My 15 year old son is skipping school and stealing from me. I have tried everything! He is a good kid, does not talk back or misbehave in any other way. Any one have any ideas what I can do now?
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Alison - posted on 12/10/2008
My 14 year old responds much better to his father's discipline or just the sound of his voice sometimes. My son has even told me that he needs his dad's firm hand(not in those exact words!) My husband is in the Navy and is deployed right now and I am feeling the pain. If you could get dad more involved in some way it could be a very good thing. One other thing, is don't compromise on what you have taught them about right and wrong. Just because they want to do something doesn't mean we should let them. Giving them mixed messages when they need our guidance doesn't help. Thankfully my son is showing signs of maturing and making better decisions. I think part of that is I kept reminding him of his goals in life and that he couldn't be a productive adult if his behaviors didn't change. I hope things turn around for you and your son.
Marj - posted on 12/09/2008
Thanks for all the advise. I have tried all of this, including going to school with him for a few days, after that he is still skipping. He goes to the school he just dosen't go to his classes. I have had meetings with the VP all of his teachers and the attendance officers and it hasn't done a thing. I have talked to him, telling I love him and just want the best for him. He knows I don't have much money, but I always try to give him what he wants. He is also seeing a councelor as well. His Father lives about an hour away, I thought of maybe sending him to live with his dad for awhile. I would hate to do that because I would miss him terribly, but maybe his dad could handle this better than I am.but maybe my son would think I am giving up on him. I am just so stressed out, this has been going on since the first week of school. I have put on weight and have had my period for over a month and I am on the birth control pill.
Nola - posted on 12/09/2008
Great reply, Elizabeth! Find out what it is they're doing that they like better than school - where they are, what they're interested in, etc. Ask them what they hate about the classes they're skipping. Listen. Listen. Listen. Use open-ended questions (begin with what,where, how, when, why not questions that are answered in yes or no. Teens are like regular people, they want to be HEARD, and they want to be UNDERSTOOD,and they want SYMPATHY. Then they want HELP for the things they can't do anything about. INVEST time and good conversation. "I don't know" isn't an answer, say so. Be patient, say neither of you will leave the room until he/she answers your question. Tell them you really want to know, you really are interested, and you want to help if you can.
You might be really surprised what you hear. You might have to set everything aside to make things better.
I've heard of folks that went into a small business venture with a child that steals, to show how much fun it is to earn your own money instead.
You might have to put away your own interests and take up your child's for awhile. You can change a life and change a future that way!
Elizabeth - posted on 12/09/2008
Calling the police? Following him around school? Talk about a FAST TRAIN to writing you off as clueless and reactionary for life. When I was 15 and would cut classes (mainly to hang out in the darkroom and print pictures or work on video editing projects-- but sometimes to buy concert tickets when they went on sale :) it wasn't because I was "messed up" or "hated school" -- it's because I saw photography as more important to shaping my world than organic chemistry. What are your son's favorite subjects? Make he can adjust his courses to better reflect his interests this semester or next. Suggest it!
Another thing-- Might he be BORED at school? I was to some extent. I also desperately wanted to feel useful- is there some aspect of your life where you could enlist HIS assistance? Include him in something important.
re:stealing. If he doesn't already know that you know-- find a clever way to tell him. Maybe install one of these near where you keep your cash --http://nservices.com/simulatedcameras.ht...
or ask for his help installing some financial management software on your computer since you just CAN'T seem to keep track of those pesky 10s & 20s! See if he is able to act cool as a cucumber through that...
It's important to maintain your cool even if you want to scream "WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU!? I'm your MOM! You must respect me!" -- but it's much more useful to just be one step ahead. Teens are like dogs-- they can smell weakness. But, like dogs, it's not hard to outsmart them.
Kayla - posted on 12/09/2008
I was 15 not that long ago and did much of the same thing, and then some. My advice would be to try talking with him, but avoid sounding critical or condescending as that would exacerbate the situation. Be honest with him about how you feel, tell him you know what he does and that stealing and he should be punished. Avoid talking to him like a child, but also, he's not an adult either. Instead talk to him like an individual, don't forget he has a mind of his own with reason and understanding far different from anyone.
Depending on what he is stealing, if it's money or valuables, he most likely does this because he feels bad about asking for things he needs. Teens often think it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Be a parent, but more importantly, be an ear and a shoulder.
Tania - posted on 12/09/2008
Why dont you try talking to him without getting angry or upset and see what's going on, maybe something's going on at school and doesn't like going for that reason, maybe he hates school and being there isn't the right thing for him. As for the stealing just take away his things when ever he does it,and don't give them back till hes stopped.
Rachael - posted on 12/09/2008
I don't think that you need to "humiliate" him but you said you have tried EVERYTHING, so I assumed that the heart to hearts, talking honestly, and grounding had already been tried. I didn't use tough love, my daughter knew that if she couldn't attend school on her own then I would help her. She chose to continue skipping and not bringing home homework so her consequence was me going to school with her...It did work, with teenagers sometimes you have to do unconventional things to get through to them. Even if you are close with them they dont tell you everything.
Rhonda - posted on 12/09/2008
I have to agree with Rachel Browns comment. My daughter was skipping classes, the first time i found out, i informed all of her teachers of her behaviour. i asked for all of their emails, met the face to face during parent/teacher interviews along with my daughter and informed them i want to make sure she makes it to her classes, and we all discussed how we can get her to her classes on time etc...when i thought she was skipping again, i threatened to go to school with her and make sure she attends all classes. I booked a day off of work, and it turned out that she wasn't skipping, she was late for class but attendance was taken a few minutes before she got to class. So she lucked out, because she was extremely worried that i would be following her around school. As for the stealing, she had to take responsiblity for her actions, and let the ppl know what she had done. We took away priviledges and so far this has worked. I hope this helps, i find that just knowing your not alone, helps out a lot, and this is great to have other moms sharing their experiences.
Kathleen - posted on 12/09/2008
talking honestly with your child is the best way it worked for me. embarrasment and humiliation will drive them away from you let him know how it makes you feel as well.love is the answer "tough love" only works in the movies. he is asking for help dont turn your back on him.:)
Rachael - posted on 12/09/2008
You said he was a good kid and I don't want to make it sound like he would be doing drugs or alcohol but the MAJOR warning signs are there and even good kids get mixed up with bad things. There may be another reason that he is doing it but it is something that should definately be taken seriously. Have you talked to the teachers/staff to see if they might have some insight? Bullying could also be the culprit as another mom suggested. Use the staff at the school as your resource they might know something that your son is not willing to tell you.
Rachael - posted on 12/09/2008
Are you able to take a few weekdays off from work? If so get permission from the school to go to classes with him. Tell him that since he couldn't stay in school by himself that you are going to help him. Take two or three days and go to every single class with him. This should be enough insentive for him to stay in school and not skip. We had to do this with our daughter and it worked immediately. She was so embarrased that I was in school with her that she straighteded her act up. As far as the stealing, if he doesn't have anywhere to go (strict rules about social activities) then he wont have any reason to steal from you. Sounds like he may be getting into some trouble (drugs or alcohol) if he is skipping school and stealing. Until you are able to trust him only allow him to go to friends' houses that parents are present and only let him go AFTER you have talked to the other parent. He needs to gain trust back and until he can prove that to you, you can't give him any responsibilities or freedom. That is something that needs to be earned by good behavior. I would get a firm grasp on the situation before he gets mixed up in the wrong group or activity. Good luck teenage years are tough.
Kathleen - posted on 12/09/2008
wow, i have so many thoughts, i have a 18 yr. old who was doing that at 16/17 and yes a good kid. id say some form of attention getting but he doesnt know how to ask you for help.id try to find out if theres trouble in school,if he feels like hes not getting things he feels he needs(re-stealing) in a weird sort of way my son took from me because he didnt want to ask for something he knew we coulnt afford,and didnt want me to feel bad for not having lots of money so in his mind if he just took it i didnt know i wasent providing. does that make sence? if hes not doing well or being made to feel tht way in school that could be why hes skipping .or peer pressure is AWFUL therse days. my now 20yr.old was straight A's but skipped due to bullying. its hard to do but you have to ask why he may be 15 but he needs his mom:)
Swanieta - posted on 12/09/2008
Hello I am a mom of 10 children 20,18,17,16,14,13,11,8,5,and 3. I hear what you are saying. The only way to deal with this is report him to the police and tell him that you are going to do so. They do not want to listen to their parents and then they must face higher authority. I am not saying this will be easy to do because it is not by any means. There are a lot of consequenses when you do this. Believe me I have gone thru this and it has seemed to work out in the long run. Also set up a system with the school that he will get punished for not showing up. Doing community work in his town where he lives. Going to visit seniors or helping someone who is housebound. Just suggestions to help out with the school. God Bless.