Son Turned Against Father


I am a single father, raising my two boys alone (B just turned 10, and D will be 15 in April, 2007). Their mother left us January, 2005. We fought a vicious court battle, and I won custody. The boy's mom has disappeared for about eight months now. My youngest son, B, has suffered serious trauma, but has made good progress. He has been seeing a therapist for about eight months, and also sees a psychiatrist.

The three of us have been involved in Celebrate Recovery for about 16 months now. My oldest boy has been very active with Celebrate Recovery, and even wanted to start a youth recovery band. He enjoy(ed) playing his guitar very much, until recently.

My oldest son, D, has turned against me, has become very withdrawn, and is suicidal. The nightmare began .....

My son has recently become very hostile towards me. Saturday evening, February 3rd, he threatened to kill himself. I called 911. The police came out and took him away to SBHC (Stanislaus Behaviorial Health Center). They evaluated him, and took him to the Hutton House. He stayed at the Hutton House for 12 days, and seemed to be making some progress. They released him two days early, claiming that he was stabilized.

Services for children have been seriously cut in our county, so there is no longer a place where they can lock up children for observation/safety. I cannot afford to drive the long distance to other places where they might lock up my son.

When my son, D, threatened to kill himself, he told me that he couldn't handle the pressures of life anymore, and that he has been thinking about killing himself for a long time. During his stay at the Hutton House, I met with several counselors twice. There were two counselors present during the first session, and three counselors present the second session.

The same day that my son came home, he wanted to go to his youth group at church. My two boys and I went to Family Night. My youngest son went to the AWANA club. Before church, my oldest son and I had met with the pastor who does counseling. My oldest boy seemed to connect with the pastor and agreed to the ideas he suggested.

The next day, Thursday, my oldest boy became very negative, hostile, and told me again that he does not want to live with us. He told me that he can't follow my rules, and that he needs to do life on his own terms. He thinks that I'm unreasonable, asking him to do too much (too many chores, accept too much responsibility, holding him up to high standards ....).

My son D has turned against me to the point that he doesn't want to live with us, and even claims that he has never wanted to live with us. I know for certain that this is not true! I have been very actively involved with my children ever since they were born. The day my son, D, threatened to kill himself, we had been swimming earlier that morning, and everything seemed to be just fine!!

Even though we are poor, my oldest son has so many good things going for him. He has lots of friends, gets to spend the night with his friends, have them over, go on trips with the youth group, goes to church regularly, is invloved with the youth at Celebrate Recovery at two churches, plays(ed) his guitar at home as loud as he wants to, just got a new iPod, has hundreds of albums to listen to, his own tv, boombox, cd player, bicycle, computer .....

(The boys' mother was never involved with the kids personally, and she had even expressed openly many times that she wanted her friends to adopt our boys. She and her friends even had my youngest son convinced that we found him in a dumpster, and that I was not his father!!)

My son is not being honest, and is in complete denial. He has become so negative, that he has a negative answer for everything. He cannot give me any specific reasons why he doesn't care about me or his little brother (age 10), or why he doesn't want to live with us anymore. He has become very lazy, irresponsible, defiant, always wants his own way, doesn't like things that he used to enjoy (favorite foods, playing guitar, activities).

We have had lots of stress in our lives, but things have stabilized pretty much. Last summer (2006) we moved from our tiny apartment into an older three bedroom home. We have lots of space now.

Some of the stress factors in our lives: 1) D got kicked out of the guitar class (he loves to play guitar), 2) got kicked out of high school (low grades, and poor attendance - he was on a district transfer, and was held to much higher standards than regular students), 3) Lost a good friend of the family two days before Christmas, 4) financial problems, 5) medical problems, 6) boys' mother caused great trauma (abuse by her and her friends), 7) boys' mother has abandoned them

I can't afford the costs of a private school. We have Medical, so my boys can see a therapist. My son D was evaluated by my younger son's therapist, but will have to see a different therapist (conflict of interest), hopefully soon.

I feel like I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown!! My son D is turning away from everyone who loves him and cares about him. One of the pastors at his home church came to visit him at the Hutton House, but D refused to see him.

Now my son D is talking about getting immancipated. I really don't want to lose my boy. He is suffering from trauma, which seems to be much worse than his younger brother. My youngest son, B, is a role model of how we should work our recovery!! He is very outspoken, shares his problems and concerns, and admits that he has issues and deals with them in a healthy manner, and openly accepts advice and help from anyone!

I'm very concerned that my oldest boy might try and hurt himself, or run away, or end up in a foster home. I'm afraid that if he goes to a foster home, I may lose him for good. He refuses to follow simple rules, and becomes very angry and hostile when I give him consequences. He even wrote down a list of consequences, which he agreed to follow (as advised by counselors at the Hutton House), but refuses to apply anything that he learned at the Hutton House.

I'm at my wits end, and cannot get a good nights sleep. My youngest boy, B, is very stressed out, has trouble sleeping, and cannot concentrate in school. He cries often, and tries to talk with his brother, but his older brother only makes matters worse.

To complicate our situation further ... our landlord is having the place assessed, which must mean that she wants to sell the house. I'm afraid that we may have to move, which I cannot afford!! This will mean, most likely, that we will be homeless. I hope that we can stay, but .........

I also have serious health problems, which make it difficult to work. I don't have any choice, I must work. We do have a roommate who helps pay the rent. She will also be homeless too, if we have to move. Any suggestions, resources, phone numbers, prayers .... would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks and God bless.

Comments (11)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

He has become very lazy, irresponsible, defiant, always wants his own way, doesn't like things that he used to enjoy (favorite foods, playing guitar, activities)

This sounds very much like he may be dabbling with some drugs, and associating with other young folks that also have 'attitude' problems. Has he ever been tested for drugs?
The things you have described sound like the signs of other teens I've seen doing some recreational drugs, or even alcohol.

What are his friends like? Has he started associating with different friends recently?

Are there any groups in your area like Parents without Partners? What does the pastor make of things? Maybe have the pastor over some evening for more talking?

What did the counselors say? Could he be needing attention? thus the threats? and refusal to do as he should? I'm sure his mother abandoning him has been a very large (if not all) part of the problem.

Are there other family members who can help out, giving him time and attention maybe?

He will never get emancipated, as he must show/prove that he is financially able to take care of himself, and no one will even rent to a 15 year old.

our landlord is having the place assessed, which must mean that she wants to sell the house.
Why not talk to her, and try and try to find out what is going on. Possibly she is just getting it appraised to apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit. Possibly it is for insurance purposes...fearing she may not have enough coverage or something.

goes to church regularly, is invloved with the youth at Celebrate Recovery at two churches, etc.
Thankfully he has so many 'positive' things in his life.

Ask your pastor what resources there might be to help out financially, especially if they might be needed if you are forced to move. Maybe get as much info now, in case you need it later....or maybe there is assistance you could get now to help the financial stamps, rental assistance, utility or heat assistance.

I will be praying for you all.

Take care of yourself as well...those boys need you.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You need to get that boy to a therapist who is or works with a psychiatrist. The type of counseling offered by a pastor is not enough. Your son may have mental health problems that are far too severe for simple talk therapy to handle. Places like Hutton House are first and foremost youth advocates. Some people with mental health prolems can be very cunning and manipulative. You need someone on your side. Good luck. A good contact for you might be NAMI. They have a website.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You say your son spent time at two different facilities, but you don't say what Hutton House is. Is it also a behavioral facility? A mental health care facility? A penal facility?

What were the results of SBHC's evaluation? Why was he sent to Hutton House? What does stabilized mean? They put him on medication? He told them what they wanted to hear?

You met with counselors. What were their recommendations? Did you exhaust them? What was the outcome?

I can't help thinking your son needs to have medication and probably is, but he isn't taking it. Therefore, he isn't stable. To my limited knowledge and experience, this sounds like classic adolescent bipolar disorder. You don't tell us of any evaluations, diagnosis, or treatments, only the behaviors. If he is on medication and not taking it, you have to get him back to a doctor, mental health care official, or facility. I know you are distraught and probably overwhelmed, but you cannot help him. If I am accurate, only medication can help him and bring peace to your household. Again if I am correct, try not to take his behavior or the things he says to heart. He is not speaking his own feelings truly. The disease is speaking for him. You will never be able to make sense of any of it, nor will you be able to make it make sense to him. And, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Bipolar disorder is very common. Take care.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have much to add. I hope you have some family support from your siblings or someone else. Maybe they could come help out for a little while to give you a break. You've got a lot to deal with. Taking care of yourself is a priority.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also say he may be on drugs....does he work? Have any source of money?
My prayers are with you.....
Linda C

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Check for signs of drugs, if he is on drugs and or alcohol, try to get him into rehab.
If not then get him evaluated by a PSYCHIATRIST. Not a psychologist. He may need meds. Often times when kids just start getting into their teens, a mental illness shows up.

Happened to my friend starting in high school with very erratic behavior. Running away, etc. when she had previously been an A level student. Several years into college and a suicide attempt later, she was diagnosed with borderline schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have nothing to offer in means of advice. But hang in there and keep him going to a psychiatrist and doc.s and whatever else you can. He needs the help. will be thinking of youa nd your boys...Stacy

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I, too, sympathise with your situation, its very heartbraking and so challenging for you to deal with your son without support from others in your family.

My advice to you is to think of him as being ill, he is clearly distressed and irrational. He probably doesn't know what is going on and how to deal with all these feelings he is having.

With that in mind, I would take him to a physchiatrist as soon as possible. He needs to be assessed.

I know this will be hard for you, but find strength in yourself, you have come this far as a single dad, you can go forth and be by your son's side whilst you work together on finding happiness again.

I wonder what affect this is having on your younger boy, be mindful of this, and take the time to be with him and talk to him and hug him.

It doesnt take lots of money to be happy, things will get better, just try to deal with one problem at a time.

Your aim is to make your son better. Really, you only have one problem.

All the best to you and your family, please let us know how things are going, as people here do care, we are from many parts of the world, with all sorts of experience.

Take care.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Don't You Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you're trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow-
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man;
often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out-

The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

He has been through so much hard stuff, that he must not quit now. He is so close to an age that he can build the life he wants. Help him to have hope in the future, that he has survived hard times, but he is almost there. help him to find a passion and a dream to hang in there for. Can he take the pain and write songs? Can he start a garage band where they can earn money on weekends? Something to help him get past the feeling of hopelessness, and get excited about the future and invest himself in it?

I wish I had more to offer, but this is for those with much more wisdom than I have.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

vja4him...Are you guys OK?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think your son is suffering from feeling rejected by his Mom.
He's confused.

He's kicked out of school --- can you homeschool him?

He needs you, don't give up on him. He doesn't need a shrink, he needs LOVE.

Give him all the love you have. Make him see that because his Mom left, that it's not his fault.

Good luck.

Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Life Turn Off the Video Games and Turn On Your Kid's Creativity
Going nuts planning summer activities? Kids overdosing on screen time? It may be time to foster more self-directed play
Full Story
Houzz Tours My Houzz: Modernism Takes a Natural Turn in Pennsylvania
Generous wood throughout and woodsy sights outdoors soften and warm this home’s modern lines
Full Story
Holidays Father's Day Extravaganza! 19 Glorious Man Spaces by Houzzers
Guitars, beer, games and sports memorabilia fill these unabashedly masculine rooms for men of all ages and tastes
Full Story
At BRAX Roofing we pride ourselves on offering superior home improvement service, specializing in roofing,... Read More
As the president of University Group I have over 27 years of experience in the building business. Our company... Read More