Appropriate discipline/accountability question......

Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 03:15 pm
My other half has two older teenage children from a previous relationship. They are both generally good kids, and typical teenagers, however a couple of nights back the 15 year old boy tried to pull a fast one. He and his friends decided they would tell us and their parents they were staying at the others house. I'm sure at some point or another we have all tried this one.

In total there were 4 boys and 3 girls, all 15. To our knowledge it was only supposed to be 3 boys, and since he is usually trustworthy we didn't question the premise of their sleepover. The trouble is they didn't stay at a friends house, they spent the night in town walking around and doing lord knows what. All 7 of them showed up at our place at 7am yesterday morning and thought they could sleep and hang out in our living room. It took me all of 20 seconds to figure out what they had done, spending the night out, the possible unsafe outcomes of doing so, and the potential repercussions of having these 3 girls out all night.

I sent them all home, discussed the situation with my partner, and she sent the lad to his room to sleep, which he did the most of the rest of the day. I then said that I would contact the other parents which she was immediately against because she thought it would cause issues. I'm of the opinion that it is the responsible thing to have done, to inform the other parents of the situation, and let them discipline their children as they see fit.

Now here lies the problem in our personal household......the only discipline my step-son has had from his mother is being sent to his room to sleep, which he probably would have done anyway. I have tried discussing an appropriate punishment, but my partner doesn't want to discipline him at all outside of the 60 second conversation she had with him. She is also furious with me for talking to the other parents. I cannot help but feel that I should keep pushing for a more just result to all this, and some sort of accountability on the child's part and my partner's parenting.

So here are the questions:

1/ What should/could be an appropriate punishment?
2/ Was I wrong to inform the other parents?
3/ Should I just let things lie and take no further action?
4/ Have I lost my mind in thinking not enough was done?
bobsal u1553115
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 03:39 pm
Offhand, the first thing you shouldn't have done was not call the other parents. The fact is that whatever might have gone on, none of it was proven to have gone on. You made charges not based on fact.

The breach here was not on your son's virtue or the virtue of his friends. The breach here was in your trust of him. I would tell him what I told my daughter's boyfriend, "I will not pretend I can keep you two apart completely. But I can tell you I will make much much more difficult and that time spent with you will include more of it spent around me. You will need to make me trust you again."

From now on when he goes to friends houses, you call ahead and talk with parents. For six months at least. And you make a point of being around your house when he has friends over some monitoring. Three months minimum.

Worked like a charm for me. I spot checked her on general purposes, too. Like I told her, " I have a lot of love, time and money invested in her and at 15 she was just then starting to get to be a very interesting person and I was not going to let her slip of the planet because I wasn't paying attention.

Believe it or not teens do like to know where the boundaries are even if they don't like boundaries. Its also important that if you want to instill values in your children you have to let them know what the values are and how they work in real life.
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 03:47 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
These seven 15 year old kids were outside on their own in town the entire night. They could have been attacked, run over, killed.....the possibilities boggle the mind. If one of the friends parents had this knowledge of them being irresponsible and putting themselves in danger, and did not inform me I would be absolutely furious, so I think I did the right thing. My step son knows the rules, know the boundaries and made this choice, a choice which I think should carry consequences.

No charges were laid other than him lying about where he was, what he was doing, and the fact that he made an unsafe choice. We trusted that he was telling us the truth when he said he staying at a friends for the night.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2014 07:59 pm
Could have been but it wasn't. Thats a problem you don't have to deal with, be thankful. The goal is not to punish what might have happened, the goal is about bringing about behavior that will prevent seven kids killed in an auto wreck or getting knocked up on a crazy weekend YOU didn't know where they were. My method works without the anger and accusations.
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Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 12:17 pm
I think bobsal's advice is spot on perfect.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 04:58 pm
Thanks. Learned it all the hard way and really did not make many of my dad's mistakes.

I have three happy, married and educated kids with good lives. We really are too hard on kids and not firm with them at the same time.

The one thing I kept telling them over and over - life actually gets easier to deal with time and work is true. We really need stop telling our kids that they'd better enjoy themselves now because as soon as they get 18 the drudgery begins.
Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 05:49 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
It sounds like you did a great job.

Compassion is something that is missing in most parenting.

Mo was wailing at me one day saying "If these are the best years of my life I'm just going to end it now!" I told him I didn't know who told him these were the best years but they were obviously liars. Adolescence is hard. I completely agree that telling kids "enjoy it now because it gets worse" is a terrible message.
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Reply Wed 9 Apr, 2014 08:33 pm
My suggestions for what they are worth: Which could be nothing!

I think the first thing that needs to happen is you and your partner have a very big discussion about your role with her kids.

You need an agreement about this and you need to be working together.

You clearly disagree about discipline and I, having been a step parent and having worked with lots of them, don't think you just muscle in and act like a dad without prior agreement.

As an adult in your home and as your partner's....er partner, you clearly have some rights and responsibilities and hence some degree of say. However, you are not the dad or the mum and your role needs to be negotiated.

I agree with Bobsal that there need to be consequences but if you and the mum are not on the same page and you act alone there is going to be all kinds of trouble.

The kids also need to be consulted and an agreed upon role negotiated for you.

If you and your partner cannot agree upon a basic co-parenting and discipline framework, I'd suggest going and getting help to work one out.
0 Replies

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