how far do you let things go with your child

T - posted on 09/23/2014 ( 9 moms have responded )

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i see my child making alot of mistakes lately. i don't know what to do anymore. i love my child but how far am i supposed to let things go

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Guest - posted on 09/25/2014

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I am very confused now....

You say that they know right from wrong, and you've taught them to be responsible. If that is true, when they choose to do something illegal, they are aware that going to prison is a likely consequence, and they have decided that they are willing to accept that consequence. I know that as a mother, you don't want them to go to jail, but if it is what they are choosing to do with their lives you just have to accept those decisions.

On the other hand, perhaps they do not know how to do things the legal way. Even if they know that doing illegal things will result in prison time, if they do not know how to accomplish their goals legally, they will usually decide the end result of achieving the goal is worth risking prison time.

You say you "feel guilty because I enabled my son and kept quiet about things when I needed to speak up sooner..." That's pretty vague and it is difficult to advice specifically on that, but no one can change the past, and no one can avoid the consequences of their actions. That said, you can learn from those mistakes and change your present and future actions to create better consequences.
Apparently, the consequence for not speaking up and for enabling your son are that your son has gone further down a bad path than you intended to allow him. Now, if he is responsible, and knows right from wrong, and knows what legal actions he needs to take to accomplish his goals, but he still chooses the illegal path, that isn't your fault--you shouldn't feel guilty because you've equipped him to make his own decisions.

On the other hand, if you didn't teach to be responsible, if his ideas on what is right and wrong are blurry, and he hasn't been taught how to accomplish his goals legally, and he chooses the illegal path, you can still take additional action, but you have to figure out WHY he is choosing the illegal path, so that you can teach him what he needs to know to make a better decision.
There are two BIG mistakes that I see parents make often.
The first is teaching only what NOT to do. Don't steal, Don't do drugs, Don't litter, Don't Don't Don't. They fail to teach what TO do--instead of stealing that toy, you need to pay for it, instead of stealing the money to pay for it, you need to offer a service you can be paid for to earn the money to pay for the toy. This is how you develop a business plan, pitch and idea, and get people to pay you to do things for them. Instead of doing drugs to relax or numb the pain of a bad decision, read a book, watch a movie, write your thoughts in a journal, and so on. If a child knows littering is wrong, he will still litter if he doesn't know what else to do with the trash in his hand.

The second BIG mistake is neglecting the influence of friends. YOU might have taught him right from wrong, but his friends may have taught him that some of the things you think are "wrong" really aren't that bad. Stealing is okay as long as you steal from someone who doesn't need what you're stealing...Drugs are only temporary and they make you feel better when you're sad, they won't hurt you, and you aren't hurting anyone else by getting high every now and again....Sound familiar? You can't just teach your version of right and wrong, you have to know what he's learning from his friends and other influences, and make sure you are countering those ideas.

I don't want to make it sound like you fell short as a mother--You didn't! We all mess up here and there, we all miss learning opportunities, we all focus like crazy on one area and completely miss another area. I'm just trying to find the root of the problem so that you can take action to fix it, rather than dwelling on it and feeling guilty, because that won't change anything at all, but action can change things.

T - posted on 09/24/2014

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My kids know right from wrong, I've taught them to be responsible people but my boys chose to go the "easy" way of doing things, or maybe I should say the illegal way. I feel guilty because I enabled my son and kept quiet about things when I needed to speak up sooner because with my older son I kept turning him in and my thought process was messed up on trying to fix this situation, as a result my son is now keeping me from my grand daughter. I was trying to do what i could to keep him with his daughter and now i'm not able to see her. how ironic is that. I wish it hadn't come to this but it has and i'm just having a hard time dealing with this

Guest - posted on 09/23/2014

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The only way to get over guilt, or to get rid of that feeling, is to fix whatever issue is making you feel guilty.
We feel guilt because we know we've done something wrong. If you figure out what it is you've done (or failed to do) that is making you feel guilty, you can develop and implement a plan to remedy the consequences of that failure or mistake.

Obviously, I don't know why you feel guilty, but from what you've written, I assume you feel guilty because you've failed to teach your son to adequately evaluate the consequences of his actions ahead of time, and make decisions that will benefit him. If so, sit down with him, just as Dove suggested, and ask him what kind of man he wants to to. Evaluate his current situation to determine whether his actions are taking him toward that goal, or away from it. If he is going in the wrong direction, help him plan actions that will take him in the right direction.

Another thing that I noticed is that you said you tried to change your older son, but he made the decision to go to jail anyway. You cannot change a person--that person whoever he wants to be no matter what you try to turn them into. As parents, all we can do is equip them with the skills they need in order to become the people they want to be.

I also don't see how watching his brother make poor choices and go to prison would teach him how to avoid the same mistakes. He now knows that certain actions lead to prison, but that experience only teaches him what NOT to do, he needs guidance in learning what TO do.

T - posted on 09/23/2014

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yes i have made that call also this morning and will be talking with someone soon. thanks you all

Dove - posted on 09/23/2014

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Counseling can be a valuable resource to you as far as the guilt goes. ♥

T - posted on 09/23/2014

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Your right about the boyfriend, i can't be mad for him pointing out the obvious. My son told me I was choosing my boyfriend over him. I know I am not doing that and that he will be an adult soon. I was looking for some kind of anwser about all the guilt i feel about everything. Truth is, if my boyfriend hadn't come along, things may have been alot worse. This has been very helpful to me and i appriciate every comment i have gotten.

Dove - posted on 09/23/2014

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Do not enable your son. If he gets taken away from his daughter due to his life choices... that is on HIM... not you.

I do not know what kind of mistakes he is making (other than not being in school), but maybe you can sit down w/ him and ask him if he wants to end up like his older brother. Also maybe ask him what kind of man he wants his daughter to love when she is grown and let him know he needs to BE that type of man... so she knows what it looks like.

I am concerned for you about your comment 'I can live w/out the boyfriend, but I don't want to live w/out my son'... cuz your son is almost an adult. Whether or not your relationship w/ your boyfriend is right I can not say, but to ditch him if he's legitimately calling out bad actions by your son is going to help no one.... especially not your son. Condoning and enabling bad actions will hurt him more in the long run.

T - posted on 09/23/2014

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my son will be 17 in a few months. i feel extremly guilty because it's gotten this far. my oldest son turned 21 in prison, he is now out and he is 24, it's like i'm living history all over again. i've been a single parent all this time and it's been hard. i did what ever i could to change my older son but in the end he made his choice that lead him to prison. I would have thought going thru that with his older brother my youngest would have made different choices. this time around i suppose i enabled my son. i kept quiet about alot of things but now I have a boyfriend who sees what things he is doing and won't put up with any of the stuff that is going on. my son has been back and forth between my house and his girlfriends, they also have a baby. his actions may just get him into more trouble, he's already had his share. he isn't going to school now (again). i just don't know what to do because i love my son so much and don't want him to be taken away from his daughter. i can live without the boyfriend i don't want to live without my son

Guest - posted on 09/23/2014

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It depends on the age of the child, and the severity of the mistakes.

When my kid was very young, I let him make a lot of mistakes without stepping in so that he learned that his actions had consequences--both good and bad. Over time, that taught him to consider the consequences of his actions before taking action. When he was little, the consequences for his mistakes were pretty small because he didn't have much responsibility, as he got older, the consequences naturally became more and more severe as his responsibilities increase, but because he knew to consider the consequences first, from all those mistakes as a kid, he took responsible actions.

If I see him about to make a mistake that will have a lasting negative impact on his life, I step in and go over the possible consequences of those actions with him to help him see the better path to follow--help him decide what actions he can take to get the good consequences and avoid the bad.

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