drink and teen DSS

(38 Posts)
brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:27:32

I am looking for some perspectives on the latest incident with DSS. I do not want us to over-react, but ‘historically’, we have tended towards under-reaction and I’d like to avoid that as well.

DH and I went away for a long weekend (work conference, not a holiday). DSD is 18, DSS is 15. They are not very mature for their ages, and do not always have very good judgement about even quite small things. We debated leaving them on their own, to look after house and pets and selves for four days. We have had a few instances of quite bad behaviour from DSS in the last six months, but things seemed to be going along OK, and we thought it might even be a good thing to give them the responsibility. We had the usual sort of talk before we went, told them it was a big responsibility, and an opportunity to show us they could handle it. Neither of the kids has ever given us any previous cause for concern about drugs/drinking; DSD doesn’t drink and neither do her friends.

We didn’t hear much from them over the weekend, but DH had a daily check-in with DSD, who said everything was going fine. To make a long story a bit shorter, we found out when we came back that DSS had been out on Saturday and he came home with vomit on his jeans. DSD told us a rather evasive account of him coming home; DH then asked DSS who at first lied completely and said he’d fallen down a muddy hill; when told that his story didn’t match up with DSD’s, DSS changed his story and admitted to drinking but said the vomit was someone else’s, a girl who was too drunk to stand up. DSD, when pressed, said that he was acting “OK” when he came home but did smell of drink (of course, he had vomit on him); I think from her demeanour that there is more to the story, especially in light of her comment to DH on Saturday about them having had a row.

There was also, in DSS’s laundry basket, an undershirt with a great many obvious vomit stains on it. He says he has no idea what the stains are or where they came from. To me, this looks like evidence that is inconsistent with a girl having vomited once on his jeans; on the other hand, I obviously can’t really say for sure. I do not know what shirt he was wearing on top but there was nothing else in the laundry.

I am cross with both of them, frankly. DSD for covering for him and for not letting us know right away that he’d come home in such a state. DSS for the obvious reasons of law-breaking; lying to DH about it when asked; the fact that this is just the latest in a series of unacceptable behaviours (that include property damage, laying hands on me, and general disrespect to DH); and most of all for taking advantage of us going away like this.

So far, DH has told him only that he is grounded. When DSS asked how long for, DH said he had to think about it. DSS started getting bolshy and complained that he is being punished for doing the right thing by trying to help a girl who was sick.

I haven’t spoken to DSS about it at all; DH did. He did not ask any of what seem to me to be obvious questions – who were you with, where did you get the drink, who is the girl who was so drunk and what happened to her – Well. You can see that I am unimpressed. What do other people do in these kind of situations?

By the way, the vomited-upon jeans have been left for me to launder.

Make him launder his own stuff. He's 18, it happens. You'll never hear the truth, but hopefully it's taught him a lesson but probably not

And I wouldn't ground him, he's 18 he's an adult. He didn't have a mad orgy and trash the house. He went out and got drunk - that's what 18 year olds do.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:29:33

No, he is 15.

Sorry - DSS is 15 got mixed up. Still, I wouldn't ground him, I'd just make him wash the stuff. And give him a good lecture. But grounding him will make no difference he'll do it again if he's going to do it again.

x-posts

You'll still never hear the truth. I wouldn't get too uptight about it, it happens more than once if my boys are anything to go by

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:32:25

I don't think we can stop him drinking by grounding him - but I think we can let him know that it's not acceptable to us. Not punishing him for this is not an option.
Thanks for the view though.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:33:18

No, I don't think we ever will know what happened.

I do think we won't be leaving him at home unsupervised again for a long time, which is a shame.

Oh I'd punish him, I just wouldn't ground him.

He'd be doing his own laundry and ironing from now on for a start.

And loads of boring chores around the house.

Just not grounding - it doesn't achieve anything, and if you make them do chores then everybody wins grin well you do you get jobs done that otherwise don't be done or you have to do

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:34:54

He'd rather be grounded, I think! smile
But yeah, re-examining this laundry situation, for sure.

When I was 18 and my brother was 17 my parents went away and left me in charge.

He did loads of illegal stuff I won't mention and also (when I was out at work I worked in a Chinese) had a party and wrecked the house. Doors were broken. Windows smashed. Beds ruined with vomit and urine. Much alcohol was consumed, including the contents of my parent's drinks cabinet.

It could have been worse.

SlambangSweepstakeQueen Mon 22-Apr-13 10:36:32

Frankly I wouldn't leave a 15 year old alone for 4 days. But having said that I think you may be putting 2 and 2 together and making 5. How do you know dss wasn't vomited on by a girl? (lovely {hmm])

Why exactly is he being punished? Is it that he went out without permission? (What rules did you set about going out?) is it for drinking? (what are the rules about alcohol?) Is it about not telling the full stor? (well you did leave him alone for 4 days).

Giving him an unspecific length of time grounding for an unspecific 'crime' doesn't seem to be likely to encourage honesty and trust in he future.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:42:01

We did not leave him alone; we left him with his 18-year-old sister.

The length of the grounding is not unspecified; DH told him he had to think about it, which is a different thing. He will be sat down and given a lecture and a punishment, probably this evening. I think it is fine to have said "I need to think about what the consequences of this are going to be".

I have said that I don't think we will ever know the full story. We will set consequences based on what he has admitted to, which is enough.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:42:41

freddie, your parents presumably had a reaction to what your brother did?

If you do ground him make sure he's doing boring chores like washing windows, cutting the lawn, otherwise it's just an excuse to sit about moaning about how it's not fair, with nothing useful to show at the end of it.

Brdgrl - yes. It was all my fault. I should have stopped him. I needed to learn to take responsibility.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:44:45

an unspecific 'crime'

specifically -
1) underage drinking
2) lying to DH
3) acting irresponsibly when he'd been asked (and agreed) to be on best behaviour whilst we were away

SonShines Mon 22-Apr-13 10:45:35

I think really you knew he couldn't be trusted (going on past, but recent, behaviour). So by going away you were kind of asking for it, sorry. This was obviously going to happen, and it could've been a lot worse, actually.

1 and 2 are fair enough, but 3 - what did you expect? he's 15 that's what happens - or at least it does fairly often with 15 year olds.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:46:34

freddie, that seems very unfair to you. I am cross with DSD, but I also think it is a tough situation for her; she clearly is hiding something but she doesn't want her brother to get into trouble. I don't want to blame her for it; I just think it shows that the set-up - leaving her with him like that - isn't going to work and we should not do it again.

Oh I still think it was unfair and I am 45 grin

She won't grass on him and it's not really fair to expect her to.

NotMostPeople Mon 22-Apr-13 10:49:55

What did you expect he's 15?

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:51:18

I agree that these things happen - they did with me - but the other thing that happens, or should happen, is that parents impose consequences, right?

I totally expect him to get into trouble and do irresponsible things. And then we'll make sure he has consequences for it. And that's how he learns.

Really, I am glad for and did ask for other perspectives, but I have to be very clear in saying that I'm not asking whether he did something wrong - he did, because he broke the rules of our house, and he'll be punished for that.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:53:06

What did you expect he's 15?

what does he expect?
When I was 15 and broke rules, I expected to get in trouble for it.

We expected him not to do this, because he has never done it before. That was a mistake, obviously, and as I have said, we will not be letting him have the same responsibility again.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:54:34

Sorry, just to say - I have to go to work now, so will reply later.

SonShines Mon 22-Apr-13 10:56:14

It's a bit like leaving a toddler in a room full of paints and expecting him not to cover the walls though, I think. If I were to do that, I would have to take responsibility for my part in that.

You said yourself he's young for his age, as is your DSD. You've said you've been having issues with his behaviour, at what point did you decide now was the right time to leave them alone with all that responsibility? Perhaps a night, to give them a chance to prove themselves, but 4 days?!

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 10:59:37

Please see my last post. I have already said that we shouldn't have done it.

If my DD painted on the walls, she'd have a time-out, actually.

SonShines Mon 22-Apr-13 11:35:00

Your missing my point

UC Mon 22-Apr-13 12:11:11

Hmmm, well. If it was him who was so drunk, then I would assume he felt pretty awful the next day, and if it was me, I'd leave that as enough punishment. Unfortunately, I really think the only way a teen is going to learn his limits is by testing them. I think punishing him by grounding him is going to alienate him, and you may lose any hope of discussing drinking, drugs etc. with him on a sensible level. I'd go for the tack of a serious conversation about damage to his liver, binge drinking etc.

I speak as a pretty much non-drinker, and also as someone who is quite strict in other respects. I'd punish for example for wanton damage to items, breakages, lack of care.

But ultimately I think the punishment for drinking like this has to be the hangover.

Plus you don't really know for sure that it wasn't someone else. Someone vomitted on me once - it was hideous - and put me off drinking for a long time. Far more than my parents punishing me for coming home with vomit covered clothes would have done. I would have been really annoyed at that!!!

sanityseeker75 Mon 22-Apr-13 12:16:05

brdgrl I actually think you were right to ground him.

In my much younger days, I went out to places I shouldn't have and drank when I was too young - I do think this is a normal teenage rebellion. I had a sister who was much older and so used to stay at hers or my friends if I could when drinking.

I stayed out and lied because I KNEW it was wrong and if my parents found out they would punish me and with me the most effective form of punishment was grounding (I hated it).

Yes it was to be expected that he would do something he shouldn't
Yes it was expected that his sister tried to cover for him (but may now think twice in the future).
Yes it is to be expected by him that if he was caught out on a lie and drinking that he would be punished.
It is not a court with a life sentence, you are grounding him - you do not have to prove beyond reasonable doubt - he has been silly and caught bang to rights and now has to earn back any trust.

Kaluki Mon 22-Apr-13 12:48:11

You are right to ground him. I would be taking pocket money away too.
I would also want to know where he was, who he was with and what he was drinking.
You can't just say teens will be teens. They need to know there are consequences to bad behaviour, same as when they are small, or else they will grow up to be out of control.
Where I live, in a busy town centre, I see a lot of under age drinkers, and it isn't a nice sight. They can't handle drink at that age and have no idea of when enough is enough. They need punishing.

UC Mon 22-Apr-13 14:05:41

I think they need educating.....

Kaluki Mon 22-Apr-13 14:32:04

Yes UC, that too!

BackforGood Mon 22-Apr-13 14:46:14

I'm with most people.
If you are daft enough to leave a 15yr old without adult supervision (and no, I don't count an 18yr old sister as adult for this purpose) it is very much like SonShines says at the top of the page - like leaving a toddler alone in a room with a paintbrush and pots and pots of paints.
Yes, there can be some small consequence (although, as others say, I'd have thought he'd learn more from the hangover and feeling sick), but in reality your lucky you didn't come home to a trashed house.
I have a 16 yr old ds - he goes out 'instantly' beacause someone invites him at that moment... they don't think ahead or stop to consider if this particular person's house would be acceptable to you on this particular weekend, etc., they just go. They also think they will be alrught if they have a can/bottle or two. Now he knows he isn't!
I think it was very unfair to lump responsibility for him onto his sister too - you can't seriously think it's a good thing to force her to drop him in it ?

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 22:33:34

Well, we had a session with our counselor tonight, coincidentally, and that was very helpful. She was quite plain-spoken about it, and helped us come up with a plan of action and way to speak to them both about teh weekend.

DSS will be grounded, and DH has said that he will be keeping closer tabs on what he is up to and talking to friends' parents, etc...We won't be leaving them at home alone again for quite some time, and we'll be letting them know we are not happy with their choices. DH is also going to be having some firm words of warning with DSS about the things that could happen.

I have a 16 yr old ds - he goes out 'instantly' because someone invites him at that moment... they don't think ahead or stop to consider if this particular person's house would be acceptable to you on this particular weekend, etc., they just go.

See, that isn't what these kids do, and they aren't allowed to do it. I don't really think you can make this generalisation, either, because I certainly remember very clearly how I was as a teenager, and how most of my friends were, and most of us did have to have permission from our parents to go out. That isn't to say we didn't break the rules, but there was no blind eye turned when we did. DSD has pretty much always obeyed the rules, so we have been lucky, but DSS is a different kid. The rules are going to stay the same.

I really do expect better than this from these kids, and I'm not about to lower those expectations. Lots of teenagers do routinely lie to sneak around and act out, but DSD has not. DSS has just started, and we're not inclined to accept it as a matter of course.

Reading these replies has been interesting, but I think in the end I am happy with what we've decided upon, and the counselor has helped us figure out how to best deliver the message that is right for us, and I guess that is what I really needed advice about.

brdgrl Mon 22-Apr-13 22:34:28

Thanks, by the way. smile

UC Tue 23-Apr-13 10:35:48

Glad you got it sorted, and feel happy about the situation.

I agree with you that you can't allow DSS to have totally different rules to those you've had for his older sister.

I wasn't advocating kids lying and sneaking about - I'd just rather mine spoke to me and listened to advice, and I guess there will be some events/parties we'll just say no, they can't go to. My eldest is only 12 at the moment, so I may be being naive and over-hopeful thinking that talking about drink etc, rather than punishing when they do it will be the better way to go.

In your situation though, you're dealing with more than him just drinking, it's a trust issue about when you were away, and then potentially lies when you asked about it once home (i.e. the vomit on clothes from the "girl"). To me, those are the real issues, and I think they are to you too?

Sounds like you dealt with it all v well..

brdgrl Tue 23-Apr-13 17:39:56

that's it exactly, UC. Thanks.

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