Ask Dr. Meg: My Teen Son Breaks All the Rules

By |2018-01-24T15:20:28-05:00June 11th, 2013|FATHERS, Miscellaneous, PARENTING, Raising Sons, Self Help, Teenagers|17 Comments

Hi, Dr. Meg.

We have a teenage son who repeatedly breaks rules around the use of technology. He uses it in his room when he should be sleeping on a school night. (He has been told to not have devices in his room.) He also uses social media accounts that he was told he was not allowed to have.

We changed passwords and confiscated devices, and then the school issued a laptop for “homework.”

My wife doesn’t like confrontation in general so I feel it has become a case of “good cop, bad cop.” She has communicated the rules and expectations clearly and consistently with what I communicate, but she is not keen on following up on the breach.

This continues to happen and has become a trigger to my frustration. I am seeking independent, professional assistance as I take responsibility for my part in this.

Are you able to offer any insight so we may finally get some traction?

Thank you,

Weary Dad

~~~~~

Dear Weary Dad,

Having a teenage son who won’t respect you or your rules is a serious problem—not only for you, but also, most importantly, for him.

In order for your son to succeed in his work and personal life once he leaves home, he needs to know that he must be accountable to others. If he won’t listen to you, how will he hold a job and do what his boss tells him? And if he disrespects you, he will disrespect his wife, children, and friends.

In short, you and your wife are teaching him that his desires trump everyone else’s and that he is accountable to no one. This will end in disaster.

Teen boys need to learn self control by setting rules for themselves, but the only way they learn this is by first having rules imposed on them. Over time, they learn to impose rules on themselves. If your son refuses to obey your rules, he will never learn self discipline, and he can’t be happy without this.

Refusing to listen to you and respect your rules may seem like a small deal, but there’s a much bigger issue here. Your wife doesn’t like confrontation, but who does? That’s a poor excuse. Parents who aren’t willing to get into the ring and battle with their kids in order to make sure that they obey aren’t willing to love their kids well.

Love means doing the tough stuff, not just being a nice guy all the time.

Kids who grow up with parents who are too afraid to lay down the law when necessary raise self-centered adults who don’t respect anyone (especially themselves) very much.

If your wife won’t do the work, then you must. Here are the rules I would implement:

  • Your son can only use electronics in the room with you present.
  • If he refuses, then he can’t use the laptop.
  • If he doesn’t get his homework done, then he gets an F.
  • When bed time comes, everything electronic stays in the kitchen. Period.
  • If he has temper tantrums because of your rules (and he will at first), oh well.

Remember, you hold all the cards.

Your son will have major fits when you get serious but once he realizes that you are serious, you will see a transformation. He will begin to respect you, and he will become more relaxed and nicer to be around,

Finally, he will become closer to you (not his mother) because teen boys grow closer to adults whom they respect. By the way, there’s nothing “bad” in parenting well, so get rid of the “bad cop” language.

~~~~~

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Comments

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17 Comments

  1. Desparte Mom July 16, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Hi Dr. Meg,

    My husband and I grew up with two different values. My husband believes that doing sex, drugs and alcohol is normal for high school students and in fact, he did it all during his high school years. He told the kids all about his experiences and now we have teenagers and my oldest daughter is definitely breaking all the rules. I tried to set limits and discipline, but when I did, my husband gets flooded with the negative energy in the home and blames me for having a bad relationship with our daughter and has told the kids that he was going to divorce me. Now that our daughter has been to the police twice for various reasons, my husband is coming to realize his ways are not working. However, he still emphasize that I am the weird one and most people experiment with sex, drugs and alcohol during their teenage years. I tried to emphasize that it may be 50-50%, that some may and some won’t. Now I need to take my daughter to check for STD and I am so frustrated that by law the doctors have to recommend Gardisal and birth control if they are sexually active. I tried to call integrative doctors, but even they have to, because it is the law. I do not want to condone my daughter’s behavior, despite the fact that she says all her girlfriends are on birth control. She is 17 and almost out the door. What should I do? I guest I will stand firm on my believes and convey to her my concerns and the natural consequences of her behavior. What other discipline or consequences can I give out? I tried not letting her go out one time and she almost climb out the window on the first floor. My younger son modeled her and climbed out a week later while I was asleep. My husband told them that was what he did when he was young, that he would sneak out of the house and do mischievous things. My kids model him, model the way he treated me and now with me speaking up, everything is a bit better. However, with my daughter almost out the door, what is my best discipline or strategy to build a strong relationship with her and really let her know that I care deeply about her and that her acting out is not acceptable and not condoned by me. Please don’t post my email or name. Thank you! Desparate Mom.

  2. Desparte Mom July 16, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Do you have any recommendations for doctors in the North shore, Chicago, IL area with the area code of 60093.

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