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I am a 33 yr old single mom and I have a 14 yr old son. I am in the military so there have been times when I have been away from home. Sometimes I have brought my son with me to live others I have left him in the care of my mom. Recently my son has been very disrespectful, lazy and not listening to what I tell him. He failed 8th grade so he is going to summer school to pass. I tell him to cut the grass and take out the trash and he whines and asks why do I have to do it and it doesn't get done for another 2-3 days when I have to raise my voice and yell. He then does it but mumbles under his breath as he walks away which enrages me more. There are times my sister will come and do it in the course of the 2-3 days because she can't stand the sight of the yard in a mess. He cursed under his breath at his teacher and he has been on punishment. I took the computer and the tv out of his room and his video games. While I am at work he takes the computer hooks it up and tries to get online. When I come home and see this again I am mad and I start yelling. I ask him why he does this and he says because I want to talk to my friends. These "friends" are people he has never met and he deems them more important than listening to what I am telling him. He has lied and sneaked to get on a computer so he can try and contact these people. He is not allowed to leave the house without permission. When he gets in from summer school he will just leave back out without saying a word. He comes back at dark or sometimes I have to start calling around and tell him to come home. He claims he lost track of time yet he wears a watch, when I remind him that he was not to leave he tells me I wanted to go to my friends house. I have to tell him to wash his clothes, take baths and use a towel and if something of mine is missing and I am complaining he will say what are you complaining for you have money just buy a new one. When I call all over looking for him and ask to speak with him he gets on the phone and I tell him to get home he blurts out, you're going to hit me, I always get hit. This is embarassing because he is saying this in front of people who don't know me and because it is a lie. Do I yell? Yes and occasionally yes I will hit him a few times with my hand in his arms, but I do not always hit him. I get so angry that I know if I hit him he will be really hurt. So I tell him to get out of my face go take his shower and go to bed. I have contacted his friends parents and told them that unless they speak to me or my mother, my son is not to be allowed over. This week he pulled his disappearing act and when he tried to sneak in I did hit him in his face and he in turn told me he doesn't want to live with me he wants to live with his dad, who doesn't live anywhere, he is unstable. He said the only people he listens to is his dad and his dad's mother. He said he wasn't a baby and I should stop treating him like one, I told him he was not a baby, but far from an adult. He has no job and no degree and I am the one taking care of him. He then went back in he house and took the phone and called his friends down by where his dad stays sometimes and I assume proceeded to tell them what I had done. That is also an issue, I have raised him to not tell what goes on in our house and he is constantly telling everything. His father and I argue because he does not like the way I verbally discipline my son and says I treat him like a baby. My son's actions upset me and I feel so worn out. I don't like to hit him and it doesn't seem to work anyway and my yelling doesn't work so what else is there for me to do?
Thanks for writing for help. Every parent of a strong willed child can relate to much of the frustration you are having with your son. Fortunately, you have a number of options that you can try to help improve your relationship with your son.
First, you absolutely must immediately stop hitting your son in any way. Not only does it make your relationship with your son more difficult, you are subjecting your self to potential legal prosecution. Anyone who listens to your son's statements about being hit may contact social services or the police. If they get involved your son may be taken away and criminal charges could be brought. This would also have a negative impact on your job in the military. It will do no one any good if your son is taken away from you for abuse.
Second, try to find a good time to sit down with your son when you are calm and he appears to be fairly calm as well. At this time, you should try to have an adult conversation with your son. You will not yell. Tell him that you want to start fresh in your relationship and that you understand his desire to be treated as an adult. Tell him that you intend on treating him as an adult starting immediately. However, he needs to understand that being an adult has responsibilities. His responsibilities include helping around the house with those things that you need help with. As an adult he also has the responsibility to treat you in a fair and respectful manner. And you will treat him in the same manner.
Let him know that you want him to have fun but that his work needs to be done first. Part of being an adult is doing your work before having fun. You can't just call up the military and tell them you won't be coming in because there is something else you want to do today. If you do, there will be consequences. Similarly, if he plays before doing his work there should be consequences. Discuss this with him and ask him what he thinks a reasonable consequence would be for failing to do his work. Try to reach an agreement together on consequences. You may find that he doesn't like something that you do and maybe there needs to be consequences if you do something that he does not feel is appropriate.
If he wants to watch TV or be on the computer after getting his work done then fine.
You say he is not allowed to leave the house without permission. But he is leaving without telling you anyway so clearly that restriction is not working. Maybe suggest that he has the right to leave the house but part of that right is that he has to tell you when he is leaving, where he is going, with whom he is going, what they are going to do, and when he will be back home. And you should do the same for him when you leave the house.
It sounds as if you and your son have lost the ability to communicate. Yelling at each other is not communicating. Once you are able to sit down and really talk with one another, as adults, I think the problems will improve. I know you may not think of him as an adult at this time, but most 14 year olds will rise to the occasion if given the chance.
If this approach doesn't work your other options are much less attractive and include having your son live with another relative or asking the state to take care of him in foster care. I don't think either of those options is a good option and everything that you can do to avoid those choices would be best.
The problems will not change over night but the more the two of you can talk things out, considering each other's feelings, the better chance you have of long term success. Good luck.
Posted On 2008-07-25 14:46:09