Troubled teen making bad choices

I need a Catholic perspective on our situation.
Our son is nearly 18. This year has been a disaster for him.He dropped out of school, left home. Says he’s looking for a job, “working on” smoking less pot. He spends all his time with his girlfriend, who’s been kicked out of her home for not following their rules.
He’s not living at home, (stays with friends) but stops by sometimes to visit. He has stolen things in the past, and this week he climbed in a window, stole our DVD player and sold it.

They sneaked into our garage last night and spent the night there, but left before dawn. We’ve told him he’s welcome to live at home if he agrees to follow our rules, but he refuses. He has gone to counselors for years, for anger management and help with school. We have had law enforcement, the courts, support groups, and counselors involved.
Many of us on the forums have gone through similar troubled adolescence and come out of it. If you have, can you tell me what (besides prayer of course) helped you?

An 18 year old is no longer under your control the way a younger teen would be. You can’t put him in a rehab camp the way we did with our son, he was 16 last summer. That was our last resort before sending him to an away school.

If your son breaks into your home and steals things, you need to call the police and file a report. No other choice. He needs to hit his bottom and he may not do that for a while, but if you don’t report theft and trespassing, it won’t come any sooner. Anything he does that is illegal, treat it like you would if it were a stranger.

I am sorry you are going through this. It is very hard for a parent, but you must detach from him, from his behavior, you of course do not stop loving him but you should not enable him in any way.

I am a teacher and I am seeing what I see very often here in my country. Not to despair you, but the situation seems to have got out of control.

My opinion (MO), it is my personal opinion and not any advise on my part but for me it seems that you cannot do much more. I would say that I guess what the cause of all of this was, for it is quite common but being so far away it is useless to approach from this point of view.

What your son needs is a very strong external environment, like the military, so as to get order and discipline. But at this stage, it is up to him to decide and I do not know whether you may convince him.

If he could enter a program of rehab it would be wonderful…

Heavenly Father, in faith, I thank You for taking care of Viki’s son and girlfriend, and guiding them to Your road. Lord, help and protect Vicki and her husband also. Amen.

Have you tried moving without leaving a forwarding address?

God Bless

Help him to hit bottom quicker. My brother has been treating my mother this way for about 35 years now. He has not hit bottom and his physical and mental health have had a lot of time to deteriorate.

If you help him to hit bottom faster, he may re-surface with some of his mental and physical capability in tact. He can then live out the rest of his life as a more productive citizen and child of God.

As much as it is going to break your heart, report him to the police. No mom wants to make that call. But if he never has to face the consequences for his actions, he will never have to grow up. Sometimes when people have showned me their limits is when I realized I needed to change my behaviour.

Always love him, but feel free to tell him you do NOT like his behaviour. Not in the form of a lecture, you will just waste your breath. Show him in the form of actions. 'I would love to have you over to dinner but I do not like you doing drugs. Make sure you are not high because if I smell pot on you when you show up I will send you away.

Then, don’t talk about his drug use at all. Talk about innocent topics like baseball. If he says ‘I go to NA meetings and have been clean for 2 months’ say ‘I am proud of you’. DON"T say ‘Well make sure you keep doing what they tell you’ That is controlling his life and not want he wants to hear


One thing I forgot to mention. You say he has gone to councelling for anger management. Just curious but you don’t mention if he has had ‘traumatic’ experiences from his past he needs to heal from. Take a look at how you raised him and if you did make a mistake, forgive yourself and apologize and make amends to him


Yes, he is adopted, had neglect, possibly abuse. He has attachment issues, ODD, ADD. I am glad that he is able to show concern for his girlfriend, which he certainly does, though in an immature way. He has a good heart under it all, and I believe he will eventually come through this.
thanks for all the helpful comments.

Please read my posts— even very recent ones have some description of the nearly eight year agony we experienced with our son. There was trauma in his past too.

Prayer— but intense storming the gates of heaven prayer. Rosaries, Masses, adoration. Heck he’s been on CAF prayer intentions a few times too. (Those dear ones are powerful prayer warriors.)

But add to that all the agony of NEVER Cooperating with his addictions and related crime. You’re only doing him a favor by reporting him every time. Breaking and entering is a big deal. It wont stop with your house.

Finally though, for sanity sake, we had to change WHY we did things. If we made choices with an eye to " changing" our son or trying to make something “work” with him we were inadvertently participating in his madness.

Our son is 26. He’s in recovery for the first time ever. He hit bottom, sought help, and is in a transitional recovery house.

I wrote it before and I guess i’ll have many opportunities to repeat it— saving him felt like it might nearly kill us.

Now he’s learning the tools to recovery. One day at a time. Every day now I ask God Our Father for just this day the daily bread of sobriety for our son. I think future counselling and even a diagnosis will be necessary but for now a great big God-Is-Here miracle is going on.

Your son will remain in my prayers. And you will too.

In my job I deal with this behavior all the time. I agree 100% with TheRealJuliane.
It’s what I usally tell the parents. Praying for your family.

God bless

jesus g

Heavenly Father, in faith, I thank You for taking care of Viki’s son and girlfriend, and guiding them to Your road. Lord, help and protect Vicki and her husband also. Amen.

I have been thinking on you. Please read the story of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustin, one of the greatest doctors of the Church. She prayed 15 years for her son.

Well, that does complicate things because obviously he was not able to work these things out yet. And considering he is only 18 it is no big surprise. Kids can have the best environment but there is just something in their nature that they can’t ‘work it out’. They still don’t have the maturiy.

Nonetheless, you need to be firm. Perhaps there is some support group with other parents that are going through the same thing. God Bless


You may want to try the following prayer. It is intended for family. I got it from a website I found via this website:

Healing the Family Tree 3

Heavenly Father, I come before you as your child, in great need of your help; I have physical health needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs and interpersonal needs. Many of my problems have been caused by my own failures, neglect and sinfulness, for which I humbly beg your forgiveness, Lord. But I also ask you to forgive the sins of my ancestors whose failures have left their effects on me in the form of unwanted tendencies, behavior patterns, and defects in body, mind and spirit. Heal me, Lord, of all these disorders.

With your help I sincerely forgive everyone, living or dead members of my family tree, who have directly offended me or my loved ones in any way, or those whose sins have resulted in our present sufferings and disorders. In the name of your divine Son Jesus, and in the power of his Holy Spirit, I ask you Father, to deliver me and my entire family tree from the influence of the evil one.

Free all living and dead members of my family tree, including those in adoptive relationships, and those in extended family relationships, from every contaminating form of bondage. By your loving concern for us, heavenly Father, and by the shed blood of your precious Son Jesus, I beg you to extend your blessing to me and all my living and deceased relatives. Heal every negative effect transmitted through all past generations, and prevent such negative effects in future generations of my family tree.

I symbolically place the cross of Jesus over the head of each person in my family tree, and between each generation; I ask you to let the cleansing blood of Jesus purify the bloodlines in my family lineage. Send protective angels to encamp around us and administer your divine healing power to all of us, even in areas of genetic disability. Give special power to our family members’ guardian angels to heal, protect, guide and encourage each of us in all our needs. Let your healing power be released at this very moment, and let it continue as long as your sovereignty permits.
In our family tree, Lord, replace all bondage with a holy bonding of family love. And let there be an ever-deeper bonding with you, Lord, by the Holy Spirit, to your Son Jesus. Let the family of the Holy Trinity pervade our family with its tender, warm, loving presence, so that our family may recognize and manifest that love in all our relationships. All of our unknown needs we include with this petition that we pray in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

The website I got the above prayer from is called The Catholic Warrior, and I found the above prayer under “Warfare Prayer”. This is the website:

The Bible mentions generational curses. Through no fault of people, they may inherit a generational curse, and thus start acting in a manner contrary to the manner in which they were brought up, etc.

Also, you may want to bring in a priest into this situation, and talk to him, and have you, your husband, and your home blessed, and if at all possible have your son and his girlfriend blessed.

God bless you all, and I will continue to pray for all of you.

Heavenly Father, in faith, I thank You for helping and protecting Vicki and her husband. In faith, I thank You for taking care of Viki’s son and girlfriend, and guiding them to Your road. Amen.

Heavenly Father, in faith, I thank You for helping and protecting Vicki and her husband. In faith, I thank You for taking care of Viki’s son and girlfriend, and guiding them to Your road. Amen.

Heavenly Father, in faith, I thank You for taking care of Viki’s son and girlfriend, and guiding them to Your road. Lord, help and protect Vicki and her husband also. Amen.

This may seem like odd advice, but you may want to give a copy of “How to Arrest-Proof Yourself”, by Dale C. Carson and Wes Denham, to his girlfriend. Your son has ADD, so he’s never going to read it. His girlfriend, OTOH, is going to suffer as much as he does if he insists on being stupid instead of free. She might pick up some smarts and hand them on to him, who knows.

The book is written by a defense attorney who used to be a police officer in Miami and after that was an agent for the FBI. His thesis is that the justice system in the US takes people with bad manners, bad attitude, bad time management skills, and limited resources and gets them into an endless cycle that not only ruins their chances for any future employment other than manual labor, but also bankrupts the parents, wives, and girlfriends who inevitably have to pay for their bail bond and legal bills.

The book explains how to stay out of trouble with the police and out of the criminal justice system, and explains why some people get into the revolving door and ruin their lives with stupid petty offenses, combined with the innocent behaviors and mistakes that people who commit stupid petty offenses are prone to. The author is far too much given to characterizing things like hitting one’s girlfriend as a “mistake”, he sometimes uses examples that include exactly the same foul language that police hear on the streets from the people they throw into the back of their patrol cars, but it is nevertheless a very practical book that could make a huge difference in both of those young people’s lives. (Since the author’s willingness to give true examples of strong language could realistically be a selling point that gets the girlfriend or your son’s friends to read it, I think it is morally permissible. The language examples are not profane, but rather profoundly vulgar.)

The book explains why, if your son is not going to end up “growing out of this” during an extended stay in a penitentiary, he’s going to want to know learn how to stay on the right side of the police. If his girlfriend is not going to be sucked down the drain with him, she’d better learn it and teach it to him. Otherwise, by the time he “learns” he is going to have burned every bridge that could have taken him to a responsible job and a secure future.

You can tell her this: “I don’t agree with everything in this book, but I think it could save you both a world of grief. I don’t think he’ll read it, but if he does something stupid, you’re going to pay, too, so maybe this will help you. I know you both want to make your own way, I fear for you, but there is not much to do but to let you do what you’re intent on doing and wish both of you the best in the life you’ve chosen. I only have to say one thing: if my son ever, ever hurts you or makes you afraid of him, leave him. You’re going to have to figure out the rest on your own. Good luck.”

What does the book teach? Things like…if you are foolish enough to use illegal substances, always leave them at home. If you take restricted drugs as medications, always have proof of prescription with you. If you talk to the police, always be polite and give the minimum information necessary. Be aware how very little it takes to be charged with resisting arrest, evading arrest, or assault on a police officer, and avoid those behaviors. Do not let anyone provoke you…and realize that some police officers will try to provoke you. Don’t cruise around in beaten up cars with three other young males. If you’re going to party, always party at home or in the home of a friend, and stay there. If you and your girlfriend start having a fight, leave before one of you loses his or her temper.

And so on. Just the kind of thing you’d think your son’s lawyer wish your son would have known, in order to not have needed a lawyer in the first place. Honestly, it is full of the kind of things that kids should probably be taught before they are ever allowed to roam the world without supervision, but perhaps believable because it does not come directly from a parent, but from a guy who used to make a living throwing people like your son in jail. I wish it were not so, but in an age when merely being arrested can haunt you for life, and in which police are rewarded for their skill at making arrests, I am afraid that it is.

It may not work, but if anyone in your son’s circle keeps a clean record because they paged through that book, it will be worth it.

I agree with turning him in. My nephew is now in jail for 4 months for dealing drugs. His mom constantly bailed him out. She divorced my brother years ago. My nephew lived with her because she left him do as he wanted. Well, he turned 18 & she wasn’t able to bail him out this time. I hope this time in jail makes him think.

I don’t think I would suggest that she hurry her son onto “hitting bottom”. Why? Because I will wager that if she has any hand in getting him into the criminal justice system, he’s going to fault her rather than taking responsibility for it himself, and that on that account he will not learn a thing.

Let us say that he is arrested and convicted for petty theft of his parent’s house. Already, he has an arrest record in the criminal justice system that is never going away…*thanks, Mom! *He’s a newbie, though, so maybe he gets probation. Only he has ADD, so he inevitably violates his probation…but Mom got him into this, so that, too, is Mom’s fault! Then he goes to an adult prison, where being 18 is not going to be his ticket to “rehabilitation”. If he goes to the juvenile justice system, which is not going to be a lot better, because it is not after-school detention. It is where he will be taken to be “taught” behaviors that are presently no more likely in him than in a Neanderthal. And “none of this wouldn’t have happened, if Mom and Dad hadn’t called the cops on me!”

Does he need to hit bottom? Maybe. Maybe he only needs a few years to wise up and grow up, after which he’ll have an easier time the less he has on his police record. I would argue, though, that since he’s essentially reached the age of majority, he’s far more likely to profit from the “bottom” if he gets there without any parental assistance. The thing about the bottom, after all, is that a good many people get there and never go anywhere else. “The bottom” does not have a floor of rubber, but of glue.

Since he is already committing property crime, it may be a moot point. Having said that, I think it would be better to secure the property, put it on an alarm, and very openly refuse to trust their son any further than they can throw a baby grand. Their “kindness” at this point is a book on how to stay out of jail, rather than a call to the police (a call which admittedly would not be wrong, but what he deserves). If he comes for dinner, everything of value should be locked up or accounted for before he leaves. For whatever reason, he has abandoned integrity. If the parents continue their relationship with him, they need to take that into account.

The offer to live at home should not be mentioned again, and should probably be withdrawn entirely. Expecting him to live at home and abide by their rules is not remotely realistic. It is not going to happen. Until he has exhibited some self-responsibility, or at least decided to do a credible prodigal son number in which he spontaneously apologizes, asks to come home and *offers *to live by their rules and to make amends, he can sleep in the bed he’s made for himself, and take the consequences. It is what the Father in the Prodigal Son story did. I think that says something.

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