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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5837
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My husband and I wrote in once before and rec'd great advice

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Hello, my husband and I wrote in once before and rec'd great advice from Dr. Shirley Schaye regarding our 15yr old son. Our question now is that our son has broken our trust once again. In the last year we have caught him experimenting with Marijuana and just caught him doing it again last night. We have associated this behavior of his with our moving during his High school years as we are a military family. He has made it clear that this is very difficult for him and he has had a difficult time saying no to friends. He mentions that he just wants to "Stop Thinking" about the fact that he is leaving school, friends and his love of sports here in the city we have been for for a year now. My husband and I communicate with him all the time and we are very loving but yet firm with him about what we will tolerate. We are concerned now that his poor decision making will lead him to other things as we know Marijuana and drinking are a gateway to other drugs. We don't want to fall into the trap that some parents get into where they do not do anything but take things away and then the child is back to the same behavior. He will be 16 soon and we want to handle this right away we just don't know how. We will be moving to our new place in one week and we are concerned he will get into the bad grp of kids again because he has a difficult time with transition now that he is a teen. Do we send him to counseling right away, only let him do activities we can monitor, put him to work to show him the value of earning things, or just send him to school and not let him do anything but family things??? And when do we begin to give him a chance again? We love our son and want to help him succeed but we also want to keep him safe since he seems quite vulnerable right now to poor decision making. Thank you.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is good that the communication between you and your son is open about this problem. However, sometimes children use this as a way of explaining away their behavior to gain your sympathy and permission to continue with bad behavior. I am not saying this is what your son has done, but it is a possibility.

It is probably very difficult for your son to move around a lot. New schools and new homes are hard to adjust to. But acting out is not the only option, just the option he has chosen. Since this is not the first time he has broken your trust, your concern is justifiable.

Your idea of having your son in counseling is excellent. He will have the opportunity to express his feelings about moving around and vent his frustrations. The therapist can help him find healthier ways to cope with his feelings and to express himself.

It is also very important that you and your husband find ways to enforce the family rules and stick to them. At age 15, your child should already have regular chores, have an allowance he manages, and have rules at home he follows. Punishing kids, especially teens, for their wrong behavior is difficult and the kids do not make it easy. But psychologically, children benefit from parents who consistently enforce the rules in the home. The boundaries help children feel loved and cared for, no matter how much they protest about it.

It is important that you chose punishments that you feel allow your teen to earn back your trust. For example, if you feel you need to let him do activities that you can monitor, then let him know you expect him to earn your trust back before you will allow him more freedom. Make him responsible for his own behavior, much like you or your husband would be if you did something dishonest at work or to a friend. He needs to learn to think like an adult so making him earn back his privileges is a good way to approach his behavior.

Besides counseling, here are some other resources that may help:

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** a lot of sense to both my husband and I. Now, we have a follow up: What is your thought about Military boot Camps, Scared Straight Programs etc... is this a tool that could aid us? He was also accepted to one of the top prep schools in Hawaii and in the country and we are investing a lot in him financially. We have an option of sending him to a local high school that is closer without the Great Education. Lastly, he is an athlete, should we use sports as a leverage to keep him in check for ex. take away track if he gets into trouble again or is sports a helpful, healthy activity that should stay in place?

You're welcome!

Military boot camps are great, but in your son's case, it does not sound like he is doing anything that would require the strict nature of a boot camp environment. I would try the home punishments first and see what kind of effects that has on his behavior. If they don't work, and your son keeps getting deeper into trouble (to the point of involving law enforcement), then I would consider boot camp.

The fact that your son has a chance at a bright future through acceptance at a top prep school is great. I would reinforce to him that this is a great opportunity and you would be very disappointed if he did not take full advantage of it. Also, if you and your husband agree, tell your son that you will support his efforts financially as long as he shows responsibilty and he progresses. Let him know that if he gets into trouble (you and your husband decide how to define trouble and what your limits are), you will withdrawal your support and it will be up to him to find his own way. Then let it go and see what he does. This way, you have clearly defined your expectations and it is up to him to live up to them. It's giving him a choice on how to behave and letting him live with the consequences.

Sports are a healthy way to express yourself so taking them away is probably not the first choice I'd make. Privileges are the best first option when thinking about punishments and reinforcing good behavior. Losing privileges until they have just school and sports left usually is enough to motivate a change.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you....we are seeing some light ahead with all of this....My husband wants to ask a last question. Our son had a friend over last night that he had not seen in a few mths and happens to be my husband's superior's son. There was a huge risk of my husband losing his job and damaging his reputation because of the Marijuana use the boy's did. This boy was in our care and my husband had to call the family to let them know what happened. My husband is very angry that our son would even risk this as we have spoken to him clearly about his conduct and how it can impact my husband's career because of his rank and what his job involves. Should there be any other consequences regarding this part of the story? Thank you Kate.

Yes, there should. He not only abused your trust, he risked his father's job. Because that is a serious action, the consequences should be just as serious. Try to equate his actions to the legal system. The more serious the offense, the more serious the consequences.


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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you Kate, for your time. My husband and I are definitely in agreement with you. We appreciate what you do.

Thank you! That is very kind of you. My best to you both and to your son.