Number of kids: 2
Ages of kids: 13 & 16
Problem: My 16 year old son has developed a very bad temper. When he becomes angry with me, he calls me the filthiest names that he can think of. I am absolutely stumped on how to respond.
I would have never dreamed of showing this sort of disrespect to my own father. If I would have spoken to my father this way, he would have beat me and I would have been shunned by the community, including the other kids. I have never laid a hand on either of my children and I am well aware that regardless of what my son did, if I ever touched him, a call to the police would result in me landing in jail and being charged with child abuse.
This is extremely disrespectful behavior and I'm so angry, I can hardly speak about it, yet kids today know that the laws are on their side and parents are subject to constant scrutiny. The counselors at school await their complaints about their parents. Therefore, the kids are in control and free to be as insane as they wish, without fear of retribution.
In my area, there are no government resources, such as a cooling off center, available to assist me. If I file a formal police complaint, he'll be arrested and put in detention with even worse kids and I don't want that.
If I lock him in his room, he'll yell insults and threats for hours. If I try to make him work, he'll become angrier and break things. What punishment can I use? How can I control his behavior? I really just don't know what to do and up to this point, I thought I was a pretty good father!
Solution submitted by Chris from Northfield, NH: I'd agree with the solution from Elle (below), but change only one thing. This 'brat' is your son. Before you attempt to take control of the situation by "psychological warfare" consider where he's learned his lessons regarding appropriate ways of treating others. Perhaps he's not the only one in need of some therapy...or some discipline. Before you're going to be able to manage his behavior, you need to learn to manage your own. It isn't just "kids today" it's kids: Period. What Elle said about consequences for behavior was good stuff. Talk to your son about your expectations when you are not fighting with him, and let him know you love him. Let him know too that there are expectations regarding his behavior and that his choices of behavior will have consequences. Make these simple, consistent, and DO NOT back down once the consequence has been decided. Negotiate consequences BEFORE the feces hits the fan. Good luck, and I know all who read your tale pray for you...and your son.
Another solution submitted by "Elle" from Vancouver, BC, CAN: Well, I think you are trying to close the barn door after the horse has managed to get out. You should have had rules and discipline set in place way before he got to 16 years old. My son is 15 and he wouldn't dream of speaking to me or my husband with disrespect. I think some counseling is probably I good idea at this point because he is going to disregard anything you say that he doesn't like hearing. If you are going to try and handle him yourself what you should do is sit him down when there has NOT been a fight between the two of you and explain to him some ground rules. Have them written down if you think it would help bring the point across. Then tell him YOU are the parent and you will not except this kind of behavior and lack of respect EVER again! And mean it!!!
Psychological warfare works very well with kids, explain to him that he has choices but that there are consequences to those choices. Think in advance of some things you could use as punishment...perhaps taking away his stereo or car privileges etc. but you must stick to it!!! Don't give in to him or else your hooped, trust me. He's got your number already. You've got to prove to him that your a lot tougher than he is, and scare the bejesus out of the little brat or your going to have a lot bigger problems on your hands in the future.