I have a serious problem with my oldest son who is 17. My wife and I have raised him in church and he attends a Christian school. This past semester, he led us to believe he was doing all right in school. I received his report card and he has two failing grades. My wife and I thought we could trust him and he told us he was doing his homework and staying up with his studies. When I confronted him about he said he told me and his mom lies so he could hang out with friends during the semester. Also, he told me he lied about where he was since we let him use the car. I told him this was not acceptable and that I had no choice but to take the car away and to give him a spanking for the lying. I haven't had a need to spank him in a year and he told me the spanking he last received never really bothered him. I used a belt the last time.
My question is how should I go about administering it to an older boy. I need for this chastening to drive home that his mom and I can't tolerate this behavior. My youngest son looks up to his brother and I want to make a point that this sin will not be put up with. Thanks,
It certainly is disappointing to realize that some children rather have momentary pleasure instead of facing reality. I'm glad you and your wife decided to take a firm hand in correcting this behavior.
No matter how long the explanation, notes are always too short. There are often points that raise concerns with me that I would like to know more about because, as presented, there are some minor inconsistencies. For example, I can understand your son admitting that he hid his poor class work because he knew he would lose privileges once you found out. What doesn't fit is his admitting to other lies. Generally, a liar looks to give a person what they want to hear. If he wasn't caught, there would be no motivation on his part to admit to additional lies, after all, it would only lead to further punishment and he already had demonstrated the nature of a person who avoids hardship.
In regards to his punishment, my suggestion is:
- Your son loses his privilege to use a car for personal pleasure. He can still drive to run errands for you or his mom. He can still drive to scheduled events that are inconvenient for you or his mom to take him and that are too far to walk. This should remain in effect at least one semester. Personal use will be restored after he proves he can maintain his grades.
- He must get a job and it will be his responsibility to pay for the increased insurance because he is now driving. If he cannot pay, he cannot drive. The job will eliminate some of his excess spare time for getting into trouble, as well as teaching him some responsibility.
- Since the problem was hidden, he is now responsible for letting you know his current grades each month in all classes. Let him know that since he chose to lie, you would like to accept his word, but you won't be able to, so you will be double-checking his reports with his teachers. Make sure you do so.
- Since he has admitted to lying about where he has been, he is now responsible for recording his daily schedule on a calendar. Last-minute plans always happen, but he must call either you or his mom in advance of a change to let you know where he will be. Let him know that you want to trust him, but he has demonstrated himself to be untrustworthy. Therefore, you are giving him an opportunity to rebuild that trust. You will randomly check to make sure he is where he said he would be - calling the parents of his friends, just "dropping by," or whatever other means you need to verify his word.
The reason for the emphasis on verifying is that a habit of lying is often found at the surface of deeper problems. If this is merely a temporary lapse in character, your son will find these measures annoying, but he will soon demonstrate his reliability and will restore your faith in him. If there are deeper problems, he won't be able to maintain this through the school year. In this latter case, take it very seriously and try to discover if there are deeper problems, such as alcohol, drugs, or sexual relations that are being hidden under multiple layers of lies.
Since you have decided to also administer a spanking on top of the other punishments, see "A series of questions about spanking" for answers to most of your questions. The answer to the question "How do we start biblical discipline when our children are already older?" gives a bit more details about administering a spanking to an older teen.
Older teens need to learn about the justice of administering punishments in a fair and reasonable way. After all, they are going to become parents in the near future. My usual recommendation is to offer the teen two choices: one that is long and drawn out, such as loss of the driving privilege for a period of time, and the other is short, but painful, such as a spanking. This also solves the problem of having the teen submit to spanking because the choice is his. If you want to pursue this course, then offer the choice of losing personal driving privileges for a full year or losing it for a half of a year plus a spanking. In either case, the privilege will only be restored if he proves he can maintain good grades.
If he chooses the spanking to shorten the period, then take him to his room or another private area to administer it. If he balks at the last minute, simply plan in advance to wait him out. Don't get into a wrestling match or the like. If he isn't already stronger than you, he will soon be. Wait until he willingly bends over for the spanking. Since he didn't find the last spanking that difficult to take, he is likely to accept the spanking up until the swats start coming. Before starting, place your hand or forearm across the small of his back. This will make it more difficult for him to get up. If he does, again just wait him out to finish off the spanking. If he decides against the spanking or doesn't finish it, then the longer punishment is used.
Thank you for replying back. It so upsetting to his mom and me that Benjamin would do this. We have since enrolled him in summer school for one of the classes. We told him we expected him to get a part-time job as you suggested to help pay for his classes. My wife liked your suggestions for the driving restrictions. We decided to follow them. I did set him down and asked him if there were more problems under the surface he needed help with. He told me he hung out with the wrong neighborhood friends who were a bad influence on him. We have since cut off all communication between them and him.
I also offered him the option of a spanking and 6 months of no driving privileges or no driving privileges until 9 months, in which he chose to be spanked.
You're welcome. I hope things improve through the rest of the year.