58 answers

Discipline Teenage Son

My 14 yro son will not follow rules or stay grounded, he keeps leaving to stay at friends house. His grades have been slipping and constantly wants to spend time with his girlfriend (who is 14 also). My husband has a hard time punishing him or sticking to the agreed punishment, so I always am the bad guy. His punishment is usually being grounded from phone, games, and friends. My husband works out of town a lot and we also have a 9 yro son. I had planned a trip (the 3 of us) out of town for Spring Break and he refused to go and was left to stay at a friends house (not what I wanted). I did not know what to do, I could not physically pick him up and put him in the car. I gave him the option of going with us or being grounded the rest of the year and he chose to be grounded the rest of the year. So for four days he got to do what he wanted at his friends. Once we returned (my husband too) we explained to him his punishment and has refused to accept that. I need help with what to do with him. Do we get the police involved if he leaves, or kick him out and let him see how bad he has it. He is a good kid, in GT classes and has just started acting this way this year.

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So What Happened?™

Many Thanks to you all for your input, thoughts, and prayers. I did call the school counselor and informed her of what all has been going on. She did talk with him. I also informed many family members that would somehow be able to help. He has talked with my mom, his Aunt, and Grandmother inwhich I beleive everyone was able to help in some way. We are on talking terms, negotiating, and learning to listen and understand each other. I am looking into a family counselor which I believe is very much needed. I am so happy that we are communicating. Thanks again.

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I had to end up putting my 13 yr old daughter in a boarding school because of her not folllowing rules, sneaking out at nights etc.... She was heading in the wrong direction in her life. Since she has been in this boarding school she has realized what she was doing was wrong. She has only been there 2 months. But she still has a long way to go.
I know what you are going through. Help him and help the family by thinking about a boarding school.

I am a single mother of 3 kids. Twin daughters 13 yrs old (oldest one in boarding school) and a son 11 yrs. old.

J., He is definitely too young to kick out. I dealt with the same issue with my 16 year old and quickly learned that there were others out there who would take on the responsibility of trying to be her parent. Unfortunately, it was only to their detriment because they quickly realized that it wasn't mom who had the problem as much as it was just a typical teenager in rebellion. I would reccommend trying to get counseling, not just for him but the family as a whole. As long as he can determine that you and dad are on the opposite of each other he will continue to manipulate the situation. If you and dad could come to the agreement that you agree with one another it will make a difference. He needs to see the stability in a relationship that is strong and one that won't be manipulated. Remember, you are the parents. Find a way to help him realize that he is a person, and you respect his ideas but somethings you guys, as his mom and dad have to make the final decisions on, because he is only 14. Hope this helps.

J., I have worked with teens for the past twenty years, please call me for a free consultation - ###-###-####, D. Elder

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Hi J.,
I've been there w/the rebelious teen.That was about the age i started noticing change.He wanted to leave the house when he wanted and do as he wanted.We as parents are respossible for our children and if that means calling the police for assistance so be it. If he leaves the house w/out your permission hes considered a runaway.Report him they'll pick him up take him to juvinal hall and he'll have to deal w/the judge and the conditions he puts on him.If you don't get this under control now he'll continue as he gets older,come and go as he pleases and you'll be at fault if he does harm to others or if harm comes to him.As hard as it may seem to do you have to stick to it.Because it only gets harder as they get older.You not doing anything about it allows him to think he can get away and do as he wants.Counseling was a step we also took.If your from Austin there is a place called LifeWorks who does counseling for teens at a sliding scale or if you qualify for a grant they have,its free.Don't give up and be FIRM FIRM FIRM!!!!!!!!

1 mom found this helpful

J.,
I cant go back and change the mistakes I made with my teenage son, but if I can help someone with a similar situation than it is my duty to reach out. My son is now 26 and I am still paying the price.
Because we love our children so much we tend to do things that we know will not hurt them or make them mad at us.
STOP
There is nothing wrong with showing TOUGH LOVE. We need to let them know that we are the grown ups and we have the knowledge to know the difference between right and wrong that is why we are the PARENTS and they are the children. Constanly tell him that you love him and because you love him you are making these rules for him to follow. Remind him that in life we ALL have to respect rules and that we as parents are not eternal and that when they are grown in life and have to move on they will be good positive and productive citizens. Some times they will pout and try to push as far as they can BUT dont let him. Be firm and make him follow your rules in the end he will appriciate what you are doing for him now. He will grow up and thank you for caring enough to guide him in the right direction.
G.

1 mom found this helpful

Do not kick out your son. I would get your family into group counseling to try to overcome these issues. Find out where the anger is coming from. Talk to the parents of the girlfriend and to the parents of his friends and ask them maybe not to be so accomodating to him. It is easy for parents to feel sorry for kids who are "treated badly" at home which is clearly not the case. Your husband has got to get onboard and support you. If there are no consequences to his actions, he will continue to act out and ignore you. I would lighten up on the grounding though...it never did any good for my parents to ground me and I got grounded the whole year too once. All it did was force me to have my social time at school and ignore my schoolwork. Have his friends and "girlfriend" (should have started the "no dating till 16" rule a lot earlier..but hindsight is 20/20)to your house often so you can at least monitor his activities and keep him out of drugs and alcohol.

He should be able to "earn" rights back by doing chores...mow lawn, pull weeds from flowerbeds, do dishes, take out garbage. He is old enough to be participating in household responsibilities. No matter what, you need to set and stick to rules, don't back down...but also don't directly confront or argue with him (it will just make you both mad)...treat him like he was two again and give him choices...he is trying to assert his independence again (like when he wanted to pick out his own clothes) so give him options so he feels like he is in control. Let him set his own punishments for things as long as it is reasonable, then he can't blame you. Sit down together and make a chart of rules/punishments and stick to it. Pray a lot, and good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

J.,
I have read many of the responses to your letter and I agree with them. My oldest son is now 19 but we had the same issues with him at that age. My husband was also the "easy" one and he discovered that he had to step up and take his rightful place as the dad. It all came to a head one night, and after a long loud fight my husband grabed my son in a bear hug and just kept saying over and over how much he loved him and that he was not going to let him go...not emotionally, not spiritually, not physically! We were NOT going to lose him. Needless to say, it was a hard emotionally draining night, but my son finally understood that we loved him and were not going to let him tear our family apart. Just recently I have been seeing an advertisement for a program called "total transformatiom". You can see their website at www.theTotalTransformation.com It is a set of cd's and dvd's teaching parents how to deal with teenagers. I have not tried it but my husband and I are concerding buying it...you see we have another son coming up (now 14). I think this program will give us some tools that we did not have before to keep things from reaching the point they did. One thing is for sure you and your husband have got to be on the same team!! Not working against each other but together to show a united front. I know that parenting is the hardest job any of us will ever have and the most important. Sometimes we start to doubt ourselves but remember God did not give your son to me or anyone else...He gave him to you and your husband because you are the ones who have what this child needs!! Be encouraged! Please know that my prayers and with you. Feel free to email me if you need some support or just a listening ear.

M.

1 mom found this helpful

This is a pivotal time in your son's life - well, for all young teens. I strongly suggest you speak to his school counselor, teachers, vice-principal, and/or principal on his slipping grades and "attitude" with your son present. It may not provide an immediate turnaround, but it will let him and the school staff know you are concerned and are reaching out for help.
On the homefront, PLEASE do not kick him out. It serves no purpose for him and the only break you might get out of it is a good night's sleep.
I feel we (parents) are sometimes so hung up on "punishment" that we forget the other angle --- redirection. Yes, punishment is the consequence of poor choices and defiance, but if we also take the time to redirect (just like when they were toddlers), it can make a difference so the child see's past their own gratifications.
Get him involved in something outside of his own comfort zone. Call a nursing home near you and inquire about him coming to read, play chess/checkers, etc. on a regular basis. Maybe his girlfriend would like to join him. This is a "service", not a punishment and falls under "redirection". Your younger son could be just as involved.
At home, the police won't do much to really help you unless he's gone for an extended time. Even at that, he's just reported as a runaway kid. If he just takes off out the door when you've told him to stay home, then go after him! Tell the friend's parents he is not to be there.
There is a book called "The Roller Coaster Years" that may help you wade through these times. I can't remember the author's name, but you should be able to track it down by the title.
Some of what we do is "hang on for the ride", but I do know it's hard. Best of luck to you and and yours.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow. Sounds like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. The first, and most important, thing I would suggest is sitting down with your husband and making sure you are on the same page. Kids figure out very quickly that "divide and conquer" works really well for their purposes, and will continue to use it against you as long as you let them. Talk things out with your husband (minus your son) and come up with a plan you can both agree on, and then agree to stick to it like glue. Your son will immediately pounce on ANY inconsistency, so getting the same answer each and every time is key. No matter what you come up with, if you and your husband aren't on the same team, you'll get beat every time.

The next thing I would do is test him for drugs. I have seen drugs turn straight-A, church-mousy kids into flunking, rebellious ones. And drugs can happen to ANY kid, so even if you think there is no possible way, test him anyway. You have nothing to lose by finding out for sure. You can buy home drug kits at Walgreens or CVS, possibly even Wal-Mart. If that doesn't turn up anything, perhaps you can get him to go to a counselor. If you do take him, make sure you tell him that it is so he can have a place to sort things out on his own, not so that you can "figure out what on earth is wrong with him". (My quote, not yours...ask my dad how well THAT worked out sometime!)

Another thing you might try is contacting CPS yourself. By not being able to control him, you open yourself up to the possibility of an investigation, so it might not be a bad idea to call them and find out exactly what your rights and responsibilities are in the eyes of the law. For example, if you kick him out, it's possible that you could be cited for neglect. On the flip side of that, they can tell you exactly what IS required of you and exactly what you CAN make your son do. Also, that way your son can't use the "I'll call CPS!" threat on you, because they will already be well aware of the problem, and if they know you are being as proactive as you can be, they'll side with you immediately. Lastly, they might have some ideas and options that would work for you.

Hope this helps,
-M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, J.. I've read through many of the responses, and I've yet to see one that addresses what has caused this change in your son's behavior. I'm sorry to say, that when radical changes in behavior take place and grades start falling, many times drugs or alcohol are in the picture. I worked at a middle school for many years, and this was not an uncommon occurrence. Even "good kids" get involved in the drug scene, and it's really hard for them to get themselves out.

My first advice would be to talk to your son's counselor at school. Have they noticed a change in him, as well? Ask her for her advice. Perhaps your son needs to be tested--not just for drugs--but perhaps for some emotional disturbance.

One thing I completely agree with the other responses: YOU MUST get your husband involved and on the same page with you. If you are not in this together, your son will continue to be the authority at your house (for that is what he is now.) As others have said, your younger son is watching. He must see that you will not let this situation continue without intervening somehow.

I hope you have the strength to do the right thing, even though it will be really hard. No one ever said that child-rearing would be easy!

1 mom found this helpful

You can't kick him out, he is 14, a minor. yes get the police involved if he leaves without permission. Minors have curfew and usually a city wide curfew also. You and husband need to be on the same page as far as punishment and both of you talk to him at the same time so that you are all in agreement of your expectations. His acting this way is HORMONES. Sounds like you need to talk to the girlfriends parents also. I also have a 17 year old son who acts the same way, since about that age also. What has helped us is consistency with the punishments and I also do what I call TAG TEAM Parenting. My husband sounds like yours and you need to talk to him to formulate a plan. When my husband is home, he is in charge of discipline, punishments, curfew, permission and such, to give me a little break, but constant communication between us and our plans is key. I pick up with the responsibility when he is not home. I have also tried to tone down my way of doing things--because it is usually a battle of wills between my son and I. I have learned to speak with him instead of at him and not yell (because I tend to do that) and then stick to my guns as far as grounding and such. Good luck to you--this to shall pass.

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