Question:

My 17 year old son has some issues. My wife and I have raised him in the church since he was a baby. We thought we taught him well until he became 15. At 15, he seemed to forget everything that we taught him. He secretly became involved with a 23 year old for several months who went to our church. She has left the church, but it seems that the damage has been done.

After we found out, we tried to counsel him along with disciplining him. In all of it, we still tried to support him and let him know we loved him. He lost his privileges to the car and was not allowed to go anywhere unless supervised for 6 to 8 months. More importantly, he lost our trust. It has been hard to try to trust again.

It seemed that we were on the right track, but we later found out that there were many times that he deceived us again. He began smoking while hiding it from us and, of course, lying about it as well. He has experimented with drinking once, that we know of. He only seems to be open with us when all else fails.

We have made him get a job in which he does good at but seems to put less effort in things that he is less interested in, such as school. As a teenager he now thinks that he is an adult and thinks that he should make his own decisions but without consequence. I need to make my own mistakes he says. I know this to be true to a certain aspect, but he shows little respect for us or anybody in authority. He doesn't think that others should tell him what to do. We tried to tell him no matter how old a person is, there are still people in authority over us.

Since we found out about the lying, smoking and, oh, also cutting classes. We have again grounded him and limited the things he does. He resents it and doesn't feel that any type of punishment is needed. He says punishment won't make a person want to change, and we are keeping him from enjoying his senior year, while hanging out with friends.

At this point we are at wits end on what to do. It seems that nothing is getting his attention. At times things get better but fall again to the wayside. Any advice would be appreciated.


Answer:

Regardless of his complaints, the punishment is clearly getting to him; that is why he is complaining and trying to talk you out of them.

Notice also that he is trying to reverse the situation. He talks of you keeping him from enjoying his senior year. That isn't true. He is keeping himself from enjoying his senior year. When he complains, shrug your shoulders, remind him that he knew the consequences for breaking the rules, complaining about the fact that you keep your word doesn't change anything. If he wants priveledges, he has to show that he is able to make good decisions on his own.

Consistency is the best way to handle stubbornness. It is sad that he is hurting himself and making his life miserable, but you can't allow the rules to be broken.