Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My 17 year old son is breaking our rules!


My 17 year old son is going to college in a month and has been trying both my and his stepfather's patience alot for the past 2 years. He is a "nice person" who has earned a full scholarship to college because of grades from before the last 2 years. Ever since then he has decided to not study in school, lie to do what he pleases, spend most of his time up the street at his friend's house and is late for almost everything. He forged my name in school, plagiarized in his comp science class and last week he decided to sneak out in the middle of the night and drive his car to McDonald's even though he is not supposed to drive past midnight as per the law and his preliminary driver's license. He broke curfew also and I only found out due to a receipt in his wallet from 130am. He has has liquor in his car but I don't think he has been drinking lately. We have taken privileges away in the past and he is good for awhile but then he says he "forgets" and we can't trust him again.

About a month ago he started on meds for ADD as I am concerned about his lack of organization and the constant procrastination and that it will cause him to lose his scholarships at college. He goes to the psychologist but I don't think it is helping the lateness and bad choices. I think he is more immature than the average almost 18 year old male and his determination to not follow our rules and to lie seems scary to us. His stepfather doesn't even like to be around our son due to his behavior and lack of respect for us. Please tell me if this behavior of our son is normal or if we are correct to be upset about his not following our "house rules". Thanks.

Dear Mary Jane;

This is more than just teenage behavior. You told me so yourself when you wrote this, "He has has liquor in his car but I don't think he has been drinking lately. We have taken privileges away in the past and he is good for awhile but then he says he "forgets" and we can't trust him again."

He is drinking and he has all the signs of problems with alcohol. The lying is about the drinking, the disrespect is about signs of suffering from an addiction and the bad behavior is all about the immaturity which comes along with suffering from an addiction.

You cannot follow him off to college to make sure he behaves himself. It is illegal for him to drink at 17 and he needs to hear that it won't be allowed. If he is old enough to make these type of choices for himself then he is old enough to take responsibility for his actions and his behavior. If he doesn't already have a job then he can get one, scholarship or no scholarship and pay his own way.

I would encourage you to seek out an Al anon meeting and to let him know you will not take responsibility for his behavior. He needs to not have access to your car. If he crashes into someone while under the influence he could kill someone and you will be responsible for his actions legally and financially.

Please stop making excuses for him before he hurts someone else.

M Kay Keller

Hi Kay,

I noticed the behavioral changes coincided with my son playing poker about 1.5 years ago and being closely tied to a group that plays frequently. The sneaking out incident involved going to McDonald's and having a chicken nugget eating contest. I found the receipts and that is how I caught him. Is this ADD behavior? Thanks.

Dear MJS:

You don't really expect me to answer this do you? The excuses are part of the reason he is not assuming responsiblity. Do you really want to teach him to use excuses or to assume responsibility for his actions?

He has had liquor in a car! He could have killed an innocent person. behavior. Really wake up before something awful happens and you have to live with it as well as yourself.

I repeat find an AlAnon meeting quickly and attend everyday until the program gets you.

Best Wishes!
M Kay Keller

1 comment:

  1. I remember when my 17 year old son was talking incoherently and stumbling around. I thought he had some kind of neurological disorder. No, he was just falling down drunk. I was totally surprised when I found a huge half-drunk bottle of wine hidden in our yard. We had thought we'd smelled alcohol on his breath, but he said he wasn't drinking and we believed him. Since then he has drunk heavily several times, and it is so easy for parents to be in denial and ignore the signs. If a kid has been getting great grades and then they suddenly fall off - or any sudden changes - it could easily be substance abuse.