Should I enforce this punishment or am I being mean?

(55 Posts)
flossieraptor Wed 01-May-13 16:14:51

I'm not sure what to do.

DS has just done his DofE camping weekend. He got back on Sunday about 12 and had a massive strop at me because I had had the temerity to leave the house and he didn't have his key and hadn't called ahead. Hung up on me. He had to wait 15 minutes and was in a strop. We had bought him all new stuff (walking shoes etc.). He had all day SUnday to recover, ate a huge dinner, said he was shattered etc. On Monday morning he refused to get out of bed, declared he had a temp, he didn't. then he said it was just that his muscles were aching. I told him that while I sympathised, he should still go to school. He refused point blank to get out of bed. I said I would dock him a week of his pocket money if he didn't go. He said he didn't care and didn't go.

Am I being mean? My mother always made me go to school unless I was actually ill.

For background, he is not my son, he is my DH's nephew who has been with us for 3 years.

SachaF Thu 02-May-13 10:32:24

D of E is supposed to be extra curricular. One of the stipulations of expeditions was that they could not be done during term time so they did not affect schooling and required more effort from participants than if it were instead of schooling. (note, I have not led D of E expeditions for 7 years.)
By taking a day off of school he has made part of the expedition (the recovery) easier on himself and effectively made the expedition only part extra curricular.
I'd have loved a duvet day after an expedition! In fact, that is why we tended to schedule them (silver/gold) in school holidays and not just long weekends. If all the group ended up having a duvet day then perhaps a word with the leader regards scheduling would be appropriate (however, you can't please all the people all the time).

Roshbegosh Thu 02-May-13 10:35:21

Yes, stand firm ,dock the money, he is being pathetic

mistlethrush Thu 02-May-13 10:39:39

DS walked 7 miles when he was four.. then another couple in the afternoon. And, yes, he was carrying his rucksack too grin

chocoluvva Thu 02-May-13 10:40:55

Ah - "ended up refusing school and getting quite depressed and dependent on computer games" that makes it different.

Lots of praise for doing the DofE expedition. (My DD did bronze when she was 14 - started doing silver but bailed out of doing the practice expedition so didn't finish). Praise and confidence building for anything relevant wherever possible. Remind him how things used to be for him and how much progress he's made since and how he doesn't want to go back to that. Tell him you're proud of his achievements and happy for him.

I still think that docking pocket money is not a long term strategy.

Roshbegosh Thu 02-May-13 10:44:32

Maybe not, but doing what you say you will do is. Clear boundaries. Behaviour .. Consequences.

Maryz Thu 02-May-13 10:46:00

Oh, and in the future (I have learned this through bitter experience) beware of threatening punishment when cross.

It's better to say "If you don't go to school there will be a consequence, I'm not sure what it is but we will discuss it tonight". Give yourself space and time to think.

ds2 is very good natured, generally, but we had a massive row about an ipod the other day. With hindsight I was wrong to take it and hide while he was in the shower blush, but I didn't think it through.

choco is right about the encouragement - he has come a long way

flossieraptor Thu 02-May-13 10:50:41

beware of threatening punishment when cross

I am going to add this to my golden rules grin. Along with, always remember what you're trying to achieve...

MaryZ has come a long way hasn't he!

chocoluvva Thu 02-May-13 10:51:07

I agree roshbegosh. As the OP has said she's going to dock the pocket money on this occasion I think she's doing the right thing, but a 15YO boy who regularly has no money at all is just impractical. And risks going down the route of "because you've committed X transgression no pocket money this week" What then happens if he commits a second transgression that week? Before you know it the 'offender' has nothing more to lose and therefore no incentive to behave well, as they perceive it.

mummytime Thu 02-May-13 11:25:26

When my DS did it: he forgot both his walking boots and sleeping bag, so did it in school shoes, and had no sleeping bag. A farmer had also blocked the path very thoroughly about 1/2 mile for the start, which meant they all added hours to their route finding (a few groups needed that particular crossing point on their routes). However he still made school on the Monday with no issues.
DD does hers this weekend.

The rudeness when he got home I personally see as more understandable, as he was probably: dehydrated, very low blood sugar as well as tired.

I would discuss the whole thing with him when you have calmed down. If it was just the practise one, discuss what you can do after the full expedition (maybe hide a sugary drink incase you are late back?).
Also discuss how any future job or college course will need him to attend and be punctual.

If you gave him a punishment, then stick to it. If you feel guilty give him a chance to earn some money back.

lljkk Thu 02-May-13 11:53:52

Stand firm with docking the money, I have so BTDT with DC. I am bracing myself for it again after DD has a weekend of "glamping" with Guides in June. She will be a wreck come the Monday, despite her assurances otherwise.

the only thing I might do different is dock just part of the pocket money, like 20% for each day missed, or half, or something like that. Not sure I'd take a whole week's worth. I expect mine to soldier on, too.

flossieraptor Thu 02-May-13 19:06:56

OK, I will do it!

There are loads of jobs I can get him to do as well. He is very good with little DS so bath time and babysitting duties would probably work.

flow4 Tue 07-May-13 05:00:02

I don't think there's any way any of us can judge whether or not he was 'really' unwell or exhausted. 12km doesn't seem much for a 15yo, but we don't know his personal fitness level, and all kinds of other factors could have been at play, including lack of sleep, dehydration, heat effects, a virus... If this was the only occasion in 3 years, he's obviously not lazy or taking the mick... I'd have given him the benefit of the doubt.

Also, I want to challenge the old adage "Never back down". Personally, I think this is a disastrous rule for parenting teens. Consistency is important, but you need to be consistently fair and measured, not consistently right! Unless you are as infallible as the pope, you will parent better, and gain more respect, if you acknowledge when you realise you have made a mistake or over-reacted.

Even tho they claim we are irrelevant I think we are our teens most influential teachers, and IMO, when we insist on unfair punishments just because we've said them in the heat of the moment, we are teaching teens stubbornness and unreasonableness. sad I want my teens to learn to compromise and admit when they're wrong, so I think I have to model that, and show them how it's done. smile

nooka Tue 07-May-13 05:21:02

I agree flow. I think it's important not to cave, but reflection and calm negotiation are skills every teen needs and as parents we need to model that.

Also sometimes it is the conversation after the storm that really helps with the relationship, so sitting down and saying 'let's talk this through' can be very positive.

I think I'd try a 'lets talk about this weekend' approach and aim for your dn being able to manage a you not being there when he got home situation better next time, as it sounds like that was the bigger flash point.

Being shattered and achy after an expedition seems par for the course really!

flow4 Tue 07-May-13 07:08:40

This is bugging me flossie: I think there may be something else going on under the surface that it would be worth understanding...

You say the two times he's been rude to you like this have both been when he's been locked out. I wonder if that's triggering some kind of fear in him? Fear that you're rejecting him or you're never going to let him back in again? Given his experience, that wouldn't be surprising, and IME, fear often underpins bad teenage behaviour.

I also wonder whether it may have been some kind of self-sabotage. My DS1 quite often follows a positive achievement with bad behaviour. It's as if he can't take praise, or perhaps is afraid it won't come, so creates a kind of 'diversion'. It's a very effective tactic: it often works with me, and it sounds like it's worked with you, because instead of celebrating his success on the expedition, and praising or even rewarding him, you're focussed on his bad behaviour, and you've punished him. sad (There's no implied criticism here at all: I would almost certainly have done the same). He has (perhaps, potentially, if my hunch is right) successfully engineered a situation where he's 'proved' to himself that he's sh*t, life is sh*t, nothing is worth the effort because he'll mess it up anyway... Or any number of other negative 'myths' about himself. sad

I offer these suggestions not as excuses, but as explanations that might help you to help him to understand his own responses, and therefore better control his behaviour. smile

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 13:47:50

Flow, I don't know. I did give him the benefit of the doubt on the illness as there was nothing else I could do. A mother could undoubtedly have pushed it more, but I don't really have the benefit of that proximity, if you know what I mean. I have not enforced the punishment. I still could because we haven't sort out his pocket money for this month yet but my general feeling is that the moment has passed. He definitely knows how I feel about rudeness and knows it will have consequences.

I don't think he engineers situations like this - he gets recurrent rude rage in lots of different scenarios. I will bear it in mind though. I have sometimes, in quieter moments with him, tried to explain the idea that we do things that are driven by underlying thoughts we are not even aware of. For example, he cannot be in the same room as MIL and me together (well, I can't either, but that's different grin). We talked about this and I always say that everything I do, I do because I think it is the best thing for him, or at the very least, for all of us.

He just loses his temper.

We had a nice evening last night, watched a film. We are planning holidays. I try to build on the positive and focus on his education. If he leaves us with good qualifications, as he certainly should do (bright boy) I will feel I have done well.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 13:48:07

Sorry Mamateur = flossie

chocoluvva Thu 09-May-13 14:41:18

Another thought - do you think something embarrassing or upsetting happened on the expedition which made him want to avoid school for as long as possible? (unlikely, but it just occurred to me)

QueenQueenie Thu 09-May-13 16:19:48

15 year old boys (ime) can switch from being near adults to toddlers in the blink of an eye. With my ds1 real rudeness and bad behaviour is 99% of the time linked to low blood sugar. He was very likely tired and hungry when he was rude on the 'phone and being "locked out" was the last straw.

You sound like you are really doing so much for him and taking in and taking on a teenager is a huge responsibility and challenge. I know nothing about his story and how he has come to live with you but I think needs a lot of thinking about in terms of his emotional needs alongside all the practical things. Being a 15yo boy is really tough I think. If you've had a difficult start and aren't living with your parents that is a huge additional burden. You're absolutely right that he needs clear and firm boundaries but he also needs lots of warmth and empathy.

I think a proper talk and the chance to explore his feelings about what happened would be good and the chance to earn back the lost money a good idea too.

I know you are upset that the phone rudeness has happened before.. but we don't all learn from our mistakes without making more.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 17:17:13

He was full of beans that night, told me everything that had happened on the trip, so I don't think there was a problem. that was my first thought, actually. He went in the next day no problem.

Queenie, he definitely could have been hungry.

Basically, he goes through phases of being all lippy and then I take him to task over it and we have a phase of better behaviour. Like all of them I suppose. Our situation is a bit extreme so I tend to think that everything that happens is because of it, but most of it sounds pretty normal.

Maryz Thu 09-May-13 19:36:00

Flow might have a point about the self-sabateuring thing - almost as though he is saying "I've just done something good, let's see if you notice", in the way only a teenage boy can [sigh].

Your problems with him do seem to be becoming more and more "normal" with every post smile. Many of the things he does are the same as teenage boys in every home in the country. And I also think you under-estimate yourself in the way you manage him. You say "A mother could undoubtedly have pushed it more", but you know many of us probably couldn't. If a 15 year old refuses to get out of bed, the last thing an adult should do is physically force them.

Also, you think we all know how to manage our kids because we have had them from day one, but the interesting thing about 13/14/15+ year olds is that they suddenly lurch into different personalities. We all think we can guide them, but in fact they tend to go their own way at this stage, and I suspect many parents are just as flummoxed and confused by their teenager's behaviour as you are.

You should look forward to the day when your own son is 15 and you suddenly look at him one day and think "where on earth did this man come from, I hardly know him". Just think all the practice you will have under your belt by then. His teenage years will be a doddle.

flow4 Thu 09-May-13 21:25:11

^^ What Mary said. Definitely. smile

I remember telling you once before that you under-estimate your care for him and worry unnecessarily that you don't 'love' him... Many teenagers become unlovable, at least for a while, and it's only the history or memory of past love that keeps us mothers hanging on in there, I often think... You are hanging on in there without this memory, which is pretty impressive.

mamateur Thu 09-May-13 21:43:02

Thanks for your kind words, yes, DS will have no chance as I will have written the book on teens by then!

It's massively reassuring to know the physical distance between us is not so strange Maryz. He is a very good kid and I have high hopes for him. I think there are anger issues that could be dealt with but how do you get a 15 year old into therapy? You don't. He is happy though, good friends and healthy guinea pigs. The rudeness stuff will be hard to stamp out completely (DH is still very rude - never been told off in his life, can you imagine. Two men from the same stable grin).

Isthiscorrect Fri 10-May-13 04:13:35

I realize most 15 yo's are ruled by money, and I do think this issue is about the rudeness. School will obviously deal with missed work etc ( our school sets loads of work on the first day back, it encourages the students to come in). But regarding the rudeness I would have, and have done on occasion, had ds write me a detailed letter of apology. He hates wriiting, it takes time, doesn't cost anything and it does make him think. Just my 2 penny worth. Also at 15 you might want to think about moving up to a monthly allowance for budgeting practice.
Fwiw I think you sound like every other mother of teenagers. It's hard and reasonable to question yourself. Keep up the good work and don't be too hard on yourself.

mamateur Fri 10-May-13 08:29:31

I think I need to relax really. The first two years were so intense - a depressed, angry, confused 12-13 year old, a partner who against all expectation stepped back and left me to it and the granny who undermined me and sided against me with him. The problem was always more about the circumstances than DN who has pretty much risen to every challenge and listened more than anyone else in his family. Now granny is more distant (new man on the scene) and I no longer need DP as much because I have it pretty much covered. I am going to make big changes this year, now he is a bit older and we can share some interests.

Maryz Fri 10-May-13 08:38:29

That sounds wonderfully positive smile.

You know, you are really fantastic - and I too remember the post where you worried you didn't love him. You must love him, and I suspect he loves you very much too (in a sort of teenager one step forward, one step back, slightly embarrassed way grin), because he didn't have to change to fit in with your way of living. He could have told you to fuck off at any time and just gone back to Granny, there is absolutely nothing you could have done.

The fact that he is hanging in there and thriving is a testament to him being basically a great kid, and you being a fantastic mum to him.

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