12 yo Not Talking


Two years ago, we adopted 2 children from another country (not our own language), a 12-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl (they are siblings). My son, has been challenging since the day one.

Our relationship with him has been very limited and he could easily be seen as having an attachment disorder. When you read about those issues, he has all of the signs that come with it. We have seen different mental health professionals, and his attitude hasn’t changed.

Dr. John Rosemond’s books inspired to apply his principles. I gave my son what he has always dreamed of: freedom! (or, in my new language, rope!) such as a monthly allowance, time alone at home after school – of course he spends more time on the computer than doing homework, but it is his choice, a Facebook account (we have the password), freedom to manage his homework without us interfering unless he asks for help, etc. He has been in this program for 4 weeks now. Of course, this program comes with more responsibilities too (good grades, respect everyone in the family, good behavior at school, respect the curfew agreed on, chores to be done, etc).

At the beginning of the program his overall behavior improved, but 3 weeks into the program we started receiving complaints from school. At home worsened as well and he even asked me to leave the living room and leave him alone. Since he is in the program I see him more distant from us (or maybe it never changed), he barely speaks to us, doing it only when he has something to ask (e.g. permission to go see a friend), and rest of the time, he limits to ‘’good morning/night mom and dad, hello and bye’’ as we told him that this was a required minimum to be respected as politeness. He is present but acting like a robot doing chores without talking and having no relationship with us. He isolates himself from us - not so new - spending more and more time in his room, where he doesn’t have access to computer, TV, tablet or video games. His belief of not needing parents seems reinforced by this new freedom. When we ask him why he talks only when having something to ask he replies: I don’t need to talk otherwise. Why should I talk to you? To say what? At school he seems social, he participates in the soccer practice and he has friends. However, he hasn’t done his part in terms of socialization at home, and we believe he won’t reach the grades we agreed upon at the beginning of the program.

Despite our efforts his behavior still has an impact on the atmosphere in the house and it is draining our energy.

Do you think talking to us should be a battle that we should spend energy on or not? What attitude from us would be best? And I am not talking about his arrogance or ‘’I hate you’’ kind of things he screams at us when he’s mad. But I must admit that he has been much calmer with time and disobedience happens less often now (he actually does consequences given to him most of the time).

Thanks for answering my questions and giving me any advice that would be relevant.

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