How far to push a BP/ADHD teenager?

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loving frustrated wife
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Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 3/3/2008 11:58 PM (GMT -7) as many of you know, I am the mother to a 14 1/2 year old son with BP & ADHD. And boy oh boy are we in the throws of it I's like Mr. Toads wild ride! Now, while what I will share is part for therapeutic venting and working out some issues, it is also to collect feedback, suggestions, and sage wisdom from those who have come before me and been victorious. My disclaimer is that I love my son DEARLY, and he really IS a great kid when he is not a slug with thumbs, or oblivious to the obvious, or back talking, or refusing to be accountable to ANYTHING like school work - direct instructions from one parent, manipulating, lying and then when caught acting like "so I doesn't matter", hedging...etc. It is about that stage I want to pinch his head off!

My H (who is also BP) and I are ALWAYS walking the fine line about how far to push, how far to hold him accountable (which we feel we should and DO), what is or isn't out of his control, honesty, accountability...etc. We want SO badly to give him a break, to spend some time with him laughing and just enjoying each other. BUt of late we feel like he's not giving us a chance. He is stepping over the line at every turn. Here's some examples...

1. So he was caught in a series of lies about food, school work and taking money from us. With food it was about how much he was eating. If there were leftovers, by morning their was none (and we are talking a lot of food)...and then he would lie about it. If a dozen corn muffins were made for the family, he lied about eating 10 before anyone else had a chance to eat any, even when asked directly about it. He kept saying he had his homework done and didn't, and when asked would just say "he had it covered" and then we would check his grades and he'd have gotten and D or F on the assignment for not turning it in, doing a piss poor job on it, not studying for a test...etc....and when we request to see the work at night it takes 30 minutes of arguing just to get to the place where the REAL story of what is due comes out and it turns out he has yet to REALLY do it as it is requested. EVERYTHING has a story to it. And then we discovered that he was swiping/stealing money from us (about $65 worth in 6 weeks that we know of) to spend on EXTRA food at school (he is fed breakfast and given a full healthy lunch every day BTW) he justifies about lying to us about this when asked about the money, because he says he didn't like that we won't feed him the sugary food he wants. Needless to say...NONE of this behavior was /is acceptable to us. SO...he was given a consequence to repay us the money he stole (he has to work off 25$ of it by doing the dishes for a month, and he had to give up something he valued to sell on e-bay to come up with the rest of the money - so his flat screen monitor for his computer is now gone [it has been replace by buying a clunky old fashioned smaller screened one so he can do his work with the money left over from the sale]), and he lost the right to play his favorite computer game during the week, and through it all has lost our trust. We wanted these lessons to drive the point home that there will be NO acceptable reasoning for lying and stealing...ever. That HE alone is accountable for the judgment that led him to these behaviors in the first place.

And while it has in SOME ways sent that message is a daily fight about the dishes (the month ends on the 10th), and the homework arguments and struggles continue daily... (and keep in mind my H is BP TOO...Ode to joy for me around here!!!!!!!!!!!)

2. Then today, on the way to school I tell him he is to call at the end of school to check if I will be late picking him up today as I had a funeral to attend, and we didn't know if my H would be back from a client site in time. I told him that IF I was late, he was to go to the school library and do homework and was NOT to go to his friends house. So, he called at the end of school and asked my H if he could go to the friends house to "do homework"...which is a joke in and of itself...Anyway, he neglects to tell him that I had said absolutely NOT about the friends house...PLUS, I had made it back on time and was sitting at the school ready for pick up (which my H knew) and when he wasn't there I called home and found out about all this and informed my H about the conversation I had had with him that morning. My son does not see anything wrong with what he did. Both my H and I are mad because he did not accept the answer from one, and lied by omission to the other. Plus, he played the computer game he is not allowed during the week and had NOT done his the battle continued tonight on ALL fronts....

This sort of stuff is DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY....It is slamming us at EVERY turn and we are ready to explode. Then my son attempts to lay the guilt trip on me when I got mad about all this today saying "I am not going to stand and listen if your going to be an A** to me...I have to put up with this all day at school, I am not going to listen to it here too!" I could see he was upset, but what point is enough...enough from him. At what point is he going to see that he is pushing and pushing and pushing, being disrespectful and is not taking one ounce of responsibility for WHY we might be angry at his behavior, the way he is speaking to us, or his actions. He isn't giving US a break to be able to then give HIM a break in return. Is this typical for this age? Is this more excessive because of the BP & ADHD? He IS regulated on his meds, and his "moods" are is just his attitude and judgment that suck. Are we being too hard on him to expect respect, honesty, responsibility about his homework, minimal chores?

Like I said, part of this is to vent it out so I can sleep tonight, the other part is the need to get thoughts, insights, experience and wisdom from those having been there and done that, or from some of the teens on the board to speak to me about what they think. We WANT to spend our time feeling loving with our son, not angry and disappointed by his attitude as we so often are these days. I am sad and oh so stressed about this. I want to do the right thing for him. I feel like what we are doing is the right thing....but I am open to being wrong too. I welcome guidance....SORRY THIS IS SO LONG....Thanks for reading....LFW

Post Edited (loving frustrated wife) : 3/4/2008 12:10:54 AM (GMT-7)

Ellie 1
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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1291
   Posted 3/4/2008 9:14 AM (GMT -7)   

It sounds as though you're doing everything you can.  I'm going through much the same thing with my oldest son and he hasn't be DX with anything and is only 10!  All you can do is what you're doing, make sure he knows you love him and hang on for the ride.  My oldest daughter did much the same, (she is BP), and we survived it.  Some days I didn't think it would happen, but she's grown now with 3 children of her own and while she still struggles, (unmedicated), she's doing pretty well all in all.  Just hang on.  They grow up and it gets better.  My daughter was mostly human again by the time she was 17.  Good luck to you.



Good judgement comes from experience and alot of that comes from bad judgement.
You just have to accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. 

loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 3/4/2008 10:07 AM (GMT -7)   
At what point do they emerge not hating you? Or wanting to get away from you? Or thinking you're stupid? Or am I just facing hormones and my son is MIA and will come back and say THANK YOU for forcing the right things while he was gone? Or are these the first steps to my son growing up and never wanting to be close to his parents because of how "mean, cruel and bad" he claims we make him feel now? I know that is mostly my fear talking....but BOY OH this a painful process. Then you add in all the BP/ADHD stuff and feel gutted inside on a daily basis questioning if you are doing this right. Questioning if we are damaging him in the end, or hurting him and he will need therapy just for THAT....OR, our instincts are right and we have to look past all his DRAMA about it all and just stay the course and do what we think is right. If he takes us holding him accountable, and our frustration as us insulting him..."making him feel worse" when we don't believe anymore that he "has it covered", or we "don't understand"...then that is his choice? In every way possible...he's earned our feelings of mistrust at this point, and frustration that he won't do ANYTHING responsibly without being forced. And even then...he does a poor job at it because he didn't pay attention to what he was doing....his motivation was to just "get it over with".

All I want to do is love my kid and not feel like someone he wants to escape....I am so sad about this. I want my son to come home to me....LFW

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Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 3715
   Posted 3/4/2008 2:20 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm so sorry for these struggles, LFW. I think from what I get from talking to other parents, much of what you describe is normal. I have another friend whose 15 year old son just turned into Godzilla too. I'm not sure how the bp complicates his situation, except that, in the case where his meds might be off, he might be more impulsive, more apt to lie. But if you think his meds are on and he's not manic, those are pretty normal developments for teenagers. (That's a lot of muffins.)

From out here, it sounds like your instincts are good and he's going to resist them, naturally. You absolutely must hold him accountable -- him ABOVE other kids, because the draw to be impulsive and reckless could be stronger in him someday. But he's not going to thank you for being punished. The trouble is, you're hurt because he's mad and acting out. You can't be, if you can help it. He sees that and he's (unconsciously) using it against you, I think. He's guilting you, he's calling your husband instead of you, he's trying to shut you out because he knows it will bother you. It's his way of retaliating. Of course he's going to be mad. Let him be mad. But you need to let it go, if you can. Love him as much as you can, be pleasant to him when you can, but don't let his negativity infect you if you possibly can. Like all kids, he knows how to wind mom up.

Co-Moderator, Bipolar Forum
Bipolar II

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 369
   Posted 3/4/2008 3:06 PM (GMT -7)   

Oh, the joys of parenting a teen  :)

I do think that alot of what you are dealing with, you would be going through even without the ADHD and BP.  The attitude and the "knowitallness" come with the age.  But you do have more to deal with as far as the lying.  I think it sounds like you are doing everything you can.  You have set discipline and you follow through...that is the important part.  Do you have any volunteer type of positions in your area that he could be a part of?  Sometimes just helping others just for sake of helping, teaches alot to kids of this age.  My daughter really got into a rut of acting out and concentrating a bit less on her studies.  I told her that I wanted her to start volunteering some of her time since she did not have a we decided to do it together.  We started volunteering with a group here that is a meals on wheels type of thing.  She baked at first but loves it now, and she said it helped to show her that life isnt all about her...that her world is much larger than her immediate surroundings.  I think it has also improved her self esteem, because these ladies and gentlemen we serve just love spending time talking with us each visit, some dont have family to look after them.

I think you are doing all you can to try and correct the wrongdoing and I hope he begins to see where he needs to change some things.  It is so hard to deal with this aged kids...without having the BP and ADHD on top of it.

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending" ~ Maria Robinson

loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 3/4/2008 4:50 PM (GMT -7)   
Thank you everyone for the support, input and suggestions....keep them coming...I'd love to hear from some of our teens on line with us for an additional perspective too.

We have toyed with the volunteer idea as well. Habitat for humanity requires kids to be we couldn't do it all together. I think I will look around locally to see what is available for him to volunteer at, it would help him have better perspective in life, I do agree. I would love to see him feel good about making a difference to the world around him. Then maybe it could translate to the home front from there.

Thanks again all, I really appreciate the feedback. This is a hard road on both sides. LFW

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 2
   Posted 3/5/2008 6:14 PM (GMT -7)   

Hey there,

I was wondering if you had ever considered trying a community support staff/team. Basically a mentor to work with your son, and the family(But one that is trained for your son's spicific diagnosis). I have seen first hand the benifits of this program, and how much of a positive difference it makes not only with the child but the entire family dynamics.

loving frustrated wife
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 865
   Posted 3/5/2008 8:13 PM (GMT -7)   
That's an interesting idea. I am not sure the area I live in has this, but I am certainly open to anything that would help. I am not really sure what they would do exactly except check in on him. And he/we all see his counselor regularly. It is not like he is "sick", he is just a teenager with compounding issues. But hey...I am open to anything to calm this environment down. Thanks for the suggestion. LFW

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 38
   Posted 3/6/2008 12:23 PM (GMT -7)   
I could write a book and parenting teens .. read post "im a granny "
My daughter was and is a pleasure , clever girl , straight A in school went onto University became a journalist and is earning a decent salry and enjoying life .,. no problems at all, she is 23
My boys now .... sheesh ... started with my oldest he is now 25 , when we found marijauna under his pillow at the age of 10 ... he went from there to heropin fairly quickly and Im praying that now he is clean ... he says he is , and has been in rehab for a year .... Life with Stephen was hell ... pure living hell.
Garth now my youngest has problems from very young only I didnt see them , temper tantrums , crying , screaming ... also went the drug route .... then I realised he is also bipolar and got him diagnosed and sorted .... he has just become a daddy.
Of my two boys .. Garth is the one I think is going to come right ... he is a brutally honest boy always has been , with a very soft heart ... Stephen is a user, a lier and a manipulater and cant see that he is doing anything wrong , and sadly until he faces lifes truths and responsibilities he is doomed to fail.
Being a parent is not for the weak .. I have had 15 years straight of drama , l;ies and deceit and I cant anymore ... As far as stephen is concerned we discuss the weather ... I will not give him a cent ...
Owner of parrots, dogs, cats
"I got rid of the kids cos the animals were allergic"

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