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new to this board, need advice
4oSomething posted:
Hi folks. I'm not new to webmd, but never posted on this board before. I have a 17 year old who has become increasingly mouthy, disrespectful and difficult to live with. It seems he has pretty much decided he is the boss of me and is going to do as he pleases. If he was 18 I would put him out of the house and feel not an ounce of guilt...... as I do not feel obligated to live this way.

I know this is partly my own fault, he is an only child and because of that I gave him too much, and did everything for him, because he was the only child I was ever going to have and the more I did the less he appreciated and the more he expected........ but it's a bit late to try to fix that now. I'm too worn out to bother having a pity party or waste the rest of my life blaming myself. So what I guess I want to know is what do you do when your kid decides he's a man and is not going to follow your rules, and you can't legaly toss him out?
amy122370 responded:
I dont know what state you live in, but if your son is old enough to act like a man, then you should start treating him like one. Tell him that if he wants to act out and treat you this way, then he should be getting a job and start paying rent. Let him pay his own bills, i.e. cell phone, car payment, insurance, any of these things that he has. Let him see what its really like to be a grown up and then maybe he wont be so anxious to act like one. The hard part of this is letting him act however he wants. I would not however put up with unruly or unecessarily rude behavior from him, even if he is paying rent. Let him know that this is just like living away from home. You can get a lease agreement for rent online at alot of different websites. Print it out and make him sign it. I would warn him that if he does not want to pay rent and sign the lease, then he was free to move out. If he chooses not to move out or sign the lease, then explain to him that there are laws that are on your side til he is 18 years old. If he is being that unruly, YOU can contact childrens services and tell them that you are having alot of problems with him. They can even offer counselling. I understand what you mean about dealing with an only child. I have one myself, a 12 year old little boy. But that child of mine knows the value of a dollar. and he also knows that i dont put up with any actions like what you are describing... Good luck and hope that helps.. Amy
4oSomething responded:
I can't force him to get a job or pay rent while he is under 18, and I have 350 days to go until he is. Yes I am counting them down. He does not have a license, as he is not mature enough for me to have felt comfortable giving him permission to get one, nor can I afford to have him on my insurance, nor do I want to be financially responsible for any damage he may cause. Here if you are under 18 you can not get your own insurance it goes on your parents. He was already told if he wants a car at 18 he better get a job and start saving for one plus insurance. He has already whined that "everybody else's parents" bought them a car for the 16th birthday. Well too bad, so sad, nobody ever bought me a car or anything else for that matter, and he was told he needs to start working for whatever he expects to have in life, like his father and I have. Hence the beligerant attitude.
amy122370 responded:
Well, i can understand your frustration. If you are that restricted by the laws in your state, then i definately feel sorry for the position you are in. I still think that you should call Social Services or something to that effect to see if there is some kind of counselling you can get him into. Good luck to you dear.
rednewbie responded:
40something, Tell your son its time to grow up. You are his mother and his disrespect of you is going to stop today. If he has a cell phone.. Take it.. If he has any priveldges take them. He may be larger than you, but you are his mother and you deserve to have peace and respect in your own home. Where is Dad?

Tell your son, my kids did not have a car when they turned 16, in fact my son made payments to me for insurance and driving my car... Nothing in my house is free. So either your son gets a job, or he does not drive.

You son is testing you... and he is currently winning. Take a step back, and set up new rules and consequences. And stick to the consquences. If you say you will take the cell phone and he won't give it to you, tell him "fine, I will cancel the service and you can pay to get it turned back on, including any cancellations fees, etc."...Make sure you do it... He needs to respect you, by you being consistent.

After a few times of you getting it clear to him that he needs to listen to you and the consquences will be dealt., he will slowly turn around. He does not "just get anything free" in life. Anywhere, so he better get himself together quick or his 350 days will go fast. Do Not give in Mom... It's your last chance to get him under control.

As I do at times look at my kids in a very confused manner, and ask "Are you speaking to me? Your mother with tone? You must be confused??." Or even better "How about I be the parent today and you can the parent when you have kids".....

You can do this... You are 40 something, You know how to make a 17 year olds life difficult. And get things under control. I am guilty of the same thing, and I it has at times been very draining to have his drama in the house. But he is 19 and he knows he has a sweet deal here, even though he pays rent, his own cell phone bill, his own insurance, and yes... his own car..

As for getting him a license... You as his parent have the right revoke his drivers license. You can go to the BMV and tell them you do not believe his mature enough to drive and they will revoke it. Only until he is 18 and then he might have to go through all the tests again.

Go Getttum Mom... !! I know you can do it.. You are the queen~! Gin
Ruby46 responded:
I get what you say. Oy.

Well, you can do what my mother did when my brother acted up. She reminded him that she was legally responsible to put a roof over his head, food in his belly, and clothes on his back, but it didn't have to be food he liked or clothes he felt good in. You can legally remove everything in his room except a mattress and a blanket. He can eat oatmeal every meal and drink water. You can take his door off its hinges.

I would remind him of this and then work with him on a contract basis. He gets X if he does Y. If he doesn't do Y, no X. X can be anything he really wants--a car, a laptop, an x-box, etc.

The good news is that this will last probably only 10 years. He may be a real person again around 25. What fun.
4oSomething responded:
Well like I said, he does not own a car or have a license for me to revoke, since he can;'t get one at this age without permission, and I have not and am not giving it. I tried grounding him and he just walked out anyway because he knows I can not phsically stop him. I tried telling him if you leave while you are grounded you better have a place to live, because don't come back/ But he knows that legaly I have to let him back till he is 18 so that didn't work either. There is no cell phone, if I can't afford one for myself I'm sure as heck not paying some big monthly phone bill for him.

Ruby I love your advice. He is a very fussy eater and I could probably cut my grocery bill by 50 bucks a week if I didn't spend so much on his seperate meals since he never wants what I cook. Thank you!
rednewbie responded:
If you are looking for cutting your grocery bill, what I have done just recently was post a sign on the refrig of snacks we have, and what mixes (like cake, brownie, etc)... and then they is no issue of what is there to eat. The results of the amount of snacks I had when I looked under and behind everything in the pantry is way more than I thought. Made it clear to my kids, I am not buying more snacks.

Honey, there has to be some sort of currency you can take from your son until he follows your rules. TV time, computer time, etc.

good Luck Gin
betterman responded:
40something, i enjoy your posts on the other boards, welcome to parenting boards.

I didn't read all the posts in this thread because i'm at work, but i want to say about the food. stop coddling him with preparing something different. ok, by the laws of where you live you can't "force" him to get a job...and i'm sure they also state you must provide adequate food, shelter, etc for him. all that is fine, and there is a great reason those laws are there! BUT you CAN say "this is the meal i have eat that or you can find the means to provide yourself the meal of your choosing", as in, your meal is FREE to him, but if he wants something else he has to come up with the income to buy it himself. you've sufficiently met your legal parenting duties, and he has a grown up choice to make. my bet is he will learn to like what you provide him instead of getting a job right away, but that's still better for you than having to prepare 2 meals at a time.
betterman responded:
also, about "threats"...don't make threats you know you can't keep (i.e. leaving while grounded=have another place to live)...make PROMISES. like if he's grounded tell him if he leaves then you will take away "x" thing that he really enjoys. and then if he disobeys, follow thru!

this is one thing i'm trying to get my fiance on the same page with me on...her daughter (8 y.o. only child) will act up, my fiance will say several times that she'll do such and such punishment, but she hardly ever follows thru. so i will tell her if you're going to tell her you'll do this to her, then DO IT...I do...if the girl acts up, i tell her if she continues that behavior than such and such will happen. so, if she does it one more time, I FOLLOW THRU. she'll beg, plead, cry, whatever, but i stand firm and remind her of the action she took to receive the consequence. then she usually soon straightens up and i don't have another problem out of her for a good amount of time.
unknown responded:
Dear 40something,

I am subbing here today for the regular moderator, Louise, and I happened to see your post. Like Betterman, I appreciate the posts of yours you offer elsewhere on WebMD. You've been given tons of good advice and suggestions already, but I thought I'd offer one more.

Our ADHD health expert, Dr. Sogn, who had kids with ADHD himself, used to recommend the book, "Your Defiant Teen: 10 steps to Resolve Conflict and Rebuild Your Relationship," by Russel A. Barkley, Ph.D. and Arthur L. Robin, Ph.D.

I don't know if it would help, but perhaps take a look at it and see.

In support,


Mom of a seventeen-year old son, too.
Johnnie38 responded:
Wow, 17 and no DL? Not even his permit? Do you work? If so, what does he do in his free time? How does he get around? How does he earn money if he can't go to work? I'm thinking along a different line than others and thinking he may be bored, may feel like he isn't free to grow up and is testing the boundaries. Maybe it is time to rethink the boundaries. So he's mouthy and hungry. That isn't the same as wanting to keep him tethered because he is a drug using danger to himself. You're kidding about wanting to toss him out, right?
Minnmommy responded:
I of course don't have the experience with the teenagers.. but I remember how I acted at that age and honestly it wasn't much different from the school agers that I take care of at work! Sad isnt' it? We just have better vocabulary at that age.

He may very well be bored like a pp said, but the way he's acting doesn't make it acceptable. If he wants trust and rewards then he needs to do something to prove he's trustworthy and that he can handle what he gets as a reward. I agree also with being consistent, but be clear. The punishment should always be a clear consequence. You leave while grounded? Okay, that tells me that when you come home, you don't want a door on your room or that tells me you don't want your TV anymore.. etc etc. I know that with younger kids we say the "you (insert annoying behavior here) tells me that you ...." makes a connection from action to consequence and shows them that they are making a choice to do this.

He doesn't have to like what he gets in terms of food etc. Within reason though, I wouldn't set broccoli in front of him if you absolutely know he won't eat it. But just because he wants a cheeseburger doesn't mean you need to give it to him, that kinda thing. Is there a place close to home, like a few blocks away where he could work? Earning some kind of income and being responsible for some things such as a small rent, paying his own bills and being able to buy the things he wants with what's left over might instill some responsibility and pride in him.

Don't feel bad about the DL/insurance thing. It IS expensive. At that age my mom told me "here's the bill, here's what it costs. You have 2 months to come up with a way to pay it, after 2 months the bill is yours". I'm sure there is no law on earth that says you are obligated to get him a car, pay the astronomical insurance, the upkeep on a car and potentially be responsible for the consequences of him driving. Maybe that could be leverage though.. that if he shows you he can be responsible and trustworthy then the process will start and you will help him get his license. I would not promise a car though. If you want to help with that at all then maybe tell him that you'll give him x amount of dollars (not negotiable of course) as an 18th birthday gift towards a car. I would also definitely let him know that if he can't straighten up that as much as you love him, he can't stay once he turns 18 if this is how he is going to treat you and the home that you two have.
SabrinaMom responded:
I think you've been given a lot of good advice. I'm sure you provide him with many "privileges" that can be taken away. Does he have computer/internet access? Maybe you need to put passwords on the computer and block him using it for a while. Does he have cable television and/or a television in his room? That can go, too. Other things: CD player, DVD player or VCR, Video Games, etc. Walk through the house with an objective eye looking for the extras that you provide that can be restricted until his behavior improves. You may have to do more than tell him he's restricted; you may have to remove the items from the house. I would stop fixing separate meals and snacks for him. My family eat what I put on the table, or they go make themselves a sandwich. I don't make them go hungry. If they want something different, they fix it. Tell him he can earn privileges back by improving his behavior and doing a few chores around the house.

I also wonder if things would change if he could get a job. Could you get him a bus pass or give him a daily ride to an after school job? If he's working, he's going to be learning some responsibility and possibly some new skills.

You might try talking to his school counselor, too. Is he having problems at school with behavior or attitude? Does he have many friends and spend time with them, or is he having problems in that area, too? The school counselor might be able to give you some other suggestions for dealing with this situation. Good luck! My oldest daughter was a real handful, too.

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