the same time, here’s the bare minimum that we need to see from you to have us all be able to be cohesive.
Not that we have to be the happy family. But for us to have a relationship and for your dad and I to continue to support you in this way, the way that you’re living now, this is the bare minimum that we need. And it’s probably not going to be a happy place for you because you really want that family unit to be together.
But you know, it’s temporary, right? This is not going to be how things are forever. This is going to be one of those very bumpy roads that you’re gonna look back and say, wow, I don’t know how I got through that. And then when you, if you do hand stuff off to him, what can you do as Jane? What are some practices that you have in place for yourself that you’re going to turn to? Because this is like a short term thing, right? This is two to three weeks. Like if I, I flew a hot air balloon over Jane’s house, what would I see you doing that? I would know.
Oh, she’s letting him take some control.
[00:53:31] Jane: I guess that would just try to have to take a step back. It’s hard when you know, I’m torn because I’m going to going down the IEP with the school district. And so I have to stay at least on course. I guess it would be to, just to have, to have more faith in him to have more faith in him that he could come up with an alternative that we would agree to.
It’s not going to be outlandish like, well, I’m going to live in LA and I’m going to supposedly on an $8 an hour, flipping burger salary afford something. You know what I mean? If it’s not like crazy outlandish, which it has been, he’s come to us with crazy outlandish ideas, but in his mind, they’re completely valid and very well thought out and they’re very pleased.
He’s done his research on a lot of that. So he’s capable of doing all that. He just lacks the passion for anything because I don’t think he can really see the forest, the trees right?
now. So I’m not answering your question really well. 
[00:54:30] Brenda: So, what is jane. going to do with the hours in her day, where she is not on the phone for a half an hour, talking about the IEP. What’s the rest of your day look like where I would fly over and say, oh,
[00:54:45] Jane: Taking care of myself not being obsessive about it, just trying to really let, go and distract myself with other things it’s just taking care of myself 
[00:54:54] Brenda: and what does that look like? While you’re doing the letter-writing thing in the next two to three weeks 
[00:54:59] Jane: walk.
[00:55:00] Brenda: walk. 
[00:55:02] Jane: I take a lot of walks, serious, fast walks while I’m listening to something music, podcasts, I’m enjoying. What, precious time is left with my daughter before she leaves,. I think just distracting myself with projects and other things 
[00:55:16] Brenda: Yeah. 
[00:55:17] Jane: helpful to me is to just take, take the, the focus off of him. And like my husband says, you’ve got so much time on your hands that you’re obsessing with, with him and to pull back, pull up, pull the lens back and just be like not obsessed and fill my, so my void with other things. 
[00:55:35] Brenda: What’s one thing you could do in the next three weeks with your daughter that you’ve been wanting to do.
[00:55:39] Jane: Go dress shopping a prom dress. She’s just going with some group of friends. um, but there was a time where it was pretty bleak and she has very few friends in this new community and I remember thinking, Oh, boy, her senior year, I don’t think she’s going to be going. But one friend asked her to join her group of friends, which I was like, yeah. So to do that with her. she’s she’s been wanting to go to fancy dance for a long time. So yes. 
[00:56:08] Brenda: Awesome. So you’re going to go dress shopping with your daughter, distract yourself. I know you have some house projects that probably have to get 
[00:56:17] Jane: Yes, um, a lot of work that needs to done. And now that the weather’s getting warmer and being outside more, they’re going to try to tackle to guard and a lot of house projects. So, and I get excited cause Yeah. I like to decorate and do artistic stuff.
[00:56:32] Brenda: That’s awesome. What’s one thing that you’re taking away from this that makes you feel either empowered or positive, something that you’re going to take away that you could.
[00:56:47] Jane: I was already torn with the idea of the letter writing, but I really liked the idea of having. Own it more and do research on his end and really try to have him dig deep within himself to figure out what he wants, because it is his life. And he reminds us that every day for the Tizzler 
[00:57:05] Brenda: just in case you forgot.
[00:57:08] Jane: and that he should be doing whatever the heck he wants all the time, because it is his life. He says that to us on a daily, but just trying to, assure him to, find out what he wants to do. But yes, I like that idea of trying to give him a little bit of skin in the game I think he’s feeling very much like he just has no control and now he’s feel stuck if he’s here with us and someplace he hates and again has no control.
So he’s a kid, he is someone that needs control. He needs to have something that he can feel he can control in his life.
[00:57:40] Brenda: And don’t, we all want that. 
[00:57:42] Jane: It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Well, yeah. And that’s where the bad behaviors usually are stemming from is because these kids desperately want to control something. I just hope they make a good choice, 
[00:57:55] Brenda: All right. Well, I’m going to check in with you. I get to do that because you’re remembering the stream. And so I’ll be able to check in and see how it goes. And I know you are in for our retreat in October, which is very exciting, 
[00:58:08] Jane: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that. Super excited.
Thank you so much for listening. If you’d like to go to the show notes, you can always find those at, each episode is listed there with a full transcript, all of the resources that we mentioned, as well as a place to leave comments if you’d like to do that. You might also want to download a free ebook I wrote called hindsight. Three things I wish I knew when my son was addicted to drugs. It’s full of the information I wish I would have known when my son was struggling with his addiction. You can grab that at Thanks again for listening and I will meet you right back here next week.

, , , ,

the parent’s gathering place

Join us after
the episodes

Hopestream Community is a private online destination where parents find resources, education and personal connections when their child struggles with substance misuse, addiction, and mental health challenges. We teach skills that help improve communication and rebuild broken relationships, while empowering you to motivate your child to adopt or maintain healthier choices.

Learn more and join us >