Seeking Advice from Experienced Parents of Teens.

Updated on February 17, 2008
M.S. asks from San Jose, CA
7 answers

My 17 year old son who is turning 18 in August will not follow house rules and is disrespectful. He comes home whenever he wants and does not care. I have tried to discuss with him if there is a rule of my house he thinks that should be changed he should come to me and discuss it and maybe we could agree on something else. But he does not. When I try to approach him in different ways ( and I have in every way possible), he just ignores me or turns his ipod up louder. He does however come to me angry when something does affect him, like when I turned off his cell phone for not coming home at curfew during the week, which is 10:00pm. And 2:00am on the weekend if I know where he is at. I’ll tell him to turn off the playstation because his chore’s have not been done and he tells me, “that’s your problem” as he throws down the controller. It’s really hard for me to discuss anything with him without arguing and yelling and I don’t want to do that anymore. Last night he did not come home all night, (which is becoming a regular thing with him the last few weeks). He called me at work mid morning expecting me to go home at my lunch break to let him in the house because he had forgot his key and had to wear his friends clothes and wanted to change. I told him no, he should had came home last night at curfew. A few other words were said and he hung up. He does have some anger issues that I have tried to address thru counseling which he has refused to continue and chooses not to address. I have been told he needs to be “Tough Loved”. There really has not been a consistant male role model in his life other than the local church, community center, school and work. And those people have tried reaching out to him. He has been working a part time job at a local fast food restaurant which I feel has had a big improvement in some areas or responsibility. He is doing better in school but does not go to a traditional school so working does not impact his school work . In fact, I believe working has kept him out of trouble that he was getting into before. I am at my wits ends. I do not know what to do. I’m wondering if any of the parents who read this has tried Tough Love and if it has back fired or has dealt with something similar. I feel as though my son thinks he can do what he wants but does not want the responsibility that goes with it. Any suggestions?

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answers from Sacramento on

I am a mom of five, three teens and two under 11. I have been though all that with my 16 year-old daughter. I think you are doing the best you can and just stand your ground. I would take the i-pod away, too and anything electronic. If he does not like it, "oh-well". He should step up to the plate and follow rules. My teens are at dad's, now, unfortunately, because of unforseen circumstances, but, bottom-line, you have the right to draw boundaries and exercise them. People say teens will usually come around from this behavior, when, I do not know. Just be consistent. I wish you the best.

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answers from Sacramento on

When my son was approaching 18, I had a very happy little talk with him. I let him know in no uncertain terms that once his birthday came, I no longer had to hear about what a terrible mother I've been, how much he was deprived of and how little he got as a child. I told him NO MORE do I have to put up with you breaking curfew, not cleaning up after yourself or keeping your room clean or not doing the chores that are required of you here. I let him know that if ANY of those things continued once the 18th birthday came and went, they would be continuing SOMEPLACE ELSE. The 'tough love' talk really helped. Even before he turned 18 our relationship improved. He now has his own apartment and has full custody of his now 10 month old son. He pays his bills and handles his business. We get along much better and he even babysits his little sister (5 months old--story for another time lol) for me.
Hang in there and good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

Well M.,
I can relate as my daughter often challenges me. However, tough love is where it has to be for him. He has gotten comfortable with the idea of you allowing him to do as he wishes with no consequences.
My best advice, as much as it hurts, is to sit him down with a packed bag of clothes and nothing else. Then advise him that you love him, but since he does not wish to adhere to the rules and you have two other children that are impacted by his actions, that he will be given a choice. He can either live here with respect and the rules that are implemented, or he will be sent to the local juvenille hall or boys camp, or can move out.
I know that sounds harsh, but I will tell you that it woke me up when I was a teen.
If he feels he can do as he pleases, maybe you should let him find out what real life is like. No cell phones, ipods, or anything else that has been afforded him. I think male role models are over rated. Mothers do fine to raise their kids. Just be tough and strong. He may have other issues going on, so, just lay it all out on the line and let him feel like he made the decision of his destiny. He eithers straighten up and play by the rules, or he can venture life elsewhere.

I hope this helps, being tough is a hard thing to do, and we are always wanting to protect them, but he is almost an adult and needs to be held accountable for his actions. Fight fire with fire, you may make him wake up!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Yuba City on

Regardless of what he thinks he is still under 18. Do the Dr. Phil thing while he is gone take everything out of his room except pillow and blanket and tell him he will get nothing back until he moves into his own place or he starts respecting you. He walks all over you because you let him. You give in and he knows this. When my boys were 7 and 13 (they are 9 and 15 now)and they didn't do there chores like cleaning there rooms and picking up there bathroom I went in their bedrooms when they were at school and cleaned them out... tv's, playstations, toys, cd's everything they were not happy when they came home but they learned and eventually they started getting items back (slowly). They just recently lost tv's and playstations again do to poor grades and poor homework. They will not get them back and they have to ask permission to play or watch from my room. Grades are now awesome and homework gets done on time.

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answers from Sacramento on

Hi M.,
Wow can I relate. My 16 y.o. had/has anger/depression/defiance/drug use which I feel is strongly linked to sensory integration issues and 4 mild head injuries. Anyway we sent him to a wilderness program followed by a therapeutic boarding school from Feb 24 - Dec 20, 2007. That was the most difficult decision we have ever had to make. He's been home for almost 2 months. His anger issue is much much better and his defiance is not at all as bad but we still have the issue of his desire to smoke pot. We are setting a 0 tolerance policy and tomorrow I will be talking to the deputy that deals with drug use to get more clear on what will happen if I call them to get involved. I think my son needs to know that I am serious about what I will do whether or not he agrees with my point of view. He does not have to like the house rules but if he is going to live here he has to follow them. As his counselor has recommended: each time he raises the bar we have to raise our bar. The wilderness programs were great, I think he learned a lot about himself and will draw upon what he learned throughout his life.The wilderness and school therapy really helped improve our communication. I have said since this son was 6 months old that he is a strong willed independent thinker, I knew that this had the potential to take him places in his life but also that parenting would be a challenge. He's a great person I just hope to get him to adulthood in one healthy piece.

This is a very brief history, if you would like to talk more email me.

I am married and a mother of 3 boys, 17 1/2, 16, 13 1/2.

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answers from Chico on

Hello M.,

You have your hands full and I admire you for raising your kids yourself. I am the mother of two teenagers (girl 17, boy 15) and appreciate my husband's help, even though I must goad him for it sometimes.

Teenagers are a very special breed of humanity. They are neither a child nor an adult. It is a very frustrating time of life (for them and us). They will all test their boundries in an effort to be grown up, but still want to come home to familiar, safe surrondings... especially if they have screwed up or been just a plain ol' teenager (translation; irresponsible).

You asked about "tough love". I have learned that tough love means following through with the rewards and/or consequences you tell your child will be the result of their actions. This is MUCH easier said than done, and I always want to cave instead of stand my ground, but I don't. I am however, open to listening to grievences, ideas, suggestions, and concerns that are presented in a well thought out way. In the end, the adult (which is me) makes the final determination.

You should know that all of my education in raising teenagers began three years ago (at 51 years old) when my husband said to me one day, "I want to adopt." Long story short, we adopted a 14 year old girl from Russia. One month ago we brought home a 15 year old boy from Kazakhstan.

While we have had to, and are again, putting in the extra effort of helping our children to adapt to new EVERYTHING (language, food, school, and what it means to be part of a family), I find that both of my kids have the same thought processes I did as a teenager. Test, test, test. Test everything, test life, test authority, test truth, test boundries. They want to test things out and still know there is a safe haven if the test fails. The most difficult part is standing your ground to enforce the rules in your home. Children must learn there are rules to follow all through life.

You are obviously a good Mama. Your head and heart are where they should be. You are doing something on your own where you should have a partner for some support and to work together with. There should be a monument in our Nation's Capital to single parents. I understand that you are tired and would just like to come home one night to a peaceful, relaxing family evening.

Please don't give up, because you are a beautiful Mom.


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answers from Sacramento on

Hi M.,

I am not the parent of a teen (my son is two) but I am an 8th grade teacher, so I do have quite a bit of experience with disrespectful/ defiant teenagers.

It sounds like you are very frustrated. It is obvious that you love your son and that it is not only irritating that he does not follow through with agreements (curfew, chores etc.) but hurtful that he has so little regard for you (your worry, time, feelings).

My only advice would be that you recognize that the only behavior you really have control over is your own. You can't make him respect you, but you CAN decide how you are willing to be treated. Sounds like you absolutely provided a logical consequence when he was locked out of the house. You don't have to punish him (ie take his stuff away) just don't save him from the real consequences of his actions (ie if he doesn't sort his laundry, don't wash his clothes; if he doesn't clean his bathroom, don't do it for him, and don't restock the soap/towels/etc. for him).

Teenagers (and many adults) ignore responibilities that they know someone else will handle and it and demonstrate disrespect when they know there is no risk of damaging the relationship. Your son needs to know that while you will always love him, when he hurts you he hurts your relationship. Would you make another date with a man who stands you up? Then why would you set aside time for a young man after he has you waiting for him all night?

I can tell you are commited to actively parenting your son. Keep up the good work.


PS You might want to require that he follow the rules for a while before you allow him to suggest changes. You made the rules as the adult in the house, so unless you've changed your mind, the rules shouldn't bend.

1 mom found this helpful
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