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Thread: Out of control teens, when and where to draw the line?

  1. #21
    jvirginia is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Wow, this is just such a negative dynamic.

    Yes, overall, I'd say that your reactions to his unacceptable behavior are pushing him away, and that this is a turning point in his life where he's looking for an excuse to pull away and mess up. So, I think you more need to focus on what you can do to keep him close and keep him trusting/loving you and making good choices while making sure that certain lines not be crossed. It would be helpful if you could get him to talk - I know it is hard - and ask him what he really wants out of life right now. Clearly, he is chafing at not having a phone or a drivers' license - try to turn that into something positive. If you keep taking things away, things that are important to him, he'll resort to worse and worse behavior and get himself into real trouble. YOu said that 90 % of the time he's a good kid - focus on that. Focus on loving him and making sure he knows that you love him. Help him find a do-able path to a car, a phone, access to his girl friend.

  2. #22
    Troy is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I do disagree with you in a couple of ways.

    First, I disagree with you on the license. A kid his age should get a driver's license even if he can't pay for insurance. You don't have to let him drive your car if he is unable to pay for the additional cost of insurance, but a driver's license might be a requirement for a job (getting there and maybe even job related activities) and certainly is necessary to rent or buy a vehicle. I don't think the license itself (as opposed to the privilege of using the vehicle) should be conditioned on his ability to pay for insurance. My parents never made me pay for additional insurance on our vehicles, and I don't make my kids pay either.

    Regarding the phone: Oh yes, I would po'ed if my kid used the phone to score weed, but a phone is how kids communicate -- and your DH reacted emotionally, instead of after thinking it over. The fact is, a lot of kids do try marijuana -- that he tried it but doesn't seem to be using it is, however perverse it may seem, a positive thing. So I think throwing the phone away was an overreaction especially since it seems that he really is not a recurrent drug user.

    How is he getting the keys to steal your vehicles? Given his habit, I think you should be putting them in a place where he can't get them.

  3. #23
    zoeyz is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    (((hugs))) I don't have any answers, but thought I'd throw out there that paying for him to finish the drivers training would be a very good idea, whether or not he earns driving privileges while he lives at home. He is driving anyway when he takes your van, and will be soon even if that stops (even if he doesn't own a car when he turns 18, friends will probably let him drive their cars). Completing the training will keep everyone on the road safer. And he might never take the time to go back and get that training once he turns 18.

    This sounds very, very tough. Hugs and best of luck.

  4. #24
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default Another update, and some answers...

    First, thank you all for your comments and your support. Dh asked what I was doing yesterday as I was answering CDB and he just didn't get why I was 'airing our issues' here. I reminded him that I've 'known' some of you since before we adopted the kids 10 years ago, and just needed several different and fresh perspectives and I knew I could get that here. So, thank you.

    We seem to have reached a turning point. Some of your comments opened our eyes to the fact that we hadn't shifted our parenting style with ds, even when what we were doing before wasn't working. (We know this is necessary sometimes, like when our younger ds laughed in our face once at 4yo when we spanked him and he said 'that didn't hurt'. We could either begin to really beat him, or realize that this wasn't effective discipline for this child.)

    Dh and I had a long talk, reaffirming that we are not giving up on ds and that we would never give up on him. We agreed that that is what ds needs most right now. We also agreed that we would allow ds to keep his phone, regardless of the means he obtained it, and we'd allow him to keep all his privileges. Stripping him of things hasn't worked before, so we'll do this and see what happens.

    We sat ds down and told him all of this. He seemed quite surprised that we were 'letting him off', but we know the whole incident and the visit from the sheriff rattled him, so we're hoping that's enough. He did seem to open up more after that. He told us why he took the car. In the moment, we had accused him of going to see his gf, but he'd said 'I promise to God that wasn't it'. I didn't believe him then, but he now told us that a friend called and thought her bf was cheating on her and she wanted to go find him. B said no at first but then decided to take her. He admitted it was really stupid, and not worth the consequences in the long run. But we believe it as the truth, which is big for him.

    We talked about some future plans. He enrolled himself in the junior college before, and is scheduled to go tomorrow for his entrance tests. He's considering being a mechanic and he talked about a friend's brother who lost his job as a BMW mechanic in San Fran because he tried to mess with his own warranty date. He still hasn't found work and it's been awhile. Dh and I stressed that this was exactly the kind of real-life example that we are trying to avoid with him. We said that is why we're trying so hard to drill into him now how much stupid decisions, however small they may seem, can make a huge impact on your future. That really seemed to effect him because he's mentioned it a few times now.

    As for a driver's license, we're offering him help with the driver training classes, but he has to have a job to help pay for insurance. We simply cannot afford the extra $150/mo. without his help and he knows this. (Insurance isn't an option - it's a CA state law that he's insured if he has a license.)

    We let him have some more independence yesterday. He got to celebrate his 6 month anniversary with his gf yesterday with a pizza/movie double-date at his best friends house. This was a big step for us, even though we did make sure the mom was there. We'll continue letting him have more freedom as he shows us he's ready. One thing he said during our talk was 'I really had been doing better and not messing up, until that night.' We assured him we'd seen that, which is why we're willing to move on from that mistake. (And he also insists he got the money for the phone from writing essays for his friends his senior year. This could be very true, since he's more than capable and a really smart kid.)

    To ybab and some of the others that mention sibling rivalry, this has been a very hard issue for dh and I to deal with over the years. B came into our home as the kid in charge of his dysfunctional mom and little sister. Suddenly he wasn't the oldest and he wasn't in charge. Our oldest ds is 9 months older, so same class in school, and things naturally come easy for him. He's a black belt, a football state champion, a 4.0 honor student and has worked part-time for 4 years. He's naturally an easy-going honest kid who has earned his independence in our home. As much as we don't compare the two of them, sometimes it's just obvious. It is what it is. We've focused on their own strengths, but B has shut down so often over the years, it's been hard.

    We know he still needs therapy, but we've always tried that when things were really hard - as a reaction to his negative behavior - and he's usually fought it. Hopefully things will be good for awhile and I'll use a good time to approach the idea again. We'd love to see him take advantage of our offer of help now, when he's under our medical insurance and doesn't have the added stress of real adult-life.

    So, thank you again for your insight. I'll try to update more as I can.

  5. #25
    Valerie6 is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default I think I tend to agree with your mom, but I can see

    what a mess this is to weed through! What a situation! He is much too old to have privilages taken away like a child.

    It seems like the whole situation is caught in a loop. He acts like a child so you feel forced to take away his privilages (like driving license, independence, communicaiton with friends, etc.), forcing him to be dependent on you which he loathes, which makes him rebel, then he acts out gets in trouble all over again. What a cycle.

    This whole situation screams of a power struggle. It will never end with your son saying, "Oh, you are right, I should do everything exactly like you want me to and everything will be fine." It just isn't going to happen that way. In a few weeks or months, he is going to "win" the power struggle in the sense that he will be old enough to live his life however he pleases. You can't stop the inevitable by taking away his phone, know what I mean?

    So, one thought is that in a loving way you explain to him that he is an adult now and it is time that he take on grown up responsibilities. Concede that he wins and you want to help him get started with his new independence. Explain to him that the first steps are for him to get a license and job. Next, help him with his budget, which includes a savings for someday moving into his own place, getting a car, pay for his own phone, whatever he might need as an adult.

    I totally agree with your thought that if he doesn't play by your rules while in your house then he doesn't need to be there, but I would be very gentle in expressing this and make sure he knows that it has nothing to do with not loving him or rejection, but about mutual respect. Basically, I agree with the direction you and your dh seem to be going-- the set him free to experience life approach. I think you are on the right track.

    Good luck!

    Valerie

  6. #26
    ahava is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    I'm a little late to the game - but here are my thoughts

    I moved out of my parents house when I was 17.5 - about 3mos before high school graduation. I moved out while they were at church. I suppose they could have said I was running away - but they did not. I had a job, my own car and insurance I was paying for - I moved in with a girl friend of mine and her daughter. I could afford my half of the rent. After high school, I knew that this job as full-time and had insurance.

    My parents were too strict. I lied about where I was going all the time. (I was not allowed to go to movies/dances etc). They sometimes caught me. I refused to let them ground me on the grounds that I did not feel that I was morally doing anything wrong and I would prefer to tell them where I was going - but they would not let me "in a sense". I grew up as the "rebel" child in the family - I never tasted alcohol, tried any kind of drugs, got very good grades. It was crazy I thought and still think. My parents did not let me have my license until I was 17 (1/5years after I could have gotten it).

    Ok, there is my background Im using to answer you. I think.

    - At his age he must be given his license - paid for by you. This is an expense of having a child and happens before he is an adult.

    - At his age, be MUST be given reasonable access to a vehicle to take out his girlfriend and go out with friends and certainly be able to do this with his other friends driving.

    - His "curfew" should be 11pm-12am.

    He's nearly an adult - you want him to "try out being and adult" while you are still living with him -mistakes are GOING to happen - you want him to make the mistakes while he is still living there with you. I think though you are nearly out of time. From my perspective this is why kids MUST have a license and a later curfew about starting age 16 - because you want them to make the mistakes over the next few years while you can be sure he/she is still living there ! but now, you are in a tough position as he is almost 18 and has not been given any time to practice.

    - He MUST get a part time job - I think if you do the above he is going to try to do this.

    I understand how you got here, with his choices - but I think you are in a pretty bad position now and are NOT where you wanted to be. But trying to make him earn privledges - it is just too late for that. He needs practice NOW.

    With the stealing - I "understand" why - he needs spending money. He needed to get a job, I don't believe for a second he did not go see his girlfriend (I made up stories all the time about friends needing help to cover for myself) - but SO WHAT. He is maturing into an adult relationship - if he needed/wanted to see his girlfriend - then there is nothing wrong with that.

    So in the nicest possible way, I'd say yes, you are suffacating him, It is good to see you are loosening up, he needs that.

  7. #27
    Valerie6 is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default I saw this article.

    It mentions that it is not unusual for adopted teenagers to fear leaving home. Leaving home plays on their fear of abandonment and rejection. abURL="http://www.athealth.com/consumer/disorders/adoptedteen.html"]http://www.athealth.com/consumer/disorders/adoptedteen.html[/URL]

    You mentioned he sabotages things. Could he be afraid of leaving home or being "pushed out of the nest" so he is unknowingly making it happen? Just a thought.

    Valerie

  8. #28
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    He got to celebrate his 6 month anniversary with his gf yesterday with a pizza/movie double-date at his best friends house. This was a big step for us, even though we did make sure the mom was there.
    It was a big step to allow him over to his friends house (with parents present)? Wow. I'd consider that a big step at age 5, not 17.5. Why was this a big step? Was it because he was grounded? Allowed out past curfew? Driven there and back?

    I think you have been very conscientious parents, but I think you're seeing that it's time to loosen up or he will rebel. I can't imagine being a high school graduate with no job, no license, and a firm curfew. At the very least, he needs a job. It will reduce the petty stealing and give him some sense of accomplishment. And no cushy jobs here, the nastier the job, the better, in my opinion. Hard work is an excellent teacher for why education and a clean criminal record is a good thing. Some will argue he needs a car for this, I say, "here's a bike and the bus schedule, figure it out until you can pay for a car." Another good teaching lesson for why people save up for cars and insurance.

    As for me, I hardly ever lied to my parents. I was the youngest and they had seen it all by the time they got to me. They also didn't freak out too much when I told them even the ugly truth like "yes, there was drinking there and I drank too". My friends who's parents punished harshly for everything, told lies like they were nothing. It became a habit for them and consequently it seemed easier for them to do really bad stuff and lie about it than it was for me to do simple mistake stuff and tell the truth. Further, when I confessed something, I was still punished, but I was also praised for being honest and facing my own mistakes. I could take the punishment, but the thought of losing their respect? That would've wounded me.

  9. #29
    HethD is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    Default It's a big step because he'd just stolen our car...

    two nights before and we weren't grounding him like we usually had done. We had our heart-to-heart and moved on. We're allowing him more freedom because of his age, but he still has to earn our trust.

    Because of our values, we still don't want him alone with a girlfriend in someone's home. We feel it has to do with respect for himself and the girl, and with respect for the hormones raging in his body that he can't control yet. Dh and I didn't have many boundaries regarding this when we were teens and we became teenage parents. We're not naive to this.

    He drove around town with his friend, getting the girls, the pizza and the movie. It's not like we held his hand and walked him down the street.

    And here's my question: How do we make him get a job? We've tried to encourage him, motivate him, offer to drive him, dangle carrots like his license. How do we force him to search for a job?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shazadio View Post
    It was a big step to allow him over to his friends house (with parents present)? Wow. I'd consider that a big step at age 5, not 17.5. Why was this a big step? Was it because he was grounded? Allowed out past curfew? Driven there and back?

    I think you have been very conscientious parents, but I think you're seeing that it's time to loosen up or he will rebel. I can't imagine being a high school graduate with no job, no license, and a firm curfew. At the very least, he needs a job.

  10. #30
    cherie is offline INCIIDer - A Community Creator
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    How about the miliatry? This kid needs direction.

    Why didnt he apply to colleges during his senior year?

    I would ask him for a few places he would like to work in and take him there to apply.

    Its a very confusing time for a kid and since he has no direction or goals, it is even worse.

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