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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 114019
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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My now 10 year old step son has oppositional defiant

Customer Question

My now 10 year old step son has oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD accompanied by abandonment issues due to his birth mom not really being in the picture. We have tried everything to get him to not get up at night and wander. He climbs on counter step in refrigerator and for years now has listened to either of our requests for him not to do this at night. We have tried explaining..demanding he not do it grounding.. We told him if you need to go to the rest room fine but go right back to bed and bathroom is right across from his room but he does not. He also has displayed other behaviors that are dangerous for himself and others in the home so to avoid what do happen and what might happen we lock the door, keep in mind his room is within 7 steps of our door so knocking on the door would be heard if he needed either of us. His door is open and their is normal interaction from 3:30 when he comes home from school until bedtime at 7pm then its his routine bedtime hugs kisses and I love
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
What is your legal question about this situation?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Considering the issues i mentioned is it emotional abuse if his door is locked during bedtime hours with him knowing we are literally a few steps away and all he has to do is knock. He knows very much that he is loved by both of us but consistently defies the rules given for bed time
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Before doing this, you need to have a long discussion with his therapists regarding any alternatives and you need their support on this solution as the only remaining recourse. Simply locking a door to a child's room could be deemed child abuse, especially since in the event of an emergency the child cannot exit the room. Generally, the solutions to this are alarms on the doors to alert parents so they can get up and return the child to bed, but locking the door at night can be a danger to the child as stated.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We have a one story home and it has already been established that he can and does know how to leave his room through the window. He is a very intelligent child and have tried many different avenues and found if we say its bed time and he knows he has no choice he doesn't stay awake to wait for us to be asleep so he can sneak around instead he just goes to sleep and gets the rest hr needs to function at school. Though there were do many times when I would just wait to he goes to sleep and the door remained unlocked but now that he knows its unlocked hes doing it once again. He feels he can do what he wants regardless of what is told or asked to do/not do.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

It is still considered a danger and abuse unless you have a medical professional explaining how this is the only remaining option for you, since in the event of an emergency it is still a danger to have the child locked in his room, even if you have established he knows how to use the window.

I understand you want to stop the problem, but locking the door can get you in trouble for child abuse.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As I stated his door has long since been unlocked and he still does it. We figure as long as he is not in danger and he doesn't just stay up he comes and goes at will at night. I figure with his curious busy mind he may sometimes feel the need to get up so if he has no resistance its lost its appeal and he will stop doing it. We do let him know that we know he was up at night and leave it at that.. I'm guessing he is thinking no resistance no battle .. And the game ends.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
I know he is still doing this. If you believe your only recourse is locking his door, you need to have some MEDICAL SUPPORT from his therapist that says this is the only remaining option for you. Without that support from his doctor/therapist, if a complaint is made this is something a court considers child abuse regardless of what you "figure" or "feel" without any professional support for your actions.

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