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Teenage son difficulties

(28 Posts)
chrisski33 Wed 11-Dec-19 00:26:23

I'm having difficulties with son who has just turned 15.
His mum (my ex-wife) committed suicide last year and although son seems to be coping I'm not getting much respect it honesty from him. He has two younger siblings who are my biological kids but 15yr old is from another relationship of his mum's but I adopted him when he was 2. He is coming up to do his prelims (mocks) but has shown no signs of revision but claims he does revise but happens to be when I'm not in house! He quit a paper round he had in morning saying it was tiring him out at school and not helping but I suspect he might have been sacked from the paper round. Despite making sure he's in bed promptly he stays awake til 11. He spends time playing games in the pc and Xbox and doesn't have screen time after agreeing with school counsellor that should try not having screen time. He finds the idea of screen time and WiFi curfew controlling and seems to think any rules are unfair.
I'm finding the relationship tricky as he's not listening and is always being a smartarse which really gets my back up. Any ideas on how to deal with it? How do I get him to study and not lie about doing it when hasn't?

DeRigueurMortis Wed 11-Dec-19 01:09:41


A lot of what you've described is typical teen behaviour.

Your DS has had a lot to deal with and to be honest I'm surprised he's not acting out more.

We all like to think we remember what it's like being a teen, but the reality is that each generation has its own unique challenges to deal with.

I'd recommend you pick your battles carefully.

You say he's in bed promptly, but not at what time. Perhaps your notion of bedtime is a bone of contention? At that age DS was going to bed at 10 and realistically only went to sleep at 11. If you're trying to get a 15 year old to bed (and sleep) at 9pm you're setting yourself up for an issue.

Not allowing screen/WiFi time...really? I'm not surprised he finds that controlling.

He's lost his mother and at the same time you and his counsellor (!!) are removing one of the most immediate forms of social interaction teens have?

Rules are important yes. However you need to consider what you are trying to achieve by the rules you set.

Generally with teens I've found the carrot is better than the stick.

So, yes you can have/do X if you agree to X rule. So for example every hour you study (that you see) you get times 1.5 on your XBox (deliberately load it in his favour).

Overall though I think unless there's something you've not described in your post you need to cut him some a lot more slack.

chrisski33 Wed 11-Dec-19 08:22:20

Sorry meant you he used to have screen time control but agreed to remove it and let him control how long he was on it for etc. Tbh means he spends more time on it now.
He goes to bed at 10-10.30am.
WiFi goes off at 11 til 6am for all.
As far as controlling goes I'm far from controlling.
He's always left homework and study to last minute since primary school way before my marriage split and her suicide.

milliefiori Wed 11-Dec-19 08:36:26

Hi mum committed suicide and you say he seems to be coping. Tbh he sounds like an absolutely model citizen to me under the circumstances. He's nto out all night or doing drugs. He's obliteratingt he pain via his Xbox. I think I'd do the same.

Please don't give any impression that he is a difficulty or challenge in your life right now. He has exams and his mother killed herself. Can you imagine any more stress on an already hormonal adolescent.

I'd have a good chat with him. Tell him you think that some gaming every day is probably quite a good thing for him (read Superbetter - or watch gamer and author Jane McGonigal talking about the unsiung benefits of gaming) Suggest a generous amount of time =- about two hours. But suggest too that he doesn't do it just before bed, as it might spoil his sleep. Honestly, show interest in his gaming and if you read Superbetter, you can very casually and subtly mention how certain gaming tactics can be applied very successfully to life.

Give him lots of compliments whenever you can. Respect his decisions. E.g. If my son had told me he;d quit his paper round and his dad had killed himself, I;d say: That's fine. Your body is more tired than usual. It;s a normal symptom of stress after your dad's death. You need to reduce the demands on you and that was a really sensible choice. Having a paper round is optional, so dropping out from it makes sense. But preparing for exams is not optional and I realise how hard it must be to concentrate rigth now after all that;s happened. What can I do to help you?

Get involved in his revision. Be strategic. Talk to him about his strongest and weakest subjects. Suggest, if necessary, that he allows himself to flunk one of the weaker ones, so that he can concentrate on good grades in the core five or six. Both English, maths and two or three other subjects that either he finds easier or that might help him move on to what he might want to do later.

Is he getting support from a good bereavement counsellor?

Are you keeping an eye on his diet? At this time of year he could be getting quite depressed anyway. Make him turkey burgers (turkey has a chemical that lifts your mood in it, which is why it;s so popular at this time of year. Buy him some vitamin supplements, especially some Vitamin D spray. Show him you care about him and not that he is an effort to be endured.

Try to do stuff together - watching sport on TV or taking his younger brothers out for a forsty walk somewhere pretty.

It can;t be easy for any of you. I really feel for all of you. My heart goes out to all of your children. And you. What a tough job you have. But long term, you will feel so proud of yourself if you help him through this with love and kindness and attention rather than closing down and judging him.

DozeyTwonk Wed 11-Dec-19 08:42:15

Be kind to him. Don't get on his case too much. Let him know that whatever happens that you love him and want the absolute best for him. Communicate with school about his progress and his wellbeing at school. Praise him when things are going well. Talk to him about his aspirations and get a sense of how he feels about exams/pressure. Set expectations but support him to develop his own and the behaviour to achieve his aspirations. Maybe the paper round was too much. He is going to need lots of love and support to keep going. Talk about his mum.

chrisski33 Wed 11-Dec-19 22:01:01

Tried the chat with him but his response was snappy and aggressive and he says he studies on his phone at 10.30pm as that's when he finds it easy to study but he's only mentioned that as he thinks I'm preventing him doing so with the 10.30-11pm WiFi curfew. Says the teams site he uses for school only works on his phone but not on the pc which is up-to-date and the school says will work. He says that exams are 4 weeks away and isn't much of a study person.
Will let him do it his way and see how results are. If they aren't good then we will see.
Again alot of these study issues were present before what his mum did. Won't see a counsellor even after 2 visits as doesn't seem to want to at the moment. His younger siblings have gone through seasons for growth and has been great

FoamingAtTheUterus Wed 11-Dec-19 22:04:42

11pm isn't a late bedtime for a 15 year old at all. You need to back off a little.

chrisski33 Wed 11-Dec-19 22:11:16

Well if he could get up in the morning maybe it's ok.
I don't need to back off but thanks for your constructive comments foamingattheuterus

DeRigueurMortis Thu 12-Dec-19 02:05:13

What do you mean about getting up
in the morning?

I'm asking because it's normal for teens to be somewhat "bedworthy"

If your expecting him to bounce out of bed like a 10 year old then it's not going to happen in my experience.

It's biology.

Newborns and toddlers sleep as part of their growth.

The next "big" growth spurt is a teen.

They get tired, emotional, grumpy.

They lie in bed until midday (and would stay longer unless you yelled at them to get up).

What you describe is normal teen behaviour. It's not easy to manage and especially so in your circumstances.

As for counselling tbh maybe it's too raw for him yet? Or perhaps a different counsellor?

I'd also suggest that to don't compare him to the younger children. With all due respect they still have one biological parent alive. I'm not trying to suggest you aren't giving him the best care and being a very good father, but psychologically he's lost something your other two children have not - a link to his physical ancestry.

It must be bloody hard for you and you also have lost a lost and are trying to hold a family together.

I send you best wishes thanks

GlamMuma Fri 13-Dec-19 11:22:07

My only advice as a mother myself who's lost my sons dad is talk to him even if he seems fine boys are very good at hiding things and keeping things to them self's he's obviously going through a lot and acting out because of it all

milliefiori Fri 13-Dec-19 12:30:27

And it is good that you tried to talk to him. Don't give up just because he was resistant and spiky. Lots of teens are like this all the time, even without the extreme trauma he;s been through and the added stress of exams.

Surprise him by doing something just for him. Maybe something just the two of you: tickets to a match or a gig. He may not show that he needs your love and understanding right now but long term, it's the best thing you can do to help him through this time.

And at risk of stating the obvious - do you have support? Even if she was an ex and the relationship was over, it's still a traumatic thing for you to go through and you are left caring for young children.

chrisski33 Fri 13-Dec-19 12:43:56

Ive started to take a different tack after thinking about it. He knows I want the best for him so will let him organise his studying and trust he will done. He asked to change schools as feels he needs a fresh start which I agree to do as he has never quite fitted in he feels.
My own downfall was that I responded angrily in the arguments rather than step back and not bite at his frustrations.
I've been to two gigs with him this year already which was good.
I've noticed he's been better since his last outburst at me.

I do have a good family who are very supportive just like the school have. Unfortunately and sadly he isn't quite accepting of help that's been offered regularly.

sharonthomas Mon 16-Dec-19 19:42:13

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

GlamMuma Mon 16-Dec-19 20:16:45

@sharonthomas what the fuck?? Is wrong with you , commenting with a reply like that you absolute pleb

milliefiori Mon 16-Dec-19 22:01:47

Can you see why he might not be accepting of the help? To accept help means you have to accept how awful you feel and he may not be ready to do that yet. Zoning out, self-medicating almost, through gaming is a denial stage. (Have you read about the stages of grief? I don;t know how accurate it is in all cases but it could be useful. Shock, Denial, Anger, Acceptance - I think there's one more too. It will help you to identify which one he's processing right now. (Or more than one, I doubt it's as linear as descriptions suggest.)

Funf Thu 26-Dec-19 08:01:34

Its great you have had the sense to ask!
Revision its difficult, I know its a bit late know but as suggested Carrots are good, Daughters a big Gaving & Stacy Fan, I told her do well and we will go to Barry Island, it was fantastic.
Son likes the out doors so I bought a camper van and took him camping and often go walking. Just try and support his interests, we cannot comprehend what he is going through a Girlfriend may help if she is a sensible one who wants to achieve. What job is he looking at?
Personally I don't rate councillors, but that doesn't mean I am right. What works for one doesn't always work for others.
Its never easy but keep your chin up and don't bite when he goads you.
Why not go and get the kids up and take them out for breakfast?
Makes nice change.
Any one got a dog he can walk?

Moondancer73 Thu 26-Dec-19 08:24:30

Honestly, if he's awake til 11 I don't think that's late and realistically I don't think it's an issue.
He's lost his mum. Whilst you adopted him he's lost his one biological tie, bar his grandparents, and is bound to feel massively lost. Even if he isn't studying and fails his exams he's been through a huge thing in the last year, he can retake exams and having good mental health is far far more important.
It sounds like you need to give the lad a bit of a break to me to be honest

Techway Thu 26-Dec-19 08:35:23

How was Christmas with your son?

DonPablo Thu 26-Dec-19 08:38:18

Teenagers. If I'm pissed off with mine, I could say he is lazy, never willingly gets out of bed. Doesn't put his clean clothes away or put his dirty ones in the wash basket. He is secretive and loves his tech. He can be moody and argumentative. Seems to do no school work, is defensive if I ask him about it. Doesn't wear a coat even in the kissing down rain and pushes it when he's out with the time he supposed to be home.

Or, I could say that, he's tired. He works hard at school, gets great grades. Is brilliant with his younger brothers, has a lovely group of friends that he hangs out with. He's smart and funny and good company. He's tall and handsome. He's introduced us to some amazing things (sushi, a love of all things Japanese, Rick and Morty and more) he's polite and all the other adults think he's a delight.

Both sets of facts are true! But it is a question of focusing on the good stuff or the bad stuff. Of you keep focusing on the bad stuff he'll start believing he's lazy, foolish and moody and behaving more like that.

So my advice is big up the ways in which he's turning into a great young man and focus on those bits. Yes, deal with the other stuff, but don't let petty arguments be the focus of all of your interactions with him. Find something you like to do together and make the time to do it. Speak to him with respect, show him that you're not the enemy. And hopefully, the next few years will see him mature and understand that you only ever wanted the best for him.

flowers none of it can be easy for any of you.

Pinkbonbon Thu 26-Dec-19 08:45:16

As far as revision goes I would just leave him to it. If he fails his mocks he'll know he has to study more for the actual things. If he is planning on staying in school a few more years then I guess he doesn't really even have to do well on those ones either.

He probably is thinking 'fuck, I mean what do pieces of paper mean in the grand scheme of things when people you love could just up and die tomorrow?'. Which is fair enough. Plus he is a teen so y'know, xbox is life. 11pm isn't that late for a 15 year old to sleep either.

I'd say just leave him to it. But don't let him talk to you like shit.

ElluesPichulobu Thu 26-Dec-19 09:01:13

bloody hell he sounds astonishingly functional and together considering his mum committed suicide so recently. many kids would be utterly in pieces, and you are worrying that he is showing insufficient respect and otherwise behaving pretty much like a typical 15yo boy.

redirect your concerns.

does he know that you will always love him and be there for him?

he needs to first be secure in being loved and cared for first and foremost. once he is secure in that he can start thinking about his future ambitions and what he needs to achieve to get there, and can conclude that it's worth putting in effort at school to get there.

without those vital steps it is no wonder he mainly feels he is "marking time" just wanting to play mindless video games as a way to avoid thinking.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Thu 26-Dec-19 09:11:48

Your poor boy 😢

My ds was bone idle at school and obsessed with games. However, they are used for interaction with friends. I was always more grateful that l knew where he was!!!

He was a very easy going child, never angry or argumentative. His room was in the attic, and l didn’t know he went on games late at night!!!

Now despite being lazy, he had a degree, 2 Ma’s and a great job as a journalist.

What l think lm trying to say is this too shall pass.

TreeSwayer Thu 26-Dec-19 09:25:19

I hope you had a nice Christmas with your family. You are dealing with a lot and I cannot imagine your life.

Specifically re your teen, I would point out that there is a valid reason that school takes place in the day time and not evenings because children learn better during the day. In primary schools core subjects of maths and English are taught exclusively in the morning, post-lunch children are flagging more as their bellies are full and the classrooms are warmer.

So 10.30pm is a ridiculous time to be studying it is an excuse to be on his phone. Interestingly teenagers in under-developed countries do not stuggle to get out of bed because there are not on tech at night. Here they have FOMO (fear of missing out) and so they are sending ridiculous streaks on snapchat or forwarding memes. I bet if you look there are no real conversations.

I have a teen in sixth form and another in year 9. We have always had strict tech policies and their gaming stuff is in a playroom downstairs. Bedrooms are for sleeping only. My sons are up easily in the mornings because they have had enough sleep. Even on weekends they are up before 8am at the latest. This is not us waking them, this is when they choose to get out of bed.

Revision wise, exams are like eating an elephant, you have to allow time to keep biting at it rather than trying to digest it all at once. But maybe start a conversation with I love you so much and I want the absolute best for you, I want you to be able to afford computer games and to go on holiday and buy nice things (insert whatever his currency is, cars, clothings) but in order to do that you have to get good grades to move onto the next step whatever that may be. Even for apprenticeships 16 year olds are competing with someone who is 22, held down a job, can show work ethic, commitment etc so they have to stack the odds in their favour doing the best they can.

To a 15 year old minimum wage of over £1000 pm is an absolute huge amount of money, but does he know how far that would go in the real world? Have you ever talked about that with him?

Your son has had the worst thing happen to him, he needs your love and boundaries but he needs to know why you are putting those boundaries in place. I used to tell my sons I am not trying to spoil your fun I am trying to make sure you don't get physically hurt (climbing things that shouldn't be climbed) or bed times exist because you need sleep otherwise not only are you awful and more likely to get in trouble with teachers and friends but you are not fit to learn anything.

Hopefully that helps somewhat. I was very disconnected from my parents when I was a teen and didn't want the same for my own children, so I researched a lot of ways to communicate with my sons and build a two way street.

Techway Thu 26-Dec-19 12:03:00

@DonPablo, I think we must have twinssmile

Such a lovely post and very true. The years between 13-17 are pretty horrible for many teens, tiredness due to growth, pressure of first public exams & social pressures, let alone having to deal with such a major bereavement.

Btw, I think morning paper round is not realistic for many teens as goes against their body clock. I am all for teens developing a work ethic but find something that works better for him, such as learning diy skills, gardening, outside activities etc

VanceShwartz7469 Fri 27-Dec-19 00:21:46

Hi I have 3 kids, Tyrone, Kyle And Micheal (14,12,8) and I have a few tips ,
•Put Thumbtacks On Nerf Bullets , it calms them down
•Buy 1mts by 0.75 mts box (put holes so they can breathe)(also not the kids the cardboard box) and at 4pm (their bedtime) lock it up and put it in a cupboard
• When they don’t paralize kids they are allowed 10 minutes a year with their friends(I know I’m nice)
•I get my 4 Doberman’s on them (they are wild and rabid and are kept unbeaten The bedtime cupboard) the nerf thumbtacks and my BB gun
•tip ; for Xmas get them their clothes to make them self (glue tape scissors (the crappy school brand) and a large duvet or two (pp))

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