Dear Rene,

I’m really worried about my son, Jacob, who just turned 16 a couple of weeks ago.

Before the holidays I was called to Jacob’s school by the principal who said he was caught with a knife on school grounds, threatening another student. He was suspended.

I’ve grounded Jacob for much of the summer but I’m worried about what happens when he goes back to school. He doesn’t seem to listen to me anymore and I can’t watch him all the time so I’m terrified of what will happen when he’s not at home.

I’m worried about the friends my son is hanging around with – but a 16-year -old boy doesn’t want to listen to his mom.

What should I do?

Worried Mom

 

Dear Worried Mom:

Are you KIDDING me? Hang on. Your kid took a deadly weapon to school, USED it to threaten another kid, got suspended for it and now you’re not sure what to do? REALLY? Dang it lady, you better get busy! Here’s a good place to start.

TAKE CONTROL: You.Are.The.Mother. Start acting like it! When I gave this advice a few weeks back, a 14-year-old kid wrote in and said I was dumb. Maybe to him, but I stand by what I said.  You are legally responsible for Jacob until he’s out from under your roof so you’d better recognize the severity of this situation. You said no 16-year-old wants to listen to his mom; I don’t want to pay taxes but I know there are consequences if I do not. So suck it up, take a stance and put some muscle behind your words.  Does he have a cell phone that you pay for? Take it. Does he use your car to get from point A to point B? Make him earn that right. Does he want to hang out with friends on Friday night? Not until he learns how to treat people with respect. That would include not brandishing a knife against those he does not agree with.

ANGER MANAGEMENT/COUNSELING: This is a second part of the “Take Control” advice. I know the emotions are just simmering under the surface of the average 16-year-old but even so, most know you don’t pull a knife on people. It sounds like there’s a lot going on with your son and he probably needs help to get through it. I would talk to his pediatrician and get a recommendation on some counseling with a focus on anger issues. He needs to learn a new and socially acceptable way to deal with his frustrations. This is CRITICAL. Please do this right now.

WHERE IS HIS FATHER? You don’t mention anything about his father. Are you married? If not, is his father still a part of his life? I’m not saying that you can’t do this on your own, but parenting is a big task; sometimes we need reinforcements. And let’s face it, our kids respond differently to us than they do their fathers. Jacob’s father doesn’t get to take a pass on this one; this is not the time to sit on the sidelines and “hope it all works out.” Because it won’t if you two don’t get a handle on this right now.  So work out whatever issues you have together and then present a united front to your child who is screaming out for some attention.

Worried mom, speaking of attention, it’s time for you to pay more regarding the kids he’s hanging out with. I’m not naïve enough to think you’re going to be able to isolate him from all the bad actors out there but do what you can. That includes talking to him about the kind of people he spends his time with and the expectations you (and his father) have of him.

Good luck mommy!

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