""No" is one of the most character-building words in the English language. Say it often, and mean it. "

Reestablishing Relationships with Rebellious Young Adults

Question

Unsuccessful in how I stated this a week ago, so trying once more. Have one of our ten children, adopted from Eastern Europe, who after many infractions, was thrown out of the house by my husband, three days after turning 18. He had forcefully rejected my husband’s rules for living at home, at this point. This son skewed the facts by stating he opted to leave; yet also claimed my husband was the cause of all his problems, and so on and so forth. For some years this son has repeatedly run away when he disagreed with house/family rules and subsequent punishment, at times climbing out of his bedroom window and scampering over the house roof to flee.

After just a few months without family interactions, he now phones weekly (or writes) and expects normalcy, without ever addressing the preceding eight years or so of problem behavior. It strikes me that he is setting the terms of the relationship and how our family should function – by his dictates. This bodes ill for others here and I don’t like the precedent. Then again, how do you allow a child, expelled from home, to reestablish relationships?

Questions: What to tell the problem child – of how he must reapply to membership in the family? What must he say? Do? How long of a separation from the family would you expect before this child’s behavioral change is believable? How to address this topic with the other children – some of whom are his blood relations (from same Eastern European orphanage)?

Last question: We have children in college out-of-state and I won’t be going to their graduation because it is simply too far for us. This “problem child” is also a day’s drive away and wants us to come to his 10 week boot camp graduation. We are not doing it, but what is the best way to explain this to the other children?

Thanks so much for helping us with how to handle this. God bless you and all the work you do, John. Had read your column for years in the paper, and your books since then. In fact, I give your books at baby showers. Sure wish you would write a book on the spousal relationship and what is within the bounds of a normal husband/wife relationship and what is not.

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