Driving and curfews 16 yo
Dr. Bradley, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your book. It restored peace to our home during some very tough middle school years with our son. He had been very rebellious, smoking marijuana, declining grades, and generally withdrawing from the family. We have to look back now to appreciate how much better things are. He is now in 10th grade, and things are much better. Better grades, better attitude. We actually spend time together as a family boating, sporting events, etc.
We now have new issues though since he started driving. The law in our state is 16 yo's cannot be on the road after 11 PM. He thinks the law is stupid, and he doesn't have to comply. After several early morning blow-outs, we finally all signed a "driving privileges" contract listing rules and consequences for not follownig them so there won't need to be screaming matches at 1 in the morning. He still doesn't always comply, but he at least always calls and let's us know when he'll be home.
My question is this: A common practice in our area is for teenagers to spend the night at a friend's and then be out until all hours of the night. We have him call at 11 from the friend's phone, but then they go back out. I know this has happened but I can't confront him with it because I know this from snooping. I know we're not supposed to snoop, but how on earth can we monitor this? It's driving me insane! The parents are usually asleep. I know there's partying and some drinking. I feel like renting a car and doing a stake-out! When we say no every time to his requests to spend the night, we can't come up with a good reason. We've discussed the importance of trust and what happens when it's destroyed. We still have some trust issues left over from the middle school turmoil.
The other question is regarding at home drug testing. The only way we were able to get him to stop the pot in middle school was with at home drugs tests. The 1st counselor was a disaster, and the 2nd sent him to a peer group that was an education in how to be a drug dealer. I took him out after the 1st session. We did the home drug tests, with consequences spelled out in black and white for any failures. He knows we have a 0 tolerance, but he still sees nothing wrong with it and says he'll do it when he's 18. We tell him since he's driving we may need to do an ocassional drug test, and he says to go ahead. What do you think? Pot smoking is very prevalent among teens in this area. We want to trust him, but we fear for his safety.
Overall though things are pretty good. We still have some respect issues, some cursing, and occasional tempers, but overall he confides in us about problems, i.e., girls, etc. and we do spend some quality time together. I've ordered another copy of the book, (gave mine away to a desparate friend), and I can't wait to start reading up on these new issues. Thanks again for helping so much!
Dear CG Mom,
Sorry for the late response on this. The holidays have been very rough for a lot of teens with whom I work (and even rougher for their parents.)
First, if you are sure that these kids are driving and drinking "after hours", it is time to call a meeting of all of these kids' parents. As a group, come up with some strategy to stop this very dangerous behavior. As a group, sit down with the kids and let them know that the next time that happens, they will have demonstrated that they are not responsible enough to have sleep-overs, and that everyone will be sleeping in their own homes for a few months until you see that the kids have grown mature enough to use this privilege wisely. If parents refuse to attend the meet, or if they say "Boys will be boys", strike them from the allowed sleep-over location list. I hate to be an alarmist, but we've lost a lot of kids to exactly that game.
Second, in regards to drug testing, if things are better in your home right now, I wouldn't drug test unless I had proof that the drug policy was being violated. For now, tell your son that his word is all you need from him on this. If he's lying, he'll likely start to feel bad (that's good.) If he's truthful, he'll appreciate your trust in him. That's even better!
Good luck and keep up the good work!
Dr. Mike Bradley