View Full Version : When is enough enough?
07-06-2009, 09:40 PM
I don't know where to start. Our soon to be 15 yr old son has shown addictive behavior to the online video games for the past two years. His grades have slowly declined (he is an honor student and very gifted), his habits and attitudes demonstate the behaviors of a person addicted to something - although not quite as bad a drugs. He lost the ability to be respectful, kind, loving, on any regular basis unless he needs something. He's critical of his brother, me, and blames others (me!) routinely. He has given up his passion for lacrosse and sports teams. He spends hours playing the games. So today, for the last time I took the gaming computer out of the house and sold it. His insolent behaviors are intolerable and the "dispassionate" role cracked today. Tonight I told him what a jerk he is, how his teachers didn't like him (he gave them a hard time b/c he wasn't turning in work), how he couldn't make friends because of his winning personality (he's been home almost every day and night since school let out June 23), and what a disappointment he has been (I told him I don't even know who he is anymore). Frankly, I know I was wrong but I've already raised two step-children before him, one who went to a special boarding school b/c he was out of control (although there is quite a difference in the issues) and I was not going to try to work full time, and have this brat ruin our home life. I had it with trying to keep him engaged and attached showing him I love him and giving him the benefit of the doubt for his rudeness. Now that I have my own "crazy" outburst in the open, I am looking for a counselor (he said he wouldn't go) for me. I live in Dr. Bradley's geographical territory and believe me I've googled looking for an office number many times!!! I am married but I want to make sure the insurance covers the visits. I know there are areas of our family life where things could be better there by alleviating some behaviors (like my husbands addiction to the computer screen) , but I refuse to let this 15 year and his rude mouth rule our home any longer. FYI the LoneMom screen name came about 6 months ago when I registered b/c my husband doesn't get the parenting thing after the kids are born, he's a bit more like a fun uncle, nice guy and a lot of self pleasing/"me" behaviors. That said, are you taking new patients? If not, do you have a recommendation - I am located in the PHL suburbs. Thank you!!
07-14-2009, 10:37 PM
I'm concerned about your post on a number of levels and was very worried about posting a response because I have to advocate for your son. As an adult who played online games, I know that the relationships developed "in-game" are real. Having your gaming computer sold out from under you is a very serious transgression to a gamer which could feel equivalent to having your heart ripped out! It's could be compared to a parent having an ability to rip away all friendships of their child in one fell swoop. If your son has been playing for 2 years, I would imagine he feels very strongly about those in game relationships and may also feel that the friends in the game are relying on him, worrying about why he suddenly disappeared out of their world, all kinds of things. And they are likely VERY worried as is he!
So with all the huge, huge turmoil the act of selling his computer would cause, it was then compounded with some even more serious words, telling him that he's a "jerk" etc. that would then have further shut him down. All the anger, all the things he could tell you about how he's feeling, I worry would then turn into a boiling nasty lump inside him that will rear it's ugly head over and over. He would feel disrepected and not understood and with no voice to express all of it.
For a parent to receive respect from their child they have to model that same respect toward their child. Listen, believe me, I understand that the dispassionate stance breaks. But even when it does, for me, certain words can't come into play. As a parent, our judgement of our children, the words we use, the actions we choose can last for them forever and somehow we have to find a way to not go to that place, to not use harmful words or actions. And most importantly, if we do go there we have to attempt to rectify it and very, very quickly.
I believe as parents we owe our children heartfelt apologies when things fall apart like that. And I appreciated your honesty with it and also your statement that you know it was wrong. So from that place, if you act fast, maybe you can undo some of the damage. For me that would involve an apology with the understanding that he probably won't accept it, but also a statement of wanting to know how he is really feeling and hearing it without comment. You could also ask him what can you do to make this better. If he says "buy me a new gaming computer", I personally would not only do that but would involve him in configuring it!
Bottom line, you don't want him shut down and depressed. You want him to feel like you can connect to what matters to him even if it is something that concerns you. From a place of respect changes can be slowly made, but from a place of disrespect much worse will follow. I hope he is ok and I hope you are ok. It sounds stressful. And my apologies for being so direct. Lord knows I don't have all the answers and went through some terrible times with my child...but when things finally turned around, it was the respect and connection, from the heart, that forged the unbreakable bond that kept us going.
07-15-2009, 08:08 AM
Through your post, you are certainly communicating your anger and frustration at the situation with your son and your husband, and it does sound like an extremely frustrating problem. I have two sons who play computer and video games quite a bit, this is generally not a problem, as it is not particularly uncommon for boys of that age. It becomes a problem, as you describe it, when the teen plays the games to the exclusion of all other activities. It is appropriate to set limits on the game playing. But the bottom line is that there is a deeper reason why your son's behavior has changed so drastically. The rudeness and disrespect he is showing may also be a symptom of a greater problem. A parent should not tolerate disrespect on the part of their children, and you should also,set limits on this behavior. One way is to say you will not interact with him unless he is respectful to you. It soulds like he really needs to talk to a professional, as these behaviors indicate a greater problem. In terms of your "outburst". Even though you are quite frustrated, I think it is best not to be demeaning or insulting toward your son. His behaviors may show him to be cold and insensitive, but he is probably very vulnerable at this point, and actually could benefit from love and support from his parents. You might want to do some damage control at this point. In terms of your husband's role in all of this. I also know first hand that when there are problems with a teen, it takes major involvement from both parents to get through these tough times. It is very important to show a united front from both you and your husband in order to help your son through this difficult time. If your husband cannot hear this, you must insist on family therapy for this problem. Your son would also benefit from individual therapy also. You should insist on this. I hope this helps
10-31-2009, 06:51 PM
Both of the above posts make quite a lot of sense. Of course, they were written by sane people, unlike my post which was written after a particularly difficult day. The good news is my son had an epiphany in August (previous post was written in July.) We went on vacation and he was the child we knew, nice to me, nice to his brother (they use to be very close) and in general, a joy to be with. What happen? Who knows but we loved it after the previous two plus years we had been through.
I didn't end up selling his computer, I only took it out of the house. I was fortunate to see a level headed psychologist (Dr. Mike Bradley!!) who explained that we should negotiate and help him to learn to moderate his computer time. We did consult another family therapist that told me I should take it away b/c of his inability to moderate. It's very hard to know which is the correct approach. Although letting him negotiate has worked OK he rarely keeps his end of the bargain. When I remind him of his commitment he gets ugly again - like the "evil twin" of the last couple of years. I get frustrated b/c he doesn't keep his agreements which equates to a shaky value system - which is the big goal in all of this negotiation. If we had taken it away (which we did for a month) after the initial anger he seemed OK with it. He started playing outside again, throwing the LAX ball in the yard, going to friends. Then he went to camp for two weeks and frankly I should have kept it away from him but did choose to let him try to develop his own limits. At this point, he plays the game right after school until bedtime and does no homework at home. He did play fall lacrosse which he barely did last season. (He has two study halls which he says he gets everything done, although he doesn't study for tests and he is an honors student at a tough school).
That said, I'm trying to back off and let him be. I've almost convinced myself that this is something he has to decide for himself at this point.
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