Sunday, 3 November 2013

Teenage behaviour ... help!!!

I am sitting here this morning writing instead of watching my 15 year old play football. Its the first time ever that I have not been there for him in 10 years of playing the sport.

I have two boys ... a 14 year old and a 15 year old, and they are good, normal boys. Both are nice lads who enjoy being at home. They don't go out partying yet, but I tend to think that they will do that when they are ready. They are intelligent and polite to strangers ... (strangers being the operative word here).

However ... I am finding it more and more difficult to be a good parent. I am lost as to how to cope with certain situations. I have always tried to be calm, but firm and although I sometimes lose my temper it is rare that I shout these days.

The real bane of my life is the boys' obsession with computers, the x box, their phones. I try to limit the time spent on these, but they always manage to slowly increase time spent. It seems to affect their behaviour in a negative way, but they don't seem to be able to see this.

My eldest son is in his GCSE year, but is not doing any work at home for them. He tells me not to worry as "I'm an A Grade student, Mum", but all he seems to do is sit and watch Minecraft videos on YouTube, or play the xbox. I look at him and remember the little golden boy he used to be and it breaks my heart. He has such potential and appears to be throwing it all away.

Last night at 10.30 I was watching tv and he came down and said he was going to watch Match of the Day now. No question... just a statement. I told him that I was watching tv and that he could watch Match of the Day in the morning as it was being taped. He just refused to accept this and turned it to Match of the Day. He then ranted on at me, saying that I obviously despised him and did nothing for him, that I clearly loved his brother more than him.

Having spent the day ferrying him around, letting him do what he wanted as far as electronics go and generally being pretty nice as far as I was concerned, this was news to me. I stayed calm and replied to his claims logically. But what can you do when a young man who is bigger and stronger than you wants to do something and refuses to back down?

In the past I have always been the boss, the Mum. Whether I have shouted or reasoned I have always been the one in charge and have got both boys to do as I want. Last night was the first time where I found myself at a loss. I could have gone mental and probably got my own way, but I didn't want to go that route. His attitude was so cold, so arrogant. He does nothing around the house, his room is a pit, he refuses to revise ...

I lay in bed crying, and told him in a letter that he needn't expect a lift to football in the morning. He could make his own way. As it was, my phone didn't charge and so the alarm didn't go off and I woke up at 9.30 am. He was supposed to be at the ground at 9.30 for a 10am kick off and typically (because he relies on me so much) he was still in bed.I got up and drove him up there with 10 minutes to spare before kick off. Usually he would have apologised after a falling out, but this morning he was just as horrible as he was last night.

I told him in my letter that he needed to think about his behaviour and apologise to me. He also needed to change the way he behaved as it was unacceptable. I have removed all electronic equipment.

Is this the right way to go? Over the summer holidays we got rid of most of the stuff and he changed into a really rather pleasant boy. I really think that playing horrible games must affect behaviour and I am determined not to let him have them back for a long time.

The thing is that I am afraid of losing him, and uncertain as to how to cope with his behaviour. I need to have him stick to the rules of our house and I want him to be respectful, kind, helpful. I am trying to be consistent, calm and reasonable.

Parenting is so hard. Every day you are faced with yet another decision to make, another challenging behaviour with which to cope. There is no rule book.

I would be interested and grateful for any opinions on this. What should I do? Am I doing the right thing? He will be back in a minute and I wonder how he will behave ...


Razmataz said...

I've raised teenagers and they do go through a pretty bad stage. Given his behaviour last night, I would not have taken him to his game. He did not deserve you waking him or driving him. hat should have been the consequence for his behaviour last night. Warn him and follow though and make the punishment more than removing the xbox. He was very disrespectful to you. Once the consequences affect more than his life inside the house (xbox) he should pay more attention. I assume you are a single parent which makes this more difficult.

joy said...

Oh Sarah, what can I say apart from been there, done that. The only consolation I can offer is that my almost 25 year-old is now teetotal, vegan, studying at OU, in a long-term relationship with a lovely girl, and an absolute darling.
Joy xx

sarah at secret housewife said...

Thank you Razmataz and Joy.

Today has been very subdued.I have taken everything electronic away and sat him down to tell him exactly what I thought of his behaviour and what I expected in future.
I'm not a single parent but my husband was not here last night as he works nights.We will both talk to my son together when my husband is here.
I appreciate that you both took the time to write. Having people comment makes being a parent that much less lonely!


The Madwoman said...

I think you took the correct route, making ground rules, setting boundaries. But ready yourself for a year at least of this behaviour.

I too have Been There, Done That. My daughter is now 24 and one of the kindest and most thoughtful people you could hope to meet. Wise beyond her years at times, and fully engaged in her chosen path. She really is a joy in every sense of the word.

I tend to think young adults need to rebel, need to push boundaries. Its not pleasant to be on the receiving end. But in some odd way I think it also indicates that they trust you. They KNOW that you will love and forgive them, that they have a safe environment to learn how to negotiate Life and how to live with the rest of humanity.

It's going to be a very bumpy ride for your family over the next year or so. Hopefully you and your husband can work as a team backing each other up and standing firm.
Find people to vent to, people that can help keep your spirits up when the going gets tough. I used MumsNet - its a fount of knowledge and experiences. And delightfully subversive at times too >insert wink<.

Bless you, and your family. You WILL survive.....bruised and battered but wiser.
And always remember - one day it'll be their turn.

Gina Howie said...

I can offer no advice since I am wrestling with much of the same as you with my son. The teen years are every bit as bumpy as I was warned. I think you are handling everything really well. Wishing you all the best of luck.

I am really looking forward to seeing you on Saturday at the blogger tea and catching up.

Bonnie Rose said...

I feel any advice I could give I will be regretting I gave in 5 years when my oldest is 14. However trying to put myself in your shoes I think what you did was really good. I probably would have driven him to practice too just because its so hard to find that balance as a parent. I am nervous about preteen and teenage years but it seems like with every age there comes the challenges and the amazing aspects.

I look forward to getting to meet you tomorrow at the blogger meet up. I'll be the girl with glasses and a camera. :)

Inkling said...

I don't have any advice to offer you other than stick to your guns. It may mean a very tough season. (My brother and I sure gave our parents a very tough season during those years.) But I believe that if you stick to your principles that eventually your son will come around to appreciate what you did. It may take years for that appreciation to form, but I believe it will form. When I talk to my brother about our teen years, we both agree that the areas where we cannot respect our parents are the ones where they were too willing to spoil us or back down, while we admire and respect them for trying so hard to insist upon other things. My brother did distance himself from our family for a couple of years, but the funny thing is that now he is the primary one who initiates us getting together and is the one who works the most to keep us all close.

As I navigate mothering issues with my young child, I question myself all the time. It is very hard to know when to "lay down the law", and when to treat them in an understanding way that gives them undeserved grace. I feel like I'm constantly looking for wisdom and discernment to know the best course.

You are a good mom and a wonderful human being, and I believe your boys will recognize that when they get through this crazy hormonal time and grow into young adults. They will see that they were truly blessed to have a mom who gave her very best, worked hard to act with wisdom and understanding, and who loved them to the best of her ability. We see that now. And they will see it eventually.

And now I'll just admit that I wanted to throw the remote at your son when he rudely turned off your program to watch his. It's probably a very god thing I was not there. ;

sarah said...

Thank you so much for commenting Madwoman, Gina, Bonnie and Inkling. It means a lot that you have taken the time to write. It seems that the lot of a mum to teenagers is not a happy one!! Im glad that you seem on the whole to think ive gone about this the right way. Its a relief to know that you don't think I'm awful.
I wish you all the best with your teenagers! It may not be kind of me to say this but I am glad that I'm not the only one struggling and it gives me hope when I read that kids come thru the other side as decent humans!!
I will keep you updated. Good luck Gina!! And Inkling you made me laugh at the thought of throwing the remote at him!!! Bonnie I wish we'd spent more time chatting on Saturday!! And Madwoman you give me hope and at least as you say ... one day they'll have teenagers of their own!!
Sarah xxx