Time to let go….

Our 18 year old son
Question: Our 18 year old son has been making what we consider bad choices lately.  
He is a senior in high school and is skipping classes on a regular basis ending
up with in school suspension.  He is going to fail his lit class thus he cannot
graduate until next year.  To the best of our knowledge, he smokes cigarettes
(since the age of 16), does “recreational pot”, and hasn’t had sex yet – we
don’t think.  All of his friends are high school drop outs, living at home, and
have no jobs.  He has been arrested for fighting and is on probation and has
had a rear end collision.  He drives a car to fast and aggressive. We are
currently in the middle of a legal battle involving our son and another 17 yr.
old. Our son has been charged with failure to report an accident with serious
injuries, and have a civil suit pending from the mother of the injured 17 year
old.  Our question is, how do try to change this behavior before he gets into
any more trouble.  We have tried taking his truck, cell phone, etc. away from
him, tried sitting down and talking with him, tried for bidding him to see his
friends and various other things with no success.  We feel we are approaching
a point of not return with him.  HELP!
Answer: Cindy & Dave,

Instead of trying things you should be consistent and do the hard thing. Sell the truck it is VERY apparent he is a bad driver. Allowing him access just provides the means to easily get to places to use drugs. Any extra privileges he gets should be suspended. If he has all this bad behavior and you still give him money, video games, cell phones, truck, then why should he change? You can’t do anything to change his behavior he needs to do it. You can give him incentives to change his behavior. These incentives would be the above items I mentioned. Frankly, since he is 18 you are no longer obligated to keep him in your home. If he is unwilling to abide by rules and follow through on things the best thing for him could be leaving the home. Once he realized that you guys were actually serious about this then that might open his eyes a bit. You can’t really punish an 18 year old he is a DEPENDANT adult. This means that all you can provide are consequences. A consequence of bad behavior in your home should be that he is not to be in your home. I know you want him to finish school etc…but he doesn’t want to so why no oblige him and let him know that if things don’t turn around by the end of the school year you will be asking him to leave. That gives about 2 months. In the meantime I would give other consequences as talked about previously.

4 thoughts on “Time to let go….

  1. Good answer. By 18 you can’t really tell them to “go to their room” for bad behaviour… Unfortunately more should have been done when he was a lot younger but by now, it makes it harder and harder to change and want to do things diff (i.e. stop smoking, finish school, drive safe etc….)

    Eh but what you gonna do?

    Nice blog Dr Shrink 😀
    Keep up the good work!

  2. I am in a situation with my 18 year old daughter that causes me to fear she is going in the direction of your son. She has always been such a good kid, good grades, good friends, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, never got into the skimpy clothing etc… Almost all of her friends were Christians and at least had some idea of what morals and values were right and good and just basically what was good for them. In the past six months she has made these “new” friends and ALL of her old friends have left her. They have said she is “different” and I have seen it too. I’ve had numerous conversations with her one on one and she still seems like the same level headed kid she’s always been. She claims she’s just “growing up”. All of these new friends smoke and she has admitted to me that she has too on occasion. They are all older than her, mostly between 20 and 22, and working in jobs like retail/grocery stores etc. Now there’s nothing wrong with that but she’s supposed to be headed for college in the fall,(a Christian college at that!) She would NEVER have smoked before. She is even in SADD at her school and helps educate little kids about the dangers of bad decisions. She has been missing a lot of school. Mostly I know when she’s not there but when I started to become suspicious of a few other things I started going by her school to be sure her car was there. One day it wasn’t. I texted her and eventually found out she was with one of these older friends who needed a ride to the DR. to get meds for her ADD and bi-polar disorder. (My daughter seems to be the ride for a lot of people lately.) She is never home in the evenings for supper and I know her diet is garbage. She is gaining weight from all this unhealthy eating and it upsets her but she does nothing to help herself. Her grades are dropping, not failing but she’s always been an A-B student, last report card I saw a C and a D. and she doesn’t seem to care. All these new friends do not have plans for a future other than what they are living right now. My daughter was always more focused and had goals and dreams for the future, now it seems she just lives for the fun of today and nothing more. I’m not a snob and I don’t think a person has to go to college to make something of themselves. I just know I wanted to go to college badly when I was a kid but never even considered it because I knew my family just didn’t have the money, (no one told me about grants etc.) I was determined that IF my kids wanted to go to college, one way or another, they would get there. None of her “role model” friends now seem to present a positive light for her future. Two of the girls rent a townhouse and have MANY people sleeping there every night.
    Just doesn’t seem like a good atmosphere for her. I could tell her she’s not “allowed” hang with them but we all know where that would get us, I’d just never know where she really is! I guess my main problem/fear is the abrupt turn-around she seems to have made, espacially in her choice of friends. There’s smoking cigarettes, I know a few of them smoke pot and she admitted that she has tried it once. (do I believe just once…???) I’m sure there’s alcohol around although when I question her she says “No mom, none of them are 21” (since when did that stop kids from getting anything?) I know most if not all of them have had sex. Her friends up to six months ago did none of these things, (one girl had had sex and was regretting it badly). I do feel I raised her to know right from wrong however she has never had many rules, responsibilities, consequences etc. I didn’t really need them, she knew what was right and did it. I may just be freaking out for nothing but to see your child (who has done so well when all around her teens ARE doing all the stuff I mentioned above) suddenly change in her last few months of high school in a way that I think could take her down in life is really hard.

  3. Sounds like the rules an consequences need to be put into place NOW. She shouldn’t have access to a vehilce as long as she is making poor choices with it. Don’t parent out of fear. If she is unwilling to do what is right then you need to help her choose the right thing by a variety of things…consequences, punishment, reward etc…

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