to ground my 14yo DS, even if he is telling the truth

(52 Posts)

I'm a fairly relaxed parent (I hope) without going overboard on the "not caring", my DS2 spends quite a lot of time "hanging around" with his friends. We live in a small town, where there are loads of teenagers harmlessly "hanging around" in the parks and sports grounds, there is very little trouble (in 12 years I've never heard of any violence), no gangs etc, although there is certainly an element that is into drinking, drugs etc. My logic has always been that a) we are well known to everyone and I would hear about it if he was doing anything he shouldn't and b) that I would trust him unless he proved that I was wrong to do so. I know that 1 of his friends but until yesterday I would have sworn that DS wouldn't do so. Last night I was told by a friend that he was seen getting into a car and smoking. I wasn't aware that any of his friends was old enough to drive. He still swears that he doesn't smoke, that his friends do and he sits in the car while they do so. (Obviously there are dangers about passive smoking). AIBU to ground him for a while, at the same time as having a long chat about the company he keeps and passive smoking?

dexter73 Fri 26-Apr-13 08:49:15

Tbh I would find it hard to believe that he hasn't tried smoking with his friends. My dd comes up with the old chestnut of 'X was smoking so that is why I smell of smoke' and I just don't believe it as it is the same excuse I used on my parents when they asked if I was smoking!

5madthings Fri 26-Apr-13 08:52:27

Err have a chat with him by all means but grounding him wont stop him from smoking if he is going to smoke he will.
I think at this age you cant dictate their friends, keep communication open and talk to him but dont go overboard.

Really sitting in a car and smoking or passive smoking with friends is not something massive on my list of concerns re my teenager. Obviously i would prefer it if he didnt smoke but i dont think.having friends that smoke means he is keeping 'bad company' and you risk pushing him away if you have an over the top reaction to.this.

He has always been VERY anti smoking, to the extent that he didn't want my brother to visit over Christmas as he "stinks of smoke" (he has actually given up, but that's a tangent), his clothes do smell of smoke as they would if he had been sitting in a car but I can't smell it on his breath and his fingers don't smell strongly. I can't make up my mind whether he is really smoking, but I still want to ground him for a bit.

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 08:54:22

TBf is he maybe telling you what you want to hear I used to keep my 15 year old friends fags for her because and I quote her dad would beat her up if he found out , yeah right they were mine, teenagers are not all bad and your son is just hanging out with his friends and you dont really know what they are up too, grounding him may be ok for a while but you can't ground him forever. tell him the dangers of 'passive smoking' and keep an eye on what they are all up too, that is really all you can do IME

EllieArroway Fri 26-Apr-13 08:54:31

I think it would be unfair to ground him for something you admit you have no evidence that he's actually done. And merely being in the company of smokers is not really enough of a reason to ground him either. If he goes of to university, he'll be around a lot of smokers - what will you do then?

By all means, chat about the implications of passive smoking & why exactly it is that you're concerned but I think in this instance you'd be being unfair to actually punish him, which is what "grounding" is.

If it's any consolation, some of the people in my DS's class smoke and he's been offered and said "No thanks". I believe him. And believe me, if your DS was smoking, you'd smell it on him.

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 08:55:20

but i dont think.having friends that smoke means he is keeping 'bad company' and you risk pushing him away if you have an over the top reaction to.this.

^ ^ this

HeathRobinson Fri 26-Apr-13 08:55:54

Mmm, I dunno, sometimes people don't look properly! I saw a friend's son in passing, in town a while back. According to him I went into a pub. Actually I went down the small lane next to the pub. (Shortcut to way home.)

Sallyingforth Fri 26-Apr-13 09:00:15

The car thing is a concern though. Under-age driving is a quicker way to die than smoking. I'd want to find out more about that.

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 09:02:51

probably older teenagers hanging about in cars, it happens with crowds of friends more than likely where they all hang about that it being under age drivers,iyswim I would ask about them though who are they

I'm not worried about underage driving (well I wasn't until now anyway *worried emoticon*) as the boy is actually 17, but then I worry that my 14 yo is hanging around with 17 yo's. Those of you with little children, make the most of it, it gets worse grin

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 09:07:35

I think the 17 yr old is probably just showing off his car sigh my friends son was a bit like this at 17 they all used to hang out in car parks not driving just sittingconfused and there was always younger boys going ooo look car grin

BarredfromhavingStella Fri 26-Apr-13 09:44:35

No I wouldn't ground him for this, just have a chat to him re smoking & possible consequences of it.

Will point out though that as a child I was VERY anti smoking, didn't stop me being a smoker from 14 to 25...

EllieArroway Fri 26-Apr-13 10:27:58

Yeah, agreed - being very anti-smoking is not really a good indicator of whether someone will go on and some. Most smokers were quite anti it at some point.

I do share your concerns, Just - I'm desperate for my DS never to start smoking. I just don't think grounding him in this instance is going to achieve much except piss him off and make him even keener to spend time with the people you'd rather he avoided.

EllieArroway Fri 26-Apr-13 10:28:43

good indicator of whether someone will go on and some Huh? I meant....go on and smoke. Sorry!

I agree that many "anti" smokers go on to smoke, it was just that it was so recent that he was very vocal about it. Total turnaround in a couple of weeks seemed odd. Maybe we need to rethink our course of action.

Grounding won't do anything. Do you really think he's going to stop hanging out with his friends?
Also I wouldn't assume he's lying (not that you are). My friends could stink of smoke but weren't smokers themselves- their boyfriends were, etc.

A lot of kids go through a fierce anti smoking phase.....then all of a sudden they realise that it wasn't built on that much. Then they become more relaxed about it and might try it and then they might stick with it, or not. Most don't.

Not to be harsh OP, but I really don't think it'll do anything good.

Couldn't you make some sort of deal with him- if you let him try it once or twice a week, and not by using your money at all (e.g. if you give him pocket money, he can't use that) he might be v. grateful for the bit of freedom and feel guilty if he'd betray that. Just a thought. I'd def have stuck to that if my dad had discussed something like that calmly with me.
I know you shouldn't have to make deals with kids etc etc. But he's 14, not so much a child anymore!

* And actually, my parents were VERY strict in some ways, but not in others, where they were quite relaxed. When my dad "caught" me smoking in my room he was very calm about it and just asked me not to do it in the house, and lectured me a bit (he could get very worked up about other things, so I knew he cared). So now I'm at uni, they'll ask me, can you not do X around your family abroad, can you not bring X substance home etc and I'm happy to agree and stick to it because they were so reasonable before. It makes me stop and consider things.

I would believe him without question (I did) if it wasn't for a close friend telling me that he had seen him. Now I'm torn over whether he's lying through his teeth (as I would have done at his age) or whether my friend could possibly have made a mistake (but he's very sure). At the moment he's been told he needs to come home tonight so we can have a talk.

Oh I see, I hadn't read that your friend had said something else, sorry.
I'd say all that and I bet your DS will confess to it and you can move on to the discussion about whatever you're going to do.

I don't think grounding will help at all. It will just make him resentful and when he gets back out in 2 weeks no less likely to smoke again, just more likely to lie to you in future.

Basing this purely on me at that age, I would say of course he is smoking and the risks of passive smoking while in the car will be laughable to him.

Let him have a bit of freedom, with the ground rules that you always know where he is and who with.

TSSDNCOP Fri 26-Apr-13 10:52:21

Isn't is possible that he person reporting him made a mistake? You've discussed it, he's denied it. If a mistake has been made, it'd be really unfair and might stop him opening up to you about other stuff.

This episode would fall under the category To Be Seriously Discussed. I'd save the big guns for something a lot more serious.

I was a rabid anti smoker until I was 15. Then I turned into Bridget Jones. I've stopped again now <halo emoticon>

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Fri 26-Apr-13 10:53:47

"I can't make up my mind whether he is really smoking, but I still want to ground him for a bit."

why? confused

i think grounding him is a massive over reaction for smoking, especially when you dont even know if you think he was or not.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Fri 26-Apr-13 10:55:52

is wanting to ground him your reaction to the 'shock' of hearing he might be smoking rather than a logical reaction to it?

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 10:58:35

when dd was younger I was a grounder for everything blush It ended up her being quite sneaky about things so I had to rethink about it, and pick my grounding battles I was quite a loon strict about everything I feel sorry for her now thinking back

I know this is drip feeding and didn't mean to apologetic emoticon but I feel recently like we're losing control of him. He's just given up rugby (which in and of itself isn't a big deal but seems part and parcel of his attitude), he isn't working well in school, homework and coursework are suffering, he's stroppy (yes, he's a teenager), he's tired, there are rumours (nothing concrete) that some of his friends are smoking more than tobacco, I know a lot of them drink (although he denies that he does and I've got no reason to disbelieve him). I suppose he's just growing up and I want to keep him a little boy for a bit longer, where I know where he is and what he is doing.

Is it possible your friend saw him in a car with smokers and assumed he was doing so too, without actually having seen him actually smoking?

Or that he was holding someone else's cigarette, it sound far fetched but I never smoked at all until after I'd left school at 17 but I was probably often seen holding cigarettes at school as people would hand them to me to mind whilst they dashed to the tuck shop during break... I was the safest person to ask because as the only non smoker I was unlikely to steal a few drags while they were gone wink

I also often bought cigarettes for smokers as I could easily pass for 18 so wouldn't be IDed.

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 11:05:34

see you didn't say that <wags finger> I think this is much bigger than smoking isn't it I think you need to have a word about his behaviour in general and not put everything down to him being a teenager, you need to try an d rein him in a wee bit and try and sort his school and whatnot out nobody likes to think of their children doing wrong but sometimes we need to accept something is up and try and fix it smile

Haha, I've just been made extremely guilty (for all of 30 seconds) for my last post because I've had a postcard from the school praising his work and effort in maths. That lasted until I opened the letter from geography, where he has been put on report!
Thanks for the advice mrsjay I think the smoking issue felt like the last straw and maybe got blown up out of proportion. Also making me feel that if he was lying about that, what else might he be hiding.

WTFisABooyhooISBooyhoo Fri 26-Apr-13 11:16:03

ok, in light of recent post, grounding wont solve anything at all here.

you need to have a serious chat with him, tell him straight that the changes in his behaviour and attitude haven't gone unnoticed and that you wont be tolerating it. give him the chance to open up and talk to you, he might be worried about something or hiding something. tell him that you are absoloutely there for him no matter what the problem is (if any) and taht you will help him through it but that he is also a 14 year old boy and as his mum you have a duty to make sure he's not sending himself down a dangerous path. come to an agreement that thing sneed to get back to normal and agree on what you want to happen. give him targets (grades improved by X date, behaviour/attitude turned around right away etc) and give him consequences for when that hasn't happened by X date.

EllieArroway Fri 26-Apr-13 11:19:35

I can't pretend that I know what's going on with your DS, but try not to despair TOO much. Annoying as it is, 14 or so does seem to be the age at which we feel like they are slipping out of our control and we don't know them any more. "Where's the little lad that used to cuddle me and did almost everything I asked?"

My DS is 16.5 - and when he was 14, Id gotten to the point where I had moments of actively disliking him. I hate myself for admitting that, because I never stopped loving him - but "like" was a different matter. Overnight he became rude, argued about everything, stopped doing any homework at all, swore at teachers, told me he hated me continually, emotionally manipulated me...the list is endless. Even getting him up for school was such a hassle I'd start my day in tears. It was a bloody nightmare, quite honestly - and I, of course, blamed myself for everything.

But he got over it simply by growing up a bit and he is a different person today.

Example: One of his GCSEs is IT. Soon after starting the course he decided he hated it, hated the teacher and wasn't going to bother doing any work for it. So he didn't. None. Nothing I, or his IT teacher could say made the slightest bit of difference - no punishment worked, no threat. "It's my life, I'll do what I want". This went on for 18 months. I, and his teacher, assumed he'd get a U grade.

About 6 weeks ago, his IT teacher took the whole class aside one by one to talk to them about what they could do to up their grades in preparation for the final exams. To my DS he said, "Well, we're looking at a U currently. If you do some work now, we might get that up to an E, or possibly a D".

"OK" says my DS. He went in every day after school for 2 weeks and worked solidly with the IT teacher. He's now expected to get an A. IT teacher bought him a bag of Haribo (smile) and has used him as an example of what can be achieved.

I'm not just trying to stealth boast not too much, but just trying to reassure you that teenagers can, and often do, leave us despairing. But more often than not, it comes right in the end. They just need to grow up a bit.

My DS today is unrecognisable from the person he was just two years ago. So hang in there - loving, consistent parenting does make all the difference, it just might take a while to see the results. But you will smile

Thank you Ellie, I'm really glad that your DS has "come good". Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 11:26:29

I can't pretend that I know what's going on with your DS, but try not to despair TOO much. Annoying as it is, 14 or so does seem to be the age at which we feel like they are slipping out of our control and we don't know them any more. "Where's the little lad that used to cuddle me and did almost everything I asked?"

^ ^ i agree with this 14 is a weird age for a child to be dd1 was impossible at 14 i swear that is when i got my first grey hair dd2 is 15 and she seems to be a late bloomer but the storm is brewing I can feel it in my water

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Fri 26-Apr-13 12:03:21

Good post by ellie and ^ very true. They can and do mature.

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 12:09:03

They can and do mature

yes they do but they also need guidance not all behaviour can be brushed off as normal teen behaviour OP im not suggesting that is what you are doing just sometimes it is brushed off and nothing is done till it is too late

shewhowines Fri 26-Apr-13 12:10:47

He will try it but keep the lines of communication open and let him know that you do trust him and will be very disappointed if he is smoking on a regular basis. To be honest if he's innocent and you ground him, that could do untold damage to your relationship and if he's guilty, he will feel bad at letting you down which is a far better consequence than actually grounding him.

EllieArroway Fri 26-Apr-13 12:32:48

No, "brushing it off as normal teen behaviour" is not a good idea - bad behaviour is bad behaviour, full stop. But it's worth noting, as a parent, that this kind of thing doesn't necessarily mean they've gone off the rails for good (which is what we worry when we're going through it with them, if we do) - certainly doesn't mean they should be let off because, oh well, that's what teens do. That is really not the point. If someone had said to me "Your DS swore at you? Oh well, that's what teens do" I'd have sworn at them!

Keep doing what you're doing OP - there IS light at the end of the tunnel. It's just very, very dim right now smile

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 12:34:36

no eliie of course it doesn't mean they have gone off the rails and yes at times it seems bloody hopeless with them

EllieArroway Fri 26-Apr-13 12:37:05

It does, doesn't it, MrsJ? At least we can look forward to them going through this stuff with their own teens and walk around with knowing looks on our faces wink

mrsjay Fri 26-Apr-13 12:38:22

DD1 said to be i wasn't a pain in the bum with a black cloud over me I was being mysterious grin

BackforGood Fri 26-Apr-13 12:51:47

I don't thik grounding him for something he might not have even done is going to help. I'd just continue to keep the conversation open about what he thinks of smoking - the cost and what else that money could be spent on, the smell and how horrible it is to other people, are probably better arguments than the health links at this age.
I would hoever, be more concerned about the 'hanging around aimlessly', particularly with older lads, and lads with cars tbh. That's much more likely to lead to stuff you don't want him involved in, IMO
(Yes, I have 2 teens - a 16yr old ds and a 14yr old dd)

GladbagsGold Fri 26-Apr-13 13:00:05

Ground him for being on report in geography... Its something you know for a fact, but still takes him out of the smokers environment for a bit, giving you chance to talk/listen perhaps.

pigsDOfly Fri 26-Apr-13 13:13:49

Agree with the 'don't ground' camp, especially if you don't actually know if he's done anything wrong.

I never grounded my now grown up kids - it was just becoming the punishment of choice when my kids were your DS's age - mainly because I wasn't sure if I would stick it out as I think it's very prone to breed resentment rather than leading to better communication, which is what you really want.

All these things you're describing are rites of passage for teenage boys and as hard as it is, sometimes we just have to hold our breath and hope for the best but keep letting our children know (a) we're not stupid and know what they're up to and (b) we're always willing to listen. Keep talking to him. A light hand achieves far more IMO.

A school friend of one of my children was grounded for 5 weeks by his mother for smoking (first offence as far as I know). Later when the parents divorced he went to live with the father, who was also a smoker, and just went on smoking along with his father.

NotYoMomma Fri 26-Apr-13 13:45:17

My dad gave me my first cigarette when I was young so I could see how awful it was.

I spluttered and coughed and told him how awful it was and I didn't understand how people could do it and STINK!!!

He was relieved

... I'd actually already tried it two years prior

chocoluvva Fri 26-Apr-13 14:26:05

My 14YO DS does quite a bit of 'hanging out' with friends now too. Hmmm.

I'd let your DS know that he's been spotted smoking and just make one matter-of-fact comment about it being a shame. I wouldn't make a big deal of it (actually, I'd be really disappointed). You don't want to make his illicit activities more appealing to him IYSWIM

Is there anything he would like to do to keep out of mischief ?
Duke of Edinburgh, Golf, Skateboarding, Gym?

piprabbit Fri 26-Apr-13 14:33:33

Smoking is a concern for me, but one I think we'll be able to manage should it crop up.
However, teens is cars is a huge fear for me. There seem to be so many accidents where newly qualified teens kill and maim themselves and a carload of friends.

He was coming out of the gym when he was spotted -- can you tell me why I would pay for him to go there if he's going to smoke?-- He's just dropped rugby (after a misunderstanding with the coach but DS won't talk about it) after 6 years and he says that he doesn't want to do anything else. Feel like I'm batting my head against a brick wall atm

OhLori Fri 26-Apr-13 14:42:40

My sons only 10, it might be better if you had response from parents with boys of a similar age?

However, I think you need to trust your instincts on this, if you have wider, more subtle concerns e.g. about where he is at generally. I think you also need possibly to lay down the law!!! However, he is 14 and on the way to adulthood!!! So its not an easy combination in many ways. Feel for you.

OhLori Fri 26-Apr-13 14:45:16

Agree with Chocco about not making a huge deal of it. I am a most non-liberal parent in many respects, but shaming a teenager for doing something like this I would be wary of. I think I would be a little more concerned about the wider picture, and hope he finds his own way, which at 14 he is probably starting to do ...

chocoluvva Fri 26-Apr-13 14:45:56

Would he be agreeable to having his mates round at yours?

Sorry, for not having any better suggestions.

Paper round?

Grammaticus Fri 26-Apr-13 14:50:07

I have sons this age and I wouldnt ground them in these circumstances. But I would be trying to reduce the time spent "hanging around" I think, now that these two issues have arisen.

bankofmum Fri 26-Apr-13 14:56:54

I wouldn't ground him but follow him, yes really one day can't you 'accidentally' bump into him? I did this with my (now 17 yr old) son when he was 14. He had been anti smoking, was a singer said it would ruin his voice, then said his friends smoked so he stank of it. He was of course smoking himself. Don't want to worry you but he also hang around older teenagers with cars and was soon into waccy baccy. Still smokes now but not the waccy as far as I know

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now