Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teenage son lacks respect and lies about everything.

Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness Nomination?

10                       10                           10            10            Yes

Comment: Thank you so much...great insight on your part. I failed to mention we went to counciling about 2-3 years ago but the psychiatrist just couldn't get into my son's head.

Questioner: Carl

Subject: At Wits End

Question: I have a 17-year old son that has no respect towards anyone, lies about where he is and doing and smoke pot. He'll be 18 in another month and told him if he doesn't live by our rules he'll be forced out of the house. We don't know if he has enough credits to graduate from high school since he hates school. I get conflicting answers from his counselor. Since he lies about "going outside", (he comes home at his leasure around 9:30 or 10:00 on a school night), I have removed all power cables from his 2-computers in his room and Xbox. I don't know if this works but I'm at wits end. Is there more I should be doing?

Answer: Dear Carl:

Anytime a parent has issues with a teenager about their behavior I caution them to look at their own behavior first. It is very EASY to become very negative about our children when things are going wrong with teens. Mostly because we become very aware of how little control we really have over them.

You son is 17 and will be 18 soon and it is already too late to regain control however you can reach him through your relationship.

You state he comes home around 9:30 or 10:00 on a school night. This is not really all that late for a 17 year old. However it is late if he is not doing his school work and comes home to then start on his school work. However I suspect from what you say this is not the case.

Removing the cables from his x-box and his computer is not really going to do the trick as he can access computers at school and his friends' houses.

What I want you to do is talk to the counselor about a screening for substance abuse. You need a screening and assessment to see what else he might be into.

Also I really believe you can turn this situation around however you will need to be patient. First, you need to sit down with your son and tell him that you love him, you are concerned about him and you want the best for him. Then ask him why he feels the need to do the pot and then you need to listen, really listen to him without judging him and commenting on what he says. Often as parents we get sucked into debates with our kids and this doesn't help either one of us. Whether you agree with him or not is not the point. The point is to open the lines of communication and get him talking to you no matter what he says. (more information is powerful).

Next, you need to find things about your son that you like and begin to compliment him on those things. You didn't mention any violence or outright yelling compliment him on whatever you can find that he is doing right in his life.

Although he lies to you (very common in people who suffer from addiction) he could be stealing, and hurting his family physically so realize it could be way worse.

Next find thing you can do together. Things you both truly enjoy doing together (not things you believe he likes to do find out what he would like to do with you). Find ways to spend positive time with your son, interacting on a joyful level. (It goes without saying that he doesn't need to bring the pot along, indeed he needs to not have it in the house as it is illegal).

The more you work on your relationship with him the better things will become between you. When he is 18 if he continues smoking pot then he needs to find a place of his own. Respect his right to choose however his rights come along with other adult responsibilities like paying his own way in life and taking the legal responsibilities as a consequence of his own choosing and not exposing his family to his choices. Let him know that no matter what choices he makes you will always love him although you may not always be able to support his decisions.

Again don't take the lying personally as many times teens lie to us when they are actually trying to protect the relationship they have with us. Although they will NEVER admit this, the relationship with their parents is and will continue to be the most powerful and meaningful relationship in their lives. You have more power than you think you have and or it appears.

If you think you need more help. Ask your son to go into family counseling. It can never hurt to have professional support. I also strongly recommend going to ALANON. You will find other people who have been or who are presently going through what you are going through and have experiences that will help you and support you in your relationship with your son. You can find a local meeting by going to and searching for meeting times and locations.

Best Wishes.....

M Kay Keller

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