Monday, January 26, 2015

Call Dr. Spock

Why in hell would you call the police because your 13-year-old son won't get out of bed for school?

First of all, I'm not coming to your house. I'll call you on the phone, because I have to. I'll politely inform you that you don't have a police problem, you have a parenting problem. I'll then explain how the law allows you to do pretty much whatever you need to do, short of abuse, to control your kids.

Secretly, I'm thinking that you're a weak-kneed jackass - someone who's let her kid become a lazy, smart-mouthed, disrespectful punk, and who's now afraid to put her foot down. Let me suggest that you immediately cut off all amenities to this kid other than food, clothing, and shelter. I guarantee that, without an allowance, a car, a cell phone, an mp3 player, or a computer, little Jimmy will be jogging to school with a smile on his face in about a week.


lbparker said...

These days ANY form of discipline, including your suggestions, is called "child abuse" by idiots who don't have children of their own but think they know how to raise children better than real parents.

On the other hand, yes, that mother needs to grow a spine.

Anonymous said...

At 5ft,105lbs, my sons will tell you how they were much more afraid of me than their father when they were growing up! Hell,so were some of the cops I worked with if I caught them without their vests on.

Samantha Cernock said...

My husband had a similar call while he was an officer. He was there in person, and he said the same thing to the mom that you said; you have a printing problem, not a police problem.

Anonymous said...

I totally understand this. Some parents are too scared to hurt their special snowflake's fragile ego than do the hard parenting work.

But I'd like to share a story of when I recently called the police.

For the last 12 years, I have been able to provide my son with enough routine, consequences enforced with consistency, supervision, and love that, along with special education and community mental health services I have been able to keep us fairly successfully productive members of society.

But he's had a lot to overcome. Adopted at four, he had prenatal drug and alcohol exposure and lots of early trauma and neglect, and has a mental illness and attachment disorder. He's also now 16, and bigger than me. Rage, a need to exact revenge when he's feeling wronged, and a true indifference in what I think or feel has impacted his ability to learn from mistakes and consequences.

A series of refusals to comply with rules, along with an escalation in quick temper led me to call the police one afternoon. I told him if he left the house without permission, I'd call; he left, so I called. I told the officer on the phone that right at that moment he was just pushing my buttons, but I'd been in this situation before, and things tended to escalate from there, and I could use some help keeping things from becoming a crisis.

The officer on the phone sighed, and told me it wasn't their job to get kids to behave.

I tried again. I said that I understood, but that I was afraid that things would get worse and I didn't want the situation to get there.

The officer reiterated his position, and told me that he could come, but if there was pushing involved as I had said, he would arrest us both - now, did I still want him to come?

I said no. My son came back in, knowing full well I had called, and when nothing happened, was just more sure he could get away with failing to comply to anything. I was feeling too unsupported to continue to push my point that night.

A week later, when I stood my ground (as I usually did), and he was screaming and breaking walls and glass and I was behind my locked bedroom door and he was trying to break the lock and kick the door down, I did call. This time I said I thought there was a significant danger he'd hurt himself or me. The police came right away and had him taken to the hospital.

We repeated this twice more over the next three months, and both times he spent a week to ten days in the hospital, and came home with more/different drugs but the same behaviors. He was sent home each time despite my telling everyone involved in his care that I thought it was dangerous for him to come home - but that's a different story. Each time the police had to come to my house, they were very helpful and professional.

My son is now in a residential treatment facility, from which he will likely not come back home.

I know I approached it wrong when I said there was no crisis. But I didn't want to lie - when I called that first time, it wasn't a crisis - yet. The problem is, that refusal made me more hesitant to call the next time(s) when it really was a crisis.

I don't know really what my main point is. Maybe that "my son won't get out of bed" was only a very small part of the story. Maybe I'm just sharing because it continues to weigh on me. I felt really alone with an out-of-control child, in a dangerous situation, and I don't think that's how it's supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

"I felt really alone with an out-of-control child, in a dangerous situation, and I don't think that's how it's supposed to be."

That is very true. But the problem is, the police can't help you with that.

I am a pediatrician, and where I live, the police do go out when a parent calls saying their child won't obey and the situation is escalating. Most of the time they tell the parent they need to discipline their kid better (which, in my experience, is generally read as "the cop told me to beat him"), or take the kid to the ER.

In the ER, they basically assess the kid for suicidal/homicidal ideation and decide whether to admit him or not. Most of the time, everybody has calmed down by this time, and they go home with "outpatient followup". If I'm lucky, they have a counselor/psych already and they do just that. If I'm not lucky, then I have to figure out a way to get them in somewhere (which takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months), and decide if they're truly sick enough to need meds, or even benefit from them, before they can get in with psych.

I guess my point is, the only way I see the police being helpful in this situation is as a ride to the ER. So it's not completely inappropriate, but a child who won't go to school probably wouldn't get admitted (even if it was a "tip of the iceberg" situation)- and might even enjoy the disruption and drama, depending on his underlying problems. If the kid's just a punk, watching the cop tell his mom how to parent would probably worsen things at home. And if he's seriously mentally ill, school refusal would get him referred to outpatient, but that's about it.

Police issue aside, I feel alone in this at times too. I'm honestly jealous that you've managed to find your son a long-term placement. I have kids that bounce in and out of inpatient, in and out of the ER, more meds/same problems, and I honestly feel that nobody will decide they can't be in "society" until they kill somebody. Trust me, if there was a magic pill, I'd have given it by now :)