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I want to tie my DS1 to a tree in the garden!!

(52 Posts)
TigerMumalert13 Mon 04-Feb-13 21:23:09

16 yr old DS1 in another strop (4 times a week usually) bec we wouldn't let him have wifi. Last night at bedtime he turns his music on full blast, other 2 younger ones can't get to sleep. We warned him 3 times to turn it down, in the end we switched off the sockets at the mains. So he decides to play his guitar very loudly, we were still calm, trying very hard not to blow. So we turned off the light switch. Whole house in darkness now. Also took away the guitar. Next thing he does is gathered all his GCSE books and left it in the hallway with a note saying he's not going to study anymore.
My husband and I are hard working people, education is very important to us, this is like a slap in the face. We don't know what to do with him, increasingly his behaviour is getting worst, aggressiveness towards us and his siblings. So mouthy and disrespectful, for god's sake he even calls us names! Will we get done for tying him up in the garden? Am so desperate sometimes I feel like calling in the social workers. He's making our lives hell and he actually enjoys watching us cry and stress, seems like a game to him.

flow4 Mon 04-Feb-13 22:38:55

I assume you're joking? Just in case you're not, of course you'd get done for tying him up in the garden!

It is a game for him. He's deliberately winding you up. It's part of his growing up - he needs to distance himself from you emotionally, and one good way to do it is to fight you: he can pretend (mostly to himself) that he's rejecting you and doesn't need you, while in fact keeping you nice and close. You need to learn not to play the game. We have a mantra here: detach, detach, detach. Most of us get good at this after several years - around the time they leave home!

Have you come across this book. I recommend it a lot. It helps parents understand what is going on inside teenagers' heads... Most of it isn't personal - however much it feels like it - it's just biology. hmm

I hope the rest of the evening is calm for you. smile

njaw Mon 04-Feb-13 23:49:43

As usual flow has articulated it beautifully. You dd the right thing though (assuming he didn't end up in the garden) stay calm and just don't engage. He went for the books as its the thing we as parents worry about most so it was all but guaranteed to invoke a reaction. DS1 is 8 weeks from last of his GCSE exams and driving me insane so can identify! Good luck!!

deleted203 Mon 04-Feb-13 23:54:26

I would point out how pathetically childish him deciding 'I'm not studying anymore' is as a way of getting back at you. I'd be telling him briskly 'it will make no difference to me and your father if you fail all your exams and either can't get a job or have to take one at minimum wage. We are qualified and earn a good living. You on the other hand will have a poor quality of life, unable to afford your own place or decent holidays. Because we will not be supporting you financially once you are an adult'.

TigerMumalert13 Tue 05-Feb-13 09:31:11

Thanks everyone, last night DS1 decided to go into the younger one's room and take what he want to provoke them, it worked bec they screamed the house down, we still stayed calm and told the others to try and ignore him but it was difficult. To provoke us further he moved the pile of GCSE books outside our bedroom instead of hallway with a note calling us names (??!!!). We still igonored, but it is starting to hurt inside me now so went to bed early so not to prolong the night. Hub managing well but I can see it is starting to get to him and I am worried he will blow and wind up kicking the brat out (forget the tree bit). We tried to explain the 'no education, no job' mantra but at this moment in time he really doesn't give a toss, his aim is to get at us. This is his GCSE year, only one chance to get them. Sad fact is we will have to give in to his demands in the end bec we can't see him fail his GCSEs. Wifi? Computer games? TV? Kindle? Guitar? He can have them all as long as he study ............ I am so weak and pathetic. Thanks Flow, the book has been ordered!

flow4 Tue 05-Feb-13 09:50:20

NO Tiger, there absolutely is NOT only one chance to get GCSEs! Don't let that thought panic you, because it's not true!

Here are some facts... smile

- Each year, millions of kids re-take GCSEs.
- 6th form colleges and other FE colleges are all set up for kids to do re-takes along side their A levels or BTECs, if they need them.
- Apart from English and Maths, other GCSEs only matter to get kids onto their level 3 qualification of choice. Once they are doing A levels or BTECs (or whatever) most of their GCSEs are totally irrelevant!
- Education in the UK is free until 19, not 18. This is because so many kids 'mess up' one year between 15 and 18 that the system officially gives them an extra year to put it right!
- Even if a kid messes up spectacularly over several years, there are still Access to H.E. courses (run at most FE colleges) to help people aged 21+ or 25+ get into university later in life if/when they decide that's what they want to do.

"we will have to give in to his demands in the end bec we can't see him fail his GCSEs. Wifi? Computer games? TV? Kindle? Guitar? He can have them all as long as he study"
^ Tiger, sorry if what I am about to say sounds harsh, but THIS is exactly why he is playing games with you, and he will ^continue and he will win, and you will continue to be miserable, unless you draw a line.

And the chances are, it won't just be GCSEs that he uses to manipulate you. It'll be everything. sad

Really and truly, you need to say "OK, don't study. Your choice. But if you don't do it now, the rest of your life is going be very much harder. And we won't be around to support you then". And then you need to step back and tie yourselves to a tree in the garden if necessary . It'll be hard - really hard, since you care so much - but I am 99.99% sure it will be much much harder over many years if you let him manipulate you like this now.

niceguy2 Tue 05-Feb-13 09:54:04

No no no no no. Give in once and you have undone all your hard work.

He can use the laptop in a communal area when doing his homework. Cable tie it down with a kensington lock if you have to. Or install some parental control software such as K9 and block the fun stuff. That way you are still enabling him to do his GCSE work without caving into his tantrums.

Mrscupcake23 Tue 05-Feb-13 09:54:10

Tiger he has won. He tried lots of things to wind you up, finally he did it with the no studying. Just think of him as a two year old having a tantrum and do not react. Learn to act like you are not bothered if he studies or not.

secretscwirrels Tue 05-Feb-13 12:53:20

Just a different perspective here.
While I absolutely agree that you can't give in to his outrageous behaviour , after the event I wonder what led up to it?
You say the first row started because he couldn't have wi fi. Why not? Could you have compromised? Agreed to wifi in exchange for some hard study?
I'd always go down the route of negotiation if at all possible.

flow4 Tue 05-Feb-13 13:51:42

Oh, I missed that detail scwirrels, and I agree. Teens pretty much always 'win' if it comes to open confrontation (because they are generally prepared to behave more outrageously than we are?!) hmm - Always negotiate before you get to the point of conflict if possible. The aim is for you to give them control as they get older, rather than for you to lose it!

secretscwirrels Tue 05-Feb-13 13:58:13

they are generally prepared to behave more outrageously than we are
Oh yes. DS1 would cut off his own arm rather than back down from an entrenched position.

TigerMumalert13 Tue 05-Feb-13 16:42:50

Thanks Everyone for sharing my grief. I have already tried the 'don't study then, see if we care' tactic since before Xmas bec he was an absolute nightmare, so we said ok do it your own way. He 'failed' all his mocks in January. stupid thing was he actually couldn't understand how he could've got the low scores. He actually thinks revising 2 days before exams is enough. Reason I say it's his last chance is bec. the school is strict, minimum 6As to stay on at 6th form. The school is reluctant to put him on 6th form courses if his Mocks are poor. He asked for our help in January so we agreed but only if he puts in the effort but slowly it would be games on the computer when our backs were turned or downloading things on his phone etc... So we said no more Wifi so he kicked off again. Today I wrote him a letter to say we are willing to negotiate reasonsbly with him on his studies and what entertainment he thinks he should get within reason. I will give odds on that he screws up my letter and chucks it outside his room!!

lljkk Tue 05-Feb-13 16:59:10

My 13yo tried a similar line last night, never going to do homework again. He lasted about an hour. Access to WiFi is contingent upon his homework done.

specialsubject Tue 05-Feb-13 17:34:25

sounds like the OP's son's school isn't prepared to spend effort on disruptive time wasters, preferring to teach kids who actually want to learn and work.

all you can do is tell him that. And get rid of all the privileged items (Guitar etc) until he behaves like a reasonable human being. If he wants to do the screaming gappie thing, tell him to save for his own ticket to somewhere out of earshot.

TigerMumalert13 Tue 05-Feb-13 20:18:39

He has no privileges left. Computer is in the living room for all to see. I just came home and found his reply letter. Starts with 'Dear people sleeping upstairs, I want my phone, phone charger, kindle, guitar, full access to the computer with no blockages on sites and wifi first, then we can negotiate on studies'. Hub is seething now and asking if I can grab his legs so we both tie him up to a tree in the garden?!! I am tempted! There's no reasoning with stupidity is there? I guess I have to write a letter back along the lines of 'over my dead body you little brat!'

catladycourtney1 Tue 05-Feb-13 20:29:39

Who does he think he is?! I don't have any experience with parenting teenagers myself but I know if I behaved like that as a teenager, my parents would laugh in my face. At the end of the day, it's him who's going to suffer, not you. He's old enough to make his own decisions. If he does fail his exams just to be spiteful, then when he realises what a fart he's been, he can always retake them - it'll just be a pain in the arse for him. Which will serve him right. Don't even let on that it's bothering you! If anything, keep reminding him that he's only ballsing his own life up, it has absolutely no effect on you whatsoever.

niceguy2 Tue 05-Feb-13 21:41:09

What's done is done but the letter will have been seen from him as a sign of weakness on your part. He has (correctly) sensed that his education is the one thing playing on your mind the most and he is using it as his nuclear weapon of choice.

Personally I wouldn't reply to the letter at all. To do so will simply pop more fuel onto the fire and you will just end up point scoring with each other. Each trying to get one up.

At the end of the day, you cannot reason with an unreasonable person. As my friend once told me. Who is the biggest idiot? The idiot? Or the person trying to negotiate with him?

I'm afraid you will have to tough this one out and see it through until the bitter end. He's expecting you to back down but if you do you will get it twice as bad the next time he wants something or refuses to do something.

Unfortunately if that means he has to fail his GCSE's to learn that harsh lesson then it will have to be.

almostanotherday Tue 05-Feb-13 21:47:59

Can I tie my 16yr old DS with yours please OP?

TigerMumalert13 Tue 05-Feb-13 21:58:16

You are right niceguy2. No more letters, we just have to ignore and sit it out. Earlier on he asked for computer access to do geography homework, the hub sat in the living room with him (monitoring from the other side of the room), after 20 minutes he stormed off back to his bedroom. I guess he's just found out hub has deleted his GTA game from the computer. I can hear his head ticking now, scheming on how to get back at us, he's already started annoying DS2 .......... boy! this is so stressful ..................

Angelico Tue 05-Feb-13 22:10:18

I am reading this with terror in my heart OP. DD is a mere 4 months and I'm reading this and thinking 'Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhh! Some day....!' confused

Big sympathy. It sounds like you're doing everything you can and you and DH deserve medals for not blowing a fuse. I have been a teacher of secondary age brats kids and while most of them are great there is the occasional dimwit 16 year old boy who cannot be reasoned with, at all, ever. Irrational toddler is a good comparison. Sadly in my experience they rarely learn until it's too late. I stood with colleagues and watched one of them crying over his GCSE results in front of his whole year group. It took until that moment for him to really understand the consequences of his actions. None of us took any pleasure in seeing it sad

The end result was positive however - he went to tech, got on a course he likes and is actually doing really well. That moment, however harsh, taught him he didn't ever want to be in that situation again.

So I guess my point is do your best but ultimately it may be a mistake he has to make. And always remember the following mantra: Never argue with a pig in the mud. You'll both get messy but only the pig will enjoy it...

niceguy2 Tue 05-Feb-13 22:46:42

I often say that parenting a teenager is very much like parenting a toddler.

If you give in once you end up just encouraging that behaviour. I give my DD(16) a lot of freedom and responsibility. One never comes without the other. But the best thing I've done is impart to her how important it is to honestly try 100% at her GCSE's. As I told her yesterday, she can fool me but she cannot fool herself. I'm lucky I guess that her BF and our next door neighbour's son both did crap in their GCSE's last year and both have been very open that they did not try their hardest. So I've been able to use that as an example and show that they regret it.

I guess all you can do OP at this stage is pick the right moment and just give it to him very matter of factly. The exams are for him. Not you. If HE fails, then HE will struggle to find a decent job or go on to college. It's up to him now. You cannot force him to study and if he'd rather cut off his own nose to spite his face then so be it. Do not change the conditions of how/when he gets his privileges back.

What I do sometimes when I need to speak to DD about something unpopular is wait until she needs a lift somewhere. I find that being trapped in a car with me gives me the perfect time to talk to her without her being able to escape. Not sure if that is suitable for your son.

HermioneHatesHoovering Wed 06-Feb-13 00:29:32

You have to totally NOT CARE (or do a convincing act) about his studying.

Repeat ad nauseum that you have your qualifications and his pissing about will only affect his life not yours (providing you can stay sane in the meantime).

DO NOT BACK DOWN on sanctions, wifi etc. They really have to learn that you mean what you say and will follow through, if they don't believe this you have no sway at all.

Oh and know for sure in your own mind that any sanctions you threaten you absolutely will follow through, if you don't think you can, don't threaten that particular thing.

Cheer up, one day they leave home!

flow4 Wed 06-Feb-13 00:29:49

Detach, detach, detach! Make this your mantra! Let him write all the letters he wants, and make all the demands he wants... They are pretty powerless protests, when you think about it, unless you let them wind you up!

He is clearly a very clever boy - perfectly clever enough to realise the truth of "OK, don't study. Your choice. But if you don't do it now, the rest of your life is going be very much harder. And we won't be around to support you then".

I do understand what it's like, Tiger, and how infuriating it is - my DS1 behaved very like this the year he was 15. (Except he didn't take it quite as far, and I didn't rise to the bait quite as often). He under-achieved at GCSEs, and totally wasted Y12, and went off the tracks a bit... But now he's back on them, doing a course he wants to do, and talking about university. So don't think our DS is on his 'last chance', because he really isn't.

Can I double-check something? Am I right in understanding that he now has no phone, no phone charger, no kindle, no guitar, no access to the computer except for homework and no wifi? All because he hasn't studied as much as you want him to?

If so, I'm afraid you have painted yourselves into a bit of a corner. You have been very heavy-handed (IMO), and what you are seeing now is "Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb" behaviour. He has nothing left to lose, and no motivation to behave. He might as well be rude and challenging, because why should he not be, and what else can you do? You yourself have recognised the 'logical' next step is the totally ridiculous "tying him to a tree in the garden". That's a pretty good sign you've gone too far. sad

It's easy to get into situations like this, and hard to get out of them again. confused You can't easily give him back privileges while he's behaving badly, and he has no reason to co-operate while he has no privileges. As I said above, the idea is for you to give him control, rather than for you to lose it - but at the moment you have lost it, I'm afraid.

I think the only way out of this impasse is for you to pick a calm moment (and I agree with niceguy that car journeys are good) and start 'negotiations' with him. Personally, I would probably say something like "I've been thinking. We're fighting, but really that's silly, because actually we want the same thing here. We want you to do well in your GCSEs and you want to do well... Can we talk about how we can all make that happen?" and then take it from there...

I would expect a bit of blustering at first (after all, he's clearly angry too) and probably he'll try saying things like "You give me back all my stuff and then I'll talk"... The trick to having successful negotiations is going to be to stay detached, and keep focused on what you want out of the situation.

But be prepared to make some 'concessions'. Because the alternative is that you stay locked in this impossible conflict for a very long time.

I don't know if that makes sense. It's late now so I may not be explaining myself well. I'll have another read tomorrow, probably when I'm back from work... smile

flow4 Wed 06-Feb-13 00:37:22

Ha! I see that Hermione and I have posted at almost the same moment, with contrasting views! (Sorry!) To clarify, I am saying that you need to give him back some of his privileges, because (unless there is more background I have missed or you have not shared) you have been heavy-handed, and I do believe that it's right (and wise) for parents to admit if they've made a mistake.

But I am suggesting that you negotiate with him - and insist on calm, sensible discussion (if he won't engage, just leave it for a while, then try again, until he will) - so that you are giving him some control, rather than losing it. This is subtly but importantly different from 'backing down', because you are effectively saying "I have decided I am going to approach this problem differently now" rather than "You have forced me to do this differently".

Sonnet Wed 06-Feb-13 07:10:53

Do you think he is scared? Worried about gcse and maybe feeling overwhelmed by it all.

By not studying he has the ideal excuse should he fail - 'I did not revise'

Just a thought as I have a 12 year old who is scared of failure so she doesn't try at all

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