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WWYD? Grounding & birthday party


StephanieZ
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Just for hypothetical (cough) discussion about a "friend"'s (cough) 16 yo son . . .

 

This 16 yo has their 17th birthday in a few days. This is the first year in quite a few years when the boy has a nice set of buddies and friends to host for a party. Tentative plans have been discussed for a casual bonfire type home party next Friday. Details hadn't been firmed up yet, though. 

 

This 16 yo has an ongoing problem with "vaping" which the parents absolutely forbid and have had extensive fits, discussions, punishments for over the year it's been going on. 

 

In recent months, the boy has been seeing a therapist for the first time ever. It's going well. Depression and simple growing up/parent conflict issues have been the prime foci of therapy. The therapist has guided the parents to having clear, simple consequences for bad behavior and NOT doing the routine bitch-fest that the mom +/- dad have used previously (with little success in modifying behavior, obviously). So, there is now a very strict, clear consequence for vaping (or alcohol use) -- 7 day grounding + 10 hrs slave labor . . . (plus each attempt at negotiating the consequence leads to 1 more hour plus a half day). 

 

So, the hypothetical boy was caught today. 5 days before the planned party. 

 

There is a session with the therapist this week, so she can be consulted for guidance if needed. She's generally supportive of the "parents are in charge" but who knows . . . Her (rightful) role is to support the teen boy in whatever ways she sees are best. Thus far, she's encouraged simple, clear consequences with minimal bitching (as Mom's bitching is definitely both not constructive and also excessive, cough . . .)

 

OK, so parents handled the issue today with calmly, gently reading off the (written down by the therapist during the one family sessions a few weeks ago) consequence, and teen calmly complied. Asked a "clarifying" question, but didn't attempt negotiations. All is calm. Parents have done what they are supposed to do. They feel like shit, as seems to be inevitable in these situations. 

 

Now, Mom realizes that the grounding will extend past the birthday itself and the entire weekend that the birthday party was to have been held. 

 

Options?

 

And, to make it worse, one of his best friends (of a small group) is moving cross country mid-month, so it is likely that pushing the party back one week will make it so that friend won't be able to come. 

 

Historically, I tend towards bitch-fest +/- big consequences which I tend to back off from, because I hate, hate, hate to see kids unhappy and I ridiculously believe, over and over, that my bitching and explaining and begging and whatnot will magically convince said child to see the light, and they'll never make that "mistake" again, so then there is no consequence needed. I recognize that the bitch-fest is both unproductive and harmful to the child and the relationships, so I am letting the bitching go. But, the applying the consequences feels really painful. I just want the kid to be happy, have friends, and be safe (and free from dangerous habits). 

 

Mom is really committed to doing what she is "supposed" to do as she navigates the treacherous waters of parenting teens/adults -- it's a rocky transition from the smooth sailing of parenting littles. 

 

Mom is feeling like she's supposed to leave the grounding in place for the duration, meaning no BP party until after the 7 days is up. A family dinner/outing/movie/fun is permitted since Mom had smartly set out a "family activity" exemption from groundings at the outset. So, the family can do whatever fun stuff the birthday boy likes the sounds of on his actual birthday, and then any friend party would have to wait until after the grounding.

 

WWYD?

 

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I'm probably a horrible mom, but considering the circumstance of the friend moving, I would allow the bonfire. It is his birthday after all.

I might offer to negotiate with him---he is allowed the birthday party but has to perform more hours of slave labor in place of the one day less of grounding. If he doesn't want to do that, then it is his choice.

 

Also, he is 17. Having these huge blowups and consequences about vaping is probably worthless. He knows exactly where you stand on it and is choosing to do it anyway. In a year he is going to be legally allowed to do just about everything but drink. I would be focusing more on helping make wise choices rather than strict punishments, which don't seem to be working.

Edited by MedicMom
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My kid is almost 14, so take this with a huge grain of salt as I'm not quite where you are yet. Birthdays are like major holidays here. 

 

Option 1: Go ahead and have the party, maybe adding an extra day on to the grounding to make up for it.

 

Option 2: Have a family only celebration, delaying the party for friends. 

 

I tend toward Option 1 because Option 2 is really the pits since he would then lose the opportunity to be with the friend who is moving. 

 

BTW, of what does "grounding" consist? No screens? No phones? No hanging out with friends?

 

As I said, I'm not where you are, so maybe those who have btdt will have more sense.

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I feel somewhat strongly about this one, considering how many people did this to us for various reasons (some extremely minor, unlike this one) at the last second over the years.

 

The celebration of the child's birthday should be outside of any consequence. 

 

One does not cancel a party or a celebration because of an infraction because it affects not only the recipient of the party but many others as well.  This is their child.  They celebrate the birth, and if a party - sounds like a rare party- has been planned, that should remain unaffected.

Considering the nature of the offense, I'd keep a close eye on the event, but it should go on as planned. 

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I'm probably a horrible mom, but considering the circumstance of the friend moving, I would allow the bonfire. It is his birthday after all.

I might offer to negotiate with him---he is allowed the birthday party but has to perform more hours of slave labor in place of the one day less of grounding. If he doesn't want to do that, then it is his choice.

 

Also, he is 17. Having these huge blowups and consequences about vaping is probably worthless. He knows exactly where you stand on it and is choosing to do it anyway. In a year he is going to be legally allowed to do just about everything but drink. I would be focusing more on helping make wise choices rather than strict punishments, which don't seem to be working.

 

There is a lot of truth here.  I learned the hard way (different issue) that you really have done your job by this time, and some kids just have to learn the ridiculously hard way because they will not listen and learn from the mistakes - or wisdom- of others. 

 

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I would allow the party, add a day on to the end if you feel it necessary, and clearly explain that this one day is an exception because of unusual circumstances and because it is his BIRTHDAY.  

 

....but I would also seriously consider whether punishments for a child this age are actually any more effective in the long run than the other.  At 17 (and only a year away from being a legal adult), helping the child to make better choices using their own noodle, not simply trying to avoid external punishments imposed by others, seems like it might be a more effective option in the long run.

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

 

Parenting is hard.  And I don't know about you but my Everything You Need to Know For All Circumstances of Parenting manual got lost in the mail...

Edited by OneStepAtATime
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I'd have the party because I would be focusing more on building / repairing the relationship with him than on punishments, especially at his age. I would imagine the punishments aren't going to make him stop but will help him get better at hiding it.

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Excellent!

 

TYVM for your advice. I think letting the party stand, adding a day at the end, should work. 

 

The "consequence" thing is mostly coming from the therapist. I think she wants the consequences as a substitute for the "discussions" that have not worked in the past. 

 

This week at the therapist meeting, I will address whether consequences are even helpful at all and if eliminating them altogether is an option. Thanks much. 

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I'd have the party because I would be focusing more on building / repairing the relationship with him than on punishments, especially at his age. I would imagine the punishments aren't going to make him stop but will help him get better at hiding it.

:iagree: Seriously, I could fill pages with how much I agree with this.  My parents grounded me, pulled me out of school, screamed, yelled, and "stuck to their guns", I was almost 40 before I quit smoking and I 100% promise a big part of it, my continuation as a teen, was to piss them off.  You can not punish a child into good behavior, you can punish them into "hating" you and acting out in small and devious ways that often leads to big and dangerous behavior.  

 

So that you can "stick to your guns" but not make him resent you you could tell him since he responded so well you're going to let him have the party.  Then start helping the kid with his obvious addiction instead of outlawing it, treat it.  Giving up smoking was the hardest thing I have EVER done (I used vaping and a step down method over a 2-3 month period).

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In addition to allowing the party, I would work really hard to not bring up the grounding or disappointment you feel about the issue at all. I would have a long chat with myself in the bathroom or the closet to remind myself that the reason you're on him hard is because you love your child. IOW, no "enjoy today because tomorrow you're back in the dungeon" type stuff. 

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it does depend what he is vaping (some e-liquids don't have any nicotine at all) but I'm agreeing that I think this is potentially not a behavior problem but a substance abuse/addiction problem and needs an addictions counsellor, not a behavior modification counsellor. 

 

Have the party. Enjoy it. Regroup after. 

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In our family, birthdays and birthday parties are off-limits when it comes to consequences. Everyone's special day is celebrated with joy.

 

While I think it's reasonable, my personal inclination would be to not add a day at the end, even. It would feel to me like having to "make up" for having a birthday in the middle.

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In my opinion you should have the party.

 

Since you have a "family activities" exemption, you could simply say, "When we wrote up these consiquences, we weren't thinking of all the possible exemptions. I'm adding: Christmas and your birthdays as exemptions. Any groundings that flow over those days will still be full length, not counting the exemption day. But! You are being exempted to participate in the festivities, of course. It's not a day to do whatever you want and ignore the holiday."

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At first, I was leaning toward having the party, but then I read that all of this is the result of the kid's therapy and that he's getting better, etc.  So now I say no party.  He KNEW what the consequence would be and chose to do it anyway.  It really bites that this will be the first time he's going to have friends for a party, but he knew that, too.  Life isn't going to give him a mulligan for his birthday and considering what the mom has gone through to get to this point, I really don't think she should, either.  Better that he learns it by not having a party than in a courtroom. I would also put  a pin in the final decision until I had a chance to talk to his therapist about it.

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Well, my "friend's" dd is grounded until September, and she got to go to her best friend's 16th birthday party because her best friend did not do anything wrong and did not deserve to be punished. My "friend's" dd did something worse than vaping, although probably age appropriate for the bad behavior. She will probably get to do some things that do not seem right for a grounded person to do, but part of the grounding is to protect herself and others from her impulses. Kind of like how jail is not really only about punishment, but about protecting society from harm. Even a prisoner gets furlough for the good of other people, lol.

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In my opinion you should have the party.

 

Since you have a "family activities" exemption, you could simply say, "When we wrote up these consiquences, we weren't thinking of all the possible exemptions. I'm adding: Christmas and your birthdays as exemptions. Any groundings that flow over those days will still be full length, not counting the exemption day. But! You are being exempted to participate in the festivities, of course. It's not a day to do whatever you want and ignore the holiday."

What a hard situation. I have no idea what I would do as we aren't anywhere near this stage (oldest is almost 6). But, I am a softie, and DH is too when push comes to shove. So we'd probably have the party and maybe extend the grounding by a day.

 

I think bolt had wise words above. I also agree with pp that it sounds like maybe the teen needs help with addiction, not just counseling.

 

Again, take everything I say with a grain of salt (or more!) as I have no experience in a parenting situation like this.

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We had a daughter who started smoking in high school.  She picked it up from her public school friends at the church youth group.  We were upset but we did not handle it the same way.  I never was a very punitive parent (it never worked with my headstrong children; it just meant a battle-to-the-death power struggle!)  I agree with those who say 17 is too old to be grounded and that it would be wiser to work on building up your relationship instead of 10 hours of slave labor (how do you do that anyway?  I just could never. . . )  Instead what we did was tell dd how disappointed we were that she was doing something so obviously not smart or mature.  And then we shut up about it.  BUT we told her no smoking in the house or our car (that she was driving). And we no longer paid for any things like haircuts, nail polish, shampoo, movies, etc.  If she was 'adult' enough to smoke that meant we didn't fund her spending money.  She got a job at Starbucks as a result!  Not to keep smoking but for things like haircuts, etc.  She did keep smoking off and on (never a big smoker, more like a social one) but once she graduated college she stopped altogether.  If we had tried to ground her, the way she was at 17, she would have been running away or something.  She was fully convinced she knew everything.  Now that she is a wise old lady of 25, she's apologized for her behavior and thanked us for the way we handled things.  So, it is painful going through this stuff with a teen but if you keep that relationship healthy and close, they'll come back and thank you!  And yes, let him have his party.  You only turn 17 once!

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I would allow the party. I wouldn't even make a big deal about this being an exception, I would just calmly proceed to firm up arrangements for it. The child in question is old enough to recognise that you're showing kindness (although is unlikely to acknowledge it as such!)

 

I do sympathise with your 'friend' - my teenager is no problem but my younger has a tendency to sneak things that aren't allowed and I'm currently enforcing an extended ban on electronics as a result, hoping to tackle the issue well before the teen years. I'm working on being kind and empathetic and calm while sticking to the decision. It's hard!

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This 16 yo has their 17th birthday in a few days. This is the first year in quite a few years when the boy has a nice set of buddies and friends to host for a party.

 

 

In recent months, the boy has been seeing a therapist for the first time ever. It's going well. Depression and simple growing up/parent conflict issues have been the prime foci of therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

And, to make it worse, one of his best friends (of a small group) is moving cross country mid-month, so it is likely that pushing the party back one week will make it so that friend won't be able to come.

 

Historically, I tend towards bitch-fest +/- big consequences

 

WWYD?

These lines from the OP are what stood out for me. I've found that when kids don't have a solid friend group, this is often the cause for discouragement or even depression. Here is a kid who's been lonely, has a difficult relationship with his parents (not unusual so not bashing OP AT ALL). He turns to some bad behavior which results in more strain at home. And the cycle repeats. And repeats again...

 

Now he finally has a social group but one good friend is moving away. Losing a friend is discouraging even for adults.

 

Unless these friends are a bad influence, I'd extend grace. I'd use this (undeserved) offer to have his party to help mend the relationship and reduce strain. I'd let him know the consequences laid out ahead of time should result in him missing party. But you know his friends are important and want him to have this time with them, particularly with friend that's moving. Lessening dicouragement can go a long way for him to see that you are on. his. side. No one wants his success more than you. No one is cheering him on more than you. No one. Let him see that. Encourage good friendships. Most kids wither without them, and good friends are hard to find. When kids are discouraged enough, they do stupid things because they just don't care.

 

Again, If these are the kids who led him to sneak and take up this bad habit, I might follow through with the consequences and then put all my energy into helping him find a good peer group.

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We had a daughter who started smoking in high school.  She picked it up from her public school friends at the church youth group.  We were upset but we did not handle it the same way.  I never was a very punitive parent (it never worked with my headstrong children; it just meant a battle-to-the-death power struggle!)  I agree with those who say 17 is too old to be grounded and that it would be wiser to work on building up your relationship instead of 10 hours of slave labor (how do you do that anyway?  I just could never. . . )  Instead what we did was tell dd how disappointed we were that she was doing something so obviously not smart or mature.  And then we shut up about it.  BUT we told her no smoking in the house or our car (that she was driving). And we no longer paid for any things like haircuts, nail polish, shampoo, movies, etc.  If she was 'adult' enough to smoke that meant we didn't fund her spending money.  She got a job at Starbucks as a result!  Not to keep smoking but for things like haircuts, etc.  She did keep smoking off and on (never a big smoker, more like a social one) but once she graduated college she stopped altogether.  If we had tried to ground her, the way she was at 17, she would have been running away or something.  She was fully convinced she knew everything.  Now that she is a wise old lady of 25, she's apologized for her behavior and thanked us for the way we handled things.  So, it is painful going through this stuff with a teen but if you keep that relationship healthy and close, they'll come back and thank you!  And yes, let him have his party.  You only turn 17 once!

 

I like this. I wonder if it would work for us. The idea of "you're grown up enough to make this decision means you don't get spending $$ from us" seems natural, but it would be, again, hard for me to enforce. I honestly don't *want* him working for pay right now, as I want him focused on college apps/CLEP tests/etc . . . And what if he just started snagging money out of my purse. I don't keep track of money very well, and it'd be easy to swipe $50-100/wk without me noticing. I know it sounds awful to suggest he might do that, but I don't know. I know he wouldn't steal from anyone outside of me and dh, but I'm not so sure he'd not take money from his parents. I don't know that he respects our property the way he should. That sounds terrible. He's a good kid. Really, he is. So for me, right now, this seems hard. But maybe I can tweak it somehow . . . 

 

I just really, really want to get away from Mom and Dad controlling the kid's behavior. He is nearly grown. I get that. I do NOT want conflict or to micromanage. I just want him safe, "doing his shit" (school, cleaning up after himself, minimal family chores), and not hurting anyone. That's pretty much all I ask. Is that so much? Ugh, ugh, ugh. 

 

But, I can't live with me financing his willing addiction, either. Every buck he gets, comes from us . . . So *I'm* paying for his nicotine fix? And since I throw out everything each time we discover it, we've financed it all many times over . . . 

 

I have no idea what I should do. I told him I'd like him to still have his party. He accepted that, but is/was still mighty surly and sulking. 

 

Can I just say that parenting littles was a BREEZE compared to parenting teens? I suck at this. Everything I was good at when they were little helps me not at all now. I should have turned them over to boarding schools or some crazy aunt when they hit teen angst. I want to be the warm and fuzzy and fun mommy. The one with great art supplies and freeze pops in the freezer and the giant sand box. I don't want to be the Mom of No. 

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I would definitely let him have the party, and I wouldn't extend the grounding to make up for it - it's one day, you're extending grace, go ahead and make him fully happy with no cause for annoyance or resentment. 

 

That's not something I would ground for in the first place, though. He knows your thoughts, and he's clearly either ignoring them for his own reasons (he thinks he knows better, the camaraderie surrounding vaping is important to him, whatever) or he is just determined to make his own decisions, not uncommon in that age. 

 

I honestly don't think it's a hill I would die on. I would definitely forbid it in my house, as I do for everyone, but I think that forbidding things of this nature at his age is usually counterproductive. I might do things like not give him money as a birthday gift, so as to hopefully make it a bit harder to have the ready cash, but that's probably about it. 

 

That's my advice based on once being a teen who met every "oh no you won't!" with "oh yes I will!" I did some things I wasn't even particularly inclined to do just to prove that they couldn't stop me, lol. My siblings and I just seemed hardwired to resist mandates at all costs. I should really get my parents good birthday gifts this year. 

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  I honestly don't *want* him working for pay right now, as I want him focused on college apps/CLEP tests/etc . . . 

 

I wouldn't discount the idea entirely, though, especially as it relates directly to an issue you have very strong feelings about (the vaping, and financing it). 

 

A job can do wonders for some kids. It opens them to a bigger world. When school and home are problematic, it gives them another venue for achievement and socialization. Simply being scheduled to get out of the house on a regular basis can be very good for kids with anxious/depressive tendencies. Working to finance your own bad habits also makes a lot more sense to me than getting grounded for them. 

 

You say that you think you are not asking too much (school, basic chores, etc) and I am sure you are right. It is possible, however, that you are not asking enough. Some kids need that outside responsibility, need some of their time taken up in order to manage all of their time well. 

 

Neither of my kids have worked yet, so I definitely don't think it's always a requirement or even a good idea, but I wanted to throw out the idea that it actually might help him out overall, as well as addressing the issue of him using your money to vape.  I would probably give it a try at least. 

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Nicotine addiction is addiction. Unless he's seeing an addiction counselor I do not really put a lot of stick in the counselor's advice.

 

Nicotine is extremely addictive. I quit 10 years ago and it still sometimes pops into my head and I doNOT want to smoke. I started in my 20s and ended there, too.

 

Get the kid real help. This is not a discipline issue it is An addiction mental health issue.

 

Sorry for abruptness. On phone. Obviously I have faced mini versions of this with little bio kids and step kids. I do feel for you.

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I like this. I wonder if it would work for us. The idea of "you're grown up enough to make this decision means you don't get spending $$ from us" seems natural, but it would be, again, hard for me to enforce. I honestly don't *want* him working for pay right now, as I want him focused on college apps/CLEP tests/etc . . . And what if he just started snagging money out of my purse. I don't keep track of money very well, and it'd be easy to swipe $50-100/wk without me noticing. I know it sounds awful to suggest he might do that, but I don't know. I know he wouldn't steal from anyone outside of me and dh, but I'm not so sure he'd not take money from his parents. I don't know that he respects our property the way he should. That sounds terrible. He's a good kid. Really, he is. So for me, right now, this seems hard. But maybe I can tweak it somehow . . .

 

I just really, really want to get away from Mom and Dad controlling the kid's behavior. He is nearly grown. I get that. I do NOT want conflict or to micromanage. I just want him safe, "doing his shit" (school, cleaning up after himself, minimal family chores), and not hurting anyone. That's pretty much all I ask. Is that so much? Ugh, ugh, ugh.

 

But, I can't live with me financing his willing addiction, either. Every buck he gets, comes from us . . . So *I'm* paying for his nicotine fix? And since I throw out everything each time we discover it, we've financed it all many times over . . .

 

I have no idea what I should do. I told him I'd like him to still have his party. He accepted that, but is/was still mighty surly and sulking.

 

Can I just say that parenting littles was a BREEZE compared to parenting teens? I suck at this. Everything I was good at when they were little helps me not at all now. I should have turned them over to boarding schools or some crazy aunt when they hit teen angst. I want to be the warm and fuzzy and fun mommy. The one with great art supplies and freeze pops in the freezer and the giant sand box. I don't want to be the Mom of No.

This post is assuming you've decided to have his party.

 

If he's sulking, he hasn't accepted his consequence or the possible grace you're extending to him. I think I would calmly explain in as few words as possible that he needs to change his attitude. You're letting him have his party, but it's not enough for him. He risks not having his friend at his party. Then I would explain he needed to go walk around the block or shoot some hoops or whatever you decide, but it needs to be physical and he needs to think about his attitude while he's doing it. If he wants to keep the party, he will show you with a positive attitude and an apology for being surly. If he doesn't want his party, you'll know because his poor attitude will be evident. Then shoo him out the door. With my 15 yo son and one of his older sisters, this has worked well. The important parts to remember are to lay it all out calmly and unemotionally (as if you don't care), use as few words as possible, and have him be physically active while he's thinking. If he starts to argue with you, tell him to go do whatever physical activity you decided he should do and turn away from him to focus on something else. If he's surly upon his return, you know what he has chosen. Be nonchalant about it either way.

 

I posted this on my phone. I hope it makes sense. Parenting teens is tough!

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Well, how long has he been smoking?  I don't think you get that addicted that easily.  I mean is he vaping every day from morning to night?  Probably not, so he's probably not addicted.  And people do quit smoking/vaping so it is doable.  (Disclosure:  I smoked in high school too and quit at various times and then went back until I started dating a guy who didn't smoke - dh - and married him.  Haven't had a cigarette in 28 years.  I'm fine.  No drama.)  

 

But anyway, I second the idea that a job may actually help the situation.  He will have to grow up and face other authority figures besides you.  It will make him feel more of a man.  It really might do him wonders. I know you want him to focus on college stuff but he's just turning 17 now, does that mean he's still got 11th and 12th grade to go?  So you have a bit more time.   And sometimes kids work better when they have more structure and and a sense of purpose.

 

Have you ever read the book Hold onto Your Kids?  It might really help you work towards healing your relationship.  I highly recommend it.  The first half is depressing as hell, but the second half gets into some really good stuff and for me it really shifted my view of how to handle conflict with my kids.

 

I know how rough it can be with teens (I've got a 17 and 14 yo right now), but you have to keep your sights on the horizon and not just what irritating/goofy thing he did today.  I would try really hard to connect with him somehow.  His 17th birthday is a perfect opportunity.  Get out his baby pictures, do a timeline of his life and all the funny/crazy/great things he's done.  You gotta feel how much you love him and then that will come across to him.  You gotta make yourself more positive.  Whenever I get negative I always am so blinded to anything that isn't the PROBLEM (whatever it is that is now going on that is getting me down.)  

 

Anyway, I wish I could help.  Hang in there!  This too shall pass.  Relationship is more important than behavior.  That is the golden key to parenting, I've found.  Kids are immature and they act out and they have poor judgment, etc. etc.  Not that they shouldn't do what is right and rise to the challenge but I think what buoys them up and keeps them more or less on the straight and narrow (though they will probably make some dangerous/stupid side trips just the same) is parents saying we love you, you are better than this, precious son of mine!

 

 

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If this teen has brain chemistry/personality which predisposes him to addiction or self medicating, then the problem with getting a job is that suddenly the person has a lot more disposable income and potentially access to much more expensive drugs than nicotine. 

I would choose to pay for someone's nicotine habit if it kept them off more serious / illegal drugs. 

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If this teen has brain chemistry/personality which predisposes him to addiction or self medicating, then the problem with getting a job is that suddenly the person has a lot more disposable income and potentially access to much more expensive drugs than nicotine. 

 

I would choose to pay for someone's nicotine habit if it kept them off more serious / illegal drugs. 

 

This isn't something I would worry much about based only on a teen who won't stop vaping. It's possible, of course, but I don't think it's high enough risk (going by the limited info we have) to stress over it. 

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Well, how long has he been smoking?  I don't think you get that addicted that easily.  I mean is he vaping every day from morning to night?  Probably not, so he's probably not addicted.  And people do quit smoking/vaping so it is doable.  (Disclosure:  I smoked in high school too and quit at various times and then went back until I started dating a guy who didn't smoke - dh - and married him.  Haven't had a cigarette in 28 years.  I'm fine.  No drama.)  

 

 

For some people, nicotine is not that addictive.  DH is like that - he could smoke for a few weeks, quit for a year, smoke for a summer, quit again, etc.

 

For others (me!) it was very very hard to quit.  When I finally did it was by the grace of God (and I am not even religious!)  I don't think that you can say just because for you it was easy it will be for others.

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For some people, nicotine is not that addictive.  DH is like that - he could smoke for a few weeks, quit for a year, smoke for a summer, quit again, etc.

 

For others (me!) it was very very hard to quit.  When I finally did it was by the grace of God (and I am not even religious!)  I don't think that you can say just because for you it was easy it will be for others.

 

Absolutely agree. 

 

I'm one of the lucky ones, I just don't seem to have that much of an addictive personality or physical vulnerabilities to addiction, but my truth is hardly a universal truth. We all have different struggles. 

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:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

 

 

Hugs

 I would not know what I would do

 

 

 We don't do birthdays at all, and my kids do not smoke - or vape or whatever. So I have never had to deal with anything like this. Smoking here might mean being tossed out of the house. All my kids are watching  the neighbour die a slow painful smoking death. and think that smoking is absolutely a ridiculous thing to do. 

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Well, how long has he been smoking? I don't think you get that addicted that easily. I mean is he vaping every day from morning to night? Probably not, so he's probably not addicted. And people do quit smoking/vaping so it is doable. (Disclosure: I smoked in high school too and quit at various times and then went back until I started dating a guy who didn't smoke - dh - and married him. Haven't had a cigarette in 28 years. I'm fine. No drama.)

 

But anyway, I second the idea that a job may actually help the situation. He will have to grow up and face other authority figures besides you. It will make him feel more of a man. It really might do him wonders. I know you want him to focus on college stuff but he's just turning 17 now, does that mean he's still got 11th and 12th grade to go? So you have a bit more time. And sometimes kids work better when they have more structure and and a sense of purpose.

 

Have you ever read the book Hold onto Your Kids? It might really help you work towards healing your relationship. I highly recommend it. The first half is depressing as hell, but the second half gets into some really good stuff and for me it really shifted my view of how to handle conflict with my kids.

 

I know how rough it can be with teens (I've got a 17 and 14 yo right now), but you have to keep your sights on the horizon and not just what irritating/goofy thing he did today. I would try really hard to connect with him somehow. His 17th birthday is a perfect opportunity. Get out his baby pictures, do a timeline of his life and all the funny/crazy/great things he's done. You gotta feel how much you love him and then that will come across to him. You gotta make yourself more positive. Whenever I get negative I always am so blinded to anything that isn't the PROBLEM (whatever it is that is now going on that is getting me down.)

 

Anyway, I wish I could help. Hang in there! This too shall pass. Relationship is more important than behavior. That is the golden key to parenting, I've found. Kids are immature and they act out and they have poor judgment, etc. etc. Not that they shouldn't do what is right and rise to the challenge but I think what buoys them up and keeps them more or less on the straight and narrow (though they will probably make some dangerous/stupid side trips just the same) is parents saying we love you, you are better than this, precious son of mine!

You may not have an addiction-prone physiology.

 

Your description of people's struggles with nicotine addiction as "drama" is just plain unkind.

 

I, too, was able to quit.

 

My father, who never quit opium, not really, quit nicotine.

 

My mom smoked from 12. She has never successfully quit and it haunts her. She is the most loving, compassionate person, a hard worker who hates tobacco and who is disgusted with her addiction.

 

I am glad it was easy for you but please don't imply that it's simply drama not to quit. It's not. For some people it is the clarity of mind they have been looking for their whole life.

Edited by Tsuga
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Also, when I was addicted to cigarettes, it was not a morning-to-night thing.  I had one cigarette per day on the worst days; less than half of one on the best days (I smoked 1/4 cigarette at a time).  I was still addicted.  When I tried to quit (which I did probably 75 times before I did finally quit) I felt and acted quite insane.  I would dig butts out of the trashcan; I would look for them stubbed out in the grass; I would hide them around the house just in case. eta: I would cry and scream and feel like the whole world was against me and everything was hopeless and destined to be painful forever.

 

That was on 1 cigarette a day.

 

It is a very addictive drug for some people.  My mom smoked when she was pregnant with me and my parents both smoked (inside, chain smoking for my dad) my whole life, so I had a fairly constant background addiction probably from a very young age.

 

Even now, secondhand smoke smells *great*.

 

The only thing that worked for me was by some miracle, the summer my dad died of COPD (because of smoking), each time I smoked I felt so nauseous and awful that I had to lie down for hours in order not to puke.  That fixed it pretty fast, and I haven't wanted to start again since then.

 

I am not religious at all; I see religion as a metaphor.  Still, I think this was as close as it gets to a miracle and I am grateful for it.

Edited by ananemone
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PS rules that are totally inflexible make no sense to me... means you are a slave to the rule, rather than the parent in charge.   I'd thank him for not further violating the rules by trying to negotiate, but say that after consideration and discussion here, you decided that the birthday party should go on as planned.

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Ladies, I think addiction is one of those buzz words that conjures up all sorts of reaction and then everybody starts seeing the darkest scenario out there.  The kid may or may not be addicted to vaping.  His addiction might not be one that is painfully insurmountable and even if it is painful it is mostly likely surmountable.

 

I did not mean to be unkind about saying that my own cigarette habit was not dramatic. Not that it wasn't unpleasant.  I did get grumpy and I gained 5 pounds because I ate too much and I had a cough for a few months that was annoying.  But in the grand scheme of things in life, it wasn't the most horrible thing ever.  Far from it.   Why is it not unkind for people to suggest the OP's son is a addict who might go on to do other drugs or to relate long descriptions of how horrible it was for them to quit (this does not help an already upset mother!!!) but it is unkind for me in telling my own story to say that there was no drama.  There are a lot of ex-smokers walking around, so there is lots of evidence that people can overcome this hurdle, some more painfully than others.

 

All I was trying to do was comfort the OP and tell her that it might not be as bleak as she may perceive it to be right now.  Defiant teens have been sneaking out and smoking (and now vaping) since they invented smoking (and teenagers!).  It is not the end of the world.  The important thing is to regain a closeness with her son so that he can grow up and she can feel confident that he is growing into the best version of himself he can be.  The truth is that heavy handed punishment often alienates kids and drives them to be sneaky, etc.  It is so easy to get caught in a power-struggle that gets the teen and the parent stuck in a reactionary mode; a mode that does not help the teen mature or help the parent to keep the big picture in mind.  How do we as parents get around this trap?  It's tricky!  

 

To the OP, I really do recommend Hold on to Your Kids for dealing with teenage conflicts.

 

 

Edited by Faithr
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I would have the party. I would let him have his emotions and not insist on an attitude change-- just don't get sucked into it. Trying to insist someone put on a happy face is another form of control, and teens are best parented more by relationship than control.

Share your concernx about vaping, do not continue using grounding and slave labor as punishment, and stop funding it. Buy only specific things, not giving money.

 

That's my best advice,ymmv.

Oh, and hugs, too.

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Faithr, I guess in my mind addiction is not a deep dark secret but something that 90% of our society deals with, whether addiction is to caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, prescription on-use drugs, off-use OTCs or illegal drugs. The vast majority of addiction issues are to legal substances.

 

I did not mean to imply OP's kid was a junky, just that punishment doesn't treat addiction. If it fixes the problem then the addiction was a minor part of the habit but we don't know what the root of the behavior at this point, is.

 

Whereas implying that people who can't quit smoking, drinking, or, for example, Percocet, are simply creating drama is to suggest that they are morally culpable not just for failing to quit but also lying about it. "Sorry, can't quit, I'm adddddicted! It's harrrrrd." Like mocking that struggle.

 

Anyway I am glad it worked out for you and I know you did not intend to mock. Thanks for your clarification.

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I would have the party. I would let him have his emotions and not insist on an attitude change-- just don't get sucked into it. Trying to insist someone put on a happy face is another form of control, and teens are best parented more by relationship than control. 

 

 

:iagree:  :iagree:

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