I have 2 teens 15 & 17. Seventeen year old has up until recently been a great kid -- excellent grades, very motivated, not a lot of friends own age but some as well as good relationships w/adults. Was making good choices and seeming to be pretty responsible. Also had a steady girlfriend same age.
Over the past few months, has been staying up til 3,4 am then struggling to get up for school, grades have dropped off and interest in school has dropped a lot. Also has started lying about whereabouts and in a bid to have more friends, started hanging around with a group of kids who are into drinking, drugs, and generally just want to spend all their time "hanging out" none of them have jobs, or any responsibilities it seems. Has a new girlfriend who is 15 and has been expelled from school for drug use at school, and generally does not seem to have anything in common with him. They have been pretty sneaky about the relationship whereas his last relationship was very out in the open, she came to our house, etc.
He says he does not want to do drugs but both he and my 15 year old say that "everyone" does drugs and drinks and parties and that is all teens do anymore and so they need to be able to be at these parties to socialize and hang out w/friends. They also said they have to lie about where they are because they think I would call the parents and tip them off about the parties if they told me and that teens are only having parties when their parents are out of town so they can drink and do drugs...
He doesn't want to get a job for summer, has no motivation to do anything and is pretty angry at me because he feels he is not allowed to do what he wants to ("drink + party").
We have had multiple conversations about him taking responsibility for his choices and actions and the fact that I can't really control or know everything that he does and rather he should be taking responsibility and making good choices, etc.
He does not want to tell me anything about where he is, who he is with,etc. And, in checking into things have found out he is mostly lying when he does tell me. He told me he is considering moving out soon/this month (he is to go to a State Univ in Fall) because things are so restrictive.
Funny thing is, I have extended a lot of trust, he has a few chores/household responsibilities but really not a lot or anywhere near an excessive amount. He spends most of his time in his room, on the computer.
A number of people have said since he was so responsible w/good grades, etc. he needs to "get this out of his system" and be wild for a few months.
I am mostly concerned with what almost seems like a regression in maturity and good judgement coupled with too much free time to "hang out + party" over the summer.
Wanted to post here and get some input on how other parents w/teens would deal with this situation. We still have some communication lines open, although I feel stumped about having these discussions about why it's important to be using good judgement and asking for my help if you are in over your head in the face of a teen who seems to have thrown all caution the wind and decided to just zone out and be sort of careless.
Whenever I explain my reasonings or what I consider to be good judgement or responsible behaviour, he just sort of snickers and rolls his eyes.
I have known about Mothering it seems like forever -- have been a subscriber, known many on staff and have been visiting the website and forums for a bit...I never labeled what I did parenting-wise, but my parenting style was very closely aligned with AP/NFL on most fronts. I look forward to getting to know people here on the forums!
That's a tough one. My oldest 2 are also 15 (B) and 17 (G). My 17 yo is definitely in a different place though as she is going to be a senior. Unfortunately, I have a tough time when my kiddos make what I think of (since I have more experience ;-) ) poor choices. I start out in my head, as I drive to campus police, with all the things I'm taking away, how many chores they will do etc. Then I found out it was really a stupid kid thing (even the officer said so) and I calm down and we talk about it. If he ever hassles me about mowing the lawn though, all I have to say is - campus police...
If he is going away to college in August there is not a lot you will be able to do in 2 months. We live in a college town and see the choices college students make every day. You just have to hope some of the things you are saying sink in. I would have a really hard time with the lying to me though, adults that respect each other don't lie to each other.
If he won't get a summer job, how will he be supporting himself if he moves out early? That might actually snap a little reality into the equation.
Is he graduating this year or is he a junior?
Personally, I would try to nip this in the bud soon. I don't have any teens yet, but I was this teen. Great grades until I was in the middle of my junior year and by the time I got to my senior year I had absolutely no motivation. I smoked pot and drank and that was way more important to me than school. I ended up not going to college (I'm in college right now at age 30). In hind sight, I wish my mom would have recognized the warning signs and tried to straighten me out. It took me crashing my car during my senior year and almost dying before there was a wake up call. Even then, she thought I straightened myself out and in reality I went right back to my old ways. It took many years and therapy before I got my act together. Essentially, I wasted 6 years of my life that I will never get back.
I'm not saying your DS will be the same way, but if you think it's even a remote possibility I would try to straighten him out now while there is still time.
Mom to (12), (7), (5), (4), (born 7/8/11), , and
I do not have advice other than insisting he has a job to help pay for things - do not pay for things for him if he is capable of working but does not want to. I do think it is fairly normal for 17 yr olds to get a little wild. I know of several high school seniors who flunked the last year. There is a combination of genuinely not wanting to be there (at school) combined with a fear of becoming an adult that comes with graduation. I do think a dose of "do you want fries with that?" often turns on a light bulb and has kids recommit to succeeding at school. The other thing that engages kids is something they can be passionate about. I wouldn't fund his x box game collection - but I would drive him to and perhaps fund healthy passions that keep him engaged in the world.
I don't think there's much you can do to change his behaviour if he is quite determined to do so. Remember being that age? How your parents were so stupid and didn't know *anything?* He's pretty much an adult now, and if he's moving out to go to Uni soon, you really won't be able to control his behaviours. You can see the choices are poor, but he can't. Unfortunately, he has to learn for himself. (I wonder why humans have evolved this way? Ever inventing the wheel, over and over again!).
Just keep those lines of communication open and keep the judgments to yourself. You want him to be able to come to you should he need help. Good luck! And also, remember: this too, shall pass. My oldest is now almost 21 and thankfully she's begun to make sane, rational life choices again. They do come around.
You are in a difficult situation and have my sympathies!
When I was in high school although I did manage to maintain fairy good grades, I also fell into bad company. Two of my best friends had older sisters who smoked pot and drank and of course we thought they were super cool and wanted to be like them. My friend’s parents did not supervise them at all. Compared to these parents, I thought my single mom was so uncool trying to keep tabs on me. Had she tried to forbid me from seeing these girls, I would have hated her and just rebelled more.
Besides just trying, I never got involved with drugs, but I certainly think I spent too much time in my youth and twenties partying. Looking back it was such a waste of time! I could have done so much more, but the problem was I did not have anything that I was really passionate about until I was older.
Now that I am a mom I often think about what I would do if my son fell into bad company. For starts I am more diligent about who his friends are. I always try to get to know the parents of his friends. If they are the types of parents where I feel they are caring and don’t let their kids go around unsupervised, I encourage the friendship. For awhile he had a friend whose parents let him do whatever he wanted. At 12 he’d already seen porno. He never did his homework. His older brother had already been arrested for drugs and drunk driving. Luckily this friendship fizzled out on it is own. My son developed a passion for soccer and made friends with the other boys on his team who I liked. When he moved to middle school many of these boys went to the same school so he had a whole new group of friends.
My son is only 13 and I am well aware that when he gets older I will not always be able to influence him as to his choice of friends. What I try to do is expose him to many different things, for example different kind of sports camps. As I mentioned as a teen I did not have any activity I was really passionate about. I think if I had been exposed to different options at that age I would have possibly realised that there were alternatives to hanging out with these friends. A friend of mine whose teenage son fell into the wrong crowd and whose grades began to slip, put him in a “leadership” camp over the summer. There he made new friends who he stayed in touch with when school started again. He stopped seeing his old trouble maker friends. I have often thought that if my son fell into a really bad company I would take him away on a trip. Actually another friend of mine with a teenage daughter did just that, took her daughter to Mexico, and it worked. I know not everyone has this option.
Mine are 17 & 19. I have found that keeping an open line of communication always helps.
Both of them have had friends that I wasn't keen on. But... forbidding friendships is a sure-fire way to make those "friends" more attractive. Instead, I encouraged them to have those friends hang out here, agreed to take them various places (music festivals, etc), and so on and so forth. A lot of these kids were/are looking for an adult who will let them be themselves, listen, not lecture (but maybe provide a different perspective on stuff). Feed them a home-cooked meal. We ended up picking up a lot of "strays" that way. Mostly w/my oldest who is quirky in his own right.
Every one of those kids respects my (pretty limited) rules - don't abuse my animals, my bedroom is *my* space, and don't bring substances that you can't legally use into my home (because I can't afford the potential legal consequences). I treat them with respect, and they return it.
Thanks for all the responses! Yes, it is not an easy situation with a clear winning strategy. I have been pretty reasonable, not set a lot of restrictive rules but still been clear on where I stand on big issues. Trying to keep communication open but being met with a lot of sour looks and attitude and anger at the moment. And, it just doesn't feel right to me to respond by setting a lot of rules, restrictions, etc. Too time consuming and in the end it doesn't really get at him taking responsibility.
I have extended an offer to DS17 to talk about all of this and really try to understand each other and work out an agreement for the remaining few months he is at home. He has holed up in his room w/computer games, staying up til 4am and generally being really difficult and pretty clear that he just won't involve himself right now. I had really hoped, although not entirely expected, he would respond in a more communicative way and be willing to talk about things.
I did say that until we could work out an agreement, he is home, so that sort of solves the interacting with the friends who aren't good influences, at least in person.
It's just hard as we've really had a pretty decent relationship and he has been on a good track, with interests and passions, etc. up until fairly recently. The sudden switch in behavior is one of the most concerning parts of all of this...almost like he just doesn't want to face the idea of growing up, and in his mind, this sort of behavior exemplifies being "not a grown up"
And, thanks for those who did remind me that it does pass and these teens do find their way into their 20's and start to come around.
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