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14 year old acting our after his father's death - should we move or stay in our home?

CherylMike
Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

Hello~
My husband passed away on 10-31-09. I have a 14, 22 and 24 year old. In the past few weeks the 14 year old's grades have dropped (not much but enough to raise a flag - normally he carries a 4.0 or higher GPA). He has made a new group of friends which has led to a 5 day suspension for starting a fight club. My main area of concern is high school. In the district that we live in the high school is 3000 kids. There is a new high school, out of bounds which caps at 1200. My son's school principle and counselor both feel he will be better at the small school. He agreed and this evening said no. He was orginally going to a private school (via a scholorship and help from grandma and grandpa) but the school would require us to move across town. Has anyone had experience in dealing with teenagers going through the grieving process of lossing their dad? Did you stay in your home or did you move? What did your child want and what was the outcome. I am finding that I need to step up and make a decision. I do not know if we should stay in our home - my son was basically raised here or if moving would be better? (not sure that we are financially able to stay in our home). Any help would be so greatly appreciated. Thank you~Cheryl

Barbara53's picture
Barbara53
Posts: 659
Joined: Aug 2009

Cheryl, I am so sorry you are having to go through this. My daughter is now a semester away from finishing college, but when she was 14 it was a nightmare. Her father and I divorced when she was 13, so of course I thought it was all my fault. There is nothing worse that feeling like you're a failure as a mother.

As a veteran of many interventions, therapies, etc for troubled teens, I suggest keeping a strong hand on the poor boy. If you agree with the principal and counselor, make the decision for your son to move to the smaller school, because you are the parent. I would also check back with your hospice people and see if they can give you a lead on therapists for your son (grief therapy is a specialized field). The last few years have included lots of forgiving between my daughter and I, and she has expressed appreciation for several of the counselors she saw during her troubled times.

I don't claim to understand the fight club syndrome among boys or cutting among girls, but I've been told that experiencing physical pain helps offset the psychological pain. Fourteen is so hard, and losing one's father makes it even harder!

Make financial decisions that are best for you. I'm sure that is what all of your children want you to do.

augigi
Posts: 89
Joined: Dec 2009

I am sorry you have to deal with this after your sad loss. I don't have kids so can't be much help, but just wondered if your son has had grief counseling? Might help to have someone to talk to outside the situation and they might be able to advise you on the best course of action too?

SamsWife
Posts: 51
Joined: Sep 2007

Hi Cheryl~

I'm so sorry for you and your son! I guess my only thought is the same as everyone else's - therapy and you making the decisions - I know this is all easier said than done. I have three daughters and one son - two of my daughters have self-mutilated - one cutting and one skin picking - the skin skin picking is, by far, the harder of the two to deal with. My daugher who was cutting has been in therapy for three years (she is currently a junior in college so the whole time she's been in college she's been in group counseling and has one on one therapy). It has helped her tremendously but she was really open to and loves therapy. My other daughter who skin picks absolutely refuses to go and so, so resistant to it - I haven't made her go yet but my therapist said, at some point, I'm just going to have to make her go - I dread the day! She will be sixteen this month and is so headstrong! I don't know how your son feels about it so good luck with that! It sounds like, from reading your past posts, that this is such a change for him and I'm so sorry - I'm not a therapist but it sure does sound like his father's passing has really affected him. Have you talked with your other children about him? I know my older two can sometimes do things with my younger two that I'm not able to - not that I put them in the parental role but I have found that sometimes sibling "authority" let's say for lack of a better word - has helped me.

My husband passed away March 1, 2010 but we're in a bit of a different situation. He was never a good husband/father but we all stayed true to him thinking that, if nothing else, towards the end of his life that maybe he had turned to us a bit. However, since his passing, we've found out who he really was after going through his office and all of his financial info. Wow!!! What a lousy guy - we were all so betrayed by him. He had had multiple affairs - which I knew but was willing to set aside for all of us so we could do the best with his disease. To make a long story short - I was willing to hide all that I knew and put family first. However, because of all that I found out I'm no longer willing to do that - he used us all (friends included) and never really valued us. He was having an intense affair the last six months of his life - he wouldn't get off the couch to do anything for his kids but he could carry on this affair. All the times he said he was going to work he was actually in a hotel with this woman. He bought her a very expensive diamond necklace in November (which I am in the process of getting back to sell and put the money towards the bill! - I have discusting letters from her to my husband that I'm sure her husband would not want to see! - that's how I'm getting the necklace back!) and he wouldn't even get something for his kids knowing that he was dying and that would be his last Christmas with them - I told him I would help him find something on-line if he couldn't shop for them and he still wouldn't do it! He did, however, manage to take out money against our equity line of credit and go shopping for this woman! Anyway, that story goes on and on and so that's what we are dealing with now - that's what he left us with - cleaning up more of his garbage - what a guy!

Anyway, I don't know what all I'll be dealing with with my kids in the future because of all of this - we'll see - I'm sure there will be some fall out! Good luck to you - hang in there - it sounds like he has a wonderful mother and I do believe that, in time, kids will always come back to the good things in life even if they stray for a while.

Lots of love,
Tina

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2053
Joined: Oct 2009

What is skin picking? I have never heard of that. Don't have teenageres anymore so maybe that is why, now huffing, cutting, I heard of but not skin picking?

Congrats on getting the necklace back. Does this woman's husband have any idea what was going on?

Take care - Tina

SamsWife
Posts: 51
Joined: Sep 2007

Hi Tina-

My daughter will feel her arms until she finds a bump of some sort and she'll start picking it until she makes a sore. Then she will just keep picking at it over and over and over so it never heals. She's done this all up and down her arms - it looks terrible. She used to do it on her face but was able to stop there. She's started doing it to her legs a bit. We've started swrapping her arms in ace bandages at night and that has helped some. The therapist I was seeing said that's a hard habit to break. I took my daughter to our pediatrician and he wasn't really worried about it. He asked my daughter if it bothered her and she said no so he said not to worry about it - but I still do. These sores leave scars and her arms look really bad. I have an adult friend who used to pick at her skin and her arms look ok now - you can see the scars if you look closely.

As far as this woman - she said she told her husband about the affair but I really don't know. My friends want me to show the letters to him but I really don't want to get involved in their problems - I feel eventually she'll sink herself anyway. I have so much that I'm dealing with right now that I really can't handle getting involved with them! If I don't get the necklace, however, her husband and I will be having a little show and tell session!

Cheryl - I apologize for sort of taking over this discussion with my problems!

Tina

geotina's picture
geotina
Posts: 2053
Joined: Oct 2009

Teenagers, if only we knew when we had kids what the teen years would be like. Financially, well you have to do what is best for all involved and if that is moving then that is what needs to be done.

My hubby's niece died at age 42 of brain cancer, had a 12 and 8 year old at the time of her death. Our nephew did move, didn't have to because the house was paid for, but just needed to start over after Kathy's death. Kathy's request was to remain at home which he honored, took care of her 24/7, did everything for her including diapers, feeding, etc. but, now says perhaps that was not the most wise decision, to have the girls watch their mom die. The last few months Kathy didn't know anyone, was immobile and had experienced a severe stroke. Moving though was one of the best decisions. Everyone got a fresh start, the house had become to them the place their mom died and that is what they remember. They would not even walk in the bedroom for a very long time. Once they moved, the girls were in a much better place, school work improved dramatically, they became involved in good activities, like a cloud lifted. Hope this makes sense. He moved about 9 months to a year after Kathy's death. I might add that peer group grief counseling made a big impact and helped the girls move forward, talking to others who lost a parent, etc.

Best of luck to you.

Tina

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1612
Joined: Aug 2009

Under the best circumstances the teen years are tough. I agree that grief counseling is a must. Your son needs to find positive ways to deal with his grief and anger. I would also agree that your son needs to go to a smaller high school. I taught for a few years in a large high school. It is very hard for many students. The crowds and crowding makes it difficult for many students and teachers. I was not happy there either. It is your decision to make. If that is the way you decide to go, expain your reasoning to your son as calmly as you can. Then follow through with the registration, etc. As far as moving, as others have said you need to do what is right for the entire family. Have you tried family meetings? Listen to what everyone has to say, but be sure they know that you are the family decision maker and you will try to do what is best for everyone.

I am really sorry that you are having to deal with all this. I know I am blessed to have grown sons and not teenaged ones. I am having enough trouble making decisions for myself let alone for others. We are still dealing with our own grief. Let all of the kids know, though, that you are still in charge. It might even help to let them know that you are still struggling, too, and you might make some mistakes along the way. We all do. Teens, in particular, seem to respond to an adult admitting that they make mistakes. None of these thoughts are words of wisdom. You are the only one there and in your place and time. Just do the best you can at this time. You know your children and circumstances better than anyone else. If some decisions turn out to be wrong, admit it and move on. I know that isn't easy. You have big responsibilities and no one to share tham. I used to tell my students that single parents are my heroes. They still are and you have one of the hardest jobs there is. Take care, Fay

CherylMike
Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

Thanks for taking the time to answer my post. I have had my son in counseling for the past 2.5 years. He goes on and off, depending on where he is at emotionally. We went to the counselor last night and he is scheduled to go weekly for the next 2 months. I am hoping that this will make him seem more secure. His counselor said that they discussed moving and agreed on the smaller school. I am going to pursue this avenue as his principle and school counselor thought the smaller school environment would be the correct choice. The two older kids are the ones that really want me to stay in our home. My husband passed at home in the living room. (Hospice had set a bed up front for us). The older kids feel that the house reminds them so much of their father. I agree, but am not sure that staying here is financially possible. My 14 year old really does not care if we move (so he says, but sometimes he changes from day to day). It has been close to 6 months since Mike passed. I do not know if I am making these decisions too soon, but the school situation, along with the economic situation, are forcing my hand. I am having a hard time making a decision by myself. Mike and I always discussed these kinds of things and then reached a decision. I is very hard for me to do this by myself. I am so afraid that I will do the wrong thing. I need to take your advice grandma Fay and do the best I can - at least it will come from the heart. Thank you again for sharing your stories and offering your advice. It is so nice to talk to those who have walked in similar shoes. ~cheryl

grandmafay's picture
grandmafay
Posts: 1612
Joined: Aug 2009

Cheryl, You are doing fine. I think the sharing and making decisions together are the things I miss the most. I passed the 6 month mark on Tuesday. It really doesn't seem like it has been that long. Take care, Fay

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