Mom threw teen out of the house: When is enough enough?

Yesterday I got a very distressing note from one of the moms in our community. Her battle with her disrespectful teenager had reached critical mass and she had told her almost 18-year-old they were no longer welcome at home. The mother is completely torn up inside not knowing if she has done the right thing, but she felt she couldn’t let her child continue to treat her this way.

The mother’s full letter is below. She is keeping the gender of the child neutral as not to sway the audience. Please be gentle and constructive in your advice or criticism. She is truly looking for a sounding board and some help. She’s not sure she’s done the right thing or even what to do next.

Here’s what the mother wrote:

“My question is …  when is enough, enough?

I have a 17 yo who shows no respect to my husband (not the father) and even less respect to me.  I love this child, have tried to do the best I can and have twisted myself into a pretzel to be an involved parent.  School was never fun, even kindergarten and we struggled every year.  The child has graduated this spring and was planning on attending the local community college before starting Georgia State the following year.  In my opinion this was a wise decision by this child.

I have been an involved parent, the last couple of years I was not as involved in the activities, but my thought process has been I needed to let go and give the child room to fall and learn how to recover while there was still a safety net.  I feel I have been strict, but also very giving and loving most of all.  I have had few expectation other than to work hard at school, try your best at swim team, take the seasonal job seriously.  Having a 17 yo who is still a virgin, not gotten into drugs, drinking and smoking, I feel I have instilled some values.  I always thought to teach by example, work hard, do for your friends and family even when there is no reward for yourself.  I have been supporting my mother, a elderly family friend, my child and myself and only recently married a man I had been with for 10 years.

I have had my child in counseling for the past 7 years working on depression, ADHD, bi-polar issues.

The child’s father has been in the picture for the most part, not due to me.  Up until the last 3 years we lived 4 miles from the father and other than celebrations (birthday, holidays or some event) he didn’t take his visitations consistently.  My child now will have little if any contact with him, but I try to keep the father in the loop as to what is going on at home.

We have less than two months until the 18th birthday.  As of last night the child is no longer welcome in my home.  In many ways I have nothing to complain about, other than the lack of respect, but I refuse to live with someone how does not respect me.  I don’t feel I am asking too much, help around the house, take care of the animals food water and let the dogs out to potty if you are home.  Help keep the kitchen clean, load or unload the dishes, don’t leave piles of clothes laying around, keep the bathroom clean since you are not the only one to use it.  We have offered to pay for doing things around the house, but $30 a week to feed and water was not enough in the child’s mind.  My husband and I just finished installing a fence and will need to paint it in the near future, child wanted to make money and offered to paint it.  But didn’t feel that the amount should be based on how good of a job was done.

I feel I have done everything I knew to do, but some how I have ended up with a child I don’t like.  This child is selfish and self absorbed and shows little to no concern for the feelings of other.  When I stated I would turn off the cell phone the response was “then you won’t hear from me again”  I said that is your choice, mine is to not let you control me with threats.  I will leave the phone on until the 18th birthday, but after that I will have it disconnected, only due to if an emergency.occurred I would like to have the ability to contact and be contacted.

Have I gone to far to let the child know it is no longer welcome in my home.  I was out on my own when I was 17, living in an apartment and paying rent and bills, but that was almost 30 years ago and life was a lot different.then. When is enough, enough?  I don’t enjoy living in a state of war at home, my needs are not being met by the child, when my needs are brought up, I get the typical eye rolling, deep exhausted sighs, and blocked out and ignored.

Would changing the locks and security password be going to far?  We don’t have a lot of valuables but I don’t want the child in the house without someone being there to make sure…..  I guess I don’t have faith in my child to make the right choices anymore and don’t trust this new person in my home.

Okay moms and dads: What do we think? How far does your teen have to push you to be thrown out? Did this teen hit the limit? Would the mental health issues override what another teen might be held accountable for? What does she do now: change the locks, let the teen back in after three days? When does the teen get to come home? How does the mom know the teen is ready to live  by the mom’s rules?

125 comments Add your comment

Tairy Greene

July 8th, 2010
2:22 pm

@KoolAid House
The Gravy is Theirs!

deidre_NC

July 8th, 2010
2:29 pm

ok…i just in the last year finally PERMANANTLY kicked my 28 yo son out of the house for drug abuse etc. he is now serving a 5 month sentence for above said offenses. he has always been so respectful and helpful around the house….as far as respecting me as his mom we never ever had a problem. i just couldnt take the drug abuse and seeing him that way. he became addicted to pain pills due to physical problems, but would never accept or seek help for his problem. so that was that.

now….my youngest-18 yo, daughter. until she turned 14ish she was so disrespectful to me that i sent her away the summer she turned 14…to a friends house and wouldnt let her come home til 3 days before school started. even then i was looking into ways to send her to some kind of ‘brat camp’ or something. i swear i was willing to do whtever it took to get her out of my house if her disresepct continued. it was so bad her friends would even great on her about it. i cant even begin to tell you how bad it was. when she came home at the end of that summer she was like a different kid. she is very headstrng, and we will still have some problems with her disrespect, which she now at least admits and apologises for. she was diagnosed as border line bi polar…went to a therapist etc….she stopped going to a therapist because she said it was a waste of time and money since he mostly just told her the same things i told her lol…she even admits now that she was a monster and has no idea why she hated me so much. it was the weirdest most hurtful few years anyone could have. she is 18 now and we get along fine. she is an adult and responsible for herself mostly. she really always has been. not into drugs etc…she learned that lesson from her older brothers…but she has worked at any job she could since she was 12 and made honor roll alll thru highschool and now college. but the disrespect was incredibly off the charts.

there is a lot missing from the moms letter….the fact that her child is bipolar means that there is compesation that should be made in certian circumstances. but no one should have to accept total disrespect in their homes. im not sure what the answer is…i couldnt just kick my teenage child out without some backup plan as to where they would go….heck..it took me til my son was 28 ti kick him out. but really.,..if you are going to be miserable when they are there and miserable when they are gone you just have to figure out which miserable you can live with.
my 2 older kids were a different story…they were fine but they kived between their dad and i….they disresepcted him more than they did me. go figure. who can figure out kids. and it is hard to ground a 17yo…by law they can leave and there is nothing you can do about it. at least here in NC that is the law. parents are responsible til they are 18 but they have no real authority after they turn 16. stupid law.

Banjo the Siren

July 8th, 2010
2:33 pm

I’m disturbed by mentions of laws that children can leave at 17 and the parents can’t stop them. I would love it if it were true and would work toward that end with my son, who’s about to turn 17. But…aren’t there also statutes that a parent is responsible for the actions of his minor child? If my child leaves and I can’t say anything, then continues his criminal ways, am I on the hook?

KoolAid House

July 8th, 2010
2:42 pm

I think so, but I’m just an aspiring lawyer in my own mind. The parents can be held liable for the action of their minor children.

deidre_NC

July 8th, 2010
2:43 pm

i also want to say to this mother…i am sorry you have to go thru this. people who havent had a monster child have no idea. and a lot of parents who think they have a monster child also have no idea. judging her is not a way to help. im curious as to what the therapist has to say about the disrespect. and as far as the kid not doing drugs or drinking etc….total blatant disrespect can be as bad or worse. if you havent lived with this then dont judge please. i also agree with photius—some kids just wont ever be ok. it is sad and heartbreaking but true. i worry that my son will never be ok. when he gets out of jail (this isnt the first time) he will be fine..he will work and be wonderful as he is a great person…then that drug will call his name again and boom..itll start all over again. but it wont start here. and that breaks my heart so much. i miss him. i have missed him for a long time. even when he was living here. because he was not my son…he was a drug addict.
my daughter still lives here…and she pretty much does her own thing. she lets me know where she is and if she is staying at a friends house. and she contributes to the house work and pretty much supports herself (not rent-but all her ’stuff’) but i can so understand this woman not liking her daughter. i have allways loved my daughter more than life…but for a few years i couldnt stand her. sorry if that offends. yall didnt have to live with her. she is becoming a great friend now…so maybe this will give this woman some hope..my daughter just went thru this earlier.

deidre_NC

July 8th, 2010
2:48 pm

banjo….i am in NC and the law here states that i am responsible until they reach the age of 18….but at 16 they have rights that supercede the parents. for instance,,.i took my son to be drug tested when he was 17 and was told that he had to give me persmission to see the results because he was over 16…i tried to have him commited to a rehab while he was under my insruance and could afford it…only to be told he was over 16 and he had to agree. i was livid. im not sure of GA laws…or whereever you are….but that is NC for you. and yes it is very disturbing. extremely. i cant remember ever being so mad and upset that i couldnt help my son because he had waited til he was over 16yo to start this crap.

Banjo the Siren

July 8th, 2010
2:53 pm

Thanks. Sounds like I need to consult a lawyer!

KoolAid House

July 8th, 2010
3:02 pm

@Banjo ~ I can recall in detail the day my 5 year old stole 4 books out of Publix. She politely put them behind her back while I was going up and down the aisle placing food in the cart. Went to checkout and asked her about the books. She said she laid them on the self (1st lie). Yes, I saw them behind her back but waited to see what she would do. Place the bags in cart and walked out the store. Before arriving to the car I asked about the books again. Repeated the same thing. I asked what was behind her back and she started crying. I placed my groceries in the car and we walked right back into Publix. I gave the books to the manager and walked over to where 2 uniformed offers were standing. I told them what had happened and to explain to this frightened child what could happen. The first thing out of their mouth was “your mother can go to jail for you since you’re a minor.” They talked to her and commended me for bringing her to them. She asked that I not tell her father and I never have. She’ll be 16 in one month!

Mom

July 8th, 2010
3:19 pm

I agree with Young@heart
I would not throw my kids out. One has to think before planning to have kids.
Love should be unconditional. Respect has to be earned.
Tender love and Care should be provided no matter what.
Instead throwing your kids out, you should try to figure out why is your teenager acting this way.
It’s something missing, father is not in touch anymore, the mother has someone else in her life etc.

Heartbreak

July 8th, 2010
3:24 pm

@Mom, Until you have lived the situation and done everything in your power to try and help your child, please do not judge this mother. I am sure she has done everything she could and this child still chose to act, react the way he has. Those who haven’t lived this, have no idea that it is often not the parents, but the child. I too was guilty of this until I was hit squarely in the face with the situation.

She has had this child in counseling for years and I am sure has tried to understand why he/she acts this way. Sometimes, it is not the parent, but the child who is to blame.

Banjo the Siren

July 8th, 2010
3:49 pm

@Mom, with all due respect, I felt the same way until my son started threatening to “f*ing kill me” and physically attacking and intimidating me. He had been abusing me for years prior to that, but this was the last straw. His mother, whom he still abuses, feels the way you do and lectures me in a manner similar to what you’re doing. However, signing a Birth Certificate is not the same as signing a suicide note. My son is a very disturbed young man and he only gets worse around me. I might actually be doing him a favor by having him elsewhere.

JATL

July 8th, 2010
3:53 pm

@Banjo -that’s what I posted and one (of the many) points “Not gonna use my real name” has been trying to get across -forget DFACS -if you have a child under age 18, and that child does something criminal -YOU can be held liable! Kind of like prosecuting bartenders for an idiot who kills someone while driving drunk. It happens -not always -but it can happen. Many cases involving this depend on the judge and the situation, but that minor can get you in a whole lot of trouble if they’re up to criminal activity. I think you’re in the worst position if you’ve kicked the kid out and not provided a place for him and he then goes and steals, etc. because he needs money -that type of thing. It’s a dicey situation before they turn 18, but you cannot count on NOT being held responsible.

Mattie

July 8th, 2010
4:06 pm

Marriage vows have us promising to stay through “sickness and in health”. Should parenthood require any less?

KoolAid House

July 8th, 2010
4:52 pm

EXCELLENT POINT, MATTIE….EXCELLENT POINT!!!!

catlady

July 8th, 2010
6:53 pm

I have a strong willed and bipolar daughter myself. I did not recognize it as such. It never reached the levels described, however. She is a very focused, high achieving young adult.

Has the child been tested for drugs? Had the mother thought of a commitment to an adolescent behavior program? How does the mother know the child is a virgin/nondrinker?

The mother may want to legally make the child an adult. I think you can do that. I would be concerned that I would be liable for the child’s unpredictable/unacceptable behavior unless the child was legally emancipated. With the new rules governing insuring a child under 26, I don’t know if/how her mental (and physical) health insurance would be affected. An attorney would be a good expense right now.

It might be telling HOW the child was put out of the home. In a fit of temper? Or was it a reasoned discussion, so the child could make plans?

I have a friend whose daughter is like this (I think she suffers from depression, but has never had treatment.) She is 23. Her parents’ lives are miserable. They are fearful that she will commit suicide. She threatened it when she was 12. So she screams and gets her way.

I really feel for this mother and her child. And for her marriage.

Dore Frances, M.A.

July 8th, 2010
8:19 pm

Parents: Please Don’t Throw Your Teen Out.We’ve all heard of hormones, oh, yea, we’ve all experienced at one point in our life or another changes we ourselves go through. And we don’t usually take it lightly. We tend to fuss and complain about it, we are moody and irritable: it can get scary even for us. Nevertheless, we have an idea of what is going on, we have resources and the option to seek help, advice, support. Once again, our children, going through such dramatic changes in their lives, lack the ability to understand what it going on, and the experience to express themselves accordingly. Since they are still very self-centered they are under the complete assumption that it is only happening to them, therefore they are even less likely to express themselves or ask questions. More so, their still primitive level of awareness prevents them from coming forth in articulating and communicating to us what they might be feeling or fearing. During that time, much like they have done knowingly and unknowingly since the day they were born, they are looking to us to for answers and for the interpretation of the occurrences; they want us to fix it for them, and bail them out of this misery. But they don’t know how to ask.We, parents, are under a magnifying glass and if you think your children are deaf and blind to you, you are greatly mistaken. They are actually more tuned to you than ever, except that now they have a thought process that allows them to judge and criticize you like never before. And they use it freely, happily, and as often as they can, regardless of the consequences. Get help. Don’t throw your children away.

Dore. E. Frances, M.A.
http://www.Horizonfamilysolutions.com

[...] Mom threw teen out of the house: When is enough enough?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Her battle with her disrespectful teenager had reached critical mass and she had told her almost 18-year-old they were no longer welcome at home. The mother … [...]

BlondeHoney

July 8th, 2010
8:56 pm

Wow…I really feel for the mom and appreciate her clarification of the “not meeting my needs” comments. My two boys went through the normal teenage rebellious phases and the younger gave me far more issues than his older brother; rebellious, strong willed, talking back, refusing to pick up after himself, etc. I can’t say I went through what this mom is going through so I will not judge. I will say though that the fact the child graduated, has a college plan, does not have drug issues, AND is bi-polar is disturbing…I hope mom has her child re-evaluated for meds as a previous poster suggested. MJG, always good to hear from you and the boy who was my most problem child as a teenager is now a Navy officer graduating from the Navy’s Nuclear Power School tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in Charleston at the Naval Weapons Station.

ZachsMom

July 8th, 2010
9:12 pm

That mom is telling my story also. Childs behavior destroyed my 1st marriage (to his father) and he is working on destroying my current marriange. 11 years of therpy for all of us….dozens of different drugs…3 years at a residential treatment facility. Those 3 years were the most peaceful that I had had since Zach was born. I will always love my child. It is hard when you don’t know which child you will get every morning when you wake up. The nice, polite engaging one or the one that wakes up hating the world and the first thing out his mouth in the am is %^&^% you mom.

People who have never lived with a child like this do not understand how hard it is. I have lost friendships, jobs and the chance to go to school to get a better job. I pray everynight that I will wake up with the “normal” child and not the “monster”

motherjanegoose

July 9th, 2010
4:49 am

@ Blonde Honey….CONGRATS and enjoy our day! My husband was Navy!

Heartbroken

July 14th, 2010
1:20 am

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July 14th, 2010
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Monique

July 15th, 2010
8:43 am

I wholeheartedly support your decision to lay down the law in your home. To be safe I would have placed a PINS warrant on the child before tossing them out; that way you would have the backing of the legal system should anything occur. I have 3 children with some variation of ADHD and the middle one is definitely a delinquent in the making. We have explained to this child if there is not a rapid attitude adjustment they will be escorted out of my home…and this was at the age of 13. One visit from the police and one visit to family court later, my child has seen the light and is working very hard on attitude adjustment. Once my child realized we were serious about the PINS warrant, the attempt at being a functioning member of society began in earnest. All children – regardless of diagnosis – should know that disrespect and lawlessness will not be tolerated on any level in their parents’ home and should be reminded that our negative reactions are a direct response to their misdeeds. I applaud you for taking back control.

GI Dolly...Henry Hates McBerry

July 15th, 2010
10:55 pm

Get rid of the animal if you or your husband can’t take care of it. Tell your husband to take care of the outside chores, and you do the inside chores. What will happen when you have to do this yourself? You are responsible for meeting your own needs and happiness.

I have to do everything, as I have a teen and a ten year old when they are in school. I wish I had the luxuary of a husband to do anything. My kids dad died a few years back, so there really isn’t anyone else. I am self reliant, but love the time I spend with my kids. They get a small allowance if they do chores, and they stay home if they don’t. They often go to friend’s homes or just to hang out with friends over. I have commanded respect and for them to obey anything I tell them. They both get good grades in school and do homework promptly. I am not their friend, but their parent. They don’t have phones, or TV’s in their rooms, or any computers.

Amy Johnson

July 18th, 2010
11:38 pm

Looking through most of these I can see why the kids that have worked for me are so nuts. The original poster did the right thing by tossing out a “child” that is only a few months shy of 18. The job of a parent is to teach their children right from wrong and prepare them for the real world.

It is better for child to learn at 18 that there are consequences for mouthing off and be disrespectful. I would rather have my child learn that 18 than being fired for being for being Insubordinate once they have real responsibilities. It’s a lot easier to recover from being kicked out than it is to recover from being fired.

The “parents” that would tolerate being disrespected in a their own homes, need to have their heads examined. I have been on both sides of the fence. My parents kicked me out the summer before my senior year in college and it tought me a very valuable less. I was allowed to come back but not if I couldn’t follow the rules. I have recently kicked my own child out because she wanted to rule the roost. Not going to happen here ever. My house my rules you don’t like it don’t let the door hit you, where the dog should have bit. If you’re in my house I don’t have to earn respect. Any parents that think that good luck because junior will be at home forever.