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Tearing my hair out!

(32 Posts)
MrsTig Mon 17-Mar-08 19:42:28

Why do I feel that I'm going round in circles with my 15yr old son? All my good intentions about rational discussions re: homework, GCSE revision, how much time on World of Warcraft is reasonable and how much borders on OCD, getting up in time for the bus etc.etc. degenerate into yet another slanging match each time!
The conversation always elicits the response "Nobody else's parents switch the internet off/ make them revise every night/restrict how much time they have on games etc. (Apologies for the etc.etc. but I'll be here all night otherwise.)
I'm tearing my hair out.
Being 15, he's prone to huge rages and weepiness.
I also feel that many of the points he makes in arguments are valid and well thought out. He can shoot me down in flames.
My concerns are these.
1. He needs more sleep.
2. I think he plays on WoW too much.
3. I don't want him to be disappointed with his GCSE results.
4. I don't want him to wreck the house in a temper. (Replacement doors now number 3.)
Any suggestions/sympathy/empathy/rants about what an appalling mother I must be?) All gratefully received.

Madlentileater Mon 17-Mar-08 19:46:48

no advice, but it may be of some comfort to know (according to yesterday's Observer, i think it was) that arguing is GOOD for teenagers, and we should all aim for at least one row a day.

dizzydance Mon 17-Mar-08 21:16:02

I sympathise with you. I have ds1 14 and ds2 13 and I am always tearing my hair out too. Mine reckon they go to bed earlier than every one else - they don't. I have also had to replace doors. They too have huge rages and weepiness, also hate each other a lot of the time, can't be in the same room at the same time without an eruption. They are also both much taller than me so when they do get angry they can be quite scary. Dh works away 2 weeks at a time so we are alone - he reckons he can't wait to go sometimes grin, though he loves them really.
On the other hand, they can be quite loving but it doesn't seem as often as it used to be. This house is just full of hormones.
I was a horrible teenager so I guess what goes around comes around!

jammi Mon 17-Mar-08 21:22:34

Message withdrawn

Blandmum Mon 17-Mar-08 21:26:53

that is great advice Jammi, your son is lucky to have such a stong and sensible mother.

Good on you!

MrsTig, hope that things get better soon. I'd make your ds 'earn' time on WOW.

If he breaks another door, take his bedroom door. He can earn the right to privacy by behaving

Hassled Mon 17-Mar-08 21:27:08

Of your concerns, No 4 is the most worrying. Has he paid for the replacement doors? If not, he should - and you can threaten him with anger management classes. There's no reason on earth why you should have to put up with that - don't let the physical temper stuff become "normal".

I have a DS1 of 20 and DD of 18 - DD has been the hardest work over the teenage years but in some ways DS1 caused more worry because he was always less communicative. I don't envy you - I sort of feel I am over the worse and they are both now (mostly) nice people but I remember the "tearing my hair out" phase only too well (have DS2 and DS3 to get through yet, though). I also know that awful feeling of having been out-argued by a teenager - however rational and right you felt you were 5 minutes ago, they can make you feel like a neurotic idiot in no time at all.

Ultimately it is his problem if he lets himself down in the GCSEs - all you can really do is be there to pick up the pieces and hope it was a learning experience for him. There are also retakes - and retakes of retakes (bitter experience here ). I think the obsessive game-playing is a stress-reliever and a means of escapism from pressures.

dizzydance Mon 17-Mar-08 21:31:48

Yes we have said that. If a door gets broken again, their bedroom doors come off - and I will stick to it.
Also pocket money is stopped. I have also learned not to retaliate. Whatever happens I stay calm and talk quietly. It does seem to have an effect as I used to scream back at them which made things worse.

calamitycamp Mon 17-Mar-08 21:38:43

I would love to meet these parents who our dear ds/dd's all claim allow their kids to stay up later, stay out later, drink, not revise etc etc etc. Come to think of it, I think I saw a few on that Jeremy Kyle showgrin.

Mrstig, I have every sympathy with you, I have a 15 yr old ds and although he could be worse, he is hard work. You are not an appalling mother, we just have appalling teenagers who will grow out of it because they have parents who care. I have come to the conclusion that sometimes, we learn by our mistakes and all the moaning (well intended advice from our point of view) in the world won't stop someone making mistakes if they are intent on doing so. Just be there when needed.

Keep your chin up and remember, he won't be a teen forever

missingtheaction Mon 17-Mar-08 21:48:13

couldn't you just dash their brains out against the wall (if they weren't a foot taller than you)? he is growing up - horrid, but just when it all starts getting important you have to learn to let him take responsibility for his own actions.

in my experience, and more realistically in the experience of my wiser friends
- forget discussions and rational arguments. they either agree with you and ignore you, or rush off at tangents (real life arguments are not crafted by tv scriptwriters), or end in smashed doors. State your case, state the consequences, walk away
- focus on stuff that will really impact on your and their lives (failing gcse's) not on stuff that is stupid but their choice (time on WOW - so what?)
- sadly, teenagers learn much more by the consequences of their own actions and those of their peers than any other method. they don't really see us as properly human, and general advice from us is just so much hot air. advice has to be couched in reality - 'Fred has flunked his gcse's, he's really gutted and won't be getting driving lessons now' might get through. 'i think you spend too much time on wow' will get about as rational a response as him saying to you 'i think you spend too much time on mumsnet'
- specifically, he probably isn't getting enough sleep: there is loads of evidence that boys especially but girls too are programmed to go to sleep later and get up later than adults. it's a physical thing. he can no more get to sleep at 9 than you could get to sleep at 6pm for the night. you can either let him catch up at weekends, or you can negotiate a sensible bedtime and insist on him RESTING even if he is not asleep (ideally no music/screens in the room, dark and quiet). talk to his friends parents - some will be going to bed eariler than he does and you can cite them when he says 'all my mates xyz'
- of course he plays on wow too much. in my opinion ANY time spent on WOW is time wasted. but then I like knitting. what does 'too much mean' - why is it a problem? what is he missing out on/doing too much of? focus on that - but his leisure time is his own
- disappointed with his gcse's - well, unfortunately, you can't do them for him. i've lived this, it's horrible, but it's all part of growing up. give him lots of real life examples to make it as real as possible, be realistic about how much work he needs to do, but you will have to step away - it's out of your control. Urgh.
- wrecking the house in a temper is way outside acceptable behaviour. needs specific damaging consequences if done BUT is a classic sign of frustration at loss of control. Learn to recognise his trigger moments, stay calm yourself, withdraw and say you will listen to him when he has calmed down again

all so easy to say and so hard to do. oh, and don't expect them to actually LIKE you or be grateful! but when they are it is lovely!!

MrsTig Mon 17-Mar-08 22:55:46

Thanks so much to all of you for giving me peace of mind. I just registered tonight in sheer frustration at yet another "round the houses" argument.
jammi, thanks for that. The fact that I'm not the only one to call in the law makes me feel a little less guilty.I have in the past called the police and had him warned. He was quite taken aback but I felt I had no choice, having been held by the neck in a corner for half an hour whilst he threatened me. I'm not a wimp but he's now 6ft tall with size 12 feet and a temper to match.Trouble is, he now says during arguments, "I don't know any other parents who would call the police out to their child. You're a s* mother." We have been through health visitors, local child mental health visitor, the offer of school counselling, the works. My husband (2nd) has now legally adopted him so he can no longer say "You're not my father !" (He asked to be adopted by my husband.)
On the GCSE front, he will underachieve but I probably need to let him do that. I still can't resist the urge to drive him to school when he misses the bus though. His attendance is at 80% so I will do anything to raise it!
Once again, thank you all. It's a relief to know I'm not alone and a great comfort to get some realistic advice.

MrsTig Mon 17-Mar-08 23:00:24

missingtheaction, maybe you're right about time wasted. I'm sure I waste time myself.
My husband says DS should write the rules himself and maybe he'll stick to them.

jammi Tue 18-Mar-08 10:22:13

Message withdrawn

jammi Tue 18-Mar-08 10:26:13

Message withdrawn

MrsTig Tue 18-Mar-08 10:59:37

Thanks jammi. Good advice. Since I did call the police at that time, he's never laid a finger on me again. I tell him I'll just pick up the phone.
I do have another child. DD is 19 and in first year at uni but home for Easter at the mo. She's very good with him but has had really bad times in the past, so much so that she refused to come on holiday with us ever again after his behaviour on one family trip.
We've already had social services in. We used them and the health visitor to get help form the child mental health dept.
Things are not as bad as they were a few years ago and I have taken money out of his bank account to pay for various things. (I have access to his account, won't give him the cash card and have now stopped giving him any sort of allowance.) The WoW subscription is about to end and he will have to use any money he has left to buy vouchers one at a time. Hence, the money issue is now an important one for him.

mumblechum Tue 18-Mar-08 11:19:32

How much time does he actually spend on WoW?

Does he play other games as well?

I know what you mean about gaming verging on ocd. Our ds was spending far too much time on the ps3 till his dad had the rather brilliant idea of saying he can spend as many hours gaming as he likes so long as he spends equivalent time exercising. So he goes out on his bike/does cross country after school or whatever to earn gaming time.

It's working v. well now.

MrsTig Tue 18-Mar-08 11:29:17

Brilliant idea mumblechum. We've had to cut the net off at 11pm, otherwise he'll go on all night. The rule is homework first, plus an hour's revision at present so it becomes a habit. He's also doing revision classes after school, does multigym and badminton. He's still on for about 4.5 hours every evening though.
In spite of this, his results so far are mostly A and A* for modules and coursework, (except German and Geography, which he loathes.) He tells me I'm never satisfied and that I would have a right to complain if he were out wandering the streets or taking drugs. Very persuasive!

mumblechum Tue 18-Mar-08 11:45:56

Well, he seems to be doing pretty well with his GCSEs, and as others have said, his leisure time is really his own (easy for me to talk, I'm constantly nagging ds to do stuff I think he should be doing).

So far as the sleep is concerned, it is annoying when they're grumpy because they're tired, and I wonder whether that's been part of the anger problem at some stage. It sounds like he's got quite a busy schedule, and at least he is doing his h/w and revision. Maybe you should just leave weekends as free as poss so he can catch up on his sleep then.

You're not a bad mum at all, and you can quote me on what others do (granted mine's younger at 13.5):

Bedtime 9pm weeknights, 10pm Fri & Sat
Gaming time restricted
Zero tolerance on threatening behaviour (the worst he's ever done is swear at me once and he was grounded from a party)

Tell him to come and stay with us for a week and he'll be delighted to go home to you!

juuule Tue 18-Mar-08 11:53:38

I agree with most of mumblechum's last post.
Your ds seems to be doing fine.
Fwiw my 15yo sets his own bedtime and if he wants to play computer games in his spare time then that's up to him although I would pass comment if I thought he wasn't doing anything else. He is up to date with his coursework and any test results are good.
I think the temper thing is sometimes due to finding things stressful and being frustrated. No excuse for violence, though.

MrsTig Tue 18-Mar-08 11:56:45

Great idea. When do you want him? And am I allowed to go on holiday whilst he's with you?wink

I didn't restrict my daughter's bedtime or anything else. She just controlled everything and did really well. I think perhaps that I expected more or less the same pattern but didn't make allowances for him being him.

MrsTig Tue 18-Mar-08 12:06:18

Sorry Juuule, I messed up the order there. Was just wondering when mumblechum wanted my DS to stay.
I wouldn't mind what he did if he would just get himself up in the mornings. I live in hope. I've got to let go though. I'm not going to be policingh im in 6th form. He's got to do it himself. The way I'm going, I'll be phoning him at uni to see if he's had breakfast.
There hasn't been any violence towards me since the time I called the police so it did have the desired effect.
Thanks for sharing your experiences. It's more useful than any books or articles because these kids don't conform to one, accepted pattern and therefore don't react in a uniform manner. If I take the PC away I doubt if he'll carry on working so it would be counterproductive.
He has been known to come on the odd bike ride with me at the w/e so I may see if I can persuade him to do it a little more often.
I love him to bits but, as many peeps on here say, there are times when I really dislike him and don't relish his company.Such is life.

mumblechum Tue 18-Mar-08 12:10:28

It's amazing how the most shambolic teen can get their act together when they need to.

I flew off to Spain at some ungodly hour on Fri and dh took me to the airport. Normally I have to try 4 or 5 times to wake ds up and constantly pester him to eat b/fast, wash, dress, pack bag for school & he frequently misses the bus.

On Fri he miraculously got himself up, organised and out of the house. He even packed his own lunch and remembered his drumsticks for practice, keys, phone and cashcard.

If we don't baby them, they can sort themselves but it's hard not to.

MrsTig Wed 19-Mar-08 12:58:36

That's a real plus, mumblechum. I agree with you that it's hard not to baby them.Sometimes I think it's easier to do things for them because then we know it's done and it means we can relax. I prefer that to being constantly on tenterhooks but I think the tenterhooks beckon.
Fingers crossed. Since the appalling Monday which prompted me to register with Mumsnet, he's managed to get the bus on time both days and I've had no phone calls from school yet this week.smile

mummalea Tue 17-Jun-08 10:11:53

Please feel free to pile in with advice here...I have three children (11,13,15) and the eldest has just had a huge wobble with his GCSE coursework - really crappy grades and a shaming parents evening last week. What will motivate him in the less than a year he has before his exams to PULL OUT HIS FINGER and get his Mum off his case?

MrsTig Wed 05-Nov-14 10:30:06

Hello Mums, this may appear to be a strange thing to do, re-open a thread after 6 years, but I came across it the other day and thought I'd update, for the sake of anybody going through something similar with a teenager.
The GCSE results were reasonable, but not what he was capable of. The A level results went the same way. He withdrew from UCAS and did a foundation course in Acting, then got a job. All through these years, there were incidents of rage and stuff, but fewer and fewer.
Then, one day in September, 2 years ago, he phoned the local college and asked to see them. (I knew nothing about this!) Having arranged a meeting, he asked if we would support him going back and re-doing A levels! We said we would, if he was serious.
So, at 20 years old, he went back into the classroom with the 16 - 17 year olds......quite a tough thing to do......and did the A levels all over again. He's just in his first term at King's College, Cambridge. I'm so proud of him, however many years it's taken for him to take control of his own future. Never give up hope! :-)

MEgirl Wed 05-Nov-14 10:48:41

This gives us all hope. How many of us are out there struggling with difficult teenagers.

Thank you for posting such a lovely update.

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