One listener asked for advice about their teenage son’s behavior on Moncrieff’s “Parenting” segment.
Joanna Fortune, psychotherapist specialising in Child & Adult Psychotherapy, answers your parenting questions.
I am shocked that you are writing this. My 14-year-old son escaped the house at midnight last week. He was caught.
He created a ridiculous story about his activities. To be fair, he’s a bit defensive and cocky. He doesn’t show any remorse. Only making up lies after lying.
We took his phone and he is now grounded.
Some shocking things have been discovered. He is using weed with his friends. I am not sure what he means by taking marijuana, but he does talk about picking up mushrooms and making money off drugs.
He began to mix with different people in school and now he wants to go out with them.
I don’t know how to tackle this. First, should I prevent him from meeting his friends? Second, should I contact my other parents, which I also want to do. But will that be enough?
It makes me sick to my stomach. I live in a suburban area of Dublin. This is the first time that I have ever seen it happen.
What should I do in the near, medium, and long-term
“The one thing that jumps out is the world’shocked. This is a parent understandably shocked.
“When you are in shock, it is not the right time to react to his behavior. You’ll get into reaction mode.
You’re better to express your feelings, say “This is shocking, it’s shocked, and I’m shocked, but I don’t want you to react in shock to me – so I need to think this through and then we’ll be sitting down with each other in a few days or whenever we feel ready to discuss this with you.”
“So, you’re marking his cards, but you’re avoiding getting drawn into an emotive response.”
“Laws of illegal things”
She advised that parents should respond to the information they find on their phones.
“Now, you’ve found layers of things and layers of illegal stuff – that must be said – for this phone.
“Just as there are layers of what’s going, so there are layers of your response.
“Can you stop him meeting his friends?” You could probably say that. However, I doubt you will enforce it. He’s already demonstrated that he sneaks out of your home at night.
She suggested that if they are friends from school, there might be another way to deal with this.
“If you know the parents of these children, I believe you have a responsibility to speak with them about what you’ve discovered.”
“Ideally, you would have a group parents who are on the same page and there is a collective response from this group of children.
“You will have timestamps on any messages they send. If those messages are sent during school hours there is a good reason to notify the school.
“Otherwise, I’m just playing the devil’s advocate. The school may be saying that this is outside school and is a parental problem.
“Maybe it’s a combination of both.”