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Should I give in...?

Hi Mark

Need quick help with a situation. My son is 17 and has been pushing at all our rules and boundaries. We have settled into a situation where we allow him to stay out overnight, just so long as he is always back by a certain time at college nights ready to go to college next morning.

Last night when he had missed the deadline by half an hour, we called him and he said he had no intention of coming back or going to college the next day. We said if you choose not to then you choose the consequence, which was his phone being switched off remotely at the service provider. He insisted he had more important things to do. I switched his phone off.

This morning I checked his room and found he had come back (about an hour and a half late). It was time to get up for college and when I told him I needed him to get up he swore at me and told me he wasn't going to college. He was extremely disrespectful. However he eventually got up and went to college, but I told him that because he had chosen to miss the deadline to come back and been disrespectful to us his phone was still off for three days. I then emphasised that if he chose to repeat this behaviour the three days would reset and start again.

When he came back from college he apologised and asked for his phone to be turned back on. I felt we should stick to the three days, but his point was he did go after all so he had done nothing wrong (apart from all the rude disrespect and missing the agreed deadline).

He then began yelling and threatening again and saying he would buy his own phone so we can't turn this one off etc. I wondered if we had missed a stage - I had warned him of the behaviour and told him to 'respect' our limits, but I hadn't specifically defined that a lot of grief and swearing counts as disrespect enough to turn the phone off for three days even if he does then choose to go eventually. I wondered should I give in and turn the phone back on this once, but make it clear that if he chose this form of disrespect in future it would also qualify for the full consequence?

Or should I absolutely under no circumstances compromise the three day condition? Even if he then finds a way of getting a new phone that I can't touch? (I can't just 'steal' his phone - he would get physically aggressive if I tried).





He missed the deadline, which was articulated to him from the very beginning as evidence by your statement: “We have settled into a situation where we allow him to stay out overnight, just so long as he is always back by a certain time at college nights ready to go to college next morning.” Thus, you should stick to the original time line of 3 days. Plus, it would be a good idea for him to get his own phone.

When undecided about what course of action to take, ask yourself is the decision I am about to make going to foster dependency or self-reliance? If the outcome is likely to cultivate self-reliance in your son, then it is a good decision. Paying for his own phone would be a movement toward self-reliance.


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