A mother’s dilemma – Letting go to get a son back
I am the mother of two boys.
One was a happy, go-lucky, friendly kid who enjoyed school, didn't get into trouble, and often received lots of praise.
My second child struggled. It started after he was bullied in the early elementary years ... something that haunts him to this day.
When he started high school, he started using marijuana. He started skipping, ran with a really rough crowd and by December of his first year of high school was arrested for the first time. One of his charges was possession of marijuana.
His behavioural issues escalated. He hated school and got high several times a day. He rarely passed a course, despite being a very bright kid.
At home, he was argumentative, disconnected and violent. He didn't like hearing the word NO and frequently punched holes in the wall with every burst of anger.
At 16, he ran away from home - only to get arrested again. (Not sure if this was his second or third arrest)
The courts sent him home - under house arrest - while the case made its way through the system. It was difficult. The anger and lethargy were too much. We clashed and I felt very close to being the target of his fist.
I had him arrested. It was the toughest decision of my life.
His father didn't support my decision to call the police and he moved out with my son. While my son and I were estranged... he went on to get arrested three more times in 18 months. The crimes were getting more serious; the last charges included trafficking.
The court decided my son should live with me.
Fortunately, I had spent the 18 months my son and I weren't talking commuting to Guelph once a week for a parent support group called The Association of Parent Support Groups of Ontario.
I met dozens of other parents just like me. We were all like deer caught in the headlights... wanting nothing but success for our kids but dealing with behaviour none of us had dreamed we'd experience and we certainly didn't deserve. These are loving, committed parents willing to go to the ends of the earth for their kids.
But when you have a kid who's doing the unthinkable... and choosing drugs over all else... it's a nightmare.
There's such stigma when your kid is in trouble. It's like ... “you must be a bad parent.” “You’re not doing enough.” “He just needs a swift kick in the ass.” Not so. No matter what I tried, what other parents’ tried ... the drugs seem to win.
But it did get better. I let go.
I changed tactics with my son, using the strategies I learned from the parent support group. Our relationship slowly started to get better. I realized I couldn’t get his diploma for him; I couldn’t keep him out of jail.
I stopped owning his choices and gave them to him to own.
When I let go, we stopped arguing. I started looking after myself and my needs. It was very liberating and I found myself able to laugh again.
My son hasn't been arrested since moving back in with me. He eventually got his high school diploma, something I never thought I'd see. He is 21 now, living on his own, looking after a dog and working full time. I don't know if he still uses pot... but I do know when I see him he isn't stoned. It was a look I grew way too familiar with when he was younger.
I still worry that there may be long term consequences of his years of smoking pot. But I'm not a doctor or scientist and I can't undo what has happened.
I would do anything to prevent it from happening to someone else.
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