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Rafael M.T.Therapist
Rafael M.T.Therapist, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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Need advice re 16 year old son with serious computer addic

Customer Question

Need advice re 16 year old son with serious computer addiction.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 2 years ago.

Rafael Morales Toia :

Very frustrating and concerning for sure.

Rafael Morales Toia :

An addiction like this at his age could be not uncommon even more considering his poor social life and lack of responsibilities plus sharing time-live with divorced parenst.

Rafael Morales Toia :

Key words here are: discipline, responsibilities, right boundaries and limits and consistency in parenting from both parents.

Customer:

Consistency between parents is not possible -- his mom doesn't see this as a problem.

Customer:

I'd like to work up a set of reasonable and clear rules to put into effect with him.

Rafael Morales Toia :

It is not hard for a teenager to get addicted to computer, porn or any other behavior-substance when there is not enough and sound discipline, responsibility, motivation and sharing at home, creating and promoting fulfillment and affection in their lives.

Rafael Morales Toia :

This is very serious and I see why you feel frustrated.

Customer:

Yes. I'm tempted to simply get rid of his computer totally. Not allow it at my house.

Rafael Morales Toia :

You can only take responsibility of what is under your control. But if mother does not see and takes responsibility for this serious situation, then you would need to consider getting full custody.

Customer:

He's 16. I can't get full custody, because in my state, at his age, he can pretty much decide for himself.

Customer:

His mom has screwed up values as a aprent, but she loves him and provides a good home.

Rafael Morales Toia :

I totally support you, since he has not showed willingness to respect rules, then extreme actions- which should be limited to extreme circumstances, could be justified here.

Rafael Morales Toia :

I can tell you that many times, life shows us in this profession that even traditional forms of abuse are less damaging than spoiling and enabling addictions like this.

Customer:

So can you help me develop a few simple rules to enforce with him? For example, school work must be done first; he must participate in household life (eat with us, do chores, etc); not get a grade lower than B in any class; develop some extracurricular interest, etc?

Rafael Morales Toia :

Then if that’s the law, you would have to become absolutely consistent with setting and implementing the rules there, and if he does not stick to them, well, he would have to afford the consequences, which should be implemented %100.

Customer:

Also, he has resisted learning to drive, even though I have an extra car, which blows my mind.

Rafael Morales Toia :

Absolutely.

Rafael Morales Toia :

Take care of core responsibilities: Academic, house chores: personal and family.

Customer:

But what's the consequence, because he can always simply just go to his mom's? I know he loves me and wants to be at my house -- I mean we actually have a pretty good relationship -- but there's really no consequence I can force on him other than taking away his computer and internet.

Rafael Morales Toia :

- Be respectful and accountable.

Rafael Morales Toia :

Then you would have to do that, and if he chooses not to come back, there is nothing you could do about it, since as you stated, the law allows him to choose whatever he wants. So the only ones who could choose how to influence him, for good or bad are those who happen to live with him.

Customer:

So lay down the law, tell him the rules, and the rest is up to him.

Rafael Morales Toia :

You do have two options: Enable the addiction and dysfunctional life perpetuating things the way they are, or setting real discipline and rules for him to respect if he wants to be there. It is tough since as you said, you have a good relationship but what are you enabling and supporting with it, what’s the price?

Rafael Morales Toia :

Absolutely.

Rafael Morales Toia :

You cannot and should not control his mother and cannot control him away from home, but as long as he is there, he must comply with the rules.

Rafael Morales Toia :

Sooner or later his mother would have to awake to reality and afford further consequences and it would not be you who she will point at but herself, and she would look for help then.

Customer:

Okay.

Rafael Morales Toia :

You can only talk to her, alert her, ask for accountability and for getting support, but is she chooses to deny reality and accountability perpetuating this distorting parenting –neglectful for sure- then she would have to afford the consequences with him. Sad but real.

Customer:

Should I put rules in writing?

Rafael Morales Toia :

 


That would be perfect, so no denial nor bad memory here, no manipulation either.

Customer:

Okay, thank you.

Rafael M.T.Therapist, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
Rafael M.T.Therapist and 2 other Parenting Specialists are ready to help you

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