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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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My 18 year old son has become progressively disrespectful to

Customer Question

My 18 year old son has become progressively disrespectful to me. Recently, I had a discussion with him about it (again) and he immediately dismissed me saying that he wasn't going to talk to me, that he didn't think that the issue was an issue at all and it wasn't that serious. I have suspended his mobile service on his phone (which I pay for) I don't know how to break through to him, neither one of us is speaking to the other, I know that this type of behavior is unhealthy, I really don't know how to proceed. Please HELP!
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 3 years ago.
Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Dear friend and mother of a teenage boy,

Eighteen year old boys (now an adult young man) are establishing themselves as independent individuals and will rebel against authority figures, especially the ones with the least consequences (parents).

This is NOT an excuse for bad behavior, but just a point of information that this behavior is more typical than than atypical.

If you are raising him without a father in the house (I don't know your situation but you have not mentioned a male figure), then he doesn't have that good cop/bad cop tag-team dynamic that often exists and it makes it that much more difficult for you to be mom AND Ms. Dad.

You are on the right track, taking away privileges from him. He has to understand that you bore him and raised and supported him for 18 years, and as his mother he has to show you respect, and he has to absolutely refrain from making you feel uncomfortable in you own space that you maintain and pay for.

Explain to him that when he grows up emotionally, he will be sorry he mistreated the most important person in his life. Explain to him (in writing if you have to) that if he continues to act in a hostile way he will continue to lose privileges.

You probably don't want to throw him out (I wouldn't want to throw mine out either), and perhaps he is countying on that. It is important to love your son unconditionally, but that doesn't mean being abused or hurt by him. You have to give him a dual dose of love and make him also pay a price for disrespecting you or using emotional blackmail on you.

Explain to him that he and you both would be best off if you had a civil and understanding relationship.

One of you ultimately has to be in charge in your home, however, and you know who that has to be.

Best wishes,

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your timely response. I am a single mother to two boys; the 18 year old being my oldest, and my youngest being 12. I planned on penning a letter to my son so that we can potentially discuss the incident in greater detail; so that we can both be heard and hopefully be able to move forward. I have had this conversation with my son on several occasions, he seems to revert back to the poor behavior after a short period of time has passed. I don't think that I am being stern enough with him as it relates to consequences. Any additional information and or tools that you could provide to me would be greatly appreciated.
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 3 years ago.
Dear concerned mother,

The letter to your son sounds like the right thing to do. Since you are obviously articluate (and hence he is too), then seeing your words, thoughts, and concerns in neutral black and white letters will allow him to be more objective and not make an immediate emotional response.

Ultimately you want an emotional response (remorse for his actions and love for who you are and how you struggle to keep the family going), but he must first have this cognitive understanding.

In your letter you can tell him how he hurts you, and how you feel dishonored and disrespected for what you have done for him. This is not whining. This is telling him how your heart feels.

Being more stern in consequences is important. You have to know how far you can go in order to be effective without pushing him out the door. Let him know that you are remorseful for punishing him but you must train him to grow up to act like a responsible man and not a rebellious boy.

He will be a more successful person in school, on the job, with friends and future mates, if he learns the basic rules of back and forth give and take, the the respectful approach. This approach not only applies to one's home - it starts at home.

One more thing: I recommend this book available on line at amazon.com and elsewhere:

Stop Negotiating With Your Teen: Strategies for Parenting Your Angry, Manipulative, Moody, or Depressed Adolescent by Janet Sasson Edgette

Best to you. Be strong. You are an intelligent and fine mother. You will get through this successfully.

Elliott Sewell, LPCC, NCC

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