Tuesday, August 3, 2010

17 year old giving me problems

Questioner: Anonymous

Subject: 17 year old Son Question: I have a 17 year old son who will be 18 in 3 months. Last night he and I had a huge blow out. The argument was minor, but I believe my son capitalized on this argument to stay out all night long.

My son hangs out with a group of boys who have no rules set in their homes.
 These boys are out till all hours of the night, drinking and partying. Sometimes at their own homes with their parents present. These boys have no curfews at all. My husband and I have decided to meet my son part of the way.

We do not want him staying out over night, but did set his curfew for 1:00am. This is just not good enough for him. He argues constantly with us and wants to be treated as an adult. He does work 20 hours a week and has a 3.0 GPA in School. He will be a Senior starting in September. So I will have an adult still attending high school living in my home.

Last night, my son dropped his car off (his father told him we were reporting the car stolen if he didn't come home) and then took off for the evening without telling us where he was. I didn't bother him other than to ask if he at least had a home to sleep in. We seem to be dealing with these types of situations on a weekly basis lately. He doesn't like our rules and says we don't trust him. I have already caught him in many lies already and explained to him that he has given me reason to not trust.

When he does drive, I know he is not drinking. I know he is responsible enough to not drink and drive. This is why he prefers to spend the night, so that he can drink. Although he tells me he is not drinking. My question to you is, how do I deal with this? Especially when his friends have become more important to him that his family. If he comes home today, I planned on seeing how he will react to our decision to take his car away from him.

For now, I will drive him to work and pick him up afterwards. If his reaction is horrible, meaning telling me to F off and he has not life and we just don't trust him. My plan is to discontinue his cell phone and tell him if he want's that privilege he will need to get a pay as you go phone. I also plan on billing him for his Car Insurance. If he can't pay it (which is about $450.00 a month) then I will no longer do so. I will also tell him because he doesn't have car insurance he can no longer drive the car (which is in my husbands name) and the car will be returned back to his grandparents (they gave him the car when he was 16). My fear is he will leave and go live with his friends, that is where he went last night. Do I hold my ground? What do we do?

We don't want to lose our son, but we also don't want this behavior to continue. I see him making choices which I know he will regret later in life. He does not want to go to college, wants to travel Europe for a year and then eventually go to school. I understand these are his choices and it is his life and am trying to guide him by making him understand he is creating a very difficult life for himself. Like all teenagers he just doesn't see it that way. I'm controlling, over reacting and just don't trust him.

My problem is I"ve always trusted him and have found out the hard way that he has been playing me all this time. I know this is normal teenage behavior and he is trying to find his way. But, I'm responsible for him for at least another 3 months. What do you do in these situations?

Answer: Anonymous You started your question by saying your son is going to turn 18 in 3 months and then proceed to tell me he wants to be treated like an adult. How is this a problem when he is about to become a legal adult?

 The reason I ask this is because he doesn't magically turn into an adult on his 18 birthday. Part of your job as a parent is to slowly let go of the ropes....you sound like you are hanging on for dear life! There is nothing wrong with him assuming adult responsibilities and making adult choices.

However, let's sort this out one by one. He is working and going to school an still maintaining a great GPA. Sounds like an area for him to show respect is to know that as long as he is living at home rent free he needs to be respectful of curfews...not because you are his parents just because it is not respectful of anyone to come home in the middle of the night and wake you up.

Next, remind him that although it maynot seem fair to him to be so close to legally being an adult that it is also not fair to you to be legally responsible for him until he is an adult. If he stays out all night and does get into an accident your insurance will expect you to pay for him and I don't know of any insurance company that will give him his own insurance until he is 18. How did he get a car at the age of 16 from his grandparents? No one consulted his parents? The car is in dad's name? What did he have to say about this? Are you fighting this battle by yourself?

He is working and keeping his school work up. This is a huge plus. However, he is not of legal drinking age and needs to know he is committing a crime and whoever is serving him alcohol is also committing a crime. I wouldn't allow a teen to drive any car, or pay for any of their bills if they do not get that alcohol is for people over the age of 21. No discussion. It may not be fair and it is still the law.

Parents can be held accountable for any act of crime while a underage child is under the influence of alcohol. Hope this helps. Please know that you will need to approach this in a manner which allows you to have a candid discussion. Avoid arguing and suggest he be open to hearing what you have to say in an adult fashion. Then listen to him without arguing back.

Try asking pointed questions more than you counter his comments. This may help get the point across.

 Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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