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Teenager making life a misery...for how long?

(32 Posts)
mears Thu 28-Mar-02 00:49:38

My eldest son has just turned 15 and is causing misery in our household. He is incredibly self centred and often states he wishes he was an only child...he has 2 brothers and 1 sister. He is rebelling against eveything, complains constantly about homework and has a moblie phone permanently beeping with text messages. Every few days we have an almighty arguement, we apologise to each other and promise to try harder. He then reneges on any agreements reached and treats us all like dirt! He does excel at the guitar and has formed a band with a couple of friends but unfortunately he will not plan homework accordingly and spends his time rehearsing then getting upset because he runs out of time for homework deadlines. I am worried that his marks will suffer, he won't pass any exams, will not get a decent job and will therefore never have a home of his own!

Will this constant conflict pass or will we be destined to a life of misery? I try to avoid conflict but I feel he needs firm boundaries. The only thing is I keep relaxing the boundaries and he keeps pushing them. I am scared of alienating him completely and communication breaking resulting in him 'going off the rails'. I only hope the others all do not behave in the same way, at least not all at once?

How far do you let teenagers go? Any tips will be gratefully received.


Alibubbles Thu 28-Mar-02 09:04:40

Mears, I am the mother of a soon to be 15 year old boy. Only this morning I was looking at a beautiful photo of him, blonde, blue eyed, clear skin, cherubic smile - an angel.
Then I remember the life form that is in the fourth bedroom, scowling, spotty, 6ft, size 12 feet, mono syllabic, eats when no one else is eating, won't eat when we are , if he does it has to be different, grunts, leaves wet towels on his floor everyday, his room smells, - the au pair won't clean it! Doesn't do his homework ( very bright), argues for the sake of it, hates his sister (15) then loves her, does this all sound very familiar? Yet on saturday, he will be up washed dressed, packed, pleasant and smiley, why, he's going skiing with his friends for a week, and also need 300$ pocket money, which I have threatened all week to withold, but he knows damn well I won't or rather can't!

Get your hands on a book I bought yesterday, you'll wish you'd had it 3 years ago. It would have made life more understandable if not bearable!!

It is called "Get out of my Life, but first take me and Alex into town" It is by Tony Wolf and Suzanne Franks ISBN 86197341

The chapter 2 is brilliant, it describes boys realtionships with their mothers, they see us a sexual beings and can't/don't know how to cope with these feelings, so they rebel, fight back or ignore you.They are confused, angry, hurt, worried, every emotion you can think of. The best thing they can do is to stomp out of the house, though every time my son does it I think is this the last time I'll see him? I am always worrying that I have damaged him emotionally, that he'll run away, get into trouble, into drugs, wrong crowd, etc. We have a very middle class lifestyle and he has everything he wants, but is still not happy - or so I thought until I read this book. I have been quoting it to my DH at 6.30 this morning, all the things you have heard from your son are in there YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!
( Coincidentally, DH heard a review of it on the radio yesterday)

It has made me ten times better just reading the book, I know it's not me, or my son or my DH, it is a fact of life and it will get better. Life is very different for them as teenagers than it was for us, believe it or not, it says they will probably make better parents than us as they know what it's like to be a teenager! One day they will say, How did you put up with me!!

Don't worry, - I have decided to back off a lot, after reading this book and see what happens. I have read and own 100's of book on parenting teens, ( I collect them when I go to the USA - they seem to have 1000's of them!!)

This is one book you must get, it isn't americanised so much easier to relate to, good luck, if you do one thing for yourself today, buy that book and don't stop till you've finished it!!

Take care, from one fellow mother of a teen boy to another!

SueDonim Thu 28-Mar-02 11:43:20

Oh, my, this all sounds familiar! But we must have survived as my two boys are in their twenties now and both doing well in life.

You son sounds pretty normal for a boy, especially over the issue of school work. I'm finding it very odd to have a teenage girl who does her homework without having to be told a 100 times. (Although getting her to clean out her rabbit's cage is another story altogether!)

I found the best approach was to back off, and not nag. But that doesn't mean you can't have your opinion. I tried to take the line of pointing out the options to my ds's. There are always at least two e.g. making an effort at school now will go some way to ensuring they can have the life they would like in the future, or they can do nothing and look forward to an empty life, being left behind by their friends etc.

As regards his siblings, I think maybe acknowledging his feelings without making him feel guilty is as important as anything. Say something like 'Yes, maybe they are a nuisance, yes they do go and nick your CD's' or whatever but explain that they won't be like that forever and even make him your ally in coping with them. He can be the big bro showing the way.

Try to involve him with family decisons, asking his opinion on things, in a casual way - 'What do you think of this wallpaper to go in the hall' or 'Any ideas for tea tomorrow?'

HTH a bit - it does get better, honest! My oldest tells me he loves me whenever he phones up now - unimaginable ten years ago!

mears Thu 28-Mar-02 22:28:19

Thankyou for your responses - I do feel reassured.

Alibubbles, thankyou for the book suggestion. I giggled when I read the title because it certainly strikes a chord!

My son is also desperate for a girlfriend and has recently met a girl he 'fancies'. We had an indepth discussion about contraception last night and he knew as much as me!

He and his friend arranged to meet 2 girls yesterday and rather than have them roaming the streets they came hear and promptly disappeared into my son's room for 2 hours. I felt very uncomfortable with them in his bedroom but that was the only place he could have privacy from his 3 younger siblings. One of the girls returned this evening and he and his friend disappeared again to his room. I did venture upstairs to speak briefly to them but my intrusion was certainly resented. How much space do you give 15 year old boys with 14 year old girls?

Alibubbles Fri 29-Mar-02 07:13:40

Mears, I have had the same thing with my son. DS is fortunate in that he doesn't have any younger sibs to come and ogle and make commenst, but his parent's can be as bad or embarassing. I had to worry about a girl you was older than him by 2 years, she was determined to 'win' him, but he told me he felt it was getting to deep, and he wasn't ready for that! So I think they do use their common sense

I am not happy about them scuttling upstairs as you can't hear anything downstairs. DD is also at the stage (nearly 16) where she takes her boyfriend to her room. I make them leave the bedroom door open! We are very lucky, my two are very open about sex and realtionships, they tell us (can you believe it!) what they've been up to!!

They have both told us that they don't ewant to have sex yet, or for a long while, they are both fully conversant and knowledgeable about contraception, safe sex etc. ( more so than we were at their age) so I feel that I am happy that they can take care of themselves.

I feel I can trust them both, they know they can talk to us about anything (although DS is horrid sometimes, when we eat together as we try to 5 out of 7 nights a week, the conversation always turns to this sort of thing and he is happy to talk openly.

I have set some ground rules, boys out by 11, downstairs after 10.00. and if we are in bed as I don't want to meet a boy on the landing in my nightie!

I feel it's far more scary being a mum of teens!

PS. I tried one of the tactics in the book it worked!

Henry, please lay the table

In a minute mum

Now, please Henry

I'm going Mum, in a minute, I just want to watch this....


OK mum, but you don't have to yell at me!!

It came from the book, and I jumped up and down and said the DH it works it works!!

mears Wed 03-Apr-02 00:50:36

Alibubbles - just to let you know the book you recommended arrived this morning. It is absolutely spot on - dh was sick of me reading bits out to him! It has ginen me food for thought already - especially management of homework.

I realise also that i am very fortunate that my eldest son does actaully talk to me openly about concerns/fears when he is in a rational mood.

Thankyou very much for your invaluable suggestion to get this book. When I read the threads about breastfeeding problems and socks that don't stay on I think God help you- it gets much worse!!

Alibubbles Wed 03-Apr-02 09:56:23

Mears, I'm glad you thought it is good, my DH got so fed up of me quoting it to him, when I suggested he read it, he said " I don't tghink there can be much left to read"

The children I use to look after are staying with me at the moment and the mum says she is having problems with the 8 year old (boy), he seems to be very angry. I suggested, though it might be a bit premature, she read the book. I think forewarned is forearmed and could help a lot! I know I wish I'd seen something like it sooner, it would have helped avoid a lot of the unnecessary conflict we have had.

Selja Wed 03-Apr-02 14:05:09

You're all scaring me. I thought I would be safe with a boy as my friends have girls and they get to 11/12 and are little madams. I thought boys were different and loved their mams - help I've got 12 years of sanity to go by the sounds of it.

threeangels Sun 19-May-02 20:34:01

First of all I would take the cell phone away until he gives you the respect you deserve. Hes only 15 and not an adult yet. Go for the firm boundaries. We have them in our home. He may rebel now but when hes grown up hell respect you for what you done for him. Just remember to always be firm but with love. Does he not take grounding well. In other words if you try and ground him will he run out of the house. Give him a good grounding and let him know you mean it. The more you relax the boundaries the more hell take advantage of them. Before you know it you wont have any boundaries left. I think most teenagers will always disagree with any kind of boundaries but to me they need them in order to grow up in the right way. Good luck in your future

mears Mon 20-May-02 08:58:00

Hi threeangels - tried taking the phone away but he got really indignant because he had bought it with his own birthday money therefore I had no right to do that! He did have a point.
A couple of weeks ago everything did come to a head and he was grounded and banned from meeting the girl he had met at the beginning of this post. She was meeting him and his friend which was causing jealous arguments. She was younger than them and also regularly truants from school!!
I think he was relieved actually in the end up.
He definately behaves better when you are really strong with him but he likes to push you to the limit first

Kia Mon 20-May-02 13:02:58

I've just printed this off to show my dh and so I can order the book! Having the same problems with mummy's little soldier !! Only mine is not so much with me but with my husband who is stuck between being mates with his son and doing the victorian papa 'because I say so' bit!! I'm having to be such a diplomat these days to avoid all flare-ups. Right, off to order the book. I'll let you know how we go!!

Kia Wed 22-May-02 21:15:23

Have book in my hot sweaty hands and have found a terrific bit about Dads and sons. Research programme beginning tonight. Thank You!!

Kia Mon 10-Jun-02 21:21:19

Just thought I'd report back and say that this book is an absolute MUST for anyone with teenagers!! It has gone round all my friends like wildfire since I bought it and is responsible for the popular front for the preservation of parents in our neighbourhood!! heh heh heh!

We have gone through the mexican standoff downgrading from a nuclear alert last weekend to a display of politeness to make the Queen herself vomit to a child who asked me if he could come to my office on the way home from school to do his homework! Yes, all things must pass including this stage, unfortunately!

Ah but you see, I am prepared for anything now thanks to THE BOOK which has taught me to expect anything and nothing - so I wont be at all surprised if he gets a hairy mary tattoo and runs off with underage lurve to join the circus next week!!

Its going to be a hard slog, but I understand it better now and I'm not alone and I was doing it right ALMOST so there ner! Someone else told me that aside from keeping hers short of money she basically ignored them!!! I don't think I have enough moral fibres for that approach - the ignoring I mean! I could learn though.

SofiaAmes Tue 11-Jun-02 00:00:43

Ladies (and gentlemen), I just popped into this thread although I have another 11.5 years to go before my son is a teenager. Have you all forgotten what you were like as teenagers? Your kids sound totally normal. I'm sure you all gave your parents lots of grief (I know I did) and this is their revenge... If nothing else use this opportunity to apologize to your parents and they might even give you a tip or two....(then again my mother seems to have completely forgotten my teenage years despite having caught me in bed with my boyfriend at 15 and weighing out drugs on the scales at her work...even worse, I got straight A's and didn't have any priveleges like a phone or a tv that she could take away). Things could be worse, my brother was a good teenager and has decided to go through his rebellion at the age of 37 instead.

Alibubbles Tue 11-Jun-02 10:16:49

Kia. I am so glad you enjoyed the book, and you, as I found out that we are doing most things correctly!!

It's great to find out that you aren't such an awful parents and that this is all normal!

Whta do you think about the authors being possible for the forum. Perhaps Justine and Carrie might consider it as we have not really covered anyone for those of us with teenagers.

Hang in on there, my 14yr old son is 15 on Thursday, he's not so bad at the moment, I let him have his new BMX bike at half term rather than wait for the 13th, so he spent all half term being a kid, riding in ditches up ramps etc. doing the things boys his age should be doing, and having great fun. I let him disappear fron till Such freedom, and he didn't abuse it, was in for family meals on time every night, checked in by phone every so often. I worried but he was fine and I think it was good for both of us, he saw me giving him freedom and that I trusted him and he responded. It certainly helped our relationship.

We had a big bust up a couple of weeks ago, tears from both of us, basically he is playing me at my own game, he is far too articulate!! We both have to have the last word!

He suggested a couple of weeks ago that we both go for counselling, amazingly mature of him, he is seeing a counsellor at school, but had a letter today. there is a 6 month waiting list at the Child and Family Health Clinic,let's hope we resolve it before then!

Reagrds, A

mears Tue 11-Jun-02 12:07:02

Great book isn't it

I have been a bit firmer with my 15 year old and told him to stop bullying me into making decisions at the last minute re:- sleep overs, transportation to the pictures etc. He actually is behaving better since I haven't been such a pushover.

It's great to know you are not alone.

Kia Tue 11-Jun-02 14:32:19

I have implemented a set of 'rules' which, as the book says, are sometimes followed to the letter and sometimes not...

You may not ask for anyone to stay the night after 730pm - even if they are homeless!

You will come in at 930 on a school night and may stay out till 11pm on Friday and Saturday nights only, and if you go into town I will collect you at 11pm from a pre-designated place. If you are not there you loose half an hour next time.

You will come in from school directly and complete your homework before you go out with your mates, and they will not hang about outside distracting you otherwise I will go outside in my underwear to talk to them about sex!

If you expect me to help with coursework it must be notified at a reasonable time and have at least 24 hours to go before submission time - otherwise you're on your own!

Money - I have it - you do not, BE NICE TO ME!

And I think it's a good idea to have the authors as guests because sometimes mumsnet understandably swings way over to the baby side, fogetting perhaps that this period is very very short in a life!

And yes, I do remember what I was like as a teenager - wild as the hills - but I don't think we had as much pressure on us as teens do now - I mean think about it - no phones, no 'e's, no nightclubs, no AIDS and certainly no money! I'm not afraid for my children as much in that sense, it's just that teens seem to take many many more risks than we had ever even thought of - 35 years ago in my case - herpes was the worst thing you could catch apart from pregnancy(!) I drank cider and rushed home to watch Morcambe and Wise!

ANyone got any more teen rules they can add?

mears Tue 11-Jun-02 14:37:12

These rules sound great. Especially the underwear and sex one

Would definately be interested in a chat with the authors. I totally sympathise with all the new mums with feeding and sleeping problems but that phase pales into insignificance when you reach this one.

Alibubbles Tue 11-Jun-02 14:44:52

Kia, I had to chuckle about your rules, I love the one about appearing in your underwear and talking about sex, I thinks thats about as mortifying an experience I can think of to subject a 15 yr old to! I can't wait to type these rules out (if I may please) and present them to my son.

They are so familiar - the one about coursework, my son always produces his on a Sunday evening, just as I sit down to watch a normally very good play and we end up rowing about it!

Oh it's so good to share these little things!

SofiaAmes Tue 11-Jun-02 22:26:08

Well, kia, where I grew up we had the phones (landlines), no e's, just pcp, cocaine, acid, mushrooms etc.), no nightclubs, just parties at people's houses which were just as bad, no AIDS but plenty of other diseases and pregnancy and plenty of money not supplied by mom and dad (we all had afterschool jobs)....but luckily my parents had rules that were even stricter than yours....And though my mother never went outside in her underwear (i have every intention of threatening that one when my son is of the age), I did have my scientist father ask a potential boyfriend for a urine sample for a lab experiment when he came back from the beach one day sunburnt to a crisp.

tigermoth Wed 12-Jun-02 14:22:49

This book sounds well worth getting. I'd think it would be great if Tony Wolf and Suzanne Franks come on here for a live discussion. After all, even those with babies are going to have teenagers someday. With an 8 year old, puberty is still distant, but I am sure there are ways of preparing ds and ourselves for the battles ahead. But I have to say, the beginnings of the behaviour you all mention, minus the sex and drugs, I can already see in my son.

WideWebWitch Wed 12-Jun-02 14:31:26

Oh thanks for the going out in your underwear and talking about sex rule! Really made me laugh! Right, back to defrosting the fridge.

Marina Wed 12-Jun-02 14:37:51

Kia, what a lovely image to brighten up the afternoon. I'd like to see the authors on here too, the book sounds a gas and a very helpful read.

Alibubbles Wed 12-Jun-02 17:10:28

I have emailed Mumsnet about asking for them to be considered for the next live discussion but have not had a reply as yet.

Kia Wed 12-Jun-02 20:01:05

It's sad, isn't it, when you have to threaten a child with your stretch marks! Where are the social services when you need them! Teen son came to the office today and did his homework - shock horror - perhaps he really thinks I might reveal all and is keeping me as far from his friends as possible!!

You'll notice I have made no rules on alcohol, just haven't found anything which works yet. I spoke to another teen's mum a couple of weeks ago and she said I have to go through the 'drink till you vomit' stage before it gets any better! Well that's something to look forward to! I'm not saying I didn't, I'm just trying to follow a damage limitation policy, any ideas anyone? Fortunately, he thinks smoking is disgusting and drugs are for mugs etc, so I just (JUST!) have the demon drink to deal with... what do you think is reasonable, given that they'll go and do it anyway? We allow him the odd beer at home when we have a party or people over, but nothing major.

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