Have I Gone to Far?

Updated on August 22, 2011
L.B. asks from Metairie, LA
37 answers

So, I just took away all of my 15 year old son's electronics - PS3, phone, computer privileges, TV - all of it.

Why? Because I have been asking him to mow the lawn for three weeks now. I give him a set monthly allowance that covers chores and lawn care. Since we had major drought conditions this summer he really didn't have to mow it for several months - but I kept paying him. Now that it needs to be mowed he has simply refused to do it. I did tell him last week that if it was not done by this evening I would take everything away indefinitely. Technically he has a couple more hours - but since he just flat out told me he was not going to mow the lawn because my "threatening" him made him just want to resist further, just pushed me to far. He doesn't seem to care, in fact, he just unplugged the PS3 and put it in my room.

Well, I think he cares b'c the phone is his lifeline to the new girlfriend. And he is trying to guilt me into whatever with vague threats to his person which I don't believe but make me sick to my stomach anyway.

So, my question - does the punishment fit the crime? Should I have relented and mowed the lawn myself? I certainly can't afford to pay someone to do it.

I have a text into my Ex, his father - but he is really never much help in these matters.

Ugh, now I just feel sick.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?


After reading the responses - thank you all - I realized that I was partly to blame here....I did let this whole lawn thing drag out for a few weeks. So, taking advice, I woke him from his impromptu nap on the big comfy chair and had a discussion with him...Basically, we "negotiated", he will give up one electronic per day, each day until the lawn is mowed starting today, since this was the original deadline. He agreed that he thought I was a little bit of a pushover since I let it drag on so long - he really didn't think I would do anything. My fault on that one and I admitted it to him. But I made it clear that I would not do that again - and I will not. I realized I was appealing to the man that I hope he becomes, instead of talking to the teen that he is.

To further make this entire scenario weird and wacky - his father just called in response to my text - got on the phone with the boy - and the child is outside with the dang mower. Will wonders never cease? LOL

Again - Thank you all.

Featured Answers



answers from Portland on

If this were my son, I would tell him he has unitl the end of the day to mow the yard. If he chose not you, I would sell his electronics to pay someone to do it or to pay myself to do it. Whatever you do, FOLLOW THROUGH with whatever consequence you have chosen. He needs to learn that their are consequences to every choice we make so he needs to chose whether or not the consequence is worth the poor decision.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

You said it, now keep doing it. You may want to update the indefinite to whenever he finds the desire to fulfill his end of the agreement.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would not be paying him for work that is not being done.

Does he have any siblings? Use his allowance to "hire" them to do his chores.

I think the punishment is ok, in addition, any requests made from him to me would receive a "no". If he can't be bothered to help the family, you should not agree to help him until there is an attitude change. This includes rides to practices or anything else.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Charlotte on


10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Oh, my yes, you've gone too far. This has become a power struggle. There should've been increasing consequences along the way. You need to find a way to make it easy for him to co-operate with you. You've both taken a very strong stand opposite each other and now it's up to you to find a way for both of you to save face.

I think I might start out with saying we've both gone too far with this. Let's start over. And then, after you've both calmed down, have a conversation together with both of you feeling safe to state your feelings about how this went wrong. Listening is the most important thing for you to do. By your listening to him he'll better be able to listen to you. The conversation has to be calm and mostly without anger. It's to be exploratory. How did we get here and how do we change this?

I think you did error by paying him even tho he didn't need to mow the lawn. This sets you up for feeling angry and used and him for feeling he doesn't need to mow to get paid. Include this in your conversation.

Appeal to his sense of fairness. You did get paid and now it's time to earn that money.

Why is he refusing to mow? Once you know that you can better deal with changing his way of thinking. Is he just not willing to do it now but will agree to do it tomorrow? Is he angry because you're angry and he doesn't understand why you're angry? Ask him questions, keeping an open mind and remaining calm.

You'll probably need to have the conversation later, say in a day or two, so as to give yourselves time to cool down. I suggest that you keep the electronics away from him while sympathizing with him about their loss. Let him know that this is extreme and that you'll have a conversation later when you're both calm about how this can be prevented in the future. Tell him you are taking away the things that keeps him busy so that he has time to mow the lawn.

You should NOT mow the lawn yourself. He has to be a part of the solution. You can have a win/win but not if you give in (give up) and mow.

I feel for you. This is a difficult age. I urge you to read up on parenting teens. I recommend the Love and Logic books. Also How to Talk so Children will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk.

At a later time, after the lawn mowing is done, I suggest that you write down the rules of the house and then include this in your conversation with your son. Get input from him. You might be surprised at how reasonable he can be with rules and consequences. Outline consequences so you both know in advance what will happen. For example with the lawn mowing. Instead of threatening him for 3 weeks, take away on electronic gizmo each day until the lawn is mowed. Be firm but calm. It's about making life reasonable and not about fighting with your son. Never argue with him. The lawn is to be mowed today or I'll take your phone so that you'll have more time to mow. Not mowed the next day. Guess you need more time. I"ll take your computer privileges. Not mowed. Guess you need more time. etc. All matter of fact and no big deal.

As to it's seeming that he doesn't care. I suggest it's bluff and a way to try to manipulate.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

No, you did not go too far.

In fact- do NOT give him any more allowance either.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

DO NOT GIVE IN! This will just make him believe that you are not for real. That you will not follow through with your threats and he will do what he wants. GOOD FOR YOU!!! Hopefully this will teach him that you mean business. Do not feel bad for what you are doing. You are paying him to mow the lawn and now he refuses. That is like stealing in my book. Best of luck and remember DO NOT GIVE IN TO HIM!!! :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Sioux City on

Oh, my NO, you have not went to far! In fact I would have gone further! You feed him, clothe him, wash up after him, and general care for his every need. The least he can do is mow the lawn. Mine do it WITHOUT pay. We all work to keep the house going. That's called being a part of the family. I would have yanked his phone, his privileges, his new school clothes, his computer time, his girlfriend time, he wouldn't even get supper out of me until it's done. You may very well be in a power struggle with him and you are about to let him win. THAT is NUTS! My oldest 2 are out in the field right now haying for their grandfather without pay and they are happy to do it. Work gives dignity. Put the boy to work and as I see it he owes you for the weeks he didn't have to mow.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

i think you're doing just fine, you just need to STICK WITH IT. stay calm and composed and let him deal with the consequences. also, maybe a hint for next year to avoid this - his "allowance" should be broken down into "regular" chores, and "seasonal" chores, and if he doesn't mow, he doesn't get it all. just an idea. hang in there mom!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Stick to your guns. Guilt is something he cannot make you feel without your cooperation and participation. No, do NOT mow the lawn yourself! What does that teach him? That he's in charge and you are nothing? If you have to, take his allowance and pay another kid to mow. If he's making threats about his safety, take him to see a professional. He cannot pull that stuff to make you give in, and if he is serious, he needs help. You will not tolerate idle threats and you will not ignore serious ones.

This is the start of him testing you and asserting his independence. The next things you will face are him driving and facing temptations of alcohol and drugs. If you are not an authority figure, you're sunk. Show him you mean business, and that it's completely within his power to get those things back or to have car privileges and so on. HE is the one making the CHOICE to not have them. It is not your problem to solve. It is his.

If you have to, put those electronics in another place - like one of your friend's homes or something. Be sure he doesn't have them. And every time he mouths off to you, the punishment gets longer.

I know it's hard. We did this with our son and he turned out great. It was easier for him to comply than to fight us! It's up to your son to decide if he wants to have fun or be miserable.

Hang in there!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

No way!!! I would take away the allowance too.

Think about it this way: You have a job if you go to your job and sit around goofing off on facebook or emailing your friends or on mamapedia and ignoring your job ---what would you boss do? Yep, he's fire you so fast you wouldn't have time to say good-bye to co-workers. Well you have a teenaged son and his job is to do the chores you tell him too and to go to school; his compensation for that is all the electronics he has and an allowance, not to mention a place to live and food to eat and rides to where he needs to go. So it's simple no worky --no money and no toys.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

This is not your fault. This was HIS CHOICE.
If he throws a fit or pouts, wait for him to speak WITH you about it and then explain. He was the one that decided not to mow, so he knew what the consequences were. Just send him to his room till he can speak with you if he becomes angry or raises his voice,

You just followed though.. Do not feel sick, feel like this is a step for both of you. You have proven when you say something you really mean it.. Just like when you tell him you love him and care for him, you mean for him to do chores when he is asked.. .

Some teens test their parents (they do not realize it) because they want to know their parents really are paying attention and the parents really are in control.

He will now save face and pout, or he will admit it was his responsibility and get out there and mow the lawn.. It is up to him how much freedom and luxury he wants in his life..

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I'm so sorry. People are so stubborn. Teens are difficult. But in my experience, we all dig our heels in sometimes. But flip flopping isn't the answer. Letting him brown bag it to school for the first month may help if you normally pay for a lunch ticket.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Good for you for taking everything away!!!!!!!!! I do not think you went to far, stick to your guns!!!!!! dont relent because then he will know he can do what he wants when he wants and you will let him. I would make him work, for a long time maybe months, at listening, doing chore (UNPAID CHORES) etc before earning back one at a time. Good for you, I love to see parents give actual real punishments for kids misbehavior!!!!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

way to go, you are being a great mom!!! You are preparing him for the future, everything has consequences and you gave him 3 weeks to get it down. REally, he will never have that much time as an adult or in school with homework. You did him a favor! Do not let him guilt you into anything. You are not asking to much. He is 15 years old and completely capable of mowing the lawn.

He is being stubborn and if you give in now then he will know he can get a way with it in the future and will have a hard time as an adult because he didn't learn all the lessons this is teaching him(responsibility, teamwork, cost of all that technology etc,) He doesn't need any technology to survive, you didn't take away his clothes or food. If he misses his girlfriend he can mow the lawn and then call her later that night.
so yes punishment completely fits the crime and no you shouldn't have relented and mowed it yourself.

I assume you are paying for his phone, electricity for his computer, ps3. Maybe he needs a lesson or a breakdown in the costs of his phone and electricity vs the cost of paying someone to do the lawn. If he doesn't want to do the lawn then it sounds like you will have to pay someone and that means you can't pay for his phone or the electricity for his technology. hmm..

I would stop the discussion and arguments and let him know, you will not change your mind. He is giving you a hard time because he thinks it is going to work.has it worked before? Stick to your punishment. you are very reasonable

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you cave now - he will have "won" the battle. you MUST stick your ground.

He has chores and responsibilities. They MUST be done. PERIOD. I would withhold the allowance from him for the times he did not do the work. Why you paid him for a job undone, I don't know...drought or no - there were things he should have done to be responsible...he's 15 now...he needs to be able to handle responsibility....

if the devices are his "lifeline" then - yes, the punishment fit the crime. You gave him warning. You asked. He declined or ignored. You told him the consequences for his actions. He still didn't feel it was going to be carried out...you did...now he's pissed. Oh well..

Keep the lines of communication OPEN. Don't yell. Don't scream...if he does - kindly tell him that we will continue this conversation when he is ready to talk like a young man and respectfully...

If he had threatened to do harm to himself - then you would be best taking him to a counselor or therapy in my opinion - I've not read your other responses but to threaten bodily harm is TOTALLY unacceptable and depending upon what he said he was going to do to himself -you need to have him checked out that he is operating on all cylinders...

If his dad won't help - there is no use in involving him to get him to help out...however, I would talk to the bio dad about the threatening bodily harm and that you EXPECT him to back you up - even if you aren't married anymore...you still have to parent together!!


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Medford on

You could let him know that if he hasnt mowed by dark tonight, that first thing in the morning you will be taking all his stuff to a thrift store to donate. He might change his mind if he thinks you will cave in and give the stuff back. Might make him think twice about it if the stuff might be gone instead. No school clothes or supplies, no shoes, no car rides, no laying around sleeping. Make a list of chores and assign a meal to them so he can earn what he eats. And then cook what he doesnt like.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I grew up in a house where we were expected to do certain things just because we lived there and were part of the family. Everyone pitches in with something. I'm not saying we loved it, but I grew up knowing it was how the world works.

What you did is perfect punishment for the crime. I can't believe you usually pay him for mowing when you are already (I assume) are paying for his phone and other electric stuff. He is showing no respect or appreciation for what you already do for him. He is also being lazy and using you. It sounds like you are kind of a pushover? He probably knows that you will just do it eventually and still let him have stuff.
Now, you finally got to your breaking point and ACTED LIKE A MOM SHOULD! Good for you. Don't you dare give him anything back until he gets that lawn mowed. And maybe it is time for him to get a job and support his own phone bill?

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

NOPE!!! I would have done the same thing!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Way to go, mom!!! Don't feel guilty, you did good!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Don't give in you did great!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think you should also take away his time being with his friends etc until he is respectful towards you. Do not let him use the phone and call his girlfriend etc. until he shows complete respect for you. Make him earn it !


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

The human brain is not fully developed until 25-26 years old.
So until then, tell him he is NOT the one who decides, the rules.

This is a link on brain development per age:

Ground him.
Don't let him, have girlfriend outings.
TOO bad.

His Dad is of no help.
So don't expect him to help nor parent your son.

Also, Google Search "Teen Boy Development" and many good articles will come up... and how to handle them and understand their age related development.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

This is soo hard, parenting a rebellious boy without a good father, hell it was so hard for me and my husband tried SOOO hard to be a good stepfather. Do whatever you can do NOW to make him a responsible person. Somehow I failed my son in that and at 23 he is Starting to take on responsibility. and suffering big time for his past mistakes. and dont waste your time thinking the ex is suddenly going to start parenting, he knows its too late, your son knows its too late, we moms just keep hoping for miracles...... And tell him you love him and its done in love, he will act like he doesnt believe you but he will hear it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Don't feel sick, it will be fine.

Yes, he can break down and mow the darn lawn. Just keep the stuff until he misses it enough to break down and mow the lawn.

What does "vague threats to his person" mean?

No, don't give in. You need to win this, and show him who's boss.

Just read your What Happened. Cool.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

I'd do that and make him pay you the money you paid him for the months he didn't mow!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I know the situation is handled at this point, but I would like to suggest that if you get to the point again where the lawn is not in need of mowing then you do not pay him. Why would you pay him for mowing the lawn when he's not mowing it? Where is the motivation for when it IS time to mow? He's already been getting paid for doing nothing, right? So in the future pay him ONLY when he's actually mowed the lawn. Then you won't need to motivate him by taking his technologies away. You'll be able to motivate him by not paying him because he'll miss the chance to earn money. Then if things get extreme and he still refuses to mow the lawn you can start removing privileges such as the technologies.

However, I'm of the frame of mine that things like mowing the lawn ought to be on his expected chore list anyway. Children, even teens, should be expected to help around the house and yard simply because that's the way it is and it's part of earning your keep and learning to be responsible. You want to go out with friends and have extracurricular activities? You want techie stuff? Then you help out around the house.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Glad it's working out for you after all. Taking away everything INDEFINITELY is probably not fitting the crime. I wouldn't have let him put if off for three weeks though. Don't be sick about it, you are the mom and set the rules.



answers from Birmingham on

Honestly I wouldn't even involve the Ex since this is between you and your son and I think it makes so many of us feel terrible when we fuss with our children. I think you were right. If I don't do my job, then I don't get paid .. meaning: no money! He must realize that luxuries come from money and most of us don't work for the fun of it. It's so we can afford to do things that matter to us and have nice things. I have a 21 yr. old and a 13 yr. old so I know they can try to see how far we can be pushed. They have consequences for their behavior and making decisions to prevent the bad ones is all a learning experience. Good luck!!


answers from Houston on

No way....take everything and refuse to let him see his girlfriend, that boy better mow the lawn if he wants his stuff back.


answers from Los Angeles on

The stinker! I would start by taking away the things that meant the most to him...like phone privileges (home and cell). It would only get worse until he mowed that dang lawn! I feel bad for you because you had to text your Ex to get him to listen to you. That must be SO hard! He needs some tough love from mom. You can do it!



answers from Washington DC on

Glad its worked out. Just remember to follow through on this new agreement when needed. Write it all down/timeline if needed.




answers from Chicago on

I haven't read your responses but you are being way to lienent in my opinion. I would ask once, if not done - consequence. Yes I would keep those electronics hostage until it is done and then add on a week just for my letting things esclate this far. He needs to know that you mean business. Trust me he can live without a phone!!!! If you want respect from your kids you need to model and demand it. No need to get his dad involved other than to let him know that he will be without a phone for calls from him.



answers from Tulsa on

I think you did the best thing. Would a future boss let him get away with not doing his job for three weeks? Would he be paid for doing nothing? No. You are the "boss" at your house and wield the power.

Off the topic but this is the exact reason my children do not have any electronics. They are more important to most children than their parents or any other thing. Keep taking things away until he has no other choice but to comply. And I'm talking stuff like his bedroom door, his bed, etc. Just pretend that he was on his own, couldn't pay the bills (because he's not working), and the repo men were after him. He'll hate you for a while but what else is he going to do? Live on the street?



answers from Chicago on

The power of communication can be a wonderful thing between teens & parents.

You learned that follow thru is very very important. And he admitted that he thinks you are a push over. Big learning lessons for both of you.

oh and don't forget ALWAYS take away the biggest hot item, like his cell phone, first. Notice he didn't put his cell phone in your bedroom, he put the PS3.



answers from Phoenix on

Your son made his decision. Don't feel guilty and relent. He loses it all because of his disrespectful attitude! Don't show that you feel bad. He chose this and had plenty of time. My son pulls this too and we don't give in and he eventually will give in but makes it seem like it was his idea in the first place. I'm a big old softy but thankfully, my husband is no nonsense and sticks to his guns better. You don't have that extra support in your ex so you need to just stand your ground. Good luck!

I read your response after I wrote this. It sounds like it worked out. Congrats!!

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