My teenage kids have come to live with me recently. Their mother was tired of their lousy behavior, so she shipped them off to me. Since they have arrived, I have a long list of offenses. The older girl is cutting school frequently, and my slightly younger son has been drinking, smoking weed and took my car without my permission. Two weeks ago they stole my mother’s credit card and ran up $700 worth of charges. I don’t want them to have a record, especially my daughter who is no longer a juvenile, so we just chewed them out. I feel guilty on a number of levels, as I was an out of control teen, and I am no good at discipline. I am lost and don’t know what to do. Is there anything that would help?
Was A Bad Boy Too
Dear BB 2,
Many of us, myself included, have had periods of our life that we were stricken with massive unassertiveness. The best some parents can do is yell empty threats to their offending children. The only thing that is accomplished by this is making the parent feel a tiny bit better by unleashing their anger. But that’s all it does. If I went to three classes, skipped the rest of the semester, and still got a B, why do you think I would ever go to class? The reality is, however, I would flunk sure as the sun will rise. No question. This is a tiny example of the accountability that we have been taught. The kids would seem to be lacking the basic premise of this. Whose fault? Who knows. However, they are now living with you. The only way I know to “instruct” a kid that stealing seven hundred clams is wrong is to teach them it’s wrong.
As this will be a new reality for them, it’s only fair to instruct them ahead of time that the rules of the game have changed. Any improper behavior needs to be dealt with, and there can be absolutely zero bluffing. A stolen credit card needs to be reported to the credit card company and the local police instantly. The same with a stolen vehicle. Next, go down to the school and see what they are planning to do about the missed days. Unless you learn to teach your children right from wrong, you have failed as a parent, and you are damning your kids to a probable life of sadness.
When I’m working with massively bad-behavior kids, I have to have some assistance from the parent(s) for me to succeed. You can’t just send them to a counselor to fix them without your help. I’ve seen bunged-up kids make amazing turnarounds, but not without help. Gang up with a counselor for ongoing instruction and assistance. Just because you are poor at discipline, it doesn’t mean you are beyond learning. Come on Pops, save your kids.