I have a 15-year-old son who thinks he has a 13-year-old girlfriend. As soon as he wakes up in the morning, he’s on the phone with her and then spends all day talking to her. But that’s not the half of it. He’s doing poorly in school, doesn’t ever want to have dinner with his family and many times doesn’t get home until after 9 o’clock at night.
Recently he and I got into a huge fight and his girlfriend’s mother got involved. My own son called me a B*TCH in front of her! I don’t think I need to tell you how much that hurt. His girlfriend’s mother says it’s my son’s fault because he goes to their home all the time but I don’t want his girlfriend at mine. Let’s face it; if she weren’t in the picture he’d be home more. Last semester he was doing so well in school. Of course, that was before she came along. Now everything’s changed. My son treats me like crap and doesn’t even want to go out with me anymore. Rene, is it the girlfriend? Is this just a crush or are they having sex? HELP!
Signed: Hurt and confused mom
Dear Hurt and Confused:
What the hell? Who’d driving the bus over there? Oh boy mom, you need to crack down and I mean like yesterday! I do think much of what you describe is normal, teenage, hormone-fueled behavior but that’s coupled with a healthy dose of disrespect and that needs to stop NOW! So here’s what I would do if I were you.
TAKE CONTROL: And by take control I mean take every single electronic device he has. Cell phone, laptop, X-Box, all of it! If he wants to show what a big man he is and defy your on that, cancel the contracts. I’m deadly serious about this. You need to get his attention and talking until you’re blue in the face is not going to do it. Hit him where it hurts, the electronics. I’m going to assume you are paying for all of this since it’s unlikely someone who talks on the phone all the time and stays out until 9 pm has any sort of job. And speaking of staying out until 9…..
PUT A CURFEW IN PLACE AND STICK TO IT! The electronic devices will be to him what a carrot is to a horse and he’ll do what he must to get to them. Put in writing (I’m a big fan of this) and make him sign all of the provisions that he must abide by to “earn” back the use of his phone, laptop or whatever. One of those provisions should be that he not spend more than a couple of dinners away from your home. Oh and he should NOT be staying out until 9 PM every night. No wonder his schoolwork is suffering; he’s probably EXHAUSTED!
MAKE AN ALLY OF HIS GIRFRIEND’S MOTHER: This is not a zero sum game. It is not you against her and her kid. But here’s the real reason you need to be on the same team; if you are not, you’re both going to be grandmothers together! I’m not saying that for shock value, I believe that! I don’t know how much unsupervised time the two of them have but I can almost assure you that late night+alone+teen hormones=baby. This is another reason to make sure your kid is not runnin’ the streets all hours of the night. What I find hard to believe is that the young girl’s mother doesn’t feel the same way! I don’t care who does it, but you and her mother need to put your pride aside and bridge the chasm between you so you can nip any out-of-control sexual behavior. This needs to be done STAT!
EXAMINE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SON: There’s a lot going on here with the girlfriend, the teen hormones, your son’s desire for independence but I also feel like I hear a tad bit of jealously from you. You say he spends all his time with her and never wants to go anywhere with you; sadly that’s what happens as our kids get older. We, the parents, become decidedly unhip and they would rather go to the dentist without anesthesia than be seen anywhere near us. So for as much work as you need to do in laying down the law with your son, now might be a good time to figure out how you’re going to come to grips with the fact that he’s growing up. Though you’ll always be a part of his life, he will rely on you less and less.
A few closing thoughts. How is he getting to and from this girl’s house? If you are driving him there and picking him up that late at night, then you are enabling him, giving tacit approval to his bad behavior. And where is the male figure in his life? Father? Uncle? Male friend? If he doesn’t have one, you need to find one. That’s not to take away anything from the job you are doing as a mother but it’s clear you could use a little help (hey, we all do) in making your son toe the line, including understanding that he doesn’t EVER call you names.
Good luck mommy!
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