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Ask a Professional: I am worried about my 14 year old son

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Ask a Professional: I am worried about my 14 year old son

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Ask a Professional: I am worried about my 14 year old son

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Hi, since the kids dad left 10years ago my 14year old son has took to technology to cope.
The kids dad was an alcoholic and drug addict, he would play video games all day and night and rage at me for nothing because I accidentally walked in front of the tv or whatever.
Now my son has taken up this trait which I am so pissed about.

My parents would take the kids to help me while I had a mental health break and catch up on housework and just breathe.
He has changed from the happy kid that used to be good at everything he did.
He has not been diagnosed but I am almost positive he is depressed, antisocial, emotional, aggressive, insensitive person who thinks everyone owes him everything.

I refused to buy broadband for this exact reason!
My parents would reward him with internet and buying him **bleep** online to help his addiction of fortnight and apex legends when he went to their house.

Then he would come home and rage at me for being poor and a **bleep** mum for not letting him do what he wanted or not being able to afford the crap he wanted on line.

I saw the signs and told the workers they did tell my parents to stop and get them to be on the same page!! Lol it's not funny but it's just **bleep** that my parents let my FN kids play online 24/7 and then blame me for the kids being turds at home.

I was forced into buying broadband, now getting yelled at everyday because it's so slow and always lags. I can't win.

Nothing I try is working and I don't know what to do because he is emotionally and mentally lashing out at me and his autistic sister which causes her to have meltdowns then I have a emotional rant and then cry because I feel I have failed as a parent.

I have mental health issues that stems from childhood trauma and domestic violence, I am getting the help I need to move forward and now I am able to notice the changes in others.

Sadly with me being so open with my mental health I have been put into a category and being stigmatized for being open in my mental health struggle in some peoples eyes is a sign of weakness by asking for help.



Hi @Sparkles85

It sounds like you are really exhausted by the constant hostility you are facing from your son. You’re already dealing with a lot, so to be met with anger and confrontation at home must be overwhelming.

Seeking help to address trauma takes a lot of courage, and I am glad that you are getting the help you need.

You may have already raised the effect that your son’s behaviour is having on you with the person you are seeing for your own mental health, but if not I encourage you to do so. It sounds like your son’s behaviour is bringing up some memories of how his father behaved, and it’s a good idea to address this in your therapy to identify ways to reduce the emotional impact of this on you.

I want to acknowledge that you have already tried some different things to address the behaviour, and these haven’t worked yet. It’s hard to be specific in my recommendations, because that would require a much more detailed understanding of the situation (including what you have already tried), but I can make some general suggestions.

When someone is pushing boundaries and behaving aggressively, having a consistent approach can be really helpful. Unfortunately, it sounds like in the past this wasn’t possible because your parents weren’t on the same page with you about things.

This makes it even more important to identify where your boundaries are (sometimes this might involve making some compromises and picking your battles), and then being consistent regarding the consequences of breaking rules.

Ideally, it would be really helpful to have a conversation with your teen about boundaries and rules and the consequences of breaking these - teens are more likely to accept consequences when they have had a voice in the process. There are some tips on that here:

Even if he is not willing to work with you on family rules and consequences, having worked out for yourself where these boundaries lie, and being consistent about consequences can still have a positive effect. Often when the consequences of misbehaving are unpredictable, the behaviour gets worse.

Becoming upset and emotional when your son lashes out at you and his sister is a very natural reaction! It sounds like it is causing you to feel more upset and less confident in your abilities, which is understandable, and also a good reason to think about tackling this as a first step.

Of course, not becoming upset isn’t so easy. Most people find that when it comes to change, it’s best to start with a change in behaviour, not a change in how we feel, because we are more able to control our behaviour than our emotions.

What response would you like to have when your son behaves in this way? It can be helpful to think this through in detail - what would you do and say if you were feeling less overwhelmed in the moment? This can actually help you behave calmly, even when you aren’t feeling calm (though it takes some practice).

I’m also wondering if you have spoken to your son at all about what he likes about the video games he plays? If you can approach this with curiosity and willingness to listen, it can help you better understand your son’s interests, how he sees things and what his experience is like at the moment. It’s likely that his view of the role video games play in his life is pretty different to yours.

Often, when we are stuck in conflict with someone, finding a way to connect with them and understand each other's viewpoint can help us identify a way forward. This can particularly be the case with parents and teens, because it's pretty common for parents and teens to initially see things from different perspectives, and then get caught up in conflict.

@Sparkles85, I just want to acknowledge again the strength and perseverance you have shown, and I hope these ideas are helpful.

Best wishes,

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.