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Jen Helant
Jen Helant, Child Care
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1386
Experience:  I have my bachelors degree in psychology. I worked with children. Since then I have raised and still raising 3 wonderful boys.
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My 15 year old son was recently arrested for smoking pot in

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My 15 year old son was recently arrested for smoking pot in a public place. I was glad that it happened, because he had been smoking nearly every day and refused to stop. The week before he told the pediatrician that he would not stop and would not see a therapist to get to underlying reasons for his use. From the arrest, he was also suspended from school...long story, but his involvement was indirect, but he deserved the suspension. Again, I was glad, because the more consequences the better.

From these two incidents, he has stopped smoking during the week, but he is insisting on smoking on the weekends. He signed a contract with me saying that he would be tested by an over the counter test every Friday, and if positive, he would not be allowed out that weekend. He tested positive on Friday, but refuses to stay in.

He insists on being able to go out on the weekends and smoke. The first time he did this, I took his phone away. He told me I should just keep taking things from him, because he would rather be with his friends (and smoke) Note, that he was coming up with a punishment that suits him.

Two nights ago he came home and the entire house reaked of pot. Do I have to live this way? I told him if he was going to defy me, that he would have a bed here and food, but not to expect anything more. Last night he went out. He could not get a ride home (he was about 3 miles away) so I made him walk.

I give him no money. I pack his lunch, so he does not have lunch money to hoard. I have no idea how he funds this.

From his point of view...He has stopped smoking during the week. He will no longer smoke in public places, so he will not be arrested. He is going to smoke the rest of his life. t males him feel good. His headaches go away and he sleeps better. I should be happy that he does not drink or smoke cigarettes. I am totally unreasonable

From My View...It is illegal in our state. It is just a matter of time before he is arrested again. He can do what he wants when he is an adult, but for now, it's my house and my rules and this is an extremely mentally unhealthy choice to make at this point in his life. Whether he realizes it our not, it is impacting his brain development and motivation. The degree to which he is fighting me on this indicates that the use is not as casual as he thinks it is. It is a lifestyle and his priiority.

He is defiant in other ways too, he has been since he was very, very, young He is a very pleasant child, if he is making the decisions. He has begun seeing a therapist, because he knows this will be better for him when he does appear before the court for his arrest.

He has told me that he is just going to tell the therapist what he wants to hear

Am I being unreasonable? He is 15. It is illegal. He has been arrested and suspended. His use has to stop.

A large piece of this is his defiance. I know some people say, 'you're the parent, just MAKE him.' I can't make him do anything he does not want to do. If something makes sense to him, he does it, otherwise he does not.

I am truly at a loss

I am so sorry about what you are going through and understand how difficult it is. I have a few questions so I can help better. Is his father in the picture and if so what does he think or do about this?
Do you have any other children and if so how is their behavior?

How long has this been going on with your son?

Are you aware of his friends he hangs out with? Do you know them or where he goes when he goes out?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, Jen.


His father and I are divorced, have been for about a year. We have shared custody. He is involved in his way (things he likes to do) but is not very involved in these matters. He believes this is a phase and will work itself out. He does not talk much about it (we do not have a very comfortable relationship, but we do communicate about the kids.) He believes, more than anything, he needs an activity. I agree he needs that, but it is impossible for him to do what he does not want to do. His dad would like him to do an organized sport, but he just is not a sporty kid. He has agreed to do volunteer work with me. We will begin wildlife rescue later this month when the rabbits and squirrels are born. His dad will say to me,'make him do crew,' and then not have a conversation with him about it. There is not as much supervision at his Dad's house. HE works long hours, I am at home


My son hangs out with other kids who prioritize smoking. They tend to go to their houses (he has never had his friends at my house, eventhough it is a nice place, and I have always been well liked by my ther kids's friends) One house permits them to smoke. He refuses to change his friends, which I believe is the hardest and biggest piece of this. HE smoked for the first time in 8th grade. I believe it gre into a problem last summer. I have been down this road...which I will get to..


I have four children. The three oldest are adopted..


Oldest Son - 20 Lives out of house, out of state. Full time student. All is well. Typical young adult. Has done his share of these things, but not to the point of me ever knowing about it, or becoming a problem for him.


Next son - 19 Has addiciton issues. I sent to rehab for alcohol last year (3 month program) He came home after. he has substantially reduced his smoking and does not drink, but he can't seem to take the next step. HE knows he has to move out of my house this coming week. He has gone for testing and has been considered for medication, but he is still smoking too much. I want him to do a wilderness program (which was strongly suggested to him by the doctor testing him.) I fully support him in what he does, so long as he is moving forward. He has been stagnating for a year. Having a girlfriend in town is not helping. I feel that he has to come up with the plan, instead of me, and move forward with it.


Gus - The son we are talking about (I assume this is not published)


Youngest son - 11 Biological. He and Gus are always at odds.


I do not get much help from my ex with these issues. He was never involved in any of the mediations for my older son with issues. He did not visit him or write to him in rehab. He did not contribute financially. He does not believe in therapy.


My husband smoked and drank in HS and went on to be a successful person. I don't see the same abilities or drive in my two sons who are struggling. Its hard for me to just hope it will turn around, when I dont really feel thats the case.


I feel that it is my place to try to send them on the right course, even if they don't like it/me. With no help/support I feel like I am a salmon swimming upstream. I would like to have a normal life too



Hi Shelly,

Thanks for explaining. I do agree with you. Sometimes things do fix themselves, but that is not always the case and it is our job as parents to do all we can to get them on the right path.

I think his older brother being involved in the same thing, his father not helping with this, and peer influences are all contributing factors to his problem as well as inner issues he may be dealing with.

There is no quick fix here, but consistency and not giving up is what will overall win this battle. Also, if the results are not immediate it will be in the future, so this is why regardless of how tiring it maybe become I want to encourage you to continue pressing on.

I think the volunteer program that you will be doing together with him is a great way to spend time doing something positive. Also, I would recommend asking him where he would like to go with you. Maybe getting some coffee or an ice cream together or going to lunch and a movie. Whatever it is I would try and take some time to get on his level without mentioning the smoking. Maybe even doing something at home he likes maybe playing video games together or etc. Try to get on his level to see what he likes and engage in that activity with him. Also, when you both sit and talk try to talk to him as a friend. Let him know you understand how good it may make him feel and how it may be good for the short term, but ask him what he thinks about his future. Does he have any goals or desires? Likes or dislikes? Ask him his plan if something were to happen to you? What would he do if got put in jail long term for this since it is illegal. Let him know you are proud of him for not drinking or smoking cigarettes as well as name other positive attributes about him. Without judging or criticizing try having a conversation with him in order to get into his mind to see where he is at and what he thinks about his situation and life. This will help you to understand him better as well as allow you to see better how you can help him. He will also see the good that you see in him. I would try spending quality time doing things he likes before talking with him, but when you do talk make sure if is non judge mental fashion and in a very casual loving setting.

Now on the other hand in addition to the above it may be time to get stricter. I think the steps you have done are good, but you may need to tweak things a little. For example rather than letting him walk home I would pick him up so you know where he is, but I would take other things away. I would have him make his own lunch, wash his own clothes, and do his own cleaning as well as help you around the house.

I would also prohibit him from hanging out with these friends and only allow friends over your house whether they like it or not. It is never too late to change some rules. We all live and learn. No one is perfect and we learn as we go along from trial and error. Let him know some things are changing and those are the rules. He can have friends, but you need to know where he is at all times and friends can come over. He may not like it and he may think your mean. This is due to the fact you are not allowing him to do what he wants, but you know what in the long run it will help. It is better to be mean now and him to change and appreciate you later rather than being nice now and him remaining this way then need to hear him blaming you later in life for the situation he will be in and you needing to live with the guilt he will put on you.

Since you are a stay at home mom I would take advantage of this situation to do all you can before he turns 18. When he is 18 like you said them he can do what he wants as long as it is not in your home and he is supporting himself. I want to encourage you to use these 3 years to the best of your ability to instill all the good you possibly can. I would also bring him to school and pick him up. I would not give him the opportunity to smoke and I would encourage other activities as your husband suggested. What would your son do if you enrolled him in a sport and stopped him from going out would he do it anyway against your will. If he does that would mean he would be getting physical with you. In that case you could even threaten him with the police. I just think stricter measures need to be takes since after 3 years you will have no longer have rights on him and he can move out if he wants.

I would also recommend you talking with his father in order for you both to be on the same page and if he will not be willing to watch him due to his hours then that may be something that needs to be addressed between you and your ex since that can interfere with the progress you could be making until your son can be trusted.

I would also suggest you get him into a program for him to get help with the smoking if possible.

All in all don't give up and stay positive. Consistency is the key and don't feel guilty or bad that you are ruining his life and may try to put a guilt trip on you. Remember you are the mom and in control. When he is a grown man then he can make his own choices and hopefully then he will make the right ones. Remind yourself everything you do is for the benefit of his future and your love for him. Deal with each situation one by one in order to not overwhelm yourself. I agree with your thinking. He is too young and needs your guidance.

I wish you well and please let me know if I can be if further help. Also, feel free to come back to this thread if you ever need some help or motivation.

All the best,
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