Knowing your teens friends

(43 Posts)
Claybury Fri 22-Nov-13 13:52:01

Just wondering how many parents out there would think it strange that my DS15 has never let us meet his friends and when he goes out we never know where he is or who with. He may say I'm going to ' jack's house ' but if we don't know Jack that means nothing, even if it is true. We know they smoke weed and I don't know if the extreme secrecy is driven by desire to use drugs in houses with less parental supervision.
Would other parents be uncomfortable with having pretty much no idea who their teens are mixing with other than knowing they are fairly local ?
We have encouraged him to invite mates round, we have TV for kids in separate room , Xbox , but he says no way would his friends want to come here. I've tried to entice them with pizza etc !
What can I do if he really won't bring them round ? I don't know any other parents of this age group as he has blocked me out so it is hard to know what is normal.

NoComet Sun 24-Nov-13 22:52:26

Yes we got a letter from school a couple of years ago, with an official police warning about making sure your DCs were where coming home, going to friends after school not in the park getting stoned on dark winter evenings.

I'm very glad mine come home on the bus to the middle of nowhere.

Claybury Sun 24-Nov-13 21:12:37

Frau - my DS knows I've never smoked anything. He uses that as an argument saying I just don't understand. Can't win!!
I'm also concerned about the nicotine. Having found tobacco in his room he tells us he doesn't smoke tobacco. When pushed he said he just mixes it with weed. So he doesn't see that he's smoking tobacco. It can be the tobacco that you get addicted to rather than cannabis.

I guess it doesn't really matter where you live.....

Oh shit I am sorry.

There is a brilliant mumsnetter on here called Maryz with real experience of what you are going through. There is a support thread in teenagers, I will go and find it.

I have no personal experience, but I grew up in a tiny seaside down (next to a bloody great moor) and the vast majority of people smoked weed. I relocated when dd was 10 to get away from it. We live in a fairly grim city now but she has not been exposed to half the drug culture she would have been if we stayed there (in pretty Devon). She says if she had stayed there she would have been going round the back of the cliffs smoking weed and skunk along with the majority of her old school friends. In remote areas there is little to do and because of poor transport links it's hard to get out. Just had to make that point.

FrauMoose Sun 24-Nov-13 09:27:27

How many MN parents have smoked cannabis themselves?

Having done it myself quite regularly at one stage, I suppose the degree of my concern now would depend on how often it was done. Of my two stepchildren one tried it at the odd party, the other became a heavier user. I was not in the least concerned about the one who just wanted to see what it was like. With the other it was more problematic.

I suppose my feeling is that it can make people boring and apathetic. It's not cheap, so it's an expensive habit if pursued regularly. It makes clothes smell.

But I suppose when I did it - a long time back - it also did feel very pleasant at least some of the time. I was brought up in a terribly prim and proper and formal and joyless way, and there was a sort of relaxation and freedom associated with rolling up joints, inhaling etc.

I think it's quite natural that teenagers want to explore being and feeling different. However it's a pity if smoking dope is the only form of 'difference' that is available, or which they want to pursue. (I think the nicotine element is a huge problem, because that's so addictive.)

flow4 Sun 24-Nov-13 09:11:24

Yup, I also think more rural areas can be more risky for teenagers. The situation starball describes is exactly what happened to my DS: instead of drinking in pubs with older men to keep an eye on them, as 14-17 year-olds routinely did until a decade ago, they hang out in parks and car-parks, and occasionally in someone's home if their parents weren't around, without supervision, and drink/smoke/take whatever is offered to them.

Teenagers get into awful situations because dealers wait until they're drunk to offer them other drugs, and there are no adults around to keep the dealers away, or to say to the teenagers "You don't want that mate, it'll make you feel shit tomorrow and you'll owe him thirty quid you haven't got".

That kind of situation is happening every night, all round the country, in towns and cities as well as villages in the countryside... But urban areas offer more alternatives: more choice of friends and different social circles, cinemas and other things to do, pubs and clubs they might get into, part-time jobs they can't be stoned for...

But in most villages after dark, more kids are getting stoned than going to scouts, and that's all that is on offer to teenagers from lower income families. sad

I have in fact recently moved away from a village and into town, and a key reason was to get DS1 away from the group he'd got into... It has worked for us... I half-wish I'd done it a couple of years ago... Though realistically I think that if we'd moved when DS1 was at his worst, rather than this year when he was ready for change, I might have lost him completely.

NoComet Sun 24-Nov-13 00:52:00

And nice DCs are certainly not always nice, most expensive school in the area expelled several boys for drugs.

NoComet Sun 24-Nov-13 00:46:48

I absolutely agree that the tightening up of underage drinking has been very damaging to young people in rural areas.

We drank in the local discos from 14 and pubs from 15. We couldn't afford to get drunk and the 18-26 yearolds (siblings, friends and fellow young farmers kept an eye on us).

Now DCs get pissed on cheap takeaway cider in the local
Park and the drug dealers know where to find them.

There were drugs in one pub in the next bigger town, but it was said our local rugby club had made it clear they weren't welcome in mine.

FrauMoose Sat 23-Nov-13 21:50:42

Oh I'd also be aware of sterotyping 'nice' e.g. polite, well-spoken middle-class friends whose parents live in big houses as likely to be A Good Influence, while assuming that anyone who mutters and is shabby and isn't from an affluent area is 'undesirable'.

I discovered that the absolutely charming highly articulate boy I met via my stepson was the guy who my stepson was buying his drugs from...

optimusic Sat 23-Nov-13 19:52:57

It isn't neglectful as someone posted. Keeping tabs on teens is very hard, and not as easy as some of these posts are making it out to be. Demanding to know where they are and refusal to allow the out doesn't work, instead it leads to lying about where they are.

It isn't easy. It doesn't help that some parents let their dc's and their mates smoke in their homes.

I know you say he goes to a therapist has it ever been suggested that you see someone alone and as part of a family? It can be very useful when things have broken down

Claybury Sat 23-Nov-13 18:26:14

Gold - you ask why he works for school. I don't know but thank god!! . Even though he's at a big city comp it seems the kids think it's cool to be clever. Being a druggie and getting good grades - having it all so to speak. No long term ambition just not wishing to look dumb.

Charming - you're quite right about the box set and we do that on nights when everyone is in - most school nights for an hour before bed we try to watch something together.

Golddigger Sat 23-Nov-13 18:02:51

I was thinking more remote than that Frau. Thinking more of a middle of a moor or something. I do realise that the idea may not have worked though. And may have brought with it a whole new set of problems.

FrauMoose Sat 23-Nov-13 17:57:35

The advice about moving to a more remote area caused a wry smile. I live in a big regional city but most of the small towns in the surrounding rural counties have a thriving drug trade/real drugs problem. Young people can't drink underage anymore - funding for activities for teenage/youth activities has been cut - so one of the major leisure choices for adolescents who don't want to spend the entire time doing homework and/or watching TV with their parents is getting stoned with their mates.

At least if you are in an urban area,there will be a few more sport centres, cinemas, other places where young people can meet up.

Charmingbaker Sat 23-Nov-13 17:44:39

I have a 15yo DS. For him and his friends drugs have been readily available for the past 2 years. We found out at the start of this year that he had been dabbling with weed. Talking my friends with DCs of similar age it shocked me how common it was. We did ground him far a period and made it clear we would not tolerate him using drugs whilst in our house. In reality I suspect he has dabbled with it since, but he doesn't stay out late and we've never seen him stoned.
One thing we did do when we first found out was make a conscious effort to have more family time. We try at least twice a week to do something together that he will enjoy. It might be football with DH, a meal out together or watching a film or boxset. I'll also try to get him to pop to the shops with me once or twice a week, even if it's just to get some soft drinks in. It's a good chance to just have a chat. It has made a difference, he has even been known to sit in the longe for a while voluntarily. We have always made it clear that the main reason we don't want him taking drugs is because we care. We also talk about what he wants for his
future. Interestingly as GCSEs are approaching he is seeing that several of his friends/ peers who regularly use drugs are underachieving and he wants to do well.
My advice would be to try and create some family time, even if it means sitting through films that you have no interest in and also talk about the future. What does he want to do next, is he on track, grades can fall very quickly, so make sure you are getting regular feedback from school that he is still on track.

Golddigger Sat 23-Nov-13 17:04:46

If this had happened to me, I would have considered moving, perhaps to a more remote area.
But at 16, I guess now he would not go. Or if he did, would not come home.

On the plus side he is motivated by school. Is there a reason for this? Has he a specific career or goal in mind?

Claybury Sat 23-Nov-13 16:58:21

Thank you rag and Frau
Even if we decided never to let him out how on earth can that be enforced in practical terms? Would I never go out myself? Take him along on all my errands ? He's 16! Is that what people are suggesting ?!! Like looking after a toddler who can't be left ? I have deliberately worked hard to maintain a bit of a life for myself ( hobbies/ friends ) for my own sanity.

As it is we certainly don't have the freedom parents of teens might enjoy - we rarely leave him to his own devices for long and we avoid creating situations where teens could congregate in our house when we are out.

Ragwort Sat 23-Nov-13 12:51:04

I think you are in a horrible situation and it is certainly not helpful when other people say 'just don't let them out'. I had a close relation with a troubled teen who would just climb out of the window when she was grounded; the parents stopped giving her any money so then she started stealing - they felt they had to go back to giving her money to stop the stealing, it was a viscious circle. When I went to stay with them they had to tell me to keep my valuables with me at all times sad.

I don't know what the answer is, you have my sympathies.

SoonToBeSix Sat 23-Nov-13 12:01:55

I have a 15 year old dd , I she would never be allowed to go to anyone's house I didn't know. Just tell your son he isn't allowed to go and if he wants to see his friends you have to meet them and their parents first.
A general curfew but not knowing where you child is exactly is not enough.

FrauMoose Sat 23-Nov-13 11:47:28

I don't think the parents who say, I'd lock them in the house, ground them etc have a clue what it's like.

My stepson began being interested in alcohol, tobacco and soft drugs in his teens. Both me and his father were recreational dope smokers in late teens/early twenties. For many people it's a phase they grow out of - although for some it is not. Weed is not more addictive than nicotine, and many parents seem very indulgent indeed about teenage abuse of alcohol.

(Skunk is however stronger than the stuff that was available thirty years or so back.)

I think working really hard to make sure that schoolwork gets done, and that money supplies for buying dope are restricted, and to keep dialogue open is the way forward.

Most teenagers don't want their parents socialising with their mates, other than the occasional smile or 'Hello'. It's normal.

Eastpoint Sat 23-Nov-13 11:38:30

I am glad you are getting support from DRUGFAM, I don't have any advice for you, just sending you support from afar.

NoComet Sat 23-Nov-13 11:37:02

Have you read any of Maryz's troubled teen threads, she is the expert on these things.

My DDs, DD1's and many of DD2's friends live in such isolated places it's impossible for them to go anywhere without a lift. They get very little opportunity to get into trouble.

They also get less opportunity to learn to be independent too. I worry what will happen to DDs stunningly beautiful private girls school friend when they meet boys and booze at uni. DD1 is a bit more street wise going to a ordinary mixed comp, but still has never been to a teen party.

Kazzyv Sat 23-Nov-13 11:35:55

Clay bury - it seems you are doing everything you can. If he knows you are there when he needs you and to provide support when he asks I am sure he will turn the corner and grow out of this phase. My son has changed beyond all recognition in the last 6 months, and his best friend who was a real pita from when he was 13 has now become a pleasure to know. They do change and improve !

Kazzyv Sat 23-Nov-13 11:35:22

Clay bury - it seems you are doing everything you can. If he knows you are there when he needs you and to provide support when he asks I am sure he will turn the corner and grow out of this phase. My son has changed beyond all recognition in the last 6 months, and his best friend who was a real pita from when he was 13 has now become a pleasure to know. They do change and improve !

Claybury Sat 23-Nov-13 11:21:59

Flow thank you for your post. I can see you understand. I , like you, have found contacting other parents totally unhelpful. One told me ' not to worry too much' when I said our kids were smoking weed. One saw my son stoned when he as 13 and didn't think she needed to tell me . I found out much later and was so shocked at her attitude. I wish parents would stick together more. Or maybe they avoid me because my son is bad news in their eyes. I just don't know.

Some of the earlier posts confirmed that I'm in a bad situation which I know already ( why else would I be posting?) but seemed to be judging me as a negligent soft parent. I never imagined I would be in this situation! My other DC' s are not like this. I have a great relationship with Dd14 and know her friends.
When you have a bullying secretive withdrawn teen life is very hard. His father and I are together, he is a firm and loving dad and is v much involved but we are both struggling with this.

I have spoken to a tutor at school who has talked to him about drugs individually . I have been to DRUGFAM support. I don't give him money so I guess he either has generous friends or he is involved in low level dealing. My DS tried to grow his own weed ( I found it!) so maybe a friend has been more successful in this. Who knows.

Having a teenager can be the first time in your life you realise you can't always control things in your life.

flow4 Sat 23-Nov-13 09:57:31

Clay, it is very common among certain circles of teenagers. It was one of my biggest ongoing battles with my DS1, a few years ago.

Some parents certainly do not ask at this age, and some ask and happily accept lies. I once discovered that my DS1 (then 15) and two of his friends were not where they had said they were - the address was a false one - and after I had picked them up and given them a bollocking, I let the other mothers know. They clearly thought I was totally mad. One said to me blithely "Oh he never tells me where he is, so he's not lying!"

I do think drug use is part of the reason for secrecy, I'm afraid. I also think you're already doing the few things that you can do about this.

(I also stopped all money, but there is always someone with a fiver to buy a few cans or a bit of weed. Grounding is not possible: if they want to go out, they simply go: mine climbed out if the window without his shoes, the last time I tried it. Involving the police is counter-productive, IMO. If they don't take action (which they probably won't, unless you have actually got hold of the drugs and insist they arrest your DC) it reinforces to your DC that they can get away with a lot of drug use. And if the police do take action (which they will for 'hard' drugs and dealing) then it gets your DC a police record that will affect future jobs and a fair bit of kudos among his friends, and pushes him further into the company of people you want to keep him away from).

I never found a way to guarantee I knew where he was. In the end, I settled for always having a second emergency contact number that was not his mobile. I 'trained' him to give me this by calling all his contacts if he didn't give me one, which was of course embarrassing. But I rarely had an emergency, so I don't know whether some of the numbers were false too.

They do grow out of this need for secrecy. At 15, they seem desperate for independence, and they're afraid you'll stop them, so they don't tell you. At 18, they have much less to prove, and they have more independence. My DS now tells me where he's going, without prompting usually, and always when asked.

I would caution against encouraging him to bring friends home now, tbh. It was my preference too, and I did at first, and he did occasionally... But I overlooked the fact that it is only a good idea if you're sure he has 'nice' friends. Now your DS has got in with a druggy group of teenagers you don't know (as my son did) it is, simply, too risky. I had things stolen, and ultimately I was burgled. After that, I put a total ban on friends in the house for a while, and a permanent ban on anyone I hadn't met and approved.

This was the worst, most stressful period of my DS's life for me, so you have my sympathy clay. The good news is, so long as he stays interested in academic success, and/or other positive activities, he will probably grow out if it and get back on track, as my DS seems to have done. smile

Kazzyv Sat 23-Nov-13 08:49:49

School still seems to be important to him. Does he have a subject teacher or someone he respects at school that could talk to him. Tbh I always ask my DS 17, where he is going but if he says a name I don t know I don't stop him going out. I had similar drug issues last year- but good relationship with my DS as he ended up bringing everyone back to our house ! After about 9 months of this he bombed his AS exams and this year because uni is important to him he has cut ties to his old mates and only smokes weed v occasionally at parties.
I would try to keep lines of communication open and be there when he needs you. You can't lock up a child of this age as suggested above and it seems he respects you enough to stick to house rules so that is a positive.

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