Dear Dr. Bradley: It seems that the only way to get through to my son is by telling him to leave...of course it is not that simple, he gets angry and says he hates our family, so I tell him to try to find another one that he will like...I actually had my husband get down his sleeping bag for him to take with him when he left, and he put it back up and went to bed without any problems....but we had to go through an ugly session for about 1h. before that. he is going through a very disrespectful, emotional, angry, moody period and it is very hard to live with him...I get so upset with the horrible things he says to me and engage in ugly matches with him...but until we call his bluff, so to speak, he continues on and on and on....
I was wondering if you knew of any studies that correlate Xbox players and ugly behavior after playing...It seems if we take that away from him the old boy comes back...then when he gets it back, the ugly boy returns..
It is hard for me to stand up to him as he is much bigger and stronger than I am, and he gets so frustrated with me asking him to do his homework, get out of bed, and get ready for soccer...its like he just wants to pound me...
We have 4 family rules and he clearly knows them, but hates them when we enforce them. They are as follows:
1. He goes to church with us (we go to a Sat 5 pm service, so no early sundays)
2. He eats dinner with us at the table 3-4x a week we try to do this.
3. He plays a sport of his choice(he plays competitive soccer, but complaints constantly and is never ready for practice appropriately)
4. He goes to school and makes decent grades(of course I would like A's, but B's are good and we support him in anything he tries)
These are not too much to ask, do you think? He has a few chores, but soccer takes a lot of his time and we consider this to be like his job, so we do not require a lot of chores from him. He is an only child....fyi...We are an affectionate family, but he does not like that anymore...I tell him I love him every day, and he replies "yeah sure you do" I have read your book and reread it, but feel like I am failing. What do you think???
Maybe something else is going on with your son. I have 3 sons and my middle son was very distant and angry. I had a feeling something was going on but I wasn't sure what. Long story short, it was my oldest who alerted me to his instant messaging because he had a concern, as well. At that time, it was possible to access the messages without a monitoring program so I was able to read what he shared with another friend that he couldn't stop being sad and that he hated himself. Wow. I knew something wasn't right but I couldn't figure out what it was. I researched and discovered he had depression. Anger is a strong symptom of depression for teens. Anyway, I then sat down with my son and told him that I had some concerns about him and that I made an appointment for him to see a counselor. He didn't resist.
You might want to check into it. And maybe you might want to get counseling to see how you can reach him and improve your relationship with him. Raising teens isn't always easy. Sometime we need help.
I think it's time for your family to see a counselor for issues way beyond X box excesses. Those "ugly matches" you note need two players, and if you're getting baited into responding in kind to your kid, this may get a lot worse. You must first get a hold on your own behaviors, which in turn can help him to manage his. For example, if he threatens to run away do NOT dare him to go. That trick might work a few times until he gets old enough or angry enough to follow through, and then he might take off to a life-threatening environment. If he does threaten to leave, instead tell him that that would break your heart, but that you can't cave in on a rule that you think helps and protects him. Say that you love him far too much to allow threats to determine what you see as best for him.
Dr. Mike Bradley