Looking for Wisdom - Boy (17) consequences - FamilyEducation
Looking for Wisdom - Boy (17) consequences
03/24/2008 at 13:14 PM

My son is 17.  I posted a discussion on wheather to leave him home on Easter because he is so disruptive.  I did leave him home , but got him a basket and called to tell him I love him and would love it if he could respect the other family members and me.


I am asking for advice now on consequences for  his behavior.   


I would like some suggestions on consequenses and restitution (our most recent therapist told me he should make restitution every time he does wrong) ... He does not have anything I can take from him.  He had a game system, but he sold it for pot.  All he has is clothes,shelter and food.  His violations are things like:

  • Stealing from his brothers bank (did that today)

  • punching hole in wall

  • Breaking into my bedroom

  • laziness

  • eats everyones share of food items

  • drastically messy

  • smoking cigarettes and pot

  • drinking alcohol

I guess nobody would know what to do with a boy like this one.  I decided to print him an invoice for the stolen money, hole in the wall, the worthless door lock and the bent knives.  The total came to $50.00 (considerably less than the acutal damage.) I was trying to force him to make restitution.  He left the house and has not been back.  He will return, like he always does, to tell me I was "trippin" and that's why he left with no permission.


I'm still trying!!! 


At 17 what can really be done? You try and make him accountable, but he leaves. Punishments you have tried have obviously not worked. Your son is self centered and the only one who matters to him, is him. Like the alcoholic who will not change, your son is on a path of self destruction. As with most people like him they need to hit rock bottom in order to begin to want to change. Since he has no problem stealing from his own family I would venture to say he would have no problem stealing from anyone. He’s a thief.

The home he lives in, the home you have worked to provide, he uses as a punching bag? This is done as a way of expressing his anger, it is also done as a way to get what he wants. It’s called a tantrum. Even in your “punishment” you do not let him know the actual cost of the damages he has created. This young man, because he is no longer a child, has been babied for too long, and this is the result of it. Long ago I would have had him declared as “Unruly” with the juvenile courts. He would have gone by the rules, or gone and sat in a cell. Your son acts the way he does because he has been allowed to do so.


Thnx SnglDad - I'm sure you are right


I am a pretty gentle person and I have still had success with many young people, but this one needs less pardon and more punishment;  It's not my strength.


I have given him too much pardon because I felt guilt for the things he did not have such as a father. I already knew all this, I wanted an idea of what to do now. 


Thank you again for your suggestion on declaring him "unruly" it's not an option in my state.  I also appreciate your insight on the invoice vs the actual damage.  My thinking was if I took all his money he would not see a reason to keep his job.


I'm still kinda lost with things but it's always nice when someone offers another perspective.


hi tell him he needs to cach up with it



Pot, eh ? That's a big sign right there. I saw several boys like this as a Juvenile Corrections Officer. I hate to say it, but at 17, you're just going to have to let HIM AND ONLY HIM, learn the hard way. It may take a trip to jail, or, regretfully, the emergency room, to wake him up. He's doing all the wrong things that seem so right at the time, but those things will eventually force him to face reality. We all go through our own version of "face the music".

tamz, I'm sorry to hear you're going through such a tough time w/ your son. Unfortunately, I think, HauseMan is right. Your son has to learn the hard way. I know that's difficult to hear, but obviously nothing else is working. Please don't feel guilty. I'm sure you did the best you cld under the circumstances. Continue to show your son how much you love him, but let him face the consequences of his actions. Until he does, he may never learn. Also, your son's just 17. Can you force him into rehab w/out him having to consent to it? I always thought 18 was the age that a person can refuse treatment if he/she doesn't want it.

I posted this challenge 6 months ago and I appreciate those who offered advice. I think all the advice given here is sound. My son is now forced to take responsibility for his own actions. I kicked him out of my house on June first. He is now living with his father, who took zero responsibility for him for the last 13 years. My home is calm, clean and happy now. I do not feel guilty for kickig him out bacause I gave him many many opportunities to change his behavior.

tamz, I'm happy you came to a decision about your son. I believe you're doing the right thing. I wish you and your family all the best. I hope your son's situation turns itself around, and I hope you can all be close again as before. Best wishes always.

I have read your problem and I have been there myself. My son is now 23 years old and past his "problem phase" . I raised my son as a single father from 3 years old. I was a police officer for a good part of his years until he was 16. My son was a follower and constantly connected himself with "wild kids" that loved the thrill of doing mischief without getting caught. In my police job I had a very good repore with kids who were running the street due to failed family structures. Most of which spent most of their time in correctional facilities and foster homes. Infact for a 5 year period I also was a foster parent specializing in kids that were designated "foster home runners" so I have seen it all. The one thing that I can say to any parent dealing with a teenager is "don't lecture" but connect instead. The very simple way this is done is most teens are looking for an adult mentor whether they admit it or not. As a parent you set the style of parenting at a very early stage. The fact is spending time with your child and I am not talking about 6 hours per week...but really spending time with your child --- allows you to connect and share interests. Now there is a catch to this . If you all of a sudden spend time with your child after years of not spending time ...they are not stupid and will block you out. Kids can sense your honesty. They can tell if someone has a genuine interest in their life. My son and I had a close relationship where his friends and him use to like hnging at the house on a friday night because I would join them for for such things as movie nights, tell jokes and laugh with them. When they displayed inappropriate behavior like discussing topics like where to score weed... my approach which worked was open a discussion about people you know who got hooked on various drugs and how they started... they would begin to share their stories of people they knew and over time they felt they could discuss this topic openly. The thing is, if your child is popular or has popular friends they will always try to push the limits. If a child does something like have a party when you are not home.... the best way to deal with the situation is having a one on one with the child and tell them that this behavior from the child is "disappointing" and tell the child that by doing this behavior a "trust factor" has been broken. Also explain to the child that you understand why they might have done this IE perhaps he or she was trying to impress their friends. The most important thing to tell your child is that by doing something like this places the parent with major liability such as if a child leaves the party impaired by drugs or alcohol and that all the parent has worked for could be gone in a flash. The child begins to really understand the far-reaching implications. I had an incident with my child when he was 13 where him and his friend stole 30 commercial boxes of trading cards from a store. My child did not get caught by the store but by me. He stored them in his bedroom closet. They had opened all the packages. The value was approx $400. I spoke to my child first and got his story. I then spoke to the other parent who refunded to believe their child would be involved. This upset my child as he stated they both removed the boxes. I knew his friend well as he came over all the time. I told my child that I would be speaking to the store owner. I suggested to the storeowner that I would pay him for the boxes and that I would like my son to work on the weekends in the store for the equivalent amount as he stole. He agreed. 16 weekends later my son finished his time but stayed on partime earning money. They loved his work ethic. He learned about responsibility and eventually used the pace as a reference for his next job when he got older....things don't always end up this way but if your part of your child’s life ...I mean really part of his or her life. Mutual respect will be part of your relationship.

That's awesome singledad. I hope this helps any parents who are having trouble with a challenging kid. The path you are suggesting is not easy and it takes a lot of dedication, time and energy. This would only be for those parents who are serious and not too selfish to stick with it. Also, it won't work for all kids because some kids don't want to be saved ... that is they like the troubled lifestyle that brings them instant satisfaction. Thanks again!

Hi I’m kind of in the same boat, except my son who is 16 (17 in December) also has a child who is 8 months old. He went down a really bad path last year (pot and drinking), then went to his dads for the summer and seemed to have straightened up and was going to get home schooled and start fresh with his dad… He found out at the end of the summer he was going to be a dad, so moved back in with me to be close to his girlfriend. They both did really well while she was pregnant and for a while after the baby was born. She moved in with us and they started again! Smoking pot, this time in my garage, back yard, etc. They would fight with each other terribly and get really physical. She would threaten him and say he would never see his child again, he would try to make her stay by forcibly holding her back. They would yell and scream in front of the baby. I finally told him she needed to move out, nothing personal against her or him but my house couldn’t take the damage from their fights anymore! I have had a broken window, broken doors, holes in the wall etc. Not to mention the fact I have two younger kids myself in the house and it’s not fair to them either to be around it. I am a very laid back person but can only take so much. They are not good for each other! I figured I can’t kick him out but I can kick her out and if he followed so be it. Well it ended up she cheated on him and he kicked her out anyway. I though this is great, my prayers answered. Well yes and no… They share the baby every other day, but are both single now and still don’t have jobs, they are enjoying the single life I guess and hanging out with the wrong crowds as usual and they both love their child, know doubt about that, but they are way to young to take care of her the way they should. My son called me last night to pick him up so we could go pick up his daughter and when I picked him up he was drunk. The mother (as much as I don’t care for her) didn’t want to let the baby go with him. Her mother and sister finally talked her into it because I was the adult in the situation and told them I would play with her downstairs with my other children until it was her bed time. I yelled at him about getting drunk and couldn’t believe the local bar up the street had even sold him the beer! That is a whole different story! I don’t know what to do, his dad tries to help but is over 1,000 miles away. There isn’t much he can do. My boyfriend can’t do much unless things get out of control because it’s not really his place. He doesn’t listen to anything I say, he doesn’t see anything he is doing is a problem. I love him with all my heart but like you I can’t wait for that day when my house is calm and stress free again. I am always on the edge of my seat waiting for the next incident to happen. I have suggested anger management, parenting classes, talking to a counselor, my father even talked to him about joining the military, like the air force or something, but he has no ambition because he has it so good at home. I know I am a sucker for lack of better terms! But I don’t want to push him away and I can’t put him out on the street for legal reasons and moral reasons since he has his daughter every other day. He is not unruley unless something happens with her, he is usually very nice when he is at home, and not around his ex, but when he is out running the streets he is still doing wrong. He says he only drinks because he can’t smoke pot for his daughter’s sake but I don’t believe him, his ex said last night he has been doing it just like she has been doing it. I am afraid for him and now for his precious innocent daughter. I have been thinking about calling social services for advice but I have never been through anything like this before! I keep telling myself it could be a lot worse, but I just want him to get his act together and I have been trying not to be forceful and relate to him since I was very young when I had his oldest brother but I never had drugs or the wrong crowd to deal with. I knew I had to do good for my child and have busted my tail to get to where I am today, and it sure wasn’t easy. I’m just thinking now maybe there is something forceful I could do. If I do I am so afraid he will completely flip out with his temper!

I understand your percieved obligation to your son, but you have an obligation to your other two children as well. The best thing I have done for my son was to let go and stop making excuses for him. For the longest time I forgave his behavior because I thought it was my own fault for the way i raised him. The hardest part was that I did not think the people who told me to give up on him understood. I wanted to believe, every time there was a major incendent, that he had learned his lesson and would improve. Your son is 16 and he is accountable for his own behavior. I would insist on two things immediatley: 1. He must get a job 2. He is not allowed to bring drugs anywhere near your home. You give this kid grace but at the same time do you realize you are sacraficing you other children? You are condoning his immature behavior. I would tell him that is he violates one of the ONLY two rules, he must go live with his father. Regardless of wheather he is close to his daughter or not. Honestly, his daughter is better off without his drunken, drugged and jobless behavior in her life. You have to get tough teerace or you are doomed and you are allowing him to indirectly abuse your other two kids. I know this first hand and it took me so long to take real action because I had so much hope that he would imporve. If you allow him to behve this way he will continue forever and then you are partial to blame for the influence he has on his daughter and your own kids. 16 is old enough to suck it up and act like a man!!!

He has kept the drugs away from the house that I know of for last couple of months. I work all day so there is really know way of knowing, but I used to find traces of pot in the garage or in the ashtrays outside. He does need to get a job and he had one for a while but quite for some unknown reason about 3 weeks ago, just so happened to be right before everything went crazy! He is so good with his daughter, better than her mother! Loves that little girl to death, but he is just heading down the wrong path again! Thanks for the advice, I know you are right, he is really a good kid, great with his little sisters and his daughter he is very selfish though. I do have to stop making excuses for him! I do it all the time! I alway take up for him! I just feel like I never have anything nice to say, it's always clean up after yourself or did you do this or that... Sometimes I wonder if he is bipolar... his dad thinks its his ADD/ADHD, but I don't see anger and doing drugs/alcohol as a symptom!

I REALLY DO understand how you are feeling. Kyle was so selfish and I felt like I NEVER had anything good to say. I used to find things to praise him for. Even if he picked up his own socks I would thank him as a way to say SOMETHING positive!! Kyle was also diagnosed with ADHD and, in my opinion, that is used to excuse bad behavior too. Kyle loved his littel brother (i have a boy 8 years younger than Kyle) but he is still a bad role model for him by not taking responsibiilty for his life. Your daughter loves your son with all her heart and when you love someone so much and your so young you think what they do is okay. I'm sorry if I sound hardened, but I was not effective in my son's life when I was easy going. Of course your son is a good person and I'm sure he apologizes when he messes up, but he will continue to mess up and then fix it with an apology as long as you let him. I KNOW THIS. My son has a good heart and he loves his momma and he is so young and he just needs a little help and once he gets older he will be better and so on and so on... You won't get what I'm saying just by reading this post (God I wish it had been that easy for me!!!!) But you will understand when you finally let him go. You must force him to comply and meet certain expectations and timelines. When he does not, he must endure the consequences. If you go to pick him up and he is drunk then go home and refuse to participate in excusing his behavior. If you kept him away from his daughter because he was drunk then was he really fathering her??? The answer is no and you know that! Stop allowing this it's the only way to help your son. YOur not helping him now, your hurting him.

Hi, My son is turning 13 next month. He's basically a really good kid, but he won't listen and do what he's told. It seems to be an inability to focus, and it's compounded by the presence of my new boyfriend (5 months) after no man in my life since he was 2. We have tried everything we can think of to get through to him. Spanking no longer works. We've removed all his toys, taken computer & tv priviledges, put him to work doing chores which are done half-ass, and even resorted to some military style discipline like situps and pushups, because he is terribly out of shape (weak, not fat). None of this seems to be getting us anywhere. I'm pretty much at a loss as to what to do to get him on track before he gets to the age and problems that most people seem to be describing in here. He is accustomed to having full run of the house, and now, with the boyfriend here, he no longer has that. I had given him a lot of freedom before for years, but when I discovered the lying and manipulations and the stealing; I had to put a cap on it. Any suggestions? I'm considering some sort of boot camp, although I don't know how I could possibly afford one. Thanks. Peace.