At a loss with my son’s integrity and not sure he will grow out of it

I have been struggling with my son’s integrity for some time, but as a 15-year-old he has increasingly become more oppositional. It is as if when I tell him not to do something, he will do it  because I put the thought in his head.

I go out of my way to plant the warning seed hoping to avoid conflict, but that seed appears to grow into the opposite no matter what the approach is.  I truly don’t believe it is my son’s intent to do this, but he is really good at it. It does not make sense to do something you know will not end well but this is not part of the equation.

I have always been strict and very consistent with following up on every unfavorable act, so it feels like a losing battle at this point. I know impulsive behavior is not something one can reason with because it does not require thought before acting on something.

I understood why my son lied when he was younger he always stood out and on a daily basis a teacher or child would be “tattling” on him when I picked him up. For many years his dishonesty has been transformed from a defensive mechanism into denial of something he did or said with his own version of “the truth.”

It is easy for me to see that it is a deficit but not holding him accountable is not something I am comfortable with doing. His sensory challenges make sense (no pun) because there are times he is called on something right when he does it but he will ask, “What?” with an authentic look of confusion and then moments later, he is on the same page.

Even when he is aware of what he did, he minimizes it. I am not sure how much is a deficit or what is his personality but either way, it is an issue. Trying to figure out “why or where?” this is coming from does not matter because it all blends together.

He claims to have forgotten he has homework or lies about having it. Is this just who he is or is he just not motivated and would rather have consequences that will create more stress? Of course none of it makes sense, which is why it is so frustrating.

I tend to believe that a child would not choose to stand out so I have difficulty with rationalizing something like this when my brain doesn’t work the way his does. His actions rub against my core  fabric and though I know he is different, it is extremely difficult to get past something I consider serious.

With each year he is more disabled by executive function challenges. He is often confused and still loses anything that is not attached. His lack of motivation creates for a lot of stress and nothing seems to help. He plays the victim mentality well and has become well versed at making it about someone else to deflect responsibility.

My son has a good heart and is affectionate but it is growing increasingly harder to have confidence in him being the adult I hope for him to be. I don’t want daily life to consist of micromanaging but there is just no way anything will get done because of him losing focus unless it is something he wants to do.

I get he is disabled, but when he is told to do simple tasks like putting laundry away and decides to lay on them as the better option,  it can really wear on me. He is immediately apologetic and is not refusing to do  tasks but when he is disrespectful because I am irritated about having to remind him for the second to fifth time it does not go over well. This is just an example of one thing of many that ends up adding to the list of daily challenges.

The reason for feeling compelled to share this story is influenced by last night’s “event” that took place after I called to remind my son to take a shower before bed. I was going to be home in ten minutes which gave him time. He was in his robe and opened the bathroom door. His hair looked dry so I did not believe him and asked to smell his hair. It did not smell fresh and even after I pointed out the shower looked dry as well, he still insisted he took one.

At this point I was clearly upset after giving him plenty of opportunity to tell the truth when it was obvious he was lying. I told him to take “another shower” and he was upset but he took one. He came up to me twenty minutes later and apologized. He told me that he knew it was wrong and though I know he is genuinely remorseful, it is not the same as when others apologize. I have become numb to it with him because I know he will be dishonest about that or something else in the very near future.

I am well aware that it could be much worse, but it does not mean it is easy. The days blend together and it is not possible to start over fresh because the days are the same from the time I have to wake him to the end of the day. No amount of cues, timers, incentives given or accountability make a difference.

I am willing to try suggestions, but my son has to be willing to follow through with his part of the solution and so far nothing has clicked. The days of the immediate reward system stopped working when he was 7 years old. I feel guilt for not having an unlimited supply of patience and civility.

I have always been forthcoming of my shortcomings because I was burned out by the time my son was 5 years old and lying has never felt right.  It took more than 5 years later to have the information to explain why he was “special” where others were more understanding.  I fresh out of tricks to try and truly grasp at sanity on a daily basis.

Feeling at a loss is truly an understatement.


  1. Christina,
    I just stumbled upon this after searching for the term “hugging tic”. As I continued to read, I couldn’t believe the parallels. I’ve read tons of stories but none as closely related to my son’s TS+OCD. freaky

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