Turn in your son or pay now or pay later:

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Doctor have very different takes on this week’s difficult question. As there is never such a thing as THE ANSWER I ask our readers for their experiences to help guide our questioner as to what options her friend may have and the consequences of those options. I have included both our continued conversation and in the comments our questioners continued conversation.

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I have a friend, whose son turned 18 last November.  She took his phone and read his text.  Apparently, he’s been doing drugs and trafficking them too.  What is your advice and how to help her son who is smoking pot every day and missing school?

Concerned Friend

Dear Concerned,

Essentially he needs to get caught, go to court, and get put on probation…. even risk jail. I would turn him in. His mom needs to take the cell phone to the police.

Enabling him won’t help him. And yes he might go to jail but he might get killed selling drugs too. The statistics for drug dealers is grim. See the book FREAKENOMICS.  So doing nothing out of love has the higher risk of poor long term outcome.

More than likely your friend has been enabling him for a long time. It’s easier to prevent these behaviors initially or deal with them early on than it is to stop them by the time he is an adult.

DR. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: this has got to be the most idiotic, short sighted advice I have ever heard come out of Dr. Brilliant’s mouth. What he is suggesting is tantamount to letting a kid blow his hand up in order to teach him that playing with fireworks are bad. Some mistakes are permanent and a drug arrest is one of them.

First of all- if that kid ever had any aspirations to be a lawyer, he can forget about it. He can graduate from law school, but he will probably never be allowed to take the bar exams. I know of a man who’s bar license was delayed for five years simply because he accidentally put a slug in a tollgate in the subway and it was caught on camera.

He will also likely be denied admittance to many universities, so he will be unable to pursue a professional life, even if he wakes up and realizes he wants to.

Secondly- if that kid ever wants to leave the country he can forget about it. If you have a criminal arrest on your record, you will NOT be issued a passport and if you had one before the arrest, it will be revoked if you ever try to pass a border.

Third, once he is in the system, he is going to be exposed to hard core low life scum of the sort that is every parent’s worst nightmare. He will learn lessons that would curl any parent’s teeth. He could face brutality and sexual abuse. His bitterness at being thrown to the wolves by his own parents could send him off on a path that he will never return from.

What Granny would suggest is an intervention and some tough love. Kids fall asleep in regard to the consequences of their actions, but the way to slap them awake is not to call the cops and send the message: we as parents are helpless to deal with this, we’re turning you over to total strangers because you are beyond all redemption.

I believe that if you sat any kid down, explained the consequences of pursuing the life of a drug dealer (including all the drawbacks I’ve mentioned above) and gave them a choice- it’s time to let mom and dad help you by putting you in rehab and getting you back on track with your life- or we can give up on you and let the authorities take over… well, I don’t think many kids would go for door number 2. And rehab is a much more productive environment than jail. The kid is 18. He will be tried as an adult. It would nice if his parents acted like adults.

Slapping the cuffs on the kids without even attempting to step in and BE THE PARENT is not only stupid, it’s permanent. And I feel I am correct in saying that it would be a mistake that not only the kid, but the parents, would regret for the rest of their lives.

Dr. B.C. adds:

I see parents enabling their antisocial kids daily, sitting down and talking to them is as effective as farting on them.

Yes it would be better if he was a minor and getting the courts involved as a minor does work and is the best thing to do when the parent has no control whatsoever.  As an adult there is little you can do at all. But allowing him to sell drugs out of your house is unacceptable.

Granny says:

I didn’t say let him continue selling drugs out of the house or just sit down and talk to him. I said to give him an ultimatum: go to rehab or go to jail. It’s a little different than a wimpy parent’s “tsk tsk, come on please listen to me now…”

I’m guessing that you’ve probably not had as many friends as I who have had run ins with the law due to pot.

My first husband’s best friend couldn’t attend his funeral because he’d had a pot misdemeanor as a teen and could never get into the USA from Canada again…

My own son was kept from taking the bar and then from having the passing results admitted for SIX years simply because he was arrested for singing on the sidewalk at 3am in Buffalo one night when 18. You can imagine what they would have done to him for a drug conviction.

A friend of mine couldn’t attend her child’s wedding in another country because she’d had a pot arrest as a teen and couldn’t get a passport.

I stand by my response- you don’t let a kid blow off his hand with a firecracker in order to teach him fireworks are dangerous. Some consequences are irreversible and we live in a post 9/11 society that has stricter rules than ever before.

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About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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8 Responses to Turn in your son or pay now or pay later:

  1. Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché:

    But, is being arrested the solution? He may do time but and continue to do drugs when he gets out. The problem is how do we prevent this. Once it happens, what do you do as a parent? Do we kick them out of the house and say you’re on your own? We take away their money, phones, cars, etc. is that the only solution. It’s like an addict; he/she can be help if he/she helps himself/herself. And, admit he/she has a problem.

    Then, is it just the teenage phase of experimenting. Some of the drug heads come out doing well. Again, is it only a phase? What can a parent do during that phase? I don’t think the legal system can help the individual. I just don’t know what a parent can do during this phase (in teenage years.)
    Maybe it is the 1st start this kid is being treated for depression. The Dr. is prescribing the drugs, he is snorting them and/or selling them. I told the mom to take them away. The question is, is he really depressed or just a way to get prescription drugs!

    C.F.

  2. Dr. Brilliant Cliche responds:

    First you have to look at the big picture not get caught in a detail. The big picture is structure and expectations. The big picture is not to enable him. The legal system can be used as a tool. You get him arrested then get a lawyer to plea-bargain probation, counseling, community service, and drug treatment.

    Yes he may go to jail anyway but so? More often than not the court will accept an alternative plan if there is one and he has no record. The point is that he is an adult and the only way to consequence and provide external structure at this point is legally. You can also move to an island with him but he’s an adult and can refuse. It’s not the “legal system” but consequences and structure that will help him. Mom also needs to inform his Dr. of what he is doing and that she will sue him if he dies from his medication. Now that the doctor has been informed that will keep her in the loop and prevent the Dr. from giving him adhd meds and or xanax! There are a lot of alternative medications that if you abuse them, they will make you sick, I would ask for one of those, these also don’t have resale value. Next she might indicate his behavior is far more serious than adhd, so that might get him thinking he has a real problem. By the way from what you are saying he’s being treated for adhd not depression, and if hes snorting a medication he shouldn’t be on that medication at all. Taking things away is ineffective, earning them in the first place is far better. Normal teenage experimenting, what is that? Is it normal to take drugs, sell drugs???
    Antisocial behavior is antisocial behavior, stop rationalizing and making excuses. That puts you too in the enabler boat. I don’t buy the addiction is a disease concept. You have to put the drugs in you that means there’s a choice also selling drugs is a disease too? This isn’t just a teenager you are describing but a serious behaviorally disturbed child who is at risk.

  3. C.F. responds:

    I didn’t think about getting in touch with the Dr. You are right, the Dr. needs to know.

    I don’t think any teenagers or anyone should experiment on drugs. As you know, teenagers are more likely to do drugs especially from certain eco class

    I told his mom to take away all the drugs. She hasn’t any clue where he is getting the money for the drugs. I said he is taking his own prescription drugs and selling them.

    I agree it’s a serious matter. As a parent, what should you do if you don’t want the legal system get involved? You are right; the kid has serious behavioral issues. The parents are divorced, he hates his dad and don’t respect his mom. We just need to help the mom to figure out what can she do to help her son without getting the legal system involved. I think the big picture problem is that the kid comes from a divorced family with 1 single parent. You don’t have two parents in the same house reinforcing the issues. Remember HS? Whatever became of those pot heads? Another friend of mine, she stayed in her miserable marriage until her daughter was in college and stable enough before she divorced her sorry husband. Here is another problem I observed. The mom wants to be a cool mom. She allows her son to bring friends over, smoke around the house, and drink. She did it because she wants to keep track of the activities. She said, it’s better they do those things around her instead of doing it without her knowing. She has a point,. I know, the kids shouldn’t be doing illegal anything to begin with.

  4. Dr. Brilliant Cliche responds:

    It is about boundaries. He is 18 years old. He is either in school with good grades or working and paying rent. Otherwise kick his sorry ass out of the house. She is an enabler. It’s way late to be trying to correct his behavioral issues. A dysfunctional son is no different than a dysfunctional husband. The same rules apply. And there is no such thing as a cool parent, only a dumb one!

    Your friend IS A CODEPENDENT ENABLER AND NEEDS GET HELP FOR THAT , ACOA is a start.

  5. C.F. Responds:

    That is so true! She has a dysfunctional husband and the son is just like him.
    I still feel that if you tell your children the right values when they are young, you can save them.

  6. Dr. Brilliant Cliche responds:

    It isn’t about drugs at all but self-esteem, independent thought, bullying, making one’s own options and opinions, and not worrying about what others think of you. It’s ok for others not to like you or think you’re crazy. If you are to have independent thought you will not be liked by everyone. Not everyone deserves to be your friend!
    Your friend was doomed from the start as she needs to be liked. One needs to be respected not liked!

  7. C.F. responds:

    What can a parent do to help her son stop using drugs? She took away his money, phone, and car. He is free loading off his friends. They believe in a socialistic society where everything is shared.

  8. Dr. Brilliant Cliche responds:

    That’s until one really needs something. He’s a selfish twit. His friends will eventually disappoint him. There’s probably not much she can do except throw him out or put contingencies on him staying at home like, grades, rent, counseling, drug screens. It’s not his house so if he wants to stay there he needs follow the rules. Humans learn through role modeling so if there’s issues with her husband, enabling, codependence ect. she needs to address that as well or it makes her a hypocrite and she’s teaching the wrong things.

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