Any suggestions or imput would be greatly appreciated...
We have an almost 16 year old son that we are having problems with. On Monday night he was over at a friends place with 6 other kids drinking alcohol. The mother was at work and has now been told of what has gone on in her home. My son got drunk and sick and was passing out outside in the pouring rain. Some of his friends called 911 and an ambulance arrived and brought him to the Children's Hospital. We got the dreaded call from the police that he was being transported to the hospital by ambulance from drinking. Thankfully he was okay and we brought him home still drunk about 3 hours later. Today he decided he would skip his fourth period (last class) class of the day to apparently help out his buddy in a fight??? His punishment for the drinking incident (first time that we know) was home from now on for all 3 meals and more verbal checking in with his cell phone. That day he had gone out at 12:30pm to the mall, checked in with a text message saying he wouldn't be home for supper at 4pm and at 9pm is when the police called. Today he texted me saying he was at the mall and at what time should he come home. I told him he had to be home for 5:45pm (supper). He text back saying he'd try. I told him to be home then or he would be in trouble. He then text, what if busses are late. I then tried to call his cell number but he never answered. Called my husband at work-he called him and my son answered. New rules when he made it home just on time. When I call him-he is to answer the call, no more going places without permission first and no mall after school as he has to be home for supper and the buses may run late. Now to question him why his school would call to say he skipped class. First he didn't, then he had a substitute as if to say she missed him- to he was there for 5 minutes and then left because his buddy was in trouble-the same buddy that he was also with on Monday night. I grounded him 2 weeks from his computer for skipping class and tried to tell him he couldn't hang with this buddy for a while. He said I couldn't do this and how could I stop him. I figured he was right and told him if he got into any more trouble with this kid-(his parents don't care by the way-they believe he wasn't drinking and don't seem to care that he skips school) the punishment would be much more severe. I was upset and so was my husband and our son was mouthy and cocky and my husband told him if he didn't like the rules and thought life would be better without us and he wanted to leave he could. A subject our son has threatened with before. He told his dad that he hated him and now my husband is done with it all and I have to try to handle this on my own. Is there any advice on how to handle this?? I'd appreciate any advice. Thank-you.
This can be a tough one because kids at that age can get pretty saavy about what parents can and cannot do. First off, recognize that kids at this age are struggling with developing a sense of independence and identity and one of the best ways they can do that is by violating rules. You can probably view much of his behavior through the lens of his need for independence. Teenagers are notoriously oppostional and will often do stupid things to gain a sense of independence. Getting sickly drunk can fall into that category as strange as that may seem. Secondly, any punishment or negative consequences that you put forth MUST be enforceable without much effort or emotional energy on your part; don't threaten with something you can't enforce or that requires you to put forth a great deal of energy. As much as possible, give him choices. That is, you can do this and then this will happen or you can do that and then that will happen. In terms of taking away the computer or time on the computer. You can simply threatend to take the whole thing away - even destroy it. And then, if he chooses to act in a way for which that was a consequence, do it. Same with any computer games or other objects he may value. Cell phones are generally a safety feature so it's not the best idea to take that away or stop service.
You cannot tell him to leave or kick him out. He may try to push you to an emotional outburst and you need to avoid that, on your part. You need to respond calmly and as if you don't care what choices he makes because they are his choices as an independent individual. But, there are consequences to every choice he makes. You need to recognize, again, that he is STRUGGLING with developing his own unique sense of independence.
You can also be sure to recognize and support his positive behaviors. Hope that helps some...
coming from me, someone who did exactly like your son is doing.. at the same age, I would tell you to lock him down. my mom had to pull me out of school and away from my friends. He sounds like he is running with the wrong crowd. I had no phone privledge, certainly no cell phone privledges. No car, no nothing. Why can't the cell phone be taken away? I was so bad that i left in the middle of the night and din't come back for almost three months. My situation went downhill quick, with a pregnany scare, drugs and even more alcohol. In retrospect, since that was almost 11 years ago, I don't know what caused me to do this, perhaps it is something all kids must go through, however, I didn't respect my folks and he certainly isn't respecting you. Lock him down and tell him what he can and can't do and if you tell him to jump, he better ask how high. my folks were very close to calling the police. I was that bad. It would have really scared the crap out of me, but I did eventually shape up, my relationship got better and now, I bought a house at 21, have been married for four years, have a step son and do all the responsible things that adults do. I got through it, and it sounds like your son is going through it. He will get better. Perhaps talking to someone about this would help. Youth pastor, counseling, family member or something? I hope this helps. I have never gone through it as a parent, but I can understand his feelings. they might get worse before they get better, but he will come through it. I was locked down and it was awful. slowly my folks allowed me to do small things to gain back their trust. It worked, and there were plenty of setbacks, but time will tell. Does that help at all?
My brother was the same way. We turned him around by getting him involved in extracurricular activities, sports, judo and transferring schools.. stuff that helps with discipline and an increased need for self-responsibility.
Good luck. My son is four and I hope that we can navigate the phase you are going through safely.
If we learn by our mistakes, I am working on one hell of an education.
Thank you for all your suggestions and comments. I do realize that he is a teenager and struggling with his identity and independence. I am trying to be understanding and not so tough on him. The problem is does the punishment fit the crime sort of speak? I agree with following through with whatever the consequence to the behaviour might be. But can you forbid your child to hang out with certain kids? I allow my son to keep his cell phone as a safety measure and he does pay for his usage. How do you know when your child needs help from an "outsider?" And by outsider I mean counsellor or possibly boot camp. I don't think he understands the severity of the drunkiness. He even commented that chances are it'll happen again?? He is also on clonidine (a high blood pressure pill) but for him it is to help control his "tics". He also commented that he may skip another class. I mean how do you handle that and at what point do you do something more drastic? Is he headed for trouble or am I making too much of this? He does not smoke or do drugs-I hope. He is quite honest. But on the negative side, he is very disrespectful to people around him-family and friends. The buddy he is getting into trouble with lives accross the street and does not go to the same school as my son does, my son is in high school and his buddy is still in junior high school-he is a year and a half younger. Actually all the kids he hangs out with do not go to the same school as he does. He did have a pt job and quit just 2 weeks ago. I hope he will find another one to keep him busy throughout the summer but last night he said he had no plans on getting a job now. I'm just trying to keep him safe and level headed. He'll need a good education to make it out here on his own and I only want what's best for him. Thank you all for your help. Parenting is really a tough job.
There are many things you will not be able to control about his behavior such as who he hangs around with away from home. So, it does little good to forbid it if you can't control it. You can let him know that you dislike him hanging around those kids, but you can't really prohibit that because you can't really enforce that. Same thing with drinking. You can't really stop him if that's what he wants to do, especially at 16. He can go to a friends, or some place away from home and drink. So, again, you can let him know that you really feel uncomfortable knowing that he is drinking, that you are concerned for his safety and well being and that you need to know that he is ok. But, beyond that.....it's ultimately up to him. It's great that he's honest and it sounds like the communication is ok. but, I think it could get better. Do a net search on nonviolent communication and love logic. Both offer some interesting and useful information about communication.
Re: outside help. Ask him if he would like to speak with a counselor. If he says yes, go for it. If he says no, ask him if he will at least think about it and leave it at that.