Help - How should I react when my teenage son is deliberately mean to me? - FamilyEducation
Help - How should I react when my teenage son is deliberately mean to me?
04/11/2010 at 21:04 PM

Yesterday, my 17-year old got stressed out when we were lost on a highway far from home. He was driving. When he realized way we were supposed to go, he panicked and ran a red light causing a large van to swerve to avoid a terrible collision. Everyone was okay, but in the heat of things, he screamed and swore at me, calling me a B***h. I took over the driving, his call, and he ignored me all the way home (3 1/2 hours)Today my 14-year old could not find his iPod, so he took all the old pictures I had stacked on the counter and stuffed them in the garbage, presumably they were interfering with his search. I am very hurt by this. What should I do?

I'd teach the older boy how to apologize, and then have him do it, and I'd teach him that being upset is not an excuse for verbal abuse. I'd take control of the iPod. I'd talk about having respect for other people's property. I'd make him earn it back by: keeping his own room clean for a week, cleaning the room (the kitchen?) where the things were on the counter for a week, and storing his things properly in his own room for a week. The boys' father should take the lead on this. It is a man's role to teach the boys respect for women.

Thanks maya. Dad is around, but his respecting women skills are inconsistent. The boys have learned just as many bad habits as good ones from him.

I guess you'll have to take it on yourself, then. Sorry.

It sounds as though both your boys need a wake-up call....including the "boy" that is your husband. I have two teenage daughters, 13 and 16, who have gone through a spell of trying me on for size and using mean or rude comments to push my buttons. I noticed it coming to a peak in my oldest and that our younger one was copying her behavior. Your going to have to rattle the chains on your husband and stand as a united front on this subject or you won't be able to make decent headway. I had to do the same but my husband is respectful and does not stand for rude behavior no matter who it is geared toward....him or me. I basically laid in wait for a situation of this mean-spirited behavior to pop up in our house and when it did, my husband and I grabbed both teens, front and center, and literally told them that there will NEVER be a moment in their lives that it is okay to speak to an adult with a tone, attitude, or with disrespect. Like NEVER. I brought them into the world and I can take them out of it too. The conversation was firm and had an element of "uh-oh" in it so they could be sure we were not kidding around. I then grounded and unplugged the one who ran their mouth to me in the first place. No friends, no tv, no cell phone, no computer, nothing for 5 days. Give me any trouble and I will add a day for each ridiculous infraction I see. This worked like a charm in my house. It took a "family summit meeting", the backing of my husband, and a punishment of Riker's Island quality to shut this behavior down. I am proud to report that this occurred many months ago and we haven't had an incident since. If I sense one of my girls heading into the "attitude zone", I politely warn them that they are pushing it and the consequences will result in social shutdown for days if they want to continue. I haven't heard one peep from either of them.....except for Thank You, Can I help, and I love you, Mom. You can do this onthegomom. Teens will push you as far as they THINK they can get unless you push back. Be strong and put the foot to the floor!

I agree with Girls Mom, except, if you really can't get your husband on board, you can do this yourself. My 19 year old son was starting attitude with me about 4 years ago. My husband does not like conflict, so all the correcting of behavior is left to me. At dinner one night, my boy made a rude comment about the food. I very calmly cleared his place from before him, threw the food in the garbage can. Didn't say a word. Sat back down and continued with my meal. Both he and my husband were speechless. The point is, respect for women STARTS with women. You don't have to sacrifice your dignity by nagging or whining or bullying. Recognize the authority you already have.

I did a little bit of both, ladies. Thank you. I "unplugged" my son, had a serious talk a few days later when the message seemed to be sinking in. I also typed up a contract with specific expectations and consequences when those expectations are not met. I had a talk with my husband on the side and got him on board with the contract before presenting it to my son. So far -- so good. Let's hope the respectful and helpful behavior holds when I restore his phone service on Friday.

Atta Girl, OnthegoMom!!! Way to stick it to the teens! I am very proud of you and I am glad that you liked my suggestions.....especially the one to "unplug" the kids if they are getting out of hand. My teens seem to forget the charmed life they live in that is provided by none other than me! They also forget how respect and a good attitude will get you pretty far in life and that the respect begins at home and extends outward into everything that they do. I have found that "unplugging" the kids from their cozy comforts when they are rude and mean works wonders and now you are reaping the benefits as well! It feels good to take back the control, doesn't it? GOOD JOB!! I love the contract idea that you did with your husband as well. That ought to seal the deal that you two are NOT playing around. I also have to give a high five for the Mom who also responded to you and took away the dinner plate from her son when he was making rude comments about the food. AWESOME! I do the same thing in my house. If you don't like the food, then help yourself to a meal cooked by YOU or I hope you have money for private take-out! That's a mom who knows how to let the kids know that she's not a short-order chef! Congratulations on your accomplishments with the rude and mean teen act and I wish you continued success. Always remember....YOU are the Mom and that job DOES command respect when you are doing it the right way!

How would you handle this if the 13 yr old teenager was stronger? One who might retaliate with force?

take a martial arts course.

What makes you think there may be forceful retaliation? If so, it may be time for a Scared Straight type intervention. Contact your local Police department and see if there is anything available in your area. If not, contact your local Department of Child Mental Health for help with this potential problem.