I found marijuana in my 14-year-old son’s room. I don't know how to respond or what to say to him. He is entering high school and I am worried that the problem is going to get bigger.
As a teenager, your son is trying new things, is easily influenced by his peers and doesn’t always exercise good problem-solving skills. It’s your responsibility to keep him safe. Smoking pot is unsafe, so you want him to stop using it. Like any negative behavior he may engage in, we recommend you teach to it. There are four steps to follow when teaching:
- Stop the problem behavior by calmly describing what happened. "Son, I found pot in your room when I was in there this morning."
- Describe the consequences for what happened. “Because you had an illegal substance in our home, you will be required to attend a substance abuse class beginning on ____ and we will search your room on a regular basis.”
- Describe what he should do instead of using or bringing pot into your home. "The next time you are out with friends and someone offers you some pot, it would be a better choice for you to say, ‘No.’ If we find pot again or find out that you’ve been using it, it will cost you the privilege of going out with your friends.”
- Have him practice what you have taught him. "Okay son, show me how you will handle the next time you are tempted to use or bring pot home." (Your son should say something like, "No guys, if my mom finds pot in our home again or finds out I’ve been using it, I probably won't be going out with you again."
Let your son know this is a trust issue and he has broken your trust by using or bringing pot into your home. Let him know that if his using it or even having it in his possession continues, the consequences will be more serious and his free time will be restricted. He can rebuild trust by being honest, obeying house rules and being respectful.
To find substance abuse prevention classes, call your local police department or the local United Way 211 and ask for substance abuse prevention programs.
Our adult daughter and her 3-year-old son are living with my husband and me. We are concerned about her parenting and its adverse effects on our grandson.
Our daughter is very independent and does not welcome advice from us. She works varied hours, comes home tired and is irritable with her son. She is always telling him “no” and even pushes him away. When I call her attention to this, she snaps at me.
She is not willing to go to parenting classes to improve her skills. She has even left her son in our care so she could live with her boyfriend. Our grandson’s father walked out on them, but now my daughter is thinking of getting back together with him. I have discovered that the two of them smoked crack before our grandson was born and that she smoked marijuana while she was pregnant.
Our affectionate, precious grandson is now waking up in the middle of the night crying. He is not wet, hungry, thirsty, etc. We can’t calm him; it is like he is in a trance and is unaware of his surroundings. During the day, he is loving and attached to his grandfather and me, frequently giving us hugs and kisses. He loves to read and draw and has a good attention span.
Has he been hurt by his mother’s prenatal marijuana use? How can we help him through this difficult time with our daughter’s unsettled behavior?
It is likely that the instability your grandson has experienced is now taking a toll on him emotionally and behaviorally. It sounds like there is tension at home. We strongly encourage you to avoid adult conversations in his presence. Wait until he is asleep or is in another room. Children are smart. They pick up on tension and they know when adults are arguing. Overhearing adult conversations can be confusing for them.
It is also important to provide as much structure and stability as you can since this gives children a sense of emotional and physical safety. If your daughter agrees, establish a consistent daily routine. This will create predictability in your grandson’s day, which will be comforting for him. Children crave routine and respond well to schedules. This, in turn, allows him to feel safe as he navigates the world and interacts with those around him.
It is difficult to know exactly why your grandson is crying at night. He may not be able to express why he is upset because he may not even know the reasons himself. He could be experiencing night terrors. Offer him hugs and kisses. Comfort him. Tuck him back into bed and assure him that he is safe and all is well.
If you are concerned about his prenatal exposure to marijuana, have him evaluated by his pediatrician. And continue to offer him your unconditional love and plenty of praise. Hopefully, your daughter will begin to learn from your example and place her son’s needs before her own. If not, you will remain a consistent source of love and support.
What is an appropriate consequence for catching my 16-year-old son smoking marijuana with his friend? We are an upper-middle class blended family, and he is our youngest child. I think he has smoked marijuana occasionally over the past several months, despite our telling the family not to do it.
Setting expectations with our children helps avoid hearing excuses like “Well, I didn’t know.” Your son knew before he started smoking marijuana that you expressly said not to do so. He CHOSE to disregard your instructions. It is your job as a parent to inform your son that he has made a poor choice and to immediately follow up with a consequence.
You state that you think your son has been smoking marijuana for several months. When our children break rules repeatedly without consequences, their behavior is reinforced by our inactivity. Your son will continue to break this rule until you let him know, in no uncertain terms, that his behavior is unacceptable.
It’s OK if you only suspect poor behavior; nine times out of 10 our parental intuition is correct. The consequence can be less severe if you don’t have proof, but there needs to be a consequence to deter him from even going down that road.
The type of consequence depends on the severity of the behavior. Smoking marijuana is a severe behavior, so put some effort into the consequence. Make it relate to the “crime” as closely as possible. If he gets caught smoking pot with a friend, he loses the privilege of hanging out with that friend unattended. Or maybe he has to do some research on the effects of using marijuana and write a report for you.
Since trust has been broken, maybe he has to regain that trust by passing random drug tests in your home. These can be bought over-the-counter at your local pharmacy. These are just examples to be used on their own or in conjunction with one another. Whichever one you choose, be consistent. Follow through.
Now go back and re-teach your expectation. Talk to your son about why he is smoking marijuana, and help him find an alternative behavior in which to engage. For instance, if smoking pot is a coping method for stress, have him come up with healthier ways to relax. If he is doing it to be part of the crowd, have him think of ways to find more positive role models with whom to associate. If he doesn’t know why he is doing it, have him determine other ways to handle boredom.
My 16-year-old daughter has been making poor – dangerous even – choices. She is dating a 19-year-old boy who has been caught with marijuana. My husband and I are understandably upset, and we have told her and her boyfriend that they cannot continue seeing one another. My daughter says her boyfriend wants to change and will never do drugs again. She has also confessed to me in an e-mail that she has had sex twice with a boy who is not her boyfriend.
I have yet to talk with her about this, and I am extremely upset. She said she would talk to me before taking such a serious step. I don’t know how to tell my husband this. What do I say to my daughter without jeopardizing our relationship?
The older boyfriend your daughter is seeing would make any parent leery and uncomfortable. Remember, at 16, just about every teen will do the opposite of what her parent tells her to do. We understand why you have said she cannot see her boyfriend. It is the right thing to do. But she has to come to this conclusion herself. If you keep her from seeing him, she will most likely start lying about her whereabouts and sneak out to see him, causing more problems in the future.
See if you and your husband can come to terms with your daughter dating an older boy. Then explain to your daughter that because of the age difference and her boyfriend’s drug history, there will be some rules regarding the relationship.
While you commend him for trying to change, tell your daughter that until you are comfortable with him, she and her boyfriend can only be together when one of you is around. Have him over to the house, invite him out to dinner and/or include him in a family movie night. The more you know him, the more you will understand what she sees in him. It will also provide you with the opportunity to keep an eye on their interaction. This will be difficult on you and your husband, so make sure that the two of you are talking about it as much as you can.
As for your daughter’s sexual activity, this is definitely not what we as parents want for our children. Talk to your daughter about your feelings. You can’t erase the past, but you can keep the lines of communication open. Express the importance of what sex can do to a relationship. Make an appointment with a gynecologist so your daughter can talk to a professional and receive the proper education about the things she THINKS she already knows.
At this point, talk to your daughter about how the two of you will together tell your husband. This will be difficult for you, but the words and wisdom will come. Stay positive and calm with your daughter so she knows that when she confronts the next important step in her life, she can come to you without fearing your anger.
I am the stepmother of a 17-year-old boy who has been living with my husband and I for two years. Prior to this, he lived with his mother and then his grandmother. Both women were unable to handle him, so he came to live with us.
He is not doing well in school. He often skips school and earns failing grades. He is an 11th-grader with the credits of a ninth-grader. I smell marijuana in his room, but he denies smoking it. I also find cigarette butts in his room, which he admits to smoking.
He says he is old enough to determine what is good and bad for him. He sneaks out of his window when we tell him that he has to stay home. Friends sneak in as well. When he stays at friends’ homes, we won’t see him for a few days. He won’t text or call us during this time. We’ve almost reported him missing to the police.
He steals money and other things from us. I don’t know what to do other than placing him in Boys Town. But I don’t want to do this because he has already been in and out of juvenile centers while staying at his grandmother’s home. What should we do?
Raising a young man who repeatedly makes poor choices and disobeys you is extremely frustrating. It sounds like he has been engaging in numerous illegal and dangerous activities. It is great that you have considered calling the police. This is a difficult choice for parents to make, but sometimes it is the best choice.
The important thing is that he gets on the right track with school and leads a safe and healthy life. Stealing, drug use, truancy from school, leaving without permission and smoking cigarettes are all illegal activities of which you should make the police aware. You are not calling simply to get him in trouble. Calling the police could provide safety for your family and stepson. Also, the police could take legal action and put your son in drug treatment, which would benefit him.
What type of discipline have you been using at home? He needs an incentive to behave and make better choices. Taking away some of his privileges, such as limiting access to TV and the computer, is one option.
Reminding a child to make better choices often is not effective enough. Using consequences is difficult at first, and you will have resistance. But if you are consistent, you will see results over time.
When you do speak to him about his behaviors or you are disciplining him, do so CALMLY. It is easy to lose your temper, but getting upset will only make the situation worse. He is out of control, so you must stay in control. Pick a time to discuss his behaviors when he is calm as well.
Other than juvenile centers, what other services have you tried? Counseling with a trained mental health professional might benefit your stepson. Make use of all the available resources before considering out-of-home placement for your stepson.
What has his school done about his truancy? In many states, if a child is not going to school the police can get involved. In some cases, the parents can also get into trouble for their child being truant from school. You don’t want to get in trouble for the poor decisions he is making.
It is great that you are considering Boys Town placement for your stepson. The program is very effective for many young adults with behavioral issues similar to his. For more information, visit our website at www.boystown.org or call our Hotline at 1-800-448-3000.
My son has repeatedly skipped school this year. Twice this week we did not know where he was. We grounded him. As I write this, he still hasn’t come home today. We think he is using marijuana. We don't know what to do.
Many parents struggle with this situation. If your son is grounded but he isn't currently in your home, then he's not really grounded—he’s on the run. Whenever a youth leaves without parental consent, he can be considered a runaway. We encourage you to call the police and report him.
The only way to know for sure if he's using drugs is to have him tested. You can purchase an at-home drug testing kit. You can also check to see if his school offers any type of assistance with this. Or if you give us your location, we can see if there are any referrals for drug testing near you.
Please don't hesitate to e-mail us back. You can also call our free hotline at 1-800-448-3000 if you need more immediate assistance.
My husband and I recently discovered that our 15 year-old daughter has smoked pot a few times and appears to be exploring drugs. She was sent home from school yesterday for taking one of her Dad’s Zanex pills. My husband wants to take away every privilege, which I feel is too harsh. I’ve scheduled an appointment with a Christian counselor but am worried. How can we help her?
Parents are not always going to agree on how to approach their children concerning their actions or what consequences should be delivered for those actions. Your daughter’s health and safety is the most important thing. Taking another's prescription medication is not only illegal, but it also could be harmful and put her health at risk. Since she has confessed to using marijuana as well, it may not be a bad idea to talk to her physician about a possible drug test or an actual office visit to make sure what she has ingested recently is not going to cause harm. Your husband was probably shocked and upset, as you were, and the fact that it was his medication might have struck another chord with him.
If your daughter has never had a mental health evaluation, this might be a good time for that. Some teens experiment for the sake of experimentation, but others could be self medicating for one reason or another. If depression runs in the family, now is the time to see if your daughter may actually be showing some symptoms of the same disease.
Talk with your husband and come to an agreement about what the consequences should be for your daughter’s behavior. She is old enough that if it takes some time for you to come up with a reasonable consequence, she can wait. Let her know that you are glad that she is okay, you want to get her help if she feels that she needs it, and that you love her, but because of the severity of what happened, there will be a consequence.
I am a single parent who desperately needs help for my son. Since he entered high school a year ago I have seen a decline in his academic performance. He stays out late and sometimes doesn't come home at all. He is smoking marijuana and is affiliated with a gang. He has stolen money from me and damaged property in our home. I have tried everything I know to try to help. I have a strong faith in God and I am praying for him but he needs intervention.
Thank you for reaching out to us for help with your son. Things get a lot more difficult once a child realizes that he can leave the home and survive without you.
Ultimately, this situation requires you to refuse to be a victim. You need to be just as tough and sharp as he is. Protect yourself from being stolen from or manipulated. Since he is still young you definitely have a chance to break him out of this pattern, but your will must be stronger than his.
While he is still living with you, start thinking about the things that you control that he wants. If you control a phone, an activity that he wants to do, money that he wants for entertainment, these things are all tools that you can use to manipulate him into cooperating. If he is a gang member, though, it's likely that he can get all of these things from the gang, so keep that in mind.
Enlist as much support from others as you can. Ask uncles, grandfathers, older cousins, school counselors, therapists, coaches and even other fathers to spend quality time with him. Time and communication are your greatest tools against his gang affiliation. Find ways to keep him spending time with healthy people, and do what you can to keep him from communicating with the gang. Think of the gang as the real addiction, not the drugs.
You'll need to replace the gang with a new support system of strong people. What he wants is to belong and to feel like he has some control in his life. You can't give him everything, but you can point him in the right direction.
If you contact us with specifics about your city and state, we can look for some local programs to help you out.