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Unruly teenager - help me make home life happier!

(35 Posts)
Peartree17 Tue 17-Apr-18 16:25:22

I posted a version of this in a thread titled Teenagers and discipline, but I thought I might get more response if I started a new thread.

He's nearly 17 and has pushed boundaries over this last year around drug use (weed, nox, and occasional E - really not unusual among his peers, but worrying nevertheless and not desirable), staying out overnight without telling me his plans (which is all I ask for!), drinking, smoking tobacco, truanting, having friends over (with my say-so - I even left food for them, more fool me) who then trashed the house and stole from me, and stealing (from us and, once, from someone else - item was found by me and returned pronto).

Thankfully, I've managed to keep him in school, by the skin of his teeth and he'll start sixth form again at a different school next year. Hoping a clean slate will help him. This is a child who is popular, nice-looking, loved, listened to, supported and encouraged in what he wants to do and I am ashamed to admit that his behaviour has driven me absolutely demented in the last six months and I have yelled, wept and slapped his face (once, after the house was trashed and he arranged for a drug dealer to visit while we were out) as well as pushed him and hit him on the arm. He has never been angry, he doesn't raise his voice so there's no 'I will wait to talk to you until you calm down' option. I know my actions are wrong and inexcusable and I have apologised to him and told him that he must never think that hitting someone is a justifiable response. But I really don't know how to deal with him, when reasoning, love, trying to point out the consequences, impacts and risks of his actions, both for himself and others, withdrawing of privileges (phone, money, going out - can't really use the last one very much because if he walks out, what am I going to do? lock him out? taking his shoes away from him to keep him in - believe me, I've considered it - is just barbaric and wrong) simply don't work. I suppose I should be grateful that he is healthy, and still choosing to live at home and go to school and have at least an eye on the future. But it is bloody hard and thankless work!

At the moment, we seem to have settled into a state of surly non-communication, with lots of eye-rolling and "I don't care" responses from him. I can see the funny side of some of it - just - but I'm also miserable about how I've mishandled parts of the past year, worried that I"ve ruined our relationship and lost all credibility as someone who can be relied upon and trusted to act with his best interests at heart. He needs good guidance and I don't know how to help encourage him - he is horribly inert and this is also frustrating. I'm trying to maximise good stuff - sessions at the gym, family meals together, support for his friendships and social life. His father is great - helpful, loving, practical on things like help with school work - but works long hours so it's quite possible for them not to see each other very much during the week.
Judge away, you can't say anything worse to me than I've said to myself, but if anyone has some ideas tested by similar experience on how I might improve things, please do chip in.

Aprilmightbemynewname Tue 17-Apr-18 16:27:53

Ime time will be the factor that shifts your relationship.
You have coped amazingly by the way, my ds was similar but at 14!! Hideous hideous time but at 16 he is a ds to be proud of!! And one that is proud of himself at last!!

Peartree17 Tue 17-Apr-18 16:39:45

Ha, ha, April, just wait for us all to get older is the answer, eh? Oh, well, I suppose if I can keep us alive that long, then time will do it.

Thanks for the vote of confidence in my coping abilities. Well done on getting your lad through it. I do so hope that mine feels proud of himself eventually. I think a lot of it is bravado and fear of failure, and I feel for him, but you won't get anywhere in life if you aren't willing to try things.

Aprilmightbemynewname Tue 17-Apr-18 16:45:37

Many dps in your shoes would have shown their dc the door, the fact you haven't will count for a lot to your ds. He just doesn't know how to show his appreciation or understanding of it yet.
Keep up the good work!

Peartree17 Tue 17-Apr-18 16:57:58

Thank you, that's really encouraging. I have felt like the world's most rubbish mother at times. As well as brimful of rage!

CanIGetARefund Tue 17-Apr-18 17:24:33

I can't give you any parenting advice as I am in the same boat as you. It's encouraging to hear from parents who are out the other side with the young people still intact. My boundary is refusing to provide any money. This surely cuts down on consumption of harmful substances. The other thing that keeps me sane is noticing that my son has different parts to his character ( just like we all do). Some of his parts I really like, and I remind myself of the sweet, funny parts to stop myself dwelling on the angry, lazy, selfish ones. Can I confess, I am jealous of parents who are in total denial or completely oblivious to the easy availability and the normality of teenage drug use.

Peartree17 Tue 17-Apr-18 18:43:46

Agreed, Refund, I have been amazed by how easily drugs are available - dealers take phone numbers, text and snapchat their details and will deliver to the door. At one point, (in my more naive days) I was keen to provide an allowance to teach budgeting and saving skills. You can imagine how that went! We've stopped that now and gone back to providing money, on request, for strictly monitored (and receipted) purposes.

He came home this evening in a nice mood though - cleaned his shoes, and says he will be working this evening...we'll see! I am determined to keep it all pleasant tonight.

L1zz13 Tue 17-Apr-18 20:44:43

You are doing a great job. Your son is doing a great job as a teenager.

It's a proper shit hole of a roller coaster and a learning curve I would happily go without.

I am slowly learning not to take anything personally and as a couple my husband and I often lean on each other and remind ourselves that she has to learn from her own mistakes and we'll be there to pick up any pieces and guide along the way.

You're so not alone. Xx

Peartree17 Wed 18-Apr-18 11:05:34

Thank you L1zz13. Good advice not to take things personally. I shouldn't be so anxious about mistakes. I am absolutely not a social media person (apart from the odd internet forum like this) but the little I see makes me things that other people either have perfect children or are lying their arses off. Easy to feel alone! But really, I am grateful that he isn't gloomy and sad, locked away alone in his room with only online games for company. Just need to hang on for more maturity to set and try not to escalate conflicts day to day! Easier said than done. Thank you all for your kind comments and taking the trouble to respond!

L1zz13 Wed 18-Apr-18 11:23:16

I strongly agree with you. Many parents don't talk about how shit their kids can be. Teenagers are proper shit! Not all the time though ( for teen sympathisers - this post is aimed at support for parents).
Parents need to talk to each other to vent and let off steam.
Read this article the theory is so true...
http://www.rightforeducation.org/all-topics/culture/it-takes-a-whole-village/
Spread the word and get your the parents in your community or those around talking. I take a lot of comfort from my neighbour whose kids have just left home. It really makes me realise what my daughter gets up to is not that bad or unusual and more importantly it won't shape how she turns out or affect our relationship in the future. I am a good parent but boy can my teens be right dick heads and drive me to despair!

Stormy76 Wed 18-Apr-18 18:51:56

I have a similar situation with an almost 18 year old. Unfortunately his older brother went off the rails with drink, drugs (Coke, weed, molly, spice and so on)and gambling, and my youngest seems to be heading the same way. They were well brought up children, both dh and I spent weekends and week nights taking them to football clubs and supporting them with homework .....all the usual stuff. They were read to at night, they had rules and were well behaved and then 'kaboom' they became teens overnight and have made our lives a living nightmare for the past 8 years collectively.

I am exhausted by them and my patience is at an end. My youngest is behaving horrendously, he is smoking a lot of weed and refuses to hear that could be the cause of his issues. He has only just (a couple of weeks ago) bothered to get a job - we did cut him off financially last year in order that he would get a job but he started dealing so that was counterproductive. He didn't get up and go to work this weekend.

The way he speaks to me is disgusting, he has what I can only describe as tantrums and screams foul abuse at me. He thinks that saying 'sorry for that but you shouldn't have knocked on my door' is an apology and doesn't understand why I won't accept it. The most recent incident was two days ago when he was having a huge screamy shouty row on his phone in his room. He was swearing a lot and it had been going on for about an hour when I knocked on his door to ask him to get off the phone (of course his windows were wide open so the whole street heard his foul mouth). He screamed at me to 'f..k off and get away from his door. He then came down with the above apology, I told him that if he ever speaks to me like that again he can take his stuff and go......That led to a huge tantrum which was exhausting to deal with, I knew he would react badly to me knocking on his door and had been hoping the call would end but it just got worse and worse.

He won't go to college, he thinks he can just go and get a job ....he basically fights us on every single thing. It is like dealing with a man sized toddler, there is no reasoning with him, he knows everything and is so rude. I despair of the pair of them, I don't know where we went wrong with them.......I just don't get it.

Peartree17 Wed 18-Apr-18 19:21:52

Oh, god, Stormy, I'm so sorry, that is bloody awful. Are both of them living at home? I can't imagine making mine leave home, so I don't say this lightly - but would you/could you show them the door? If they're not earning enough to rent a place, I don't suppose you'd countenance them being homeless, but what the hell can you do with adults who won't be remotely considerate or reasonable?

L1zz13 Wed 18-Apr-18 19:43:33

Oh @Stormy76 you poor thing.
There is no answer to solve these behaviours overnight.
You have to let him make his own mistakes and decisions. Ignore him being rude and just walk away. It's easier than having a battle and you'll find you don't get as upset as you would post battle. He does know it's not right or he would not attempt to apologise for shouting at you.

You can certainly put your foot down to the illegal activities taking place under your roof. Do threaten to inform the police and definitely follow through if he doesn't follow the rules.
Make sure he knows that you're unhappy with other aspects of his behaviour but ultimately you can't make him do anything but it would make you feel better respected and loved if he at least tried. Don't row about it. He'll take it in. He may not act on what you say but he'll definitely be listening.
Never shout. Keep calm and walk away without taking anything personally. Xx

Stormy76 Thu 19-Apr-18 00:25:45

My eldest has been in and out of the house for years, right now he is out and has been advised that it would be best for him to stay out. He is starting to just come out the other side at 22 but still causes drama for us by losing job after job....guess who gets to pick up all the bills!

I did let my obnoxious 17 year old know after/during his last tantrum that if he spoke to me like that again he could take his stuff and go. His response was to go upstairs and find two of the rattiest recycling bags ever seen and try to pack his clothes to leave. He did leave for about 20 minutes but came back informing me that he couldn't walk around with his clothes like that, I did tell him that there was a suitcase in the garage if he wanted it but he told me to shove my suitcase. He didn't leave the house but did have a meltdown........one minute I want to throttle him and the next I feel sorry for him.

It is so hard because as much as it is on the top of my tongue to tell him to get out and dont come back when he is like that .....the thought of him floundering out in the real world....stops me. I feel that it's unfair of me to unleash him on to the rest of society......he can't be out there throwing hissy fits because his jeans haven't been through the wash.

L1zz13 Thu 19-Apr-18 07:34:07

Try to ignore what he says. Sounds like he's been hit hard with the teenager stick.
Focus on you. Your well-being is very important. You can't change him so find find other small changes you can mange that might make your life feel a bit easier.

sandgrown Thu 19-Apr-18 07:54:33

Oh Peartree I feel for you. My DS has been mixing with a different group of friends and I suspect he may have been smoking weed. He can be lovely and chatty but also stubborn, cocky and very frustrating. I pushed him the other night when he had a paddy and tried to storm.off when I had just spent an hour making his tea! His dad seems to leave me to try and discipline him. I know from my experience with my older son that he will come out the other side eventually. You are doing a great job OP. Hang in there flowers

Stormy76 Thu 19-Apr-18 12:35:27

It's quite nice to see that other people are in the same boat isn't it. Dealing with teens can feel very lonely at time.

Peartree17 Thu 19-Apr-18 14:51:33

Lonely indeed. And thankless! even when you feel you've handled something well, the reward is usually a negative one -"Well, no-one left home or was thrown out of school today,". I've found it incredibly hard to switch off from it over the last 18 months as well - even doing those things that are supposed to help clear your head (a nice walk, a yoga class), I never seem to lose that nagging voice in my head, worrying about him and about my reactions to it all. I think I'm going to have to try biting my tongue and not reacting to stuff. Just keep things calm and quiet. I was not an easy teenager and my mum always made things worse by exploding at me when I was falling short of expectations - so, I was at the dinner table, but not, in her view, being cheerful and chatty enough; or I was in the house, rather than out, but in my room rather than 'socialising'. I do not want to repeat these mistakes (although I certainly already have in my own way) so I think I need to emulate my husband's approach more - i.e. more detached, less confrontational, very low expectations!

Stormy76 Thu 19-Apr-18 15:02:15

Yes I have started just keeping quiet when he is kicking off and letting him get it out of his system....apart from the other day because that was out of line. So long as the police are not knocking at the door I feel I am just about keeping it together. So yes low expectations are probably the answer haha. He has told me that he signed up for another college course for next year so that's something! They will come out the other side and it is hard to watch them be like this because we do understand....they forget we were teens once lol

L1zz13 Sat 21-Apr-18 08:56:47

How's teen life ladies!?
My 14 yr old son threw his footy kit out the window last night is protest about playing football today and because he didn't want to turn the Xbox off. He then hid somewhere in the house!
I just ignored that behaviour and told him he needs to go to bed as I'm going to bed too. He emerged from his hiding place and was in bed 40 mins later without a fuss.

Stormy76 Sat 21-Apr-18 17:24:31

Isn't it fun lol .....ours had a bitch fit this morning he then went out to see his mates. Came back an hour later and started clearing all the rubbish out of his bedroom 😱 He must be after money !

Colbu24 Sat 21-Apr-18 20:56:22

Most be so hard to know what to do for the best just to keep them alive let alone doing well.
Teen years are so self destructive and selfish.
I think the answer is to weather the storm the best way you can.
The only thing I would do is to maybe have counselling to have an outlet and support.
We are making it as we go along. Hardest job in the world.

VioletCharlotte Sat 21-Apr-18 21:08:36

Hi OP, having teens is tough, isn't it?! I've got 2 teen DS (nearly 19 and nearly 17). Thankfully, no drugs (so far as I know), but I've had the staying out all night, drinking, attitude, failing at school. It's completely draining. Drugs are so common with that age group, my friend has had really problems with her sons. It seems that it's cheaper and easier for them to get hold of drugs than it is to buy alcohol.

All I can say is hang in there. You sound like a brilliant Mum and you're doing everything you can. Just got to wait for him to come out the other side.

Peartree17 Sun 22-Apr-18 11:16:09

This weekend's challenge is getting him to do the work required for tomorrow's deadline. I've already had a grouchy email from his head of year this week about 'attitude' in class and I"ve had to plead with him to wise up in order not to get thrown out of school - and reminded him how I've moved heaven and earth to generate offers of places at different schools next year and so secure him the chance to start again elsewhere. The only way I can get pleasant behaviour is by going along with everything. This weekend that means saying yes to going out until 1am (or maybe 2 - I wasnt' awake) on Friday, going out all day yesterday, coming home for dinner and going out again. (Lovebites all over his neck, FFS). So today, at the very last minute possible, he must spend the whole day working in order to achieve this deadline. Luckily, his father is on hand to help, because after years of being the person who assists with organisation, learning and revision, I"m done, too knackered to do it any more. REally, he is so lazy and self-centred and unmotivated that I despair of him ever applying himself to anything. But I don't want to fight, and getting involved seems inevitably to lead to fights, so I try and stay clear. This reduces my role to that of fucking housemaid, driver and cook and totally wastes the excellent resources and advice I have to offer, but there you go.
Anyway, lovely day here so I'm going to garden, go to a yoga class, make an asparagus risotto for dinner. He doesn't like risotto so tough titty, he can fix his own dinner!

Stormy76 Sun 22-Apr-18 12:02:01

It's is very hard and there is tons of support for handling them when they are younger but not a lot for defeated, exhausted parents of teens. Like you I am just managing day by day. We have the same thing, goes out till 4 am, refuses to tell us where he is. Yesterday we were discussing moving house (dh is in the army) and looking at the options/choices that there is to pick from. We thought we would involve him in the discussion as he wants us to treat him like an adult.....his response 'I am not moving, you can't make me, I will just sleep on the street' so a very adult response. You can give me a lettter to take to the council telling them you are making me homeless.....that's never going to happen. When we pointed out that he can't support himself, we fund his life now and we are not paying for him to stay here, he won't attend college, his GCSEs were not great ....it was like talking to a brick wall....in fact we might have got better responses from a brick wall.

We gave up because he is desperate t be treated like and adult but in no way mature enough to make adult decisions.

I look back now and feel very sorry for my parents lol .....because I remember how badly I behaved and my poor bewildered parents desperately trying to reign me in lol

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