Online Parent Support Chat

29.3.09

Today was the last straw...

Hi Mark,

Have found myself at your website through utter frustration with our almost 15yo son.

We are a family of 5. My husband, myself and three boys aged 17, 14 & 12. Our problem is with Stefan, our 14yo, who can only be described as our "Wild Child"

We started attending "Parenting Information Nights" to try to understand Stef's train of thought after a few incidents of him breaking out of various child proof establishments.

The first at approx 2 was when he was found walking down the middle of a main road in search of me. At this time I was visiting the Child Health Care Nurse with his eight week old brother in the next room. I had locked the outside door to this room and thought that he was secure. Apparently someone opened the adjoining room from the Kindergarten and he just went with the flow, couldn't see me so proceeded out the front door and scaled a six foot cyclone fence to the road. I might add this all happened in a space of around 5 minutes.

The school run nights in 1996, 1997, & 1998 with the "Parenting Expert" that we attended did not have any answers as he chose to move to the next question... I guess we were just trying to understand what drove Stef to do the things he did...

Stef has always done well at school with many teachers being wrapped around his little finger. Most describe him as being independent and with no fear. The few that he butted heads with over his Primary School years tried, in conjunction with us, to enforce consequences of actions.

We have known for many years that you could literally kill this kid with kindness. Unfortunately when he is consistently stealing money from us, and then from his teachers when we removed the temptation at home, you run out of the urge to be kind...

After meetings with the principal of the school after a serious theft incident, we asked them to get the police involved to hopefully scare the crap out of him. A police officer did eventually speak to him but I fear it was more of a "slap on the wrist".

I then joined various parent chat rooms in my quest for some suggestions - most came up with "Don't know what you are going to do with that one!!!"

Stef is now in his 3rd year of High school. We moved him from one school at the end of 3rd term last year as he was the only boy left in his year level from our community and he felt he was being bullied. It was a constant battle for me to get him to go to school each day and eventually we considered that the change to a different school, where he had more friends, would be something that would help.

He continues to do well at school with a B average. Our problem is that he continues to think that any money around the house, being in our wallets or in his brother's room, who now works full-time, is fare game. We have again tried removing the temptations, put locks on his brother's room, taken our wallets into our room at night, etc but one lapse by any of us results in money missing. Stef is given the opportunity to earn money with $15 pocket money paid each week for menial tasks but apparently this is not enough. Numerous part-time job applications around the community have also been ignored. We have tried enforcing consequences of action by grounding him, taking away friends visiting, removed privileges ie TV, Internet, Mobile Phone and have even on occasion stopped him playing football & cricket, the latter being extremely difficult for us as, both of us feel that encouraging children's involvement in sport is important. Stef enjoys playing both football and cricket and has won numerous awards including a premiership medal in football and team champion in cricket for the last two years running.

Today was the last straw...

It was School Carnival at the local primary school. The school Stef has attended for 7 out of the last 9 years and where our whole family has been involved in many fundraising and social activities. There is the opportunity to purchase wrist bands for $15 that allows you unlimited rides on the attractions that are present on the day (normally costing $5 a ride). I purchased a wrist band for our youngest as the last couple of years the older boys haven't been interested. Stef went to the carnival early and found out what colour the wrist bands were. He then went to the local shop and bought a sheet of cardboard the same colour, came home and made a couple. We told him, infront of the friends that were with him, of our disgust at his deceit and dishonesty. We were unable to stop him going back out the door. Whilst we both were attending the carnival for an hour or so, he returned home and made another 20 bands which apparently he sold to other kids. When we found out about this we immediately went back to the school and picked him up. I guess we should have called the police on him then and there....

We have again had discussions with him tonight about how this latest incident has further damaged his reputation (his friend just said "That's Stef!!") We know he knows the difference between right and wrong and tonight we asked him to consider that his actions were no longer just affecting his standing in the community but also ours and that of his brothers. His answer is "I don't know why I do this!!"

I guess I need to know whether you consider that your methods may have some impact. As I said, Stef mostly does well at school, with his teachers singing his praises. We don't need another "expert" telling us to "Praise the Good Behaviour and Ignore the Bad" because we have done that. He excels in everything he does but perhaps his problem is that he is not passionate about anything. At some point in time he is going to have to learn that "consequences of actions" means more than being grounded or losing privileges for a week. I still can't help feeling that he is going to end up in prison....

We have, I'm afraid, lost faith in our ability to get through to him...

Regards

L.

My Out-of-Control Teen

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