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to ask you..

(10 Posts)
CocacolaMum Sat 04-May-13 09:27:04

where did I go wrong?

My ds has just turned 12. When he was younger we did things together like cooking, he loves to cook and would love when we made dinner together.. Ok not earth shatteringly exciting but in a house with a limited budget you find your common ground where you can!

When he was 8 he wanted to join a playscheme with a couple of friends. Its seriously close to our house (just behind it) so after speaking to another of the parents we agreed to let them go there to play a couple of times a week. We would walk them there and collect them. After a couple of weeks DS was brought home by the shopkeeper from the shop next door to the playscheme. he had been caught taking a chocolate bar.
I was shocked of course (mainly because of his age) and we did show him we were unhappy by taking away favourite toys etc and that was that.. for 2 years.

In the last 2 years DS has stolen money from me (amounting to maybe £60 over the whole time so not a small amount imo) again and again.

At first he said he was trying to buy friends (this broke my heart, he was bullied for a long time and I have been very encouraging of him to join clubs etc but he has no interest) and then after a few times of him using this excuse and being told it was unacceptable he would just shrug and look nonchalant when grilled about it. He would be grounded after each time and when I say grounded I mean no going out, no tv, nothing.

Anyway,

He has been asking for a facebook account for YEARS. I have always said no, too young.
I decided however that 12 was ok. I know it doesn't govern my parenting but all of his friends really do have accounts! smile

So, for his birthday I made him one. Then 2 weeks later he ran up a £45 bill on his other birthday present. His phone (nothing flash, I had credit on my orange account so got a cheap smartphone) which I pay a sim monthly contract on, I explained the tariff to him when we were in the shop and that if he went over on his minutes HE would be paying the difference. He agreed. So much to his disgust when this bill came through I took the £45 off him!

Since then he took his bike to school and left it there... for 3 weeks. I assumed it was in the shed but no. It turns out he took his (expensive, brand new) bike to school and left it UNLOCKED... the way I see it he essentially gave it away. We were obviously angry about it and again, he was grounded. For a month. OH wanted to completely gut his room at this point and leave him with a bed and clothes as he clearly cannot look after his stuff but imo he loved that bike, having to walk everywhere and not having it anymore is punishment in itself.

Since being grounded last week though he has been sneaking onto my computer at 5am in the morning (I have just found out) and on weds he did not come home until 5:30.. I called the school and was freaking out by this time, he is suppose to get home at 3:30. He lied at first and said he had been at the library but when I said Ok lets go to the library and I will ask them he owned up that he had just been to his friends house.

Apparently me grounding him is ruining his friendships and I am too harsh on him :O OH thinks I am far too soft and should have him writing lines every night or something equally victorian

So. Honestly at the moment I don't believe much of what he says (its little things too, he just wants to do the bare minimum in almost every area and lies constantly and it drives me mad) and our relationship is seriously suffering.

I know he is testing me, I don't want to be his friend, I just hate how we are with each other and want my bright eyed little boy back now please..

So AIBU to ask you HOW I deal with this and where I went wrong to make him lie so much and just not feel motivated?

Dahlen Sat 04-May-13 09:36:41

Sympathies. Stop blaming yourself though. If it's any consolation I had wonderful parents who did everything 'right' and I was still a complete PITA (much like your DS, although you can add climbing out of the window when grounded, etc). Fortunately, I came out of it the other side with no real harm done.

I think maybe you could adopt a carrot and stick approach. That would also help you and your OH not feel divided about it. If you can agree this in principle with your OH beforehand, it may help to sit down and discuss this with your DS as a family, asking him for his input on what he'd like as rewards and how he suggests you deal with behaviours that are unacceptable to you because of x, y, z reason and affecting family life. He won't like being put in that situation, but it may help to get him to see it from your perspective and will make the point about him being a part of your family rather than a lone trouble maker.

But this too shall pass wink, I am sure. Good luck.

PuggyMum Sat 04-May-13 09:38:44

I don't have children (currently pg!) so probably not the best person to give advice here but my godson is 12 and I have two nephews who are grown up now so I have seen my sister and best friend go through these phases.

Motivation is better than punishment (unless very naughty like stealing) so I would sit your boy down and say you are prepared to wipe the slate clean and start again.

Let him have his phone, Facebook and bike and prove he is responsible with them. If he is staying at a friends he must let you know. You can then call their mum to check.

He sounds like an older 12 to me and this is probably because you've laid good foundations. But he is 12 and needs closely watching.

My godson is like this and my friend lets him think he's got freedom while secretly spying on him!

Kneebeefjerky Sat 04-May-13 11:24:24

To be honest I don't think most of that stuff sounds that bad. £60 over 2 years is a quid every couple of weeks and though upsetting I think is something most children occasionally indulge in.

He's been careless with his bike, he's run up a moderately expensive phone bill, used the computer when he's not supposed to and gone round to a mates house for a couple of hours after school without telling you.

In the great scheme of things he's not exactly glue sniffing, regularly truanting, fighting or getting himself an ASBO.

Do you think you might be over reacting a tiny little bit? And perhaps being a bit overly strict with him?

I had very strict parents myself and to be honest it didn't work at all with me and it doesn't sound like it will with your son. I was being punished all the time anyway so I thought I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and just carried on.

Also, if he feels that you view him as being a 'bad' child. Which it sounds like you do then he will be falling into the trap of thinking that is the only way he gets attention from you and DH

Rather than going down the punishment road could you instead try giving him some more freedom, albeit strictly controlled. But allow him to sometimes make plans for himself, like spontaneously going to a friends, as long as he tells you. Giving him a bit more freedom with where he is and what he gets up to, where he goes.

You know if everything you want to do is against a rule you're going to end up breaking them. Work with him, give him a carrot as well as a stick. He doesn't sound that bad.

Fairenuff Sat 04-May-13 11:55:09

I actually think your punishments are a little harsh. I'm all for ground rules and setting boundaries, enforcing them with consequences, etc. but a month is way too long to ground him.

And it's not working is it? Grounding him doesn't make him change, it just makes him more careful not to get caught.

It's really important to try and keep communication open and allow him to fail and make mistakes. Let him know that it's ok to mess up as long as he learns from it. Tell him that he can always come to you and you won't be cross, you will just help him try to put things right again.

My ds is 13 and I tell him that I will always help him. I might not like what he's done but he can come to me for help and support. I would hate to think of him getting himself in a difficult situation and not feeling able to come to me for help.

He is older now and he will change. That little boy will never come back but you can have a new mutually respectful relationship with him. Talk to him about how it's going to be from now on. Instead of grounding him give him jobs to do to help around the house, such as cleaning, ironing, hoovering, gardening, washing the car, etc. Not only will it help you and your dh out, it will also teach him some life skills and you can spend time together getting things done, instead of him shut off in his room somewhere.

As he enjoys cooking why not give him the responsibility of planning and cooking a family meal once a week. The more capable children are, the higher their self esteem. My ds can do everything that I do (except drive the car) and is more than happy to pitch in. Get the windows open, put some music on and get busy with your ds. Your relationship with him will flourish!

DuchessFanny Sat 04-May-13 13:05:46

It's hard ! My eldest is 12, and i feel like i'm 'losing' him, he's certainly not my little boy any more ...

General disrespect, rude on FB ( we also allowed him on there, but i checked it daily to make sure his friends were people he knew, etc ALL of his school mates are on there ) doing the bare minimum. MASSIVE phone bills, in fact you could be talking about my DS

We have done it all, take stuff away for a while, he bucks his ideas up, gets them back ... funnily enough after a row with him last week end (i can't go into details as will out myself, but it was serious stuff - he now only has a basic phone, no fb any more, etc) I told him that i can be upset, disappointed, hurt, but i will always love him, even when he is being punished - i honestly saw him relax and so far things have been great !!
Carrot and stick works best for him in particular, but i think knowing that we love him even when i'm frothing at the mouth seemed to work - so far !!!!!!

It's so, so hard but we can only do our best and beg for advice from wise Mnetters

DuchessFanny Sat 04-May-13 13:07:34

Fairenuff that's such a good point, our DS loves cooking, so he is responsible for a meal or two a week, it keeps him busy and it's brilliant for his confidence, especially as he' pretty good at it and gets lots of praise !!

SadOldGit Sat 04-May-13 13:26:04

Losing his bike should be a punishment in itself.

Have you looked at capped tarifs for the phone (I think Tesco do one) so he can't go over, or with my son we got one with ? T mobile that was essentially a PAYG that if we topped up £10 a month he got unlimited texts - he soon learned that when minutes were all used up he could just text (so he can let you know if late home etc)

It all sounds fairly normal stuff - I hate to say it but he will probably lose or get his phone water damaged soon - it seems to be a rite of passage for most teenagers (well mine anyway grin)

Fairenuff Sat 04-May-13 13:44:50

Are you sure he didn't sell his bike, or give it to someone. You mentioned that he had been bullied. This could also be the reason that he steals money from you - to give to others who threaten him. It may not be, but this is why it's so important for him to know he can talk to you and you will be calm and reasonable.

It would be awful if he gave his bike away and then also got into terrible trouble, got grounded and, on top of it all, he no longer has his bike which he loved. That would make him feel miserable.

A good tip, if you can't be rational when you are angry, is to say to him that you will discuss it later and give yourself some time to calm down and think through the situation. You don't just want to punish him, you want to teach him how he could handle situations better.

Maybe start by asking him why he took your money? Did he need it for something? Tell him that if he needs money he can ask for it and, if necessary, earn it by doing jobs for you, he doesn't need to steal. He might not be entirely honest with you at first but you will have planted the seed and he might start to open up about what's really going on in his life.

BackforGood Sat 04-May-13 13:54:10

I too don't think any of what you mention is enough to ask 'Where you went wrong'. It's all things teens and preteens do when they test the boundaries - sometimes deliberately pushing to see where the boundaries are, and sometimes just forgetting the time / not having any real notion of how parents worry about them. They know they are safe / not lost, so can't compute that someone else thinks they might be lost, type of thing.
I'd say you need to separate out what it is that you feel is really wrong, and work on that. Also, keep the communication open, and have times (when you are not angry with him) when you can talk about things.....and also involve him in the decision making.
"You know last week when you didn't get in from school until 5,30, it made me really worried because I didn't know where you were, and my imagination went into overdrive. Can you think of a way you can help me not to panic if you are late again?" {he suggests} "Well, would it be alright if I text you at the end of school to say I'm going to...". Situation resolved - he gets to go where he wants (within reason), and you know he's safe, without it all being about you imposing all the rules and dishing out all the punishments.

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