My 15-year-old son is failing many of his classes and does not care. When his teachers offer to help him make up missed work after school, he doesn’t show up. I have been in consistent contact with the school’s staff, and I have taken away privileges like his phone, TV, gaming system, etc. Nothing seems to work.
He is disrespectful, leaving the house without permission and calling me names. And now he is becoming physically aggressive. I even had to call the police when he attacked me one time. I am a single mom without family support. We do see a psychologist and a psychiatrist once a month. What else can I do?
We are glad you are accessing help for you and your son. We encourage you to also call the police when your son leaves your home without permission. You are responsible for his safety until he is an adult. If he leaves, call the police and report him as missing. The police will pick him up if they see him and return him to you. This will hopefully send the message that it is not OK to leave without your permission.
There are agencies that help at-risk youth. Programming includes mentoring, tutoring and independent living skills. Often there are also substance abuse prevention programs.
For yourself, seek parent support groups in your community so you know that you are not alone in your struggles with your son. Parents in these groups have often experienced what you are going through. They can offer you suggestions that helped their child, which you in turn can use with your son. We can provide referrals for locating these services in your area.
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 a single mother and I am having problems with my 16-year-old son. He constantly runs away from home because he does not like to follow the household’s rules. I have five other children to consider when I am out at all hours of the night looking for him. When I ask why he behaves this way, he does not have any answers.
He knows that I am legally responsible for him until he is 18. He uses this fact to manipulate me. He has had multiple run-ins with the police, but they were all minor enough for him to be released into my custody. I frequently have to take off work to appear in court on his behalf. I don’t want to give up on him, but I don’t know what to do.
It is good that you have established household rules. Is your son required to do certain chores every day? Do your other children have chores, and do your household rules apply to them?
When your son runs away, call the police. By involving the police, you won’t have to leave your other children and take on the stress of searching for your son. Also, the police will then have a record of all the times your son has left your home without your permission.
The next time you appear in court for an incident your son causes, request that the judge take some type of action. This can include putting him on probation or requiring mandatory community service.
It sounds like the main issue is your son’s lack of respect for your authority. As heartbreaking as this is, you need to stand firm and take away privileges (music, his cell phone, electronics and time with friends) each time he shows you disrespect. He can earn back some of the privileges that he has lost by showing you the proper respect and abiding by the household rules.
If he is the oldest, remind him that he needs to be a good role model for his younger siblings.
Do you have any supportive people you can rely on for help with your children? We have counseling referrals and parent support groups available if you e-mail us your city, county and state. You can also call our Hotline anytime. Our counselors are here 24/7 to help with difficult parenting situations. Our number is 1-800-448-3000.
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 12-year-old daughter is totally out of control! She is openly defiant, and she is putting herself in very scary situations. I just discovered that she is sexually active. She disappears for hours, sometimes even days at a time. She has even started making up extensive lies. Please help!
Keeping your daughter safe sounds like a difficult task and one that may require professional intervention.
Increase the monitoring of her whereabouts so that you can accurately report to the police when she leaves your home without permission. Ultimately, you are responsible for her and her safety no matter where she is. If you don't know where she is, then reporting that to the police is the responsible thing to do.
The other suggestion we have is to get your daughter into counseling. There is something going on with her, and unless she can be redirected to follow the right path, she will only get herself into greater trouble. Sometimes her school counselor can be helpful, and there are also numerous counselors available in nearly all communities. Many times these counselors charge according to the client's ability to pay.
If this behavior continues to the point where you feel she requires a higher level of care than you can provide in your home and family, a residential treatment program may be appropriate. But the program leaders will want to know that you have already tried other avenues. If you would like help in accessing services, counselors or out-of-home placements, let us know what city and state you are in and we can provide referrals.