Thank you to Paula for allowing me to use her blog for a bit of a vent.  My family read my blog and, whilst I need to rant about this for a while, I’m not sure I want them to see me ranting – all will become clear.

Thank goodness for guest posting.


I really, REALLY want to give him a good kick up the  backside!

Who am I talking about?  My 16-year old son, that’s who.  He has unofficially left school although still has to return for six exams; he doesn’t have a job – part time or otherwise, his social skills appear to be deteriorating and he lives only for his X-Box.  He has a college place in September but only because I gave him an ultimatum.

The lack of employment isn’t really for the want of trying.  He did attempt to get a job a while back – he asked in all the local businesses and at the market in town but prior to his sixteenth birthday he was too young and since then there have been no vacancies – all eaten up by the people who will do anything since losing jobs during the recession.  He got quite upset at the rejection he was receiving.   He consoled himself by blasting the hell out of some virtual soldier on a live-link-up X-Box game (I’m sure you all know which one I’m on about).

He’s an average student at school although his grades have improved over the past six months and he may get better GCSE results than expected thanks to some encouragement from his teachers and some extra effort with coursework.  His X-Box gaming is the only thing he excels at.  He has a gadget that wires up the X-Box to the computer so that he can record his “matches” – he then edits them and uploads the clips of impressive moves to YouTube.  To be honest, that takes some intelligence – and that comes naturally – but ask him to write it down or explain it in layman’s terms and he will struggle.  He hates using the telephone.  He had to phone college to ask about his grant and we had to coach him through what he would have to ask and how to write the information down in note form.

I’m trying not to be negative about him and I completely understand “normal” teenage behaviour but he appears to be emotionally immature sometimes – I find that he gets upset very easily, he doesn’t seem to care about general hygiene without being constantly reminded yet he has a wicked sense of humour, a non-threatening demeanour and is liked immensely by everyone who meets him.  He has also had a couple of personal and emotional setbacks in the past twelve months – getting knocked off his bike by a drunk driver and being physically assaulted by a teacher at school – I think this may be where the problems started but some of that has been tackled and some is still being sorted out.

He should be out getting lashed and chatting up girls.  I should be sat up checking my watch every five minutes at midnight waiting for him to come home from a pub or nightclub somewhere.  Instead, I can hear him swearing at some idiot on his own team who has just “killed” him in his game.  I am still dishing out “pocket money” to him so that he can just go into town with his mates on a Saturday afternoon and I’m constantly topping his phone up with e-Vouchers.

I want to shake him madly and tell him to pull himself together.  I want to rant at him that he needs to get with the real world and sort himself out – take some responsibility.  I mentioned up there that he is only going to college because of an ultimatum that I set.  Well, he seemed to think that he could take a “gap year” after he finishes school, waiting for an opportunity to drop into his lap.  He soon changed his mind when I reminded him that I would expect to be paid board money from the 1st of September as Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits would cease for him.  I explained that I would require the equivalent each week or month – whichever was the easiest for him.  Was that fair?  Should I expect him to understand about “real life” at this age?  The course he is doing is something that he is interested in – Motor Mechanics – but I am struggling to see how he will cope with “the big boys” and I worry about him – all 6 foot 3 inches of him.

I’m at the end of the line.  What can I do? Should I be trying harder? Should I leave him alone to make his own mistakes? Should I be more concerned about the X-Box ‘addiction’?  I’ve battled the teenage years once before and realise that the “full on” parent approach doesn’t necessarily work, yet it seems that the laid back approach does neither me nor him any favours.

Is it actually true that there is no happy medium?  Should I have used the same style of parenting for each of my children?  How does that work when they are so individual anyway and have been raised to not be afraid of expressing their personality or opinion?

In short am I taking this too seriously or not seriously enough?

Or am I to be reminded of this quiet, gentle boy when I’m kicking off in three months about his anti-social behaviour please? I just don’t think he’s very happy at the moment….

Boy, Interrupted…
Tagged on:                 

19 thoughts on “Boy, Interrupted…

  • June 8, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Not easy and well written.

    My take is this:

    First it has helped me tremendously since I truly accepted that my kids’ lives are their journey not mine. I am in a supporting role only.

    That being said, I also agree about not being an enabler. Obviously this situation is not working for you and you have your rights as a person on her own journey in life. You need to sort out exactly where you personally have the problem-is it because you are worried how he is ever going manage, worried about the possible burden on you if he doesn’t, annoyed that he is taking advantage of you, helpless because you don’t know how to get through to him, is he annoying you now, are family or friends commenting and making you feel uncomfortable.

    All of the above can be legitimate feelings and you need to be honest with yourself where your trigger buttons are. Once you know that you can deal with him in a way that best suits your needs as well.

    Has he spoken to someone? The traumas you have mentioned are not small and they definitely might be having affects.

    Has he been tested for something like ADD or learning disabilities? The fact that he seems bright , is good with his hands but awkward socially and is not good with planning and written things in my opinion might point to that as well. If it is something like ADD I know from personal experience that the issues are different than for a kid who is just being lazy. You need to deal with it differently.

    Positive feedback is also very important. True honest compliments about how impressed you are that he can do……

    And I agree with your assessment of him not being happy right now. Who would be happy for a prolonged period of time being unproductive and unsure.

    I would also recommend this book: How to talk so teens will listen and how to listen so teens will talk :

    Lots of hugs and luck.

    Passed this link onto another blogger who is a kids’ life coach-hopefully she will pop over and give some good advice.

  • June 8, 2010 at 8:14 am

    That is a difficult age, especially for boys as they don’t like to talk do they? He’s obviously had a big blow to his confidence and I’m sure that is partly what is affecting his behaviour at the moment. Does he have a friend another family member that he might talk to if he can’t talk to you? He may feel that he doesn’t want to worry you with his problems. I have been through the teenage years four times and they were all different. I think you need to keep your basic rules the same for all of them, but then be a bit flexible to allow for their individual personalities. My 3rd son started at 6th form college, but only lasted half a term, I was getting calls and letters about his non-attendance. In the end he left, it was wasting everyone’s time trying to get him to stay. He, didn’t want to be there, I couldn’t keep taking him there and he was wasting the teachers’ time if he wouldn’t listen. He took up his Saturday job as a full time one – working in the kitchen of the local golf club – as this was his only interest. This has been his career since, via Kent, London and Dubai, he is now sous chef in a Chelsea restaurant.

    I’m sure you’ll find as you say, that in a few months time you’ll be wondering what the problem was. Good luck anyway, I find by the time they’re 18 they end up as ‘normal’, whatever that is!

  • June 8, 2010 at 8:30 am

    First of all – have a hug! This is an excellent piece & I hope you feel better for having writtten it.
    My advice would be to continue as you are. He knows you & your way of doing things. although it may not seem like it, you are a constant in his life even if to you, you are not. They are all different even when they have the same ‘medicine’ given to them over the years. It shows that we produce individuals not clones. Just make sure you keep talking to him (even if it appears he’s not listening!) Let us know what happens later in the year please!

  • June 8, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I can’t really comment on what to do as our boy is only 19 months but I can tell you what happened to me. Bearing in mind it was 13years ago.

    When I left school I was going to college to do my A-Levels, but only if I also got a part time job, as at 16 I had to pay keep to my mum and dad. £30 a week I had to pay! So I was at college full time, which was about three and a half days and worked four nights a week, 6-9pm. Admittedly dad would drop me off and pick me up, but I still had to work and it was really drummed into my sister and I that we had to pay are own way.

    All of our allowances stopped at 16 as well as we were expected to be working. However mum still paid for our bus fares to the college, and gave us money for food or books etc, but no exact pocket money. They were the stricter parents but I don’t think that it did us any harm. We still went out all the time and had fun, but we just had to earn it ourselves. So I don’t think you are being harsh there.

    It sounds like he and you have been through a lot recently so am sending you a big hug xx

  • June 8, 2010 at 11:55 am

    I read your piece to a group of male professionals I work with. They are all (well paid) programmers. Every one of them said you could have been describing them at that age, no direction, head in a computer game, socially feeling inadequate.*

    Maybe the games addiction could be a good thing for the future, maybe he’ll turn out to create the next Xbox smash!

    I think that “turnaround” point happens at different times for different kids, he’s got a great role model in you, he’ll get there.

    *They are all fully functioning, well paid, husbands, fathers and generally decent folk now. Still geeks mind 😉

  • June 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    @Susie I’m reluctant to test for ADD unless it’s the last resort but I can see the benefits of the suggestion. I may wait until he goes to college and see if things change there. I appreciate the book recommendation and have to say that I always praise him when there is opportunity to do so. I always thought he suffered from “middle child syndrome” – classic signs – but I’ve tried so hard not to let that happen.

  • June 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    @shar The confidence blow has been a major concern over the past 12 months but there were signs of the reliance on the X-Box earlier than that. Thanks for reading though and your son’s story shows me that there may have to be a change in path before the right one is found.

  • June 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    @jfb57 Thank you for your hug. It is much appreciated. I shall do an update in a few months I think. It will be interesting to see how much he changes between now and Christmas. Whoever decided that taking this hormonal age was the best time to try and create a life path was demented!

  • June 8, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    @Vegemitevix Yes, I can see what you mean there – there’s always a generation shift and more developments with the modern world and everyone has to adapt to their surroundings – survival techniques. Pressure is a big thing here. I’m not sure whether I’m protecting him too much and he is using that to chill out.

  • June 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    @andthenallithoughtaboutwasyou It’s good to take a step back and try and remember what it was like. I had a job from the age of 13 – paper round, fruit and veg stall, supermarket, etc so always paid my own way with a little pocket money as top-up (no mobile phones back then). Thanks for the hug.

  • June 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    @sparklypips Thank you for reading my post to people who could directly relate to the situation. We did enquire about games programming/testing for future college courses (this was about 4 months ago) but were headed off at the pass with the information that the GCSE’s he has chosen (and his predicted grades) just weren’t good enough. Yes, way to go from that careers advisor. Lesson 1 in how not to boost a teenager’s morale. I think it’s still in the back of his mind but he has to make that decision and move himself. Please tell your colleagues that I’ll pass on their advice (in a round about way) as it may give him a bit of a much needed kick up the jacksy!

  • June 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Two of the four went down completely different, less fulfilling paths first. One never actually managed any “proper” qualifications. He’s very sought after in his field now (and my daughter’s wonderful daddy :)).
    Good luck.

  • June 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I am curious as to why you are reluctant. I know with my kids (in my house all of us including parents have ADD, except for the youngest 2 who were never taken to be tested) knowing that that was part of the problem and how to deal correctly and my expectations made a big difference.

    It also affects the kids own self esteem because they view themselves as lazy or not smart instead of having something with a cause. Would a kid with Diabetes blame himself for having a disease? Would a kid with glasses blame himself for short sightedness?

  • June 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I also wanted to comment about my eldest. This has more to do with the army, but viewing it in the same way as draft here is mandatory so it was not a choice.

    He was miserable the first few months. Where he was didn’t suit him. We had a whole bunch of issues and we ended up getting involved. He wanted out of combat. Now he is still combat but another unit but he is doing something that is more suited to his personality. He is one of 2 working with a commander as opposed to in a group. He sees a lot of action , is wiped out but is very happy. You ask him now how the army is and he says “fun”.

    When kids find a place or job that they like and are good at, their confidence changes as well.

  • June 8, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    @susie I don’t know. Honestly. I’m worn out with “labels” and the struggle to get any recognition and that makes me sound like a parent who doesn’t want to strive for her child’s well-being but until today, I hadn’t even through about that for him. It’s given me food for though, it really has and I appreciate that. Knowing a little about the condition anyway, I don’t think he’s veering towards that. I just think he is very laid back. It is now in the back of my mind and I’m considering the options. I appreciate you pointing that out to me.

  • June 8, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    @susie I do think it’s finding that “niche”. I always knew what mine was and I know what I’m good at therefore I think part of my frustration stems from his indecisiveness. Does that make sense?

  • June 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Am glad that you are open to hearing and I may be very off mark, and maybe my comments here will help someone else not your son.

    The last thing I want to say about ADD and ADHD is that in every person there is a bit of a different manifestation which is why in many bright or not hyperactive kids it is overlooked.

    I am also not saying that even if someone is diagnosed that they need meds, but they do need to understand how the condition affects the mind and behaviour and they need tips on how to deal with it succesfully both from the kids point of view and the parents.

    Do a search for ADD and diagnosing and how to behave with a child with ADD. There is a lot of stuff out there (had bookmarks on old computer, too lazy to go look-sorry)

    I think that just hearing what everyone has said on its own will bring you a bit of peace as well.

  • June 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Yes. I am 40 know things I am good at and still have no clear direction despite the fact that yes am working and have a career. It’s one that i know is not my life’s calling.

    So poor guy eh?

  • June 9, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    I have a son the same age, he doesn’t go out much ( well ever) either. He is quite motivated though and wants to go to university.
    My next son, I always have thought he suffered from middle child syndrome even though I did everything not to allow this. He isn’t so confident and is definitely happy to spend hours on the Playstation rather than socialising…he does the same as your son actually…films it and puts it onto youtube after he’s edited it. I’m trying to encourage him to improve those skills as he enjoys doing that so much.
    Do you think your son is suffering from depression after the accident and assault? Even the exams put them under a lot of pressure.
    I haven’t really got any advice, sorry, I just hope that you get to the bottom of it .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *