Teen Boot Camps...Anyone With Any Experiences?

No, thankfully. She was a big part of the reason that Suzie has become so apathetic now.

The site looks promising. I’m sure you’ve researched the place (and stumbled across a few horror stories, not to mention Maury Povich). I could be wrong, but an all-female environment might be conducive to rehab.

Oh to be 14 again. God forbid. I promised myself I’d never forget the rage, angst, hormone surges, unwanted sexual attention, and powerlessness of that period of my life… and I was a straight-A student from a good home. It’s no excuse for bad behavior, but looking back I have trouble understanding how I even functioned as a normal human being some days. Maybe all teens should be sent to wilderness camps for a few years.

Perhaps a silly question, but what’s her diet like? Try cutting out all additives, all soda, ready made meals (even things like burgers), and the like. If she wants a drink, there’s water, maybe fruit juice.

She eats a decent dinner generally, and maybe a good breakfast, but other than that it’s Doritos, Dr Pepper and LOTS of pickle spears (like, a jar a day). Skinny as a rail she is.

And before anyone says it, she’s not preganant nor sexually active. She’s immature enough where she still considers sex as “icky”. She also doesn’t do drugs, as she’s been tested a few times.

She is just full of angst.

On a good day, a typical snippet of conversation:

“You just don’t understand what it’s like being a teenager today!”

“I was a teenager not that long ago. What’s changed?”


“Can you be more specific?”


And so on…

Probably a small thing, but why not validate her statement? – “You’re probably right, I don’t know what its like. Please tell me.” Less bickerish, and doesn’t cost a cent.

A friend of mine’s sister spent two years at a school for troubled teens. It didn’t seem to help much, and she’s still keeping up her old patterns of behavoir.

I think Gromen has some good points buried in them. If you keep drawing lines, you are going to get battles over them. It may be useful to make her responsible for her actions. For example, as a teen I never had a curfew under the theory that I’d spend my life figuring out how to break it. But if I was going to stay out, I had to have a good explanation for what I was doing (“hanging out” didn’t count) and had to check in now and then. And I had to know for myself what point would be crossing the line. If I came in at 3 AM I knew all hell was going to break loose. I also knew 10 was okay and midnight was pushing things.

Though it sounds like your step-daughter needs more structure than this, I think this is a good idea. Arbitrary boundaries always pissed me off as a teenager (they still do!), and being allowed to make my own choices was very important to me. I could go out, but had to come back at a reasonable hour, but that hour was decided by me (I’m thinking more when I was 15-16, but still…) I remember being pissed off that when I started going out late on the weekends, my parents tried to give me a curfew (of 11 or 12 I think). My brother, 2 years older, never had one, and I was livid. I didn’t understand why the rules were different… now I do (frankly, it was because my brother rarely went out, and I was always gone, and they were just trying to deal with a child with very different habits and interests… They settled for frequent phone calls and updates to know where I was all the time).

You gotta pick your battles.

I admit I was surprised at your comment about her wanting more “phone time”… unless you’re talking about buying cell phone minutes, what difference does it make if she’s on the phone for a local call for an hour a day or six? As long as she gets her chores and homework done, and as long as she allows calls through with Call Waiting (Teenagers are the only reason I think Call Waiting is acceptable!) or gets off the phone when someone else needs it, I don’t see a problem whatsoever with being on the phone at that age. At her age, her friends are her life, and she really does need to share every random thought in her head with them. And again, as long as she’s willing to share the phone with others, what does it change? I have a sister… between the two of us, the phone line was in use from the moment we came home from school until about midnight nearly every day. No crises ever happened because of it.

I think everything is different from when we were teenagers, but then again, it’s not like she knows what it was like to be a teenager for us either. I’m 27, and I don’t know how I would have coped with things like MySpace and Facebook, and the popularity and bullying contests that happen there. No one had cell phones when I was in high school. People barely had email! The skills and talents that make someone cool today are probably somewhat different than those of even 10 years ago (other than guitarists… all guitarists are cool!), and the status symbols have changed. Changing demographics of neighbourhoods can play a huge role on the stresses a teenager faces compared to those that their parents faced. Maybe it’s time to sit down and really ask her what her life is like. Ask her who her friends are (not names, but WHY she likes them), ask her who her enemies are (and yes, at 14, they are ENEMIES! and why she doesn’t like them), ask her what she’d like to change about herself, what she’d like to learn, etc. Maybe agree to pay for something like a sport or guitar lessons or whatever, based on a correction of behaviour that she offers. Let her decide what is and is not worth the effort for something she might want to do. Get to know her as if she was a person you’ve never met before. And remember, she isn’t you. What was ok for you at 14 is clearly not ok for her, and you need to agree to change the rules, or things will get much more out of control.

I am not a parent, let alone a parent of a teenager. I wasn’t overly rebellious (just stubborn!), but I know that had my parents drawn more lines around me, I would likely have been much worse, perhaps even destructive like your daughter. I was given freedom to choose, and I made some mistakes, but far, far fewer than my parents feared. You step-daughter is a 14 year old child. But she might also be a 14-year old adult, if she’s given the chance.

Or I might be completely off base, and you can ignore all of this!

At this stage of the game, she’s been committed to a children’s hospital for evaluation for four days after threatening to kill us while we slept, she’s been in counselling and in a troubled youth facility for three months, now she’s in a foster home half the time and with us the other half, the idea being a “stepping down” process to ingratiate her back into our home.

Phone time for her is a privledge, and if we don’t set boundaries around it, she abuses it and she most certainly will not share the phone, click over, etc.

As for her friends, yes, they are her life…to the exclusion of everything else, her family, her schoolwork, her chores, everything. She refuses to do these things…again, unacceptable.

We are actually pretty lenient as parents, but those days are now over…on the advice of every person and agency helping us. She simply has not demonstrated that she’s mature enough or responsible enough to make good choices.

A perfect example was shortly after her return from the girl’s facility, we allowed her to have a friend spend the night. She promptly snuck out after we told her no leaving the house after midnight and locked herself out until she was able to wake my wife at 4:00am. She claims her and her friend were only in the yard, and she may be telling the truth, but it doesn’t matter…no leaving the house after midnight means exactly that.

Freedoms and privledges are like a rope to her. Give her too much and she continually hangs herself with it.

OMG, with her fists?!

Yeah, and she kicked a basketball-sized hole in the drywall in her bedroom too. And we just bought this, our first house, last October.

Oh, I feel for you.
My oldest daughter (now 21) has been the subject of many a thread started by Yours Truly.

She, unlike your daughter, was never violent. But. . .She told us when she was 14 that she needed professional counseling because she believed she was clinically depressed. We got it for her.

In the seven or so years since then, she has:
been in the psych hospital for depression/suicide attempts/suicidal ideations more than half a dozen times.
been in two or three drug or alcohol rehabs.
been homeless
has faced and is facing charges of shoplifting
has had maybe 25 or 30 boyfriends (all of whom she’s slept with) ranging in age from three years younger than her to 25 years older than her
has stolen money from us
has stolen my pain medication
etc. etc. etc.

All the professionals we’ve been involved with (and there have been plenty) have assured us that we (her parents) are not to blame. It’s simply who/what she is, just like it wouldn’t be our fault if she were diabetic.

She has been diagnosed with bipolar, borderline personality disorder and borderline schizophrenia. She is on medication, but she often does not take her meds, because she likes the “highs” of the bipolar phases.

I don’t mean to paint a grim picture for you, really. We never tried one of these “boot camps” with her (it simply wasn’t an option offered to us, though admittedly it may have been had she been violent).

But there came a point where we (her father and I) said, you cannot live in our home any more. Even if you are homeless, you cannot live here.

It was a tough decision. Believe me, it was tough. But we have two younger children (ages 17 and 8) to consider. We do not need the drama, and we certainly don’t need the bad influence.

There also came a point, about three years ago, when I was in bed at night, in tears, over the situation. My hubby (an atheist) said “Well, what are you going to do about it? There’s nothing you can do” (we had been through family counseling, family preservation, etc.) and I said “I’m going to turn it over to God”

And that’s what I did. It’s really all I can do.

Now, she’s landed a job, pray God she keeps it. She is living with and sponging off her boyfriend’s family. I’m sure she’d qualify for disability, but she won’t trouble herself with the follow-through necessary to do so.

She claims she’s been “clean” for three months (the length of time she’s been out of her most recent rehab), but she’s drinking. She says “No, I mean drugs”. I tell her, “alcohol is a drug; you try going to your nearest NA meeting and tell them you’ve been clean for three months except for alcohol, and see what they say”, of course she doesn’t do that.

Again, not to paint a grim picture. But I feel for you. I really do. I’ve been down that road, and it ain’t pretty.

Feel free to PM or email me if you want.

Best of luck.

Pretty damn scary in someone so out of control. I’m not even sure most grown men can do that.

I hope the academy can help.

What are her friends like? In my memories of middle school, nobody would hang out with the kids who were held back unless they were too. Having to repeat a grade was an objective and very visible sign they weren’t as good as the other kids, and I knew a couple of kids who just went ‘fuck it, my life is over’ when it happened to them. If she’s only around kids who act just like she does, she’s never going to change.

FoieGrasIsEvil, what kinds of consumer products does your stepdaughter have access to? Is her bedroom contain a TV set, videos, mp3’s, radio’s, etc., other distractions? Have you considered clearing everything out of her room except for her bed, clothing and appropriate reading material? You could tell her that, no, it’s not your property, it’s my property. I let you use it if you behave yourself properly. I know she’d be pissed, but maybe that could open her eyes to your frustration. Hope this helps.

Man, now I don’t feel so bad, that sucks. Since I don’t know how to use quote tags for multiple responses in one post, I’ll start here.
Your daughter’s present is the fear for mine’s future. I keep trying to tell her how she’ll end up if she keeps it up, and it’s always the same handwaving “oh well, I don’t care, I’ll find something”.
Something like what? Someone else to sponge off of when you no longer live here, won’t go to school and refuse to flip burgers like your Mom did when she was a scared single mom of 17 to try to take care of you?
Jesus wept.
And I am also at a crossroads in a sense becasue we have two beautiful young boys, aged 6 and almost 3 that are impacted by her behavior. Andrew, my oldest son is particularly influenced by her lack of anger control, and he’s now exhibiting the same symptoms.
Jesus, Suzie is only 14 but we’ve been dealing with her bad behavior since she’s been nine or so, and I as the stepdad am almost at the “fuck it” stage where I am almost willing to give up on her for the sake of the other children, and not because they are and she isn’t biologically “mine”.
Fuck, now I’m depressed again.

To be honest, drywall isn’t particularly hard to punch a hole in. You just have to have the control to NOT do it. Anyone of normal strength can punch a hole in drywall.
And I hope the academy helps too, but I and her Mom don’t really want it to get to that, but it seems likely at this point. Police and judges only scare here when she’s on stage in front of them, as soon as she’s back here at home it’s the same tired song and dance.
It’s affecting my marriage quite a bit, too, which also sucks.
When you have to wait out a child to make absolutely sure they are asleep before you feel comfortable enough to go to bed yourself, it’s usually two in the morning, and I get up at 5:30am for work.
We have to log off the computers (she’s a MySpace junkie), hide the phones, our cigarettes, the remotes to the downstairs TV, etc, etc.
Fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck.
And the wife and I are too tired for intimacy, which, as a man, does bug me quite a bit. We’re in our thirties, and I am not ready to give up on sex just yet!
Nor should I have to because we spend our late night hours in fear of “what’s next”.

That’s the funny thing…apparently now, at least at her age and with the losers she’s hanging with, failing a grade is the same kind of “badge of honor” that kids coming out of juvy have amongst their criminal peers.

We’re still trying to break through her apathy about school. She thinks it’s just a place to go to hang out with her friends, not to learn.

If she fails another grade, I doubt she finishes high school and I’d bet that she’s pregnant by 17, just like her Mom, my wife, whom was also a fucked up kid.

Problem is, my wife has shared too many details about her fuckups with Suzie and i fear that Suze is under the false impression that because Mom was a fuckup for awhile and turned out OK, that she can follow that path and be OK too.

But, I came along and I will not tolerate the disintegration of my family, even if it means tossing one into the sacrificial fire for the sake of the rest of us. If it in fact comes to that.

She has a radio and an MP3 player. Her TV usage is based on a reward system, and she’s off limits on the computer indefinetely. No cell phone, either.

The cell phone experiment ended very badly for us a year ago when she racked up almost a grand in overages and text messages.

I (we) don’t believe in falling asleep in front of the glowing idiot box. At least to me, it’s an insidious thing, it plays with my dreams, and I always wake up in the middle of the night.

I don’t think it’s healthy for the kids. They watch enough TV during the day as is, they don’t need it to cradle them to sleep. That’s what storytime is for. Well, at least for the boys, anyway.

Christ I have a headache.

Jeez! {{FoieGras}}

Thanks. That was an interesting night. Cops.

That’s another thing that sucks. Generally I don’t really care what people think about me, but we just moved into this neighborhood and we’ve had the cops at our house four times in nine months now.

Neighbors that used to be really friendly now warily wave at me without smiling.

I suppose they could hear all the yelling we used to do late at night when Suzie was around, too.