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Dimes

Tricky teen

Hi there, I’ve not posted before. My youngest son is going to be 19 shortly. He has always been very quiet, reserved and sensible. Since the relaxations of COVID restrictions he has started going out with some mates I previously didn’t know about. He works 10hr days in a pub/restaurants and goes out straight from work and doesn’t come in til 5am. I’ve also found some drugs as well as cigarettes in his room. (I found these when sorting out his wardrobe)
I have tried talking to him about recent behaviours, but he just dismissed me and doesn’t listen. I don’t want to be ‘the’ over protective parent but I am
So scared that he will go down the proverbial rabbit hole. He is my youngest of 4 so I kinda naively thought I had parenting teenage boys nailed….I was wrong. How do I parent without suffocating him, whilst also keeping him safe and ‘on the right track’?

Community Manager
Philippa-RO

Re: Tricky teen

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Hi @Dimes and welcome to the ReachOut forums

As a parent to teens myself, I can empathise that you must be feeling worried about your son right now.

It's been a very tough time for young people with a lot of uncertainty and as parents it can be hard to see our young people making concerning choices.

We have some information on our website about drugs and how to talk about them with young people that might be useful.

This sounds like a really stressful time for you - do you have access to support for yourself?

We're glad to have you as part of the forum community - please feel free to post any time. 

Active scribe
Dimes

Re: Tricky teen

Thankyou so much. I have had an open conversation with him, and he def does understand. But he thinks it’s a ‘rite of passage’ his life his choice and so on.
He’s always been such an easy affable boy, I don’t know what’s gone wrong this last few months tbh. I’ve tried so hard to support him. He dropped out of college at the start of COVID and when things opened up he got a full time job. He says he doesn’t like himself, that he’s always been too quiet, too reserved and he’s finding his feet and meeting new people. I don’t want to clip his wings but I am so so worried.
My family are very supportive. I am in a new quite stressful role within the NHS where I live and I can’t concentrate, I’m very tearful and tbh it’s just a huge worry. I’m so scared about what the future holds if I don’t prevent it from escalating.
Mod
Matthew-RO

Re: Tricky teen

Hi @Dimes ,

 

I hear that you are quite worried and are not sure how to find the balance between guiding your son and being over-protective. I hear you, the late teens and early twenties can be such a confusing time for both parents and their kids. You mentioned at the start of your post looking for advice on the matter so I wanted to throw my hat in the ring as both a youth counsellor and as a guy who got into trouble when they were younger.

 

I want to emphasis to you that often personality changes and experimentation with drugs and alcohol can be a normal phase during this period of time. As you have said, your son has felt as though he has been too reserved as a person, so is experimenting with a new lifestyle to see how he feels.

 

Often the key can be keeping lines of communication with our loved ones open, even if we don’t agree with the choices they are making. Makes sure that they are heard, loved and supported, so if they do need support or advice they will reach out to you.

 

Another option is also looking to his siblings. If he gets along with one or more of them well, perhaps getting them to check in on him, see how he’s doing, making sure he’s alright. This way he can have someone who isn’t his mum to talk to and to open up to, as he may not feel comfortable telling his parents everything that he is feeling at the moment.

 

Do you feel I am on the right track with some of these options?

 

I’m glad to hear that you have a supportive family, as it sounds like this has impacted you quite a lot. I’m concerned that it has been affecting you that you are unable to focus and can be very tearful, do you feel like perhaps talking to someone like a psychologist or a counsellor about this could give you both the space to talk about your son but also your own feelings?

Active scribe
Dimes

Re: Tricky teen

Thankyou so much. I am overwhelmed by everything at the min and the advice on here being so good. My 23 year old is coming over later to have a chat with him. They are all very close but they are all very different. I am hoping at least that he will open up to his older brother.
I’ve thought about a counsellor or something similar, but tbh having had a very tricky unstable childhood I don’t want to make it about me. I’ve tried so hard over the last 25 years to be a better parent than mine were and I thought I’d done well.
I love them all so much and only want them to be safe and happy.
He is not a talker at all, opening up for him is extremely hard.
I feel if I do nothing he could fall down the rabbit hole, but if I do too much I’ll push him away anyway. I just can’t seem to find the balance.
Thankyou so so much for your advice. It’s def helping just being able to get it it off my chest.
Mod
Matthew-RO

Re: Tricky teen

Hi Dimes,

 

I understand, this situation is very overwhelming, especially if you haven’t had the same experience with his other siblings. I think that it is a fantastic idea talking to his older brother about this and getting them connected.

 

I can hear that you are trying your best in spite of the difficult experiences you had as a child. It sounds like you are an amazing parent and are doing a great job. I feel it’s important to recognize there is only so much you can control and influence with your children, even if we do our best they  will get caught into situations we would prefer they avoid. But often, they are also more resilient than we give them credit for. He may come out of this situation better for it.

 

I think talking to a counsellor should be a space to make it about you. Even if you are asking for support around parenting, it can be the time to also talk about your experiences growing up and approaching some things from past that may be weighing on you today.

 

So far it sounds like you are achieving the balance by talking to him and giving him space, by gathering supports around him, by contemplating speaking to someone for support for yourself and for reaching out on here for support and advice. I think you are doing a much better job than you give yourself credit for. 😊

Active scribe
Dimes

Re: Tricky teen

Thank you. Thank you so so much 🙂
Scribe
Dagny9

Re: Tricky teen

Hi, Dimes--I feel for what you're going through!  My kids are younger teens so I'm not quite where you are, but it must be difficult when your young adult isn't making lifestyle decisions that you agree with!  One thing struck me that I hope you won't mind me wondering and asking you to ponder and that's about the idea of what might be called over-parenting.  You mentioned not wanting to suffocate or be over protective and those are great instincts in my opinion.  The fact that you are still sorting his wardrobe even though he is college-age makes me wonder what other things you *might* be doing for him that he could and probably should be doing for himself.  Is it possible that you've been making decisions about his life up til now, that he didn't have the opportunity to make for himself (but with your guidance in the background)?  I mention this because I am currently reading the outstanding and eye-opening, How to Raise An Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims.  I have shades of the "Concierge Parent" style--yikes!  It's well-meaning, but is robbing them of the chance to work things out for themselves in some cases. Maybe something to consider?

Also, I think it's entirely fair as a parent to share your concerns about drug use (at any age)  and I love the idea of his sibling feeling him out!  Good luck!!!!!

Active scribe
Dimes

Re: Tricky teen

Thankyou, no of course, I asked for help and advice and I appreciate it all. Tbf, the wardrobe thing was a one off. I’d spent ages ironing his stuff, because he does work 50hrs a week, and thought - naively - I will just Chuck the stuff he doesn’t wear or grown out of.
Since I posted, we seemed to have reached a compromise. He has been more considerate. He has - as far as I know, and I have to trust him - he has said smoking has stopped. He’s come in at a reasonable hr of 3:30am rather than 6 and the lines of communication seem to be open. I have spoken honestly and told him that I have sought advice about my own parenting and hang ups. I was by no means, a perfect teen.
I have had a long hard look at myself as well as the impact my childhood had on my parenting as pointed out by a previous comment. The funny thing is, that I have four older sons, 25 and 22 year old have already purchased homes prior to COVID - aged 23 and 20 at the time. My now 21 year old is loving life away from home in uni. So I didn’t think I was ‘over-parenting’ but acknowledge that for my youngest this may be the case.
I am still - even after bring up three boys previously - am a work in progress parent. I am more than happy for any advice. Thankyou for taking the time to reply. I will certainly think about what you have posted x
Community Manager
Philippa-RO

Re: Tricky teen

@Dimes it sounds like you're feeling much more positive about how things are going with your son. 

It's so good to hear that you feel like the lines of communication are open and that you've been able to take some time to reflect. 

We're all works in progress as parents and I think it takes enormous courage for a parent to be able to be real and acknowledge their own struggles with their children.
It's been a really worrying and stressful time for you - have you been able to do anything kind or nurturing for yourself through all this?

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