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Children Earning Back Trust


Soror
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One of my kids screwed up in a big way. In such a way that they have lost trust with dh and I and my parents.

I'm interested in hearing for other parents that went through this with their child and how that process was for them. 

They are upset at times that they don't have that trust. I keep telling them the way to get it back is to earn it in words and deeds.

*I am not looking for input from parents that have not gone through this with their children. 

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56 minutes ago, Soror said:

One of my kids screwed up in a big way. In such a way that they have lost trust with dh and I and my parents.

I'm interested in hearing for other parents that went through this with their child and how that process was for them. 

They are upset at times that they don't have that trust. I keep telling them the way to get it back is to earn it in words and deeds.

*I am not looking for input from parents that have not gone through this with their children. 

We have a private group…supporting parents with older teens and young adults. It is a little less harsh IMO.  Also more private where you might feel safer sharing some details which helps when getting advice from others.  

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It is really tough- no easy answers and so much depends on if the kid wants to change their ways. In my situation, there are diagnosed mental health & developmental issues- however, my kid is extremely bright. Unfortunately, my kid has had several issues that involve very poor decisions and it has made things really hard. What I’ve learned- teaching moments are very different from consequences for poor decisions. We’ve learned that teaching moments are really important and involve parent to teen connections that help guide and teach rather than correct behavior. We also need a really good therapist to help our kid & us through some difficult stuff. 
 

(((hugs)))

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I'm going to try to be rather discreet here. My older dc did something which involved both a lie and a following event that involved danger, major damage, etc. I don't recall the dc ever asking for trust after that, and I might have taken it, in the moment, as insincere repentance/acknowledgement for the gravity of what they had done. There was a natural consequence, and when the consequence was over then it was done (put aside, not discussed). However I, shall we say, wizened up and did not really take anything at face value after that but realized I needed to question. Apparently I'm someone who is easy to lie to or manipulate or distort information to or present information selectively to.

So no, there was no longer the naivety that the dc might want you to have = trust. I think I would flip it to choice and choice is earned. Take a job, do what you want. Your house, your rules. My house, my rules. Make rules for your house that fit the needs of your house. Have clear consequences that create structures to get the situation back on track. I think my only reply to pleas would be to go back to the reason the incident was serious (you could have died, whatever). They're missing the point.

Firm benevolence?

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I’ve had plenty of kids staying with us violate my trust, but I can only remember one who earned it back.  Her behavior dramatically changed after we figured out a big piece of abuse in her bio family and stopped it. When she was truly safe she changed. I truly don’t believe it was any sort of a decision to change on her part so much as a huge emotional shift. 

I haven’t had the situation with kids who are permanently ours. Anyway, I don’t think I have any answers but you have my sympathy. 

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11 minutes ago, Katy said:

I’ve had plenty of kids staying with us violate my trust, but I can only remember one who earned it back.

And I think that's the problem. The things that were underlying the behavior/choice(s) don't change because maybe they're personality or impulsivity or things that are inherent. I love that in Katy's case, at least for one, they found something that could improve. Counseling also doesn't change who the person *is*. Sure someone could have a heart change (religion, motivation), but they still have their mix of who they are and what they're dealing with. 

That's why at some point you realize you're dealing with a long game. Position for the long game. This is a person who is beginning to make choices and becoming independent and who soon will be making choices more independently. We focused on things like safety (is it safe, is it a good choice?) rather than who was right/wrong with a perspective. So they made a bad choice and you're helping them to make a better choice vs. it being about your control. Definitely don't make it about control because that's the thing that is going out the window as the car flies down the highway. 

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I don't know if this is the same thing, but

One of my children lied about completing their school work. I was busy at that time, so I wasn't checking regularly. She was middle school aged. 
We had a discussion about lying and trust. So for a LONG time, I checked her work every single day before she was able to go to anything else. I don't remember how long that was before I felt comfortable going back to a more spot checking approach. She hated it. She complained. I didn't care and reminded her we wouldn't be in that situation if she hadn't lied. It wasn't that the work was too hard or there was too much. She just didn't do it. She knew she could come to me and discuss load and/or if she didn't like a book (I've substituted before, I've also slightly changed assignments when there was a well thought out and rational reason.) She just didn't do the work but said she did. 

She is now in her 20s. She's admitted she doesn't really know why she didn't do her work, she was just interested to see how long she could get away with it. So maybe it was some sort of bizarre experiment that she came up with? I don't know, but - in general - being honest is very important to her now. At least with me and I think most others too. And it is important to her that others be honest with her. 

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6 minutes ago, Bambam said:

I didn't care and reminded her we wouldn't be in that situation if she hadn't lied.

I do love this and I love that your response was *instructive*, showing her how to get on track and be consistent and honest going forward.

I think the challenge, when somebody has a really big screw up that stems from who they inherently are, is that there's a bit more baggage there. So if there's say a tendency to depression, then reminders make it worse. There has to be a way for them to feel like it's *over*, they're redeemed (bought back), right with you, that things can be better going forward. And it takes a lot of wisdom to balance all the factors. 

I wish there were some magic potion to make everything turn out right. In our house, those deeper issues (chemistry, things that are inherent, etc.) were complicating everything. And sometimes they screw with how the dc *perceives* the interaction or instruction he/she is being given. Kids don't always take from something what we think they ought to take. It's something to be very cautious about and dig in on. In the long run, it WILL NOT MATTER who was right or whatever, but it will matter how the dc is *interpreting* the instruction. Others mentioned counseling, and that's a place where counseling can help (or be dangerous) is in helping the kid get fresh perspective on the situation and the instruction his good parents are trying to offer. 

I will say though that counseling (and medical in general) seems to be very bent on rogue independence. If you want them to back you up or somehow espouse what you think are your values, hang that up. From about 12 on the kid is a mini-adult, no matter their maturity or developmental level seemingly, and going to be encouraged to think/evaluate for themselves. But realizing this, I think you might as well just embrace it and go forward with that line of thought. What would THEY do if it were their kid? Sometimes kids are surprisingly blunt, lol. You could ask, lol. And if they give you an answer you wouldn't have generally thought of or tried, you could ask them how they think they would respond if you did that. 

If a dc is old enough to screw up big time, they're also old enough for that kind of collaboration. If you go (ie. take the kid) to a counselor, guaranteed they're going to be asking a lot of thinking questions. It won't be some kind of prescriptive/perjorative thing like you'd expect say a pastor to do. And maybe pastors are more up now too, haha. We sometimes treat our kids, in the homeschool community, a bit more young or dependently than the world and ps system will. Just saying. The car of development is going down the highway FAST.

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One thing that I have pointed out with my kids is that as a parent I allowed freedoms that apparently the kid wasn't ready for. So it's not only about trusting, it's also that the child was revealed to not have the maturity to handle that level of trust. 

We don't allow 4 year olds to administer their own medicine because they're so small that it would be foolish to trust them that way. In that case, it's less about trust than about common sense and allowing for maturity levels. 

Op, you trusted that your kids could handle x. They couldn't. Sometimes framing it in this way is not only about earning trust but also practicing the developmental skills to manage certain impulses. 

My ds can't manage electronic time at almost 14. I still help him manage this because he feels terrible and acts terrible when too many screens have been used. And I frame it less as trust, but more as "Until you are better at managing this, I'll help you." It kinda parallels the graduated drivers license system that my state uses.

Of course, this discussion doesn't work for every situation, but I thought I would throw that out there because it's been pretty useful for many situations in my house. 

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I'm sorry you are in this situation. I don't have great advice, but we have similar problems here that are ongoing. When we relax restrictions and try to trust again, this particular teen immediately crosses the boundary again, so it's difficult to know what to do.

I think, OP, that it sounds like there needs to be some restitution in your situation, to help repair the relationship with the grandparents. What is done to repair that relationship and trust may need to be different than what what happens in the parent-child relationship.

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I agree that counseling may help.

I also agree that counseling for teens seems to NOT be helping the teen understand parents' points of view, but seems to be about building up the teen to make good decisions for themselves. We have a counselor right now for one of my teens who says things to my teen that don't help the teen-parent relationship, and I'm struggling with that.

I think family counseling would be different than individual counseling sessions for the teen. I think that finding a counselor who will meet with both parents and teen might be helpful in our circumstance, because sometimes getting on the same page is an end goal that can't be worked on when the counselor is only hearing from one party.

So maybe family counseling?

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I don’t know if my son will ever earn back our trust. But I will say, we did have to do family counseling with him to get him to understand that he caused this. I think it all starts with accountability.

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So many good thoughts, thank you ladies. Many are things I had been thinking and good affirmations. Some different ways of framing things helps me to turn things over in my mind some more. 

4 hours ago, fairfarmhand said:

One thing that I have pointed out with my kids is that as a parent I allowed freedoms that apparently the kid wasn't ready for. So it's not only about trusting, it's also that the child was revealed to not have the maturity to handle that level of trust. 

We don't allow 4 year olds to administer their own medicine because they're so small that it would be foolish to trust them that way. In that case, it's less about trust than about common sense and allowing for maturity levels. 

Op, you trusted that your kids could handle x. They couldn't. Sometimes framing it in this way is not only about earning trust but also practicing the developmental skills to manage certain impulses. 

My ds can't manage electronic time at almost 14. I still help him manage this because he feels terrible and acts terrible when too many screens have been used. And I frame it less as trust, but more as "Until you are better at managing this, I'll help you." It kinda parallels the graduated drivers license system that my state uses.

Of course, this discussion doesn't work for every situation, but I thought I would throw that out there because it's been pretty useful for many situations in my house. 

We have had nearly the exact convo here IRT screen time. It isn't exactly analogous to what has happened but there are parallels. We currently have restrictions in place because bad decision making has shown they are not at this time able to handle certain things. Hoping to avoid bigger and worse consequences.

6 hours ago, PeterPan said:

I'm going to try to be rather discreet here. My older dc did something which involved both a lie and a following event that involved danger, major damage, etc. I don't recall the dc ever asking for trust after that, and I might have taken it, in the moment, as insincere repentance/acknowledgement for the gravity of what they had done. There was a natural consequence, and when the consequence was over then it was done (put aside, not discussed). However I, shall we say, wizened up and did not really take anything at face value after that but realized I needed to question. Apparently I'm someone who is easy to lie to or manipulate or distort information to or present information selectively to.

So no, there was no longer the naivety that the dc might want you to have = trust. I think I would flip it to choice and choice is earned. Take a job, do what you want. Your house, your rules. My house, my rules. Make rules for your house that fit the needs of your house. Have clear consequences that create structures to get the situation back on track. I think my only reply to pleas would be to go back to the reason the incident was serious (you could have died, whatever). They're missing the point.

Firm benevolence?

Yes, to the 2nd paragraph. I'm sure that wasn't considered when choices were made. Even after the consequences these things linger on. I'm just trying at this point to not let it affect me with the other kids. 

 

3 hours ago, Storygirl said:

I'm sorry you are in this situation. I don't have great advice, but we have similar problems here that are ongoing. When we relax restrictions and try to trust again, this particular teen immediately crosses the boundary again, so it's difficult to know what to do.

I think, OP, that it sounds like there needs to be some restitution in your situation, to help repair the relationship with the grandparents. What is done to repair that relationship and trust may need to be different than what what happens in the parent-child relationship.

I did talk to the grandparents but they said they just wanted to move past it and let us handle the consequences. But then my mom asked me how do we move past it? How do we trust them again? I told her IDK it is just one day at a time here. 

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19 minutes ago, Soror said:

I did talk to the grandparents but they said they just wanted to move past it and let us handle the consequences. But then my mom asked me how do we move past it? How do we trust them again? I told her IDK it is just one day at a time here. 

Yeah, head in the sand thing isn't helpful. 

Is there a positive/repairing side to the negative action that was committed? 

In general, the longer I parent, the more I become a fan of work, assigned work. Like instead of screen time limits, just assign more work.

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1 minute ago, PeterPan said:

Yeah, head in the sand thing isn't helpful. 

Is there a positive/repairing side to the negative action that was committed? 

In general, the longer I parent, the more I become a fan of work, assigned work. Like instead of screen time limits, just assign more work.

Also, engagement. Doing things together. Not only fun happy yay stuff like games and puzzles and movies, but let’s clean together let’s do yard work together let’s join as a team to make our home work well. My kids have learned how to repair drywall paint fix electrical outlets etc because I needed them engaged on an screen free activity and I was working on house stuff. And my almost 14 yr old surprises me with all he can do. Not perfectly but I’m right there with him to help it work out okay.

we do a lot of just typical activities together to keep him busy and out of trouble. 
 

idle hands and all…

 

but my kid really needs engagement or he turns to some problematic stuff.

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7 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Yeah, head in the sand thing isn't helpful. 

Is there a positive/repairing side to the negative action that was committed? 

In general, the longer I parent, the more I become a fan of work, assigned work. Like instead of screen time limits, just assign more work.

I suggested some things to make amends(after discussing ideas with kiddo) but when I presented to my parents they were not interested. Mom told me Dad is still very angry. Knowing that I think it best for now that kiddo stays away and give some space. Kiddo is def in the wrong 110% I don't see it as productive to force it.

1 minute ago, fairfarmhand said:

Also, engagement. Doing things together. Not only fun happy yay stuff like games and puzzles and movies, but let’s clean together let’s do yard work together let’s join as a team to make our home work well. My kids have learned how to repair drywall paint fix electrical outlets etc because I needed them engaged on an screen free activity and I was working on house stuff. And my almost 14 yr old surprises me with all he can do. Not perfectly but I’m right there with him to help it work out okay.

we do a lot of just typical activities together to keep him busy and out of trouble. 
 

idle hands and all…

 

but my kid really needs engagement or he turns to some problematic stuff.

Good thoughts. We've def increased family time. Hard to find that balance and to keep it 

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You know that I have been in a situation that resulted in us changing most of our lives in response to a teen's terrible choices and the heavy consequences enforced externally. We started homeschooling to get this kid out of that situation (talk about increased family time!) Or at least to minimize it. 

To be perfectly honest- kid never fully regained my trust. Though it did improve.

I'm sorry to say it but this kid was a give them an inch, they take a mile sort for forever ..  and a "I only learn things by direct experience of the worst consequences" kind (DH would say Kid has to learn all things the hardest possible way). I'd try giving trust and it would be abused. Again and again. Child felt -- and child's friends (not to mention oh so helpful family members) reinforced the idea that expecting the child to demonstrate any responsibility was straight up abusive-- things like wanting to know when 17 year old expected to be home, expecting car maintenance for the car we provided, for 18 year old to let us know when they were spending the night out. Or that they should do their laundry occasionally.... kid fought so hard against perceived control that lying about brushing teeth became common - to the point where they required a number of fillings greater than 10.

Yes, counseling and professional assistance of a variety of sorts were sought. No they didnt accomplish much. 

Wow that wasnt upbeat or terribly helpful.

Just keep trying. I guess. 

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7 minutes ago, theelfqueen said:

You know that I have been in a situation that resulted in us changing most of our lives in response to a teen's terrible choices and the heavy consequences enforced externally. We started homeschooling to get this kid out of that situation (talk about increased family time!) Or at least to minimize it. 

To be perfectly honest- kid never fully regained my trust. Though it did improve.

I'm sorry to say it but this kid was a give them an inch, they take a mile sort for forever ..  and a "I only learn things by direct experience of the worst consequences" kind (DH would say Kid has to learn all things the hardest possible way). I'd try giving trust and it would be abused. Again and again. Child felt -- and child's friends (not to mention oh so helpful family members) reinforced the idea that expecting the child to demonstrate any responsibility was straight up abusive-- things like wanting to know when 17 year old expected to be home, expecting car maintenance for the car we provided, for 18 year old to let us know when they were spending the night out. Or that they should do their laundry occasionally.... kid fought so hard against perceived control that lying about brushing teeth became common - to the point where they required a number of fillings greater than 10.

Yes, counseling and professional assistance of a variety of sorts were sought. No they didnt accomplish much. 

Wow that wasnt upbeat or terribly helpful.

Just keep trying. I guess. 

It is so hard to see kids learn things the hard way. Then to have outsiders to try and question and second guess when they are not living the situation. I'm sorry. Thank you for sharing, we can try our best but not everything is in our control. Our kids become their own people. I think - well I hope that is short lived (already been going on too long) but you don't know in the midst of it all. 

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Just try to remember that some things just arent a matter of nurture. It is not all about parenting. You are a whole person and being a parent is only part of that... Some things are just plain out of a parent's hands. Take a deep breath and walk away occasionally.

You can guide. You can suggest. You can try... but child is an autonomous person and you can't do the work for them, no matter how much you wish you could.

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10 hours ago, Soror said:

 They are upset at times that they don't have that trust. I keep telling them the way to get it back is to earn it in words and deeds. 

At some point, I think you just need to quit discussing it with them. "We've talked about this many times. I don't have anything new to say, so I'm not going to discuss it anymore." 

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2 hours ago, Soror said:

Mom told me Dad is still very angry.

 

2 hours ago, Soror said:

Our kids become their own people.

I'll ask this very politely, but do you think you *shielded* him from natural consequences? If there is *that level* of unresolved conflict, something doesn't seem to be dealt with. 

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We talk a lot about health. 
1. I know your crappy behaviour is a trauma reaction, but I am not your enemy so don't treat me like one.
2. Self sabotage is not in your interest, so don't do it. I don't want to see it, and nobody who does has your interest at heart. Be more Slytherin.

To resolve issues around here, we've taken to working through the stages of the stress arousal and resolution system by layering what *should* have happened. (This only works because the kid wants to be compliant, but since it has become a high stress situation, it's pretty hard for us to be calm about it all, so we aren't.) When she can get out what should have happened in the situation, I have her convert it into first person, present tense. Once we finally get through that, we both feel better, because our subconscious minds can't tell the difference between fact and fiction, so we feel like what should have happened pretty much did. Stress levels drop, emotional recovery wraps up. Then, because she's only 14 and has a trauma fractured brain, we do it again another time. It's messy, but it's working for us.

I don't know whether this technique would work if the person in error really did think I was the enemy. 

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1 hour ago, Pamela H in Texas said:

I am so feeling this thread right now.  I'm almost in tears...again.
Can't someone just have the perfect answer that works perfectly? Please? 
I know. I know.  
I'm just so disappointed and hurt and scared.
(not trying to hijack, just in a situation too)

I'm sorry. I know the feeling it stinks.

18 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

 

I'll ask this very politely, but do you think you *shielded* him from natural consequences? If there is *that level* of unresolved conflict, something doesn't seem to be dealt with. 

I don't know where you got this from. There is nothing more I or dc to do to bring resolution in this situation when parents refused all the suggestions I gave and didn't have any other suggestions. I asked. Perhaps they need some resolution, I don't doubt that, but I can't force it on them if they refuse it. I would have happily complied with any reasonable request for the sake of dc's and their relationship(ie - If they'd said something like they want to beat my kid with a belt or lock them in a closet or any other thing that was abusive I would have said no).They literally said they just wanted to move past it. So, I've not shielded my child from anything.

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3 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

We talk a lot about health. 
1. I know your crappy behaviour is a trauma reaction, but I am not your enemy so don't treat me like one.
2. Self sabotage is not in your interest, so don't do it. I don't want to see it, and nobody who does has your interest at heart. Be more Slytherin.

To resolve issues around here, we've taken to working through the stages of the stress arousal and resolution system by layering what *should* have happened. (This only works because the kid wants to be compliant, but since it has become a high stress situation, it's pretty hard for us to be calm about it all, so we aren't.) When she can get out what should have happened in the situation, I have her convert it into first person, present tense. Once we finally get through that, we both feel better, because our subconscious minds can't tell the difference between fact and fiction, so we feel like what should have happened pretty much did. Stress levels drop, emotional recovery wraps up. Then, because she's only 14 and has a trauma fractured brain, we do it again another time. It's messy, but it's working for us.

I don't know whether this technique would work if the person in error really did think I was the enemy. 

Rosie your perspective is always interesting. 

They do not think I'm actually the enemy. They acknowledge that the consequences are earned, knowing that rationally is not the same as knowing it emotionally when you are stuck with the effect of your actions.This is not a trauma situation or reaction here but the point about self sabotage is still apt.

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12 hours ago, Soror said:

One of my kids screwed up in a big way. In such a way that they have lost trust with dh and I and my parents.

I'm interested in hearing for other parents that went through this with their child and how that process was for them. 

They are upset at times that they don't have that trust. I keep telling them the way to get it back is to earn it in words and deeds.

*I am not looking for input from parents that have not gone through this with their children. 

I have one and we are in the throes of it. The worst of it was 3.5 years ago. Do we hold a grudge? Nope. But here is the deal ... let’s say it’s with stealing money - well, we recognize that’sa temptation for you. Not exactly going to hand you a debit card like we did siblings. 
 

Fact is... you’re right. Regardless of how he/she *feels* they are not *entitled* to trust. Our kid is flat out shady. He/she can’t be trusted in little things yet - go here, do this thing, take personal responsibility... little stuff. Does he/she hate that we still have trust issues? Yes. But the cause is ongoing. And it hasn’t been earned back. I do care that this hurts the child. It doesn’t change that the lack of trust is the result and consequence of not being trustworthy. And we repeat that. 

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ETA- I'm certain it is maddening that I'm being so vague. I'd be annoyed and curious myself. But I just don't want to (1) privacy and (2) I'm feeling rather done talking about shitty things. Many thinks to those that shared commiseration and their own stories. It helps. 

9 minutes ago, BlsdMama said:

I have one and we are in the throes of it. The worst of it was 3.5 years ago. Do we hold a grudge? Nope. But here is the deal ... let’s say it’s with stealing money - well, we recognize that’sa temptation for you. Not exactly going to hand you a debit card like we did siblings. 
 

Fact is... you’re right. Regardless of how he/she *feels* they are not *entitled* to trust. Our kid is flat out shady. He/she can’t be trusted in little things yet - go here, do this thing, take personal responsibility... little stuff. Does he/she hate that we still have trust issues? Yes. But the cause is ongoing. And it hasn’t been earned back. I do care that this hurts the child. It doesn’t change that the lack of trust is the result and consequence of not being trustworthy. And we repeat that. 

Yes, we would love to rewind and go back to having that kid we could trust. It stinks. I truly hope this is but a momentary blip of stupid decisions but time will tell. 

1 hour ago, Pamela H in Texas said:

I am so feeling this thread right now.  I'm almost in tears...again.
Can't someone just have the perfect answer that works perfectly? Please? 
I know. I know.  
I'm just so disappointed and hurt and scared.
(not trying to hijack, just in a situation too)

I know I was talking to mom and dh there are no manuals for these things. Certainly lots of opinions about what we did wrong and how we "fix" this but real life is not that simple. One size fits all doesn't apply to children. 

 

 

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Hugs, sorry you are once again dealing with difficult kids!  I don't have anything to add, but one thing that did catch my attention- you said YOU asked your parents what restitution should be.  Maybe they want to see that coming from your teen?  Words only go so far, and they want to see them take responsibility and actually attempt to change?  Maybe you need to step back from being the middle man?  

Or I may be reading it all wrong, regardless,  I hope it resolves itself soon- Hugs!

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I did “remind” dc when the mistake influenced what would be permitted going forward. So, i.e., “You have to realize, dc, that trust was broken when —- happened and now I cant let you do that activity/with that person unsupervised.” 

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10 hours ago, BusyMom5 said:

Hugs, sorry you are once again dealing with difficult kids!  I don't have anything to add, but one thing that did catch my attention- you said YOU asked your parents what restitution should be.  Maybe they want to see that coming from your teen?  Words only go so far, and they want to see them take responsibility and actually attempt to change?  Maybe you need to step back from being the middle man?  

Or I may be reading it all wrong, regardless,  I hope it resolves itself soon- Hugs!

No.

They don't want to dwell on it. 

The thing is the deal with my parents is out of my realm of control. How they want to approach this (or not as is the case) is their decision. Really anything done would be a token. No thing is going to fix this maybe they see this and think it is not worth it to them. We decided differently for how we dealt with it but if they don't think that would be helpful then whatever. It is up to my dc to mend that relationship. 

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