Thursday, March 11, 2010

Over Parenting Strikes Again

Last night was a yet another tribute to the downfall of over-parenting.  Around 9:00 we heard a knock at the door.  Since no one ever visits us this would be strange and those that do visit us would never knock.  When I answered the door it was a blast from the past.  I didn't recognize him at first because of his short haircut and glasses but it was indeed Ike's long lost friend Nick.  He had run away from his house and was looking for a place to stay.

A little history on Nick.  He has been Ike's friend for awhile back from St. Paul's, Muskego.  He has had a number of problems in school with learning disabilitites and ADD and things like that.  He can be a follower at times and could easily be swayed into minor mischief and trouble making that I would mostly classify under "boys will be boys.." by other friends of his.  When he was at our house he mostly was himself though which really was a decent and quirky.  Whatever trouble he might be willing to engage in with other friends he kept in check at our house. 

About this time last year Nick would bike to our house more and more frequently as he tried to avoid being home when his parents frequently yelled at him and the viscious circle began.  When it was getting so common and he was leaving without permission they finally yanked him from 2/3rds of the way through Freshman year and sent him to a school for troubled kids in FL.  He has been there for a year and Ike had no contact with him but his parents brought him home a couple months ago because they were not seeing the results they wanted.  He has been home for two months and on Tuesday will be going to Rawhide Ranch.  He hasn't been allowed to contact his old friends and has been very isolated. Last night represented the first time Ike has talked to him in a year.

So Nick was on my doorstep seeking refuge which of course we gave him.  He had left after another fight with his Mom.  I did make him call his parents so they knew where he was but his Mom hung up on him and said maybe she'd see him when she was a good enough parent. 

So what is the issue?  It's hard to say and I only have Nick's side of things.  From what I can tell, it would appear that his parents both came from very strict households and lived very obedient and problem free lives growing up. His grandparents were authoritarian and conversely his parents are authoritarian.  Whereas Nick has issues with his anger management it would appear he has indeed learned some methods to diffuse his anger.  He was very articulate last night on all the steps he was taking to not blow up or over-react and to behave at home which according to him he has done up to this point.  However I think the contention still is that his parents will keep shipping him off to special schools until he is obedient AND happy about it.  Whereas he has been learning to deal with anger his parents want it gone.  The issue last night started over his mother not allowing him to go outside with his sister.  That part was fine but then she yelled even more when they both went off and grumbled about it (if I could have a dollar for every mumble mumble mumble ..SLAM!!)  That is what prompted Nick to run away. Nick says his sister who is the oldest child when he is away at school is now also being increasingly yelled at.

Now I know this is all the side of the wounded 16 year old and I'm sure there is plenty that could be worked out as to Nick behaving a bit better and his parents easing up a bit more but until this cycle is broken I see Nick getting pushed farther away. He actually sounded encouraged about Rawhide because it has mandatory family counseling involved.  He thinks that will be interesting if his parents have to step a bit towards his direction and participate in counseling.  In many respects Nick seems a lot more mature despite all his shennanigans at the school in Florida (frequent leaving of campus unauthorized and running away).  Unfortunately I think the past year has made Nick more at risk than when he left a year ago.  Shipping him off was the wrong prescription then and it probably is now.

This morning at 6:15 while getting ready for work there was a strong knock at the door.  I had hair gel in my hands and was only in boxers but at 6:15 am I don't care.  I answered the door to Nick's father who came to collect him.  His face was like ice and he barely spoke to me.  I'm sure he was resentful that the first place Nick runs has always been our house even after banning him.  He also had a certain look of pain like he can't reconcile what is all going on.  I wish I could share with him the things Nick has said and have him really listen but he is not ready to listen yet.  Certainly not to me.  It is a situation that I will pray about. As Nick was walking out of the house all he said was "I can't wait until I am 18 and can leave..."

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