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Desperate for help and advice on teenage son
An_221710 posted:
My son is on a downward spiral, I fear. He's always been a good kid, all As, all honors classes, never any issues. He's now a sophmore in HS and we discovered he's been looking at porn on his Kindle. Not only that, he's been writing some pretty gruesome poetry about death and killing. He's been drawing graphic pictures of women and women body parts, as if to simulate porn pictures.
He's a good kid, no problems in school except that this semester his grades dipped a little bit low. He's become more social in school and even has a nice girl friend. What happened? How did he change? We talk to him about going to college and what careers he could take but instead he wants to join the military.
His birthday is coming up and when we asked him what he wants to do for his birthday he said "go to a shooting range". He used to play Call of Duty all the time so I wonder if that's where the military talk comes from. Or if even that's where his poetry of death and killing is coming from.

Please help, I'm desperate. How do I talk to him? How do I approach it?
Lainey_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Anon_155666,

I can understand why you are worried. Video games can influence our children in negative ways. WebMD has an article about how violent video games have an impact on the brain.

If you have issues with your son's wish to go to a shooting range, let him know. His desire to join the military can also come from his high school. Some schools allow the military to talk with the children about joining.

You know your son best, if you feel there is something wrong, please contact a therapist.

Feel free to post anything you would like to share and please keep us updated.
An_221711 responded:
1. Going into the military is an incredibly noble thing to do and I commend your son for wanting to. He's old enough to understand, hopefully, the difference between being a real soldier and playing COD.

2. Porn on his Kindle? Either limit his access to the internet, or be aware that porn is part of 99.999999999% of young men looking at the internet. Was it disturbing porn? Was there blood, gore, women being raped? If it was garden variety porn, well, you as his Mom don't want to think about what he was doing while it was on. So don't! Have you talked with him about porn vs. the reality of sexual relationships? If not, I'd say now is the time to think about it.

3. Grades dipping a little seem to correlate with an improved social life and a girlfriend. Would it bother you if you were expected to be perfect? To always be an A Mom, wife, daughter, sister, employee, etc. etc. Of course it would, nobody IS perfect. So as long as it's a minor dip, let it go! He's happier! Maybe tell him in a relaxed way "Hey, you're not too cool for homework now!" and monitor it, but please, try to accept that A's are hard to get all the time. A minor dip with improved quality of life is nothing to fret over.

4. As for the preoccupation with death, it could be typical teenage angst or it could be something deeper. Have you asked him? Maybe start with a compliment about the poem as a piece of art, and then ask why it's so dark. Is he violent?

You sound like a great Mom who wants to be involved, and that's awesome :) Just talk to him like a person, like the man you've helped make him into. Be honest and forthright, and have a little mercy on the kid. Keep the doors of communication open by being non-judgemental, and if his grades continue to go downward or if he shows violent impulses, ideally you both will be able to talk with each other easily.

Good luck!
phoenix31674 responded:
Boys do change as they grow into men.

I wonder if with regards to the poetry if there has been something happen at school. Has one of his classmates been killed or seriously injured or perhaps one of his friends lose a close family member? It is normal for teens to go through a phase when they try to sort out the meaning of mortality.

as for the military (disclaimer: I served 14 years in the Navy), there could be two reasons.

1. He wants to live out his video game fantasy - in which case he could use a good reality check by talking to a member of the service he wants to join and not one from the recruiter's office. No offense to recruiters, but their job is to upsell the military to make their quota. This could give him some real perspective on what it really means to be in the military. I do know the Navy had a program where young sailors could put in to go back to their hometowns and speak at local high schools to let kids interact with real sailor.

2. He could be tiring of school. Boys tend to be more restless than girls and he may be chafing under the structure of academics and not be interested in doing another 4-5 years of sitting in the classroom all day. The military can be a great option for these folks. it gives them a chance to finish maturing and increasing the odds of success in college for those who were ambivalent about it at 18. It also provides college benefits so that when you graduating you won't be saddled under mounds of debt. If you are smart about saving while in the service it is possible to graduate debt free, but even if you aren't it won't be near what it is for the average student.

If he is serious about the military, he should make sure he signs up for a particular specialty. While I was an officer, I saw far too many of my sailors sold the bill of goods about 'you don't have to decide now. Once you get to your ship you can apprentice to whatever rating you want.' That's not entirely true. The military teaches many wonderful trades and those who who serve in a specialty have a step up over folks who joined purely as infantrymen. Of course there is nothing wrong with going infantry and many folks have made careers out of it, but it's not a skill that translates well to civilian life.

Each of the services also has commissioning programs for motivated enlisted that will pay for their schooling so they can go on to be an officer.

Of course it is a very difficult life and there is the risk of death or injury, but there are several jobs in the civilian world that are more dangerous.

as to the 'shooting range', you should try to have an open and non-judgmental discussion about where the interest in guns came from if no one in your family has firearms. This would be a good time possibly looking into getting him into a firearms safety course if he is serious about it. Far too many people out there are injured by guns because they don't know how to safely take care of or operate them. Just because you don't have guns and tell him you disapprove of them doesn't mean that he isn't exposed to them from his friends.

If you don't feel he's being open with you, perhaps you could look to finding a third party counselor to help you communicate effectively with him. just remember not to be too judgmental or dismiss his plans for the future because they aren't yours - that will cause him to clam up.

Good luck.
superjake responded:
Personally, I think a boarding school will help you out in this kinds of problems. They offer a structured alternative environment where troubled teens can grow and learn to make the changes necessary for a successful life. Good luck!
superjake replied to superjake's response:
In addition, boarding schools utilizes the outdoor components of a summer camp or a wilderness program allowing each teen to benefit from the therapeutic atmosphere of the outdoors. This may help your kid do some soul searching. Click on this link if you want to know more.
countrygirlkay replied to superjake's response:
i dont think shipping your kid off into someone else's hands and making it there problem is the answer to this. i would sit down and talk to your son about this.

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