Adventures With an Acting Out Teen

By A Parent in Aurora

Our son has always been a challenging child. Marion Balla mentioned at the conference that you can sometimes see the signs of teenage trouble in your toddler. Well, the signs were there but we couldn't and wouldn't read them. Due to our son's serious asthma that resulted in many hospital stays and school absences, I became a passionate excuse-maker. There was always some reason for his acting out behaviour. There was fighting every day, and contact with the school on an almost daily basis. Our youngest child was withdrawing, my husband and I were arguing. A good time was not being had by anyone including our son who was provoking the problems. When he hit high school things went from bad to worse. He seemed to have no concept of responsibility for his actions, and his poor study habits got him farther and farther behind. Contact with the school was frustrating, with many suspensions. We continued parenting in the same way and so the situation got worse. When he disobeyed curfew I would go looking for him and phone all his friends. Then he and a friend were suspended from school. The parents of the friend had found APSGO, and told us about it. Of course, we didn't need to go: our son wasn't that bad and we could handle it. Three weeks later he ran away from home. We still did not go to the group right away. I tracked him down. He was staying with friends two and three nights at a time, and was planning to run off to the States.

We finally went to the group and found help and hope.
The help was invaluable. I remember thinking the first time I read the book, How To Deal With Your Acting Up Teenager, that other people had trouble with their kids too, and being so thankful that someone had the courage to write about it. The book provided the framework for us to understand the philosophy of the group.My husband learned faster than I did. I seemed to need to try everything the hard way. The group supported us in dealing with our son and were patient in dealing with me. Over the winter our son was in and out of our home several times. I was so relieved to have him home no matter what the cost. The cost turned out to be verbal abuse, theft, and damage to our property. We eventually involved the police and asked him to leave. The next time we negotiated his return with the help of the group. We had learned that we did not want him at any cost, that we could still have a relationship with him when he lived outside the home.

The effect on our family of having a life that did not revolve around our acting up child was dramatic. My husband and I are together on most parenting issues and have learned ways of resolving those that we are not. There is laughter in our house again. Our younger son started coming out of his shell and enjoying family life. The relationship with our older son grew. I know that he will be a very capable adult one day.

We want to thank all the members of APSGO for their courage, help and hope in dealing with their situations and their willingness to help us deal with ours. I am not sure whether we would be where we are today without your help.