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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I learned to let go of my 16yo just a little bit more. I learned that if I let him make the decisions, he will usually do the right, safe or good thing. I learned that, contrary to popular belief, he is a capable, intelligent person who can be trusted. I learned that if I stop fighting, things will work themselves out.<br><br>
The problem with this is that society tells me I mustn't allow this. I have to set limits, make rules, apply consequences. So, if I let my ds choose his own curfew, I'm going against city law. Could I be punished for this? If I let him get his GED at 16 rather than fighting with him constantly about going to school, I'm letting him down.<br><br>
Do I follow my instinct and give him almost complete free reign because I'm confident he's not doing drugs or drinking and driving or do I try to control him with rules and consequences because that's what society says I should do?
 

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Please don't take this post as me trying to give advice in any way. I have no experience raising a teenager yet (my oldest is turning 12 soon). I'm just trying to share my own experience as a teenager (which, honestly wasn't that long ago - I'm 29 now).<br><br>
My parents decided to give me free reign at 14-15 because I was an "extremely intelligent, thoughtful" teenager, who, when given the option, they believed would usually make the right choices. I dropped out of school and took my GED, believing high school was unimportant and because I wanted to start college ASAP (granted a community college, and then transfering into a university). I sincerely regret this choice now. Getting a GED is NOTHING like completing high school. I missed out on so much educationally and socially. I've discovered that I am at a disadvantage in a lot of work situations due to not finishing high school (and I did go on to college and now have a BS). Before dropping out, I was not involved in high school activities or anything, but there are a lot of high school social experiences that I missed out on. Again, not implying that your child would go through the same thing, just my experience.<br><br>
In addition, although I know nothing about your child, I believe (and this is just my own personal opinion, and I know a lot of people do not agree) most 16 year olds still do not have the ability to think long term about the consequences of their actions. From my experience (again, this is only my own personal experience), the 16 yo's that I have been around, worked with, known, etc., still believe they are pretty much invincible. Not the super-hero type of invincibility, but the "it won't happen to me" invincibility that applies to a lot of bad things (car crashes, unwanted pregnancy, etc). I know that while I was really responsible at 16 about most things (i.e., went to college, had a job, paid for my own things, etc), there were quite a few things that I still needed parental guidance for (which wasn't there so I stumbled my way through).<br><br>
Based on my own personal experiences, I believe that while parents shouldn't try to "control" a 16 yo based on pressure from society, they still need boundaries and parental guidance. What those boundaries are and what types of parental guidance a parent gives is what that individual parent is comfortable with, as long as it is still there, and keeps the child safe (that would be my concern about the curfew thing). Of course, I'm not trying to imply that by giving "free reign", you would not be still enforcing boundaries or providing parental guidance, just putting my thoughts out there.....<br><br>
Please don't think that I am trying to give advice at all as I have no experience raising a teenager, just being one. My oldest is just turning 12 so I'm sure I will soon be here asking for your advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply. I've been struggling with this for a while now. My ds has already decided he doesn't want to finish high school. He has the option here of getting a full high school diploma for free through the community college but he has his mind made up that he just wants a GED. I might be able to force him to go to school but I can't force him to do anything while he's there. He's already failed the 9th grade twice for simply not doing the work. He is trying to get a job and has said he will pay rent. Like you said, I will always be here to provide guidance. But maybe it's time to just stop fighting about what time he's going to be home. Now that I'm writing this I think that's the only major thing we really fight about. Since school has started, though, he's been home by 9 pm every night. We just had an issue over the summer because he wanted to stay out very late and I couldn't pick him up because I have a baby and a 3 year old and my dh is deployed. When I finally gave up and said, "Do what you want. I can't come get you," he came home on his own (although not when or how I would've preferred).
 

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As far as curfew, I would explain to him what it was, and what the possible consequences for breaking it were, and then do some digging to see if the police in your area routinely enforce it and if so, what the best ways are to avoid them. Curfew laws irk me, and I'm fine with helping my kid avoid being caught.<br><br>
I'd also be fine with the school thing - school clearly isn't giving him what he needs right now, and he's found a solution that will allow him to legally stop going. That's great. If he ever needs a diploma, he'll be able to get one at the CC. I got a GED and it's never prevented me from doing what I wanted to do - now I'm in graduate school and no one cares that I never finished high school.<br><br>
dar
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Dar</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9118190"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">As far as curfew, I would explain to him what it was, and what the possible consequences for breaking it were, and then do some digging to see if the police in your area routinely enforce it and if so, what the best ways are to avoid them. Curfew laws irk me, and I'm fine with helping my kid avoid being caught.</div>
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<span>This is us too. The kids have gone down to the store a few times after curfew and so far they haven't been stopped by the cops yet. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> Our plan thus far is for them to say that they live *right* down the street and are heading home. Maybe we'll never need it. Ds is 16, and Dd is almost 14, ftr.</span><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">If he ever needs a diploma, he'll be able to get one at the CC. I got a GED and it's never prevented me from doing what I wanted to do -</td>
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<span>Same here. I got my GED when I was maybe 18 or so. It was no big deal, and both my kids are planning to get one.</span>
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MarineWife</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9091104"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">If I let him get his GED at 16 rather than fighting with him constantly about going to school, I'm letting him down.</div>
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<span>On the contrary, IMO. I think the constant fighting between you two is more of the let down (to you both). You helping him find a solution that works better for him (and you lol) is a terrific idea.</span><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Do I follow my instinct and give him almost complete free reign because I'm confident he's not doing drugs or drinking and driving or do I try to control him with rules and consequences because that's what society says I should do?</td>
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<span>It doesn't have to be quite that black and white, IMO. You don't have to control him. In fact I don't recommend that approach for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that he'll resist and resent you for it. You also don't have to throw up your hands and say <i>"Okay then. You're on your own. Work your crap out kid..."</i> <span style="font-size:xx-small;">(Not that you are saying that of course... just me being silly. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">)</span><br><br>
What you can do is be involved in an honest, loving, helpful way. Let him know the things you worry about and why in a very casual way. Dd really appreciates it when I bring up things she might not have considered. It's not because I am trying to control her, but because I have a few more years of experience and I may have run into it before. Help him see options, learn how to find answers, and etc. Be a trusted resource, and be sure he knows you trust him but you're also going to be honest about your concerns. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"></span>
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks so much Dar and UnschoolnMa. I sort of said that thing about free reign or absolute control facesiously (did I spell that right?). That's more what I imagine "mainstream" people thinking. If I don't control him, then I must be letting him run wild.<br><br>
I do agree that it's much better for him to get a GED rather than have us fighting about school all the time. That wasn't good for any of us. I am a little disappointed/concerned about the GED. I know there are many smart, successful people who didn't finish high school and I know he can always go to college one way or another if he wishes. I sure didn't do it the normal way. I still have misgivings based on what society tells me should be done even if I don't agree with it. kwim?<br><br>
I want to be a trusted and honest resource. I want us to have a positive relationship. Sometimes I just don't know what the right thing to do is and most of the people in my life think more control is better. But, they aren't the ones who have to live with the consequences of that every day.
 

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MarineWife, These are hard issues, and I commend you for looking honestly at your son to try and do the best thing by him, and by recognizing that he really does make pretty decent choices. Listen to your gut on this one - just like you did when he was little. If you're looking for some reading on the subject, I highly recommend The Case Against Adolescence by Robert Epstein. It looks intimidating, but it's really pretty well written and formated for a parent to use as a resource. It will support your intuition that your son needs more independence, not more control, in order to come in to his own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh, thank you, DoctorKaren. I'm always looking for good books on parenting teenagers but they are hard to find.
 

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Marinewife, My son just turned 17 this week. He has been increasingly independent. He has been homneschooled except for age 9. He is a very confident young man that people think is much older.<br>
He does though need guidance and mother.<br>
He is very independent. That is why he never went to middle school or high school-homeschooled. He told me this week what he loves about college is that you pay,you are the ocnsumer so a lot of the contorl rules about dress,etc. are not there.<br>
He is now taking three classes at cc. In our state (Fl.) you can do this starting at 15. It is a lot less freedom but he seems ready-he is on campus twice a week and is still doing classes with me (two) and will be doing computer programming through online high school.<br>
For my son, he needs freedom but also gentle guidance,encouragment and support. He needs me as his life coach and support.He also needs me to get lots of food and prepare it <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">.<br>
Sallie
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>smillerhouse</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9125577"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">He also needs me to get lots of food and prepare it <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">.<br>
Sallie</div>
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Haha! My ds hardly eats anything I make. I do have to keep lots of food on hand, though. I never seem to have enough for him and his friends.<br><br>
I would have loved to homeschool my ds as a teenager. We tried but it didn't work. He actually asked to go back to the public school. We didn't start homeschooling until halfway through 7th grade so I think he had just been in the public school system so long that it was too hard for us to switch. I'm hoping to homeschool my younger sons from the beginning so we won't have that problem (although I'm having confidence issues about that now).<br><br>
I've been thinking about all this control vs. independence for teens. If someone told me to do something against my instincts with my younger two, I'd ignore them. I don't know why it confuses me so much for the older one. Fear on my part of how he'll "turn out", I suppose. That's a big one for my dh. It's hard when he hasn't really shown any responsibility yet but wants all the independence.<br><br>
He says he wants to get a GED at the community college. That's fine but I think he should do most of the work to get that going. I shouldn't have to drive all over town getting it set up for him. I finally got him home long enough and at a time when we could get the forms to fill out so he can register. There's a section he needs to fill out, a section his old high school needs to fill out and a section I need to fill out. It's been 2 or 3 weeks now and he hasn't done anything with it even though I've mentioned it several times. I finally told him we were going to take care of it Monday when it's good for me and he has to be available.<br><br>
Same type of thing with getting a job. We've been going around and around all summer about him getting a job. He picked up several applications and even filled some of them out, sort of. He just turned one in last week. He's not making any effort to turn any of the others in. I guess he's counting on getting a job at the one place and doesn't want to apply anywhere else. Meanwhile, he's just hanging out with his friends the rest of the time.<br><br>
I guess that's where the independence and the gentle, loving guidance collide. He wants to get a job and finish school but doesn't quite know how to go about doing it so I have to hold his hand through it. But then I think he's 16 1/2 years old. I shouldn't have to hold his hand through anything anymore.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>MarineWife</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9126623"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
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Same type of thing with getting a job. We've been going around and around all summer about him getting a job. He picked up several applications and even filled some of them out, sort of. He just turned one in last week. He's not making any effort to turn any of the others in. I guess he's counting on getting a job at the one place and doesn't want to apply anywhere else. Meanwhile, he's just hanging out with his friends the rest of the time.<br><br>
I guess that's where the independence and the gentle, loving guidance collide. He wants to get a job and finish school but doesn't quite know how to go about doing it so I have to hold his hand through it. But then I think he's 16 1/2 years old. I shouldn't have to hold his hand through anything anymore.</div>
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<span><br>
I can hear your frustration, and it's understandable! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> You want things to happen for him... the things that he wants to happen...but you aren't seeing the steps happen quickly and it doesn't make sense. Dh is struggling a bit with that in his older daughter. She is 18, did not grow up with us, and just started her last year of high school. She says she wants a job, but her approach has been a lot like you describe your Ds's. She filled out two apps and left the rest at home. She forgot 3 appointments, didn't return phone calls, and etc. She called Dh and was pretty down about still being unemployed. Dh told me he doesn't understand what was going on with her, and that he just wants to "do it for her". <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
I think you are right... loving guidance is the way to go. These older kids and teens kind of get a crap deal, IMO; society is in turns telling them that they are <i>"too young for this"</i> and <i>"not ready for that"</i> as well as holding to the idea that they <i>"aren't kids anymore"</i> and <i>"need to grow up!"</i> Transitions can be a real PITA I think. I am definitely not 16 anymore, and changes really make me feel all wonky. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> I think it's really great that you are there to hold his hand so to speak even if it feels like he shouldn't need you to. You are his mom, and I bet he's feeling safe with you around and works this new stuff out.</span>
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, I've been trying to remind myself that, although he's certainly not a child, he's never applied for a job before. I know how much I hate doing that sort of thing so I can imagine how hard it is for him.
 

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My son does not eat much of what I cook wither-or daighter but they love frozen dinners, pizza rools, pozza, farusit,etc.<br>
For me, it is the expctaitons that it should not be so time consuming and with my son it is. He has focus issues and he is a go getter but he needs tons and tons of support. With his classes,he needs pretty much one on one support. This is the way it is with himl.I cannot compare. Doing this is a full time job and I don't encourage him to get naother job until he is soen with his college education. This may change but for now tha tis what it seems like makes th emost sense. Sallie
 

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It sounds to me like he wants the best of both worlds (childhood and adulthood) without the responsibilities of either. If he is not willing to do school or homeschool, and not actually working toward the GED or the job-getting (expressing interest is not the same as doing, and you have said he isn't doing), then I wouldn't be supporting the hanging out w/ friends. Where does he get the money for this?<br><br>
If he wants to make these decisions, then I'd tell him he needs to actually <i>make the decisions</i>, which includes follow-through. Saying you've decided to get your GED is not an excuse to quit school and do nothing.<br><br>
You said that he said that as a part of the whole quit-school-get-GED-and-a-job thing, he would pay rent. I would say, ok, it's mid-September, when school would otherwise be starting. Since you are not choosing that, summer vacation is over, and I expect you to have a job, and to start paying rent by Nov. 1. And give him a suggested timetable, so he understands how long it takes to go through the job hunting/interviewing process, get hired, start work, and get that first paycheck in order to pay November's rent.<br><br>
I think you have a very fine line to walk here, with letting him be still an adolescent, and letting him make (and experience) adult choices. Of course, always be his soft place to land. But if he wants to try out his wings, you need to let him experience it for real.<br><br>
The worst thing my parents ever did, which negatively affects me to this day in huge ways, was to rescue me, to never let me experience the full brunt of the effects of my own poor choices. I'm 32, and my dad worries about what will happen, for both his daughters, when he's gone. And if I'm brutally honest, it's not an unfounded worry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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<div style="font-style:italic;">It sounds to me like he wants the best of both worlds (childhood and adulthood) without the responsibilities of either.</div>
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Isn't this how all teens are, at least to some extent? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> That's what every counselor I've ever talked to has said. The only way he gets money is if he does something that I've said I'd pay him for, which isn't very often. They don't need money to hang out at each other's houses or around the neighborhood. I have been telling him that he needs to be more proactive about looking for a job. I think you are right that I need to sit down with him and get him to set some timelines for things and get a real plan formed.<br><br>
My ds has been diagnosed with ADHD so we have that to contend with. I've always struggled with this because I don't want to use it as an excuse but I also don't want to expect more out of him that he can give. We got our part of the GED paperwork done today. Now we just wait for the high school to do what they have to do and forward it to the community college and then wait for them to contact us.
 

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Marine wife, My son really needed some veg time loat year(age 16). I know not everyone agreed that I did not make him do stuff he did not want to do (like force him to go to scout meetings). I did insist he work with me before he was ready to attend cc ehich he did this fall. My son has focus issues and I have to inssit on channeling his nenergy but be realsitc and have lots of time for him to have fun too. He is very out of the box . Also, I have alwasy chosen not to medicate. Sallie
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I did medicate my ds when he was in elementary school. I allowed the school and doctors to pressure me. Once he was old enough and told me how bad the meds made him feel I told him he could stop taking them.<br><br>
I asked him to be home early tonight so we can talk about his plan for getting a job. He agreed so that's a good thing. Maybe he'll accept some of my guidance on that. Before whenever I tried to help him he would get angry and then refuse to do anything saying that I didn't think he was capable.
 

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Are you thinking of a full-time job? I guess I think of the teen years as the time to try out things, and decide what you like and where you want to go with the rest of your life. Rain has applied for a couple of jobs, but because she's not 16 she's never gotten even an interview. However, she's had lots of jobs already, that she never applied for. These all came out of her interests - she did a lot of community theatre acting and someone suggested her for a paying role, she took a lot of dance classes and was offered a job as a tecaher assistant for younger kids, and so on. We've known other teens who got jobs the same way - one taught fencing for a while, as I recall, and a couple worked at a farmer's market after getting to know the farmer, and one got into photography and wound up being hired to photograph a family reunion... stuff like that.<br><br>
I mean, if he wanted to work 10 hours a week somewhere for spending money, that's one thing, but I would be encouraging him to focus more on figuring out what he enjoys and doing more of it, either through volunteering or internships or classes or just doing it, and then seeing if job opportunities eventually arise.<br><br>
Dar
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I have tried to get him to find things like that that he's interested in but he says he doesn't want to do anything. Right now he seems to be most interested in making money. I was not thinking he'd get a full time job. I assume it would be a part-time job unless he found something full time that he wanted to do. I don't think a 16yo can even work full time. He did volunteer to help his friend's mom with her exotic animal rescue, which I think would be great. Shoot! If I didn't have 2 little kids and a dh who is deployed, I'd volunteer for that. So far, nothing has come up for him to do with that yet. My dh has a serious problem with letting him just hang out. He is afraid that he is wasting his life and taking advantage of me and losing opportunities. That, obviously, makes things harder. So, if ds has his GED and has a paying job of some sort, both of which ds says he wants, by the time dh gets back, that would really help things in that department.
 
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