10-09-2017 12:34 PM - last edited on 10-10-2017 11:23 AM by Ngaio-RO
I have a 14 year old son who has changed a lot this year and we are worried about him......
He changed from a co-ed school to an all boys school this year and the change does not seem to have been a good one. The environment at school is quite negative and I think this has impacted on my son. He was an elite athlete and has played at a rep level since year 3 for both school and outside of school. While he still loves sport he has lost interest in competing at a high level. We are not sure if this is because he wants a break or the influence of friends. He is very popular and so we have no issues with friends, but the friendship group (which is quite large) seem to be trying things that I would prefer my son not to be doing. Mainly alcohol and dope He admitted that he has tried alcohol but denies having tried dope although he has told me some of his friends have but not all the time. My biggest concern is that he doesn't seem to think it's such a big deal. I have had many terrible parenting moments and to be honest wonder if I create more issues than there really are. I know he has lied where he is sometimes so he can stay out later... the main one being at the movies when in fact he's not. I am finding the different rules are difficult amongst the kids, I don't want my son out late at night in places where I really don't think they need to be. He is quite defiant and I feel a bit like we are losing control of him so early. I wasn't expecting to be dealing with this type of thing until he was 16.
Would love to know if other parents experiencing the same types of issues. It affects my daily life as it's always in the back of my mind and I am now paranoid all the time about where he is and what he is doing.
Positives are that he does come home, although he pushes the time limit, gives me parents numbers if he is sleeping over, always goes to school.
10-09-2017 04:56 PM
Its really hard to know when to worry isn't it. I have a 13 year old boy who is allowed freedoms at his father's place that I am not comfortable with, and he pushes me for them as well when at mine.
The positives you put at the end are really important because I think it shows he does want to be doing the right thing. Giving you phone numbers, attending school etc. It also sounds like you have pretty good communication with him as well - of course we never know when they are telling the truth or not - but at least he engages in those tough conversations about alcohol and drugs and doesn't clam up so that is great. While with pushing the boundaries - we just have to ride that wave I reckon!
With the elite level sport do you think that maybe his new friends don't see that as a "cool" thing to do and that's why he is moving away from that? It would be a shame if he no longer wanted to compete at that level but Ive noticed with boys in particular they do buckle under peer pressure when they are good at something, dont want to stand out, or be set apart from the rest of them by being really good at something. And of course the more we push the more they resist. Maybe encourage him to hang out with the outside of school teammates a bit to strengthen that bond?
Sounds like you are doing really well with all these changes - it is such a bumpy ride and unpredictable too. But from everything I have read and heard from my friends its 100 times worse inside those boys minds and bodies right now! Life is confusing for them and they get so many different messages all the time and then half the time their brain is mush anyway!
I wouldn't be too worried at this stage but like with any friend group its always a good idea to keep an eye on the direction they are going. The communication you have is awesome with your boy!
10-09-2017 11:00 PM - edited 10-09-2017 11:05 PM
My daughter went through quite a dramatic change in her behaviour too, although she was a few years older than your son. I was constantly at my wits end worried about where she was and what she was up to. She didn't think it was a big deal either, and I struggled to keep it together. Fortunately, she no longer has these behaviour issues anymore, which makes home life much more pleasant.
Make sure that you look after yourself during this difficult and stressful time - something I regret not doing. You will be a better person and parenting will be easier if you take time for some Self- care. To read more about Self Care Click Here
It is great that you also have some positives, which is encouraging - make sure there is plenty of praise when he does the right thing.
@Beingme2017 has some great advice. I would like to add that ReachOut Parents offer fantastic free Coaching for parents, that is very practical and offers tips that you can use straight away. The link is here if you'd like to check it out. It's done online and over the phone so it is very flexible. They may be able to help you come up with some ideas to help.
Sounds like you are doing the best you can - so hang in there!
10-10-2017 01:30 PM
Hey @tracys Welcome to ReachOut Parents and thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
Raising teenagers can be so tricky. The line between knowing they need space to grow and mature and knowing that the world can be dangerous and hurtful is an incredibly hard one to walk. And it is often made more difficult by the addition of our own 'stuff' and our own fears. And then you have to add in all the other contributing factors like peer groups and their physical selves and hormones etc etc etc.
Basically, my point is that we hear you, we all relate to how tough this can be and the first thing to do is acknowledge that coming to a place like this and asking the questions you're asking means you're trying. And really what our teenagers want from us is to care enough to try.
So well done!!
I'm not sure if you do this already but, one of the things I strongly recommend parents doing is to listen without judgement. Which means that he tells his story without you stopping him with "you did what?" or "do you have any idea how dangerous that is?" It's really tricky, at first but it gets easier. And it's definitely NOT letting your teenager get away with anything. Once the conversation is over then you can revisit the action that you're not ok with and discuss why you think it needs a consequence, etc. But by just allowing them to continue speaking without having to constantly self-edit helps them learn how to speak openly and candidly about what's going on for them. Which can be life-saving in certain situations.
Have you asked him about his change in mood towards his sport?
Sometimes teenagers do stuff without a huge amount of thought around it. For example, like @Beingme2017 describes that feeling that can happen when one kid is really good at something but his peers don't rate it and him putting in effort gets disparaged so he stops doing it. That whole process can happen for a young person without them being really tuned into it. So it can sometimes be really helpful for someone in their life to notice and say 'hey, you sure you feel good about this?' to give them a chance to contemplate it further.
What do you think @tracys?
10-11-2017 07:00 PM
Thank you so much everyone for your responses. I think the peer pressure thing could certainly be the case. His friends are good at sport but not to the same level as my son. One of the training sessions is a 3hour slot on a Saturday right in the middle of the day. I think FOMO (fear of missing out) would be the case here.
We tried really hard to persuade him as did his coach who is also very disappointed. He would not budge but I am hoping he has some regrets. He does play with the boys who would be in the rep team every Monday so we will make sure he still does this.
We made some more progress with honest conversations as he has now admitted to me that he has tried dope with his friends. I stayed calm and listened as you said asked a few questions like did he like it, how often, does he want to do it again.
I was surprised that even though I was devastated that he has tried it I actually felt better that he has admitted it. Now I feel we can have conversations around the issues with this and maybe some strategies to help him make better choices.
He is more open to discussing things too as he can see how worried we are but that we didn't go mad. Of course now when he goes out I will worry more.
He did tell me he gets bored and that it was something to do. Any ideas of what to say to this>??