Strained Relations

Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens

A Man’s Restraining Order Against His Son

Posted by Marcia on March 30, 2010

Please note I am now primarily posting at Strained Relations: Parenting Troubled Teens. You’ll find all of the content you have sought on this blog. Please follow me over there.

Thank you,

Marcia

Today’s email included a note from a parent who had taken out a restraining order against his son. I asked if I could include some of his story as I know others are interested in this topic.

“Jack” read my book as he was looking for information about being estranged from a child. He wanted to know he was not alone.

Jack and his wife had been living in fear of their 17 year old son, “Tom.” This son had been stealing from them, and they couldn’t even estimate the amount missing as it was in the hundreds of dollars. They were also missing jewelry and other expensive items. They had gone to family therapy and tried many different therapists to help Tom.

When they found a stash of pills in his room, they told him he’d have to either stop or leave home. Tom picked up a chair and threw it at them, and they ran to the bedroom, locked the door and called the police. They were terrified of what would happen next. Tom left before the police arrived, but they completed a report and then filed a restraining order, also known as a protective order.

Jack said this happened a few years ago and they have not seen their son since that night. They constantly worry about him; this is their only child and it’s been hard on them. Family and friends ask about their son and Jack and his wife say Tom is working and studying. It’s easier to lie than describe the nightmare they are living.

When I interviewed professionals for my book, I spoke with a lawyer about restraining orders. Here is a quote from Jerome Wisselman, J. D.: “There are some situations where people have brought proceedings to get orders of protection against their children, so that if the kids continue to act in the way they were acting, parents could actually have them arrested, if necessary. Often the parents want to restrict the child from being in the residence under the influence of alcohol, or drugs, or other situations. I have seen situations where the children assaulted the parents and a restraining order would address the assault issue. Sometimes the kids stay at home while they’re under the order, and sometimes the kids don’t want to stay in the house. They just go and stay with friends or relatives.”

If you are living in an abusive situation, you may need to file a restraining order. You can research help in your own state/country, often by contacting domestic violence agencies.

We did not experience this, but I can understand how things could escalate. I think it’s more important to protect your life than worry about embarrassment. I’m sure there are many other parents who have been in a similar position.

Do you have an experience to share?

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21 Responses to “A Man’s Restraining Order Against His Son”

  1. Jennifer said

    This is the ultimate cruel rejection of a child. Taking out a restraining order against their own son? What do these parents expect??? Of course he won’t contact them again.
    I am utterly disgusted at a court that could grant these evil parents such an order.
    A child needs understanding, not court orders to crystalise pain and rejection.
    There is no apology great enough. How could a child forgive his parents taking out a restraining order against him?
    Disgusting, evil action. Very serious emotional abuse of a child, not just by the parents, but by whatever court granted this order.

    • Marcia said

      I understand how upset you are over this post. I’m reporting something that happened in one family, and this unfortunately has happened in other families, too. You should go back and read the post and what led up to that restraining order. Go talk with professionals who deal with severe issues like this and you’ll hear similar stories.

    • Chris said

      Unless you have walked in the shoes of a parent who has tried everything to tried to raise their children to be good, caring, productive members of society, only to have them return the love and encouragement with anger,physical and verbal abuse, please don’t judge. Have you ever had your child tell you that they will kill you in your sleep? Have you ever had them break your windshield when you told them that you could not purchase a car for them or have them steal from you, lie to you, and break your heart? It is not an evil act. It is an act desperation.

      • Marcia said

        I’m sorry to read this note, Chris. You’re right: no one can imagine this nightmare and it must be very hard to believe when you’re in it, when you are terrified of your child. I hope you all get the help and support you need and keep your home safe.

  2. Margaret said

    I have an emergency protective order against my son as a result of him coming to my home and generally causing mayhem and refusing to leave, after breaking a telephone, putting a hole in a wall and waving a screwdriver in my face. A parent is under no requirement to take abuse from a child and be in fear for their own safety. I am a 57 yr-old woman and I am 5′ 3 3/4 inches tall. My son is 20 and over 6 feet tall. I can’t phyically protect myself from him. I wish things weren’t so but I have to protect myself and my belongings as well. When you ask a person to leave your home and they plant themselves on a chair and refuse and then say if I continue to anger them they will have to break stuff, well, they have broken the bond of trust and respect for a parent. In other words, they have forfeited their right to unconditional acceptance. I love my son and I always will, but it does me no good to tolerate his abuse and live in fear of him. He has always had a probem accepting rules and boundaries but enough was enough. He has found out the world doesn’t always revolve around him and he can’t always have his way. I had threatened to call the police on earlier occasions but this time he crossed a line and I called for assistence and he is now struggling with the reality that he can’t always have things his way and there are, indeed, limits to his behavior. It’s sad it went this far but in the last 6 months his behavior had just deteriorated. I paid good money to send him to a psychiatrist but he quit going after 2 or 3 sessions. Now he blames me because he has a felony assault charge against him. And it angers him that he can’t just come and go from my home as he pleases. But I needed help and relief from his constant demands, browbeating, and disrespect. I did what I had to do.

    • Marcia said

      Hello, Margaret.

      Thank you for writing. It sounds like a terrible situation and a dangerous one, too. You did what you had to do to protect yourself. Anyone who damages property is a person out of control, and when that person waves a screwdriver in your face, you have to assume he could harm you, too.

      I’m so sorry to read that you’ve gone through this, and I hope that your response will help others. One of the hard parts of being the parent of someone like that is feeling like you’re the only one. There are many people dealing with difficult teens and older children, and when everything else fails, that’s when you have to take other action.

      I hope you are finding some help for yourself. If you are, kindly share what works for you and how you found the resource. I’m sure other parents would appreciate your insights.

      Take care,

      Marcia

  3. susan said

    I have a son that has been ongoingly destructive and menacing- breaking locks and door jams, throwing a computer at me that went through the glass french doors, he has threatened his father, mother and sisters with physical violence, broken cars demanded money, refuses to work consistently, his father has given him ongoing support and he is ungrateful and disrespectful all the while we love him he is our son and after he attacked his sister and stabbed her with the arm of his glasses which she says he broke to do this.A restraining order was put on him until he goes to court but the restraining order is on both his parents and his sister.This leaves us unable to speak to him to give him parenting or make sure that he has food etc.He is a film maker and works only sporadically.He sleeps poorly.His choices of late have been less than great and his temper is often erratic we are worried about his mental heath we do not want to reject him but we want our daughters to be safe and our property protected from his acting out.I wish there was a way to get psychiatric help and not have to deal with the criminal courts but his behavior has at times bordered on criminal and his behavior could result in serious injury,He takes little responsibility for his behavior and has basically said to me that all he wants is my financial support that he would never see me again if he had money.However he is my only son and I am concerned for him.I want my decent son back.We paid for rent in an apartment for him as I really do not want him on the street.I leave food for him but have not contact because of the restraining order.Honestly I thought a restraining order would get him the help he needs, but I wish there was some way of intermediate contact to make sure that the individual being restrained is safe as well in a situation like this.We tried to deal with it through the courts but all this takes alot of time so think about this when a restraining order is put on a child.It would have been better if we could have met in a controlled environment.When this all went down the psychologist that we had been working with basically said she could no longer work with us.It has left us in a rather hopeless situation for the moment

    • Marcia said

      Susan,

      I’m so sorry to read this. Your heart must be breaking. When your son is a man, old enough to work and live on his own, you don’t have any control over what he decides to do.

      I wonder if there is drug or alcohol abuse or if this is a mental illness.

      He is holding you hostage: financial support in exchange for the “joy” of seeing him, but he is dangerous to you and your family.

      Given the situation, I would choose to not see him. One of the problems is that when you have an adult son, you cannot force that person to go to a psychologist and you can not make his decisions for him.

      You can choose family therapy or some other support system and adapt to life as it is without him, hope for better times in the future. Believe me when I tell you I know first-hand it is horrible not to see your own son and if this a result of poor choices, he’s the only one who can lift himself out of it.

      Take care,

      Marcia

  4. Cynthia Christensen said

    I am aching, as I just filed a restraining order against my 17 year old son today! I slapped him, for the second time, in his life, when he was in my face, telling me he was going to continue bothering me, because I wanted my computer back after his playing 4 1/2 hours on it! I immediately apologized, and yet he started to pummel me, pushing my head into a couch, hiting my arm (Ihave a 3×3 inch bruise), and throwing me into a wooden cabinet..I am in grief and shock…his brothers are now more furious at me than ever! This feels like a tsunami of anger, when I have loved my three sons, all their lives!

    • Marcia said

      I’m so sorry to read your comment, Cynthia. I can’t imagine how much pain you’re in, and it sounds like your boys are going through a terrible time.

      Is this 17 year old the oldest, youngest,…? Are they all like this or is he the only one?

      You didn’t mention their dad – is he at home or no?

      Do you have access to a counselor who can help you and your family? Do you have family or friends nearby who are helpful?

      Things are certainly scary and horrible when there is physical violence involved: you hitting him, him hitting and pushing you. Then you mentioned this “tsunami of anger” that is present while you’re also loving all of your sons.

      You’re in a place where you know you need help, your sons need help, and I truly hope you all get the help and support you need.

  5. kathy said

    I am a 47 year old mother, who has a 17 year old son, he is destroying my property, he has damaged walls, cars, doors broke in to house I’m fixing a home I own, he broke 15 windows out of it. The local police say that as long as my son lived there at one time he has the right to be in the home, and his destroying the property is a simple mister menor and it’s my problem. He has been in therapy for years and in and out of trouble. I want a restraining order, is it possible? Help!

    • Marcia said

      I’m very sorry to read this and reaching out for help is the right thing to do. I don’t know where you live, but you can look at the link on eHow for more information. http://www.ehow.com/how_8644_file-restraining-order.html

      If he has or may physically hurt you, you can file for a protective order. Tell the police what you need and if they don’t help you, locate other resources. You can ask the District Attorney’s office, the therapist, the school’s resource person – there are many people in your life who may be able to help.

      Once you have filed your paperwork, there’s still the issue of your relationship and whatever will come of filing the order. I have a resource page you should review for additional ideas. http://strainedrelations.wordpress.com/resources

      Good luck and let us know what happens.

  6. Chris said

    My son is nineteen years old. I do not live with him. He lives with his father. Since he was 12 years old, he has been in a local gang. He steals, gets arrested, pimps out his room to boys to have sex with hookers, takes and sells drugs, he threatens me and his father and has no empathy at all. I keep my distance and his father takes most of the abuse. He steals from him, menaces him, beats him up and I don’t know how to stop this from happening. The other day, my ex called the police to have him arrested and they let him out the next day, even before the restraining order was sent out. My ex has let him back. I told my son that i want no part of him and he threatens to burn my house down and threats that he won’t specify which is scary. I have a restraining order against him and don’t know what good it is. He will get arrested and it will make him more angry and threatening. I am living in a nightmare.

  7. Cheryl Smith said

    Why do other people attempt to make these parents feel bad because they are protecting themselves? If a neighbor, friend or anyone else abused these parents and they obtained a restraining order no one would question it. Why then should an adult child be allowed to behave this way? The adult child, the operative word here being adult, is wrong and the parent has every right to stop the abuse. Even if the adult child doesn’t do physical harm to the parent the ongoing angst and worry in the parent’s life is torture. As the mother of an abusive son who is considering filing for a restraining order I would like for someone, anyone, to say, “yes, you are doing the right thing” and not have anyone ask me, “don’t you feel guilty about this?” Why should I feel guilty? I am not the one making threats or attempting to coerce someone else in to doing things against their will.

    • Marcia said

      Thank you so much for your comment, Cheryl. When you have a “normal” family, it’s hard to understand how out-of-control and scary these situations can be. I talk with a lot of people and write about these things, and it still shocks me!

  8. Ben Long said

    I am a father of a 15 year old son who for the past 10 years has been living in Australia with his mother (not by choice) she pulled him out of the states at 5 and ultimately won her fight to keep him in Australia regardless of my constant efforts to have him returned to the states. When my son was turning 13 years old, my ex “of course” says to me, “you can have him, he wants to live with you”. I was reluctant to take my son at this time since my ex has raised a VERY incorrible child who steals, lies, breaks things, is a bully among his peers, is physical not only with his mother, sister but other adults. Is using drugs and selling drugs, has been expelled from 5 different schools over a duration time, etc. My son moved in with me in 2011 from June until October. My wife and I tried to really motivate my son to changing his ways and to motivate himself to create a better future for him. It seemed as though we were slowly getting through to him. He still lied and stole from us but we continued to try. Then one evening my wife and I had a 3 day trip planned for our anniversary and her mother came to sit for my son. He acted out to the point where he challenged me physically and I had to restrain him from hitting me. Long story short, he runs to a friends house, claims that I hit him. I had to call authorities to retrieve my son from the “protecting” parents home. It was a nightmare, he cursed the police and infuriated them, very embarassing. Then to top everything off, Merrick had called his mother claiming abuse and she without consulting me or talking to me about the circumstances removed him from my house and snuck him back to Australia. I warned her that my son was self destructing and she took him at such a make or break stage where I felt if I had been able to control the situation, it may have made my son accountable for his behavior for once. I told her that he was only get worse since now he has the upper hand and can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. My ex moved at this point and I had no idea where my son was for 8 months until he finally called me. Seems my ex got a divorce primariliy over my son’s behavior. I’ve barely been able to talk with my son and when I do talk with him, he is completely out of control and it’s scary frankly. His mother writes me the other day saying that she is sending my son to me whether I like it or not. She is the full custodian and because of her choices I had no say in my son’s upbringing for over 10 years. She is deserting her son to enjoy the beautiful Australia lifestyle. She has reason to stay there now since the divorce and she would rather desert her son to have her lavish single lifestyle. I’ve told her that if she really cared about helping our son, that she would return with my son to the states so that we may both begin to help my son. He is going to feel deserted by her and act out ten times fold in my house. I don’t know what to do and I am terrified of my son frankly. He is a teenager who is very set in doing what he wants without a care for the consequences or how it affects anyone. Can you offer me any advice? I don’t know where to turn or what rights I may have.

    • Marcia said

      Hello.

      You made a comment on one of my blogs and I didn’t see it. I rarely use WordPress now, just update occasionally to redirect people to my other blog at http://helpingparentsofteens.blogspot.com/.

      Your situation is terrible and way beyond my expertise. I am relaying peoples’ stories and what they have had to do to protect themselves or get help for their kids. There are books, there is help, but you really have to look for it.

      When I talked with some people about my situation, I learned about many other people who had things much worse. Knowing you’re not the only one is a big first step.

      I wish you well on this difficult journey.

      Thank you,

      Marcia

      Marcia Stein, PHR – http://www.linkedin.com/in/marciastein
      Author: “Strained Relations: Help for Struggling Parents of Troubled Teens”
      Blog: http://helpingparentsofteens.blogspot.com

  9. Jackie said

    Thank you I read your letter about your son I had to the same thing and put a pfa order be cause he hit me and not heard from him either my husband said it was the right thing to do but I haven’t stop thinking I did the wrong thing but I don’t any more fighting and I miss him is this normal

  10. Trisch said

    No parent should EVER do that. Period. Kick him/her out…etc….but YOU brought this person into this world……where did YOU go wrong that they have this anger and abuse in them? My mother did the same thing to me – I never laid a finger on her. She has two other daughters that she rejected as well. NO!!! Absolutely ridiculous!

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