Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

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Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Just Jennifer » Mon Jan 19, 2015 01:21

Having a rough time with my 17yo lately who has been experimenting with everything (interpret that whatever way you wish) over, I'm guessing, the past 8 months.

I am a praying mom and I do trust that this young man is eventually going to remember that my rules are for his good, at least until I can raise him to adulthood and he is legally free to make dumb decisions but, hopefully, mature enough to make more good ones than bad ones, but I also value the opinions of the members here.

So if you are willing to share, what unwise choices did you make as a teen, how did you parents deal with it, if they knew, and how do you plan to apply your knowledge and experience to your own parenting or mentoring of teens and young adults?

Been a rough weekend. Looking forward to your replies.
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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Toad » Mon Jan 19, 2015 01:56

Depends a lot on the nature of the infraction, but the bottom line is that a 17-year-old is not a boy to be disciplined, even if he's acting like one. Unfortunately, he's a grown man, who in some other cultures would have a couple of rugrats of his own by now, and you'll have to deal with him on that basis. This is going to be a bit of a struggle if you haven't already started making the switch.

All you can really do is spell out to him the worst-case consequences of whatever he's doing and make sure he has a contingency plan. He won't, of course; that's the nature of being a teenager. But make sure he fully understands that you are no longer there to wipe his ass for him: because he's making adult decisions, he'll be dealing with adult consequences all by himself. There is, in any case, only so much that mum can fix for him.

My mum was pretty good: when I was doing stupid things, she would usually just tell me straight up what was likely to happen, and - ta-dah - she was often (not always) right. She never said "told you so"; she just assumed a lesson was learned (generally, it was). Sometimes she was spectacularly wrong. That's why teenagers experiment: to find out if what their parents tell them about the way the world works actually holds water. Basically, they're a bit like enormous toddlers: they have to stick their fingers in the fire to know what "it's hot and it will burn you"actually means. Hopefully he'll come out of the end of all this realising that mum (mostly) knew what she was talking about, but there isn't really any way to short-circuit this process, unless you want a rather bovine, compliant son who's likely to end up having a major midlife crisis 20 years from now.

One of the things I really wanted when I was a teenager was an older man who I could actually ask for advice and who would take me seriously. There was literally nobody who could have done that for me (my uncle, who might have been that person, had died a few years back). So I had to figure out a lot of stuff from scratch. Try to find such a confidant for your son, if he doesn't have one already. Unfortunately, there's a whole bunch of stuff he can't discuss with you, and you probably wouldn't be able to give him the right answers anyway.

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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby divea » Mon Jan 19, 2015 02:21

Hugs Jen!!

I have no brother, and my kids aren't there yet. So I have no opinion on this, just 'Man it must be hard'. In the future though, count me to come to you for your advice like I always have. :smile: :orz:
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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Big Vern » Mon Jan 19, 2015 09:36

I'm going to take a punt that most of the replies you get are from people who have done it rather than had to deal with it :grin: .

As one of the former all I can say is the vast majority of guys come through it reasonably unscathed, which I hope reduces your worry somewhat. I remember waking up with my mum sleeping on the floor of my bedroom because she was scared I would choke on vomit. The amount I owe her and the guilt I still feel now :doh: .

I think it's just a case of looking out for him and making sure he's OK. It must be hell for you.

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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby maoman » Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:43

Toad wrote:Depends a lot on the nature of the infraction, but the bottom line is that a 17-year-old is not a boy to be disciplined, even if he's acting like one.
...One of the things I really wanted when I was a teenager was an older man who I could actually ask for advice and who would take me seriously. There was literally nobody who could have done that for me (my uncle, who might have been that person, had died a few years back). So I had to figure out a lot of stuff from scratch. Try to find such a confidante for your son, if he doesn't have one already.

I'm in agreement with Toad.
Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.

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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Dragonbones » Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:46

Same here. I'm not sure what to add to Toad's sage advice, and it REALLY depends on the nature of the infraction, his personality, and your relationship with him. A bit of pot or alcohol or sneaking out at night? Probably inevitable. Premarital sex with or without protection? Make sure he understands the importance of condom usage, and make sure he has some, even if you don't approve of the behavior. Emphasize his responsibility toward the girl, and make sure he knows unprotected sex can and does kill (AIDS). Hard drugs? Bigger problem IMO, maybe others can give advice.
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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Kal El » Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:03

I agree with Toad. A book that says pretty much the same, but in more detail that I would recommend (for anyone raising a boy) is Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.
I originally got it because I'm raising a boy, and I'm often at my wits end about how to deal with various chalenges that come up. However, it even helped me realise many things about my self.

People often don't realise that boys are every bit as emotionally rich as girls, and maybe even more so, but it is hardly ever acknowledged. We're told to man up, grow a back bone, drink a bag of cement, cowboys don't cry or whatever, and the result is often boys and young men who push back the only way they know, violently, loudly and physically.

Without knowing any details, I am guessing there's disruption in the household and/or his personal life (most of which at that age you may not even be aware of), and he doesn't know how to express his feelings or how to handle it. As a result, he's acting out in several ways. I'm guessing, again without knowing the details, that punishing him under these circumstances will only make the situation worse.
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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Icon » Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:13

Guys, this is Taiwan. What for us are minor infractions, here it is a biggie.

From my experience as eldest of 5, I am also sorry to mention this, but if there is some perceived instability -like family problems-, some slacking in the reins -parents momentarily distracted by other issues-, the kid will act up. Kids panic when their established relationships falter, and it is part testing the limits, part trying to cope with stuff he has no power over. Anger issues, but mostly fear issues. Peer pressure and bullying is also rife in local schools. A bicultural kid is easy target. These last years of schools are the final stretch of a very competitive environment... blasting into unknown. heck, if he doesn't act up, that'll be weird.

Definitively a reliable third party acting as mentor/listener. As a parent, you'd love to be that kind ear but seriously, there is stuff I covered up for my siblings that my parents will never know -will take to my grave. Pick your battles accordingly. As said, sex/drugs/major stupidity issues, those must have clear limits. Try to communicate or bring the mentor to negotiate. As said, kid must be given some slack, show him you trust him and he will trust you. Be truthful,. and when he lies, you'll have moral ground to stand on and ask for the truth. This is of outmost importance. Concede some points, agree on where to concede, as a test. If fail, then remove privileges.

What problems can be faced? I have noticed for instance that kids here steal money to buy the latest gadgets. There is also the innocence issue. I have seen stuff in a friends' kid's FB wall -from stuff she subscribes to, not that she posts- that to me are appalling and I wonder what the heck is my pal thinking as a parent?! Mostly it goes over the kids' head but it leaves a doorway open to predators. But you cannot shelter the kid from all influences around them. They want to be like their peers, they want to be the top cat, they want to be cool. You have to be the parent and explain limits, consequences. Do not attempt to be the friend. That will come later, when maturity sets in.

If push comes to shove, counseling might help. But the kid might feel put on the spot and aggravate issues, too. That is why a mentor, a kind ear, a helpful uncle or granny is of vital importance. Not dad, not you mom. Someone they may think on their side, even if they are truly and firmly on yours. Yes, they will say the same thing you said and the kid may listen to them, not you. That's the way it works.
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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Just Jennifer » Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:58

Thank you, everyone. I want to respond to each one of you from my keyboard later because I really appreciate your thoughts. I am really blessed with a strong support system among friends and at church but I knew there was a perspective I would get here that my church family, for example, might not have experience with or might be hesitant to share. More later, I promise.
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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby cfimages » Mon Jan 19, 2015 13:20

Most of what I'd offer has already been covered so I'll just add this - let him know that no matter what happens, you'll always love him and be there for him and won't judge him.

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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Mick » Mon Jan 19, 2015 13:21

Not knowing anything about the boy I'd add this, but take it with a pinch of salt. At that age, his friends are going to influence his behavior a lot. Since he seems to be approaching the age he might consider going to University. Perhaps consider if he could do that in Australia or something. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and boredom which is when perhaps we start making bad decisions. If you had family elsewhere willing to help and keep an eye on him, the break from friends and new environment and all that goes with trying to get used to a new culture might be enough of a distraction to get his mind in the right place. I'm not saying this is necessarily right for you and your son, just trying to add one option.

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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Dragonbones » Mon Jan 19, 2015 15:03

Yes, if he's fallen in with some bad influences, one option is to use something like a move to a new residence or school to try to break those ties; and enrolling him in some activities may keep him too busy to get in trouble, and get him to focus him in a new direction.
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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Andrew » Mon Jan 19, 2015 20:57

When my brother and I started acting up, my parents started making us earn our keep. They always told us it was a privilege what we had under our roof. Yes, we had weekly chores that were expected and if we got caught out after curfew, drinking, driving like an asshole, etc...we would find ourselves cleaning the bathroom-all the pipes had to be 'spic n' span'-plus other maintenance on the house or yard....ever pull weeds in -30?shovel the snowy driveway with a rake or cleaned kitchen tiles with a toothbrush??it's been done at my parents house...with 4 kids, our house was always the cleanest one inside and out.....basically any consequence was handled military style, minus the yelling, hitting and the running....Dad always said it 'gave' us time to think....we never got a lecture....we just remembered....Teenagers will screw up, but if they do have to learn on their own what path is right for them....good luck

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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby maoman » Mon Jan 19, 2015 21:23

Andrew wrote:
Spoiler:
When my brother and I started acting up, my parents started making us earn our keep. They always told us it was a privilege what we had under our roof. Yes, we had weekly chores that were expected and if we got caught out after curfew, drinking, driving like an asshole, etc...we would find ourselves cleaning the bathroom-all the pipes had to be 'spic n' span'-plus other maintenance on the house or yard....ever pull weeds in -30?shovel the snowy driveway with a rake or cleaned kitchen tiles with a toothbrush??it's been done at my parents house...with 4 kids, our house was always the cleanest one inside and out.....basically any consequence was handled military style, minus the yelling, hitting and the running....Dad always said it 'gave' us time to think....we never got a lecture....we just remembered....Teenagers will screw up, but if they do have to learn on their own what path is right for them....good luck

And look how Andrew turned out! A cautionary tale, indeed! :nono:
Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.

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Re: Parenting and disciplining a 17yo boy

Postby Wookiee » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:34

My :twocents: may not be all that, but I feel a need to respond.
I think any "lay down the law" approach will result in more opposition to the rules by which he should abide. As Toad pointed out, he is already a young adult and should be given more say in his upbringing. I would suggest you try a bit of negotiation instead of punishment. Slacken the rules a bit for him, but ask for a bit of responsibility on his part in return.
This kind of thing happens to young males of the species. I went through my rebellious stage when I was 14 and came out of it long before turning 16. He, too, will emerge from it, and probably stronger, inshallah!
This -->
...One of the things I really wanted when I was a teenager was an older man who I could actually ask for advice and who would take me seriously.
really got to me. And perhaps there may be someone to whom you could send him to be around. What are his hobbies, or "were" before this change? Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch, but is there an older someone you trust who has a passion for something your son likes to do and who would be willing to let him hang around and learn what he can. I know he may not want to be "sent" anywhere, as he'll know what's best for him, but try for a break in his routine, even if it means less time for school work for now.
I look forward to the conclusion of this thread a month, 3, maybe 6 from now when this has all blown over.

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